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Lamenting the Mormon Marriage Culture

August 24, 2009
Ah, everyones ideal. One (1) white woman nabbing her one (1) white man in holy matrimony

Ah, everyone's ideal. One (1) white woman nabbing her one (1) white man in holy matrimony

I was reading an entry at Blog Segullah earlier today about a young LDS woman who really wants to get married. As I was reading through, several things streamed through my consciousness, all literary-style like.

…26 isn’t that old for marriage, right?

Oh gosh, does she seriously think 26 is old for marriage?

Hmm…is 26 considered old for marriage?

I find myself out of touch with reality on this issue. Fortunately, my mind latches on to other things…why is Sheri L. Dew still single anyway? Oops…that’s not the focus…why is the writer Sheryl single, since it appears to me she’s got things going on for her (not that I would know)? When she talks about some of the things she’s heard: “My dad thinks it would be a bad business idea if I ever married a black girl,” I cringe…but only because I can hear people I know making similar statements. The idea of single-parent home being a betraying shibboleth intrigues and confuses me (am I really out of touch?).

Again, I wonder why Sheri L. Dew is single. I know for everyone else, she’s old news (no pun intended), but I apparently have been under a rock and have never thought of this puzzling state of affairs. I do some googling.

It’s lamentable that the organic food movement is so sullied by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Returning to the article, I feel a bit sheepish myself. I feel I must provide a defense for my bachelorhood. I’m only 19; I don’t need to get married any time soon. (haha, I only recently realized that when someone was talking about being involved in a Single Adults ward, he didn’t mean a Young Single Adults ward.) And I’m doing my very best to eliminate myself from the radar of devout Mormon girls, what with my apostasy and my non-mission status.

I wonder if I should get over my distaste of devout Mormon girls, since their only blemish is their devotion.

I feel I have to defend myself even more, since my parents would probably raise the money for a reverse dowry themselves if they knew of such a great single, smart, accomplished black LDS woman.

Setting aside the search for a good alibi for not joining the marriage craze, I realize that I simply don’t empathize with Sheryl on “yearning” to marry. I wonder what 7 years could do…

But my stream of consciousness — already prone to absent-mindedness — crashes as I read a paragraph, and my mind sharpens. For Sheryl writes:

Even though this topic can be a frustrating topic for me and many of my single friends, when all is said and done it only takes one. We are frustrated by the men in our wards who aren’t dating or asking us out. We are equally frustrated from the choices of guys we have to date. They are often focused on their careers and having fun. As one guy told me once on a date, “I like being single. I finally have money in my life and I can do what I want when I want.” To that I think, “Marriage isn’t some lock where the key gets thrown away buddy. You can have fun when you’re married too!”

And now I realize that I want to cry out. I understand Sheryl’s plight even if I don’t share it, but the only thing it does is make me despise the LDS culture of marriage for doing this to her. Even as she says, “Marriage isn’t some lock where the key gets thrown away,” I still must feel that the Mormon culture surrounding the marriage is a prison. I don’t necessarily agree with the tone of what the one happy bachelor said, and on the surface, Sheryl’s silently thought reply is noble, but I still grind and grimace at the underlying foundation to her frustrations.

Why is it considered morally imperative to marry young, to the extent that one is considered selfish, worthy of inciting frustration, for not dating? So, the man who wants to establish his career and celebrate — for once — his freedom from school and the family of orientation, becomes the LDS moral villain.

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  1. Could it be a hold over from the days when LDS leaders encouraged people to live naturally and let the children come? The younger you marry, the more righteous seed you can raise up?

    Or maybe it’s simply that marriage is the highest sacrament in the LDS faith so wanting to put it off is tantamount to putting off your salvation.

    BTW, don’t marry a devout Mormon girl.

    There’s nothing necessarily wrong with them, and you may get along well enough together, but once children enter the picture (assuming that they will), you’re bound to have a difference of opinion how they should be raised. That alone can be enough to sink a marriage.

    So, let me amend my advice. Don’t marry a Mormon girl who may even think once in a while about being devout unless you’ve sat down together and explicitly discussed how you hope to raise children regarding religion. How will religion be presented in the home? Will they attend the LDS church? How often? Will she expect them to go to church whether they want to or not? Is she OK that she would be the one leading family prayer? Is she really OK with someone other than you, the father, blessing/baptizing/etc. the children? Even then, it’s a crap shoot and it’s bound to be a source of contention.

