We’ve had a fun week at Normons taking you through the basic timeline of a Mormon’s path to finding love. Today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating love’s happiest ending: eternal marriage!
First, allow me to re-introduce myself: I’m Lani, and I started my first year of law school as single as a slice of cheese. 11-ish months later, I had a ring on my finger. 4 months after that, I was hitched at 23 years young.
Real quick everyone — I wasn’t pregnant. Though I’m not confident my grad school friends believed me then, I think they probably do now.
But even after the baby jokes came and went, I still had a lot of people ask me if I was ready to give up “my life” to get married. I had a lot of people ask me if I was ready to give up “my dreams.” I had a lot of people ask if I felt “grown up” enough to get married. A lot of people may have wondered behind my back if I was sacrificing opportunities to travel and discover myself or truly find out what was important in life.
All these questions seemed to point to a societal assumption: self-discovery is a linear process…you have to cross off some things before you’re ready for marriage, before you really know yourself. These things include, but are not limited to: backpacking through Europe whilst showering minimally, living alone in a big city eating ramen at least twice a day while struggling through a pointless internship, and/or sleeping around so you can really figure out your sexual compatibility.
Here’s an update: After getting married, I am still in charge of my life. I am still pursuing my dream career. I haven’t been to Africa to take pictures holding orphans, but I still feel like I know a thing or two about what’s important in life. I am also still confident that I will never grow up.
But despite what I think and feel, society’s aversion to young marriages still exists, and it probably causes a lot of people question why Mormons tend to get married young.
One thing I’ve learned for sure is that every one of us can count on changing, growing, and maturing for our entire lives. My life didn’t end because I got married young. Now I just get to do those “life discovery” things along with my permanent boyfriend.
Being Mormon has a strong influence on my perspective on marriage. I believe my marriage will last longer than this life. I believe my marriage is eternal. Let me explain a bit about what that means.
1. In Mormon temple marriages, we are sealed for “time and all eternity,” which means that our marriages endure beyond “death do us part.”
The thing about eternal marriage is that it’s, well, eternal. It means that we do not give up on our partners when things get hard, because we’re gonna be with them for the long haul. When we think of our marriage as eternal, we do our best to be consistently patient and loving with each other now, because we are, and forever will be, equal companions.
Yes, sometimes divorce happens. A Mormon marriage is no more immune to problems than any other, and we don’t presuppose that any one else undervalues their own relationship just because they don’t share our same views. And we definitely do not suppose we have a monopoly on strong, loving marriages. But I think looking at a relationship between two people as eternal makes a difference when the going gets rough.
We also believe that anyone who does not have the opportunity to form an eternal marriage on earth will have that option in the afterlife. Even though it may not happen now, no one who worthily seeks it will be denied the blessings of eternal marriage.
2. As Mormons, we see marriage as being made up of three components. Don’t get any “Big Love” ideas, I’m talking about a man, a woman, and God.
In the temple, the promises made during a marriage ceremony invite God into the relationship. This means praying together, living righteous lives individually, and always striving to be honest and pure. A diagram that’s often used to draw the analogy is the above triangle. We’ll call it the Love Triangle. The closer each spouse individually moves toward God, the closer they move to each other.
The promises we make with God imply obligations to raise and teach our children in a way that complements Christ’s teachings. That means we always do our best to practice the greatest commandment: “Love one another.”
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if he have love one to another.”
3. As Mormons, we live our lives with the belief that no success in life can compensate for failure in the home.
Me and my bros. Photo cred goes to the amazing Alex Steele
The late David O. Mckay, 9th President of the LDS Church, taught these words many years ago, and they are words we still believe strongly today. We believe there is absolutely nothing that can reimburse a marriage if you put it second to any other part of your life.
Eternal marriage is unlike anything else on this earth, it continues after we die. And we believe our actions on earth bear directly on our future heavenly life.I think it’s pretty unlikely for a husband or wife in their later years to tell you that they wished they’d spent more time at work and less with their family.
If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You protect it, you don’t abuse it, and you don’t handle it like it’s common or ordinary. We believe there is nothing in this world more important than marriage and family. It is absolutely, undoubtedly priceless, and we try to treat it that way.
So to answer the question of do I think I got married too young, I’m going to go with a resounding no. Do I kind of secretly wish I had picture with some adorable African kids? That’s more of a maybe. Regardless, there is nothing I want more than to hang out with this guy forever.
Today, especially, I’m grateful for the love I have for my #1 boy John and the knowledge that our marriage is eternal. He makes me exactly who I want to be. And it was even worth all the dessert parties. It’s worth it every day.
From me to you, wherever you are, XOXO.