Zelophehad’s Daughters

Why old LDS men are pushing marriage

Posted by Petra

It’s not quite General Conference time yet, but the semi-annual marriage question has arisen early this fall. After last April’s Conference, the Salt Lake Tribune popped the question; this time, it’s in the Sacramento Bee, of all places. The Exponent has talked about it lately, and after a fireside with Elder Oaks on Sunday night, my Facebook feed has exploded with discussion.  It’s the old menace-to-society dilemma: as the Tribute put it, why are young LDS men pushing back marriage?

There’s a lot to be discussed here–How bad are the marriage stats really? Why does everyone assume only men can be agents in this scenario? How slow a news day must the Sacramento Bee have had?–but I want to focus here on one that I’ve thought about a lot lately: why do Church leaders care so much?

Yes, it appears that the median age of first marriages in Utah has risen (to a shocking 23!), but really, what’s the big worry? (That’s still well below the national average, after all.) 23 is still plenty young enough to have a gaggle of children, and, if I recall correctly, Utah and Idaho still lead the nation in overall rates of adults who marry. Obviously I know that marriage is an important part of our doctrine, so please don’t tell me that; what I’m wondering is why our leaders choose to focus so heavily in their talks and lessons to single adults on getting married, at the expense of focusing on other gospel principles, when marriage is not something that’s entirely within an individual’s control?

(As an aside, I didn’t watch the recent fireside with Elder Oaks, but my brother reported that Sister Oaks de-emphasized stressing about marriage and instead stressed focusing on being a disciple of Christ, regardless of marital status. If so, good for her!)

I can think of several potential reasons for this: maybe Church leaders really do think that single adults need to hear that marriage is important. Maybe they’re anxious about the activity rates and inclusion of single adults in the church and hope to solve the problem by marrying them all off. Listening hard to talks like President Monson’s priesthood session talk last April, or even Elder Oaks’ classic “dating vs. hanging out” talk, though, it seems to me that much of what their criticism really gets at is not just being single but still being, essentially, an adolescent: taking vacations, buying cars and other expensive toys, and generally, as he puts it, “enjoying the carefree life with…friends.” Elder Oaks puts this even more clearly: in his famous 2005 “dating versus hanging out” talk, he chastised single young adults for “the tendency to postpone adult responsibilities, including marriage and family.”

Elder Oaks then went on to focus on marriage and family and lecture YSA about dating, but still, that quote nicely sums up my latest hypothesis on the marriage pressure and anxiety from Church leadership. I think what they’re really worried about, deep down, is not that so many young adults are single, but that so many young adults are delaying adulthood. That is, all these talks are really less about whether young folks marry at 20 or 29 and more about what they do in the intervening years: are they taking on jobs and church callings and independence, financial and otherwise, or are they living in their parents’ basements and playing video games all day?

(As another side note, let me clarify that I never knew any YSA like this, and would be very surprised if they actually exist as plentifully as the stereotypes tell us they do.)

This is a tension in non-Mormon Western culture as well, as any review of a Judd Apatow movie will tell you, though among non-Mormons the anxious older folks agonize endlessly in the New York Times, throw around terms like “Peter Pan Syndrome,” and hate on Seth Rogen. Church leaders, hailing from an older generation where marriage and adulthood were essentially synonymous and from a church where marriage is deep doctrine, push marriage.

I wish they wouldn’t, of course—I think it would be far more productive to treat single adults as if they were, well, adults, and I wish that firesides for single adults focused on core gospel principles rather than marriage, marriage, marriage—but, at the very least, my own tolerance for these talks increased when I started thinking of the marriage-and-dating talks as being about demography, not me. Nowadays I pull a Henry Eyring and give myself my own sermon on the topic, replacing “marry” with “grow up”:

“Now, I have thought a lot lately about you young men who are of an age to [grow up] but who have not yet felt to do so…”

What do you think? Am I just crazy here for thinking there must be an underlying reason to preach marriage and dating to single adults? Or is the underlying reason I’m suggesting just crazy?

