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The Ones Who Got Away (and I’m so glad they did)

By Melissa McQuarrie

3d15a3e1-f27b-42e8-88c6-aafb79e8d953 Watching my nineteen-year-old daughter begin to navigate the college dating world (deep breaths) has reminded me how often I fall short as a mother, because I just realized this week that I have yet to impart all of my hard-won wisdom about dating and courtship and marriage (she’s my oldest, so I’m a little clueless sometimes). Sure, I’ve shared tidbits of advice along the way, but most of that advice could be summarized in eight words: “Don’t get married until you’re at least twenty-five,” which I realize is completely useless and probably counterproductive. So the last few days, as I’ve been thinking about how to counsel my daughter, I’ve been reminiscing about my own dating experiences and cataloging the boys I liked/loved on my way to marriage—and thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t marry them. For my daughter, then, here’s a partial list of my near-misses:

Ralph: My first real love. We met when I was seventeen and he was eighteen, dated most of my senior year and the summer before his mission. He took me to my senior prom; we went on picnics and went swimming and hiked in the Sequoias, kissed in a field of wildflowers. One night, after spending the day in Yosemite, we drove home down the dark mountain, holding hands and listening to ELO. A few weeks later he told me he loved me while we were sitting on a blanket in the park, memorizing the first discussion and watching the stars appear. I thought I would marry him, even though he was a little short, so I waited for him while he served his mission in Chile, busying myself with taking marriage prep and child education classes at BYU. When he got back, I had to start wearing flats again and noticed myself hunching over like a Neanderthal. Had he been that short before his mission? I didn’t feel a spark when we kissed (had there been a spark before?), we ran out of things to talk about on our dates, and he seemed a little too, well, passive. But I’d waited for him! I developed insomnia, drove my poor roommate crazy by pacing the floor of our bedroom every night for weeks until I finally broke up with him. Then I slept like a baby.

Adam: The first boy I dated at BYU after my mission and the first (and only) “popular” boy I dated. He was from Southern California, had an alcoholic mother who had acted in B movies, and he wanted to be a movie producer. He bowled me over with his sexiness and self-assurance and quirky sense of humor, took me for motorcycle rides out to the Provo airport and kissed like a pro. But he teased me about having straight A’s, about having lived in a nerdy apartment complex before my mission. I felt gauche and insecure around him, and I actually berated myself for having a scholarship, for being bookish and smart, for not being sophisticated enough. When he took me to a Howard Jones concert and flirted with the other girls in our group, it only made me want him more. Of course he broke up with me and it broke my heart, but thank goodness he did. Still, it took me several months to like being me again.

Michael: My token sensitive, tortured intellectual/narcissist. We were in the masters program at BYU together, and I didn’t know any girl—including the eighteen-year-olds in the freshman English classes he taught—who didn’t throw themselves at him, despite the fact that he was rather scrawny and had a receding hair line. What is it about brilliant, brooding, angst-filled men? He told me he didn’t go to church because he respected the sacramental emblems so much that he couldn’t abide inane sacrament meeting talks, and I actually respected his “integrity.” He once took me to his family’s estate in Salt Lake, and as we waded through the weed-choked gardens and the grown-over tennis court and the crumbling pool house, he told me about his family’s catastrophic financial ruin, about uncles who’d swindled each other’s fortunes and slept with each other’s wives, about his father’s tragic early death. It was right out of a Faulkner novel. I was completely smitten, even as Michael let me trip through weeds and hobble over rocks in my brand new shoes and snapped branches in my face as he walked in front of me. When he left to begin a PhD program, he told me I was the girl he should have dated at BYU, and I actually drove up to Salt Lake in a blinding snow storm to see him once, because he asked me to come. We were still writing to each other when I met my husband—who luckily pulled me away from that dysfunctional vortex.

Knowing what I do now about relationships and marriage and how gritty and hard life can be, I marvel at my naïve, romantic, clueless teen and twenty-something self. Is it any wonder, then, that I worry about my daughter as she traverses the dating terrain? And yet, I ended up with a good, kind, steady, loving mate. I’m hoping—and praying—she will, too. And in the meantime I need to give her some advice.

Tell me about the boyfriends you’re glad you didn’t marry and why. What advice would you give your daughter about courtship and marriage, knowing what you do now?


About Melissa McQuarrie

(Advisory Board) grew up in Australia and California and now lives in Provo, Utah with her husband, four children, and their dog, Daisy. She served a mission in Peru and has a BA and MA in English from BYU. She loves reading, writing, and quiet afternoons. She does not love grocery shopping. Now that two of her children attend BYU and her youngest children are in high school and junior high, she is trying to adjust to this "emptying nest" stage and still wondering how it snuck up on her so fast.

61 thoughts on “The Ones Who Got Away (and I’m so glad they did)”

  1. First boyfriend tried to be a goth/rebel, had a lazy eye, was lazy, and amazed that I went out with him. I actually got engaged to him before I realised it wasn't a real relationship, it was my rebellion against my parents. They hated him.

    Another boyfriend played saxophone, had 5 o'clock shadow all the time, and slept with my "best friend". He couldn't work out why I was upset. No tears over not marrying that guy.

    Third through sixth thought I was great fun, but too smart. Marriage didn't even enter the equation.

    What would I tell my daughter/sons?

    1. Don't settle. Be the best you can be, and look for someone doing the same.

    2. Look at how the person treats everyone they come in contact with. If their behaviour changes, look elsewhere.

    3. Don't think you can, should, could "fix", "rescue", "save" or "be the one/only hope" for someone else. You are looking for a PARTNER, not a victim/project.

    4. Pray, pray, pray to find someone who will respect, honour and stick by you, and pray to become the same.

    What advice about marriage? Um… I'm not sure I'd give advice at the moment. In the future I'm sure I'll pass it out to my boys!

  2. Number one rule: obey the law of chastity. Otherwise, you can get all confused between real love for a potential partner and desperation for someone who may not be a good match. Of all decisions in life, marriage is the choice that most needs God's guidance.

  3. To paraphrase a book I recently read: If he tells you that women are evil/manipulative/insert-adjective, but you are different than other women, run. Sooner or later, he will remember that you are a woman, and therefore evil.

    Also, avoid those who seem to change for you. It isn't real.

  4. Just the thought that marriage, which is probably the most important decision a person will ever make, is left to clueless young men and women strikes terror into my heart.

    My #1 piece of advice is to be yourself and if the guy doesn't like you, too bad for him. You'll find someone eventually who will like you for who you are.

    And if he doesn't ever call you, he's not shy. He just doesn't like you. Move along.

  5. I think the best advice I got was to work on myself: work to be a whole, complete individual. Then when you are looking for a life partner and best friend, you're not desperate for someone to "complete" you but to complement you.

    BTW, I married at 20 and have been married nearly 13 years. It's still the best decision I ever made (even so young). He is still my best friend and a great spouse. I agonized over my age, but I've been able to do a lot of the the less important things I wanted to and ALL of the really important stuff. I love being married.

