One of my favorite nephews just got engaged. He is 21, a recent RM and has been dating his now fiance for about 6 months. They plan to marry in August. The classic Mormon RM story.
She comes from a wealthy background. He is just starting school and has no idea what he will do to support his family. He stays at our house several days a week while attending school, and over the years we have done a lot together. We both have a passion for basketball, and have played numerous hotly contested games of one on one, two on two and three on three against each other over the years. He is, incidentially, about 5’10” and nicely dunks the basketball.
I saw him this morning for the first time since I heard the news. We were alone at the breakfast table. The conversation went something like this:
B: Well, if it isnâ€™t Mr. Nucking Futs!
N: Huh? Ooooh!! Thanks a lot Uncle Bob for that vote of confidence.
B: Youâ€™re welcome. Seriously, youâ€™re nuts. And I am one of the few people who know you well enough, and love you enough, to give you the straight goods.
N: I appreciate that. But weâ€™ve thought about this carefully, and waited for a lot longer than some people said we should so that we could make a careful decision. We â€¦.
B: (Laughing out loud) Youâ€™ve waited along time?!! How long? Six months!?
N: Seven (laughing).
B: (Still laughing) You canâ€™t even tell me that with a straight face!
N: You were laughing and making me laugh. Thatâ€™s not fair!
B: Come on. Seriously, I am going to tell you what I think because I care a lot about you. I donâ€™t expect that you are going to listen to me and say, â€œOh, Uncle Bob thinks I shouldnâ€™t get married so I wonâ€™t.â€ But I can assure you that there will be some significant bumps in the road between now and when you pull the pin on this, and when you hit those bumps I hope you will remember what I have to say and hear alarm bells ring.
You are making a decision with your little head instead of your big one. I understand how that works because I made a similar decision. Mormonism has you in a box that way. Your body and mind are both screaming at you that it is time for you to consummate a relationship both physically and emotionally, and there is only one way a faithful Mormon can do that â€“ by getting married.
N: Uncle Bob, its not about that. We love being together â€¦
B: Plllleeeeese. Let me finish. Thatâ€™s what they all say. That is what I said too. I donâ€™t doubt that you love being together.
We make most of our decisions based on our perception of probabilities. Some decisions, like the one you are making, are exceptions to that rule. They are based on emotion. And those are often the worst decisions.
The statistics, and hence the probabiliites, are clear. People who marry as young as you two are divorce more often and have less satisfying marriages than those who marry later in life when they both know more about who they are, what is important to them, etc.
N: We are going to grow up together.
B: Maybe. But the statistics say that a lot of people who marry as youung as you are don’t grow together. They grow apart and that causes trouble for them. What makes you think you are exempt from what seems to be the rule for everyone else?
N: We will choose to make it work. That’s why.
B: That is a great attitude. And it would have a much better chance of working if you were not handicapping yourself as you are.
Why do you think people in Utah use more anti-depressants than anyone else in North America? Why do you think the personal bankruptcy rate is higher in Utah than anywhere else in the US? This likely has something to do with when and how people marry and have families in Utah.
N: Those statistics have nothing to do with me.
B: Really? If you think statistics donâ€™t apply to you, you are dreaming in Technicolor. Does gravity apply to you?
What about this statistic. Your beloved is a wonderful girl, but all she knows is a lavish life style. You had better make one hell of a lot of money boy.
N: You donâ€™t know her like I do. We have talked a lot about that. She knows it will be tough for us for a while. She is ready for that.
B: I donâ€™t doubt that she said it, and means it. But she has only lived one way. If you ask her long term to live another, I am willing to bet that it will be tougher than she can imagine, and that will make it tough on you. Sexual incompatibility and money are the two primary causes of divorce and marital unhappiness. You know nothing (I presume) about your sexual compatibility and you know about the only kind of lifestyle she has lived and, frankly, there is only a slim chance you can deliver anything close to that. This is a bad bet boy. Believe me.
N: That’s for the advice.
B: You are committing yourself to a lifestyle you have no idea whether you can supply. I have worked my ass off for the same reason, and I have been lucky. I would much rather have not made the commitment to bring in all of that income, had more choice as to what I could do to earn a living as a result, and had more liesure time. I know you, and have a pretty good idea that you are not going to like the grind you are probably in for.
N: It might be good for me to have a gun to my head. I need to work harder; to get more focussed.
B: I have never heard a worse reason to get married than the one you just gave me. You are making me more worried instead of less.
By the way, I have seen you hit lots of jump shots from just outside the three-point line. You take that shot because you know you can hit it. Right?
B: But you donâ€™t take shots from three steps out from there. Why?
N: Obviously because that is outside my range.
B: But an inexperience player might jack up shots outside his range, right? Shots that would make an experienced player like you cringe because he knows that their chance of going is in poor. Right?
B: You see where I am going with this?
B: You are pulling up for a shot just inside of center Buddy, but because you have no experience in this game you don’t even no it. And I have played this game for almost 25 years, and am cringing. What should that tell you? Who knows more about this game, me or you? Who is not emotional about this decision, me or you?
N: Thatâ€™s your opinion. None of what you say means anything about my situation.
This went on for a while, with plenty of joking interspersed with the serious stuff. DW then came into the room and in her own, must more understated way, basically said the same thing I had. Then I told our nephew that despite what I said, I truly hoped that it worked out well for him, and I left the room. While I was gone, the following ensued.
â€œN: Aunt Juli, you have to trust me on this. I have prayed about what I am doing and I feel certain it is the right thing.
J: (Smiling as wickedly as she can, which is not very wickedly) I received the same confirmation before I married your Uncle Bob.â€
That, it seems, stopped the young man in his tracks. It was the only thing that was said to him this morning that made him even pause. Aunt Juli received spiritual confirmation that God wanted her to marry Uncle Bob, and now Uncle Bob is a rank apostate. How does that work? Hmmm.
All I can take credit for is an assist. Had I not started the conservation, DW could not have finished it. And of course, I doubt that either what I said or what she said will have any effect on what happens.
All the best