Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: dating

R: Resources for Married Couples

couple-168191_1280If you’ve ever started a fire with flint and steel, then you know how frustrating it can be—or at least, it frustrated me. There I was with my small steel striker, charred cloth, and the only rock I could find in the wild that barely made a spark. I hit that rock for probably an hour, bloodying up my knuckles in the process, and getting colder by the minute.

And then it happened: I started a fire, and in the process, I learned a lesson.

In life and in marriage we can find ourselves doing all the right things, striking in very different ways at the rocks (or relationships) in our life, getting a spark but no fire. It can get frustrating, and yes at times it can be easy to give up, but if you don’t keep striking, you don’t get a fire. You don’t even get sparks.

So when marriage gets hard, what do we do to keep the sparks flying and to work at keeping that fire? Here are just a few resources married couples can use.

  1. Prayer and Scripture Study

First and foremost, your best resource is the third member of your relationship: God. Coming together as a couple to pray and receive guidance and inspiration from the scriptures should be the first thing you do when the going gets rough. Spend time searching the scriptures and praying not just on your own, but together.

  1. Speak with an ecclesiastical leader

This can be a Bishop if you are LDS or a Priest or other religious leader if you are of a different faith. The important part here is that you go together. Ecclesiastical leaders can receive inspiration for you and your spouse; however, it’s important to remember that if you are dealing with a more serious and sustained problem, couple those visits to the bishop with seeing an actual professional.

  1. Consider marital therapy

Therapy and professional counseling sometimes come negative connotations. However, most professional therapists advise couples to see a counselor before any problems arise. For example, premarital workshops and therapy can help prevent future problems in a marriage.

  1. Go to a marital workshop

Universities will sometimes host marital workshops, as well as professional counseling organizations. These workshops can be especially insightful about communication styles and how little adjustments can drastically improve a couple’s communication. For example, BYU Counseling and Psychological Services holds a six-week marriage prep course each semester.

  1. Go on a couple retreat

A couple retreat doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, even a simple date or series of dates can be a way for couples to reconnect and stay connected.

  1. Read a good book

And by “good book” I specifically mean marital books (although I don’t oppose reading aloud to each other your favorite book every night). Some well-known, successful marital books have been The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, His Needs Her Needs, and The Art of Intimacy. If you are seeing a counselor or ecclesiastical leader, ask them what books best meet your needs, or do this research together on your own.

  1. Do what you love

Think of the last time you and your spouse were at your best. Think of all the things you were doing at that time of your life and then do it. Maybe you were serving more, or you were more attentive, or you went on more dates. Whatever it is, try to revive those good habits.

Of course, it’s always to easier to keep a fire going than to start one. Don’t be afraid to use these resources before you’re in the dark striking at a rock and praying for sparks. And if you are at that point, keep striking, keep going: the ember will catch and the fire will come.

By Jessica Olsen
This is the next post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post highlights a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

Is it Really Mutual?

mobile-phone-791644_1280I remember the first time I saw the commercial for the Mutual dating app. It was hilarious! I mean, it had Stacey Harkey in it so can you really go wrong? But that was mostly it. I was familiar with Tinder and its reputation and wasn’t about to embrace that or “sink to that level.” That included online dating sites and dating apps in general. Sure, I get that there are happily married people out there that met on Tinder, and that is wonderful for them. One of my roommates met her husband through Tinder, and that was great for her! However, I was convinced that dating apps and online dating would be, for me, a last resort.

So, naturally, I have had Mutual for two months.

Yes, I know, right? But, before you start to think that I only did it because I’ve finally reached that “last resort,” let me explain myself:

We live in the 21st century. Now, if that is news to you, then go back to your knitting and watching Murder She Wrote and disregard the rest of my thought dump. If living in a college town has taught me anything, it’s that dating needs to be redefined. Maybe I’m just not that girl that gets asked out every weekend, but in my experience, dates are few and far between. Then, to add to the trouble, there are all these stigmas. People don’t date in the ward because, as they say, you don’t want to “pee in the pool.” People don’t ask out fellow classmates on dates either because if it goes south then you still have class together. People also don’t ask random people on campus out on dates because it’s usually seen as weird (except for my old roommate who got asked out by a random guy on campus and is now happily married to him—shout out to Jane and Nate!) But seriously, that doesn’t usually happen. Okay, so the ward is out of bounds; the classmates are out of bounds; and the general human being on campus is out of bounds. So…how do you meet people?

