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Monday, July 4, 2016

Marriage Pressure

[Dear Readers,

I am hoping that this post, and my commentary that follows, will be a point of discussion.  I'm hoping it will help communication, understanding and growth.

So I'm going to make this the only email I post for the next seven days.

Share.  Comment.  Enjoy.

And know that I love you.

- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

You posted something that really rubbed me the wrong way and I really feel the need to respond.

There seems to be an attitude of "entitlement" here.

To "Confused Collegiate", I'd suggest working on yourself and your own attitude.

I say that with love. I've been where you are!

I know how it is to feel lost and lonely.

If you are so adamant about getting married as a 20 year old, maybe you need to really understand what marriage and dating REALLY entails.

While the fairy-tale life seems great, it's fiction.

Marriage and dating takes serious work, understanding, and love.

It doesn't include judging a guy between the age of 23-28 for why they aren't married yet.

I don't appreciate judging anyone for why they aren't married yet.

You don't know where they've been.

You don't know what they've been through.

You don't know if they have gotten their heart broken and been rejected.

Instead of getting angry about why they aren't asking you out, genuinely seek to understand and serve them.

This will go a lot farther than gluing something to their door and expecting them to read your mind.

Actually talk to them and voice your concerns.

Maybe you'll learn something in return.

Try to find hobbies and have direction.

Be excited about something in your future besides marriage.

Yes, I realize that is a great, righteous goal to have. What if you never get married?

What if the Lord has something else in store for you?

Don't be so quick to place blame on all the men around.

Work on yourself and your own plans.

Be independent and content with your life and people will naturally flock to you.

I'm in my 6th semester at BYU-I and I'm planning on grad school at BYU next fall.

I've had the time of my life with the dating scene.

There are some awesome guys on campus. I've dated a ton and really learned a lot...

It hasn't been easy.

As far as the social life up here goes, you get out of it what you put in.

Like Dale Carnegie says...“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

My current boyfriend and I got to know each other by hanging out.

My roommate liked him so I had no interest in him.

The more I ignored him, the more he went after me.

I didn't even know what was going on.

We got to know each other in a group setting.

One day he pulled me aside and told me he really liked me and after months of spending more time together, we are dating exclusively.

Marriage is in the works, but it's not a rush. It never was.

With the divorce rate higher than ever, it's important to take your time.

Don't be in such a hurry to get married.

Our relationship is based on communication.

Dating doesn't have to have a perfect mold...and especially with the evolving culture up here, you need to accept that no guy is perfect and will do things that drive you crazy.

He isn't going to always work on your timetable.

This doesn't mean lowering your standards, but be open to different ways of getting to know people and different types of guys. Don't be so set that there's only one way of doing things.

Don't be closed to opportunities and experiences other than dating and getting married.

The Lord works in mysterious ways and afterall, you should be on HIS timing.

Enjoy life and love yourself.

God is so good.

He'll lead your path if you let Him.

I guess what I'm trying to say here, Bro Jo, is that I don't like how the blame is constantly being placed on men lately.

I've read your blog for years. I love some of your insight...and I agree with you most of the time.

I agree that girls need to respect themselves and be strong and bold, but I think it's more important to be Christ-like.

Seek opportunities to help each men and women.

We literally NEED each other in this life. I think it's okay to be friends and hang out before dating.

I think it's okay that men aren't perfect...because women aren't either.

We should use the people that come into our lives as opportunities to serve Heavenly Father. I've tried some of your "tips" before with flirting and "getting a date".

I've played the "independent woman" card and refused to be seen as low-hanging fruit.

Most guys think it's condescending and they get annoyed.

They don't get near a girl who is going to undermine their masculinity like that.

They are good guys too.

It's important to show respect and, in-turn, receive it.

We have separate but equal roles.

Be genuine.

I think it's important to embrace this stage of life we are in and while the pressure of marriage should always be in mind, it shouldn't be a RUSH.

Do you agree?

What are your thoughts?

My uncle is going through a divorce.

He married his wife 3 months upon getting home from his mission and she was 19.

