LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


Leave a comment

Unrequited Love

Thpurple-42887_640.pngey say that most people have dealt with unrequited love at least once in their lifetime, at least 98% according to an estimate in this article in Psychology Today . I think most of us who are single are nodding our heads sadly in agreement.

How to deal with it

  1. Remember that what was in your head probably won’t match what would actually happen had you been in a relationship with this person, no matter how good a person they may be. Even in marriages, the way you think things are going to go and the way they actually go are usually two very different things: and you don’t know this person that well.
  2. Most likely this has happened to you before. You overcame it and then you found new people to be interested in. Sometimes that took a while. Maybe it’s time again to get a better relationship with yourself, or your siblings or parents, or other family or friends. It’s hard when, each time, it seems like you’ve found an even better match for yourself but then it doesn’t work out yet again. This is not the end of the road. Maybe it’s time to focus on service or work or school or a church calling for a while.

Where do I go from here?

I hate getting over crushes or unrequited love: call it what fits you best. You have to go through the pain of realizing that something you’d hoped for, something important to you, may never be. At certain times in my life this has been harder than others. I had someone writing me when I was on my mission. Towards the end he was still writing. I was freaking out because I wasn’t sure what I thought, but in theory (because of the letters he was writing), he was still there.

Only he wasn’t. I got home to find out that he was engaged to someone else. It was a heartbreaking time for me. I had at least hoped I’d come home to have him as my friend, there, to talk about my mission with, as we’d corresponded nearly the whole time. Even though I wasn’t sure that I wanted more than that, the loss of the friendship was the most difficult. heart-642154_640.png

Another time period in my life I really liked someone and just wanted to get to go out with him. What I didn’t know what that he was dating someone else on the sly (heard of “stealth dating?”) and so when I told him how I felt he turned me down. Even though I felt embarrassed, I tried again a few months later. I got the same response and was mortified when I decided what a fool I’d made out of myself. To this day I still wonder if the girl he was dating (who became his wife) was bugged by me, or if she realizes that I’m long over it and that I saw almost immediately that they were a much better match, once they finally “came out” as a couple.

Getting over both these situations was painful, but tools our Heavenly Father has given us ultimately brought peace and healing for those times and others. In Isaiah 49:16 the Lord reminds us that he’s always there for us:

16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

 

Heavenly Father does want us to be happy and if we pray for his help, He will help us move on and he will help us through the pain. The pain can be a bittersweet opportunity to look at ourselves and say, “Why am I hurting? What was I expecting?” and we can use these answers for future goals and expectations. Sometimes some of the greatest things we do come on the heals of painful experiences.


Leave a comment

Recognizing the Spirit in Dating: Part 2

You can read Part 1: Jennifer and Parker’s story, here

light-bulb-1002783_640.jpgMy voice teacher in college, whom I looked up to. once said that it takes a lifetime to discern between emotion and the Spirit. Emotion can be overwhelming, whether it’s positive emotions or negative. Sometimes the positive emotions we get swept up in can be particularly hard to tell from the Spirit. Emotions, temptations, and fears can play just as much a part in confusing us in dating as they do with any other aspect of our lives.

Things that can get in the way understanding promptings in our dating lives:

-Overwhelming emotions

When I was a kid, my older sister had a copy of a book by Brenton G. Yorgason called From First Date to Chosen Mate that I would guiltily sneak into her room sometimes to read. She was seven years older than me and that made her stuff….cool. Later I inherited the book and didn’t have to sneak to read it anymore.
One section of it that I really appreciated was the section on “real love” versus “infatuation.” To sum up, some of the counterfeits of love found in infatuation, you may already guess: you like how you look with that person, you like how they make you look to others, they fill an emotional need for self-esteem, etc. You can still get a used copy of it on Amazon. 
Or, this blog post, “7 Signs That You’re Not Really in Love”on Family Share by Yordanka Pérez does a pretty good job of summing up the same idea. We like to think that we’re not affected by our emotions as much as we are sometimes, but emotions can be powerful and something we always need to work at to be aware of in our relationships.

-Mental Dating

Speaking of pressing forward in faith, “Mental Dating” is a term that I learned from a friend who is a therapist with a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA.  It’s what a lot of us do when we meet someone attractive who strikes our fancy: we think about what they might be like, and in the extreme, spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s not a truly productive form of work for your dating life. I’m not claiming that some escapism in the form of entertainment or even daydreams don’t have their place, but we need to realize that sometimes when we engage in “mental dating” in our heads, the made up scenarios on the stage in our mind may be replacing reality via the lack of interaction that we’ve actually had with them. I can pretend in my mind that, for instance, that actor Chris Pine is my best friend and woos me the same way he does Anne Hathaway’s character in Princess Diaries II, but it does not mean that if I met him in real life that we would or could or would even want to interact in that way. And we may find ourselves “understanding” this when it comes to Hollywood crushes, and yet we’ll let it mess with our minds with that handsome man or charming woman we met at church or an activity. In our minds they already have a slew of qualities that we’re looking for, yet we’ve never been on a date with them to actually find that out. In contrast, the person you’ve never talked to may have qualities you’re not aware of until you actually do talk to them and get to know them.

