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Friday, November 15, 2013

Marriage and Singleness at BYU-"I-do"

Dear Bro Jo,

I was reading through your blog to kill some time and have stumbled across a few that have got me thinking.

You posted one from a young man who isn't interested in dating...I think it was titled "Why He Doesn't Feel Like Dating" or something to that effect.

He says in his letter that he feels a lot of pressure from friends and other people to get married.

As a single sister at BYU-I, I totally understand that.

My roommates and I used to laugh about the whole dating and marriage culture, but it's now sometimes to the point where it's a little discouraging.

And we're not old by any means.

We're all just turning 20!

We hear all the time "Go get married" from university and ecclesiastical leaders.

I've found, though, that it's hard to "go and do" when I'm not getting any dates.

At 20 (and going into my 4th semester of college at BYU-"I Do"), I've never been asked out on even one date in my life.

But that's neither here nor there.

My question for you is: why is there such an emphasis on getting married now?

I feel like the message is skewed.

We hear "go get married" but never "but be happy being single".

It's something that I've really struggled with at times because you start to think there's something wrong with you if you're not married (or engaged).

I'm finally getting to the place where I'm putting my trust in the Lord and saying "in your time", but it's taken a lot of prayer and talking to my roommates to get there.

I realize we shouldn't put off getting married for certain things (career, finances, etc), but is it really fair to say "go get married" without adding "but trust the Lord's plan for you and be happily single in the meantime"?

Also, I want your opinion about this as a guy. Does that kind of culture- where you hear about it every week at Church and/or devotional- turn you off to it?

I remember my first semester of school, my RS president would stand and remind us all that we had to do our VT (and she insisted that we had to do it every week).

It really started to annoy me and made me not want to do my visiting teaching.

I did it because it was the right thing to do, and I did enjoy it, but hearing her say it every week wore on me.

Do you think it's the same way with guy and dating/marriage?

Does constantly pestering just make them not want to do it?

Thanks for all your dedication and service to the youth of the Church!


Single, Happy, and Searching

Dear Happy,

I think the post you're referring to is "Why He May Not Feel Like Dating", which was run in two parts in January, 2012.  (Click Here for Part 1, and Here for Part 2)

Going and Doing, whether it's marriage or dating, home or visiting teaching, and our reactions to the suggestion and reminders, has a lot to do with who we are and where we happen to be in our lives at that moment.

19 and 20 is ridiculously young to be discouraged about dating, regardless of where you happen to be going to school (and even if you're not in school). I've been on both sides of the conversation; I've been the guy standing in front of his quorum begging them to go out and do their priesthood duty and I've been the guy sitting in the congregation thinking "man, when will this dude lighten up and get off my back?"

It's hard to motivate people, and it's even harder when you feel Spiritually Obligated to motivate them to do that which they already know they're supposed to be doing and yet they act like they couldn't care less.

Let's face it: you may love Visiting Teaching and I may love Home Teaching, but lots of people in the Church are real flakes about it.

If you're the person who has to report to someone whether or not other people are okay, and the people that have been asked to care for them and check in on them are blowing them off and you off, it's a pretty tough spot to be in.

I'm at the point now that whenever I see an Auxiliary Leader or Quorum President stand up and remind, beg, or cajole, I just feel bad for them.

They're doing the best they know how, often with very little training.

I take it as them meaning well. If I'm doing all I'm supposed to or can, then I figure the message isn't for me. 

If I can use some improvement or a reminder (which in all honesty is always the case) then I worry less about how the message is delivered or from whom, and try to take it in stride, in the spirit with which it's intended. 

And I try to remember that when someone is lecturing a group, that's not a personal attack on me.

I think the constant encouragement for Young Single Adults to date and get married should be taken the same way.

Sure, lots of us (guys AND girls) put our backs up, and get defensive and resistant; but that doesn't really help us, does it?

Dating, Home Teaching, Visiting Teaching . . . whatever . . . is positive or negative based on our own attitudes more than anything else.

You do know, I hope, why people your age are "constantly reminded" to "go get married", right?

