Episode 7: Marriage and Short Courtships in Mormon Culture

This special panel brings together three couples: Devin & Melissa, Holly & Adam, and John & Zilpha. Each married young and less than six months after first meeting one another. They discuss their marriages in the context of Mormon culture. Specifically, they discuss the cultural elements that drove them to marry so quickly, the role of Church teaching in their marriages, BYU, the upside of these marriages, and having children. Finally, the panel gives advice to anyone else who might be contemplating a short courtship marriage. (Audio improves at 7 minutes in)

Episode 7

39 comments on “Episode 7: Marriage and Short Courtships in Mormon Culture”

  1. badseed Reply

    Interesting podcast. My wife and I went to BYU and married 9 mos after meeting. While still fast, our courtship was one of the slower ones in our BYU ward at the time.

    Over 17 years of marriage we’ve made it work. Do I sometimes wish we had dated longer? Sure. Will I advise my kids to make their own decisions and no feel pressured by the Church’s teachings? Yup. I know the Church will be pressuring them hard to marry asap, so I will be the alternative voice that helps them see they can choose their own life’s path.

    There are many paths, even within Mormonism, and they may even include no getting married. My path has worked for me but may not for others. I wish the Church could be open enough to allow and embrace all people and their choices rather than drawing such narrow boundaries and claiming that God only values the correlated approach to marriage, family sex, etc.

    Now if only the Mrs. and I could figure out how to deal with our different views on Mormonism itself. Maybe your next podcast on marriage can deal with “making a once temple marriage work when one spouse stops believing”.

    Nice work. Thanks guys.

  2. badseed Reply

    Interesting podcast. My wife and I went to BYU and married 9 mos after meeting. While still fast, our courtship was one of the slower ones in our BYU ward at the time.

    Over 17 years of marriage we’ve made it work. Do I sometimes wish we had dated longer? Sure. Will I advise my kids to make their own decisions and no feel pressured by the Church’s teachings? Yup. I know the Church will be pressuring them hard to marry asap, so I will be the alternative voice that helps them see they can choose their own life’s path.

    There are many paths, even within Mormonism, and they may even include no getting married. My path has worked for me but may not for others. I wish the Church could be open enough to allow and embrace all people and their choices rather than drawing such narrow boundaries and claiming that God only values the correlated approach to marriage, family sex, etc.

    Now if only the Mrs. and I could figure out how to deal with our different views on Mormonism itself. Maybe your next podcast on marriage can deal with “making a once temple marriage work when one spouse stops believing”.

    Nice work. Thanks guys.

  3. Coed Cowboy Reply

    My wife and I dated for nearly two years before marriage in the Provo Kolobian spaceship.

    How did we last not being able to have sex? Everything except sex.

    Within Utah county, dry humping is not a sin.

  4. Coed Cowboy Reply

    My wife and I dated for nearly two years before marriage in the Provo Kolobian spaceship.

    How did we last not being able to have sex? Everything except sex.

    Within Utah county, dry humping is not a sin.

  5. Elizabeth Reply

    Great podcast, guys! I really liked the balance. John, you’re a great moderator.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how our “Women in the Church” podcast sounds. Hopefully, you can edit some of my rambling. LOL

    I thought that both the positives and negatives of marrying young within the Mormon culture were addressed extremely well.

    As someone who is a little older than those on the panel (I’m 45), I think that attitudes within the Church have evolved slightly…at least from when I was married in 1986 to now. I was married at 22, and was almost looked upon as an “old maid” in Mormon culture.

    At least in our area, (NC), I don’t see that attitude as predominant anymore. There seems to be more focus on women getting education. There is also quite a bit of focus on women choosing to serve missions. When I was in my 20’s, women serving missions was almost seen as a failure-status. “You couldn’t get married, so you’re going on a mission.”

    That thought pattern is changing. Young women who go on missions seem to be more revered than what used to be the case.

    Again, as I mentioned in the podcast I participated in, I think the Church is making strides into the modern era for the better, but it is taking baby steps. I think the only way for change to continue is if members like myself, and, for example, Harmony and Jason, from Shades’ board, continue to speak out, working within the system, the Church will continue to change for the better.

  6. Elizabeth Reply

    Great podcast, guys! I really liked the balance. John, you’re a great moderator.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how our “Women in the Church” podcast sounds. Hopefully, you can edit some of my rambling. LOL

    I thought that both the positives and negatives of marrying young within the Mormon culture were addressed extremely well.

