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Friday, January 9, 2015

Marriage Pressure . . . at 17

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

My name is (name withheld). If you happen to decide to post this, I would prefer if you withheld my name though, thanks!

I am seventeen years old and a senior in high school.

First off, I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and for allowing people to send questions and for your responses.

I have never emailed you before, but I love reading your blog when I find time. Thanks for all that you do!

So here's the thing. People have been discussing marriage with me a lot lately. It's been a huge topic and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed about the whole matter.

As I said before, I am seventeen and a senior in high school.

I am also the only Laurel in my ward and so I feel sort of alone sometimes when it comes to the things that come with my age. Marriage/Single Adult discussions being one.

The subject of the next stages of my life have really been bombarding me as of late.

They started out in the past few months and have slowly increased to be more and more often.

The first real comments were when I was visiting my family out in Utah at the end of July.

My older cousin and I are very close and he is leaving for his mission in November.

This trip was the last time I would see him for over two years until he comes back.

When I had to say my final goodbyes one thing he kept emphasizing was that I had better not get married while he was gone.

I kept thinking to myself that he was being ridiculous!

When he gets back I will be almost 20.

That's when it hit me.

My mom was married a week after she turned 19.

My aunt (his mom) was married at 19.

Our grandma was married at 19.

I sort of began to see his thought formation.

It really got me thinking about it....and concerned at how immature I feel to be so close to something that they did so near to my age!

After I got home, my YW leader was driving us girls to the Temple (It is a two hour drive for my ward) and we were discussing and talking about things along the way.

She started talking a lot about how I would be moving into Relief society soon and the changes that were to come.

I expressed some worries I had over the whole Single Adult status I would soon hold.

While in the Temple I did some soul searching and prayer about what we had discussed and I felt comfort and a need to began preparing for these things.

This honestly completely calmed my nerves and I had a change of heart that made me move past my waiting on Peter pan to take me away to never-land (I call this the never-land syndrome...It is very real!:P)

It comforted me about the next stage in my life.

As I came out of the temple, my leader handed me a book by John Bytheway, "What I Wish I'd Known When I Was Single: How to Do Life As a Young Adult"

(It's a great book! Even if you are way past that point!)

Which was awesome (and probably inspired) and really helped.

But then, all of a sudden......people at church started mentioning marriage too.

An older gentleman told me that he wished he could just send me off to marry his RM son in Utah.

Then I was walking in the hallway and an older friend of mine was discussing with our brand new RM's parents "who I was going to marry".

At choir, one of the young dads was telling me what a great example I was and that I was exactly what all the young men look for.

The comments just keep coming (Great compliments, but like I said, a bit overwhelming)

Everything has been pointing me to begin preparing myself for this. (Note: I don't mean that I think I am going to be married in a year or anything like that, it may be five, ten, or even twenty, but I have felt this feeling of needing to began preparation for it)

Basically, what I'm trying to get at is this... I know that it is coming.

I know that it is something I need to prepare for. I want to do it right.

Having an eternal family and marrying the right person in the right place (Temple!) is something that I sincerely want.

My dad isn't a member, and I know the importance of having that priesthood in your home.


My dad is an amazing man, but he lacks something key.

And it's been really hard not having a dad who supports me in something that means everything to me. (Especially during his anti-Mormon stages)

Also, I have a fear of choosing someone who I think is wonderful, and turns out to make horrible mistakes.

My grandfather was a great man. He served an honorable mission, had a testimony, was married in the temple........and as he grew older he made some very awful decisions and without going into details, he was excommunicated.

This frightens me to no extent!

How can I trust someone!?

I seem to have rambled a bit, but I hope you understand what I am asking/where I am.

Honestly, I am just still trying to grasp this whole new stage that I am about to step into...and I decided that emailing you would be a great step to take for help.

(I am big on research when I have questions. I have already read a lot in the Institute manual about things like this, and tons of talks and articles)

Thanks so much for everything!

- Worried

Dear W,

At 17 I say don't worry about marriage too much. Stay worthy. Stand in Holy Places. And try to understand that all of this talk about Eternal Companionship is because life moves much faster for us old folks than it does for you.

My accountant (who's now on a mission with his Eternal Companion) explained it to me this way:

At 2 each year is 50% of your life
At 10 each year is 10% of your life
At 20 each year is 5%
At 50 each year is 2%
And at 100, well . . . should any of us be so lucky . . . 