-Misunderstanding Stewardship

The Spirit leads us to do good things, and sometimes things we’re afraid to do. However, it won’t take away from the God-given plan of agency. The Doctrine and Covenants talks about God’s use of “stewardship,” something that is applied throughout the Church and in our own families. We can receive a positive answer about someone else: that they may be good for us or even a good marriage partner. However, we do not have stewardship over others when it comes to answers they receive for themselves. I may find that Heavenly Father gives me favorable impressions via the Holy Ghost about someone else, but as that person is looking at their possibilities, I may not be the best for them. Heavenly Father may not let me know that I am right for them. I believe this may be one of the most confusing kinds of answers we can receive that may take more picking apart and time to think over after receiving. For me, I’ve decided that it’s not the feeling that I need to concern myself over, but rather, “What did the feeling/prompting really mean?”  (Positive promptings about someone else may mean that getting to know them is a good idea, but not necessarily that they’re “the one.”) And that once I can set aside the overwhelming emotions associated with dating and relationships, I can once again have heaven’s help in helping me interpret answers with humility: with my heart and my head, and come to some conclusions that follow all of God’s laws, including the stewardship of others, without feeling like the misinterpretation of the answer means that must be a foolish, silly person. God loves us. Always use that lens of His love.

So what things will help us recognize the Spirit? Obviously church leaders and the scriptures are full of advice on this.

trujillo-peru-temple-exterior-1449771-wallpaper.jpg

Trujillo, Peru Temple

Some positive advice from leaders

From the recent “Face to Face” for the youth with Elder Rasband, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, and Brother Owen. (And yes, it was geared towards the youth, but it contains great stuff for us older people too.) One of the youth asked a question about recognizing the Holy Ghost, and this was some of the advice they received. You can find this about 22 minutes into the broadcast:
-Act on small promptings and over time you’ll get better at recognizing the Spirit, and the Lord will trust you with more. There is always room for all of us to improve on recognizing the Holy Ghost: if it invites you to do good, it’s the Holy Ghost.
Elder Rasband, quoting the Young Women/Young Men theme for 2016: “Press Forward with steadfastness in Christ. Feast Upon the Words of Christ.” That will help you feel the Spirit more often. (See more on this below.)
Sister Oscarson: The Holy Ghost may come as a thought, a feeling, or a clear thought: move forward and trust he’ll give us corrections on individual promptings if need be. (Think Nephi getting the plates from Laban.)
Sister Oscarson: Moroni 7:16

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Words of a Prophet

President Monson said recently in General Conference that “I reiterate what we have been told repeatedly—that in order to gain and to keep the faith we need, it is essential that we read and study and ponder the scriptures. Communication with our Heavenly Father through prayer is vital. We cannot afford to neglect these things, for the adversary and his hosts are relentlessly seeking for a chink in our armor, a lapse in our faithfulness. Said the Lord, ‘Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.'(D&C 90:24)” If we aren’t doing are part with our prayers and scripture reading, to improve and learn, how can we expect more blessings when it comes to receiving the Spirit? Conversely, by doing all we can in these areas, we can expect blessings.

Galatians 5: 22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Press Forward

Elder Neil A. Andersen said in a commencement address to BYU Hawaii in 2013:

Developing spiritual strength doesn’t come from leaning back; it comes from pressing forward, constantly seeking more light and knowledge from heaven… We cannot rest. Press forward.

As was said by Elder Rasband and Sister Oscarson, sometimes we receive just a little bit of light and we need to trust it and “try it out” by moving forward with it, believing that Heavenly Father will give us more when it is needed.

Have Patience

And from Elder Richard G. Scott:

I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.

He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow.

light-1030988_640.jpg


4 Comments

Marriage Won’t Solve Your Problems

248936_444158605660219_430948644_nA 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?

cause pain bornWhen 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

“I’m not progressing”hopscotch

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.

young-adults-serving-1154938-galleryI 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
-Be prayerful.