55 Responses to “Why old LDS men are pushing marriage”

  1. 1.

    Great post. I think you are right when you say that this generation goes through a “Peter Pan syndrome”, but it’s important to consider that the economy is the worst it’s been in a very long time. This makes the idea of having to support a family on your own not only daunting but just plain unfeasible. Nowadays, the best option is to stay in school, and with the help of the internet, many young people get opportunities to travel and work, something best done while single.
    The church has always encouraged people to marry young, and there are of course, several explanations for this. However, I do think that one of the main reasons why the church is pushing so strong now is to keep young people in the church. While there is no official statistics about this, the majority of religions around the world are losing many members in the age group of 18-30 years old. This is also true for Mormonism. I think that by having people get married young, there is both more pressure and reason to stay committed to the church.

  2. 2.

    I wish they wouldn’t, of course—I think it would be far more productive to treat single adults as if they were, well, adults,

    I agree. As a twenty-something, I feel like I’m getting a lot of pressure–now that I’m a married college grad (recently on both accounts), I need to pay off student loans, get a good job, have babies, be a real adult, etc.. Now, apparently.
    Why push all of the “shoulds” and condemn the “should-nots” instead of acknowledging that this is a hard, hard time of our lives, this young adult-hood thing. We’re figuring out so much right now, my generation in general, and a little less pressure (because everything that’s expected of us is already known) would be nice. What I need now is room to take a big, deep breath, metaphorically speaking, so I can continue adjusting to life as an adult. Perhaps older people have forgotten how overwhelming this can be? I won’t deny that there are some who are laying around, working dead-end jobs with no plan of advancement and living in their parents’ homes, but those people seem to be few and far between, in my experience.

  3. 3.

    I’m not surprised about Sister Oaks’ emphasis. Her book A Single Voice on her experience being single in the church is extremely good, on the importance of living your life instead of waiting for the next step, and the need of the church and members to better address and integrate single adults.

  4. 4.

    In the recent change in YSA wards in the church, I was one of the thirty-somethings that got booted off to a family ward. As part of the transition, my Stake President asked those of us in this demographic about making the move. I was really struck by how many of the men in the group stated they did don’t feel comfortable attending family wards because, even though they are adults (with jobs and apartments and everything), most members of family wards still see them as incomplete adults who are unwilling to accept adult responsibilities. (And I would guess that some of this perception filters in from these talks.) That kind of environment just makes it that much harder to attend church. What I wonder is to what extent the push for marriage by the GAs is actually creating one of the problems (inactivity among single adults) these talks may be designed to help avoid.

  5. 5.

    marriage is a core doctrine! Hence why the focus on it. Satan is also at war with it. Heterosexuals don’t marry, gays want to, many parents aren’t married etc. This is war in heaven stuff! Satan seeks to destroy families. No marriage if you’re a faithful LDS will equal no families, which will equal lack of or less joy. No marriage= more sin in many areas. Simple.

  6. 6.

    I personally am pro-polygamy (joking and yet not). Polygamy = no SA and more families!

  7. 7.

    I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic Becky.

    So just for the record, marriage does not necessarily equal growing up. My mother never grew up and “parentified” me. My sister in law treats her daughters like dolls. My brother in law still feels like it is okay to live off his parents despite having a school age son.

    Marriage = more sin in many areas. Adultery. Spousal abuse. Child abuse. Neglect. Pride. Idolatry. etc.

    If you’re faithful then you’ll receive a fullness of joy, period. If you’re not, then ultimately less joy.

  8. 8.

    In my experience, church culture doesn’t truly recognize you as an adult until you’re married. It doesn’t matter if you have a successful career, hold callings, pay all your bills on time – you’re still a kid until you marry. There is a real lack of respect for single adults in the church, it makes me sad.

  9. 9.

    #1 If you throw out the idea that one person needs to provide for a family, there are sufficient economic advantages to marriage to disregard a moderately poor economy as a negative effector of marriage rates. That’s a big IF with the mormon-folk, though.

