Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Do We Need to Teach Our Young Women to Be Pickier About Men?

I love the youth programs offered in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They can greatly supplement parents' efforts to raise their children with high moral values, good social skills, a wide variety of experiences, and healthy friendships with others. In both the youth programs as well as the parallel Sunday training, there is plenty of emphasis on preparing for marriage. And in this training, leaders have occasionally told the young women that the best way to find the right guy is to focus on being the best person possible, the kind of girl that will attract the kind of noble guy a good LDS girl would want to marry, and then the rest will come naturally. Maybe that works in some ideal communities where nearly all the men are above-average returned missionaries striving to live the Gospel, but I thank that's limited to just a few towns in Wyoming that no longer appear to be on the map.

"Focus on being the kind of girl who will attract the right kind of guy." It sounds like good advice, but when I step back and look at the guys that some great LDS young women marry, I think it's time for a reality check. A spiritual, talented, sweet, pure, intelligent, confident LDS young woman will often be attractive to a much broader spectrum of men than just the off-the-chart sliver of totally righteous returned missionary hunks out there. Latter-day Saint women manage to attract men of very diverse backgrounds and very diverse moral standards. And in many cases, I'm sad to say, it's the men who seem to be getting the better deal. Full disclosure: that was certainly the case for me. The absolutely amazing LDS girl I married could have done much better - if only her Young Women's leaders had encouraged her to be a lot pickier.

I suggest that the trick is not to be attractive to an ideal Mr. Right, but to be less attractive to the swarms of Mr. Wrongs that will buzz around a young female. And part of this process must include more training on how to distinguish between the two. I'd like to see girls taught to use their heads more in discerning if the candidate male is reliable, dependable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, kind, thoughtful, willing to take orders (sorry guys, I had to say that - but notice the loophole: being "willing" and actually carrying out the order aren't necessarily the same thing), etc. No, I'm not letting my wife read this, either, but if I had a daughter, I'd train her to have a list like this. If the guy you're dating only thinks about himself, gets angry easily, can't handle changes in plans, doesn't care about your schedule and needs, treats you like a toy for his fun, bosses you around, is suspicious and paranoid, doesn't trust you, can't hold a job, isn't almost as smart as you, doesn't do what he says he will, and doesn't share the values that matter to you, then marriage could be (on the average - with some happy exceptions) a long, painful headache. The reality of painful marriages needs to be discussed with young women, with tips on how to avoid starting off on a completely wrong foot by making a clearly unwise choice at the very beginning. Picky, picky, picky - I'd like to see more of our young women acquire that attitude.

Ditto for the young men, but it seems like the risks and problems are greater among the young women of the Church.

I hope this isn't too offensive or controversial. It's just my reflection on trends I've seen in the past decade.

I know some, perhaps many of our Young Women's leaders and priesthood leaders do work with the young women to encourage them to be picky. But I've seen too many cases of a girl "marrying down" when she could easily have "married equal," and in these cases, I've sometimes had the impression that the girl just wasn't ready for the "surprise" of being found attractive and desirable by the stream of good looking guys who came along.

35 comments:

Darion Alexander said...

Heh, Jeff, it's been some time since I have been on here. I think you meant to say "pickier" no "picker"

Take care.

Bored in Vernal said...

Wow, Jeff, what planet are you living on? One on which there are five worthy priesthood-holder males for every LDS girl instead of the other way around??????

If girls got any pickier, there would be a whole lot more work to do during the millennium...

SilverRain said...

I 1000% agree. As important as it is to be the right kind of person to marry, it is just as important to know how to judge the right sort of person to marry. So much heartache could be avoided if some girls would use their heads more than their self-esteem to judge.

Of course, I'd add spiritual confirmation to the list of musts - an addition that may trump at least some of the others.

SilverRain said...

I do have to agree with BiV to a point, though. Chances are there would be a whole lot fewer marriages if both partners were worthy of it.

glo said...

