Listen to the audio here at the Mormon Channel.
Listen to the audio here at the Mormon Channel.
Al Fox Carraway is often called “The Tattooed Mormon” because she does firesides, and has tattoos. Her husband, Ben Carraway, would like you to know why it is that he just doesn’t see her as “the tattooed Mormon” or “that famous girl.”
Let pasts go. Allow people to show you that they can change, grow, and become better. My wife was called out for how she looked on her first day in Utah because she was tattooed and holding a church book. That guy told her how foolish she looked. That’s messed up. When my wife and I meet people, a lot of the time I will notice their eyes just starring at her tattoos. To me she is not the ‘Tattood Mormon’ nor will she ever be in my eyes.
Marriage for us, I can firmly say, has not been hard one bit. Sure there have been life difficulties, but we get over them. I love her more and more everyday. I love her more than the day I married her. I find her even more attractive then when we first met. I fall in love with her everyday. Even to this day when I look in her deep blue eyes, I know why I married her. I married her not for her looks, sure that’s a bonus, but I married her for WHO she is.
It was a long and incredibly lonely time before I would even be considered for a date, mostly because guys couldn’t get past my appearance. And that was really hard, just barely moving to Utah against my will (but following God’s), being in a new place, not knowing what I was supposed to do there and feeling absolutely and completely alone. (No, not just because of the lack of boys, but in general and in every way you could probably think of). Guys my age were looking for temple worthy girls, however, I didn’t exactly look temple worthy, that they didn’t even speak to me. After my move across the country, it was the first time that it ever occurred to me that, appearance aside, my life before the church could stop guys from wanting to not alone date, but be friends. I would notice the kind of girls that were getting asked out and I began to be afraid that because I didn’t look “perfect,” grow up in a strong gospel centered family, or know how to cook or make my own skirts, I was forever going to be over looked.
A lesson I learned shortly after baptism— when I felt the weight of the world of problems come flooding into my life— I learned that if I continued to put God first, everything else would fall in to place.
You will be blessed with a companion that will help you in the ways you need, even if sometimes you feel like they don’t exist, or that you’re asking for too much or you’re too picky. Don’t let passing time allow doubts and settling to take over. Don’t lose patience and miss out on what He has in store for you. Don’t hold yourself back from learning and growing and experiencing other things. Just hold on and don’t lose confidence. Heavenly Father knows what’s important to us and what we need.
Those who are single, don’t waste your thoughts comparing yourself and defining yourself by what you aren’tand what others are. Don’t allow yourself to question what is “wrong with you.” Heavenly Father did not shortchange or screw up on you. Don’t stress. You just worry about you and worry about God. Because the thing about Heavenly Father is that if we are trying and are patient, we will never be short-changed from the best blessings He has to offer.
Yeah, sure our future can be uncertain at times, but how exciting that is! How exciting it is to know it’s guided by God!
by Betsy VanDenBerghe at First Things. Re-blogged with the author’s permission.
In one of his lesser known comedies, playwright Neil Simon depicts the irrationality of undiluted physical attraction through the love-struck yearnings of Norman. A ’60s radical, second in his class at Dartmouth, and writer for a subversive magazine called Fallout, he falls hopelessly in love with the Star-Spangled and athletic Southern girl from Hunnicut who’s moved into his San Francisco apartment building. “I’ve become an animal,” he tells his friend Andy. “I’ve developed senses no man has ever used before. I can smell the shampoo in her hair three city blocks away. I can have my radio turned up full blast and still hear her taking off her stockings!”
When Andy remains skeptical of the unlikely couple’s compatibility, Norman demands, “Did you ever hear of physical attraction? Pure, unadulterated physical attraction?” Andy replies with a sage definition: “It’s when one hippopotamus likes another hippopotamus with no questions asked.” To which Norman rejoins, “Exactly. Now it’s five-thirty and my hippopotamus will be getting off her bus. . . . Leave me alone.”