    Petra, I think you’re pretty spot on, but that’s no news. I’m pretty sure you could convince me of anything if you tried.

    One question: do you think that SA segregation will decrease with time? (In particular as the marriage=adulthood generation fades away?)

  10. 10.

    Singlehood doesn’t mean immaturity, but the REASON for singlehood just might.

    I have met more than a few who are postponing marriage. Not getting married isn’t the problem. Not being ready for marriage IS.

  11. 11.

    And I should clarify, not being ready for marriage by the time you’re in your thirties IS.

  12. 12.

    And I should clarify, not being ready for marriage by the time you’re in your thirties IS.

  13. 13.

    As someone who has heard my fair share of LDS men say they’re looking for a Budlight Model with a testimony (and of course these guys generally look like Seth Rogan) or just that they’re ‘really picky’ (as if they’re the catch of the day) I understand where the G.A.’s are coming from- they don’t know what else to do.

    As an individual that attended BYU, was in the SLC singles scene, spent time single in DC and then ended my YSA years in the notorious Huntington Beach Pierside Ward I feel absoultey qualified to say:
    The problem isn’t that there a bunch of worthy single people out there actively trying to find their eternal companions and coming up empty handed.

  14. 14.

    I think you should look to the world, rather than just Utah/Idaho for marriage statistics. In the world in general, there is a growing trend of adults not growing up, with more reaching effects on those outside the 20-30 age group. Countries are experiencing negative population growth, seniors are being ignored, and popular media celebrates the immature adult.

    Is there any way GAs can speak to their concerns about young adults growing up without anyone feeling pressured?

  15. 15.

    It really is about growing up. Marriage and kids and a career usually helps the growing up process.
    I do feel bad for single adults who don’t feel like a part of their ward, or whatever, but a part of me does want to say “grow up.” I don’t do things for me, or go around thinking “what’s in it for me” because I am an adult.
    I’m no martyr but I am a parent. I step up because I have to. There is a little too much entitlement going on with younger people. It is one of the challenges of growing up in this day and age. Life can seem a little more complicated. I do understand. It is just that when you have a real responsibility it takes away a lot of the anxiety and choice away. You just have to step up. It is difficult to artificially create that. If you supposedly can’t find a job when you are 18 and can live at home….how to you artificially create that? Making a home, providing for a family, raising children gives you a sense of purpose that you push yourself to do what needs to be done because everything depends on you.
    Of course not everyone succeeds, but more people do than not.
    I don’t quite get the “can’t afford to get married” kind of thing. Why is it harder to do it all with a partner? Is it because you can’t run home to your parents anymore? Choosing to delay marriage is about not wanting to grow up. Is it because they get to think about buying toys instead of IRAs? Once they are married they have to think long term instead of short term? They have to think about what is best for their whole family and their spouse and future kids rather than just what they personally want?

  16. 16.

    As a single adult who didn’t marry until 34 (just 2 weeks ago, btw), and considering the huge struggles I have had with remaining active in a church that is utterly clueless as to what to do with older singles other than lecture us on marriage and treat US like children until we’re married, I completely understand why our leaders push the marriage principle. Look at the statistics of young singles in their 20’s who fall away from the church and then look at the exponential increase in inactivity among singles in their 30’s. The church is losing single adults faster than any other demographic, and their solution is to encourage us to enter another demographic which isn’t losing church members quite so fast – that of married men and women. As singles enter their 30’s, the chances of them leaving the church are far greater than those in their 20’s so our leaders want to marry off as many as possible before they turn 30.

  17. 17.

    Perhaps many of these speakers married young themselves, have had happy lives, and assume that there is some causality that generalizes still. That is the pattern for most grandfatherly advice. I don’t think the underlying reason they preach marriage and dating to single adults is necessarily more complicated than that. The speakers I remember discouraging the delay of marriage: Thomas S. Monson (married at age 21), Dallin H. Oaks (first married at age 20), Richard G Scott (married at age 24?), and Merrill J Bateman (married at age 23).