I have to agree with jeff here. too many times girls don't reolize that there are lots of men who want Donna Reid for thier wife, most of the don't nessisarily deserve her. I know my first boyfriend was so because he was the first person to tell me that i was beautiful that was not related to me. and he was a controlling manipulative jerk.

Paradox said...

As a youth currently in the Young Womens program, I find myself wondering how I would fare with the life that so many women in the Church have to live; balancing the responsibilities of a household, a career, and a calling; caring for children and meeting their schedules; and sometimes even maneuvering all plans around an inactive husband. I find myself wondering, "How do these women do it every single day? Didn't they want more for themselves? Are they really happy with this life?"

So when I go to Youth Conference and EFY, and all of the guys chase after the same 3-5 beautiful young women, I try to understand that they're dealing with a lot of expectations just like I am. When I think about the times I've been at dances and was left standing on the side all night, I try to remember all times I've heard the Young Men get the "Guys are inherently the scum of the earth" talk, and I try not to judge them for not seeing me. They have just as much to deal with as I do, and (I think) a lot less of a say in the matter.

I don't think pickiness is what we need. Understanding and compassion for the people that are already here might help though:)

Andrew Miller said...

While this is often the case, I have also met some young men and young women who are too picky and therefor never marry.

What is it that excites a young lady about a "bad boy?"

Stephen said...

"And in many cases, I'm sad to say, it's the men who seem to be getting the better deal."

I had non-member relatives who felt that they'd love their sons to marry LDS girls, but would hate for their daughters to marry LDS guys.

Paradox said...

Andrew:

I dated a bad boy once, before I joined the Church. I felt secure in the fact that he had life experience, and that I could learn to be as bold as he was. In a lot of ways, I viewed him as a way out from the life I was living. Sometimes I look around at the Young Women I've met and I can see a lot of that in them. And unfortunately, some of them are going to learn the hard way that you can't fix someone who does not want to be fixed.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff,

Something else needs to happen at the same time parents and church leaders encourage young women to be pickier. Bored_in_Vernal touched on this.

If the young men aren't inspired to be better themselves (socially/emotionally as well as spiritually), then the consequence of having young women raise their sights will be even more unmarried women in the church.

As it is, too many women are left with the choice of either A) staying single, or B) marrying outside of the church.

In order to address this, I see two areas that need more attention:

1) retain more males in the church (during their youth and during their young-adult years and during the transition between the two) and

2) more proselyting efforts towards young-adult males.

NM said...

Jeff,

It must have been about 2 months ago when I heard an interview on youtube of a radio presenter asking various questions to two LDS missionaries. In their conversation, the two missionaries said that there has been a decrease in the number of missionaries going into the world because the Latter-Day church had 'raised the bar'. Note, these were their own words.

Whether or not this 'raising the bar' was a reality in official church activity - it was certainly clear that this was the two missaionaries' perception.

In [your] asking, 'Do We Need to Teach Our Young Women to Be Picker About Men?' is perceived (by us) as 'let's make an effort to raise the standard' OR 'let's make an effort to realize the standard' (either one will do).

By highlighting THE standard, you of course also highlight those who HAVE NOT MET the standard. And I can imagine that there are probably many who have fallen short of the standard - and in this case: young ladies (using your own words) who have 'married down'.

I want to ask (to clarify): by writing this post, did you want young ladies to think about raising the standard/realising the standard because there is a trend of 'marrying down' and therefore want to encourage young women to (I guess) be more wise in their choosing? Was that the motivation behind the post?

On an encouraging note: as someone who promotes 'grace', I would say to those who think they have 'married down': take heart. Marriage, motherhood and any other life-activity is a call to suffering. And it is through suffering that we actually KNOW that we need help; and therefore need saving. As it says in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians - that it is in times of weakness that His power is made perfect...

To those who think they're having a hard time in marriage because they have 'married down', remember: God works all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. =) I guess it's about handing over to God the control, because ultimately we are not in control of our lives.

I digress...

Jeff, the therapist in me is taking the Socratic method and I guess I'm asking for clarification in the motivation behind what you wrote... =)

Doc said...

As to motivation, I'm just going to hazard a guess. Do you have a daughter either turning 16 or of marriageable age?

