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Monday, August 08, 2005 

Just Wait…

Generally, we like what we know. However, I highly doubt that there are many of us who would say, “I wish I had gotten married younger” or “I wish we hadn’t dated so long”.

Officially, the Church gives some very general counsel regarding when to get married and to whom. Basically, we are encouraged to date and marry someone of our faith; someone who is worthy to go to the temple. We are encouraged to get to know the person well through dating and spending time with one another before getting married.

Through auxiliary programs like Young Womens and Young Mens we are encouraged to not date until we are 16, to not date seriously/exclusively until later (after missions), and to have longer courtships rather than long engagements (people have different interpretations of this counsel). Anything beyond this counsel is cultural and/or personal, and while I AM interested in hearing what someone’s Young Women’s leader or mother or roommate told them, I will regard it as cultural influence and not Mormon doctrine….and that includes that one Brigham Young quote about males becoming menaces to society after the age of 27.

I got married at 25. I think that is a great age to get married, if not a little on the young side.

To be honest, I was a little surprised that I didn’t meet the love of my life my freshman or sophomore year at college. Looking back I’m not surprised, but back then I was. You see, my mother had gotten married at 19. In my realm of understanding, I thought that’s how things were done. It had worked out well for her. I just thought…

There is some sort of Mormon culture myth that says that college is the proper time to get married. Granted, for a lot of us (not all of us) college is the time where we are around a lot of other like-religioned people of the opposite sex. But Heaven’s sake, now that I am an adult…marriage is the LAST thing I want my college kids thinking about. Sure they can meet someone, but I would rather have them wait to get married until after 25 or graduation, which ever comes first.

Here’s why…

I want my kids to be focused on doing well in school. I want them to have no regrets about what they studied or how well they did. Life and education do not end after a bachelor’s degree, and while I want them to have FUN, I also want them to have options if they want them later.

Also, having a job or a career is one of the most valuable life experiences a person can bring to a relationship, male AND female. I really want my kids to experience and enjoy work. I want them to learn to be independent of parents, family, and friends. I want them to BE somebody, meaning, I want them to figure out who they are BEFORE they get married. I want my kids to understand the Gospel as young single people with testimonies of their own. I want them to see how they fit into the Gospel as single adults, because they do…and I want them to be comfortable with that. Because I was, and that’s what I know.

Nothing is more frustrating than relying on the Lord’s timetable, but in my wait, I gained a testimony of right time, right place, right person. I spent a lot of time on my knees then, trying to understand God’s will for me…I learned how to rely on the Lord for comfort and guidance, not on a boyfriend or even on parents.

I am SO thankful for the time I spent as a single adult in the Church, to find my place. I am SO grateful that I had the opportunity to work, to manage my own money, to gain experience, and to figure out who I was before I became someone’s wife and partner.

If it had happened another way, I’m sure I would have been fine, even great…but I will encourage my kids to wait. I don’t want them to bow to some antiquated cultural pressure to get married young. I want my kids to be ready. Gees, at 25, I was barely ready. I would have liked to have done a couple more things before Todd came along, but I also knew that the timing was right. He was the right person at the right time. And I chose him over those couple of other things I wanted to get done. And I’m glad I did. I have never regretted that.

Cutting the Cake

Thank you for your post.

“May we talk of marriage and your life in total? Marriage is a vital part of life….
It was never intended by the Lord that a large portion of one’s life should be spent in the unmarried state. At a reasonable time in life it was intended that each young man should find that young woman who is best for him, and she should find the young man who would be her best companion. Long-delayed marriages are certainly not approved of the Lord….
Every boy should have been saving money for his mission and be free from any and all entanglements so he will be worthy. When he is returned from his mission at 21, he should feel free to begin to get acquainted and to date. When he has found the right young woman, there should be a proper temple marriage. One can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn: first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family, then his life’s work. In any other sequence he could run into difficulty….
After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined….
Have you ever studied carefully the parable of the ten virgins? Those who had prepared themselves for the blessings promised were ready, and those who were unprepared were cast out. Procrastination is a veritable thief.”
- Pres Spencer W. Kimball (excerpts), Ensign, Feb 1975

With respect to advice, I was somewhat speechless when James Faust recommded at a CES fireside (it must have been late in 1994 or early 1995 at the Marriot Center) his personal opinion not to marry outside our own culture.

