Sunday in Outer Blogness: Navigating Relationships Edition!
Is it just my pattern-seeking brain, or does the conversation in blogspace tend to converge around different themes? There was something in the air this past week that inspired the Bloggernacle and Outer Blogness to contemplate how to deal with relationship problems caused by differences.
Naturally the focus was on differences in belief within families. On the non-believing side, The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes weaves a story around the lyric “Your mother loves you but not the way she did before.” Aerin contemplates relationship problems and the selfishness spectrum, from healthy self-interest to narcissism. On the believing side, Blog Segullah posted a question about how to deal with an otherwise great husband who leaves the church. (And I was very pleased to see that — in the comments — almost nobody felt it was grounds for divorce, and building up the marriage through loving acceptance of differences was a popular solution.) In a similar vein, Mormon Matters argues for acceptance of disaffected family members, offering a parallel with the Orthodox Jewish example.
And what are those issues that divide us?
G is frustrated by friends who are willing to hold whichever opinion has the prophet’s current stamp of approval. Happy Lost Sheep actually posted a transcript of a family discussion of issues in LDS history. Andrew posted an online conversation that was almost the flip-side — explaining to people outside the Mormon community why Mormonism shouldn’t be dismissed as stupidity. DPC got defriended-then-refriended by a newly agnostic friend, and it put him in a philosophical mood about his own place within Mormonism (and Hackman also dealt with some Facebook drama). Similarly, the Urban Koda waxed philosophical about how the LDS church can have both a positive and negative effect on families.
Then there was a very interesting discussion about relationships where the problem is deeper than a difference over belief. Mister Curie has been posting a fascinating memoir called Pieces of the Past, describing his experiences growing up Mormon and gay. Like so many guys in his situation, he marries a woman, but this time the plot thickens, as his wife is also gay!
Now, before we delve too deeply into that dangerous topic of gay people who marry in an opposite-sex kind of way, I’d like to recommend that everyone read J G-W’s beautiful metaphor of a relationship as a dance — in response to the hurtful battle of your-experience-invalidates-mine when trying to decide whether to stay with a mixed-orientation-marriage. (Recall that Madame Curie also posted about how the fear of how personal these discussions can become.) This situation presents MoHoHawaii with a dilemma:
What do I say to young people who might be contemplating entering into a mixed-orientation marriage? I might be tempted, out of consideration for the sensitivities of people already in mixed-orientation marriages, to soft pedal my advice. Maybe the point of contention is whether I should downplay the seriousness of mismatched orientations as a problem for long-term marital satisfaction.
Then MoHoHawaii and J G-W present some fascinating discussion of how orientation isn’t just about sex, but is also about the nesting instinct. This was response to Scott’s post about selfishness where he claims that “the selfless thing to do would be to dedicate myself to Sarah’s happiness and do whatever it takes to make our marriage work” and that “every relationship requires [the] spouse to bury, deny, ignore, or otherwise sublimate a significant part of himself […] to some extent, of course.”
Moving on to lighter relationship topics, Marcus describes being a cultural chameleon to fit in. And what about the pets in our eternal family? Jon presents some quotes to show that (if you believe in LDS doctrine) All dogs go to heaven.
And as our last social topic of the week, let’s talk awards! The Mormon Alumni Association is planning to award the William Law X-Mormon of the Year Award for the year 2000! If you’ve somehow missed it so far, you have only one day left to get in your nominations before we start the voting. Also note that the Niblet Nominations are up (including lots of folks from our community), but I don’t think they’ve started the voting yet. If you don’t win a Niblet, never fear — the Mormon Alumni Association also has an award in the works for online excellence. Stay tuned!!!