Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Menace To Society

I never thought that it would take me this long to get married. My mission president didn't have any specific counsel about marriage - just do it in the right place, at the right time, by the right authority was all that he really said. I didn't envision myself getting married young, but not when I turned 30 either. I thought around 25 or so it would happen. Maybe 24.

When I got home from the mission things moved pretty comfortably in that area of my life. I started dating a girl not long after I got home from the mission. We dated for close to a year before things fizzled. Then I met another girl and we started dating not long after that. That one last for the longest time. I've revisited that one a few times on this blog, but from start to messy finish, that one took several years to unfold.

In the midst of that time one of the high councilors in my stake would always give me a hard time about not being married, except it wasn't in the joking, everything is going to work out kind of way. It was in the good-natured, but poorly delivered, "you're a good guy, how come you're not married" kind of way.

One time he started asking me about it and it couldn't have been worse timing. Things had just gone sour (again) with the girl I had been dating, and he actually said something to the effect of, "well you're friend just got married, you should follow his example. Don't you want to get married?" It just about destroyed me at the time, so I told him in my most earnest and pain-filled voice, "Of course I want to get married, do you think that I'm avoiding it? Do you think that it's not something that I'm conscious of every minute of every day?"

I think what bothered me about this well-intended brother was that I felt like he had a pretty good feeling for who I was as a person. He knows about my level of Church involvement and activity. He had seen me serving quite extensively in the Church, and I guess I just felt like he should know that I get it: I'm a return missionary without any obvious hindrances toward marriage, so I should be actively pursuing it.

I felt like I was, but it was hard to be constantly reminded that I was coming up short in an area of my life of which that I was actually very incredibly aware.

Sometimes I have a problem with the way people in the Church approach the topic of the young single unmarried adults. There was a lot of reference to it at this last General Conference, and even in my last stake conference it was a topic that was broached repeatedly. I (generally) don't like the allocation of blame allotted to the men because for every young male in the Church who avoids marriage because he is a man-boy and afraid of taking on that responsibility, there is also a similarly afflicted female version of that person.

I guess I don't like it because it's an over-simplification of what the overarching problem is, that there is a cultural shift in the marriage and relationship dynamic in the world which bleeds over into Church members. Unfortunately, the people of the Church are not unperturbed by the social mores and so as the world goes, sometimes we also follow.

I don't have much more insight into this subject other than those thoughts. All I can say now is that being on this side of it, I'm grateful for how things worked out. I don't know that I'm better or worse off getting married now as compared to when I originally thought that I would, but I'm happy things worked out the way that they did. I feel like I'm with the person who best complements me, and every miniscule thing that happens in our new lives feels like a confirmation from heaven that now was the right time, the right place, and the right person with whom to get married. I feel like I can say along with Elder Holland, "some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." My path didn't allow for me to get married until this point, and I'm glad for it. For some people it comes right when you're 22 and for others it comes perhaps much later in life, but it always arrives when we put our faith in the Lord.

I'm just grateful that He is in charge and that I am not. My blueprints for success are much messier than His.


Salt H2O said...

You have your head on straight. I have some other male friends in similar situations- and during conference I'm aware that this is hitting them hard.

Here's the thing, if you know the prophets and apostles aren't talking about you- then don't take it to heart. If you know you're doing everything you can, and following the Lord's plan, then don't worry about it.

As a full time working mom in the church, the very first time I've ever got validation that my personal revelation to work did not make me less worthy was last conference. At every turn tradional Mormons (mostly relatives) like to tell me that my personal inspiration is wrong- because look at what the prophets say.

Having been single until I was 29, and experienced the dating scenes from DC to Provo to Huntington Beach, the man boy is more common than not.

While my heart goes out to my male single LDS friends, it goes out stronger to my female friends that have lived increadible lives and have a much harder time than the men do in simply finding someone worthy to date, much less marry.

While richeous single LDS men may have the challenge of finding the right wife, LDS women have the challenge of simply getting asked on a real date on a Friday night, but a guy who has his act together and IS LDS.

Silvs said...

True, true, true. There is no doubt an abundance of worthy, amazing single LDS girls. I guess I'm mostly just thinking of those guys who are going to Church and mostly have their acts together, of which there are far less than the ladies. If they're going to Church and serving and listening to conference, I don't feel like that type of counsel is not as relevant. But I might still be generalizing too broadly.

Laura said...

obviously there are a lot of good guys - and girls - out there that are doing their best to date and get married. you were obviously one of these guys. i can see how you would be sensitive to those types of comments, i would be too. but, there is a problem with many many lds guys, and girls too, that are not seriously looking to be married. you are correct that it is society's views that you should be graduated, have a job, be established before you get married that is infiltrating our culture. my sister is 24 (still young, but surely gets a lot of questions about her dating status) and has run into these types of guys again and again. not ready to commit. wants to date other people. the guys in the area here - all over 25 - don't ever even ask girls out on dates. so although there are many exceptions, this is clear problem right now.

Silvs said...

I guess I didn't comment on this in my post, but I know a number of guys who are actively pursuing and this is not a fair characterization. I've served twice as Elders Quorum President and was a very active participant in my singles wards for the last 9 years, and while it's true of some, many don't fit this bill. The ones who are not are the salient ones and the easiest to pick out. Even in my last ward we had about 50 elders and when I left the ward about a third of those were in an active dating relationship, the other third were actively pursuing relationships (i.e. dating), and the other third I either did not know about, or were not trying. It was more likely that they were attempting to pursue relationships than not. Much more the case. How good they were in that endeavor is left for debate. In my stake I think that was mostly the case as well, which is also a stake that caters to the older single adult crowd that most people think of when these kinds of things are said about older single males in the Church. Much of the problem in dating is that most of the guys are all pursuing the same girl, but that's more difficult to diagnose and treat than just saying, "guys don't date and guys don't want to commit so they should grow up and just start trying." I think a good number of them (the active ones going to Church) are, more than a lot of people would suspect.

Dave said...

All girls should just be willing to date and marry a "sweet spirit" who is not so easy on the eyes like my wife did.

If all women would just compromise and lower their standards--like Caitlin did--then they could all be in reasonably functional relationships.

"And they made it work" is the new "And they lived happily ever after."

Amy Walton said...

It's funny how your personal experience is all you really have to go by. Obviously it's a genuine problem or the brethren wouldn't continue to address it, but my personal experience has shown me scores of diligent, responsible GOOD men that want nothing more than a temple marriage. Strangely enough, my heart has always gone out to the unmarried men more than the women. No reason really, just based on the people I knew. In my long personal talks with these guys I could never come up with any advice to offer them. They were doing everything I could think of. Then again, I was 29 and not married either so maybe I was missing something too. For me, although I dated and interacted with tons of amazing LDS men and I wanted marriage more than anything, I just didn't want to marry any of those guys. Too picky? Maybe. But I found what I was looking for in the end and I couldn't be happier. I really liked Elder Hollands comment that not every talk is for every person. To all of the unmarrieds that are taking every opportunity to date that they can, just add patience and hang in there. To all the man-boys, get your act together. To all the woman-girls, just because a guy doesn't want to date you doesn't automatically mean he's afraid of marriage... but that's just my experience talking. I know it's a very personal and individual subject for everyone.

Kira Cook said...

I think that talk was directed to the many LDS single adults who think they are a huge prize and that people should be lucky to date them. Once you've accepted your own short comings and are actively working on those, while dating, the right one is more recognizable.
Oh and just for the record ( I heard this 3 times after conference) I DO NOT THINK that any two people living the gospel can be happily married.