But there’s more. Excusing the fact that today it seems to be more acceptable for a girl to ask a guy out, I’m a traditionalist, so we are going to make pretend that guys man up and ask the girls out. Guys traditionally have the advantage: they can look at a group of girls and narrow it down to which they are attracted to, and then ask one of the them out on a date to see if they are also attracted to her personality. That’s a much easier scenario than how we girls simply succumb to whomever asks us out! Then, if we aren’t attracted to the guy at all, we have to play the “bad guy” and let them down. I guess this is where online dating sites and dating apps come into play.

Dating has changed and so, I must change with it. Maybe that means I will eventually feel comfortable with asking a guy out on a date; or maybe that means I will cave and get Mutual (oh wait, I did). But I have learned that I can’t pass judgment. I thought dating apps were ridiculous! (I guess I still have a little bit of that still going through my head as I swipe through profiles.) However, I have realized that it is just another way to meet people. And considering that any other aspect of college life doesn’t often result in anything, I figured it could be a good place to start.

I’ve met this really great guy on Mutual and we have been talking. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but maybe something will. Right now we are just trying to see if, well, if things are Mutual.

By Camille Baker

Living up to Expectations

I remember the first reactions I got from my Laurel class advisers when I told them I was going to Brigham Young University.

“Oh my goodness you are going to go down there and be married within the first year!”

Name: Camille
Age: 23
Year in School: Junior
Relationship Status: Single

Now, I understand that I am not ancient. I also understand that I still have some time until I graduate; however, I think it is important to discuss the problem of trying to live up to expectations.

I remember what went through my mind after my Laurel advisors said that. I became convinced, as they apparently were, that I would get married quickly. I mean, it was BYU, right? Isn’t that the way it goes down there? I had decided that I would be married by 20 and would have a child at either 21 or 22. That didn’t happen, but I am grateful for the course my life has taken because it led me to serve a full-time mission and I wouldn’t give that away for anything.

So here is my key piece of advice: turn your expectations into goals. Live up to your goals—your goals—and focus on that. Don’t let others determine what the “correct” course is for yourself. I wish I could remove the idea in my mind that a successful life means getting married early. That isn’t the case. Marriage is ordained of God— that is true—but everyone’s time is different. My time to get married wasn’t at age 20 like I thought it was. My time at 20 was to be walking the streets of Italy talking to people about Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and a restored church. I love everything about that. But yet, I have friends whose plans were to get married at 19, 20, or 21, and I love that too.

If there are any expectations you should live up to, it is the expectation that God has for you to become like Him. That is your potential; that is my potential. And eventually marriage will play into that potential, but remember that success in life is not measured by the societal expectation of marriage timing. I know many successful and happy single people that are in their upper twenties. Now, I would say to my Laurel class advisers, “I may not be married, but I am happy.”

By Camille Baker

How to Tell if He is Marriage Material

wedding-322034_1920After coming from a city where righteous, kind, ambitious, loving young men were few and far between, I can understand the appeal of dating in Provo, where that is  not the case. There are so many practically perfect men that cross your path every day, and if you happen to snag one, how can you know that he could be your eternal companion?

When I had been dating my boyfriend (now fiancé) for 6 months, I knew I loved him, but I just wasn’t sure if he was the one for me. Some people say they “just know,” but for a logical thinker like me, that kind of thinking just didn’t work out.

Luckily, my brother sent me this document of questions for couples anticipating marriage to ask each other. I cut these questions into strips, folded them up, and put them in a bag. Every once-in-a-while, we would pull out the bag and take turns picking random questions and answering them. Not only was it informative, but it was also both spiritual and fun. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, but these questions can give you a deeper insight into the heart of your loved one.

My fiancé and I highly recommended these questions to anyone who is considering getting married, as most of these questions do not usually come up in normal conversation.

