LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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Recognizing the Spirit: a Story

candy ring1Recognizing the Spirit while dating: dare I even go there? What a complicated subject! I am going to attempt a couple of posts on it. It may not be that bad when we go with the basics we’ve already learned, and then apply them to our dating lives.

This story comes from my friends Jennifer and Parker, who are on their second marriage. I’ve shared stories from them before because they’re both masterful storytellers. This one comes from Jennifer. They’ve been married a few years now and have six children (four boys and two girls) between them from their first marriage (almost exactly like the Brady Bunch).

Jennifer:

When I decided to begin dating as a 33 year old divorced mom of 4, I knew things would be different than dating as a 19 year old college student. I was looking for physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and familial compatibility with a potential spouse. That may seem very specific, but I knew if I could click with a man in at least 3-4 of these categories, he was someone I should consider.

For both Parker and I, living as close to the Spirit as possible was absolutely essential as we considered who to date, and more importantly, who to involve our children with. We prayed and studied scriptures daily, magnified our callings, attended church regularly, looked for opportunities to serve (and be served), attended the temple, counseled with our bishops, and sought blessings when needed. We chose friends and activities that would help us to keep holding to the rod during a time when it is easy to feel so vulnerable, helpless, and alone.

I still don’t know if it was the Spirit initially that told me as soon as I saw Parker’s picture that he was “the one,” because I had had warm, encouraging feelings towards at least one other person I had seriously dated that didn’t work out–but I do know that the Spirit helped both of us during our dating to overcome some major fears and hang ups we had–especially dating long distance with some big life changes one or the other of us would have to make in order for us to be together.

I think one of the biggest moments for us was a sort of “Liahona moment” we had when out for a walk one evening. We were both feeling very drawn to one another–(for my part, totally compatible in all the categories I mentioned before) but Parker was scared as to whether or not asking my children and I to move and being able to provide for such a large family (6 combined kids) would be a wise choice, and just scared in general. Based on a few bad past relationships, I was looking for some type of a commitment from him, even if it was just declaring that we wouldn’t date anyone else. It was hard to leave him for 3-4 weeks at a time and go back to Idaho and kind of worry about all the other girls I knew were trying to get his attention. Anyway, as we were out walking that night–Parker just happened to find a little flashlight on the sidewalk someone had dropped. He clicked it on and it worked. We didn’t think much about it until I also found a gold bubble gum machine ring someone had dropped. We laughed, but also felt very sober towards the fact that he had found his “light” and direction, and I had found a symbol of commitment. We still keep these two objects on the dresser in our bedroom to remind us that the Lord very much meant for us to be together. As we continued to date and counsel and attend the temple together, we just knew that we could overcome any trial or hardship together. Despite a lot of difficulties in getting us together and in adjusting to a new life in a new state in a new family situation, the peace from the Spirit was stronger than any outside trial.

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Appearance in Dating, Part II: Real Stories

heart addictedI 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)