Dan and Wendy said...

Well, if ever there was an argument for bringing polygamy back...i.e. about one good/worthy guy for about every five good/worthy girls

Jeff, your point is well stated. My daughter got married last year at the near old nag age of 22.
Almost all of her friends were married well before her, but she wasn't going to be rushed by anyone.

I have lots of talks with my nieces about how they should be picky and not simply want to get married.

But, in my case, I'm glad that my wife wasn't as picky as I told my daughter and still tell my nieces to be.

Helorum2 said...

"And unfortunately, some of them are going to learn the hard way that you can't fix someone who does not want to be fixed." Good point. This is one of the big gender issues that lead to some of these challenges. Women often marry someone thinking "I can change him," while men often think, "I hope she never changes." Both may be disappointed.

RawEnergy said...

Some people talk about being single like it's a curse. Even for someone who wants a family and children, it's MUCH MUCH MUCH better to be a single woman throughout life than married to a loser!!

If being picky delays marriage or leaves you single and free because no one worthy of you turns up, what's wrong with that?? Now we are all imperfect and we must not have unreasonable expectations, but don't marry down.

Kathleen said...

Faith in God's plans=pickiness for me. I am entirely certain (speaking as an unmarried Christian woman) that God has the perfect guy out there somewhere for me, and that I will find him in God's perfect timing. (However, I must admit I sometimes wonder all the intelligent, faithful, good-looking, pure and hard-working guys seem to be Mormon... :D)

Jana said...

Bookslinger said: As it is, too many women are left with the choice of either A) staying single, or B) marrying outside of the church.

This was my experience. After years of doing my time in SA wards and the attendant activities and dances, I ended up marrying outside the church at the ancient age of 28. I dated a lot of LDS men, most of whom seemed to be so eager to be married, that more often than not they judged women against the stereotypical standard -- probably because it was an efficient way to meet their goal! I harbor no bitterness about it, and for better or worse, I married outside the church.

NM said...

Kathleen,

Judging by the notion that you read way too many books, you probably already have - but if you haven't, there's a fantastic book called 'The Relationships Revolution by Nigel Pollock (IVP) that deal with knowing God's plan for us in our relationships.

Jeff, it's alright with you? The link can be found here.

Jennifer said...

Ah, a subject I have many strong opinions about. :) I grew up in a home where my mother "married down" so to speak, and spent 30 years being abused. My father also abused my siblings and me. I view my father with pity now, but I do wish, for my mother's sake, that she had married someone else. They are now divorced, and I was never happier to see a marriage break up.

After ending a bad relationship of my own, I spent quite a bit of time thinking very carefully about what I wanted and valued as regards to marriage and a husband.

I wound deciding 4 things:

1) He needed to love God more than anything else, even me. The logic behind this was that if he loved God completely, God would tell him to live in such a way that he'd be a wonderful, kind, responsible, loving husband and father. No, there was no guarantee that he wouldn't go off the rails later on, but I figured this would minimize the possibility. (And if I was looking for that, I needed to make sure I was that way myself - a guy like that wouldn't marry a girl who wasn't as committed to the Lord as he was, I figured.)

2) Out of that (admittedly pretty small) pool of guys, I was looking for a second quality. He had to be someone I could be friends with. We had to get along and be able to talk and laugh and have fun together. He had to be someone whose company I enjoyed regardless of physical attraction.

3) I did insist on being in love with and physically attracted to any man I married, but that was the bottom of my list. I figured that would fall into place on its own if my first and second priorities were met.

4) It didn't matter what I felt about any guy, or how perfect he was for me, if he didn't love me back. I'd made the serious mistake of thinking someone loved me who didn't; I needed to figure out how to know if a guy really loved me. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided that truly loving someone meant being willing to put their long-term / eternal needs before your own. It meant being willing to make sacrifices for the ones you love and not count them as sacrifices because their happiness is just as important, or more important, to you as your own happiness. I'd be able to recognize that in a potential husband by his actions and the way he treated me - never asking me to compromise my values or being cruel to me, for instance.