I can’t help but wonder what would happen to Norman Cornell and the un-requiting object of his affection, Sophie Rauschmeyer, were the play to undergo a makeover today. Would it end differently than Norman gradually coming to his senses towards the conclusion and realizing, after multiple conversations and encounters, that his intellectual inclinations and incendiary worldview probably aren’t the best fit for someone whose reading material consists of Sports Illustrated and whose goal in life is to marry a United States Marine? According to stereotype, today’s play might conclude with Norman and Sophie hooking up, or moving in together before Sophie realizes Fallout isn’t exactly the Reader’s Digest.
Researchers from the University of Portland, however, found that young people today actually preferred traditional dating relationships to hook-ups and are indeed very interested in long-term love. Although recent findings from the Pew Research Center confirm that so-called Millennials marry in far smaller numbers than their Generation X or Baby Boomer counterparts, a large majority of them—69 percent—still want to marry. They just don’t feel ready economically.
Maybe they’re also not ready emotionally or psychologically. Relationship formation today tends to cloud judgment, obscuring the most important factors that contribute to a lasting relationship, according to scholars and therapists who write about preparing for a successful marriage. Instead, the emphasis on pure, unadulterated attraction—whether it’s to the way someone looks, or to his or her career prospects or intellectual inclinations—takes precedence. While attraction definitely plays a valid role in marriage formation, other components do, too.
When David Brooks of the New York Times gave his widely quoted commencement speech line that “if you have a great marriage and a crappy career, you will be happy [and] if you have a great career and a crappy marriage, you will be unhappy,” he also described his failed attempt at convincing university presidents to create courses on how to marry. “Everybody should get a degree in how to marry,” he explained. “Nobody listens to me.” However, at least one innovative professor, at Boston College, assigns students to go on actual dates after receiving this plea for help at a campus lecture: “How would you ask someone on a date? Like, the actual words.”
Fortunately, a few self-help marriage prep books offer motivated young adults a course of their own. How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, by marriage therapist and researcher John Van Epp, offers five essential factors to consider in a relationship—factors not only by which to judge potential marriage partners, but by which to evaluate yourself and make needed improvements. These factors, I recently told my son for whom “not having read or at least seen Lord of the Rings” is a deal breaker, should take precedence over books, films, looks, alma mater, or online persona. The first two cover familiar territory: Analyze compatibility in familial, religious, and financial values and priorities, and work on communication skills like self-disclosure, mutual assertiveness, and ability to apologize.
Van Epp’s other three factors may not seem as significant to the uninitiated, but the experienced can vouch for their importance. For example, pay attention to how your partner, or you, behave, and behaved, in other relationships, including with strangers, significant others, family members, and in various situations. Sooner or later, he claims, all these relationship scripts will merge in marriage and predict how she or he treats you—or how you will treat a spouse. The fourth factor consists of getting to know patterns of family background (expressing affection, resolving conflict, parental role modeling, and dealing with differences) because early attachment matters in our ability to form healthy relationships and can deeply influence our approach to family life. People can and do overcome less than ideal home situations, but according to Van Epp, the motivation to change is much stronger before than after the wedding (emphasis added).
Number five seems particularly crucial to those serious about long-term marriage: What are my or my partner’s patterns of conscience? Without a healthy conscience, Van Epp points out, all of the above matters very little: relationship skills actually become manipulative and self-serving in the hands of someone with very little conscience. How do you or your partner handle feelings of guilt and admit to being wrong? Interestingly, though, a healthy conscience not only avoids being underactive (never apologizing, oblivious to shortcomings), but also eschews being overactive (neurotic, rigid, controlling, and self-centered in its own way).
Perhaps the greatest challenge the Jerk book poses to fledgling relationship students in a Girls-saturated zeitgeist consists of Van Epp’s theoretical method of coming to terms with all of these considerations. He calls it the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM), and holding off on sex is a crucial component. According to RAM theory, the only safe zone in a relationship consists of never going further in the following bonding dynamic than you have gone in the previous one: know, trust, rely, commit, and touch. Accelerating the steps or going out of order provides a recipe for unhealthy relationships and ramps up the likelihood of falling in love with a jerk, or at least the wrong hippopotamus. Van Epp spends several pages helpfully debunking the view that sex doesn’t necessarily transform a relationship.
