The article about Ty Mansfield includes the following from an email that his wife wrote him after that got engaged.
The one nice thing about looking at all of this stuff was that as I relooked at some of the things you had written, I felt that you love me now more than many people ever love their partners or spouses...I think so many people rely on their hormones and/or their emotions to drive them that they get stuck feeling for their spouse whatever those things tell them to feel. And then if they try to feel otherwise, to love their spouse more than what hormones or emotions tell them to, they feel like they’re doing their spouse a favor rather than recognizing that they hadn’t understood how to truly love in the first place...I feel sad for people who don’t get it and who have reduced love and marriage to a mere shadow of what it was intended to be and how beautiful it can be.”And on his personal blog, Josh Weed says the following
Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.Frankly, I find these statements a puzzling and also a bit offensive. Both state that they believe that most people form relationships because of hormonal drives. Personally, I believe that there are lots of reasons why people form romantic relationships. Yes, hormones are the primary drive for some, but many (maybe even most?) couples form long-term romantic relationships around a combination of physical attraction, common interests, friendship, and shared goals. Sadly, it is possible that among LDS young adults, relationships formed around sexual attraction and hormones may more common than the general population given that couples are not supposed to have sex before they get married.
But what I find even more troubling about these statements is that hormones and physical attraction are painted as the negative aspects of a relationship that must be weeded out before true love can be achieved. Within the LDS church, I believe that there are two contradictory messages that are taught about sexual drives. First of all, there is the message that sexual drives are bad. Youth are encouraged to work towards not having any sexual thoughts at all. Women are encouraged to dress in a certain way in order to not inspire any sexual thoughts in men. (Frankly I think that these are both impossible goals especially teaching women that they should be physically attractive and yet not physically attractive at the same time). On the other hand, sexuality is thought to be a God-given drive that brings couples together. The sentiments in these two articles appear to fall firmly in the first camp. Following their logic, we would have a better chance of developing a deep relationship if we married someone we were not physically attracted to. Contrary to the ideas expressed in these two articles, I believe that sexual attraction, hormones, lust (whatever you want to call it) can and should be channeled into healthy long-term relationships that also includes mental and emotional intimacy. I believe that it is healthy to teach LDS youth that their sexual drives and desires are not there to be repressed and that sexual thoughts and feelings are not bad. Instead, I feel that we should teach youth that sexual thoughts and feelings are normal and that they should work towards expressing those normal thoughts and feelings in a healthy long-term relationship.
Finally, my biggest concern is why these statements were made at all. Why did both of these couples feel the need to state that their relationship (and in Josh Weed's case-specifically his sexual relationship) are better than that of most heterosexual couples? Why didn't they state that their relationships are different from most couples but it worked for them? Is it because it was hard for them to give up something that they always really wanted so they framed their relationship as being something even better? It is hard to say. But I am puzzled by the idea that true love can only be achieved when you move away from sexual attraction. I am also puzzled by the support for these ideas in the comments by heterosexual people.