  6. I'm scared of the ones who want you to leave your hair long and wear heels and makeup and be glamorous for them. What does that mean for the months of morning sickness or chemo or whatever life holds?
    I too worry about young people making such weighty decisions. On the other hand, if they wait until they're older, maybe they'd never do it at all given the gravity of it.

  7. I've only had 3 serious relationships (I'm not married and I'm not in a relationship now), and I'm glad I didn't marry any of them.

    (Names have been changed)

    1. Adam- He was my high school sweetheart. We started dating when I was 16 and he was 17. He wasn't a member of the church at the time, but he got baptized while we were dating. (He was totally sincere; he didn't do it for me.) We talked about getting married when we were old enough, and he even bought me a promise ring. During our senior year of high school, I got busy with the college application process and with school projects. (I was in the honors program and college-bound. He wasn't, even though he was very intelligent.) He lived around the corner from our mutual best (female) friend. He started walking her home from school every day. I didn't think much of it becuase he's a nice guy, and I figured he was just being polite. Well, after a while, he broke up with me and started dating her within a week. (They got married after his mission, and they have 3 kids now.) I'm glad I didn't marry him because we really weren't all that compatible. He's more of a traditionalist, and as I've gotten older, I've become more of a feminist.

    2. Seth- I started college about six months after the debacle with Adam. I joined the ROTC and met Steve. We were in the same unit, and we hit it off. He was tall, dashing, and looked absolutely amazing in uniform. I was 18, and he was 23. He wasn't a member of the church, and he was going through something of a spiritual crisis at the time. I wanted to help, and we got closer. He was the most amazing kisser. We only dated for about a month, but it was an intense month. What finally caused the breakup was that I was committed to living the law of chastity and he wasn't. He never pressured me or anything, but we mutually came to the conclusion that we wanted fundamentally different things in a relationship, and it was best if we didn't date. We're still friends.

    3. Doug- I met Doug at institute a few months after Seth and I broke up. He asked me out on a date. I almost said no, but I decided to say yes. We went out and had a great time. He made me laugh, and he was incredibly spiritual. I was 19 and he was 26, but the age difference didn't seem to matter. He was the first "YW Lesson Approved" guy I dated. (i.e. temple-worthy returned missionary) He was more interested in me at first than I was in him. I mentioned off-hand that I wanted to go on a mission, naively unaware that saying something like that was a date-stopper. About the time I got interested in him, he started losing interest in me. We stayed friends, but then we started dating again. We dated for a while, and then decided to be just friends. Then we started dating again…etc. Finally, I decided to go on a mission, though I would have abandoned my plans if he had asked me to marry him. When I left, we wrote to each other, but he wasn't waiting for me. When I got back, we picked up where we had left off, with vascilating between dating and just friends. By this point, I knew that he wasn't going to commit to me, but whenever we were together, we couldn't seem to just be friends. It's like we were caught in each other's orbit or something. Every guy I would try to date would get unconsciously compared to Doug, and would be found wanting. He dated other women but would keep coming back to me. A few months ago, I prayed for help in dealing with this situation (I've prayed that prayer many times over the years), and finally, we went out dancing last month, and I had only friendly feelings for him, not romantic ones. (Although I was getting vibes that he might still be into me…) It was like an incredible weight was lifted from me. I think the lesson from this one is that sometimes we can find ourselves falling in love with someone who is a good person, but who nonetheless isn't the right one to be with.

    Sorry this is so long.

  8. Some great pieces of advice above.

    One piece of advice I wish someone had given me at that age was that if you know you don't want to/shouldn't marry someone, STOP DATING HIM. I went out with way too many guys for way too long because it was easier than being single, or because I didn't want to hurt them, or because I told myself we were just having a good time — and as a result ended up in some very complicated and unhappy situations.

  9. I would advise my daughter to marry someone who is even-tempered, sincere, honest, hardworking, and dependable. Someone who pitches in when there's work to be done and is thoughtful and kind to others. (Of course, he can be fun and funny and handsome too, but these qualities alone are not sufficient.)

    I know too many women who married men just because they (the men) were fun, charming, and good-looking. Almost all of these women ended up with husbands who aren't sensitive to their feelings and pretty much never help out with the children or at home.

  10. My first boyfriend was nice enough and had his charms at times, but he was shorter than me, scrawnier than me, picked on my insecurities, was definetely more passive than I needed him to be, and tried to win my heart with expensive gifts. And he would sit on MY lap. After I realized I didn't want to be with him, it took me two months to finally break it off. We remained friends. I swore I would never date a guy shorter or scrawnier or less "manly" than me again. I was 19.

    He set me up with my next boyfriend, who was dreamy, but just off his mission. He was tall, blond, adorable, could cook, and I fell for him pretty quick. After two weeks of dating, he told me that he thought he loved me. I wasn't sure of my emotions yet, although I knew I REALLY liked him. I couldn't reciprocate the words, and he broke up with me a couple of weeks later. He got engaged to someone else 3 months later. It made me physically ill to see them together. I had fallen in love with him, only to "realize it too late." I swore I would never break in another RM.

    Then there was the friend "John" who saw things in a completely different light than I did. He and his brother and a friend and I hung out together. It was an akward love triangle. I liked his brother, my friend liked his brother, and he was completely infatuated with me. The brother and he expressed their nterest in me within a week of each other. Then the brother moved. Meanwhile, "John" and I spent a lot of time together- he was a great friend in my eyes, but nothing else. He thought we were dating. I kept bringing up how I wanted to serve a mission, and he keep discouraging it. I resented that. The same day that I finally realized just how deep things were getting and told him I didn't think we were on the same page, I think he was planning on proposing, or at least bringing up marriage. OOPS. We broke things off, I encouraged him to pursue another girl in our Singles branch who had been infatuated with him. Two weeks later, they were engaged. I was relieved.

    I went on a mission. My grandmother, an ex-mission president's wife, told me to watch the Elders like a hawk, because I would see the difference between a "missionary" and a "MISSIONARY". I did. And I did see the different. And I tried to be a MISSIONARY, and when I got home, I looked for a returned MISSIONARY. Went back to school.

    Dated "Mike" for a little when he got off his mission. He had liked me before I went on my mission, and had written me during his and my mission. I was flattered by his attention and perserverance. I thought things might head toward marriage as we started dating, was infatuated with the idea of being in love, and he told my sister that he was going to propose during Spring Break. But then he dropped off the face of the earth. And I kicked myself for breaking in another missionary. But apparently my heart wasn't really into this relationship. I wasn't heart broken at at… He had only been a missionary, and had no real goals that I could sense. Not what I really wanted.

    I graduated college, and after much prayer, I moved VERY far away from my hometown. I went to institute and was discouraged that there was NOBODY that even remotely interested me, or was interested in me. I was bold enough to give Heavenly Father an ultimatum of one year to meet "the one" and then I was moving. Two weeks later, I was set up with a young man that had been the HT as a youth of the couple I was renting a room from. Because of work and school he couldn't attend institute. They had known him since he was 12. He was their "FAVORITE" and they considered him like a son. The first thing I noticed about this fellow was his passion about going to the temple. Very attractive to me. He was hard working. He loved and treasured his mother. He was absolutely amazing. He was a returned MISSIONARY. (I actually went up with him to one of the branches he served in last month. They remembered him because of the awesome work he did while there. Only great and bad missionaries are remembered. He was a great one!) 9 weeks after we met, we were engaged. Just celebrated our 4 year anniversary last week. And he has been worth it. And all of the experiences I had before him helped me learn what I wanted. I have been so blessed to find him, and it took all of those previous relationships to learn what I wanted. ANd I was glad, and am constantly grateful, that I couldn't tell my first "love" that I loved him in time. Because my husband is perfect. For me.