David Brooks, in his frustration over colleges not helping students in the art of marriage formation, recommends reading Austen. Think of her heroines, and a hero, who may have ended up with Wickham, Willoughby, or Lucy Steele had they not abided by the eighteenth century RAM plan, or, as a more academic marriage expert, Scott Stanley, puts it, found “low cost” ways of getting to know their suitors. According to Stanley, sex and moving in together attach a precipitously high cost to a relationship—involving not only premature intimacy, but also shared rent, cars, relatives, and often children. Consequently, a couple often “slides in” to marriage rather than commits to it. Conversely, low cost methods of courtship, like dating, taking classes, pursuing shared interests, working on projects, and getting to know each other’s families, writes Stanley, contribute to what he sees as the ultimate foundation of a lasting marriage: commitment. Another low cost way to add depth to a relationship consists of taking surveys found at relate-institute.org, which help couples understand the various factors, influences, and beliefs each partner brings to the table.
My husband and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in June. We met at a group activity and, admittedly, felt attraction for each other. I immediately responded to his mention of a book by Malcolm Muggeridge about Mother Teresa. He liked my long hair. Neither criterion turned out to be the basis for our marital satisfaction. Ends up he’d actually only heard of the Muggeridge book, and a few years after we had children, I cut my hair. But even better, my hippopotamus actually turned out to be Mother Teresa, always the one to clean up kids’ vomit or to sleep on the worst side of any bed. He continually exhibits what yet another marriage expert, Ty Tashiro at the University of Maryland, calls the winning trait for marriage—agreeableness—which bests the other “big five” personality traits: extroversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. I’m prone to what Tashiro calls the loser relationship trait, neuroticism, but contribute healthy doses of conscientiousness and extroversion to our union. To me, though, the grace of God beats any and all other factors in creating a lasting marriage. May it be upon young people today as they seek out lifelong companions.
Betsy VanDenBerghe is a writer based in Salt Lake City.
You may be able to guess some of them. They’re all real stories from people I talked with, I just changed the names. Unfortunately, I think the women enjoyed talking more than the men did, so I don’t have nearly as much from the men. But, I think the men who did share gave some great, common examples of how men can feel when taken for granted. And, as with the women, these stories represent how these men felt, and are not necessarily indicative of my opinions: the point is to understand where they’re coming from. Here we go…
Steven: More like a commodity than a person? Well, since I was usually the one initiating a date, I was probably more guilty of commoditizing women than the other way around. I guess the worst that I might have felt was as if I was a checklist more than a person–served a mission, check; active church-goer, check; orthodox believer, not-really check; business-major who’d pull a great income, no-way. I suppose those are the sorts of dating pressures I’ve occasional felt, but I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship now where I don’t feel so evaluated.
Marco: What stands out most for me were my cars. I had two. The first was an ugly, rickety, tin can, orange Kia Rio, (which) was my primary vehicle. Several women whom I asked out turned me down. However! My other car was a sleek, silver, two seater convertible which I seldom drove. Some of the women who turned me down for dates in the Kia sprang to new life upon seeing the convertible. “When are you asking me out again?” “Never.” I had heard of such shallow practices but never believed them to be true. They’re true.
David: I’m pretty sure some girls made their decision not to date me based on what they perceived my financial situation to be. I have mixed feelings about it because you don’t want to tell a woman, “No, you have to be poor!” But sometimes you’d like them to see that relationships can be built through struggling together, and that her husband might make more and more money as time goes on, and even if he doesn’t it’s still not the only factor.
I do know that shortly after I moved (in with my roommate) Ethan, he got a new job, and I distinctly remember hearing one girl in the mid-single’s ward say that of course she would date him now that he was making $95,000 a year.
