Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Marriage Discussion

I was reading a friend's blogpost and my response got a bit long (and now  there isanother post so I guess I also take too long to write also), so here we go.

As was pointed out in the comments, Elder Oaks did also speak on the subject and did mention the sisters.  The proportions spent on each topic though is telling.

I think we tend to simplify this subject a bit too much.  Many guys could probably claim the following paragraph from the post would apply to them:
"I have so many girlfriends who wrack their brains about what they are doing that's keeping them from getting married. They wonder what's wrong with them and what they should be doing differently. They think that perhaps there's something else for them to learn before they get married. It's absolutely ridiculous! And though they mean well, some friends and family members don't help at all. They will often say things like, "You should act like this, or you should wear that." They go on and on about how men are stupid, and women need to practically bend over backward and be the aggressor to get men to see what they need to do. Essentially, they are making excuses for men and telling women to do all the work."
Well, except the last two sentences.

Some of the factors I can think of include (which some can apply to both genders)
  • No desire.  Maybe it is a sampling bias but despite this one getting a lot of complaints this doesn't apply to most guys I've met.
  • Desire but not priority  Sometimes we don't realize that we treat things with a lower priority those things we actually really want.  A lowered priority can be for obviously selfish reasons as "still wanting to have fun" or others like education and career.
  • Asking a person on a date being read into too much.  As President Hollingsworth pointed out, 10 years ago he was struggling to get people to go on second and third dates without them reading into things, now the problem is going on first dates without them being read into.
  • The 20s being the new teenage years.  This is especially the case with guys that are meandering through life rather than working to establish themselves in a career but face women around them that have or are working towards higher degrees.  Notice that I said "not working to establish" rather than "not established".  A guy actively working to establish his career whether through getting an education or growing in one's field is fine and should hold his head up.  This is also a problem spiritually.  If someone has been working to purify their desires, to fulfill the commandments, and serve those around them would they want to risk regressing through the negative influence  of someone who has not been developing themselves spiritually?
  • Trying really hard but not realizing they are doing it wrong.    One example: we've seen the times when a new cute girl or guy moves into a ward and everyone of the opposite gender surrounds that person and obsesses and fights over them for the next 4 months or so.  This is made more ridiculous by the fact that the attraction is skin deep and the person doesn't really seem to match them in their personality.  Sometimes it is helpful to take a step back and stop being so aggressive over being married to explore what you want and don't want through dating a variety of people and developing friendships that can blossom into a relationship.
  • And then there are the guys that girls ignore, turn down, or are even mean to.  This can because they aren't familiar with these guys, they are socially awkward, they are different but in a good way, different in a bad way, etc.  Hopefully if it is a bad way the guy recognizes this and is trying to improve but the way to improve is to be with people but others are so myopically focused on marriage they don't practice charity towards these people but see them as a waste of time on their path to marriage.
Those last two points mentioned the marriage/dating myopia and that is a topic of its own.  Sometimes it seems people's obsession over marriage is making them less ready for marriage.  I hear people talk about needing to have Christ in one's marriage and the need for selflessness.  People tend to be too focused on what they get out of a situation, who they'll get to flirt with, etc that they lose the opportunities to grow.

One example is to not be early or even being late to church.  A person then loses out on the opportunity to meditate on the atonement and the sacrament.  If they hold the priesthood they also lose out on helping prepare, bless, or pass the sacrament.  One reason people might do this is so that they can chose who they sit by and maximize time during meetings to be with them.

Another example is to just look at the amount of service offered to who, especially between two people that have needs.  Sometimes we neglect those who need it most because we get nothing out of it.  Granted there are other factors like how much the person needing service seeks help but we should be a lot more observant about these things.

Pressure to get married can be good and help push people past their hang ups with selfishness and help them take a risk but I also worry that continued pressure over the years and a social/spiritual environment that focuses mostly on socializing as a means for encouraging marriage to the detriment of service, sacrifice, etc exacerbates the marriage myopia.

I dislike not really having a purpose or conclusion to be building to so sorry for the jumble of not-fully-thought-out thoughts.