It's because even though 30 (or 25) seems like a long way off, like you have all the time in the world, the truth is that it comes up pretty fast.

The other truth is, especially in the Church, it gets significantly more difficult to find a spouse when you reach your mid-20's.


But not impossible.

Sure, you should be happy regardless of your marital status. Joy is the point of the Gospel, right?

And, believe me, simply saying "I do" does not instantly change every waking moment to Dancing Trees and Singing Flowers!

(Can you imagine how much of a Saint Sister Jo must be to put up with me on a regular basis!?! It boggles the mind!)

Is the "constant barrage of marital commandment reminders" partially responsible for the feet-dragging on behalf of some of our YSA Brethren?

It's a great theory, and I'm sure many use it as an excuse, but between you and me I don't believe it.

That only is true for the childish.

Now, granted, IMHO childishness IS part of the problem for many of these guys . . .

As for you not getting the dates you should . . . well, I don't know.

I do think that it's wrong that you haven't had at least a half dozen dates (or more) by this point.

I honestly can't tell you why it is that you haven't; you're better equipped to answer that question than I am. 

Sure, there are lots of things girls can do to get dates; maybe you haven't done any of those . . . I don't know.

But I can tell you this: it has nothing to do with how you look, or your shape, or your value.

If that was true, then there would be lots of married people in the Church that would still be single. (Take a good look at us Old Married People some time . . . it's not as if we're all Supermodels!)

If it's important to you, then give yourself an honest assessment.

We can all improve, right?

Be the best you that you can be, put yourself out there, don't hang out, go on dates with any non-creep that asks (regardless of any reasons you may think he's a dud) and do a lot of flirting.

Be of Selfless Service to others.

And if it happens, it happens.

And if it doesn't, like you said, Be Happy.

You know those axioms ("you don't find love; when you're ready and open to it, it finds you" and "love happens when you stop looking") happen to be true.

- Bro Jo

PS:  One last thought about marriage.  Marriage is about Obedience, Selflessness, Service and Sacrifice; THAT'S why there are so many blessings that come from being married - because so much of what we do to make our marriages work are the things that we're taught bring us blessings.

Just something to ponder.


Karen said...

I'm also tired of the pressure to get married and it's especially poignant in Rexburg, Idaho. Don't sweat it. There are many other things that define you besides men. Namely, the Lord. Let things take their course and be the best you that you can be. If you want to date more, put some effort into it. Half of the time they are nervous to talk to girls and don't want to seem like a "creep". Try not to place labels on guys. Every person has value and worth. Everyone deserves a chance, BroJo. Let us not be condescending.

Minxy said...

Please don't be put off by older members saying, go get married. As Bro Jo said, it gets harder to get married when you are older. Once you hit SA age, the possibility of getting married drops significantly. It gets harder to find an active guy, let alone one that is your own age, once you hit SA.
Maybe you should be using some of Bro. Jo's hints on how to get guys to ask you out.
Make sure you get out there and try not to be seen with your girlfriends and room mates putting down guys for not dating you. That is one HUGE turn off.
I don't know if the writer is getting 'out there' to activities and such, but I think she needs do some service and get out and have fun!

Christopher said...

A lot more Mormons are married than non-mormons, ( so while the constant reminders may be annoying, and provide an easy excuse, they aren't in fact scaring people away from marriage.

I was a student at BYU-Idaho when I met my wife and married. Dating is really really awful right up until it isn't.

I think that feeling of rejection and hopelessness is part of our maturation.

And don't be too hard on the guys. Our culture places a tremendous amount of pressure on men. To get married young and then support a family is frankly a burden most guys can't shoulder in the current climate.

We like to pretend that men don't date because they can get "everything they need" by hanging out. Like what? Cookies. Please, if the men you know are willing to postpone marital relations, then they must be very very worried about the future. Women make more money than men, have better employment opportunities than men, and get a better education than men.

None of which is to make an excuse for men who make the long-term decision to avoid marriage, but to encourage perspective and patience toward those men who are trying to balance the many responsibilities of surviving.