I was recently married at the lovely age of 24. And like you Carrie I was ever so grateful to have waited that "long." Most of my fellow laurels had married before me and most already have children. As I spent a year doing Americorps in San Francisco and then started a grad program in religion I would often look at their lives and be so glad that it wasn't me. But then I have to acknowledge that the right man for me didn't come around until I was 24. What if he had come around at age 20 like it did for my friends? Waiting 7 months to be married was hard enough...I certainly could not have said, "well, let's wait a couple of years until we are in our mid-20's and have some life experience and fun under our belts." I have therefore come to the conclusion that Heavenly Father puts our future spouses in our life when we are ready, at the best time for us. He knew I would never be happy marrying young, and thus He planned it perfectly. So I don't know if I can tell my children to wait exactly...but just that when the time comes along that will know.

I have to agree with the benefits of being married later. (not that I am married, I just like dating.) I have been dating the same guy for a year and a half. I thought at the beginning that I was ready for marriage (wrong) and that he was the one. Had I gotten married then I wouldn’t have learned what I have….I have learned that I am so NOT ready for marriage! I don’t know my self well enough properly chose the man of my life. I also have many things that are important to me that aren’t to my boyfriend.

Dating for so long has showed me so much. In the first few moths I hadn’t experienced enough w/ him to properly evaluate if I could handle him for life. We hadn’t had a fight, we didn’t really know how we thought or acted w/ money, I didn’t know what his work ethic was, I didn’t know how we worked together, how he was when he traveled, I hadn’t seen him fight w/ his family, or how he handles me disagreeing w/ his family, I didn’t know how he really felt about children, etc. As you can see I now know that I personally need lots of time to get fully get to know my mates. I don’t plan to get married for a VERY LONG time, and I glad about it.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Helmutt-

why speechless? Prophets have long counseled us to not only marry ONLY in the temple, but to marry someone with similar background. This is not new advice.

Marriage is a difficult enough prospect with two people that have no cultural or linguistic barriers between them, why make it more difficult trying to surmount these obstacles as well? I'm right there with Pres. Faust.

can I comment on your dress??? because that's all I can think about... ;) BEAUTIFUL!

oh...and yeah, I'm surely not one of those that wished they were married YOUNGER. Heavens no...

Interesting comments. As much as we'd like to think it doesn't, the Chruch does change. Our Mormon culture changes, too. The reason that Pres. Faust said it was his personal opinion that people should not marry out of their own culture was because it was merely his opinion. He was not setting it forth as Church policy. He is a wonderful man who I believe is an Apostle of the Lord. I will follow his counsel, but not necesarily his opinions. My grandfather has also said comments like that to me in the presence of my inter-racial and inter-cultural neighbors. I think it is a little old fashioned. My brother married the most perfect girl for him; I really believe she was held in reserve for him (or someone like him) and she is French. Talk about culture shock. But couples who chose each other often know what they are getting into before they get into it.

On another note, I, too, believe that we sometimes can't help the timing God has for us. Three of my sisters had different timing from the rest of us (married at or before 21), that's when the people they wanted to marry came into their lives. That's great. I just want my kids to know that they don't have to get married at a certain age because our culture leans that way. I really want them to be happy individuals with meaningful lives. Can you deny that there are not sad young men and ladies out there who instead of making a life are just waiting for marriage? As if nothing else can happen until they cross that hurdle? It is a stunted way to live, and probably not very healthy. Ooo...and this brings up a good question on the topic...marriage was not even an option until I was 25...did I miss my chance to marry younger? Is there only one person meant for me? Discuss...

I agree that there are many advantages to having some valuable experiences before you are married. I was able to do many many things before I was married and just about every time Chruch friends ask about my experience doing this or that, I hear someone express regret that they had not done such a thing before they were married. I feel for them, but of course they made their choices, and I am glad I made mine.

Education, independent living, travelling, working--we learn so much from these and so many women who marry young don't get them.

A woman I met on my mission in Japan said that she got married after she felt that she had grown as much as she could as an individual. I like that idea.