    As someone who is a little older than those on the panel (I’m 45), I think that attitudes within the Church have evolved slightly…at least from when I was married in 1986 to now. I was married at 22, and was almost looked upon as an “old maid” in Mormon culture.

    At least in our area, (NC), I don’t see that attitude as predominant anymore. There seems to be more focus on women getting education. There is also quite a bit of focus on women choosing to serve missions. When I was in my 20’s, women serving missions was almost seen as a failure-status. “You couldn’t get married, so you’re going on a mission.”

    That thought pattern is changing. Young women who go on missions seem to be more revered than what used to be the case.

    Again, as I mentioned in the podcast I participated in, I think the Church is making strides into the modern era for the better, but it is taking baby steps. I think the only way for change to continue is if members like myself, and, for example, Harmony and Jason, from Shades’ board, continue to speak out, working within the system, the Church will continue to change for the better.

  7. Nonny Reply

    Another great podcast. You guys are doing a great job producing these. I found myself responding aloud to the comments as I listened.

  8. Nonny Reply

    Another great podcast. You guys are doing a great job producing these. I found myself responding aloud to the comments as I listened.

  9. Mike Michaels Reply

    An excellent discussion! As my wife and I navigate the waters of our 20th anniversary year and how our lives have turned out, we ask all of these questions of ourselves, each other, and our Mormon and post-Mormon friends on a regular basis. We are the fortunate ones.

    You should consider a future podcast on the subject of when/how these marriages don’t work out. My wife’s brother had a disastrous temple marriage his first go round. Discussion topics could include poor counseling by LDS leaders (at all levels), compatibility, maturity, change, etc…

    Thanks for tackling a difficult subject. I wish the high church leaders and church culture would exercise more wisdom on this subject.

  10. Mike Michaels Reply

    An excellent discussion! As my wife and I navigate the waters of our 20th anniversary year and how our lives have turned out, we ask all of these questions of ourselves, each other, and our Mormon and post-Mormon friends on a regular basis. We are the fortunate ones.

    You should consider a future podcast on the subject of when/how these marriages don’t work out. My wife’s brother had a disastrous temple marriage his first go round. Discussion topics could include poor counseling by LDS leaders (at all levels), compatibility, maturity, change, etc…

    Thanks for tackling a difficult subject. I wish the high church leaders and church culture would exercise more wisdom on this subject.

  11. Mike Michaels Reply

    I don’t think he would be willing to talk about it on a public forum. Even though the divorce was formalized many years ago and he has remarried in the temple, the affects of his first marriage are still present and causing difficulties in his life.

  12. Mike Michaels Reply

    I don’t think he would be willing to talk about it on a public forum. Even though the divorce was formalized many years ago and he has remarried in the temple, the affects of his first marriage are still present and causing difficulties in his life.

  13. Mike Michaels Reply

    I don’t think he would be willing to talk about it on a public forum. Even though the divorce was formalized many years ago and he has remarried in the temple, the affects of his first marriage are still present and causing difficulties in his life.

  14. George Reply

    This was an awesome discussion. I could have kept listening to the 6 of you for another hour. Well done.

    The item about when “normal” couple first have sex compared with when LDS couples first have it doesn’t seem right. Does it really take 6-12 months for a couple meeting, dating, turning it sexual really take as long as an LDS couple to meet/date/marry?? I would think it is like on the movies and by the 3rd date, they are in the sack.

    Great job with the panel. Really liked the discussion.

  15. George Reply

    This was an awesome discussion. I could have kept listening to the 6 of you for another hour. Well done.

    The item about when “normal” couple first have sex compared with when LDS couples first have it doesn’t seem right. Does it really take 6-12 months for a couple meeting, dating, turning it sexual really take as long as an LDS couple to meet/date/marry?? I would think it is like on the movies and by the 3rd date, they are in the sack.

    Great job with the panel. Really liked the discussion.

  16. George Reply

    This was an awesome discussion. I could have kept listening to the 6 of you for another hour. Well done.

    The item about when “normal” couple first have sex compared with when LDS couples first have it doesn’t seem right. Does it really take 6-12 months for a couple meeting, dating, turning it sexual really take as long as an LDS couple to meet/date/marry?? I would think it is like on the movies and by the 3rd date, they are in the sack.

    Great job with the panel. Really liked the discussion.

  17. Swearing Elder Reply

    The way the Mormon Church/Culture pushes early marriage is one of its most destructive practices. It robs people of important life experiences and the ability to get ready for adulthood. I know that some marry young and make it work, but that doesn’t mean it is a good model to push on the youth of the church. Thanks for an insightful podcast.