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:

A Conversation with Single Adults
Gordon B. Hinckley
From an address delivered on 22 September 1996 at the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

To the Singles of the Church
Kristen M. Oaks • CES Devotional for Young Adults • September 11, 2011 • Brigham Young University

Savor Every Moment of Life
By Janice Southern

**Kristen Oaks: A Single Voice (book) 

 


Leave a comment

Envy and Jealousy Among Singles

441px-Olmec_mask_802Everyone struggles with envy and jealousy, but I think that LDS Single Women, especially past a certain age, may struggle with it more. As the ratio of women to men increases as one gets older, it is more frequently a subject of jokes among Church members and also understandably a frustration for the women who are still single who long to get married. Of course, problems arise when anyone (men or women) succumb to the temptation to see this stage of life as more of a “competition” and less a matter of patience and serving one another. Understandable? Yes. But does it mean that we all end up hurting feelings from time to time, on top of dealing with our own hurt feelings, and making things more complicated for ourselves as well as others? Most definitely.

Something I learned today, from Vocabulary.com:

Envy/Jealousy

It’s no fun to feel envy or jealousy because both make you feel inadequate. Envy is when you want what someone else has, but jealousy is when you’re worried someone’s trying to take what you have. If you want your neighbor’s new convertible, you feel envy. If she takes your husband for a ride, you feel jealousy.

 Envy requires two parties, like you and that neighbor, when you want her new car and you wish you were the one riding around with the top down. You feel envy when you want something someone else has.

Jealousy requires three parties, like you, your neighbor, and your husband, when not only do you wish you had that cool car, but you’re worried your husband is going to ride off into the sunset in it without you. Jealousy is exciting because it shows up in lovers’ triangles and Shakespeare’s plays.

You can feel envy about something you don’t have but want, but you feel jealousy over something you already have but are afraid of losing, like that husband who’s always hanging out next door.

When are you envious or jealous?

In a dating context, or as a single, this list from author Carol Tuttle gives us some possible scenarios. Beliefs that limit us:

“I need to be special to a man to be loved.”
“I need a man to love me in order to feel beautiful.”
“I need to be special to a man to be worthy of love.”
“If I’m not with a man, I am not lovable.”

Other issues (It only takes one!!)

Do you often compare yourself to others?
Do you base your value on your outward appearance?
When you are around other attractive women, do you feel inferior?
Do you perceive other women as a threat?
Do you often feel overlooked or that no one really “gets you”?
Do you feel you really deserve something but it seems like others steal your chance for success?
How do you respond when another woman you know gets something you want? (A raise, a promotion, gets engaged, has a baby, etc?)

I think Satan will always tempt us with these, but we don’t need to be discouraged. Instead, when we find that the answer to one of these is “yes,” we can turn to our Savior and our Heavenly Father and those who love us to strengthen our fears and learn to be happy for each other instead of believing that the blessings that others have mean that there is less for us. This excerpt from a 2012 talk from Elder Holland is a great reminder of that:

 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Avoid Envy. March 31, 2012

Full video and text here

Cornichons_Vlasic_Pickles_1

Want to drink some pickle juice?

 


7 Comments

Book Review: “Pulling Back the Shades”

pulling back the shadesSince the release of the book 50 Shades of Grey, the popularity of what is called “erotica” or “graphic romance” novels has skyrocketed.  It is often claimed that while women may not be at first drawn to pornography like men are, romance novels can be what draw them in. What authors Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery show us in this book is that we don’t have to be completely drawn into the world of pornography for the world of graphic romance novels to cause us problems spiritually and for them to damage our happiness and sense of gratitude for what we have.

Moody Publishing has offered to give one reader a copy of the book Pulling Back the Shades, which boldly gives us a perspective of the possible dangers of reading books like 50 Shades of Grey and why they can be as dangerous for women as pornography.

This book is written from a Christian perspective, and while the authors aren’t LDS, I don’t think it takes away from the message for those of us who are, as with any book or anything that is “of good report or praiseworthy.” The Bible verses they quote aren’t from the King James version, so it takes some getting used to, but it’s a fun opportunity to look them up in the KJV and thus help lock the verses in your own memory.

It’s a quick and engaging read.  Gresh and Dr. Slattery use many real life examples from women they know and have met.  I think my favorite example was a woman who read so many Christian romance novels that she held real men to an impossible standard.  I have no issue whatsoever with Christian/LDS romance novels, in fact I’ve read some myself and (gasp) enjoyed them, but I think the principle follows that the best ones invite us to an escapism that isn’t so far out of reality that we no longer appreciate reality, or that we expect our own lives to follow an unreal standard after reading even the best-written ones.

Dannah Gresh is a Christian author and public speaker and the founder of Pure Freedom, an organization that teaches young girls about chastity. You can read more about her here, or at the Pure Freedom website.