    On the topic of not conflating maturity and matrimony, ZD has a rich archive dating back to the blog’s earliest weeks.

  18. 18.

    “It really is about growing up. Marriage and kids and a career usually helps the growing up process.”

    While these things do help, I’ve seen adults that behave like children with children. One does not imply the other, going both ways.

    “Choosing to delay marriage is about not wanting to grow up.”

    Does this mean that if you can’t find an appropriate partner, you should settle? I think realistic expectations are in order, but getting rid of reasonable standards are not. Where do you draw the line?

  19. 19.

    ajbc, It is very hard to know where to draw the line. To some extent I did “settle” but in other ways I didn’t “settle.”
    What bothers me most is when people have a goal to put off marriage (just like when I was growing up it bothered me when people had a goal to marry early….like 18 or 19). More people these days have the goal to marry later.
    Even when I was at BYU in the 90s and was already married, guys in my classes would say things like they couldn’t afford to get married. I kind of wondered a little, because all the wives I knew made more money than their husbands during school because either they were done with school or they weren’t interested in school and had quit anyway. So I only knew one couple where the husband was supporting the family while in school.
    I don’t appreciate being told that having a wife and someday children is some sort of unwanted burden. THAT is what I think the church leaders are trying to discourage.
    My husband does support our whole family now, but he wouldn’t trade it of course. Yes, there are the guys who would trade it, it fact they do dump the wife and kids and go off to be deadbeats or find family 2.0, but most good men find meaning and purpose with families. It is sad and scary for our society to see the world push against this and train our young people to not want a family.
    My siblings and I are 40ish. Half of us are single (never married, no kids) and half of us are married. This is going to be more common now. It is just the way the world is moving.

  20. 20.

    Ok, seriously, I don’t get it. Are Mormons leaders really the only people on Earth who are talking the virtues of spouses and kids? Are Mormons really the only group who value families, one day want a family, and aspire to finding their soulmate? If it weren’t for some leader in SLC preaching the virtues of getting married, would hoardes of LDS young people really not marry? And, other than declining activity rates, what’s so wrong with waiting to marry when one has a bit more maturity and stability on their side? Pretty much all of my non Mormon friends, co-workers and acquaintances believe in marriage, would like to be happily married, love their kids or want kids. I mean, sure there are some exceptions of those who hate the entire institution, but there really aren’t many of them (and I live in selfish Southern California). Also, when I lived in Washington, DC where there is a highly educated population on a career path, most were aspiring to the same. I don’t understand AT ALL how/why so many in the church feel that we have the market on marriage/family and if it wasn’t for us, the whole concept of kids/families would die off and we’d all be home living with our parents playing video games.

    I married when I was almost 29 years old. Before I married, I dated a lot, got an education, traveled to many countries, and did a lot– and I’m glad I did it before marriage. And even when I was single, I some day wanted to get married and have kids– just not NOW. And, guess what? When I wasn’t single, I wasn’t shirking responsibilities. I had a job, paid my bills, had a very full and wonderful life.

    What happened to the concept of there being a season for everything? Why are we so hell bent on skipping the single years where we’re not living with parents but before having families of our own? Those can be amazingly awesome years and a period of tremendous personal growth and development. Why the push to skip that entire experience?

    Sure, people find value and worth with families as well as a single person. It really makes single people in the church feel like a bunch of losers and that’s completely ridiculous.

    I think everyone should get out of the business of pushing marriage and let able bodied adults marry when the time is right for them. And a blanket “do not delay marriage” is simply bizarre to me.

  21. 21.

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone!

    The Hermit, Geoff–interesting that you both espouse the “preach marriage to keep singles committed to the church” theory. Do you think this is an effective mechanism, or would the church be better off adjusting some of its programs and culture to simply better accommodate single members? (In case my bias isn’t clear: I’d far rather see the latter.)

    alex w–interesting that you still feel pressure to be an adult now that you’re married. I felt like the pressure on me from church leaders eased up significantly once I got married; while yes, there is some pressure to have children and other trappings of a “grown-up” life, it’s not nearly as intense, for me, as the pressure I felt to get married.

    de Pizan–thanks for the recommendation! I should go track her book down.