It was just weird to hear somebody make such a distinct correlation between a guy’s salary and whether they would date him or not. That’s why a girl shouldn’t look at a guy’s present financial situation as the prime indicator of whether they should date him or not, because his situation could change for better or for worse. The economy took a downturn and he lost that job just three years later, and was mostly out of work for almost six years after that.
Jeff: This is a challenging question to answer. I came from the last generation where men paid for the date and I still feel that way. I felt like commodity in marriage, but never during dating. I worked very hard to support us. I felt like I rarely asked her to do much. Late in the marriage when the Bishop himself began to challenge her to do more to help with the marriage, and she didn’t do anything, I was like, “why am I sacrificing for this marriage like this, when she won’t do anything?” The divorce quickly followed. The first year we had both worked: my money paid the bills, her money she spent on herself. The 2nd year she stopped working and started raiding our checking account, and stopped going to church too. The 3rd year we divorced.
Abraham: I have never chosen to feel like a commodity, regardless of what anyone has said or done. I don’t manifest my insecurities that way. If I start to feel hopeless, I get offended and swear. If I feel like I’m not in control, I stay up all night. If I feel I can’t get what I want, I eat something. If I want to avoid the truth, I watch TV or play mindless video games. Lastly, more to the point sometimes I feel like a nuisance and a bother around others which isn’t good, practically when you’re trying to impress someone; I guess that’s my insecurity.
I asked some married friends if they would share their stories about what they were looking for while they were dating, and if it changed once they met their spouse. I was delighted with the responses. These friends come from a few different countries; although most are American. They also come from several different faiths, not just LDS. What they do represent still, I think, is how different things can turn out from what you think you want; and also the benefit of learning to look for (or just recognize) the things that matter most.
Once again, I’m not saying that appearance doesn’t matter at all. I’m just acknowledging that perhaps, sometimes, we’re too picky in the things that don’t matter, so that a re-evaluation of our motives from time to time is probably a good idea.
The names have all been changed:
Will:My wife did a couple of things that were unique.I met her online. Her profile had 3 different photos of her that looked so completely different, I was perplexed to know who she actually was. One with platinum blonde hair, the other with a short brunette bob and the last bright red shoulder length hair wrap around sunglasses and a skateboard. It peaked my curiosity.She contacted me and we had a lot of friends and common interests. It was somewhat shocking to me because we lived three states away.Then I found she had a blog. As I browsed through her writings and her history, her words just grabbed me from the insides. This is a clairvoyant woman of depth and insight and intelligence. And she’s funny! I spoke out loud to myself, “I want to make out with her brain“!I had to see who she was. She agreed to Skype with me because I was so curious as to who this mystery woman was. I this who I’ve been waiting for my whole life?She was surprisingly super normal. She was nice. She was pretty. Our conversation was ok, but it did not strike me (as) anything I had to pursue right away. I had just started dating after my 2 year separation / divorce and I was ready to explore my options. I didn’t see how this woman (that lived so far away) was any different from any of the other women I could be dating locally. I wasn’t sure she was my “type”. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.So I kept dating. A lot. She flew out once and we spent a day together. She was nice. We had fun. I was pursuing another relationship.But we kept in touch. We shared with each other our dating woes and single parent problems. When I was feeling low, she sent me a pie. When she was having problems with a guy she was dating, I shared advice. We developed a long term friendship. We would talk late into the night but not on romantic terms but as friends that really liked each other. This relationship grew much differently that I had expected. We had developed a real love for each other. Over this time I could tell that it wasn’t infatuation. It wasn’t hormones. it was a different creature than I thought love was.She flew out again a year later.And then I held her hand. It fit my hand perfectly. There was magic. And then we kissed. We were married 5 months later. I’m so happy that I found the love of my life. We are so emotionally, spiritually and physically compatible it still boggles me that it wasn’t evident right away.—Now that I’ve told our story, I must emphasize that I came from an ugly divorce. The relationship of my first wife started with a kiss. The physical attraction was huge and loud and overwhelming. But because we started kissing before we got to really know each other and build a relationship of trust, It impaired us from the beginning. I dare say that we never achieved a solid level of trust. And though we were both spiritual people, we were not spiritually connected. After our marriage, our physical relationship crumbled so quickly and left us with very little to stand on.With my current wife, I was physically intrigued just enough to try and get to know her, but we started on a friendship of mutual admiration and trust. We grew a relationship over time and it was not clear to me how compatible we actually were until we had developed a real emotional bond. She was so my type but I didn’t initially see it (she saw it. She’s smart). I had no idea that love could be so wonderful. It’s incredible. And just like a good movie, it ended with a kiss.Samantha:Attracted? Dark and handsome with a wonderful smile and the ability to make me laugh. (He failed on the tall part of tall dark and handsome). He was also 15 years older and very kind. That spoke to me because of my childhood. I needed a gentle-man… then and now.
