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Saturday, August 13, 2005 

I married my sister

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules for marriage; doesn’t matter what rules or guidelines you come up with, there are always a lot of exceptions. I’m not going to look them up, but I’d like to see some numbers on just how well marrying young works; my impression is that the younger you marry, the more likely marriage is to fail. VL and I married at a goodly age for Mormons, but rather young compared to everyone else. When a non-mormon finds out how long we’ve been married, they say, “Wow, you married really young.” I was home from a mission, we dated for six months, were engaged for seven. We were totally clueless and married for love. It’s all nice and romantic, but romance only gets you so far. Things are excellent now, but we’ve had some really rough times, mostly because we married too young.

It may just be me, but Mormon culture, in encouraging early marriage, the whole thing seems romanticized. You meet, you fall in love, some feeling from on high gives you a thumbs-up and you get married. It’s done without every really knowing the other person, without knowing what kind of person they really are. And with a lot of people in college now, you haven’t really become anyone yet until after college, until you’ve started down the career path. In just a short amount of time you can become a vastly different person. That transition can put a real strain on marriage, and the younger you marry, the further you are from becoming who you will become.

Reading the posts from Sarah and Carrie Ann, they approached marriage with much more wisdom than I did. I think waiting is good advice, but not something that must be done. I wonder, in Mormon culture, the encouragement to marry young, what really is the reason behind it? The cynic in me says that it’s designed to get people in a church sanctioned intimate relationship before they “mess up” and get into non-sanctioned intimate relationships. And also, I think it’s much easier to stay active in the church once you are married. I don’t have time to look them up, but the numbers should be out there, and the scientist in me wants to know, is there any real advantage to marrying young or waiting?

If you are wondering, I didn’t marry my sister. I’m in a rush and I couldn’t come up with a more fitting title. But I guess since people in church called her Sister VL, then she was my sister. Weird

I would marry Martha Stewart, if there was no sex involved, or if we had to marry women. If women had to marry women. I'd go right after the best wife I could find. No sex, good food, clean and nice house. She may even be nicer now.

It’s done without every really knowing the other person, without knowing what kind of person they really are.

This isn't really necessary if you are guided by the Spirit. Witness the marriage of Rebekah and Isaac. That was probably a rarity though, even in the days of arranged marriages. The point is, ANY match of a man and a woman can work out, if they both are committed and put an effort into doing so.

you haven’t really become anyone yet until after college, until you’ve started down the career path. In just a short amount of time you can become a vastly different person.

You don't just ACCIDENTALLY morph into some new person. You CHOOSE who you become through the books you read, the shows you watch, the activities you pursue. If two people are reading their scriptures, saying their prayers, studying the General conference talks, avoiding pornography and generally trying to live the standards of the Church, they are not going to just one day decide they are "incompatible" or miserable and call it quits. The Spirit will mold them into the kind of people they need to be.

it’s designed to get people in a church sanctioned intimate relationship before they “mess up” and get into non-sanctioned intimate relationships.

This might apply to couples who are seriouly dating, but delay marriage for many months or years for financial or other reasons. But I think the main reason for encouraging early marriage is that there are certain things you are supposed to accomplish in this life, and you don't really get started until you marry and have children. Education, wealth and worldly honors are irrelevant to the eternal scheme of things. What matters is family relationships, self-sacrifice, overcoming selfishness, service, patience, perseverance, obedience despite opposition, faithfulness. All of these can be developed more easily in a family setting. Not impossible outside one, but more difficult. We are not saved as individuals, but as families.

Then I am really screwed.

I'm just going to have to disagree, Rob. I know people who received the spiritual thumbs-up for marriages that rapidly turned out disastrous. I also know a couple who were active in the church, temple attendance, the whole rigamarole, and one day one of them announced that they were unhappy with the marriage and wanted out. Oddly, enough, this person was in the temple when they got the final confirmation that the marriage should be ended.

In the years before I was married, I had certain habits and personality traits that I knew were not compatible with married life. I knew there were things that I needed to change about myself if I wanted to be a good husband and father. It was much easier to take care of those things before marriage, before ill-behaviors had become a part of the marriage.

Also note that when I am talking about waiting and gaining experience and wisdom, I am not talking about wealth, education and worldly honors. I am talking about understanding who you are, how you handle the responsibilities of adulthood, things like that. People change as they switch from student-life to real life. I've seen in it students I've taught and co-workers that I've trained and mentored.

I did a quick internet search to confirm my impression; didn't have time to read the original research, so take it with a grain of salt. The upshot, people who marry before the age of 25 have a higher divorce rate than those who marry at 25 or later. That's all I'm going to say about divorce--I think we are covering that topic in a few weeks.

Rob, I don't think any of us are trying to take away from the importance of the committment and spirituality that should go along with marriage or the choices that each one of us has on our personal growth. However, the successfulness of you marriage, spirituality and even life depends on your own personal growth and the ability to make those choices to help you succeed. Focusing on yourself...learning about yourself is easier before you're married. It just is.

p.s. Love the title. It got MY attention. :)

When I was younger, I know that I imposed my own set of romantic ideals on the doctrine concerning temple marriage. I realize now that if my ideas about marriage, especially marriage in the temple, were that is was going to be blissful and trouble-free right from the get-go, then that was all me, not the church. The church emphasizes the tremendous rewards of working to become one in marriage. But it never says that that "one-ness" is easily come by, or that blissful marriage is not obtained without a little turmoil and even some faith crises.

I've changed my thinking about marriage as I've matured. Marriage, especially marriage entered into at a young age, is INCREDIBLY hard. I don't know of any YW leaders who would argue that with me. But whoever said that incredibly hard was not a good thing in the end? Perhaps the incredibly hard is what brings eventual bliss and fewer intrinsic problems in the future?

So if my YW leaders were even partially responsible for enforcing my naive views of marriage by focusing on the rewards verses the struggles, I'm sure they were speaking from their own experience; it isn't easy at all! But those early hardships provide a strong foundation right from the start that ground your marriage, that force you to start working together. Because it only gets more complicated, and you need to know that you can count on one another to be there when it gets scary.

No no no...

Focusing on yourself...learning about yourself is easier before you're married. It just is.

You're not SUPPOSED to focus on yourself. You're supposed to LOSE yourself in the service of others. "Self-less". Turn outward, not inward. Marriage is, or should be, about learning to let go of your own wants, and to sacrifice yourself for someone else's happiness. If you spend two or five or ten years before marriage "finding yourself" you're just going to make it that much harder to "lose yourself" when you get married. It is a mistake to think that the success of a marriage depends on personal growth. Personal growth will occur, never fear, but the marriage succeeds based on whether both partners are totally 100% committed to each other and to the marriage, and whether they are living the standards of the gospel. As long as those factors are in place, the marriage will succeed.

I'm really glad I waited to marry until I was 29. I didn't want to have to worry about money or any argument about me staying at home with children. I was established in my career and making more money than him so it avoided the issue of him demanding me to stay home (and walk around barefoot, pregnant, and miserable -- yeesh!) We made sure to get a Mormon nanny so the kids would grow up with a good influence.
Carrie is right -- find your own self before getting tied down with a husband and family.

Hehe... that almost seems like a comment designed to provoke a ranting response from me. I pass. I promised JP that the horse was dead.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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