    Elbereth–I think the push for marriage from the leadership (along with a blithe assumption that marriage=adulthood) is a bit part of what’s creating that perception. I’m not at all surprised to hear that folks in the 30-something single demographic feel like they’re still treated like children.

    Becky–I’m going to assume you’re joking. If not, I’ll just refer you to the part of my post where I stated that I know marriage is a core doctrine and asked people not to tell me that. Your statement on polygamy was interesting, though–maybe I’ll post sometime on how I thought about polygamy when I was still single.

    Maureen–I totally agree with you. I’m not sure if this was clear enough in the post, but while most GAs come from a generations where marriage=adulthood, I don’t! I’ve definitely seen plenty of married folks who I wouldn’t consider full, independent adults.

    ajbc–I knew I could count on you:) I think your last question is interesting: I’d hope to see the simple marriage=adulthood equation fade away, but I wonder about the leadership generation we’re raising right now. My younger brother, in a conversation about this topic, revealed that he definitely equated the two (probably because of so many church talks doing so), and I’m not sure how many other young people are like him in that respect. This may be an unconscious idea that’s harder to get rid of than we’d like…

  22. 22.

    SilverRain–see, though, in my mind that’s part of the problem. Why not address the underlying problem of immaturity, calling it simply immaturity, rather than always phrasing it in terms of readiness for marriage?

    salt h2o–maybe we just know different swaths of the singles world, because I really do feel like most people I knew (and know) were worthy and reasonable people coming up empty-handed in their search, though of course there were some exceptions. If anything, I think the biggest problem I saw was just a male/female sex imbalance in singles wards and (in places where Mormons are the minority) a lack of good ways to widen the net. What do you think the biggest problem is, then?

    Frank–

    Is there any way GAs can speak to their concerns about young adults growing up without anyone feeling pressured?

    Sure! In fact, that’s the whole point I’m trying to make: ppeak to concerns about young adults growing up, not concerns about young people getting married. They’re not the same thing.

    Brian-A–thanks for those stats, and that’s another really good point about a reason for these talks. If we follow that pattern, then when I’m a future GA I’ll be sure to give lots of talks about how everyone should marry at 25:)

    Lulubelle: very well said.

  23. 23.

    Can we make the age of adulthood 25, rather than the 18/21 it is now and the 15/16 it was a century ago? Would make some things easier, I think.

    One other thing, Petra & Becky, do women in this age really contemplate polygamy as an alternative? Not being female, I’ve not heard womens thoughts on this aside from the occasional “ick” and of men doing things completely wrong. The best I can get is my wifes’ acceptance of it if directly commanded and preference that she need not share me with anyone.

  24. 24.

    Obviously all the married people have learned from Satan and are just trying to make everyone else as miserable as they are.

  25. 25.

    preaching marriage to keep people committed to the church isn’t ideal, but it is, in my opinion, simply a matter of statistics. Married people are more likely to stay active in the church than are older singles, so they preach marriage. Obviously this social, family, church leader pressure and the fact that singles in the church are pariahs in many ways push some to marry in haste or when it’s not right. Obviously the better approach would be to help singles feel accepted culturally and not second class citizens in the kingdom. In many ways, I can sympathize with homosexuals in the church because they are treated similarly (much worse, but still similar to how older singles are treated). The church has a long way to go. I’m hopeful

  26. 26.

    I don’t appreciate being told that having a wife and someday children is some sort of unwanted burden. THAT is what I think the church leaders are trying to discourage.

    If so, they’re going about it exactly backwards, and so are you. You’ve indicated that marriage is a choice people make out of conscientiousness and selflessness and a desire to demonstrate maturity, implicitly juxtaposing this to happiness. Growing up, as I read your comment, means (a) going to church even though you’re miserable there, and (b) marrying and having a family out of a stern sense of duty, like a missle seeking a target. Not exactly a billboard advertisement for tying the knot.

