Monday, March 29, 2010

"Courtship is a time for two people to get acquainted"

I sat in Sacrament Meeting ready and waiting to be edified. A long week had passed and I was ready for an uplifting experience in the form of an Easter talk. The speaker began her talk in the usual way, “When I was asked to give this talk I thought...” and laughed at herself (one of my biggest pet peeves ever- when people start a talk with "when i was asked to give this talk...") Then she said, “So I went to this month's Ensign to see if it had anything interesting. But it was all about getting the singles married off! Ha ha ha! So that wasn't helpful!” And she loudly continued to laugh at her joke.

Sitting there in the middle of the congregation, I mentally tuned her out. I wondered if she knew our ward has over twenty single adults right there in the room? That there are twenty individual households in our ward that the articles, in theory, do apply to. Does she care? Or does she think singles are just a funny little anomaly that need “help” getting “married off?”
Her talk did encourage me to go read the Ensign this month. All I can say is I was sorely disappointed. Not one article even had the hint that they even spoke to a singleton. Yet again, the marrieds know all the answers and can't wait to share them to us helpless, stupid, singles.
The first Ensign article I read “Making Temple Marriage a Priority.” Yet another article with the intent of telling me I should make a Temple Marriage a priority. Well, it is. And that has a lot to do with why I am still single- because I refuse to settle for anything less than a TEMPLE marriage. I think often “non-singles” have this funny idea that singles don't WANT to get married, and so they tell us to make marriage a priority. Newsflash folks, most of us do want to get married. (Sidenote: I actually did find their story sweet and charming. But not real marriage advice.)
The second article, “Making the Marriage Decision,” had me nearly gagging. Young adults about 20-22 years old all talking about the agonizing decision to get married. I can't help it, I have to say it. Maybe they were all right? Maybe they were all too young to get married? Would their lives be so awful if they had all waited to graduate from college, live and experience the real world just a little bit, before committing to one person for all eternity? I'm not suggesting an “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die/get married” mentality. I'm just suggesting that at age 21 it is hard to know who you really are! So how can you possibly know what you really want? I know that at age 35 I am nothing like the girl (and I do mean GIRL, not woman) I was at 21. I wonder how many fewer bankruptcies there would be if the wife had ever had to hold a job, earn money, and be responsible for her own finances? Or if maybe the wife had finished college and had an education that would allow her to get a job during marriage that would bring in a sufficient second income to keep them from financial ruin? Or how many divorces would be avoided by both husband and wife getting to know each other better before they got married?
The third article, “Confidence Tests.” Well, I think if I was still 21 years old and based all my confidence on the number of boys that called me that week, this article would be pertinent. But since I am not 21 years old, and don't care in the least what others think of me, this was another pointless article. I think my favorite “counsel” in this article is, “Courtship is a time for two people to get acquainted.” Really?? That is what we are supposed to be doing???
I found all three articles to be condescending and patronizing, as well as the speaker in church. I don't need baby step instructions on what a date is. (Courtship is a time for two people to get acquainted.) What I want, and what I need, is a decent man (see previous blog post on why I'm looking forward to NOT dating for a while). I want to be treated equally and fairly in church. Can you imagine the backlash if I stood up and said, “This month's articles were all about families, and that is just silly!” Somehow it is okay to make fun of being single, but it isn't okay to make fun of couples that never should have gotten married in the first place??
I don't CHOOSE to be single. I have made a Temple Marriage a priority my entire life. I am just STILL single. Don't tell me to “pray to find a good eternal companion.” Do you really think I haven't been doing that for the last twenty years?


  1. Erin, THANK YOU. I can't stand this kind of patronization. Who got the brilliant idea that 30-something singles actually want to be single still?

    You should put this in a letter to the Ensign. Wouldn't do much good, but it would be nice to know someone received it.

  2. How do I type -thunderous applause -? The words alone don't do justice to the sound inside my head!!
    My church too... they have no idea what to do with singles so they don't even try. At least your church makes an effort, however misguided it may be.

    In an effort to reach me regarding my fear of growing old alone. .. my priest pointed out the old ladies in our parish who are never married. Yes... that's exactly what I don't want... was that supposed to make me feel better?

