Category Archives: Love

Ask *Mr.* Mormon Girl: What’s it like to be married to a Mormon?

[It’s Sunday night in the month of "Manuary"—the month my host blog at FeministMormonHousewives.org lets men run the show.  And even though this is sacred basketball time, Mr. Mormon Girl is putting his shoulder to the wheel and pitching in.  Which means, AMG is taking dictation as Mr. MG watches ESPN.]

Dear Mr Mormon Girl: 

What is it like for someone not of the faith to be married to a  Mormon with a public profile? Not just a Mormon, because that is complicated enough, but a Mormon in the public eye too . . . and a woman who has a full life of travel.  I like to travel, attend conferences for work and fun and meet as many MoFems as I can. My husband is nowhere near as social as I am and he sometimes resents the intrusion into our life. How do you find a balance? What works for you? 

Thanks-

Gregarious Gal

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I’m back in the LDS ward I grew up in, and my mortifying teenaged past haunts me. Help?

Dear AMG:

I was raised Presbyterian in Tennessee, started dating a Mormon boy, and was baptized in August 2003 at the age of 17. I dated him for two years, until I found out he had been cheating with numerous other girls–and in a town this small, everyone knew but me. I was embarrassed and hurt, and I hightailed it to Utah.  I am now 25. After graduating from BYU, I have moved back to this small town in Tennessee and am now living in the ward I was baptized in with my husband of two years.  (My ex-boyfriend eventually served a mission and is now happily married.)  But I am still mortified to be surrounded by his mother, cousin, brother, aunts and uncles, and friends.  My family is here, and I have a job with benefits, so I can’t move.  But I serve on the ward Christmas party committee, and four out of six women on the committee are related to my ex-boyfriend!  I know this sounds childish, but it really is driving me crazy.  Help? 

Mortified

Dear Mortified:

Let me tell you a true story.  There once was a Mormon boy who was cute and smart and perfect, and a Mormon girl in his ward who was a few years younger and also cute and smart.  And from the time she was seven years old, the girl was totally crushed out on the boy.  Dedicated.  Destroyed.  Wrote about him in her journal.  With hearts and stars around his name.  Froze when he whispered witty remarks under his breath during Sacrament Meeting.  Fast forward:  same ward, eight years later.  On the eve of leaving for college, after dating every other no-count female in the stake, boy shows up on girl’s doorstep and admits that he might like her back.  And what does she do?  Fifteen year-old girl fumbles.  Miserably.  Then cries.  Fast forward: same ward, eight additional years later.  Mormon boy’s mother holds a wedding reception for her son and his new bride.  Mormon girl is too nauseous to attend.  Fast forward another decade, stake reunion:  Mormon girl has a smashingly happy marriage and an interesting, adventure-filled life.  She enters stake youth reunion prepared to exhibit smashing happiness and adventurousness but finds herself instead utterly speechless when Mormon boy strikes up a conversation at the punch bowl.

Ah, wards.  The small towns of Mormondom.   No matter how far I travel, when I return to the Orange, California Stake, I might as well be fifteen years old and sporting a bad perm.  And I tell you this story from the Ask Mormon Girl personal archive to help you feel not so alone.  Inside every one of us lives an utterly mortified teenaged girl.   You can move across the city.  Grow out your perm. Dye your hair.  Change your name.  Marry.  Travel the world.  Earn degrees.  Win prizes.  But she lives on—awkward, moody, embarrassed, and self-despising.  And ready to leap out at the most untimely moments.  There’s nothing we can do but pity her, pity ourselves, have a good laugh with a girlfriend, and then move on.

But there’s a crucial difference between your story and mine.  I was mortified by my own desperately poor communication skills.  You were mortified by the rank perfidy of a no-good boyfriend! You were a sweet young thing, and he was a lothario!  You have nothing to be ashamed of!  And you have returned to your hometown victorious:  with a husband, a job, and (most impressively) health benefits!  You win!  When you enter that ward Christmas party in a few weeks, I want you to say a few reassuring words to that mortified teenager inside of you, but forbid her to speak. Hold your head up high.  Be your most charming and delightful self.  Behold your ex’s relatives with a regal but undetectable form of condescension.  They are, after all, the relatives of the young scoundrel who ruined his family name by running around with all the girls in town, and you are the girl he wronged years ago, and this, my dear, gives you one of the most powerful forms of cultural currency in the Mormon universe:  rightness.   Use it sparingly, and with mercy, for you must remember that inside every one of them too there lives a mortified, self-loathing teenager.  We all have embarrassing elements of our pasts.  The most gracious gift we can bestow upon our fellow wardmembers—the fellow inmates of our Mormon small towns—is to pretend we remember only the good parts.  We call that gift dignity. Claim it!

