I have always wanted to be married in the temple. Who I would be married to and when we would be married was another story. Growing up as a Latter Day Saint, I received very conflicting messages about this from my religious culture and from the media and the rest of the world around me.
Something Mormons are notorious for is getting married young and fast. The cultural norm for the rest of America is to date for years before getting married, if marrying at all. I grew up watching girls I went to church with go off to college and return home shortly after with their fiancés! On the other hand, I watched movies where couples lived together, finished college, and started careers before getting married. Both sides of the spectrum seemed a little crazy to me.
As a girl, and as the youngest of 4 daughters, I was either doomed or destined (I’ll leave that one up to you) to be preoccupied with love, relationships, and marriage from a young age, so I took all of this very seriously. I can’t even count the number of people I’ve asked, “How did you know that your spouse was the right one?” And I definitely can’t count the number of times I got the answer, “When you know, you know!”
I was never satisfied with that answer. With this insatiable question, I vowed I would not be one of “those” girls who got married as soon as she graduated high school or who married someone after dating for only weeks because I figured (based on what I saw in the media) that there was no way I could actually “know” that fast. I was so determined not to get married quickly that I didn’t stop to think about why that had become so important to me.
Somehow, I ended up at BYU—the one school I told myself I would never attend. I knew this was going to make my chances of making it out of my first year of school single a lot more difficult. I did a lot of dating my first semester of college but avoided serious relationships like the plague. I was not going to be “that girl.” I made it through my first semester without a ring on my finger and headed out of the country to spend my next semester in a study abroad program where dating was actually not allowed. That made things easy.
I had the semester of a lifetime and learned SO MUCH. I felt that the experiences I had were preparing me for marriage but I needed more time to ponder and still felt unsure of making any kind of a marriage decision, so two months after I got home from London I headed off on an 18 month mission to Ohio for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I, once again, was not allowed to date.
The next 18 months changed my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’m sure I still don’t even understand all of the changes that I experienced and all that I learned. My heart was transformed as I gave it to the Lord. Being able to step back from dating and romantic relationships for almost two years really opened my eyes. I realized that I had been putting off marriage completely out of pride and fear. I wanted to do what was socially acceptable and I didn’t want to make the “wrong” decision. My mission changed my perspective about both of those things—replacing my fear with faith.
I came home from my mission with a deep desire to be a wife, mother, and homemaker—something I definitely didn’t leave with. I finally understood the importance of these roles—that not only are they a good thing to do or an important choice to make—but that as a daughter of God I have the divine privilege to be a wife and mother.
Rather than seeing homemaking as holding me back or limiting my possibilities, I was now empowered by the thought. Marriage wasn’t something to “put off” until the time was socially acceptable or until I found the “perfect” person, it was something to be sought after. I no longer saw marriage as finding someone who fit my “checklist” but as becoming my checklist.
Apparently Heavenly Father knew this too and He wasn’t going to let me waste any time forgetting it. Four days after I got home from my mission I went on my first post mission date with Benjamin Martin. It was hands down one of the best few hours of my entire life. The following weekend he was coming home with me for my mission homecoming and meeting almost my entire family.
To say our relationship progressed quickly would be an understatement. Within weeks we were talking about marriage—which terrified me. It felt so right, but I wasn’t going to be one of those girls who was engaged within weeks, right?? Through (lots and lots of) prayer and scripture study, I remembered the things I learned on my mission and realized this decision was between me and the Lord. He is the only one who knows the timetable for my life and His opinion is the one that reallymatters.
Well, He told me I would be crazy to let this opportunity pass by and showed me very clearly that He had been in the details of making this relationship happen. The most important thing that I realized was that my relationship with Ben is built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is what truly matters. We met one another while serving the Lord full time. We got to know each other on a completely platonic basis in an environment where our lives were centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ all day every day.
After our missions, when we started dating, we decided together to continue to center our lives and our relationship on the Gospel. We do our best to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to seek spiritual confirmations, and to go where God tells us. With this heavenly guidance, we were engaged to be married 10 weeks after we started dating and I couldn’t be happier.
I am one of those lucky girls (who learned to follow God’s will instead of the world’s standards). Because our Father in Heaven is at the head of our relationship, I feel 100% confident in our decision. I know that this is His plan. I know that marriage is hard and that we’re going to have to work at it every day, but I also know that as we continue to live close to Him we will be guided through every trial.
I am marrying Benjamin Martin because he puts God before me. I’m marrying him because I received spiritual confirmation that this is His plan for us at this time. Not because Ben passed all of my “tests” or “checklists,” not because we have “been through every season together” or done anything else that our culture would tell us is a “must” before marriage.Twenty years down the road I think I’ll be more interested in the strength of my marriage because of the foundation my husband and I built early on than in the amount of time we dated before we became engaged.
The decision to be married isn’t about timing. It’s not about checklists. I’m not saying that getting engaged after 10 weeks of dating is the right answer for everyone. What I have come to know and hope you have gotten out of this is that the real decision is deciding to build your relationship on solid ground— to include God in your relationships so that when the time comes to make big decisions you can do what He would have you and not what you have been culturally influenced to do.
It does not matter what your roommate or your friends at church or your great aunt or the girl in your English class thinks. What matters most is what lasts longest. With the approval of our Father in Heaven, we can be confident in our relationship decisions. This is the most important decision you’re going to make In your life, after all, and I promise your Father is going to be interested in helping you find the answer to the question He sent you here to ask. Let’s not be so concerned with being culturally accepted and concern ourselves more with things that matter most.
Sister Kayla Rolfe
St. George, Utah