  11. Nothing like a friend invite on Facebook from your old flame to make you think "I'm sure glad I dodged THAT bullet!". DH and I both recently had that experience, and it made us appreciate each other more than ever. I'd rather not speak ill of my old boyfriend, but let's just say that I'm sure glad I married a man who has been gainfully employed since he got out of school and doesn't want/need me to be his mother. And we don't live with either of our parents.

    As far as advice, mine is to marry a marriage therapist! Well, it has worked for me. Really, though, I think all we can do as parents is remind our kids that when they are infatuated with someone, even their faults can seem like virtues ("He's not cheap, he's thrifty!), that life/love/marriage takes lots of hard work, and pray our hearts out that they make a good choice. Glad my oldest is only nine.

  12. Oh yeah–and if you don't want to be the fat one in the relationship, never marry a man with smaller calves than yours. But I can live with that.

  13. I dated a lot of guys, but I would never have considered marrying any one of them except my husband. Interestingly, I knew he was "the one" almost immediately.

    The closest I came was a highly intelligent, somewhat Napoleonic guy (yes he was short…and powerful by virtue of his impressive intellect). But I knew from the outset that he was too intense for a daily diet. And a bit moody, too. So even though I was extremely drawn to him, I was always aware the relationship would not go anywhere permanent.

    In my mind, the main ingredient in a good husband is trustworthiness, because that covers a lot of ground. Can you trust him to do what's right? to carry his share of the load? to support you when the chips are down? to love you through hard times as well as good times? to hold it together when trouble comes? to respect you for the person you are? to be a hands-on, committed partner and parent? to stay faithful in the gospel? to teach your children by example? to grow old with you?

    Of course, he should also be able to look at you in a way that gives you butterflies in your stomach (the excited kind, not the nervous kind). =)

  14. I've appreciated all of your good advice, ladies, and I've loved reading your stories! Keri, I'm glad that you finally resolved things with Doug—those on-again, off-again relationships can be so painful. Mom in the Mountains, I know just what you mean about there being a difference between a missionary and a MISSIONARY. I didn't realize until I served a mission that there are slackers on missions, and that being an RM doesn't always equate with spiritual maturity.
    What I'm gleaning from your stories is how all of our relationships give us experience and ultimately help us recognize what we want in a spouse. And they make good stories later on!

  15. Fun post!
    Guys I dated or was in love with:

    1)Arie- two years ahead of me in high school. He was quiet, funny, talented, and traditional; son of a BYU professor. He had searing green eyes and curly dark hair. He took me to the prom. We wrote while he was on his mission. He came back and the spirit said "No." and gave me the feeling of two repelling magnet ends when I was with him. Looking back, I realize he had a bit of a temper and his Mom did NOT approve of me.

    2)Don- My token Adonis/narcissist. He was so good-looking that I made him turn around during serious talks, because I couldn't concentrate while looking at him. He returned from an Eastern European mission the same time I did. We spoke a convoluted mix of Croatian/Bulgarian and jogged together. Third or fourth date we stayed up until 4:00AM taking and he told me how much he hated his Dad for abandoning their family. There was an entire color-guard of red flags parading in my mind. I should have broken it off then, but thought "I know I won't marry him, but I've never had a boy-friend–I should see what it's like…" BAD IDEA. Eventually the relationship deteriorated and I obsessively tried to meet his every need so he would spend time with me–the more I did the less he did. I limped away.

    3)Brian- served in my mission. I loved his energy, his hilarious sense of humor, his kindness. I got him a job teaching at the Senior MTC with me, figuring if we taught all day together he wouldn't be able to resist me. He mentioned a blond in his ward he wanted to ask out and I encouraged him to do it–figuring he should get a little dating under his belt. I still remember the day he came to work with her engagement ring. I even tried it on. I never told him my true feelings and my heart was broken.

    4)Bryant- my token non-member. He was blond, handsome, sweet, GREAT kisser, but always seemed to be the victim of some crazy, convoluted happenstance. He was very romantic and said that it was fate that we were thrown together. I told him that I wanted the father of my children to be able to give priesthood blessings and broke it off.

    Dating advice I'd give: listen to the Spirit. Do they bring out the best in you? Do they treat others with love and respect? Are they honest and honorable? Are you calm and comfortable when you're around them?

  16. I've been thinking about this for a while today. My children are all past the age where advice would be of any value. I think that happened sometime when they were in high school. I remember #3 child used to bring dates home to dinner and afterward ask what we thought of them. If we liked them we never saw them again. If we didn't like them that was the end of that. It took a long time to learn, but the truth is none of them ever wanted my advice. If they had they would have asked for it. I would have told them it was not my decision and that they should pray about it. I would have told them that it is possible to be happy with any number of people when they are willing to put the relationship first and work together.

    I would hope that they would choose someone with similar values and beliefs who loves the Lord. Then I would hope that the example they saw as they were growing up was good enough for them to copy. Actions speak louder than words.

  17. If you find yourself brooding over off-handed comments or having to analyze every conversation to find out how he "really feels", then it's a dead-end. Get out.

    Although we shouldn't judge a person's past, sometimes we need to. In fact, at times, it's an absolute must. Especially if illegal activity is involved. *shudder
    (On the same note: to all those women out there dating divorced men, I need to warn you now –Yes, the ex-wife may be bitter, and so may the ex-girlfriends. But for the love of ALL THAT IS HOLY, talk to them! Listen to them! Take it with a grain of salt, but what they have to say does hold some water and validity. Because I have never seen so much hurt and pain than from some of these women who refused to listen to a family member's ex's when they should have (and his children). Oh, and the same should go with the guys dating divorced women…)

    The biggest difference for me between the guys I didn't marry and the one I did was how he loved me. He loved me for myself –there were no strings attached, no ultimatums, no questions on my part, no weirdness, no dangling promises, no petty jealousies, no out-of-this-world expectations, etc. He actually loved ME. I didn't feel like I had to earn his love –even though I wanted to give it. I never felt like I was trapped or manipulated in any form –we just loved each other. It was pretty simple, really. But powerful, too, you know?

  18. Claudia, your comment resonated with me. I thought that I had all of this experience and wisdom to share and advice to give my children about dating and marriage, but I am finding that my children don't really want my advice. Sigh. I am learning that I need to instill in them the confidence to make their own decisions. And you are right: actions speak louder than words.
    Merry Michelle, and the rest of you who have written about your old boyfriends, I have enjoyed reading about your experiences. I wonder how many of us have dated narcissists…..
    And Cheryl, I like what you said about examining a person's background. Because it matters tremendously. I didn't realize this when I was dating—love conquers all and all that. But sometimes it can't. I know I'm going to have to resist the urge to do background checks on my children's fiances.