13 years later, she feels the need to liberate herself and enjoy those lost years of finding herself.

She wasn't ready for marriage and didn't know what she was getting herself into.

Now my uncle and his 3 kids are suffering because of it. I think this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.

I also feel the need to reiterate that there isn't a perfect way of doing things and there isn't a mold for life.

My uncle can find happiness again. He is 36 and has to get back into the dating world.

The Lord hasn't forsaken him.

He is temple worthy and the Lord has good things in store for him.

Everything happens for a reason.

We can't control the agency of others, but as long as we always have the Lord in mind, he will never lead us astray.

What are your thoughts on the LDS dating culture?

Do you think it's a bit rushed?

Do you think it's important to embrace the single life before committing to someone?

How old were you when you got married?

Were you grateful for that time you had to figure yourself out before getting married?

You seem to think that a guy back from his mission shouldn't waste any time at all to date . . .

Especially with the 18 year olds going out. They'll be 20 year old RMs. 20 years old.

That's SO young.

Do you think they should be in such a rush to get married?

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Hi! I have lots of thoughts on LDS Dating Culture!

I don't think I could lay a blanket statement saying that LDS Dating Culture is altogether rushed or not.

I do think there are advisable paths, general advice and rules that work for many, if not most, people. 

I also think that when someone says "this is my general opinion" people often forget that of course there are exceptions to the rules, but those exceptions don't necessarily mean that everything else is null and void. I do not agree that it's "important to embrace the single life before committing to someone".

I think that, in general, it's "embracing the single life" that is messing up a lot of our Young Single Adults, but I also submit that it's possible you and I are thinking of that phrase in different lights.

I think there's value in accepting who you are and realizing that you may be single longer than you anticipated or hoped; and I think that one's value should not be based on one's relationship or the lack thereof.

But I also know that many Single Adults (regardless of age) in the LDS Culture are single not because of circumstance, but because of selfishness, and I see that as a HUGE concern.

 And, no, I'm not saying that I think that you, your boyfriend, or any of the singles you know are selfish.

If I knew them or more about their specific situation I may at that time become of that opinion about some of them.

I was 21 when I got married. I think I was too young, not in years, but I lacked maturity, but I wouldn't go back and change; I don't regret getting married when I did, I only wish I was more mature then.

I can think of several young men for whom I would say that 20 or 21 is not too young to get married, and several who I just don't think are ready.

For young women I feel the same way when they're 19. Sister Jo turned 20 just after we married.  She was much more prepared than I.

I'm STILL figuring myself out.

I'm grateful that I have a Good Eternal Companion to help me, and much prefer that over doing it alone.

I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's divorce.

They are not getting divorced because she was too young then; they're getting divorced because she's too selfish now.

I don't suggest that people rush to the altar at all.

I tell them not to make excuses for not looking, to get out there and be social, and when they think they've found someone I implore them to do their Due Diligence.

I have said . . . often . . . "long courtships, short engagements".

And I've written some very specific advice about why not to marry someone and the things you should know before proposing or accepting a proposal.

Thank you for your email!

And best of luck to you.

- Bro Jo

[Dear Readers,

Much of what this original letter writer had to say is true.

Some of it, IMHO, is not good advice.

She's right about respect and love and treating each other kindly.  And I am grateful for her testimony of the Savior.  She is spot on there.  No question.

I think she's wrong about hanging out, waiting until you "find yourself" and delaying marriage.  

We all bring to each issue the biases of our experience.

In the same way that her uncle's divorce likely made her marriage-shy, her opinions about rushing and being too young are because . . . well, she didn't want to be rushed and felt that she herself was too young.

That's real and understandable and right.

For her.

I know this particular young woman well enough to tell you that she's an amazing young person with much to offer an eternal companion . . . when she's ready.

As of right now, several years later, she's still unmarried.

She spends lots of time traveling and with her friends.  She is a kindhearted individual who works hard and serves others.  She has since this email graduated college and is successful in her work.  She tells me that it's getting harder and harder the older she gets and the further she is from college to meet and date Good Single LDS Men.