Here's the problem: The is SO MUCH PRESSURE for "kids" to get married. Especially women. (In my opinion.) I hate that I know a few YOUNG ladies (in their mid-twenties) that feel like they're OLD MAIDS because they're not married yet. That is RIDICULOUS. But its a very real pressure and it is everywhere, throughout the church. I can't help it...it bugs me.

Am I totally contridicting myself by saying all this when I married at 19? Yup...probably...

Pres. Kimball also debunked the popular Mormon myth that there is a predestined mate for each of us, that we somehow got engaged in the pre-mortal life and are searching to find that person here.

I think the counsel (not opinions) of the prophets boils down to this: once you're of age (after a mission for males, 18+ or so for females) feel free to begin dating in earnest, searching for a mate. Once you find someone that you are in love with and want to spend eternity with, don't delay marriage for education, recreation, financial or any other reason. This doesn't mean you should rush into a marriage simply to be married. If you are looking, and don't find anyone until you're 45, or never at all, then that's ok. But i think they have warned those who are either a) not looking, or b) have found someone, but are putting off marriage for selfish reasons (i.e. "i want to have more life experiences") that they are on dangerous ground. Face it, there are some experiences you're never going to have in this life, no matter how much of an adventure-seeker you are. If you wait til you're "complete" as an individual, IMHO, you'll never get married. You're never going to be mature enough, financially prepared enough, wise enough, patient enough for marriage and children no matter how long you delay. And frankly, it is more important to begin your family while you are young and still have the energy to chase around after babies than it is to see Europe, get your MBA, or start your own business. Family comes before career development, personal development, and everything else.

I love your picture. You are so very beautiful CA.

I actually do regret, a little, not marrying my DH when I was younger. But we didn't meet until I was 36, and we married just eight months later. It might have been nice to spend a few more of my younger years married to him. On the other hand, maybe I appreciate him more for the waiting.

eek

I am so glad that I waited for marriage. I married at age 29 after accomplishing several significant personal goals. I was able to complete my MBA and travel to both Europe and Asia in my young career. I think a lot of young girls in church looked up to me because I was able to show them that they too could someday earn an advanced degree, travel, wear stylish clothes, and make as much money as any man.
I felt sorry for poor sisters who were pinching pennies trying to make it with their husbands in school and caring for several small children.
When I finally met my future husband, I knew who I was as a person and had achieved a lot in life. I think Heavenly Father knew this and helped me avoid serious relationships before I was ready.

i think that as long as we are counseling with the Lord in all that we do, those necessary and precious things will happen when the LORD intends them to...I am a huge fan of education, and will encourage ALL of my children (boys and girl) to make education a priority, for "all knowledge attained in this life, we take to the next..." We also cannot judge simply on "face value" the choices people are ALLOWED to make with their lives. I know so many people who "look" as they are pursuing certain things, but in reality are faithfully trying to do the things that HF has encouraged us to do (whether it be marriage, education, children, missionary work, employment, etc.). We all need to step back, and realize it is not in judging others, but in the choices we make for ourselves, and those placed in our stewardship (children) that we will be called to justify before our Maker.

Katreena-

you seem to imply that a woman who marries young without the college degree and the extensive travel, and who has to pinch pennies has not "achieved a lot" nor does she "know who [she] is as a person". I think a woman who raises a righteous family has achieved just as much if not more than the well travelled and well educated career woman. There is no shame in putting off education and career to raise babies. It is a high and noble calling, much more important than any worldly praise or honors. The Adversary is waging war against the family today, and he tries to convince women that they cannot be fulfilled if they are "only a homemaker," but the prophets have warned us against adopting this worldly view.

Rob,

I was speechless because that kind of language is code for race.

I do not intend to imply that one who has found their mate and prayerfully confirmed that they should marry that person should put off marriage in order to accomplish other things first. I DO think that many LDS women feel immense pressure to find and marry the right guy when they are young and I think many make unwise choices to avoid being single when others make them feel they should be married.

It's the "I better get married before I am too old, so I'll settle for this proposal" mentality I would hate for anyone to succomb to when there are so many things they could learn and do while you wait to meet a real Mr. Right, rather than Mr. Right Now.