What about you, dear readers?  Any mortifying moments your inner LDS fifteen year-old is dying to admit?  What words of courage do you have for Mortified?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

 

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Filed under Love, Mormon Youth, social connectedness

Love & marriage edition: Is my Mormon hipster style wrecking my marriage chances? And how will my family deal if I marry outside the faith?

This week, the AMG inbox was abuzz with messages from readers with love and marriage on the brain.  The first is a young man we’ll call Mormon Skater, a cousin, perhaps to the Mormon hipster made famous of late in a rather silly article from The New York Times.

Here’s what’s on his mind:

Utah is supposed to be the proverbial land of plenty for any returned missionary seeking a wife with whom to spend time and all eternity, and trust me when I say that upon returning from my mission (in Kobe, Japan) I fully expected the skies to open, inundating me with potential brides to be. All I’ve found in the three years since my homecoming, however, are wards full of girls that I’m mostly not interested in and who I feel are generally disinterested in me.

Upon returning to the land of the living I quickly grew out my hair, sprouted a beard, and slipped back into my collection of punk rock t-shirts, skater shoes, and slightly sagging pants. That pure sheen that accompanied me from the plane back to America quickly faded, and now most who look at me might doubt I’m even Mormon let alone one with a strong testimony who relatively recently served an honorable mission. This persona has served to attract a fair number of girls from outside the church, but my desire to marry in the temple and raise an LDS family has largely kept me from being overly attracted to or interested in starting a serious relationship with any of them. 

Maybe it’s naive of me to think that there might be a female counterpart to myself among the strict Mormon ladies of northern Utah… might I be better served by getting a hair cut and a shave, and becoming more like the clean cut guys who I constantly see gracing the insides of the conference issues of the Ensign? Or perhaps I should get off of my high horse and give some of the not member girls who actually seem to like me a chance.

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What’s the right way to kiss a Mormon woman?

Greetings, readers, and welcome back to Ask Mormon Girl, your source for unorthodox answers to questions about contemporary Mormon life.  This week’s query is a spicy one: a warm-up for your Valentine’s Day weekend, perhaps?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl,

I’m a fairly average non-LDS guy. Recently, a Mormon girl and myself have begun something close to a relationship. By close, I mean we confide in each other, and occasionally make out.  Now, when we make out, it gets pretty intense. I respect this girl too much to push her towards the same level of intimacy that I have had with other girls. Because of this respect, I don’t know where to put myself when in these intimate moments. I know “petting” is prohibited, but so is making out and that hasn’t seemed to be an issue with this girl, and based on the temperature of our steamy kissing, I’m not sure what she wants… or where to put my hands. But I know I don’t want to keep my hands on the back of her head or in a weird, unromantic hug-like position, floating behind her back. What do I do?! How do I effectively keep her comfortable in these moments, while still respecting her boundaries and maintaining the same level of passion?

Sincerely,

L

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I’m 36. I did everything I was supposed to. And still I have no husband. Help?

[It's the best of Ask Mormon Girl this week, folks.  Enjoy one of my favorites.]

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I’m a 36 year-old single Mormon woman facing a real struggle. Basically, I’ve spent my whole life checking things off the list: graduate Primary, Personal Progress, graduate Seminary, go to BYU, go on a mission, fulfill callings, pay tithing, and so on thinking that doing all of that would yield what I wanted most: a family. God provides husbands to the good people: I don’t have one, so I must not be good. I recognize that this is incredibly flawed logic, but it’s how I feel. What makes matters worse is that my ward isn’t a great place for women like me. I’m not invited to get-togethers, not included in conversations. My bishop admitted the ward didn’t really know “how to deal with me,” since I am single and have no kids. Lately, it’s been all I can do to drag myself to Church, and sometimes I just want to take a hiatus. Help?

RJ

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I’m dating a Mormon man. Can you help me understand him better?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl,

I’m writing to ask you for help understanding the Mormon man I’ve been dating over the past several months.  He is a lawyer who recently divorced from his wife of twenty years.  At first, I was impressed by his strong work ethic, sincerity, excellent kissing skills, impressive knowledge of basketball, rugged all-American good looks, and one-generation-off-the-farm pragmatism.  He seemed so emotionally tuned-in at first. When we briefly broke up after only four weeks of dating, he even cried!  However, as I have become more engaged and smitten, he has maintained his distance, unable to commit emotionally (although he does say he “likes me a lot” and finds me “adorable.”).  I can’t help but think that there might be something about his Mormon background and culture that is keeping this from developing any further.  What could be going on?