I also decided that it was better to never marry at all than to marry the wrong guy. Marriage to the wrong guy could be a living nightmare. I figured marriage to a good man had the potential to be heavenly. At least, that's what I hoped.

It took me a while - until after 30 in fact - but I met my husband. By some standards he wasn't much - divorced with a child, spent most of his young adulthood inactive, rather beaten up by the years he spent in the military. He is one the best men I have ever met, though, gentle, thoughtful, loving, a firm grip on his temper, willing to do anything he can for his family.

We spent a year getting to know each other, and got married three months after getting engaged. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary.

Marriage has been better than I ever imagined. On a scale of 1 to 10, I feared getting my mother's 1, I hoped for a 10, but I never dreamed the scale actually went up to a 20, which is what I wound up with. It's not that it's been constant bliss. We've been through job loss, multiple moves, infertility, postpartum depression and much more. We have certainly had our fair share of arguments and disagreements. Nevertheless, these have been the 10 happiest years of my life, and it's all because of the wonderful guy my husband is. (Truth be told, he's the one who married down. Shhhh - he doesn't seem to have figured that out yet.)

Considering the odds were more in favor of my ending up married to someone like my father, I am assuming the standards I insisted on are what made the difference. I certainly hope so, at any rate, because I'm teaching our two daughters to use the same standards when they're looking at who to marry. I could ask for no better husbands for my daughters than ones like their father.

Kevin Barney said...

I like your list, Jeff. I read a column in the Chicago Tribune called "Tales from the Front" about relationships, and it seems like every week there is some woman who lets a man stomp all over her and she takes it and takes it and takes it. Women need to have a little backbone and self-respect, and if the guy they're with is an abusive jerk, they need to cut him loose.

Another one I'd add to your list is how he treats wait staff or other service personnel. If he doesn't treat them with respect, that's a very bad sign.

Far better to marry outside the Church or to live as a single than to marry an abusive idiot.

Melinda said...

Good points in your post, and in the the comments. But you said you were glad your wife wasn't pickier. Another commenter made the same comment, - Good thing my wife wasn't pickier!

I assume you and the commenter are not abusive jerks who are lazy, selfish, and essentially treat your wives like property. Yet you claim your wives "married down."

If you're good guys, and your wives "should have been pickier", then maybe a girl who hears you saying you're so much worse than your wife will think she ought to marry that guy that's so much worse than she is. After all, you say you're bad, but you really aren't. Maybe her jerk is not so bad either, even though everyone says he is.

Don't run yourself down. Talk about how well you treat your wives, and tell girls they should expect the same treatment from the guys they date and marry. But if perfectly decent guys are claiming that they're jerks, how is a girl supposed to spot a real jerk when she sees one?

Ryan said...

++ Jennifer. Way to break the cycle!

++ Melinda. There's a big difference between avoiding jerks and being "picky."

NM: By highlighting THE standard, you of course also highlight those who HAVE NOT MET the standard.

Do you propose ditching the standard?

This is something I bump up against in a slightly different, but related, way. I have the best calling in the Church (Primary Chorister), and last year it was heartbreaking to see how few of the kids I taught had fathers worth celebrating Fathers' day for (or fathers at all, for that matter). The result? Basically, no Fathers' day in our ward. Too many kids (and adults, too) felt excluded by celebrating a role that had brought them only pain. Is that a good reason to not teach the ideal, that happy two-parent families can exist? Heavens no!!! We need more Jennifers, who break the sad statistic of walking in the footsteps of deadbeat parent or parents.

I empathize for people who experience far from the ideal family life (I shudder when I imagine my daughters living in that kind of situation), but we absolutely must find ways to teach and strive for the ideal while being sensitive to the feelings of those who innocently -- or otherwise -- suffer from a bad choice of mate.

I suspect that at least partly motivates Jeff...

Marriage, motherhood and any other life-activity is a call to suffering.

... but that does not mean God encourages or approves of any person making decisions that bring suffering to self or others. Quite the opposite, in fact.