These questions (and my fiancé’s answers to them) were pivotal in my decision to marry my best friend. Maybe you already know that he’s the one, and maybe you don’t, but regardless, give these questions a shot—you might be surprised by your results.

Written by Cari Taylor

Dating Stinks

How much does science play into your love life? According to recent studies, it may be much more influential than you think. An important part of the human immune system involves Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules, which are antigens that coat the cells in the human body. The diversity of these MHC molecules in the body determines the effectiveness of the immune system, but it seems to have other implications as well. Would you believe that it could influence who you crush on, or even more, who you marry?

Picture from here.

Picture from here.

There is evidence that the diversity of MHC molecules in individuals influences mating choice in animals and humans. Natural sexual selection occurs so that humans are attracted to those with dissimilar MHC molecules, which allows them to produce offspring with greater biological diversity, and therefore, a greater chance of survival. So how does this natural law of attraction work? You may be surprised to know that body odor—yes, that rank stank that you always try to cover up—is the key.

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“Let No Man Put Asunder”: A Marriage Promise

By Jerrick Robbins

My sister recently bought a new cell phone. It has all the speed, all the data, and all the memory a person could want. Her brand-new technology puts my one-year-old technology to shame. In fact, it might as well own my phone. Her phone’s screen has better resolution, its width is thinner, and its camera can even take a video in slow motion. As much as I love my phone, I plan on getting the newest model as soon as I can update next year.

It seems like our culture is going toward a “newest and best model” theology. People need the newest technology, the best car, the best job, and the newest trends. I have to admit, I want it—all of it. All the new and best things. Yes, that thought might be a little materialistic and unobtainable, but a guy can dream, right? Yes, guys can dream, so can gals. People can dream, and people can have hope that they will obtain their dreams. But there’s one dream no one should entertain.

As I write this blog post, my fiancée is sitting next to me writing “thank you” cards. Earlier today, I massaged her feet as she relaxed from a hard day’s work. I love her, I love serving her, and at this moment, I could never see me leaving her. Sadly, that’s what many couples say at the beginning of their relationship, but they end up doing what they never thought possible.

image from flickr user urbiefoto

image from flickr user urbiefoto

Too many people fall into the “newest and best model” theology when it comes to a spouse. In effect, they think that if their marriage isn’t working, if they run into technical difficulties or glitches in marriage, it’s time to trade in for a new one. Our culture’s “newest and best model” theology has been taken too far. That thinking has removed commitment from a relationship and inserted change instead. It has removed responsibility and inserted replace.

Marriage is not meant to be easy, and it’s not meant to be perfect. Even though there may be difficulties or glitches, we shouldn’t replace it; instead, we should restore it. Rather than the “newest and best model” theology, let’s go back to “let no man put asunder.” A marriage promise should be a lifetime warranty, not a money back guarantee.

Infertility: Do You Have a Story?

by Alissa Strong

 

Today by chance, I came across a blog. The author is a girl totally unknown to me, although we attend the same university. Her story piqued my interest specifically because it involves a topic that is almost the elephant-in-the-room in not just our university but in society.

 

This girl is twentysomething years old and suffers from infertility.

 

This topic has been on my mind lately, as over the past five months I have encountered a number of people who have experienced infertility in one form or another. It has been eye-opening to meet these people and hear their stories, because so often in the dating-, marriage-, and family-centric bubble of Utah Valley, surrounded by singles and couples in their late teens and early twenties, one rarely stops to consider these questions:

 

What would happen if I could not have children?

Would this impact my dating relationships?

What would my identity be if I couldn’t be a mother or a father?

Even if I can have children, what do I do or say around those who can’t?

 

Stance for the Family is a journal, magazine, and blog for all families—regardless of their makeup. Because of this, I want to hear from and write to this group of families and singles who may previously have felt a family-themed journal has no relevance to them.

 

If you or someone close to you has dealt with or is currently dealing with infertility, we want to hear from you. Single, married, religious, agnostic—we want to hear your stories. If you have a story to tell, please email Alissa at stanceblogeditor@gmail.com. We will not publish anything without first requesting your consent. But this is an issue that so many unknown faces of our community need to hear about—whether it affects them personally, or whether they simply need help knowing how to support someone else going through this trial. Your story, no matter how small, may be just what someone else needs to give them hope.