Now? My girls just sigh and shake their heads when I say how cute their dad is …..His jokes fall flat a lot of the time now but he has regained his smile after some years of terrible turmoil and I’m glad to see it.
Also, he has the most wonderful soft skin.
Was this the type I’d expected to marry? I’d given up dating 2 years before at 19 ’cause they were all either jerks or married and had gone to night school to up my qualifications as I planned to fend for myself for life.
I can’t speak to who he expected to marry because, I found out a few years later from friends, that he, at 37 was a confirmed bachelor when I met him.
We confirmed our love to each other a week after our first date…. this year will be 36 years.Keiko:I had really dated a wide range of “types” so I didn’t really have one. I thought Al was handsome right away, but it was the fact that we talked really well right away-that doesn’t always happen for either of us, that sold me. He thought I was pretty and had great curves. He fit the requirements list I made when I was younger-smart, moral, funny, hard-working, kind…Michelle:Like Samantha– before I married I was attracted to the tall, dark, and handsome, but really good social skills were the most important to me. My husband is tall-ish (6’2″) and dark (1/2 Mayan) and very handsome, but mostly he won me over by being genuinely interested in what I said and my life. He is able to be interested and care about lots of people in a way that I’m not. He always learns everyone’s names at Church and work and their personal stories too.Plus, there is no point in being handsome if you don’t make eye contact and SMILE!!!Jenny:I was attracted to my husband’s blue eyes and voice. He was attracted to the back of my head (I had long hair at the time) and he was interested what the other side looked like. Those were our first opinions if each other.I was always attracted to tall, dark, and handsome, not short, freckled and Jewish. He told me I possessed four out of five qualifications: brown hair, brown eyes, curves, and the name Jennifer. The only quality I don’t have is a Cuban accent like Daisy Fuentes. He is a kind, loving, romantic, sweet man. Those are very important qualities to me.Gena:Because I met him 10 years ago in grade 8, up until that point, all I knew I liked in men was cool hair (long or spiky or crazy colors) and relatively hairless body. Roberto was quiet (hadn’t learned much English yet), wore all black for convenience, simple hair, and shy of me, but his eyes had this alert, calculating, intense quality to them that I couldn’t help being drawn in by. The reason we started dating in grade 10 was those intense, intelligent eyes, tall frame, deep conversation on a wide range of subjects, and, most importantly, treating me as a friend and conversation partner instead of a piece of meat, as other high-schoolers tend to do. Also, in grade 10 I convinced him to grow his hair out. By graduation it was down to his bum. In the last 5 years his skinny teen frame has become man shaped, and now I realize how much I love broad shoulders and facial hair . Groomed facial hair, mind you. His hair has been tamed to shoulder length too. Roberto’s priority is clothing. Before we dated, his ideal girl would dress tastefully and flattering to her body. Not frumpy, not naked, not a nun. Skirts no longer than the knee, shirts that don’t turn the torso into a box curtain or frilly mess, etc. Today he still has discerning taste in clothes, both for himself and I. I trust his judgement when shopping. If I try on a dress and he pauses, then says “… you know those frilly orange tree fungi?” I’m not buying that dress .Claudia:I am attracted to tall men: my husband is 6’5, and all the men i dated before him, were of similar height. Before meeting him, though, i liked dark haired, dark skinned men (Latin, preferably of my same ethnicity). Then one day i met him, he’s very white, green eyed, and very handsome and big. Not just tall and gangly legged (if that makes any sense)- he used to be a football player when he was in college, and grew up in a farm. I also have a thing for strong men, i guess (still get weak knees after 8 years, LOL) and fell for him because he’s just amazing (i might be a little biased). He’s a very confident, responsible