God can definitely turn all things to our good, and those who suffer have hope in Christ of healing and a better future, but let's not make His job any harder than it already is -- the prodigal son was received back home with joy, but had still lost much that might have been. The squandered inheritance was not restored.

JG said...

I am male, but as a highly picky person, I could not be more happy with my wife. I do not think fear of loneliness etc should be a reason for aiming low. That being said, it is more important that the person be headed int he same direction of perfection that to be at the same point in perfection.

http://understandinglight.blogspot.com/

NM said...

Hi Ryan,

You are very wise =) I enjoy reading from you.

No, I don't propose that we ditch the standard AT ALL. The standards that we abide by are mere reflections of God's perfection =)

Interesting, the church that I am a part of have no policies on 'divorce', instead we have a policy on 'marriage' - the reason being, the focus is upon God's amazing perfection. It is beneficial for us to adhere to such principles because it is a reflection of Him. Do you understand? I am in no way saying that we should ditch the standard - it would be suicide. It would be like saying, "let's ditch the law, as a nation it's pretty clear that we break it, so to make our lives easier, let's just rid ourselves of it..."(!?)

What I am saying though is at the same time that such principles are to be adhered to, we need to realise that we cannot, in of ourselves, cannot do it. =) We (as Jeff has said) are fallible creatures. We fail; and we do it big time. =)

So, I guess this leads to the next point about suffering. Suffering is the natural reaction to a person's realisation that either the self is not perfect =) Believe it or not, suffering works to our favour =) Sadly, we have an Adversary who twists the truth - and when we undergo suffering, we are believe his lie and we point the blame to God and accuse Him of the the evil that exists in the world. Instead, the truth of it is that when we suffer, just like Job, we can but look to His Sovereignty as we plead for help. =) What man means for evil, God means for good =) Do you see?

It is through suffering that we realise who we really are. It is a time when we realise that we are nothing, and in our nothingness plead for mercy and grace.

Eureka...

I think my point for saying what I said (and I remember it being merely a side point) is that for those who have not met the standard: take heart. Cling to Him =)

That was all =)

NM said...

I've just re-read the blurb. And all I can say is, sorry for all the mistakes. I need to make a point of checking everything before I push that button.

captain moroni said...

I suppose I agree with Brother Jeff here. Unfortunately, many young women do not look for the best charecteristics in men. It seems that the selfish, rude, rich, athletic rebels of our mormon communities seem to attract a lot of attention. It is unfortunate that many young women do not realize that by flirting with such men, they are flirting with a failed marriage later. Men are equally fallible. I admit that I do not weigh some charecteristics in women as much as I should. Sometimes I am more attracted by a beautful "temple" than by the spirit that lives inside. Many of my brothers in the gospel fall prey to the same mistake. Perhaps, church programs should hold some sort of question-answer session with married couples and the youth, so that the youth can see what charecterstics make for the best celestial partner.

ALS said...

Two thoughts

1. As a former YM leader, I know it was my job to raise the bar in the quality of young men available to our wonderful young ladies. I hope I did a decent job of that. So no, don't get rid of the standard, teach the YW to raise their standards and teach the YM to rise up to the standard.

2. I'm currently a grad student at a church school in Utah (trying not to cast dispersions here) and have noticed/been told that some young men do not want intelligent wives, or do not place a premium on it. BIG MISTAKE. If intelligence isn't towards the top of a YM's list, I'd have to doubt his own intelligence and understanding of the plan of salvation.

Ryan said...

NM: thanks for clarifying! (I didn't think you wanted to ditch standards, but couldn't quite tell what you did want).

++ on the real reason for suffering, too. I really should have learned by now that you're not one of the types that thinks there's nothing wrong with doing bad things (and even enjoying doing them!) because they're "saved."

That was actually "the bar" that got raised for missionaries -- there was a growing attitude of "I'll have fun now and repent when it's time to be a missionary." It was a mockery that had to stop, and it largely has.