  18. Swearing Elder Reply

    The way the Mormon Church/Culture pushes early marriage is one of its most destructive practices. It robs people of important life experiences and the ability to get ready for adulthood. I know that some marry young and make it work, but that doesn’t mean it is a good model to push on the youth of the church. Thanks for an insightful podcast.

  19. Swearing Elder Reply

    The way the Mormon Church/Culture pushes early marriage is one of its most destructive practices. It robs people of important life experiences and the ability to get ready for adulthood. I know that some marry young and make it work, but that doesn’t mean it is a good model to push on the youth of the church. Thanks for an insightful podcast.

  20. Vin Reply

    Coming in late here, but just wanted to add some feedback.

    I myself, single until late 20s, never felt much pressure from the culture or the Church, but did feel an increasing amount of concern that the dating pool was shrinking.

    I ended up getting engaged to a girl after only dating for a month, and I kind of told God to bless us and felt that it was simply a leap of faith and in His hands, i.e. I transferred accountability to Him. The rushed engagement turned out to be a disaster, and I felt the participation of providence in its failure. I had naively followed the example of others in the church that had taken a similar approach. Really dodged a bullet there.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I felt that it was culturally acceptable to make rash decisions as some sort of demonstration of my faith and commitment. I swore I’d never do it again, and the lessons learned have greatly benefited me.

  21. Vin Reply

    Coming in late here, but just wanted to add some feedback.

    I myself, single until late 20s, never felt much pressure from the culture or the Church, but did feel an increasing amount of concern that the dating pool was shrinking.

    I ended up getting engaged to a girl after only dating for a month, and I kind of told God to bless us and felt that it was simply a leap of faith and in His hands, i.e. I transferred accountability to Him. The rushed engagement turned out to be a disaster, and I felt the participation of providence in its failure. I had naively followed the example of others in the church that had taken a similar approach. Really dodged a bullet there.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I felt that it was culturally acceptable to make rash decisions as some sort of demonstration of my faith and commitment. I swore I’d never do it again, and the lessons learned have greatly benefited me.

  22. Shlooper Reply

    I am a little late commenting here, I thought this was an interesting podcast. I am in my early 20s, (and not married) but most of the girls who were with me in church are married. Out of about 13 girls who were in classes with me 11 of them are married or engaged right now. I live in the midwest, not in the corridor, so my personal experience supports that it is still very common to marry young. Also within my family, four out of my five sisters got married within a month of turning 20. Furthermore, one of my sisters got a divorce, and there was a lot of pressure for her to remarry as quickly as possible. I think that it was interesting that the pressure instantly returned.

    I would say that a lot of the pressure comes from young women lessons, and hearing every week that marriage is what we are supposed to do, and careers ect. are just in case you cannot get married. Also, a reason why they got married so quickly, is like Holly said, temple weddings do not require all the planning that traditional ceremonies take.

    I thought this was a great podcast.

  23. Shlooper Reply

    I am a little late commenting here, I thought this was an interesting podcast. I am in my early 20s, (and not married) but most of the girls who were with me in church are married. Out of about 13 girls who were in classes with me 11 of them are married or engaged right now. I live in the midwest, not in the corridor, so my personal experience supports that it is still very common to marry young. Also within my family, four out of my five sisters got married within a month of turning 20. Furthermore, one of my sisters got a divorce, and there was a lot of pressure for her to remarry as quickly as possible. I think that it was interesting that the pressure instantly returned.

    I would say that a lot of the pressure comes from young women lessons, and hearing every week that marriage is what we are supposed to do, and careers ect. are just in case you cannot get married. Also, a reason why they got married so quickly, is like Holly said, temple weddings do not require all the planning that traditional ceremonies take.

    I thought this was a great podcast.

  24. Shlooper Reply

    I am a little late commenting here, I thought this was an interesting podcast. I am in my early 20s, (and not married) but most of the girls who were with me in church are married. Out of about 13 girls who were in classes with me 11 of them are married or engaged right now. I live in the midwest, not in the corridor, so my personal experience supports that it is still very common to marry young. Also within my family, four out of my five sisters got married within a month of turning 20. Furthermore, one of my sisters got a divorce, and there was a lot of pressure for her to remarry as quickly as possible. I think that it was interesting that the pressure instantly returned.

    I would say that a lot of the pressure comes from young women lessons, and hearing every week that marriage is what we are supposed to do, and careers ect. are just in case you cannot get married. Also, a reason why they got married so quickly, is like Holly said, temple weddings do not require all the planning that traditional ceremonies take.