  19. The best thing in the world for me was that I didn't date a lot of men in college. Only after college, when I was more ready to behave like an adult, did I finally seem to catch someone's eye. I'm not exactly a supermodel, and it turned out to be a blessing! I'm not exactly hoping my girls will all be homely, but staying out of the "it" crowd is admittedly one of my hopes.

    But after college, I knew how to demand something substantive, and thankfully I found it!

  20. My advice to my daughters is:

    1. Do not marry until you are 30. There is so much living and growing you need to do that the chances of you knowing what you really want at such a young age is slim to none. Also, if I hear the "but I'm so mature" argument is STOP BEING SO MATURE! There are loads of years ahead to be mature. Be young, be irresponsible, have fun, enjoy being single because once you marry, you hopefully won't be single again for a very very very very long time.

    2. Date someone for a long time– a minimum of a year — before even considering marriage. Who one is at the beginning of a relationship when all is new and exciting and the person appears to be perfect will some day be 'real' and how would you know you like the 'real' person behind the rosy glasses?

    3. If a guy doesn't appear to be that into you, he isn't. So drop him. I have a few copies of the book "He's Just Not That Into You" and I wish I'd read it in high school. Such amazing, simple and full proof advice that would've saved me countless days/months/hours of anguish.

    4. Take time to grow up, date lots of guys, and enjoy lot of experiences. Then you'll know the real thing from a fake.

  21. I would have to disagree with purposely waiting until you're much older to get married. My advice would be to get married at a decent age (if possible) so you can have time just the 2 of you before kids come along. My husband and I were married almost 3 years before our first child and I loved that time we had together.

  22. Thanks, Lulubelle, for the "date lots of guys and enjoy lots of experiences!"

    Truly the media, etc. does our children such disservice in their portrayal of relationships. Twelve year olds dating — get serious! Or rather, DON'T!!!

    I am so grateful for "For the Strength of Youth," and the counsel it gives! I have one child who is looking for the one, and one who is friends with many — the latter is far easier on the heart!

    Somebody else mentioned getting to know the person, and watching how they relate to those around them — how do they treat their mom, siblings, dad, etc.? How do they treat your family? friends?

    One thing a friend shared with me when I was searching: prayerfully figure out the top 5 things in a spouse you can't compromise on and write them in your journal. (I would add in here to work on being/doing those things yourself.) Then when you are dating someone you're starting to think seriously about, pull out the list and see how he does.

  23. 1. Paul was a good guy. Kind, sincere, honest and really had a testimony. Nothing wrong with him. Except he was a farm boy through and through. I know that I would have died inside living a very insulated life on a farm. Some women thrive in that environment, but that wasn't me.
    2. Seth couldn't decide what he wanted. He still can't. We've remained friends over the years. But I realized that I would have spent my life chasing him and feeling frustrated that he wasn't moving forward in his life.

    From my personal experience I can say that the single most important factor that helped me in the dating/courting game was learning how to listen to the Spirit. The year before my husband and I started dating, a very traumatic event occurred in my family. It literally forced me to my knees all the time. I spent hours studying the scriptures, praying, writing in my journal. What I gained from that experience was a spiritual attunement that aided me tremendously as I dated various men. When my husband and I fell in love, I was blessed with a very peaceful assurance about him. I might have doubted my feelings if I hadn't spent so much time listening to the Spirit.

    I think if we were ever to do a service for our children, it is to help them learn how to listen to the Spirit. I knew many girls in college who hadn't developed that skill. Making the choice to marry someone was incredibly difficult when they weren't even sure how to listen to the Spirit.

  24. PS: I'm not an advocate of rushing kids either. I got married just shy of 29 and I wish I had waited longer but that's another story. My husband and I waited 3 years before even considering a baby. I loved those years and you know what? I'll add that to my list… Wait a few years before having kids. They are amazingly fun and fantastic years to enjoy quality one-on-one time with each other. Enjoy them. Savor them. Don't rush through that wonderfully special time together. It also gives you some time to work out some of the kinks without the complications of kids in the picture. And, once married, if you're having problems, SOLVE THEM BEFORE EMBARKING ON PARENTHOOD.

  25. I also have to add, dating lots of guys is great advice, but let's be realistic, many girls don't date because they aren't asked. I dated rarely in college. My sister, who dated literally thousands of young men had a much harder time than I did when it came time to marrying. So more isn't always better. And more dating isn't always an option. That doesn't mean a person has to settle, just that learning to judge a person's character isn't based solely on dating.

  26. Lulubelle, I can understand what you mean about rushing kids. I think that is great advice. It's important to live and experience some of life before jumping into marriage.
    That said, waiting to marry until a certain age or waiting to have kids after marriage for a set period isn't a once-size-fits all solution. I think it is very individual. I was married young and had a baby 21 months after I was married. I remember thinking that things were going so fast, but I had felt such a confirmation that I was doing the right things at the right times. My children came much quicker than I had planned before getting married. After my third child was born, I was diagnosed with a serious illness. If I had waited until 30, I might not have married or had children. But I know there are others who have different stories where waiting was the right thing.

  27. A wise friend of mine recently had her daughter get married at 19. It clearly wasn't what she wanted to have happen. When talking about it, she said to me, "I could have either been at their wedding or not. But the wedding would've taken place with or without my presence. I chose to be there." She chose to be there, and as such, has sent the message that she values her daughter and respects her daughter's choices. My observations tell me she has always done that. Because she has developed that relationship with her daughter, I bet her daughter is more aware and prescient of the choices she makes.

    It isn't always age. And every piece of advice isn't going to work for every person. Someone I love decided to not get married until she was over 27. She passed up relationships and opportunities so she could experience the world. She's now 44, and mourning some lost opportunities and still living her life alone.

  28. I agree that timing issues are individual. I didn't get married until I was 27, but I know some very happy couples who got married in their early twenties. I also have a friend who got married at 28 and her marriage has not turned out to be what she hoped it would be. I think the key here, as Tiffany said, is to help our children learn how to listen to the Spirit, so that they can make the most important decision they will ever make using the best of all resources. And Justine, I admire your friend for deciding to support her daughter's choice and showing confidence in her.

  29. Here is my un-PC comment for the day: While I like the IDEA of waiting for marriage, and I will strongly, strongly encourage my daughters to wait till they are finished with college to marry, the sad truth is that in the mormon church most worthy young men marry in their early twenties. Wait till thirty and you're pretty much guaranteed slim pickins.

  30. I am feeling a little long-winded today. Mostly because this has been a topic of discussion amongst my friends quite a bit in the last few weeks. I have mixed feelings about "waiting until you're older" to get married, or "waiting to have kids" after you're married. IMHO, the Lord knows best the timing, and we have to trust it. But that doesn't mean that things will be easy. You just need to listen and be willing to follow the promptings when they come, whether it's to go ahead with the decision to marry, or to wait.