I thought Jeff was proposing a similar change of attitude might be necessary among some of our young men -- if jerks can easily find beautiful, intelligent young women to truly marry down, why bother being a better potential husband? And, yes, that's a very selfish and ungodly reason for being kind and loving, but it would make some woman's life a *lot* better, which counts for something.

NM said...

Hi Ryan,

I really appreciate what you have said. May God be made much of through the discussions we have here at Jeff's blog... =)

What you said, "++ on the real reason for suffering, too. I really should have learned by now that you're not one of the types that thinks there's nothing wrong with doing bad things (and even enjoying doing them!) because they're "saved." " really interests me.

Would I be correct to think that this is the assumption made by LDS folks whenever they think about 'grace' and Evangelical Christianity? To be honest, until 2/3 years ago, this is exactly how I interpreted the 'grace doctrine' (even as a self-professed evangelical!) to be: choose Jesus but live the way I've always lived. - which incidentally, I did. That is, until God did a few things to humble me.

Anway, as you RIGHTLY say, such a way of living makes a mockery of God's sovereignty and the suffering of His Son.

I wonder if it's because I did not make my thoughts as explicit whenever I previously talked about 'grace'...hmmm...it really is through suffering, that we realize we need a Saviour. The suffering we might occassionally experience is the product of our and other's sinful behaviour, right? When we undergo bereavement - we suffer because 'the wages of sin is death'. Death exists because sin exists. When we undergo a relationship breakdown - we suffer because relationship breakdowns are to do with our insurrection against our Creator. When we are recipients of abuse - a transgression that has been made by another at our expense - it is again a mere reflection of our transgression against God; we have broken relationships because our relationship with God is broken...we are then left with the awful, awful choice of whether to forgive those who have abused us (and we both know that un-forgiven sin [on our part] is a foothold for Satan to have reign over our lives). Shocking. Everything is set against us. We live under wrath of God, as Paul says in Romans chapters 1-3. God pours out his wrath by giving us over to our selfish thinking. Why? All because we suppress the truth of who He is...

We blaspheme, (just as in your description of 'potential missionaries' who thought to "have fun now and repent when it's time to be a missionary",) whenever we use God as a means to meet an end. God is never a means; He is the end point to everything. Right? I think the best way of guarding against this blasphemy is to love God, that is, to be in a state of utter dependence upon Him... paradoxically - the only way we can achieve this is when we undergo suffering(!) Again, it is through suffering that we realize our nothingness; and realize His everythingness =)

So, a few questions for you Ryan (and others): 1) is this 'marrying down' phenomenon rife within LDS living? I don't know too much about the situation in the US, but certainly here in the UK, we are certainly seeing a growing trend of disturbed children who come from abusive families. Children are so precious. Sometimes I wonder if God has placed me where I work, if only to be awakened to the blessings that I have in my own;

and 2) have you thought about openning a blog? It'd be good to read some of your thoughts =)

Jeff has made good observations of this phenomenon of 'marrying down'. Bookslinger has also given a few good ways of guarding against it. In the end though, even if we put as many safety nets, man always finds a way to express its selfishness.

Ryan said...

Would I be correct to think that this is the assumption made by LDS folks whenever they think about 'grace' and Evangelical Christianity?

For me, at least, no. It was a phenomenon I sometimes encountered as a missionary, and while it frustrated me to no end, it always came across as an excuse rather than a sincere belief.

is this 'marrying down' phenomenon rife within LDS living?

I wouldn't say "rife." It's just that abuse and breakdowns of the family have always been major concerns for our church leaders, and (unfortunately) the trend is growing, even among the faithful. In addition, the U.S. is probably just as bad as the U.K. and as the church grows we inherit a lot of additional broken families.