  27. 27.

    Marriage isn’t a burden. It’s just something that you absolutely must do, as fast as possible, whether or not it makes you miserable.

  28. 28.

    I’m assuming the reason marriage is brought up so much is because as a GA letters you get from YSA wards rarely state “help, everyone is marrying” but rather “I’m having trouble with a particular soul that has no desire to marry.” Consider it a skewed sense of the world. Especially since, at least in my experience, most YSAs end up getting married than those that don’t.

    Oh, and where are these statistics ya’ll keep taking about?

  29. 29.

    For me (37 yo single male) I have chosen not to get married because I feel strongly called to a celibate life. I know it flies in the face of a “core doctrine”, but I believe it is the path that I am called to walk (and I often wonder if there are others who are likewise called, and whether they struggle with the calling in the face of the push to get married).

    It is interesting to be in such a position, since I am not delaying marriage, but rather not participating in it at all. Although I understand the difficulty faced by single adults intellectually and sympathize, I really don’t feel that particular difficulty on an emotional level specifically because of my vocation (to borrow a Catholic term).

    I do agree, Petra, that the get married message is highly entangled with the grow up message, and I think that the emphasis on marriage, both doctrinally (D&C) and in preaching, cannot help but render singlehood non-viable, an absence of achievement in a religious culture highly focused on works,

    I would like to think, however, that there is perhaps room for deliberate singlehood in the church – a recognition that marriage is not the only path of devotion – that would enable single adults to be single and still be faithful.

    It would be interesting, perhaps, to look at the data for religious traditions that have a tradition of celibate devotion and see how they compare – what percentage of single adults end up choosing that path as opposed to drifting away.

    Anyway, it is an interesting discussion and interesting comments, and I figured I would throw my 2 cents in as well. :) Great post, Petra.

  30. 30.

    I think part of the big push for YSA to get married is that the Church has no idea what to do with SA members. If YSA never become SA, then problem solved. An (unintended) consequence of this strategy is that SA continue to feel unwelcome in the community or more unwelcome than they already did. As a SA, It is hard not to feel like the spiritual welfare of SAs is simply collateral damage for Church adminstration.

  31. 31.

    I think part of the big push for YSA to get married is that the Church has no idea what to do with SA members. If YSA never become SA, then problem solved. An (unintended) consequence of this strategy is that SA continue to feel unwelcome in the community or more unwelcome than they already did. As a SA, It is hard not to feel like the spiritual welfare of SAs is simply collateral damage for Church adminstration.

    Agreed. And this is why I’m a bit skeptical that the “marriage = adulthood” generation will ever die off. If married members generally feel welcome and supported and single members generally feel unwelcome and criticized, then the single members will leave and the next generation of leaders will be from the pool of people who didn’t have any trouble finding someone to marry and don’t see what’s wrong with everyone else.

    And, of course, the problem is compounded when it comes to male leadership, since you can’t serve in a lot of leadership callings (bishop and above?) unless you’ve been married (although I guess GAs can be widowers).

  32. 32.

    As one of those YSA who is not married, I HATE HATE the talks about marriage. I feel as if I am told that I am not a whole and complete person without being married, especially as a young woman. I think a huge part of it is that I can’t hold the priesthood. If I get married, then I will have access to the priesthood inside my home. I do not need to rely on the church to provide it.
    However, I am a whole and complete person. I don’t need a man to complete me. In fact, I do not want to date or marry a man who is not comfortable with himself. Marriage will not make you whole. I watch so many of my peers rush into marriage looking for the other person to complete them, and it only causes problems. (I should state I live in Idaho so I see a ton of young marriages.) Problems I am not willing to put myself into.
    I looked at all those “I am a Mormon” ads people have been posting. I look at my age bracket, and I can’t find a single person in the whole bunch. I feel as if there is not a place for me in the church because I am not married. I don’t fit in the singles wards or the family wards. In reality, there really isn’t a place for me in the church.