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, sex-therapist and coauthor of Passion Pursuit, written with Linda Dillow, her cofounder of Authentic Intimacy,  “a non-profit organization designed to minister to women on all topics related to intimacy in marriage and intimacy with God.” (website)

 **Drawing over

Congratulations Krystine on winning the drawing!

I’ll be contacting you with more information.

 


Leave a comment

Dates or Commodities?

032This may be a controversial post.  I keep trying to search for the best way to write it, so that I get my point across without targeting ways of searching for a spouse that may be mostly harmless. Personally, I think the healthiest way to view of singles activities is that of not just possibilities for dating partners, but also for making and keeping friends, and for expanding our way of viewing people in general.  But of course, we want to spend our time as productively as possible.  We want to be able to spend most of our “dating time” with people that may actually work with us. How each of us decides we need to divide up that time is up to us, but if at the start we view it as a race to finding someone with a certain list of possibly unreachable (and unnecessary) qualifications as soon as possible, (yes, possibly the old “Are you being too picky” shtick, maybe)  we could end up miserable not just while looking for that unattainable mate, but also miserable after we find that dream person that ends up to not be quite what we expected.

*I will again steer you towards Dating Coach Alisa Goodwin Snell’s “Avoid Settling – Create Your Top Ten List” audio. Do you treat potential dates and friends of the opposite sex like friends, or commodities?

American_CashI would never presume that most of us do this all, or even most of the time: but do we do it sometimes? And does it get in our way? I’ve collected stories that I’ll put in my next post where friends felt that they were made to be more as “objects” than partners or people, but I am still afraid that you’ll take the more obvious examples and be afraid to apply the milder versions of it to yourself.

I think the best examples of the more mild versions are when we have something on our list that may be almost impossible to find. But first, here are the stories, first from the women. The men get tomorrow’s post, so stay tuned  for that These stories come from the *feelings* of those I spoke with, and aren’t necessarily about how I view things, but rather how what others do made or makes them feel:

Olivia: I got interviewed on a date once. He asked me how often I changed my sheets, how serious I was about my career, and if I liked cleaning. He had a specific type of person in mind, I guess.

Courtney: One guy I dated expected me to be there constantly when he wanted to talk to me but would disappear for a while when it suited him. He assumed that all male friends I had were romantic interests and tried to forbid me from talking to them, but he started hanging out with another girl a lot who he thought was cute. So, basically, double standards. It felt like he was a person who was “allowed” to be complex, but I was expected to be constant, predictable, and obedient.

Ellen: I used to get ‘if only you were more confident/ sociable/ happy.’ The exact thing to make me less so. And ‘my friends’ girlfriends are all schoolgirls, MY girlfriend is 2 years older than me and has had a job.’ Definitely felt like a commodity there.

Gayla: I can honestly say I have never had that experience. I started dating at age 16. My Sr. HS year boyfriend was the most amazing. And I would have probably married him had we been in the same place at the same time. He is a month older than I. Still great friends. But I was 19 when I got married. I think he married 3 years later. ( And he has been married 3 times. This last time, he was in the right place and made some changes to take her to the right place.) In 28 years, I have never felt like a commodity.

Mikayla: I had a man tell me he was looking for someone between the ages of 18 and 25 because those were the prime child bearing years. Man, he would have been disappointed when it turned out I couldn’t get pregnant. Infertility_causes

Claudia: I could write a book on the subject. Let’s see… (a) unabashedly “appreciating the menu” when out with a date [there’s a difference between noting aesthetic beauty and equating the attractive gender to food] (b) marking territory through semi-intimate physical contact [being “handsy” is not seductive, it’s the equivalent of a conceptual leash] (c)consistently scheduling everything around one’s own convenience, rather than taking both parties into consideration (d) ignoring non-verbal cues [ie. tired, not in the mood, upset, irritated], or if the non-verbal cues are noted, attempting to alter them to something more comfortable instead of addressing them or at least acknowledging them (e) objectifying and belittling language in reference to the significant other (f) sarcastic comments: it’s all too often a means of masking a statement that hits a little too close to home (g) making jokes at the expense of the significant other, or to belittle the relationship

Julie: I had one ask me about my finances, if I had debt, etc. It felt like he was trying to decide if I was worth a financial risk to him. This conversation happened over the phone after I had met him at a dance. I didn’t date him.

Dana:  He should instruct his family ahead of time not to comment on her “child bearin’ hips” even if they mean it as a compliment.

Anne: I have to say that when my daughter started dating her now husband, they have known each other for years through school, he did tell her she had child bearing hips. She said it was a good thing. His dad is a OB. That is dinner table talk with his all medical family. My daughter is medical, also.

