Mormon relationships… Mormons have a reputation (mostly amongst themselves) of sealing the deal fast. I can’t even recount all of the conversations I had over the years with friends, mission companions, family members, and ward members where the girl holds out her hand and shrieks, “We are engaged”. I was always a big brat and followed up their news with questions like, “Haven’t you only been dating for three months? four months? six months?”
One of my mission comps called this week to let me know about her engagement. They have been dating a little over four months… He proposed this week sometime.
I myself am the product of a four month old relationship. My dad proposed on the second date. They were married about four months later. Before their first anniversary I had already been around for a few months. I think my parents are honestly only just now really and truly getting to know each other since we kids have grown.
It blows me away.
The reputation for being fast really does hold up. Why do soooo many Mormons move so quickly? I’ve got a few ideas…
- One can certainly speculate that if they are “good Mormons” they are probably also “horny Mormons”. The race to the wedding date would certainly be about protecting their virginity…
- God told them to get married… It is His will. Many of the people who shared their good news with me also recounted the spiritual experiences they had as they prayed about their upcoming marriage.
- The leadership pushes it. I can’t even recount my own personal conversations with leaders who inquired about my dating life, relationships, and what I needed to do to get married as soon as possible.
- The theology itself is built upon the idea that the only way to validate your life is through marriage. To return to God again you must be married in that Mo-temple and preferably have a bunch of Mo-children. It is the purpose of this life… This, as a gay Mormon, was something I felt acutely. Life did not seem to have meaning if it did not follow that end. There was no other path that was valid.
The pressure to get married is intense which is probably why it seems to happen so quickly. Increasingly I am glad that none of those things factor into my relationship with Leigh. No virginity to protect, plus, neither of us view sex as being sinful... We are both atheists so there is no god pressure to apply. No leadership pressure. No particular belief that the only purpose in life is to get married, certainly not married in the Mo-temple, plus we can't legally get married anyway... Our relationship gets to exist just for the sake of existing. It gets to exist just because we love each other...
Getting that phone call from my mission companion provided a stark point of contrast for me and my own relationship with Leigh. My comp has been dating her fiancé for about the same length of time I have been dating Leigh. Just past four months.
It was interesting because as I listened to my comp talk about her relationship. Her tone of voice communicated as much as her words did. The words she did not say also said a lot. “It feels pretty good.” That stated followed by strange long pause. I was Mormon… I know what that means. She felt “the spirit” when she prayed about it… Feeling the spirit equals “right”.
I have felt “the spirit” on several occasions when with Leigh or when thinking about Leigh. I guess the difference between me and my Mormon friends and family is that I no longer think that that feel means our relationship is divinely sanctioned and commanded.
I got off the phone a bit sad when my comp called. What the conversation lacked was that element of excitement. She did not sound super excited. She did not sound sure about her choice. She did not at any point express any big emotion for this guy. No comments were made about how crazy she was about him, or how they just seemed to click, or how great he was, or that she loved him. None of that joy at being in a relationship with someone that you really love was communicated at all in that phone call…
Maybe I’m just reading too much into a ten minute phone call but I would have expected something?! I am crazy about Leigh. I can hardly not talk about it when I am on the phone with close friends. I can’t help but recount to them her wonderful qualities. While we are not “engaged” we do talk about our future and what it’s going to look like, but those talks are not filled with the pressure of belief or that our very purpose for existence on this planet rides solely on our relationship.Things happen in our relationship based on our own timeline and our own feelings.
As I found myself comparing my relationship with my very limited knowledge of my comp’s relationship I was grateful to be outside of the church machine. I was grateful to not have the stress and the pressure applied by those beliefs to this experience and relationship. I get the luxury of enjoying this relationship and letting it grow without huge expectations and social pressure crushing it. Leigh and I get to build it and define it.