Jenn in Phoenix
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Ask Mormon Girl: I’m 20. I don’t think I’ll ever get married. Help?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I am sure I will never find a Mormon guy who will make me happy, to marry in the temple. I am 20 years old, I’m not out of time, but I have a lot of problems with church and marriage in general. I was told all my life to accept it as the truth with no questioning, and that if you do everything “right” then you’ll be happy no matter what. I found that my parents never really were happy and when my dad came out of the closet, and my parents divorced, it proved me right, that doing what’s “right” doesn’t make you “happy.” I feel pressure to date only guys who are Mormons even though a Mormon guy wouldn’t understand me very well. I don’t have a very good “testimony” of the church, but honestly I would still like to get married in the temple, to an upstanding guy. I’m just not sure how to get there without denying my true feelings about men who think they’re “over” their wives, who expect their wives to fit the homemaker mold, and my feelings that marriage can’t work even, and especially, when founded on the teachings of the Mormon church.

 

Lizbeth
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Ask Mormon Girl: I did everything I was supposed to, and still, I have no husband. Help?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I’m a 36 year-old single Mormon woman facing a real struggle. Basically, I’ve spent my whole life checking things off the list: graduate Primary, Personal Progress, graduate Seminary, go to BYU, go on a mission, fulfill callings, pay tithing, and so on thinking that doing all of that would yield what I wanted most: a family. God provides husbands to the good people: I don’t have one, so I must not be good. I recognize that this is incredibly flawed logic, but it’s how I feel. What makes matters worse is that my ward isn’t a great place for women like me. I’m not invited to get-togethers, not included in conversations. My bishop admitted the ward didn’t really know “how to deal with me,” since I am single and have no kids. Lately, it’s been all I can do to drag myself to Church, and sometimes I just want to take a hiatus. Help?

RJ

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Filed under faith transition, family, Love, Women

Ask Mormon Girl: I no longer keep the Word of Wisdom. Should I tell my spouse?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl: I grew up in the church, served a mission, married in the temple, and so forth, but now I guess you could call me “disaffected.” I do attend church, but I don’t believe that the Word of Wisdom is compulsory from God’s perspective and I do not follow it to the letter. In my wife’s eyes, there’s no wiggle room. My wife is aware of my feelings of disaffection but not that I don’t follow the Word of Widsom. Should I tell her? I don’t want to hurt her.

ML in CA

Ah, the Word of Widsom. A “principle with promise,” it’s true. But scratch your family history, and you may very well find stories of Mormon great-great grandfathers who drank a little beer or great-grandmothers who kept coffee pots on their stoves. Strict observance of the Word of Wisdom did not become a requirement for temple attendance until the 1920s under Church president Heber J. Grant.

Still, it’s undeniable that for observant LDS Church members in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Word of Wisdom has become a major boundary separating the inside from the outside, us from them, safe from scary. You already know that the fact that you’ve crossed that boundary may make your wife feel worried, afraid, angry, or disappointed, and you want to keep it secret to protect her feelings and maybe yours too.

It seems to me, then, that your question isn’t really about the Word of Wisdom. Your question is really about how to preserve your marriage during a major transition in the nature of your religious faith. I get the feeling that you love your wife, and you care deeply about your marriage. You wouldn’t be writing to a complete stranger for advice if you didn’t.

To get an additional perspective, I shared your question with a woman friend of mine whose marriage has survived a major faith transition. Both husband and wife attend church together; she remains a highly observant member, while he no longer keeps the Word of Wisdom nor believes as he once did. She stressed how important it is to be honest with your spouse, even if you’re afraid that what you have to say will hurt her. In her experience, honesty even in difficult circumstances leads to greater understanding and intimacy. My friend also recommended that your wife check out Faces East, an on-line network for Mormons married to “differently believing” spouses. I think that’s great advice.

I’d just add that I hope you will be gentle with yourself and your wife as you go through this together. Facing a faith transition can be very scary. I hope you’ll do whatever you can to affirm your love for her even as the ground shifts underneath you both.

Maybe you will permanently join the ranks of those many, many Mormons who over the last 175 years loved the faith and still drank the coffee. Or, maybe, sometime down the road, you may find that the pleasure of the occasional glass of wine matters less than the opportunity to demonstrate your solidarity with your wife and the Mormon tradition. In the long run, I am hopeful that if you are honest, gentle, and patient with yourself and your spouse, everything will be okay.

Readers, it’s your turn. And please be gentle. What encouragement or perspective do you have to share?

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Filed under faith transition, Love, word of wisdom

Christian boy + Mormon girl, part 2

Last Monday, Ask Mormon Girl answered its first inquiry from L.M., a 15 year-old Christian boy with a crush on a 16 year-old Mormon girl. It wasn’t long before a second query from L.M. arrived in our askmormongirl@gmail.com inbox:

Hello Mrs. Brooks,

Thank you for your advice, I found it very helpful. I don’t know who she hangs out with, but I would like to get to know them…. If it turns out that she’s not interested, at least I will have made a few friends in the process. I’ll let you know what comes of it. By the way, what are some of the differences between Mormon and Christian beliefs that I should know about? The last thing that I want is to offend someone, especially such a nice girl as her.

Thanks again,

L.M.

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