  33. 33.

    My ward would have a hard time functioning without single adults. They’ve served as bishopric counselors, and primary and RS presidents, to name a few. Of course mission leader is the stereotypical calling.

  34. 34.

    The leaders are simply afraid that somewhere (pretty much everywhere, even among church members) there are lots of single people having lots of birth-controlled sex and feeling no guilt or shame whatsoever.

    They just don’t want people having all this fun without taking the risk of marrying someone they barely know and popping out six kids in the space of seven years.

  35. 35.

    My ward would have a hard time functioning without single adults. They’ve served as bishopric counselors, and primary and RS presidents, to name a few. Of course mission leader is the stereotypical calling.

    I’m not sure I see the connection to the topic at hand.

  36. 36.

    I interpreted Naismith’s comment as suggesting that there is a need for SAs in ward communities even if their service is unacknowledged in rhetoric from the pulpit or handbook. My relationship with the Church has been strongest when I feel secure that I am a contributing member of my ward, which usually means having multiple callings.

  37. 37.

    That’s a reasonable interpretation (although I’d also like to hear from Naismith, directly).

  38. 38.

    […] to 550 BC-era native Americans, Mormons to Shinto priests, DVD retailers to clients, God to humans, old men to young singles, door-to-door salesmen to SAHMs, former Mormons at LDS-church family reunions, clueless homophobes […]

  39. 39.

    To clarify I was responding to the comment before mine that,

    ..there really isn’t a place for me in the church.

    In my ward, there is a place for single folks. That place is on the stand in the bishopric, at the podium in Primary, teaching in RS, participating in ward council as a ward clerk or mission leader.

    But apparently that is not the experience everywhere.

  40. 40.

    I don’t think that marriage helps some people grow up.

    A few years back, our SP had to announce that only ward members could use the church buildings on their ward nights, because a LARGE number of men (most in their 30s) were playing basketball after 9. Their wives complained that the men weren’t helping put kids to bed, clean up the house, etc. in favor of playing basketball.

    Those men didn’t want to accept adult responsibilities, but they were considered “adults” because they were married. Sure didn’t act like it, though.

  41. 41.

    Yeah, that Mother Teresa was a real child. If only she had just grown up and gotten married. SMH.

  42. 42.

    Thanks for responding, Naismith!

    Do you know if there are any inactive single adults in your ward boundaries?

  43. 43.

    Do you know if there are any inactive single adults in your ward boundaries?

    Yes, surely. Since most of the adults in our ward could be categorized as inactive (depending on the definition), I am sure that there single adults included among them.

  44. 44.

    I have to admit, I married young (though not by church standards) at the age of just barely 23. My husband, on the other hand, was being “saved” from his “menace to society” status as a 26-year-old single guy. That said, I remember how much I worried as a YSA about whether or not I’d find someone I wanted to marry. The ridiculousness of that strikes me: I had barely stopped being a teenager and yet I had an active worry about the possibility of old-age spinsterhood! None of my friends outside of the church ever voiced such a concern at our age.

    I think it’s true that most of the angst is coming from 1) an abundance of letters begging for help in finding an eternal companion and 2) a misdirected effort to encourage my generation to grow up. That said, I’d repeat the statement I made to my younger sister: “I can tell that you’re mature enough to be married because you acknowledge that you aren’t ready yet.”

    Yes, it sounds backwards, and I wouldn’t suggest her getting married right away, but when we aren’t putting off marriage for selfish reasons, but rather because we know that our current worthy goals would keep us from giving all that we feel we’d want to give to such an important relationship, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I think that’s the sort of maturity that needs to be developed before we enter into marriage. At least, we should if it’s as important as we all say it is in the church.

    I think rather than just being told to go out and get married, we would benefit much more from being given advice on responsibility, respect, and selflessness regardless of our relationship status.

  45. 45.