    I got married at 25, which was much later than I had imagined it happening for me. But when I arrived in the place my husband was, it was at a time when I knew who I was, I had set and accomplished some major goals, had faced some tough decisions, and knew exactly what I was looking for. And I knew how to listen to the Spirit because of past experiences in making those goals and decisions. Marrying him was the easiest decision I had made in a long time, mostly because the confirmation was so strong, and so early, and he fit everything I had been looking for and praying for. For me, 25 was actually probably the best time to get married, despite my dreams of getting married younger. And then 9 months and 3 weeks later came our first son, and he came when he was supposed to come as well. Despite not knowing my hubby for long (7 1/2 months from the time we met until the time we got married) Heavenly Father played (and continues to play) an important part in our decision making, including when to have our first child. We didn't suffer any set-backs by having him fast. BUT, our marriage was also on very stable grounds… We both were emotionally mature and ready for the experiences that were ahead of us, and for some blessed reason have had a very stable, almost contention free relationship from the start. It made it natural for us to have our son right away.

    My sister and her husband took 5 years to get married, and then two years to have their first. I used to wonder why they waited so long to make those life-and-relationship-changing leaps, but then I saw and heard about their relationship struggles, and I understand a little better why waiting was the more prudent choice. The adjustment from single-to-married life was much more difficult for them than it was for us. And I'm sure it was a matter of prayer for them, as well… It would have never worked for us, but it worked for them. They still have their struggles, but they work on them. That's all that matters.

    And then I have two friends, one who is 19 now, been married 1 1/2 years, and still is in self-discovery mode, while struggling with her roles as a wife and mother of a 1 year old. She has really struggled with her marriage, with resolving concerns within her family, figuring out who she is… It makes me sad at times to think of the things she has given up– especially her identity– because she felt like it was time for her to get married. She hasn't developed her interests (what interests? She doesn't even know what she likes to do, or what makes her happpy!), she gave up on her schooling since her in-laws (and husband) have not been particularly supportive in her getting an education, she went from being an attached-at-the-hips-twin to a wife with no time in-between for her to discover who she was. Life is and will continue to be hard for her, until she's able to come to a head with herself. And she is SO young, both age wise and emotionally. It breaks my heart, because I know that when I was her age, it was such a HUGE time for self-discovery for me, and she's having to do that WHILE being a wife and a mom. She'll make it, but it's been hard already.

    My other friend is in her mid 40's, and she was also married at 19. The difference is that she was ready. She knew herself, her goals, and has been very happy with her choice. The struggles this first friend has had, she never went through… She was emotionally much more prepared for the commitment of marriage, and was much more stable in her self-identity.

    I guess what is important is that you (the one who is dating) DO know how to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, know who you are, and know what you really want, by experience and study and prayer. And then, if Heavenly Father approves of your choice, go for it. Age can be irrelevant. If you're doing what your Heavenly Father wants you to do, things will be ok. Not easy, perhaps, but they will be OK. And He knows when is the best time for you, whether it's younger or older. It's a matter of learning and developing that trust with Him before making the leap. Because eternity is a HUGE leap. When it's truly RIGHT, then it's right. And He'll lead you to the person when it's the right time, younger or older.

  31. My husband is my third, oh, maybe fourth true love. I didn't fall often, but it was always very hard. This was a very fun exercise. I'll maybe have to try this.

  32. I've got to agree with Sue.

    Why is it that the longer boys (yes, boys) wait to marry, the dumber they get? And the longer girls wait, the smarter they get? Okay, I know I'm generalizing here but it does seem like there is a short window when the pot to pick from is larger. Just sayin.

  33. I agree with the comments about the "shy" boys just not being into you–wish I'd read that book before I started dating because I spent years agonizing over a friend who I was in love with, and thought he was at the brink of feeling the same. For years.

    That is the biggest thing I want to impart to my daughter. She doesn't have to TRY to make someone like her, or to see the light. The man she is supposed to be with, will be interested in her. Sure, she can try to get to know people and show interest, but it really shouldn't be a HUGE effort (and now, I'm sure there are stories where the effort worked for someone, and I'll admit that my husband took some work as well, but at the same time, he'd at least already expressed interest so I knew that the work was going somewhere!)

    Also, while it can be fun to date the "bad boy", and to tell yourself that you are only having fun, just don't ever forget it. I recently got back in touch with my gorgeous, fun, irresponsible ex-boyfriend, and was so relieved that I didn't ever move past the fun dating mode with him even though I thought about it off and on, because he is still the same guy, 12 years later, and what was enjoyable when I was 20 would hardly be fun as a 30-something mother of 2.

  34. Dittos about the "shy" boys "not being into you." Once I figured that out I became a much happier single. I figured out that it is ok if a guy wasn't interested. He had a good reason and honestly he was doing me a favor by not wasting my time. Men really aren't that complicated.

  35. An interesting post for the week of my anniversary. Some posts just beg for comments, don't they?

    My first boyfriend was two years younger than me. I was sixteen and he had a cute smile. We covertly held hands at the bus stop and talked on the phone at night. We didn't last through Spring, we didn't have much to talk about.

    Mext up was a summer fling with a guy I thought was a dork. I only dated him because he was a friend's cousin visiting for the summer and I was, looking back, more interested in gaining her approval than I was interested in her cousin. He went home for the summer and sent me cassette tapes, which, when he called, I said "I never got them" (partly true, I never listened to them). Next up was a non-member with a cute smile. He was a smart, cute, filipino and we kissed a lot, but didn't make it through the spring, the guilt was killing me. I dated an almost-member (weird family situation), or I think we dated. He brought me a rose on my birthday and we hung out a few times and spent a day at the beach there he kissed me, kind of. The was my polar opposite, I pulled in 4.2 GPAs and he got 2.4s. He was an athlete, I was a band nerd. I swooned over him like nobody's business and was devastated when he moved on. It was my first and only heartbreak. The other break-ups I initiated. Okay, I'm not done, yikes. Next came my senior year. He was an asian boy in my ward, a year younger, great smile, and we lasted intospring, but broke up the week before prom, but we went anyway. I remember watching TV at his house and being so happy tears came to my eyes. I think I could have married him. Transitioning into college, I dated a hawaiian boy, and I wound up dating another guy (one I've been married to for 14 years). At the same time. One night I prayed about which one to "pick" because they both had amazing smiles. I was inspired/instructed to go to the devotional the next day, where I had arranged to meet boy #1, who I now assumed was the one for me. I showed up early for the devotional, waiting outside on the steps for #1. He didn't show up. I was baffled. I went into the devotional and sat alone. Would the speaker give me some message I needed to hear? Nope. I didn't hear a thing he/she said. Because my future husband walked in and asked if he could sit by me. The rest, as they say, is history.

  36. Oh, i'm enjoying this advice! As single at 28, i've had the chance to date and fall in love a few times (and too many stories to mention even briefly). It's something I'm still working on figuring out. The advice I'm trying to follow? Be with someone who you feel comfortable being yourself around, and is in the same place spiritually.