Sister Jo might say that this reader has lived a life like many LDS Singles . . . pushing marriage aside so that she could "enjoy the single life".  That the "hanging out" and "we're just friends" things have worked against this reader getting married.  

Perhaps that's true . . .

That doesn't make her a bad person.

Nor does it mean that she won't ever find an eternal companion.  

It does seem that the "not until I'm older and have lived and experienced more of life" attitude leads to an awful lot of "still single over 30 (or in my late 20's) and now that I'm ready I can't find anyone" feelings.

Many of our young people tell me they feel a lot of pressure to get married.

They say it comes from me . . . their parents . . . Church leaders . . .

I get that.  See . . . we old folks know that it's tough to stay active in the Church if one finds oneself older and never married.  So we worry about you.  And we talk about how awesome it is to be Married for Time and All Eternity.

Which it is.

And we do talk about it.  A lot.

It's important.  And we love you.

We're watering what we want to grow.

And you feel pressured . . .

But I submit to you that pressure is more internal than external.

And I think you know that.

I mean, really.

How often do you YSA do stuff just because your parents said to?

Most pressure IS internal.

Sure we say things like "peer pressure", but even then what we're talking about it how INSIDE we feel a desire to be accepted . . . to go along . . . to be part of the group.

That's Internal.  Not External.

I have that, too.

There are things in my life I feel pressured to do.  It can stress me out.  But that stress is really more from inside than outside.

I know you want to get married.

Most of you, anyway.

And I know it's not easy.

And I know it's scary.

And I know it's not what lots of people are doing anymore.

Another thought:

Don't make Eternal Marriage a box you check off in your life.  Yeah, I want to see you actively find a Good Person to marry . . . soon.  I want you to know the joys and blessings of marriage and family.

Don't put it off for worldly things.

Don't get so wrapped up in being single that you find yourself too old for marriage to be likely.

But don't just get married to get married, either.

The original writer is correct when she says that marriage is no fairy-tale; that it's a lot of work; that communication is essential in any good relationship.

What I want her and all of you to gain a testimony of is that it's worth it!

That there's no such thing as only one person out there for you.  The Heavens don't open, light doesn't shine down, and there are not butterflies every time you talk to that "special someone".

Stop dismissing people who are potentially great spouses for trivial reasons.

Stop thinking that you don't have what it takes to be a great Eternal Companion.

Stop dating no one or everyone.

Stop allowing your parents to keep you from growing up.  Treating our adult children like their still kids is not the way to hang onto our youth.  We need to grow up.  And so do you.

Give yourselves a chance.

Don't gamble, but take a leap of faith.

Love to you all,

- Bro Jo]


Anonymous said...

I think as a parent it us hard to not try and give good advice. But the more I listen to my kids the more I realize we live in completely different worlds. I was speaking to my son and he said young men today do not believe young women today deserve any special treatment. They do not need doors opened for them. They can do it themselves. I told him if his father had not been repectful and kind he would have been like every other guy I dated. But when he insisted on opening doors it was honestly refreshing. This quality is one reason I married him. He replied he knew lots of guys who treated girls badly and the girls loved it and they are now the rude guys girlfriends. I tried to say it is a phase girls go through but he rejected that idea. My daughter seeks perfection in relationships and that is unrealistic too. He has to look a certain way and act a certain way. She finds very few young men attractive even though many try to impress her. Sometimes I think dating looks like a very bad game of musical chairs and someone always feels left out. I also think that the young adults today are still trying to get married. They are just choosing later or people we may not think are the best for them. This summer I've already attended a wedding. I have an announcement on my fridge and I know of two other weddings in the works. Unfortunately only two will be temple marriages. My father in law is a sealer and he said sometimes he feels nothing when he seals a couple. I hope the young men and young women will choose to marry someone they love not just somebody who asked. Because it is such a big choice I think we are all going to have to give all young adults the space and confidence to make to best choice for them.

Anonymous said...

I think that as YSA we are told so much about how important marriage and family are that fear stops us from dating because we feel our eternal happiness is at stake if we make a wrong choice. What if choose wrong? What if I change my mind or they do?