man, kind, romantic and loves adventure (he’s traveled half the world and he’s only 34). He’s also an amazing cook, and a great dancer. He’s very passionate about what he likes, and you can see that in his eyes when he’s talking about it (and his whole body- he speaks while pacing around and gesticulates quite a bit, which struck me as interesting when we first met, because i had the idea that American men, specially the ones from the Midwest, were all soft spoken. I am a year older than him, by the way- but everyone thinks it’s the other way around.Mari:I had a few rules that I didn’t deviate from. I would only accept men who were taller than me, with broader shoulders than mine. They had to be solidly built, not slender like a marathon runner. I demanded high intelligence. I didn’t go for conventional good looks or popularity. I almost always went for the geeks. I saw them as diamonds in the rough. I saw their potential and desired to assist them in reaching it. My biggest crushes, though, were on older men in their 50’s and 60’s. I ended up marrying a man who ticked all the boxes on my list, except that he was a “youngster” only 4 years my senior. I was his first girlfriend ever, but he didn’t mind that I’d gotten a rather early start and already had a “past”. We were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend and got married less than 6 months later. He was just graduating from college and I was fresh out of high school. My family cheered about my “good catch”. His family was horrified, said I was too young and too poor and uneducated. His PG version is that he was first attracted to my blue eyes. But also he could sense a “wildness” behind my calm, quiet exterior that made him unable to take his mind off of me. I, on the other hand, don’t remember anything in particular that attracted me physically to him. In the beginning I simply thought of him as a good man with good potential. I felt neutral. It was all business to me. I was never infatuated with him. He jokes that I was too busy creating my own “arranged marriage” to worry about infatuation. I knew infatuation would have muddled my objectivity, and my goal was to find a suitable partner and hope infatuation followed. Looking back on it, I think I married him because he passed all my tests and was the only man I couldn’t scare away. He was durable! He keeps me grounded and I keep him jumping. He affectionately calls me his feral cat. Now, 25 years later as he approaches the magical age of 50, there are moments here and there when he looks inexplicably good to me. Its as though I am 14 years old caught up in an “older man” crush all over again. Lucky him! Lucky me!Nicole:The first thing that I noticed when I saw my husband was his smile. I saw him through a doorway as I walked by, and he was laughing. He was so confident and happy, and I knew I wanted to meet him. I still love his laugh.Faith:I always had a thing for Josh Groban-esque dark curls. I saw this guy from behind and thought “Dang, I want my kids to have that hair.” Then somebody tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around. I thought, “Sweet, he’s cute, too! That’s the one.” I proceeded to Facebook-stalk him and officially met him a week later. Seven months later, we were married. What can I say? I knew what I wanted It’s been 4 1/2 years, and sometimes I look at him, when he keeps his hair long enough to be curly, and I remember our whirlwind romance and think, “Dang, I scored.”Maia:I dated a guy in my 20s who was fun, but also very sarcastic, made fun of people, didn’t like my family, and made fun of everything. So, after we broke up, I made a list of what I wanted in a spouse. The top qualities were “considerate of others” and “non-judgemental”. I also wanted someone who liked my family, who I could connect with and feel comfortable talking to, someone who loved animals, and someone my same religion. When I met my husband 8 years later, we met at the mailbox of our apartment complex. I said, “Oh, are you my new neighbor?” and we talked for an hour. After a couple of months, I looked at my list, and noticed he had every single thing I wanted (and more) except he didn’t go to church and didn’t play basketball. After we got more serious, he did go to church with me so that happened after we met.