    Taking a moment to think about exs, I have to say that following the spirit doesn't mean that you won't have your heart broken. So teach your kids to love, and be open to love, whenever it may come, and to know that a failed relationship doesn't mean that you are a failure. The best thing you can teach your kids about relationships is your own, and being willing to communicate about it. Also, make sure you sons don't have unrealistic expectations, many girls will thank you for that 🙂

    great post!

  37. I hate it when people way you should be 25 when you're married. When I was 18 I knew who I was going to marry. We were married when I was 20. We weren't the only ones spending half (or more) of our college careers as married undergrads. My mom questioned me once about how sure I was that someone I'd met so young was "the one" for me. But I'd dated guys in high school, and we were in love. Back in the day (pioneer times) people got married much younger. The other side of the age coin, I've had several friends of mine who could have gotten married earlier, waited for whatever readon and and ended up unmarried or married to someone who wasn't a good match. From my perspective, I'd be nervous if one of my children graduated from college without a spouse. I advocate marrying young and growing up/older together.

  38. Obvioulsy if my daughers don't take my advice, I'm still going to the wedding. I love the unconditionally and won't sever or damage a relationship because they don't listen to me. That said, I will cry myself a river if my daughters marry young. It's not that you can find the right guy when you're young, it's about finding yourself first– and having ample time and experiences to do so. For every thing there is a season– and there is a season for being young, single, selfish, exploring, experimenting, experiencing AS A SINGLE PERSON. There is a time to have as little responsibility as possible, and to skip that is a crying shame. That doesn't mean that getting married at 30 guarantees a happy and lasting relationship– or marriage. There are no guarantees. The two are seperate. And I wholly advocate growing up without the complications of growing up with a spouse. What is the rush for marriage? I just cannot ever understand that mindset. I mean, obviously, people can do whatever they want– to each their own. But what is the rush? Why skip and important time to jump into a marriage? Yes, being married is fun (I'm in a happy marriage). But you have (hopefully) a long time to be married (or not, if you don't find the right person). I would much rather my kids have sex before they are married than jumping into a marriage so they can have sex and satisfy raging hormones. Maybe it's because I've enjoyed every phase of my life (well, most phases anyway) and wouldn't go back and shortchange it just to hurry onto the next phase. It makes me very sad to see college students married. College is fun– it's a time to explore, stretch your thinking, go to frat parties, join the Peace Corp, backpack through Europe with friends… I'll stop for now. I have to get back to work!

  39. Ugh! I have so many typos in my post! Trying to do 10 things at once. Sorry, hopefully you all understand the gist of what I wrote.

  40. And to answer the original post… The ones who got away (There are so many! But I'll name the biggest):

    *Craig: My first real 'love'. I was 21, he was 31. I wanted to marry him. After 4 months, he asked my friend out and that was the end of that. She got pregnant before they married, they married, eventually sealed in the temple, 5 kids later, they divorced– she is living with her boyfriend and had one more baby by him. He ended up being neglectful and physical with her.

    *Kevin: I was 23, he was 25. We got engaged. I had a ring, a dress, and the announcements were out. 3 weeks before the wedding, I called it off. He refused to get a job or go to school. I was working full time and on my last semester in college. Years later, we've reconnected. He still works intermittently and I have no idea how he supports his 7 kids and a stay at home wife. He's still cute, funny, and utterly charming.

    *Shawn: I was 27. He was 29. We went to high school together. We reconnected. Sparks flew. I moved across the country and we lost touch. Great guy.

    *Todd: After my divorce, I was madly in love with him. He ended it because my daughter was too young and he didn't want to parent another child. I am so grateful he was honest and, while I still have affection for him, I couldn't be more grateful that it ended.

  41. I always like to think of MYSELF as the one that got away, not the other way around . . .

    (names changed)
    Troy – on and off when I was a teenager, a total bad boy, a vandal, slightly abusive both physically and verbally, but very confident and a great kisser. He was the only LDS boy my age in my ward. He always wanted to sow his wild oats and have me reform him later. I knew that it was never going to go anywhere, but it was fun from time to time. He's now a very overweight school teacher. Weird.

    Jeff – a fling I met at my summer job when I was home from college. He was very athletic, sexy and confident, but not LDS. Lots of sparks between us. After we dated for a while we ran into a friend of mine, and afterward he went on a totally racist rant (she was African American). It was pretty much over at that point. I told him I couldn't stand a bigot. No idea where he is today.

    Paul – a best friend for a long time and eventually I started to think maybe more. When we talked about it, he thought I was going to immediately jump into bed with him (he was not LDS), and it made me so mad that I would never talk about that subject again. It killed any feeling I had along those lines. However, we're now FB friends, and he's awesome! Good thing there was never anything more.

    John – a guy I met early on at the Y. We were flirtatious friends for about a year. Then he left on a mission, and we wrote flirty letters. About 18 months after that, I left on my mission. Letters & tapes continued. At one point, we had a bit of a falling out, and I decided we shouldn't stay in touch. He begged me to reconsider, and I unwisely did. Of course, he came home a while before I did, and by then he was already dating someone who he said reminded him of me. When I got home, I figured it wasn't going to go anywhere, but he jumped me almost immediately, but then would deliberately miss phone calls (tell me to call when he wasn't there) or not pay for dates or not call me. It ended up being like friends with benefits without friendship. It got old fast, but I was too newly off my mission to deal with it well. Then he just quit calling me one day, after four years.

    Dan – this started a few months before my mission (overlap with John above). He was very different from the others I had dated. He rode motorcycles (he had 3), and his family had a house in the south of France. His dad was a millionaire businessman, and his mom had fur coats. I was a little intimidated by the wealth thing, and when he flew to my parents' house for Christmas my mom hated him and kept saying his name wrong on purpose. A few months into my mission, I ended it because it just wasn't a great long-distance relationship. Much better in person. Plus, I objected to his willingness for us to live with his parents if his career didn't take off. And I had my doubts his career was going to take off. But I regret how harshly I dumped him. We had been planning to get married.

    Tony – at the end of my mission, one of the elders came forward and said he had all these feelings for me, and would I write him. He was really cute, but a couple years younger, so I said it was probably not going to go anywhere, but if he wanted I would write him. And I was right – it didn't go anywhere. He was just too young for me. In reality, the reason I liked him was that he reminded me of another one of the elders that I was good friends with. And that's the guy I ended up marrying much later.

    Those are the major "kicked to the curb" ones. There were a few less noteworthy minor ones.

  42. Interesting dialogue going on here. I have to say that I fall somewhere in the middle of Paula and Lulubelle. I'm glad your marriage worked out for you, Paula, but I wouldn't advocate marrying young and "growing up together." Too many of those young marriages do end in divorce (my parents' marriage being one of them—also, of the six or seven girlfriends of mine who married at nineteen—to RMs—half of them ended up divorced) and often when people "grow up" they become different people with different goals than they had at eighteen or nineteen.
    That said, I wouldn't want my children to wait until they are thirty to get married or prefer for them to have sex before getting married just to avoid rushing into marriage—that runs counter to church teachings and counsel. Yes, we want our children to experience life and find out who they are before they marry, but we do want them to marry at an appropriate age for them, and we don't want to go overboard and scare them off of marriage, either.
    I so appreciate all of the comments you've all made—this had been a very timely and interesting topic for me to get feedback on.

