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Friday, September 7, 2012

Pre-Marriage Concerns: Money and Repentance

Dear Bro Jo,

A few days ago I discovered you through a friend of mine by leaving out one of your books on our desk. I enjoyed reading your Guide to Relationships book, and could hardly put it down (thank goodness it's slim!).

There was one section of the book that opened my eyes. In the beginning of your book, you mentioned that men bring up marriage to see if they can catch an early answer to the big question. My boyfriend of 7 seven months sometimes brings up the idea of being married, mostly bout the two of us. Fact of the matter is that whenever he would bring it up, I would put the idea to the side. I've got a couple of reasons, too.

Firstly, my boyfriend does not have the most impressive history when it comes to keeping the commandments of the Church. He used to be sexually active with both sexes, and used to drink and smoke. I knew all about his history before we hitched up, when we were still just friends. For about a year now he's been clean of that stuff, but my inner gut tells me that his repentance process will take some more time.

Second, since neither of us could secure a regular pay-roll job, both of us are poor as rats. Dating for us consists of going to each other's houses, making homemade food (we both can cook and EAT), then doing whatever we can in a house. That could be paling games (board or Nintendo), watching movies, or talking. Going out to eat is usually going to a friend's wedding reception, and piling finger food on our plates. If we cannot afford many decent dates, then we cannot afford to live together.

Here's the kicker, just because I put the subject aside, doesn't mean I don't want to marry the lovable doof! I would marry the guy. We like being together and being a support for each other, but we've got some growing up to do. We owe it to each other to have a proper temple marriage, and to live with running water and electricity in our shack. OK, so here's my question, is it right to for me to put the subject of marriage aside, because we are clearly not ready to on such big step in life? Should I just tell him straight forward that I would like to marry him, but not now?

Your Reader,

Love the Repenter

Dear Friend,

First of all, thank you for the kind words about the book; I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I do believe that your boyfriend is bringing up the topic of marriage because he wants to know where you stand, and if you keep shooting him down he may stop asking, which you may regret.

And you may not.

While stopping sinful behavior is a wonderful thing, stopping in and of itself is not the entire repentance process, which is generally described in:


1) Feel Godly Sorrow. This is where the realization that you've done wrong hits. Not just guilt, you recognize that you've wronged God and you feel remorse. Frankly, a lot of times we skip this step. We stop the behavior, but we don't feel or realize that what we did was wrong, which is why we're very likely to repeat the sin.

2) Confession. Often we need to go to the person whom we've sinned against and tell them what we've done. We always need to confess to Heavenly Father, even though he knows all, and we do that through prayer. It's a humbling experience, and humility is a big step towards accepting the atonement. And some sins need to be confessed to priesthood authority, because it's our Bishop (or sometimes Stake President) whom the Lord has called as a Judge in Israel that has the tools and ability to help us make things right with God. The sins you've mentioned require priesthood authority.

3) Ask for forgiveness. We ask God (again through prayer) and often of the person we've wronged.

4) Restitution and Rectification. This is where we make up for what we've done, if we can (and make no mistake, we nearly always can). If you stole a candy bar from a store, it could include paying the store or working off the debt. In this step we show that we're willing to do what it takes to make things right. If we can't directly pay back whomever we've wronged (like the store has closed and the previous owners can't be found) then we can "pay it forward" in some other way, like donating to a children's charity so they can buy candy. (I love that movie, by the way.)

5) Forsake the sin. That's where you commit to yourself and Heavenly Father that you won't to it again. If you do, you go back to step one (which you may not have done in the first place) and you start over, understanding that this next time through will be harder than the last, but as all things with Christ, it's doable and definitely worth the effort.

Being married is generally cheaper than two people living separately (or unmarried people living together, even), but I agree: if you two can't support yourselves financially you're not ready for marriage. Now, that said, I do think that some of us think we have to maintain a lifestyle more luxurious than we do, putting off marriage when we shouldn't. Lots of married couples are pretty poor when they start out, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

But my general recommendation to sisters is that, if he doesn't have a job, the dude is a dud; move on. The only exception being if he's in school or training for a job and taking it seriously. An unwillingness to work (and let's be honest, here, anyone willing to work hard can get employed) is a serious red flag. Apathy is one of my reasons to not marry a person (see "Bro Jo's FIVE A's of WHY NOT to MARRY THAT PERSON", which is also in the book).

Heck, I wouldn't even recommend you date a guy who's too lazy or too messed up to work.

Which brings me to another big issue: can you confirm he's had a clean and recent blood test?

Anyone with this guy's past likely is carrying something. Very likely.

 (Please, please tell me you're not having sex with this man! That would be a serious, serious mistake, both physically and Spiritually. If you are, you've got to stop, now. If you're worried that cutting him off sexually will end the relationship, you're probably right, but the good news is that if it does you will have discovered that he doesn't respect or love you. Better to know that now than later.)

I think you should not consider marrying any guy who isn't ready to support you financially and be a priesthood leader in your home. And I think you need to come out and tell this guy that, yes, you like the idea of marrying him some day, but until he gets these other things right, there's no sense talking about it. AND, this is important; you need to be open to the possibility of dating other guys and marrying someone else if he isn't actively moving in a positive direction.

And you may need to be doing that, too.

- Bro Jo

Bro Jo,

Yes, as far as I can tell, he is going through the repentance process. He's been seeing the Bishop and our stake leader a few times, remembers to say his prayers (even in Taco Bell), attends the temple (even though he can't come inside), and he even broke-up with me one time because he felt some things were not moving in the right direction in our relationship. And, no, we're not having sex, unless you count kissing and snuggling as sex (then I'm Anna Nicole Smith, darn it!).

Unemployment in our county is around 18%. Almost everyone in our Ward don't have jobs! My bf has been looking for a job, but odds are against him. He is on a queue for a promising state job, but that would require a certain amount of employees to leave the business, and that doesn't satisfy him enough. Once he gets a pay-roll job, he plans on saving up that money to finish his college.

Not many guys are interested in me, and I'm not interested in many other guys as well.

Heck, I wasn't interested in my boyfriend at first, but he kept on pursuing me for almost a month till I agreed to go out with him. Let me open a can of worms here, the other guys that did pursue me in the past are worse! One guy wanted me to be his gal, so that he could have free babysitting for his kid (bishop now calls the girls interested in him to stay away). Another guy sends me a letter stating that he stopped drinking, smoking, and etc, for me (NO, YOU IDIOT! DO IT FOR YOURSELF!).

Another guy wanted my phone number, because he acted like he never seen a girl in a comic book shop before. Oi, dummies. I there were only three guys that I was interested in. Building up my guts, I pursued all three of them, only to get shot down for different reasons. There's not much motivation to try to date other dudes.

I thank you for your advice, and I will be using it in the near future.

Keep on writing,


Dear Friend,

I'm glad to hear all of that!

Regarding the unemployment . . . at some point moving needs to become an option.  Sometimes we cling to a town without jobs like a thirsty person in the desert; if there's no water where you're at, then don't just stand there - move!

I hope this guy is as good as you say he is, and that this isn't just a case of you lowering your standards because you don't think anyone else could ever be interested.  I mean, you know that's not true . . . but I worry that you may be settling . . . or worse, selling yourself short.

Either way, I wish you both the best,

- Bro Jo


bananasplit said...

Man this was an extremely awesome post. Hey Bro Jo I'm wondering if you can do a column about "the pyramid." You know, where the General Authorities talk about building the pyramid on friendship with the tip being romance. Friends first. You explain things so I can understand and I'd also like to hear your perspective on this. Thanks mucho!

Dave Johnston said...

I think you just explained it!

- Bro Jo