When we first moved to Pittsburgh, my wife and I attended a meeting for all young (< 30) married church members out of about 11 congregations (a "stake"), and the stake president told us in no uncertain terms that we were in Pittsburgh to build up the Kingdom and show people that real families could exist. The Pittsburgh demographic for children is something like 20% in two-parent homes, 60% in one-parent (usually out of wedlock), and 20% with no parents (foster care, grandparents, etc). He then asked for a raise of hands for anyone in the meeting who came from a two-parent home and had been raised by faithful parents, and nearly every hand (out of 200+) went up. To be honest, before that moment I had no clue why I had chosen to move 2600 miles away from *everyone* I knew to attend grad school here. So, yes, you undoubtedly work where you are so God can work through you.

have you thought about opening a blog? It'd be good to read some of your thoughts =)

Yes, but the answer is "no" for now: Free time is a luxury with three young children and a dissertation to write. Besides, Jeff has worked hard to set up a nice environment, and has attracted a good audience. I'd rather reinforce his effort than duplicate it.

Peter said...

Well written Ryan,

I like your thoughts and the example that you showed about Pittsburgh. I think it's horrible the amount of un-wed parents and single parents. I recognise the need for a stable home and both parents (one male and one female) to be present. I was also lucky enough to have a lasting two parent family. I saw at least one of my friends parents divorce and know that some of my friends parents are not married. I think this may have impacted my friends views on marriage.

Speaking of marriage, anyone have any thoughts on how to tell my non-member parents they can't go in the temple to see me get married?

Malcolm said...

I was a convert to the Church at age 30. I met many young single women at the time but most of them had "fused back into the world" of luke-warm church activities. They were there, yes; but I never saw any bare their testimony, seek to attend the temple with the youth or really engaged in the work. The above is not a judgment on their faithfulness but rather my view and perception at the time. Some 3 years later I met a girl coming back from a mission in the highlands of Guatemala. She was on fire and that made my heart burn. She was 26. The rest (10 years of marriage and 4 children)is history. Waiting to meet a nice, worthy, good looking church going guy does not strike me as a sound strategy. I think that finding a mate requires more time, effort, energy and dedication in every direction than we imagined.

Darion Alexander said...

I don't know how to approach this subject. The stake I was in during my high school and college years back in the South, really emphasized at an early age the importance of marrying a temple worthy male...from BYU. No joke. It was as if all of us Young Men were not worthy enough, unless we went to the Y, to be married to the young women, whom incidentally, were good friends with many of us, because we weren't attending the Y or some other Church school. Of course what ended up happening, was the many of my friends, that were girls, didn't end up marrying at all after their Y excursion and are basically "cat" women now.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late getting on this band wagon, but I have too. I have a teenage daughter that is looking at dating in a few years and it scares me to death. I have though on occasion told a mother or two that I know what a wonderful son she has and how she is raising a son that a mother would let her daughter date. Should young women be pickier? Sure! Should young men be pickier? You bet! Should parents take responsibility for raising their children to become wonderful men and women? Absolutely! But, it is also up to the other members of the wards, branches, and stakes around the world to take their callings, every calling, seriously and know what examples your being for these young men and women. Especially those that deal with the youth. I have been Youth Gospel Doctrine teacher to 12-18yr. olds in a very small branch for a year and have never loved a calling more. They are the future and our posterity of the church.

Anonymous said...

(Exhibit 1) "I'd like to see girls taught to use their heads more in discerning if the candidate male is reliable, dependable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, kind, thoughtful, willing to take orders (sorry guys, I had to say that - but notice the loophole: being "willing" and actually carrying out the order aren't necessarily the same thing), etc. "
Right! When pigs fly. Can they think? Yes but I don't think this would make any difference when you pick based on feeling. (LOVE) If you want them to be objective let someone else pick for them. Sounds like most parents.