  43. And, Kyliem, my adorable daughter, I'm not sure whether this dialogue has made me more anxious or less anxious—yet.:)
    I love you too.

  44. Getting married in one's early 20's doesn't preclude one from having great adventures and experiences. I had traveled but little when I got married. A year after my second son was born, our family moved to Sweden for 5 1/2 years. We have done a lot of traveling, with four kids in tow. I've had a terrific time exploring and traveling with my kids. And no, we are most emphatically not rich, we saved for our travels, knowing that it would be cheaper to travel while we were living in Europe. I realize that most people don't necessarily do that. But I think, if you have dreams and interests and work on them together, you may be surprised at what you are able to accomplish and do, even while married and with children.

    I have a question though for you. When you broke up with all these boyfriends, did you actually understand and realize at the time why the relationship needed to end? Or has insight mostly come from the passage of time? The reason I ask this is because I think sometimes we are so emotionally involved that when break-ups occur, we concentrate on the pain we feel and don't necessarily glean the lessons automatically from the experience. So looking at past boyfriends isn't always helpful unless one has the perspective of time and distance?

    Lulubelle, I like that you have the courage to talk about what you believe and feel. It's been interesting to read your opinions. I don't agree with everything you've said, but you've been so great about expressing yourself.

    As for sex before marriage, I most emphatically don't want my kids to do that before jumping into a marriage just for the sake of sex. What I have seen happen with many dear friends, is that sex before marriage actually limits options and makes life that much more difficult. Sex is worth waiting for with a worthy, honest, and great spouse. I'm hoping that I can be a good teacher to my kids about controlling desires and bridling passions.

  45. The most important advice I would have for my daughter (when she gets to this age) is that you have to know yourself and what does and doesn't work for you. You have to marry your best friend or at least someone you can live with day in and out for the rest of your life. You have to be comfortable together and respectful of each other.

    Spark is great, too, but you can create some of that, so long as there is attraction. The issue with spark for me was that it made it hard to see or care about the underlying incompatibilities (like the guy I didn't know was a bigot, or the guy who wasn't being nice to me).

    That's one reason, I'm encouraging my daughter to go on a mission – so she can become her own independent self before she has to worry about that. And while I'm sure there are exceptions to marrying young (anyone can accidentally fall into happiness or have a better-than-average disposition), I would say that a little more life experience never hurts and often gives you more self-awareness.

  46. Watched an Egyptian(?) college business competition last night on PBS. One of the women in charge explained how many of the young girls there try to get jobs, but when they're not successful they "settle" for being housewives. She was adamant that they not settle.

    I know developing ourselves through education and service is vital, but telling girls that they can't be happy unless they're successful in the business world — I saw Satan's hand in that — he comes in the backdoor, too.

    Developing your talents and abilities adds to what you bring to the table as a potential spouse, and mother. Neglecting them is ignoring the gifts we've been given.

    How sad, though, that someone is encouraging young women to get so caught up in succeeding in the world that they risk missing the opportunity to experience a bit of heaven on earth in their own homes!

    That's another thing I'd warn my daughters about!

  47. I have so many stories it's not even funny. I even have a list of every date I've ever been on. I think one day I will start posting them on my blog, one date at a time. I remember in earlier dating days, I would feel frustrated because if I started dating someone I liked, I might miss out on all the other guys I also felt interest for. Now, the pickings are so slim that I wonder if I will ever like anyone ever again. A frustrating feeling. So for those who say to wait, I say, that's not a good idea. Just marry when you find the guy you want to marry who is righteous and who you feel good about. I will post about a few guys here, for your reading pleasure (names changed):

    Mark: first kiss. We got engaged because we felt so comfortable with each other and got along really well. There were small things that bugged me, but I figured my love could overcome them. Two months later, I was completely engulfed in a stupor of thought because I was trying to force marrying him the right answer. It took us forever to truly break up, though the engagement was called off early. My mom said we were wasting each other's time, but I said I was young and loved him. I finally realized that no matter what other people say about bad timing and such, my relationship with God is the most important thing. I decided to break the habit of Mark and cut off all contact with him for 21 days, after which we were finally able to be friends. He married his next girlfriend, who looked happened to look like me (or so everyone said).

    Todd was seven years older and the chubbiest I ever dated. He got himself into a lot of thinking circles he couldn't get out of. One day he asked what we should do, and I said, "Kissing lessons." I hope his girlfriends after that are grateful to me. The sparks just kind of died before I went to Germany.

    Mark number 2 didn't last long. He was fine as long as we were in Germany, but once we got back, he complained about driving 10-15 minutes to see me. If I wasn't worth that to him . . .

    Ethan was the most handsome guy I ever dated. I couldn't believe my luck. He was tall and strong (a rugby player), with dark hair and a great smile. Plus, he was smart and super friendly to everyone. I thought I could marry him, but after a while, the relationship didn't seem to be going anywhere and I encouraged him to take a step in a direction to see if it's right. That was the end. At the time, I was amazingly understanding, but looking back, I'm okay with that.

    Sam and I randomly met while his cousin was trying to start dating me. He said I'd been in one of his classes, which I didn't remember. We exchanged the best emails ever and I finally decided to let his cousin go and give him a chance. We dated but never kissed for a couple of months, during which time I wondered about being with someone skinner than I am. I finally ended it because I couldn't feel consistent butterflies for him. Almost 8 months later, I liked him again and it looked hopeful. Then we both moved to different cities for grad school. Sometimes, through emails and visits, we were closer, but he never considered a long-distance relationship.

    Brad, the only BYU boy I ever dated, kissed me way early, so I felt like I had to make the relationship work though I didn't think we matched very well. What a ridiculous attitude. He was dating another girl at the same time and opted for her. Although I was very nice and supportive of him going with his gut feeling, I was thrown into a pit of despair concerning my self-esteem.

    Mattheus was a German boy a couple years younger than I who was leaving on his mission. We had some fun times together before he left and I wished that he had gone on his mission earlier so I could date him. He wanted me to wait, but I said no way, because I think waiting is stupid. Feelings just go away after a while, I told him, and they did. People in the ward here still think that I'm somehow waiting for him, which is not true at all. Plus, after getting to know his family a little better, there is no way I would want to marry him, though his brother and his wife and I get along quite well.

    Adam was a German boy I immediately knew would be an awesome husband because of his strong testimony. Plus, he was handsome and we had the best conversations ever. Then I found out he had a missionary, and a missionary that everyone seemed to think didn't match him at all. We developed a strong friendship anyway, sometimes with one or both of us being frustrated because there seemed to be the possibility of something between us. Then, like everyone predicted, she "Dear John"ed him. To my frustration, instead of turning to give me a chance, he immediately started looking everywhere else, desperately, for a wife. We are still good friends, but several things make me realize now that I wouldn't really want to marry him: when he serves others, he leaves someone else in the dust. He forgets everything he tells me. I can finish all his stories. He is so much skinnier than I am and has strong opinions about pointless things, such as that multivitamin juice cures everything. I think the biggest deal breaker, though, is that he can't be romantic. Even when we finally went on a date, it was all so mechanical and logical that it was laughable.