So that's his math.

And it makes sense to me.

For you 2 years is a much longer part of your life, much further away, than it is for those of us twice (or 3 or 4 times) your age.

Lots of young people freak out about the BIG ETERNAL consequences of choosing poorly (and that's not all bad), and I know that at your age we seem to hit you with all of that ALL of the time . . . but take it with a grain of salt.

Let it season your life, but not overwhelm the recipe.

Keep Casual Group Dating for now.

Look at the lives of the older folks you know (including your parents) and learn.

Make some good decisions about how you're going to do things better than we did.

And, when it's time, switch from Casual Group Dating to Serious Single Dating.

Use the Spirit to help you know the will of God in your life, and don't let any of us talk you out of that.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

That makes a lot of sense. I really truly appreciate the advice.

Also, thank you for your prompt reply!

I know what you are saying is true.

All I can do is just be the best that I can, and listen to the spirit, and all things will fall into play.

I know I just got overwhelmed with it all, and I do know that everything will be fine:).

Thank you again!

You are great!

- W

Dear W,

Back at ya!

If I may add one thing I forgot to last time:  don't ever forget how going to the Temple made these stresses in your life easier to handle.  I appreciate your Testimony of that.

Heavenly Father is always looking for ways to bless our lives; making and keeping sacred covenants, being in places (physically, mentally and emotionally) where we can most feel the Spirit is always a good idea.

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

The best thing a young person can do is to prepare to enter the Temple - and all that that implies. Live your life yearning to learn, grow in your testimony, gain skills, excel at your job, serve others as often as you can, and cultivate wonderful reltaionships. Be open to the opportunities the Lord places in your way, especially when it comes to dating and relationships, but don't make it the main focus of your life. Otherwise you'll have to find out who you are after the dust of the wedding settles, and that is a lose-lose for everyone involved.

Nancy said...

Little Sister, I'm 22, going on 23 come Summer. Everyone who knew me was convinced that I'd be married by the end of my first semester at university, and I had people trying to set me up with their sons/grandsons/nephews, etcetera, and I would get the what-for when people find out I'm still single- still do, and sometimes they go full cardiac arrest when they find out I've never had a real boyfriend or have been out on more than one date with any one man at any time. So naturally, I freaked out too.

Five years later, I'm still on my own, and I have really struggled with watching my peers and family find spouses and have children, while I'm still stuck being single and stuck in the friend zone, and not for the lack of trying to get out. But, I've learned a lot, and a big part of that is to not put deadlines on the Lord, because the timing isn't up to you. The Lord will put you in the situations He needs you in, and you either have the choice to embrace and be happy with your circumstances, or be bitter and miserable because it isn't where you want to be at the moment.

I promise, you'll be happier if you give your worries to the Lord for safekeeping and focus on living your life and becoming a better person one day at a time. Go out and enjoy this time, and learn as much as you can, because your experience will help you in the years to come. When the time comes, the Lord will lead you to the very best choice, and the pieces will fall into their proper order. Trust the Lord, and don't worry so much. You'll find that life is much easier that way.

Sara said...

Bro Jo,
What are your thoughts on this: I will be starting college in the fall, but I won't be 18 until a few months after the semester starts. I know I want to marry in the temple someday, but not when I'm so young! Should I be group dating until im 18, even though i'll be at college? If so, how would i do that when most people are older and ready for serious single dating?

Bro Jo said...


Sister Jo and I talked about this.

You could . . .

A) Keep Casual Group Dating until you feel old enough. (Casual Group Dates are for High School Students, so that's who you should go with.)

B) Not date until you feel old enough to Serious Single Date.

C) Get over it. Realize that if you're mature enough to be in college you're mature enough to Serious Single Date.

You will know what's best for you. Your parents can guide you, but Be Aware if you've got those parents that are Too Uptight or Too Permissive.

(I'm sure you know which kind you have.)

What WAY TOO MANY people, particularly in the Church, fail to understand is that there's a HUGE CHASM between a First Date and a Marriage Proposal. At least there is for sane people.

Be Sane. Relax. Have fun dating!

- Bro Jo

Sara said...

Thank you and your wife for the advice! I'll probably go with option C, but we'll see once I get up there.