    I thought this was a great podcast.

  25. Mister IT Reply

    I’ve just had lunch with my Utah Mormon Brother. The conversation drifted over to this topic and he told me that the GA is now instructing Mormon singles to NOT engage in short courtships.

    He said that this has been stated in Conference several times now and that it’s been “tricking” down to the Bishop level for several years.

    He said that young people – men and women – are now being encouraging to finish their college degree prior to marrying and are being advised to court for at least 12-months prior to getting engaged.

    Could someone please confirm this for me? I often that this anecdotal evidence tends to be as good the “paper” that it’s published on so I don’t want to start citing LdS Church changes that aren’t verifiable.

    Thanks all!

    Oh, another great episode. I was riveted to my MP3 player – couldn’t stop listening!

  26. Mister IT Reply

    I’ve just had lunch with my Utah Mormon Brother. The conversation drifted over to this topic and he told me that the GA is now instructing Mormon singles to NOT engage in short courtships.

    He said that this has been stated in Conference several times now and that it’s been “tricking” down to the Bishop level for several years.

    He said that young people – men and women – are now being encouraging to finish their college degree prior to marrying and are being advised to court for at least 12-months prior to getting engaged.

    Could someone please confirm this for me? I often that this anecdotal evidence tends to be as good the “paper” that it’s published on so I don’t want to start citing LdS Church changes that aren’t verifiable.

    Thanks all!

    Oh, another great episode. I was riveted to my MP3 player – couldn’t stop listening!

  27. Mister IT Reply

    I’ve just had lunch with my Utah Mormon Brother. The conversation drifted over to this topic and he told me that the GA is now instructing Mormon singles to NOT engage in short courtships.

    He said that this has been stated in Conference several times now and that it’s been “tricking” down to the Bishop level for several years.

    He said that young people – men and women – are now being encouraging to finish their college degree prior to marrying and are being advised to court for at least 12-months prior to getting engaged.

    Could someone please confirm this for me? I often that this anecdotal evidence tends to be as good the “paper” that it’s published on so I don’t want to start citing LdS Church changes that aren’t verifiable.

    Thanks all!

    Oh, another great episode. I was riveted to my MP3 player – couldn’t stop listening!

  28. Erin Reply

    I am listening to this podcasts (several episodes) for a university class I am taking. Most interesting homework I have ever done. Really enjoying the discussions. The class is a women studies class Feminism, Sexuality and Religion.

  29. Jean Bodie Reply

    Hey, that is Gold Hill; I know that place in the first picture; it is not far from my former home in Poole, Dorset.
    Just going to listen to podcast.

  30. Jean Bodie Reply

    Greg, you do not get the temple penalties inflicted on you by being naughty though; that is not strictly true. It specifically says if you reveal anything that you have learned in the temple, which is very little really except for getting your mind blown away that god needs you to learn handshakes new names and the altar dance.

    The expectations required of missionaries is so unfeeling and that really came through in Scott’s story of his cousin’s suicide. Sending him home for doing what human beings need to do when they are grieving is just cruel and unusual punishment.

    I know a missionary whose parents were getting divorced and he was sad and crying while talking to the MP who fell asleep during the conversation.

    We had that accident on the second day of our mission, loads of injuries, son-in-law died 12 weeks later; still nobody said, “What do you need to do for yourselves?|

    You don’t do anything for yourself on mission, you are serving the church FIRST so you ‘cowboy up’ and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    Well, I guess that is life in the church in a nutshell. Glad you guys could find the courage to leave it all behind so that you can experience the fulness and richness of life beyond Mormonism.

  31. Anonymous Reply

    I loved the interview; these two hours went by very quickly.  Many of your comments resonated and it was great to hear more from both of you.  I love the fact that you represent a healthy and happy family/couple post-Mormon. 

    Your work on the NOM board does make a difference.  I appreciate your attitude towards the Church now, that it does work for some and make some happy.  

    What I loved the most was your “un-testimonies” at the end of the interview.  I agree wholeheartedly in your approach to life.  You exemplify the beauty of a balanced and fair approach to the Church, to faith crisis, and life in general.

    Raising a glass to your continued happiness and in gratitude to your contribution.  Peace to you both!

    PS The bumper music is wonderful.  I am a huge fan of McCall’s music!

  32. Anonymous Reply

    Look at that Scott, you are allowed to say whatever you want at Mormon Expression. It would be nice if you extended the same courtesy to John Larsen at NOM.

    • Scott Martin Reply

      I am really not sure how to answer that. All I can say is that NOM is a different animal than ME.

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