teethIt was a lazy Sunday afternoon, sun drenching the lawns of the Single Adult Convention’s mountain edge location, the city of Adelaide stretching out to the coast far below us. People were scattered inside playing board games, an enthusiastic group had bounced off to walk to the National Park half an hour up the road, and lacking such energy I decided I still wanted to enjoy the sun. “Let’s take a turn, shall we?” I offered, elbow held out to the woman to my right.

“Oh! How very Austen! Let’s!” she clapped. Within minutes about eight of us – all aged 30+ – were walking comfortably around the gardens, elbows linked, laughing and chatting. Somehow we decided to explore the surrounding streets, and conversation (as it is obviously wont to do at Single Adult gatherings) turned to the male of the species, specifically those who may be in want or need of a wife. Or – to be more specific – what a wife is in regard and esteem of when looking for a husband.

The group agreed that times – and tastes – had certainly changed from when we were teens, or even in our twenties. “Let’s play a game then,” I suggested. “Let’s play Essential:Negotiable.” To be honest, I deliberately led the conversation in this direction. I was a Convention virgin, having gone without knowing a single person, never having attended any convention before, and it being my first experience of a large Single Adult activity – over a long weekend no less! I had been delighted in finding some truly sensational, amazing women at Convention, and gleefully took the opportunity to conduct some research.

“I’ll start. It’s giving us all a feature or aspect of a potential spouse, and you say if it’s obligatory or negotiable, and then the conversation goes from there. Okay – has a job.”

A chorus of “Essential!” spun in the air, with some rapid discussion on what would constitute fair exemption. “Personal hygiene” suggested someone, and our laughter climbed the gum trees beside us. “Oh, definitely obligatory!” stated someone, face scrunched in horror at the alternative. “Aw, I don’t know…” another woman considered, “That can always be changed.”

Words zipped at our shoulders, as the experiences and doubts of these remarkable women were shared regarding choosing a spouse just to change them, and what would negate a lack of showering in the scheme of spousal contemplation. “Own car”, “How many kids he has”, “Does he have a calling?” were all raised and discussed, no doubt baffling the residents in their gardens as we wandered past.

“Okay.” I paused, considering, and then grinned as the next idea struck. “What about… Teeth?” The look on the ladies’ faces – dropped jaws, disbelieving eyes, then explosion into hilarity – is one of my favourite memories from Convention.

“TEETH?” squeaked one woman, bent over her knees from laughing so hard. “TEEEETH?????” She stood upright, walked two paces then had to bend over chortling again.

“Negotiable”, primly stated another, walking by arm-in-arm with a woman wiping tears from her eyes. She nodded, and smiled at me, shrugging. “Everyone loses their teeth.”


So – would teeth be negotiable to you, should you be in the meat market of LDS dating? What is a quality you consider important in a spouse, as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago? Do you talk to your friends about the qualities they or you are looking for in a spouse? What is essential/negotiable to you?


  1. Lynn

    April 24, 2013

    Kindness – at all times and in all things and in all places. Do other qualities really have merit if there isn’t kindness?

  2. Kay

    April 24, 2013

    The one I had the hardest time finding was tempered ambition. On the extremes. Too little ambition led to individuals with no direction in life. Too much ambition led to individuals either harried and divided between too many tasks, or simply with such strict focus on one goal that other important matters became dust. The biggest trick is that “tempered” really a qualitative for “just the right amount for me.”

  3. Melanie

    April 24, 2013

    I second kindness. For those of us who are single when we don’t want to be, it can be easy to slip into cynicism and jadedness. Finding people who are genuinely kind, open, and thoughtful is really refreshing.

    I’m also looking for someone who loves learning, since I’m the type of person who loves having adventures and learning new things. I remember reading an article once that found that couples who learn new things together have the strongest relationships. I think a willingness to learn new things together is more important than having similar interests.

  4. Jessie

    April 24, 2013

    I agree with everything that has been said already–kindness is a big one for me, the right amount of ambition and drive, and being someone who loves learning (I also love to learn and try new things and I’d love someone I could talk to about the weird things I read about or hear on the radio).

    One of my more frivolous requirements is that I don’t want to date a really tall guy–I think six feet is my maximum. I’m only 5’3″ and I hate feeling like someone is towering over me. I think good teeth and personal hygiene are definitely non-negotiable for me too.

  5. KJ

    April 24, 2013

    I’m in “the market” as well, Kellie, so I have given this considerable thought. Sometimes it is easy to focus on finding all the things that my X lacked, but I am trying to keep my mind open and my expectations realistic. Essential for me: ditto on kindness, responsible, good sense of humor, committed to the Church, optimistic.

    My views have certainly changed from the last time I was dating. Back then, I believed so much in potential. Now, I believe that you are what you are–if you haven’t figured something out at this point in life (job, social skills, hygiene, money), odds are that you’re not going to. I’m not interested in taking on a ‘project’.

  6. M2theh

    April 24, 2013

    I don’t think anyone would want to marry someone who needed to be reminded to shower and put on deodorant. If I were to find myself single again, that wouldn’t be a consideration, that would be a given.

  7. HokieKate

    April 24, 2013

    Most of the list from YW activities ended up not mattering so much: Eagle Scout, musical, served a full mission, even virgin.

    Things that do matter: committed and faithful to our relationship. Willing to do what works for us, outside of stereotypes. Tall (I’m 5’10” and have no attraction to men under 6’0″). Intelligent and productive in his field of employment. Fiscally responsible.

  8. Dovie

    April 24, 2013

    If I were in that boat again, I would say kind, funny, patient, imperfect, in ways that complement my imperfections. A fondness for SciFi would be good. Not bossy, turns out I don’t like to be bossed, my husband is not bossy in the least bit he still runs up against this aspect in me. I don’t know how I would feel about the LDS non LDS thing because my husband is not LDS. Since I can only currently envision it if he died (I know anything is possible but that is where I’m at), probably it would depend greatly on the next in lines feelings about sealing situations I would want to be sealed to the husband I am now married to.

  9. Dovie

    April 24, 2013

    Teeth probably negotiable, it would depend on how why he lost them.

  10. Catherine A.

    April 25, 2013

    This was hilarious Kellie. I could envision the whole conversation. You’re a brave, wonderful soul. Love you.

  11. Marnie

    April 25, 2013

    Teeth? Yes, negotiable, depending on (as Dovie says above) why he lost them. Through lack of care? No thankyou. I’d weigh it up as it presented itself.

    Kindness is definitely high on the non-negotiable list. I am married (so not in the market, as it were), but my husband’s kindness has kept my affection strong for him, even through difficult times and also, it has saved my sanity so many times when he sees beautiful aspects of me that I cannot.

  12. Kellie aka Selwyn

    April 28, 2013

    Thank you all for your comments and thoughts. As so many of you have noted, much of what is deemed negotiable and essential is all based on “the whole” of the individual, not each element considered separately. I’m sure much could, should and would be overpowered by kindness, empathy, dedication and loyalty – even the lack of teeth.

    A quote to close, about love and the sudden surprises it can face us with: “(Love is the puzzle that) can’t be solved. Catlike, it follows no rules but its own, and only it knows what they are. Also it can change the rules any time it wants, in any way it wants, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” – Chris Dee

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