    Re:22 Petra

    What do I see as the problem? Oh my, I wish I could sum it up in one comment.

    The only real benefit that the majority of single lds men, and a good portion of single lds women, can see with a marriage is sex.

    Most men and women want to have kids, but when you compare your life of trips to Macchu Picchu, designer jeans and ski trips to that of your friends who got married early and rarely travel or have fun and have a mortgage tying them down- it’s not terribly appealing.

    I got married at 28 (days before my 29th birthday) and in all my years being single, the only day of the week I wanted to be married was Sunday.

    The problem is marriage doesn’t look like fun- and unlike a mission which also doesn’t look like fun but is worthwhile- a marriage is for eternity.

  46. 46.

    “there must be an underlying reason to preach marriage ”

    The plan of salvation and exaltation pretty much necessitates it. Primarily, you can bring souls to Christ by starting a family and raising them in the gospel, or through missionary work. (of course, indirectly you also can contribute through teaching others)

  47. 47.

    I find it interesting that Pres. Eyring didn’t get married until he was 29. I love Pres. Eyring and all but his advice on marriage is mute based on his own life choices. Actually as a 33 yr single male living where there are no LDS women all the GAs advice about marriage is mute to me based on following their advice years ago and it all went kablouie-I amover it now but to protect myself I zone out when the word marriage is mentioned, I will decide when I get married when I meet someone and not them

  48. 48.

    […] Zelophehad's Daughters | Why old LDS men are pushing marriageDescription : (As an aside, I didn't watch the recent fireside with Elder Oaks, but my brother reported that Sister Oaks de-emphasized stressing about marriage and instead stressed focusing on being a disciple of Christ, regardless of marital status. If so, good for her!) … The Hermit, on September 15th, 2011 at 8:38 pm said: Great post. … What I need now is room to take a big, deep breath, metaphorically speaking, so I can continue adjusting to life as an adult. Perhaps older people …http://zelophehadsdaughters.co .. […]

  49. 49.

    I feel like these talks should be given only to single adults over 30. I think it’s bizarre that we expect people to get married right out of college, as though we have no sense of perspective regarding the average person’s lifespan. College graduates are still really young! They’re more mature than teenagers, sure, but is it really necessary (or wise) for them to attach themselves to another person and start popping out babies at 21?

    I got married at 23, and at the time I was so proud of having “waited.” In my defense, I went to BYU and had many cousins and friends younger than me who already had multiple children. But honestly–I’m only 26 now and already I can’t believe how ridiculous that attitude was.

    Marriage and dating are unbelievably dramatic (and sometimes traumatic) issues for college-aged people, and frankly, nothing is more prominent on their minds. They really, really don’t need to be reminded about it every five minutes. And it is REALLY not a disaster if they don’t get married until 23, or 25 or–gasp–30! It doesn’t mean they’re rejecting adulthood, ignoring their “duty” or role in the plan of salvation or any of that. It might mean they’d like to be a little pickier than the whole “any good man and any good woman” thing, or it might just mean that they don’t feel ready yet. Neither of those things will be the end of the world.

  50. 50.

    Assuming, of course, that they need to be given at all–in reference to the first line of my original post.

  51. 51.

    Just for the record, 100 years ago, the average age at first marriage for men was 25. years, and the average age for women was 21.6 years. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html

  52. 52.

    Kiskilli: “marriage isn’t a burden” To me it is. I love my husband, but if I had it to do over, I’d never have gotten married. Or had children.

  53. 53.

    I married at 21 and don’t particularly feel that marriage has been a burden. Now children… THAT has made life very difficult and caused me many times to re-think how I want my life to be.

  54. 54.

    Obviously this is going to vary for every person out there. There was nothing I *wanted* to do that I couldn’t do once I got married.
    There are lots of things that I would like to do but now do not have the time or money for now that I am a parent.

  55. 55.

    :) Yeah, my life could have been a lot more fun without kids to break my heart and wear me out. I’ve been a mother for forty years. I love my kids. Still……had I to do it over…..you know the drill.

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