Also that leads to dating less so we don't have much dating experience, so we don't know what we want in a relationship. We are told to date but know every tells us how to know if it's right. Basically we are told marriage is really important don't mess it up. Good luck!

Personally most of my dates are first dates that go nowhere and those dates are few and far between. So when a good guy comes along and is actually interested for more than one date what am i supposed to do date him just because no one else is interested and I should be getting married? That sounds awful.

When the dates are so rare it's difficult not to get worked up about it because what if this my only date for the next year?

Bro Jo said...

We would do well, I think, to remember what fear is the opposite of, and where fear, doubt, and discouragement to do Good Things comes from.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

What can we do to make sure we don't mix up what is just fear of a good thing and feeling like a relationship just isn't working?

Also where do we draw the line between giving things a chance and not wasting anymore time on what's not working?

Anna said...

I heard it's quite common for us millennials to "embrace single life" a bit too far. What about just embracing life period? That sounds a lot more fun and sustainable.

In my opinion the difference between fear of a good thing and feeling like a relationship isn't working should be easily observable if you can organise what it takes for a relationship to work (similar goals, understanding and accepting each others flaws and ways of showing affection etc.) and assessing whether you guys have the most important points settled. Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence by Jeffrey R. Holland also talked about that kind of fear.

However when it comes to worrying about making the wrong choice, then maybe that person needs to work on themselves so they can become more confident in their decision making skills, part of which includes drawing closer to the Spirit. In fact Boyd K Packer said "but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit."

Worried about changing your mind about a spouse after marriage? Maybe work on your own ability to keep commitments and realise that no matter how good your decision on who to marry turns, whether good or bad that doesn't change your responsibility to try your best to make it work and to not change your mind.

Worried about them changing their mind? If you can't trust them in the first place then why are you getting married to them? Unforeseen circumstances may arise however, and in that case you can be comforted to know that if you do what's right and keep your covenants and integrity there's the promised land at the end of the wilderness.

Yea that's just my opinion on these topics haha xD

Anna said...

Oh, and I notice I have way more fun on dates and they are a lot less awkward and more playful when my cares revolve around getting my date to smile, which gives me a rush, making me smile... as opposed to always thinking how to showcase myself as perfect marriage material and assessing the other person for the same thing.That's how I don't get worked up anyway, even during the slow periods haha. Also dates where you're giving service are always good, because nothing's awkward when you're doing service! :D

Laura said...

I want to touch on one thing this lady said. She mentioned her experience with Bro Jo's advice on "how to get a guy to ask you on a date" led to guys not liking her undermining their masculinity. I'm sorry, but her experience is simply anecdotal and not true for all experiences. No, it is not a one-size-fits-all method for every person's dating experience. But just because she had a poor experience using it (or perhaps it was wrongly executed? We don't know the details here) does not make it obsolete. From my own anecdotal experience, I can say it works really well when done right! I used it on my now-husband. I'm sorry she had a poor experience with it, but it does not make Bro Jo's advice wrong.

A lot of her advice is based on anecdotal experience and based on what is written here, I think she should broaden her perspective. That alone could open her up to a whole world of blessings she has not yet received. Her experiences are true, but her perspective on the WHY behind many of her experiences is pretty narrow, to be honest.

Another note that has been discussed is "finding yourself." You certainly can "find yourself" while single, but getting married doesn't mean that you have to stop "finding yourself." If you've been through the temple, you'll know that we are ALWAYS growing, we have endless potential, and we will never STOP "finding ourself," or discovering our purpose/growing into who we need to be. And really, marriage is an awesome way to do that because you have ac companion doing the same thing right along with you. So "finding yourself" is not a good excuse to put off marriage.

One final note. "With the divorce rate higher than ever, it's important to take your time."

No. The problems of the world should not dictate Heavenly Father's plan for you. If you meet the man you will marry and you both feel and know it is right and should do it in the next 2-3 months, then follow those spiritual promptings. NEVER let the problems of the world come before the counsel of the prophets and teachings of Christ. Never. You really limit yourself when you follow worldly trends and put it before your Heavenly Father.