My far away friend, Rachel, posted this awesome post the other day about church, marriage, and all the things that are tied with it. Initially, it pissed me off (as it did Rachel), and then I experienced some feelings of hurt. I can't really add a whole lot to what she said because she said it perfectly, but instead I can only reflect on my own personal feelings in the matter of the Mormon Church, marriage, and me.
Even though I haven't been going to church, I don't hate it. Being a Mormon is still part of my identity, but it is not the primary thing that identifies me. Much like being a nurse. I still admire the way the church values family. Their charitable nature. I can listen to a General Authority speak and know he's just not paying me lip service in exchange for a monetary contribution.
I work weekends, so going to church really isn't an option because it's too hard to stay awake to attend, but maybe I use that as an excuse not to go. I'm too old to attend singles branch (congregation consisting only of singles under 30), and when I've tried to attend the family wards, I'm sort of an island. Sitting by myself. Curious looks in my direction and my wrinkled scrubs. From their looks, I can tell they are wondering why I am alone. It's that look that all older singles get because if you are single and over 30, then there is something wrong with you. Whether it be you are ugly, or mentally unbalanced, or you are divorced (which is just as bad).
I'm not single because no one will have me. I'm single because I choose to be. A lot of those older women in the church don't understand that. They don't understand how someone could willingly chose to be single...and be HAPPY about it. They don't think that a single person could possibly have something valuable to contribute other than babysitting in the church nursery while the marrieds can go to Sacrament.
(I must point out that it's the members (not all, but a certain few) that engage in this mindset. The higher-ups in the church have admonished members for bring retarded in this manner...but to no success.)
I don't think of myself as a failure for not being married. I still think that I can be a valuable member of society while still carrying my father's name. I believe there is more to me than my child-bearing capabilities. I have a degree, a career, a home, friends. Why, then, do some people look at me as being less than a person because I never knelt at the altar? When I am around members my age who have families, they talk about their husbands and children, and when I speak about things that are going on in the world, I am met with blank stares.
I've known girls who have literally sat and waited for their "eternal companion" to come along. Why get a college degree when you are just going to be a stay-at-home Mom? Why buy a house when your husband is just going to buy one when you get married? Why go see places when that is something you are going to do with your husband? I remember sitting in my Bishop's office with a couple other girls discussing the fact that one of the high counselors in the women's group was single, and one girl loudly announced, "I'd rather be dead than 40 and no married!" She was only 22.
At any rate, most girls I know that married really young are either divorced, or are in crappy marriages and won't get out of them because they don't want the gossiping old bats in church to think of them as failures. The ones who waited to get married, who wanted to experience life before they took the vows...they have the most solid marriages I know of. They are equal partners, and they can talk to you about more than what can be done with a can of cream of mushroom soup. I would also like to point out that these girls were raised in families that encouraged personal growth and independence.
I'm not ruling out the possibility of ever taking the plunge, but I want it to be on my terms. Not because it was expected of me. Maybe someday I will (in the event a certain Catholic pulls his head out of his ass...). Until that time happens, I will just go on living my life, doing the things that bring me joy, and not being a failure.