Eso-

I totally agree with you. No one should get married simply for fear of remaining single. If the right person does not come along, It is better to remain single than to marry the "wrong" person. I fear that some people may have unrealistic expectations for a spouse however, and reject suitable matches because they are looking for perfection. Perhaps this happens to men more than women. Some men want a woman who looks like a model, cooks like a professional chef, has the scriptures memorized, likes NASCAR and fly fishing, and who volunteers to have and raise 12 babies. So if they date someone who is reasonably attractive, intelligent, with a good personality and worthy to go to the temple, as soon as they see some minor flaw they reject this person as a potential match. Seems to me you should be looking at a person's potential, as well as where they are right now.

Helmutt-

I realize you were hinting that Pres. Faust's statement was racist. That is an old charge which has been levelled against the Church many times, and is not true. It IS true, however, that marriages between persons of similar ethnic and cultural background are more likely to succeed than those which cross these lines, regardless of skin color.

Rob,

It took the LDS Church fourteen years to integrate the priesthood after the Civil Rights Act. Clearly, the Church was more racist than average America.

Today, we continue to witness discrimination of interracial couples in Utah neighborhoods. The Salt Lake Weekly, for example, reported about this phenomenon only this spring. One of my BYU professors, a former mission and temple president, told me that he continues to experience discrimination from "worthy" Saints every week. Usually, this includes being treated as an idiot.

By its very definition racism is concerned about intermarriage. That is what the concept is all about. A racist believes that one should not contaminate the quality of a superior race by interbreeding it with an individual of an inferior race. Clearly, people who don't want their daughters to marry people with a different skin color are racists.

In the wake of Brrown vs. Board of Education, Mark Peterson attacked the civil rights movement in those terms: "I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn't just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn't that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it" (Race Problems as They Affect the Church, August 27, 1954).

Insofar as we have all been socialized and brought up in a society that has problems with racism, none of us has escaped racism entirely, myself included. To our credit, most of us feel bad about this heritage and want to overcome it. We may find it difficult to shed the prejudices and insensitivities of our upbringing. The ultimate test is to ask ourselves if we would mind if our daughters married an African American temple recommend holder with a college education. If one can honestly answer no then one has overcome racism in principle, otherwise not. The question of intermarriage is the test of a person's commitment that all human beings belong to the same species without qualitative differences.

With respect to success rates of intercultural couples, I would like to see some data. Do you seriously want to suggest that an Italian American and an Irish American Mormon with temple recommends would be better off not marrying each other? Do you think that rich Mormons better not marry poor Mormons? Should an East Coast Mormon break off his engagement because his Utah fiancee cannot understand the Mormon minority experience? I would think that personality traits and commitment are much stronger forces than culture. If we start constraining marriage choices by all sort of cultural traits then most of us will not get married in the temple at all.

Hellmut-

I am a little suprised that you mis-understand the timing with the priesthood for everyone thing. That is a great topic for another day, by, the way, one for which you would be a great guest blogger.

I get annoyed with the discrimination against mixed couples or against minorities in general. I just don't see it happening like that in my ward/stake. We have MANY couples of different races, cultures, religions etc in my neighborhood, and while it is not a utopia, I think the people who have problems with it are few and far between and more vocal than those of us who adore our neighbors no matter what they look like or what church they attend. I invite everyone to come to our next ward or stake conference to see what I'm talking about. I've got the United Nations right here in Provo!

Thanks for your response, Carrie Ann. While I share your pleasure about the wonderful atmosphere in your ward, unfortunately, this success does not restore the humanity of those Native American, African, and Asian Saints that continue to be marginalized on account of their skin color.

If temple recommend carrying custodians can tell a retired BYU professor with a PhD from Berkeley, a former mission and temple president, that he must be stupid since he is "colored," week after week for several years, then nobody is safe from invective, sterotyping, and marginalization.

Given past teachings of General Authorities and the failure of the current leadership to openly repudiate these errors, we must not be surprised if older well respected members continue to engage into hurtful social practices. Unfortunately, faith promoting rumors about "repentent" members who turned "white and delightsome" continue to be spread even among missionaries younger than us. I find it especially disappointing that James Faust would use language as late as 1994 or 1995 that reinforces such attitudes.

Carrie Ann said...