 

Extra! Extra!: BYU Professor Reveals Results of Provo Dating Study

by Erin Jones

Provo, Utah, is known for its obsession about dating matters, and for good reason. When you stick a group of thousands of Latter-day Saint (Mormon) young adults together who are all trying to get married, you can expect to hear about dating.

Being surrounded by dating talk, I was instantly curious when I heard about a dating lecture that would take place on campus. Professor Holman was to reveal his exclusive results from a study he conducted on Provo dating life.

I sat in a crowded room at the Joseph F. Smith Humanities Building at Brigham Young University, awaiting Professor Holman’s lecture. I nervously sat in the back of the crowded lecture hall, not wanting to be seen in such a laughter-inspiring situation. As I sat, I watched dozens of people enter the room: couples holding hands, groups of girls, and even some curious guys. I overheard a married couple in front of me say they were there for extra credit. Having already successfully navigated Provo’s complicated dating scene, why else would they be at such a lecture?

Professor Holman started out the lecture by saying that he wouldn’t be staying for the viewing of The Princess Bride following the lecture, because he was going home to his own “princess bride.” The crowd let out a coordinated “aww”—or at least the females in the room did.

Professor Holman then explained that his team had spent the last several months studying Provo dating life. A group of young adults had been selected to have their dating life put under a microscope and revealed to the student body. These research subjects had agreed to send weekly texts on the status of their relationship (such as “I’m dating someone,” “I just broke up,” or “I went on a first date”) over the period of several months. A few participants were also given weekly interviews on their thoughts on dating.

With all of these results, the professor and his team found that Provo dating is not how dating used to be. Apparently there are no clear signs understood by everyone that indicate how the relationship is progressing. Generally, a guy and girl who like each other will increase time spent together, until they decide they want to date. This mutual like could be communicated solely through physical affection (bad) or through communication (good).

The research team also found some interesting dating quirks of their research subjects. They humorously grouped their subjects into several sociological categories. The girls fit into three groups:

Flirtatious Girls: These are the flirtatious girls who base their self-esteem off of how many guys like them. If this girl likes you, you will KNOW. Unfortunately, they probably like 10 other guys as well. The tough thing with dating these girls is convincing them that you are the best guy around and that you are willing to treat her better than the other millions of guys she’s after.

Lock and Key Girls: I heard this description and immediately thought “Oh my gosh, it’s me!” These girls are relationship avoidant. They are independently minded and have high (sometimes too high) expectations. If one of these girls likes you, good luck—there is no way you will know. Just ease into the relationship slowly and convince her you are worth it.

Stable Girls: These girls are comfortable with dating. They will open up to guys and share their feelings and are willing to go through the dating process without rushing it.

As for the guys, there are three groups as well.

Emotional Guys: When they go too far, these types of guys can be perceived as creepy or stalkers. Really, though, these are some of the sweetest guys you’ll meet because they’re very dedicated to dating. They feel rejection really hard. When they hear from general authorities that they should be dating, they feel guilty and get to work! But maybe too much work.

Closed Off Guys: These guys don’t try very hard to date. When they hear from general authorities they should be dating more, they think, “They’re referring to someone else,” or “I would love to date more, but I have too much homework.” Then they lock themselves in their apartments on Friday nights and play video games.

Stable Guys: These guys are willing to go through the dating process. They don’t jump into a relationship too fast, but they also don’t avoid dating. They move on after a rejection or a break-up and keep trying. And eventually, they win (find a wife, that is).

Professor Holman and his team said that no one fits perfectly into one of these three categories. Nevertheless, the characteristics of each category seemed all too familiar. So what can you do about these dating weaknesses? Well, there is hope. Apparently you can change your attitudes about dating. If it goes right, dating leads to marriage, which leads to family, which leads to life-long (and eternal) happiness—even though there may be a lot of bumps along the way.

I walked out of the lecture a bit frustrated by my lock and key ways, but determined to change them. Provo dating, here I come!