    Then there’s tithing and attitudes about sex and …

  2. From a few profiles I read of Sheri Dew a few years back, I recognized a lot of subtle hints.

    I think she might have either Attention Deficit Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have both, and know several people who do.

    And she seemed to fit the bill.

    She’s also a highly motivated go-getter. And that can be a hard thing for a serious relationship to put up with. It seems to happen to a lot of smart and attractive women.

  3. I guess from reading a few things, that would make sense…but still…

  4. FireTag permalink

    I would comment, but it is going to be too much fun watching you learn this one for yourself. Put on your calendar for August 2019 an anniversary post on this topic. If I’m still alive, I’ll definitely be looking for it.

  5. FireTag:

    I have an ace up my sleeve that I don’t think you can anticipate. 🙂

    • FireTag permalink


      It won’t help. Life always changes the rules, even if it means that aces are the lowest card in the deck rather than the highest.

      When I was 19, I wouldn’t date any girl who wouldn’t at least consider going to church with me; I was priesthood, and that was unusual in the RLDS tradition.

      When I was 39 I began to untangle the story of how badly loyalty to the institutional church had allowed a seriously disturbed priesthood member to damage my wife’s family in ways that are still playing out.

      Now that I’m 59 my wife and I both see our priesthood ministry as having its primary responsibility outside the church, and we’re both focused on ministries we never imagined we could or should.

      Who knows what you’ll be like at 39 or 59, but I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised whatever it is.

      • No, I fully understand that I’ll pleasantly surprise myself in several ways, but I’m still willing to bet on a few things staying constant.

  6. FireTag permalink

    Finding out what stays constant is part of the fun, too.

  7. I’m not sure that it matters why Ms. Dew is married or remains unmarried. I find it strange that it’s assumed that the reason she hasn’t married has to do with her own personality or characteristics.

    I believe that LDS culture focuses too much on getting married. it is a family oriented religion, by definition – based on marriage.

    That’s great, except that I believe not everyone is meant to be married, or should get married. Perhaps it’s that I’ve watched many married or long term couples separate or divorce over the years. I’ve also watched many happy long term couples over the years – so I’m not completely negative.

    I must be a heretic, because I believe it’s fine for some people to choose not to get married. I think there are many worthwhile things someone can do in life (and also ways to help society/humanity) aside from getting married.

    There isn’t one path to happiness.

    As far as the OP goes – I wish her luck. I’ve found life often doesn’t turn out how we expect it to – or as we’re “promised”. I think figuring out how to manage expectations while still chasing dreams is the key. Figuring out what to expect.

    I will say – frankly, 19 is awfully young. 26 is also still awfully young. There is a lot out there to life and many opportunities.

  8. While I don’t doubt the possibility and potentiality that everyone is not meant to be married, I don’t think separations and divorces necessarily show that. Perhaps they show that people should be more cautious and careful in their search (but then again, I speak with the ignorance of youth here, as FireTag will point out), but that’s not to say that the search will yield nothing suitable.

    I hope it isn’t heretical to simply believe that it’s fine for people to choose not to marry…but I guess with the culture we’re in (that of the church…probably not so much of the nation as a whole), it probably is very heretical.

    • FireTag permalink

      Actually, Andrew, as a rookie I think you’re definitely worth a first round draft choice, but I used mine on my daughter.

  9. Sheri Dew is between 6’0″ and 6’3″ (I forget her exact height). Take it from me: it can be really awkward dating shorter men, and the pool of men taller than that is very small. Also, for some bizarre reason, taller men seem to prefer women who are much shorter than them, which reduces the pool even more. (I blogged about the perils of tall a few months ago here.)

    I’m not saying that’s the main reason she isn’t married, but it’s probably a factor.

  10. “I wonder if I should get over my distaste of devout Mormon girls, since their only blemish is their devotion.”

    You’re feeling that distaste for a reason. If you and your partner have fundamentally different spiritual beliefs, expect trouble up ahead. Take it from someone who’s been there: you’ll be happier with a partner who has a similar outlook on life.

  11. Hehe, reading over this article again is amusing because of the way I have been trying to be agnostic about certain things.

    …I can think of another “blemish” of devout Mormon girls that leads to a distaste or disinterest.

  12. Shame they’re so smocking hot.

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