(Exhibit 2) "If the guy you're dating only thinks about himself, gets angry easily, can't handle changes in plans, doesn't care about your schedule and needs, treats you like a toy for his fun, bosses you around, is suspicious and paranoid, doesn't trust you, can't hold a job, isn't almost as smart as you, doesn't do what he says he will, and doesn't share the values that matter to you, then marriage could be (on the average - with some happy exceptions) a long, painful headache. "
The first reality is most people are dating to have fun and fall in love not analyze if the person would be a good mate. After reading all the books on relationships I still don't have a clue. At 20 something, good luck.
After being married to and divorced from two of the Exhibit 2s I can conclude that the mormons do not have any better insight into marriage or dating than anyone else. Having kicked around the mormon singles groups, most of them are just lucky to get someone and being picky is part of the reason why they are single. Don't get me wrong, they are no different than the married couples they are just single. Most in the singles groups are women (about 100 to 1) and are very picky and are very single and still very single. One of these woman was Miss Utah or something like that and is now 55 years old never married and sill single. Like she hasn't had her pick of the crop.
I think this is the usual idealist talk that is typical of religious people thinking you can make a perfect marriage verses the idea that you are just building the best marriage out of imperfect people in an imperfect world. When I first joined the church I was given the impression to pray about who to marry and I would get an answer. This went on for years. Then I heard one of the general authorities give a talk in priesthood session about how we should just find a worthy person that you are most compatible with and get with the program. I have no idea which was right. I would have been better off to stay single and enjoy life but this is not compatible with the churches charter.
There is no difference for why mormons get married than why anyone else gets married. Men get married for the sex and women get married for the security. This does not mean they do not enjoy all the rest of the experiences that come from marriage. Why do you think God commanded men to get married. There is no advantage for men to get married. Mormon men get married because they are commanded to. Woman push men to get married in the mormon church just as they do in the real world. Then men just make the best of it. Why do you think woman are always talking about the relationship. The guy thinks the relationship is fine, if it isn't broke don't mess with it, but she is always tinkering with it, talking about it with friends and family.
As far as mormon men dating goes, because there is no premarital sex like there is in the real world, they date about 5 people on the average and just get tired of spending money and not getting sex. They are excited that any woman would have sex with them because unlike men in the real world they don't know that there are a lot of women willing. Also the number of potential mates to select from for both male and female is not very good because they are confined to just church members. Usually the biggest mistake mormon men make when dating is setting the bar to high. Because they are told to treat woman special and put them up on a pedestal the guy is setting himself up for failure. When the real world hits and he can't keep up the bar he has set watch out. She is let down. For her it does not matter what you did in the past, it is what are you doing for "me" now. Sounds like all the bosses I have had.
The reality is, when dating, men can cover up what they are really like for about 6 months and woman for about two year plus. If you want to really get down to the 57 point of compatibility, have them sit down and work up a prenuptial agreement and talk about money, kids, division of duties, sex and so forth then you will see their true feelings come out. Women are really good at testing to see what the guy is like with kids, punctuality, and taking orders so to tell them to be more picky is just silly. The guy when he is dating is not thinking about anything, well just one thing. Also most of these good mormon women have mothers to teach them all the ways of probing (testing) the dangers of picking a man. Of course mormons are different because of the religion. That is they dance around a lot of the issues that are going to come up in marriage. This is greater in the mormon church than in the real world where most issues are talked about more freely and are experimented with and where they have gained more experiences; like on sex, money. Outside the church there is not a set ideal roles for each person like there is in the church. Talk all you want about dating, once you are in the marriage in the mormon religion or out side of it, it is a whole different ball game.
I do not have a formula for picking anyone in marriage, in or out of the mormon religion. I think that if divorce is any less in the LDS church it is because it is discouraged and maybe they try harder or they just endure more, not because they are any better at it or have any better programs. If their marriages are better it is most likely because they see less of each other. They have much less time because they are taking care of church activities. This is not a bad thing. If it works it works.
I don't think bishops are the best to look to for counseling in dating or marriage. These thing are best left to the professionals. They give out the best moral advice as any good father would but draw mostly from their experiences and what they think is the best. Yes, some have the spirit to guide them some of the times. Sometimes they get to much into the members personal lives and causes more harm than good. They do have a number of vested interests in you doing the mormon thing rather than maybe doing the right thing.
As far as being picker. Glen Beck was trying to raise money for a family with 5 kids and three of the kids with multiple sclerosis and one had died of something else. Should she have been picker and married someone else and saved herself from all the heartache and struggles? Would a check list have helped? Who can say. I think there is a reason why God does play dice with our lives. Can you endure to the end? And we think we have problems in out marriages.