"I just don't see it happening like that in my ward/stake ..... I think the people who have problems with it are few and far between ..... I've got the United Nations right here in Provo!"

Apparently your neighbor in Provo is not of the same opinion and he ought to know, since he's an African American, living in a VERY white community.

DarronSmith.com

BTW: According to the US census Provo is about the least diverse community in the country with .5% African American (National Average is 12.3%) and 88.5% Mighty Whitey (National Average is 75%).

Like the UN? Hardly.

http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/popInfo.php?locIndex=25984

Well as Carrie Ann pointed out, this thread has drifted quite a bit from its original topic, so i'll restrict my comments to these few.

Helmutt, if by "racist" you mean the belief that one ethnic group is loved more by our Heavenly Father than another, or that one ethnic group deserves basic human dignities more or less than any other, then I must assert that the Church is not now nor has it ever been "racist". Certainly some individual members may have had those beliefs, but it has never been doctrine. If, however, by "racism" you mean the belief that there are differences between groups of humans due to cultural, genetic and spiritual influences, then, yes, this is true.

By no means do i justify the custodian, recommend holder or not, for making bigoted comments. But I emphatically deny that opposition to intercultural or interracial marriage equates to a belief that one race is superior to another. As to your examples, i refer you to the following quote by a prophet of God, the same prophet, mind you, who extended the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church:

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, “Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).

"Unfortunately, faith promoting rumors about "repentent" members who turned "white and delightsome" continue to be spread even among missionaries younger than us."

Ok, now I'm interested. Do we have documentation of this rumor? Where and when has it spread? Is this from a single anecdote or is it widespread throughout mission lore? My inquiring mind wants to know.

There are so many comments that I lost where it was, but someone made a reference to people waiting rather than living their lives.

I have to agree I think that's incredibly sad. I haven't had a date in about 2 years, because there isn't anyone I'd want to date in my current singles ward. But, I'm ok with that. I have a great, fulfilling life going on fo rme that brings me a lot of joy. I feel so sad for the girls in my ward that are just miserable because they haven't found the right person yet and so they feel like failures and don't look proudly upon what they've accomplished. One woman I know is 29, unmarried, has a master's degree, has gone on a mission, has travelled to 6 different countries, and owns her own business. She's done terrifically. And she hates her life because she isn't married. She speaks woefully of lost years, rather than saying how glad she was that she was able to visit 6 countries. This mentality is so sad. Life isn't supposed to be something you do while waiting for a mate. Life is supposed to be lived.

When I was 19 I was dating a guy I thought I'd marry. Now, at 22, I look back at that relationship and realize I didn't know myself at all and that it would have been a very bad mistake to marry him. I didn't know myself or my needs and my wants and my likes or dislikes. I didn't have a clue who I was. I'm so glad I didn't marry him! I firmly believe that a person needs to be happy with his/her own life and know him/herself before s/he jumps into marriage. A person should have a full life without a mate, because a mate should enhance life, not BE life.

Weren't we talking about marrying early in life? Moderator, could you pull the threadjacking comments to another area for discussion?

Well, actually we were talking about official and quasi-official advice from Church officials, starting with whether or not we should marry young, but it sort of degenerated from there :)

Interesting debate. I have lurked here for a while.

I have to agree with the fact that I think lots of Mormon kids get married too young, but I NEVER felt that. I went to hs in Utah, BYU after that and a mission. I didn't get married particularly young but I felt that I was ready when I happened. Maybe I was too clueless to see what was happening around me, but I never got that impression from the people that I knew or lived with.

I do worry that my kids will want to marry young. I worry that they will let their short term focus get in the way of the long term. I feel like we will be married for a long time, a few years doesn't really change things. I have friends that married young and feel that they have no regrets. I have friends that married older that are unhappy. I think that the point is to feel that you have accomplished the things that you want to in your single life--so that the trade off to married life and all the sacrifices that it brings will be a fair trade. There is no time frame. That being said, it is harder the younger you are for so, so many reasons.

BTW-Carrie your wedding pictures are stunning!!

If a person delays marriage because they haven't found the right person yet, that's fine. If they delay marriage because they haven't finished all the fun activities and experiences they want to have as a single person, that's selfishness.

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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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