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Friday, April 12, 2013

Is It Okay to Marry a Non-RM?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've just recently been presented with an idea that I'd like your thoughts on.

I've met a guy who isn't an RM.

However, he's a really really good guy who has tried to go on a mission twice now and been told "no" both times.

He asked me some sensitive questions recently so I felt okay asking him about why he couldn't serve.

He told me he has things in his past that he'd been dealing with. And since we're not dating, that's all I need to know at this point. (a.d.d. moment: we've known each other for a few months, these questions came up on our first date. We went for a walk. One of the best kind of dates in my opinion. Simple, cheap, and very effective when you're trying to get to know someone.)

He also told me that he would go tracting with the missionaries all the time. He sees it as a blessing because he gets to be able to be a missionary for longer than two years.

His mom tells him that she would have married his dad regardless of the mission because his dad was still his dad. And his dad says that you don't do anything much different on your mission than off of it.

And I don't recall ever really thinking about my dad's mission while growing up beyond knowing that he served in Holland.

Here's my question:  I, like many Mormon girls, have had it hammered into our skulls to look for worthy RMs for eternal companions. I don't see how this guy is anymore or less worthy than an RM. He's not perfect by any means, but who is?

On a personal note, an RM was always one of my requirements on those "Qualities you want in your future husband" lists they made us make in Young Women's. Mainly because missions have a tendency to turn boys into men and teach them really good life skills.

I've always felt strongly that this is what I want, but does this mean I should just avoid good guys like this one simply because he didn't live a cookie-cutter Mormon life?

Just because he didn't serve doesn't mean he hasn't had those life skill building experiences.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying I'm ready to go to the alter with this guy by any means. I'm just curious in case I do find myself falling for a guy who isn't an RM someday.

Your thoughts?

- Curious

Dear Curious,

It's true that simply being an RM is no guarantee a guy is a Good Guy, that he has a testimony, or (frankly) is even temple worthy.

In my opinion what a girl should be looking for in a future husband is one who honors his priesthood, has a testimony of the savior, lives that testimony, is willing to work hard at whatever he needs to do, and will honor and cherish her.

That's it.

Now the truth is that most Return Missionaries ARE those things, and their Missionary Service is a testament to that.

Perhaps that's why the "I want to marry an RM" thing gets "so plastered"; it's an easy and simple label, and while not always a guarantee, it often is.

I respectfully disagree with his dad, by the way; a mission is a remarkably unique experience that identifies (not defines; identifies) who someone is and says a lot about who they are. What we do everyday is NOTHING like serving a Full Time Mission.

It can be a wonderful time of personal and spiritual growth, AND it can show a commitment to the Lord as well as an individual's willingness to sacrifice.

I'll bet if you talked directly to his dad about how his son has interpreted what he said and how it made you feel he might give you a different answer. (If that really IS what his dad said, and IF he's dad still has a testimony of the value of missionary service and isn't just trying to make his wayward son feel better.)

Our history matters, but it doesn't matter as much as where we Are or where we're Going.

When considering whom to marry, and whether or not to marry, you've got to know where the person is and get a good feel for where they're going.

Not all Great Guys are RMs, and not all RMs are Great Guys.  (Same thing is true for Sisters, by the way.)

Do your Homework.  (And a good place to start is Bro Jo's 5 A's of Why Not to Marry That Person.)

- Bro Jo

PS: In the case of this guy, a girl will need to know what exactly he did . . . twice . . . that kept him from going, AND (most importantly) whether or not those things really are no longer a part if his life or if the "missionary longer than two years" line is just smoke-blowing garbage.  While Repentance is between the individual and the Lord, if you're going to marry someone you have every right to know whether or not they still have worthiness issues, pornography or other addictions.

Sure, not everyone who doesn't serve or who comes home early has a worthiness or addiction problem, but in the case of this guy he's already strongly hinted that one of those was the situation.


Heather said...

Curious, I truely hope you are able to see my comment.
I like you, had that I would marry a RM on my list of things that MUST be for my future husband. I started the singles program with that attitude, and wondered how one of my peers could marry someone who didn't go on a mission. I just didn't understand how someone could marry another who didn't have the will and dedication to serve the Lord.
Nevertheless, I ended up marrying a wonderful man. Who got involved with the wrong crowd at that time, and therefore didn't serve a mission.
Bro Jo, is right. There's a reason why he didn't go. I would say get to know him more, and he will open up to you about those things, and be honest with you if he is truely repentant.
Over our long dating period my husband opened up with me, told me everything and all that had happened.
It honestly strengthend us.
Since this boy has such a huge desire to serve for what ever reason, at the least give him the respect he deserves. Do degrade him because he hasn't served. Never, never do that.
Even if he doesn't end up serving a mission, you know he tried to go. He must have that love for the Lord.
Yes, if it does ever so happen that you fall in love with a man who didn't serve, and as long as they are worthy and living up to their standards, and convenats(and you are too). Marry him. It won't hurt.
Sure, there will be times, maybe that you can tell where he didn't serve a mission. (for instance my husband has a hard time leaving his comfort zone and it gives him much anxiety about it) But if he is striving to keep all his convenats he has made with the Lord. He is so worthy to recieve all blessings of our Lord.

Much Love.

kendra said...

My husband did not go on a mission. He is in the military, he enlisted to protect his country. It is very sad that men get judged on weather they served a mission or not. I find it shallow that it is force feed to us in young women's. Not all RM are good guys, and a man should not be written off because he did not serve.

Dave Johnston said...

I agree, Kendra, mostly.

Except that I'm not sure men are judged on missionary service.

I do hope that potential spouses evaluate a man (as I'm sure you did) on whether or not he lives the commandments of God to the best of his ability.

Missionary Service for LDS young men is, of course, one of those commandments.

While I've said here many times that it's not a guarantee of anything (just as serving in the military is not a guarantee of love of country - I'm sure your husband could identify some of his brothers in arms that are neither good soldiers or officers), obedience and the way one serves in whatever his calling may be is very much an indication of who he is.

And, perhaps more importantly, who he will become.

"Apathy", whether it be about the commandments, missionary service, or any vocation, is a reason I think a man, or woman, should be excluded from marriage consideration.

Check out "Bro Jo's 5 A's of WHY NOT to MARRY THAT PERSON".

- Bro Jo