    In the last two months, two high-quality guys have declared that they have fallen in love with me. At first I tried to wait and enjoy it, figuring butterflies would come along, but they never did.

    I've been praying for the desire to marry for the last several years, and I finally have it, more or less. What I didn't realize was that having the desire and not having the opportunity is lame. I do everything I can to find the opportunity–I go to every YSA conference in Germany, I purposely get to know as many as possible, I'm working to be a better person myself, etc. But every conference, by the second day, I'm frustrated and depressed and think there's no hope. That's when my inner hermit kicks in and I just want to go live in a hut with a Bernese Mountain Dog in the Swiss mountains. Some might say that I'm being picky and that I could marry any of the righteous guys who are there. But do you know what? 1. as a daughter of a God who loves me, I deserve to be happy, and 2. If I'm going to commit to be in an eternal relationship (that is a freaking long time), then I think I have the right to be selective.

  48. Michelle Glauser, of course you have the right to be selective! I don't think a person should marry just for the sake of marrying. Being happy is a very important part of being married. Marriage is already hard enough without that joy of really being happy together. And if you don't have that to begin with, the hard times just seem that much harder. Good luck!

  49. I agree with Tiffany. You want to make sure you marry someone you will be happy with. Hang in there, Michelle. Try not to give up hope, live your life joyfully and with faith, and see what happens. You'll know when the right one comes along.

  50. I'm not hoping my daughters have sex before they are married. What I am saying is that the lesser of two evils, in my opinion, is having sex prior instead of getting married because sex is inevitable with a certain (potentially wrong) person. I see too many hormonal RMs who come home and 4 months later are married to someone they didn't even know prior because they are horny and they confuse that with love.

    About success in the business world -vs- motherhood: I think the two are completely separate entities. I didn't see the PBS special but I imagine the interviewee might have been trying to say that women who can't cut it in the business world end up opting out of it due to lack of success there and staying home. It's a cop out, rather than a real choice. Perhaps that was the gist, because I would hope no one would say that success in business is more important than their families and loved ones.

    I do love being married. I love my family. I adore my husband (we're still newly weds, though, at coming on our 2 year anniversary in Aug). But I'm also a big fan of singlehood. I loved them both and appreciated the importance of both. I seriously wouldn't sacrifice a single day of my unmarried life. In fact, I wish I had waited a couple more years before getting married the first time (I was 6 weeks shy of 29). I still had more I wanted to do– like move to New York City for a couple years. I had almost 2 years of singlehood between marriages and it was a happy, peaceful, simple life that I loved. I only left it because my amazing husband popped into my life.

    I, too, travel with my husband and kids. Last summer, I had both of my kids in Eastern Europe with me. But traveling without kids is fantastic, and traveling with friends (no hubby) is, too. Why, can someone PLEASE explain to me, would anyone rush past an important life phase to hop into a marriage. Why date anyone 'seriously' at a young age when the focus should be on being single and savoring that time? There is a season for every life phase, why rush out of one? It's what makes me CRAZY about our cultural church. Ever time I get wedding announcements from 18 year old girls (and they are still 'girls') I want to cry. It's one of the primary reasons I do NOT want my daughters going to BYU– I don't want them living in a culture that encourages or advocates that.

    I went to BYU for a few years and transferred/graduated from another university. One of the reasons I left was because at 21 I was feeling a bit like an old maid and the cultural pressure to find a husband was intense. And I did a little introspection and thought "this is insane" and left. At my new university, hardly anyone was married. The students were focused on being students– as they should at that age!!

  51. I resent the implication in recent comments that I (or my husband) married young (both in our early 20's) because we lacked self-control. Although we were/are attracted to each other, the bigger issue was that we were both ready and anxious to get on with the business of life!

    There's a fine line between exploring and growing as a young adult and squandering your youth on that which is of little (or no) worth to avoid responsibility and adulthood.

    I adore my husband. I'm still glad we were brave and faithful enough to make a commitment young.

  52. Red, you seem to equate your decision to marry young with bravery and faithfulness. Are you implying that those who waited longer were not brave or faithful (squandering their youth to avoid responsibility)? That seems equally offensive to assuming that every one who married young did so because they couldn't keep their hands off each other. I meet your criteria for marrying young (I was 23, he was 22), but I was neither brave nor especially faithful about it. I was plenty nervous, and not terribly eager to have kids or a mortgage.

    Every situation is different. The point that not everyone should be lumped together based on superficial commonalities is a good one. I'm glad your marriage is a happy one, as is mine. I know of many that are not, and in my experience, marrying young is often a contributor to an unhappy alliance.

  53. I think the bottom line is that people are different. Some can enjoy, thrive, and develop beautifully when they marry in their 20's. Some can grow and flourish more as a single adult and then embrace marriage later in life. I've seen happiness and pain come from either scenario; and what works for us may not work for our kids. We need to do the best we can and stay close to Spirit, the scriptures, and the words of living prophets as we make these choices.

  54. I wonder if the astonishing answer here is that we are all different, leading different lives, and having different experiences. Something that might have been really terrible for me, may be exactly what someone else needs.

    The trouble comes in accepting that we all make different choices, and sometimes different is just different, not right or wrong.

    I knew a girl in college who was on a full academic scholarship, she was a straight 4.0, always in advanced classes, and she was the dumbest person I knew. She had never learned how to manage choices and make informed decisions about her own life. She continued to damage her own life through really terrible choices.

    I just want my children to know how to make choices that work for them, to recognize the subtle workings of the Spirit, and to trust enough to follow through with what's best for their growth. Tall order, eh?

  55. Wow, Red, I didn't realize that I was unable to to get on with the business of life without being married. I also didn't realize that I was squandering my life by remaining single. Ok, all you single people out there: Now you know.

  56. Okay, ladies, I have to remind you to keep the dialogue civil…. I agree with Justine and Merry Michelle—everyone is different. I think what I've gleaned from this discussion is that we all need to learn how to listen to the Spirit so that we can choose wisely when it comes to marrying. That's what I want to teach my children, more than anything else.

  57. I left my comment a bit more abrasive than I normally would because I felt like those who were advocating marrying later as a better alternative to marrying young were not considering that my decision to marry young was thoughtful and inspired (the message I was hearing was that I was immature, stupid and horny). I felt like I was hearing a lot of judgment.

    I think, for the most part, everyone out there is just doing the best they can to make the right call. It behooves us all to remember that just because someone does it differently doesn't mean they're doing it wrong (or right).

  58. Dear Melissa,
    I read this out loud to my married daughter as we sat in an internet cafe in Rome. We laughed at your delightful descriptions of the colorful palette of males that you got to sample, which made us appreciate your sweet and stable husband even more. I think every mother should read your post to their unmarried daughters because you capture several of our worst nightmares. I do not have time to read all the comments, but I bet they are fun to read. Great post!

  59. I'm not sure what I'll tell my daughter, but I told my brother "looks fade, thin turns to fat, but stupid is forever."


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