  3. Awesome post! Totally agree with

    " I think often “non-singles” have this funny idea that singles don't WANT to get married, and so they tell us to make marriage a priority. Newsflash folks, most of us do want to get married"

    That's how I felt I was treated when I couldn't get pregnant. People telling me that when couples wait too long their children are "given" to other families. Completely patronizing!

    Lots of great points..esp dealing with women having more real world experiences. Unfortunately I know of a single family member who thinks that becoming more educated and getting out of her deadend minimum wage job is pointless because a. she wants to get married so she'll QUIT HER JOB AS SOON AS SHE GETS MARRIED and b. it'll ruin her chances to get married. WHAT???!!! I can't beleive people still think this way.

    Sorry's like people pick and choose what counsel to follow from the prophets. LIke...yeah..get married get married get married..well what about get as much education as you can??? It's not mutually inexclusive. Even some of my YW pick and choose....Sorry for the rant..great post!

  4. Thank you!! All this "how to get married" advice is all the same stuff we've been hearing for years, and after awhile feels condescending and annoying. My dating experience in Utah has been almost identical to yours. In other places I've lived "in the mission field" I've found wonderful men who meet most of my standards - just aren't LDS. Why can't more LDS men be the charming gentlemen we were raised to expect?!

    I get SUPER annoyed with all the "men" who are "looking for wives," but when I show a smidgen of interest I get shot down. Looking for a wife, huh? Guess they didn't read the map.

  5. Okay, I'm back after reading one of the articles... #1 deceptive headline! Story had no content regarding seeking a temple-worthy partner. It was just a story about one couple's courtship. Big whoop... oh all I needed was an inspirational story... now i have the answer. .. thank goodness. The best thing in it was
    Katya's words that not everyone's experience will be
    the same.
    In short... the article is rubbish.

  6. I, also being 34 and "STILL single", found your post humorous. I haven't read the Ensign this month and I know some who have felt it was 'just for them'. I do however understand the "pray harder, pray longer" and it wall all work out BS that too many people speak of. As if I pray harder there will be someone for me to "court' for 2 months and rush into a marriage. I find it funny that those who say such rubbish are the ones struggling in their marriage. Hmmm, ironic? Maybe not.

    It's sad but comical at how "the others" don't know what to do with confident, single, career orientated women. Hey I know - Treat us like a normal person - that'd be great, thanks!

  7. Great post Erin! I'm sorry that you've been hurt (maybe that's not the right word, been misunderstood,been patronized, do you get my drift?) so many times by people who have no idea what it is like to walk in your shoes. I'm glad you speak out! By doing so, you help those who don't dare. Hopefully by being made aware of others feelings who have different life circumstances than our own, we can wake up and realize we have to be careful about what comes out of our mouths, especially over the church pulpit, in church lessons, and now I would add in church magazines!
    If only we could all learn to empathize more and judge less. I'm begining to see each of our tests in life are so different. What may come easy to one is hard for another, and vice versa. But everyone has hang-ups, gaping holes, and aches in their lives. Not judging, loving, and having empathy is what we all need!
    I still hurt over the words of a church leader who told me when I was pregnant with my last baby that I had too many children already!!!

    Hang in there in your struggles! I have faith that someday (hopefully soon) you will have the desires of your heart! After all, and I just read this again today, He has said over and over, "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you" I'm going to keep having faith in these words even though they often stretch my patience beyond what I think it can be stretched.

    Anyways, I think you are amazing!!! I hope you don't mind if I continue to follow your blog, especially now that you are moving. After all, it seems with you, there is never a dull moment!!!

  8. Jules3:17 PM

    As much as I hate to say it aloud, the culture surrounding the gospel is sometimes a detriment to those who are trying to live the gospel instead of participate in the culture. Too many babies, not enough babies, married too young, not married at all, fat, thin, broke, rich, temple-worthy or not. We can focus on the aspects of difference or we can just love each other. I think Christ would choose the latter.

    I often think people don't realize how inconsiderate their words are. My rule of thumb--if I don't know them well enough to know the answer already, I shouldn't even ask. For example, when people in my ward asked me when I was going to have another baby, I would tell them I couldn't have anymore, but thanks for asking. It was probably rude of me, yes, but also honest and hopefully a reminder that my personal life is something for me to ponder and pray, not for them to ask and gossip about.


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