I didn’t really have a requirement on looks, I just wanted to be attracted to whoever I married. He liked dating girls he met in bars who were wild and fun, but after awhile, it wasn’t working for him, so he was looking for someone who was loyal and intelligent when we met. We both found that through our experiences of dating a lot of people we were able to figure out and fine tune what we wanted in a partner.Matt:I was always partial to red heads and brunettes. I never was very interested in blondes. Blonde girls all look the same to me. Michayla’s a petite little red head with green eyes, and I was always fond of her when we were youth, though we never really dated exclusively until we were engaged (long story there). The other girl I was once interested in was tallish (she was as tall as I in heels) and brunette.So she and Michayla are sort of opposites, though they both have green eyes, so I guess I’ve always had a thing for green eyes.Olivia:Appearance wise, I was always attracted to softer-looking, dark haired, tall, musician/artistic type of men (or boys, as it were, since I was 17 when I met my husband). My husband is about 2 inches taller than me, lighter hair, built more like an athlete than a musician. He wasn’t as attractive as many of the others I was interested in but there was something about his personality that stuck with me. He had/has this easy way about him. Strong, deep rooted convictions but he has always had the ability to loosen me up and make me laugh and have fun. I always thought I would marry a musician and that we would make wonderful music together. Instead, I got a tone deaf, hard working, rugged farmer. And he is the perfect man for me because he brings out the best in me
It also helps that we were raised with similar faiths and both raised as farmers. We got married at 19 and had very little issues adjusting to married life and each other. Pretty much smooth sailing in that dept. We had discussed all of the big ticket issues and agreed on pretty much all of them (there are a couple areas we don’t see eye to eye but they don’t really affect out daily life). My mom always said that when there are two different faiths laying in bed at night, the devil will sleep on the pillow in between. (Doesn’t translate extremely well but you get the point)
I can’t imagine a question that more of us ask over the years to ourselves than this one. I think that, although it perhaps is of lesser importance in some circles as we get older, it does still hold some sway. And, perhaps for some, it can be used as yet another excuse to be afraid of marriage. And as former mid-single’s Bishop Steve Lang pointed out, are some of us still looking for a spiritual Angelina Jolie, or a 30 or 40 or 50 year old President Uchtdorf, and missing someone who is very real and would be a good match for us in the process, because we don’t recognize the proverbial “diamond in the rough,” or just a “diamond in a white shirt and tie or dress” who teaches primary on Sunday or Scouts during the week?
In a classic talk about agency in love and marriage, Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy said:
For some people, falling in love is a magical encounter, something that seems to happen at first sight. For others, it is a growing affinity and attraction toward another, like budding blossoms that flower into a beautiful bouquet. Though the first type of love may also bloom like the second, it is often merely glandular, a cotton candy kind of love that has no substance. While it may begin with warm cuddles in moonlit glades, it can soon grow cold as honeymoon memories fade and familiarity turns to faultfinding.1
As quoted by Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 87). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Kimberly Reid also gave some great advice and quotes in an article in the Ensign:
We will date those to whom we are attracted in several different ways, and physical attraction is part of a healthy relationship. However, we live in a society that emphasizes the body and limits the definition of beauty. If we are not careful, we may adopt unrealistic standards.
More than 65 yearsago, writer C. S. Lewis observed that the adversary uses distorted body images in the media to direct “the desires of men to something which does not exist.” 4 That trend increases today.
The Screwtape Letters (1942, 1996), 107
As we seek an attractive companion, the Holy Ghost can help us discern lasting qualities like faith, character, and personality. Such qualities will keep the relationship strong when age and the tests of mortality change our appearance. President Boyd K. Packer, (then) Acting President of the Quorumof the Twelve Apostles, has taught that amid “all of the deception” that may initially occur in dating—including always looking our best—we should remember that appearance and style “are essentially unessential. ”We must ask ourselves, Would I want this person to be the parent of my children? 6 Such priorities reflect an eternal perspective.
