A kind, attractive, hard-working, intelligent and spiritually minded sister in our ward that I admire a great deal and look up to made a statement in Relief Society that echoes a sentiment that I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot lately: “I was thinking the other day how nice it would be to have a cute man to go home to (note: husband, of course) to talk over my problems with,” she then followed that by saying, “but I’m realizing today that i can turn to the Lord to help me with my problems.” Another close friend said recently, “I know that getting married won’t solve all of my problems, but…” when most of her conversations on the matter betray the fact that she actually is expecting that to some extent, and having a hard time giving up that wish. Any man would be blessed to have either of these ladies as a wife, not to mention every single one of the other women at church that I hear these statements from.
Lately it seems like these kind of comments have been happening more and more, several times a month if not occasionally several times in one Sunday. Being the somewhat more jaded divorcee in the group (not sure how many of us there are, exactly) I feel for these women and I hope they get all they’re looking for. The longing to be married probably won’t (and shouldn’t) go away, and probably neither will the temptation to hope that marriage will come and solve everything, the same way we wish for other things that we don’t have: but hopefully there can be a turning to Heavenly Father for gratitude and other ways of dealing with these wishes, rather than the temptation to feel bitter and even jealous of others who are married.
What is marriage?
What is marriage? Well, it’s learning to love your spouse even when you realize that you’ll both continue to be imperfect. It’s having a hard time with something at work, and coming home so grateful to have someone there to talk with about it, only to find out that he’s still getting used to this marriage thing, too, and he’s really wrapped up in one of his own problems, and hardly listens to you. It’s then working out this problem, then working it out again later in your marriage, and yet again, when it presents itself in a different way. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing because you learn patience and longsuffering, and hopefully he’s a good person to learn it with because you love him/her, right?
When I was going through my divorce almost ten years ago, suddenly the women in our ward were coming to me, telling me their marriage problems and how they’d been getting through them. I think both they and me were hoping that I’d find something in their problems that would help me with my failing marriage, but that wasn’t to be. Instead, what I got was just as valuable: I heard what a lot of “normal” marriage problems were for young families. I realized, unhappily, that my last hopes of saving mine probably weren’t going to work. I did gain quite a bit of fear that I’d ever find a happy marriage, and a lot of worry for my two children. But I hope that didn’t make me anti-marriage.
I’ve been in some great relationships since then, even if they didn’t “work out,” and had ten years of learning all kinds of other things that I wouldn’t have learned in quite the same way if I had been able to get married again quickly. In my case (and I can judge only my case) I needed these past 10 years to grasp what was ahead of me with my health, in making the best decisions for my kids, and in learning to let go of all those expectations I’d had for my life.
For you women and men who have never been married:
- You are just as worthy of getting married as any of your married siblings or friends are. For some reason, it hasn’t happened yet, but Heavenly Father loves you just as much as anyone else.
- We are promised compensatory blessings for the trials we experience in life. For this reason and others, we just can’t compare ourselves to each other.
- Sometimes I hear women say that maybe Heavenly Father is saving them for a future apostle or someone who is otherwise amazing. Well, maybe so…but are you now judging the husbands of all those who are already married? Does the Lord not love us equally? Give up your fears of the scary parts of dating, and maybe you will run into that wonderful person for you, (and actually talk to him) who is wonderful for you in the ways that other peoples’ spouses are wonderful for them.
- Remind yourself of #2 and #3, Otherwise you may be setting yourself up hoping for an unattainable Cinderella story that will end up disappointing you and that you’ll have to work on overcoming after you get married.
In church, one of the single women who has never been married opined that she often feels like she’s not “progressing” because she’s still not married. I feel for her. I’m also pretty sure that it’s Satan who is tempting her, and all of us singles, to feel that way. While we do want to feel that “push” to get married, when we’re doing all we can, we in our situations are learning our own lessons from our unique circumstances that Heavenly Father has prepared for us. I highly recommend reading and reviewing this talk by President Hinckley to singles in which he encouraged us to:
Be Anxiously Engaged in Good Causes
For those who do not marry, this fact of life must be faced squarely. But continuous single status is not without opportunity, challenge, or generous recompense.
I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work and service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them. There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a simple conversation would bring a measure of hope and brightness.
He also talks about:
-Recognizing the divinity in ourselves and others
-Thanking the Lord for blessings and challenges
-Being anxiously engaged in good causes
-Continue to Learn
-Serve in the Church, and
Many of you have probably read Seth Adam Smith’s aptly titled blog entry that went viral, “Marriage Isn’t For You.” What he learned, from the excellent advice that his dad gave him, was this:
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
Recommended resources and talks online: