Do you remember those lessons you would get in Young Women on how to choose a mate? No, really, I giggled every time they would use the term "mate." Anyway, they would talk and extol qualities the church liked to see in their Priesthood Holders, and usually talk about how we needed to keep our standards high because it is so easy to fall in love and become emotionally invested in things that were bad for you. All of this would generally culminate in an activity where they passed out cute pieces of girly stationary and pens and ask us to make an individual list of qualities we wanted in the man we were to marry.
I wish I could find the list I made. I basically made it out to be everything I had been indoctrinated to believe I wanted, with only a small handful of things that showed my distinctive personality. As far as I can recall, my list looked something like this:
--Shares my sense of humor
A lot of girls put things like, "Good with kids," or, "Like my father." The first one, I didn't really care about so much, because I never wanted kids, and always scoffed when my leaders would look at me knowingly and say, "Just wait. One day you'll want them." Err... okay. Anyhow, what really bothered me was the second thing. Like my father. I wished so badly that I could put that on the list, especially since the lesson usually emphasized that girls usually married men like their fathers, and they would link this to why the church is so great--the church raises great men who honor their priesthood and exercise their patriarchal authority in righteousness. Which always prickled at my cognitive dissonance, because my father was (and still is) a grade-A douche who was prone to yelling, screaming, calling us names, and blaming everything on my mom or sisters. So of course I didn't want to marry a man like him, and it bothered me that everyone else had awesome, loving dads and I got stuck with a rotten egg, whom everyone at church loved.
Anyway, I look at where I am now, and I marvel at how far I've come. I marvel at how well I chose someone for intimacy and companionship, despite my upbringing and indoctrination. See, I've come to realize that a lot of the qualities they used to throw out in Young Women were superficial. They either went to comment on the church aspect--honors his priesthood, return missionary, Eagle Scout, et cetera--or they comment on things like, "Funny." "Artistic." "Good cook."
These things are nice, but they aren't as important to me as others. If I could go back, I would make my list look more like this:
--Intelligent (so, some things stay the same)
--Knows how to have dialogue without escalating to an argument
--Tolerant of all walks of life, including race, gender, sexuality, religion, et cetera.
--Not afraid to stand up for what he/she believes
--Has personal integrity in all his/her dealings
It's interesting to see how these things morph over time. It's even more interesting how, a matter of just two or three years ago, I proudly proclaimed that I could never marry someone who wasn't involved in theatre, because non-theatre folk just don't get us. At one point in time, I knew for a fact that I couldn't marry anyone who wasn't Republican, because we simply wouldn't get along. Nor would my family approve of such a thing. Once upon a time, I frankly knew that any guy who couldn't cook for me would never get to marry me.
Now, as I look at the wonderful person I've chosen to share my life with, I see that somehow, miraculously, I chose something even better. I chose someone whose fundamental personality makes her a joy to be around. I chose someone who can work with me to communicate and resolve issues before they become fights, effectively making sure that I break the cycle in my family, living in harmony instead of bitterness. I chose someone who has a vested interest in helping all of humanity. I chose someone whose very career--social work--goes to show how deeply charitable, humanitarian, and empathetic she is.
Somehow, I find it all very interesting
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