Instead of contemplating what qualities others have that might fill our needs, we can turn to the true source of fulfillment—the Savior. As we serve Him, our desire to serve others will increase, we’ll build genuine friendships, and we’ll experience the love often described by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion.” 9
Chas Hathaway also reminds us :
You should also keep in mind that a girl tends to think of herself as less attractive than she really is, while a guy tends to assume that he is more attractive than he really is. (see photo, above)
Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 80). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Despite what sometimes creeps in as over-attention to a potential date’s appearance or something similar, we do need to, of course, be attracted to them. However, sometimes in our search for a possible reason as to why someone else isn’t interested in us, we jump to conclusions too quickly in an effort to make ourselves feel better. If we’re doing all we can to take good care of ourselves and our health (both physical and mental, and spiritual) we have no reason to fear and can move forward with our head held high. It may not help, at first, to lessen the sting of rejection, but worrying about things that we can’t change will never do us much good. Also, in the long run, why would we want to be with someone who isn’t interested in us, for whatever reason?
Dove Real Beauty Sketches: if you haven’t seen this video that came out several weeks ago from Dove Beauty products, it’s based on the dilemma that seems to be too common today: that women think they’re much less beautiful (in the case of the Dove campaign, on the outside) than they really are. If you have read or followed any of the research as to why that is, it’s a rather interesting story. I will not go into my own opinions on the Dove campaign, as I feel its already been covered rather well all over the net. And, if you’d like to know why it is that women (yes, and I also think men…but in a different way) feel so inadequate about their looks, my personal favorite source to go to is Lindsay and Lexie Kite of Beauty Redefined. I highly recommend going to their site and learning in a more detailed way than you may already be familiar with the role that money has played in the way media would have us see ourselves. They both recently received their Ph.D.’s in media studies and the site outlines just some of the issues they’ve studied. Because I’ve read more about the female issues regarding this (mostly because it’s easier to find) that’s mostly what you’ll find on their site, but I don’t think it’s too hard to come up with the things men are expected to be. Or is it? Comment below.
I don’t think it’s difficult at all to find parallels between the gospel and how the Lord would want us to view ourselves. While he wants us to be healthy, the opposite focus of being too hard on ourselves actually usually has the opposite effect of either making it harder to lose weight for those who need to, to the all too common problem of anorexia. As for myself, I was never anorexic, thank goodness, but while I was quite thin all through high school and into my mid-thirties, yet (especially in high school) I hated the shape of my body, because even if I lost weight, my large frame but small bones would never look as “thin” as a lot of smaller teenage girls, even if I lost all the fat in my body. I had at times bought into the idea that beauty was reliant not on health or taking care of oneself, but on a specific body type.
Corporations who sell makeup and clothes want people to be unhappy with the way they look, because studies show that people who are unhappy with their appearance will buy more clothes and more makeup. The same goes for any corporation who sells just about anything. If they can make you believe that you can’t be happy without it, you’re more likely to pine for it and (hopefully for them) find a way to buy it, even if you don’t need it. In our society where most of us have our basic needs met, it’s effective.
So how does this relate to being single? I’m not sure that it really relates to us anymore than those who are married. One way it can sideline us, though, is by us letting ourselves believe that some of these lies are the reason why we’re single.
I’m not saying, at all, that working at being more attractive is a bad thing, or that trying to be healthy is bad. (Of course not.) What I am hoping to do is just to help make others more aware of just how skewed our views of ourselves and sometimes others can be. Elder Holland gave a talk on this to the Young Women a few years ago that is better than anything I could ever come up with, so I’ll defer to him. And of course, these are timeless truths that apply to everyone, and not just teenage girls.
I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you.]” 8 And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies.” 9 Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” 10
In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” 11 And in secular society both vanity andimagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” as Lehi saw, 12 because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.
And our kids, nieces, nephews, and the primary kids and young men and young women we work with will notice our attitudes about these things in both obvious and subtle ways. When we strengthen our own testimonies about our self-worth and self-image, they will want to improve as well. They know that we’re not perfect, but they do want to emulate who we are whether we’re aware of it or not. Perfection we’re not, but comforting and loving we can be. And, I truly believe that it makes it easier to live with oneself as well. Aren’t we better company to ourselves when we realize who we really are?