Melissa: I used to be a “people watcher”, but it made my boyfriend (now husband) so uncomfortable that I had to stop. I have to be careful, even after 16 years of marriage not to make eye contact with any men in my vicinity, for any reason, and most definitely no talking. 

McMansions

McMansions

Anne: I don’t think I could do that! I smile at everyone!

Erin: Melissa, I’m sorry – that sounds very challenging!

Erin – My husband was 45 when we started dating, and he found me on a dating site. I didn’t find him, because I was 30 and definitely not searching in the 40+ category. He said right from his very first contact that he was seeking out younger women because he would like to have a family, and most women his age could not. I can see how that could be creepy, but it also makes sense. I mean, if you want a family, most women 45+ physically cannot do that, so I understand the desire to look for younger women. Perhaps I’ve just got my head stuck in the sand to make myself feel better.

And now I’m so hung up on our financial issues (I’m the provider and don’t want to be) and other issues, that we still haven’t even tried to have children. Poor guy.

Keri: I dated someone once who would ask for my opinion, but then immediately stomp all over them. I stopped offering them. He said it was because his family just loved to debate. I felt like he was just looking for someone to agree with him. 

Great Debaters

Great Debaters

Bethany: I unknowingly fell in love and then married someone quite a bit younger than me. I was embarrassed at the time-he thought I was younger, and I thought he was older;) He encouraged me to get over my sensitivity to the age difference. BEST decision I ever made. Cannot say enough good things about being married to someone younger- keeps my frame of reference younger, … he was raised a generation later-so is much more self-sufficient with house chores, longer money making life than me, stronger longer, fresher perspective. Really-cannot say enough good things about this if it’s the right guy. Which in my case, it was.

Claudia: speaking of commodities and the entitled-to-have-a-woman-with-education, how about the men whose laundry list includes “someone who can get me into the US”? I ran into quite a few of those.

Kim: I once dated a guy who loved that I could sing, but he only wanted me to sing for him. He didn’t want me to do theatre or perform in front of an audience. Fortunately, I realized that wasn’t for me before I married him. Whew! My husband of 20 years is an actor himself and would never dream of asking me to keep my talent at home.

Bethany: Really Kim ? I always wondered what that would be like-kind of like your own personal Angel of Music? But not for public. My husband has a directing background, and it’s so nice being married to someone who understands.phantom mask flickr

Courtney: Rachel, did he wear a half mask and leave roses everywhere?

Kim: No, this guy was not an angel of music. He didn’t sing or dance or do anything creative himself. He was a nice enough guy. But he was 6 years older than I (which is a lot when you’re 20 and he’s 26. I was barely out of my teens and he was close to 30!) He also had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted in a woman — which was NOT who I was or am. Thank goodness I realized it in time! I’m sure there is a lovely lady out there somewhere who is happy to sing just for him.. and cook.. and be traditional and submissive. NOT me!

Jenny: I hate it when a man “leads” me from your back when we are going in somewhere. I know they think it’s protective, but (I find) it annoying, I can decide where to go.

 

"friends" by Alex

“friends” by Alex

How to not treat potential spouses/dates as commodities,  advice from various sources: From Melanie Notkin:

I’ve learned that every connection and every moment, has a purpose. And while I may not recognize that purpose in that very moment, I know that I will learn something about someone new and probably something about myself. Plus, with that attitude, I often have a great time regardless of how I feel about the man I’m with. It’s a night out, … maybe dinner, maybe a movie, … what’s not to appreciate?

Marriage, like other relationships with people we love in our lives, is about service and sacrifice.  I think we usually know intellectually that marriage won’t be the end of our troubles, but sometimes we still aim for that.  But LDS blogger Seth Adam Smith says it much better than I ever could:

In fact, if you’re doing it right, love, marriage, and family will be the most painful things you’ll ever experience. Not because they’re bad things, but because to love at all means to open yourselves up to vulnerability and pain. And to love someone completely—as you do in marriage—is to put your whole heart on the line. True love will be painful. True love should be painful. To be clear, when I say that true love should be painful I am not referring to abusive, obsessive, or co-dependent relationships; those relationships are predicated upon selfishness and will inevitably produce a pain that’s destructive and detrimental. No, the “painful love” to which I am referring are those relationships that help us grow beyond ourselves. Because we are all imperfect, we will inevitably get hurt. But that hurt has the ability to make us stronger than before. Marriage and family relationships are to our hearts like exercise is to our muscles.♥♥♥

photo by Ken Lund

photo by Ken Lund