Thursday, July 30, 2020

Public Service Announcement No. 2

As a single person -- and especially as a single person in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- I heard a barrage of negative statements about marriage:
  • "Marriage is work."
  • "Marriage is hard work."
  • "Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done."
  • "Marriage all about compromise."
  • "Don't expect perfection in a partner; look for someone who you can work with."
As a result, I think, single people expect a relationship to be difficult. They expect it to be fraught with problems and serious conversations and plenty of downs to go along with the ups. They stay in relationships that are tiring, painful, and even dangerous because they think, "Well, it's supposed to be hard, after all."

A few months ago, one of my best friends called to chat. She talked about the dates she had been on with one man in particular. "He's nice and good and active in church, but . . . I'm just not interested. I don't feel attracted to him. I just don't know what to do!"

Here's what I told her: Don't go out with him anymore!

And more to the point, here's what I would tell all single people, especially single people in their 30s and older: Marriage is "work" as much as anything else in life is, but it shouldn't be the hardest thing you've ever done. Yes, you have serious conversations and arguments in marriage, but you also have serious conversations and arguments in friendships. You have serious conversations and arguments with family members and work colleagues. The difference between marriage and all of those other relationships is that you can choose someone who's easy for you to get along with! You can choose someone to marry who makes marriage -- and life -- seem less like work.

To that end, who you date has a lot to do with things. Date people who are fun to be around! Date people who make you feel comfortable, who help you to relax, who make good conversation, and who encourage you to pursue the activities and hobbies you enjoy. Dating shouldn't be hard, it shouldn't be a drag, and it definitely shouldn't be something that stresses you out. If you remember this and date people you love to be around, then marriage will be the same. It won't be hard, it won't be a drag, and it definitely won't be something that stresses you out.

Now, a note to married people: Stop setting horrible expectations for marriage! Talk about the things you like about your partner. Remember how it felt to be lonely, and think about all the ways your partner makes your life better. Separate the work of raising children from marriage itself, and remember how nice it is to move through life with someone. Talk about the fun you had when you were dating your partner, and the things that made you choose to marry him or her. Give single people a model they can follow and an idea they can look forward to, rather than a bleak outlook of what you think they should expect. If your own marriage is bleak, then focus on making some changes, but don't ruin marriage or the idea of marriage for others who want it. I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite social media stars, Tabitha Brown: "Go on 'bout your business. Have the most amazing day. But even if you can't have a good one, don't you dare go messin' up nobody else's, hear?"

Thing I'm thankful for: a mother who taught me that dating should be fun!

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Get Thee to An Asian Market!

I just got home from a monster grocery trip. Daryl wants to try making ramen, and we've been into Mediterranean food lately, so I had to go to three grocery stores! Here's how I did it:
  1. Macey's -- typical American fare
  2. Trader Joe's -- tahini paste and the best granola around
  3. Orem's Asian market -- all the weird stuff that I can't even begin to pronounce
But let me tell you something: I LOVE grocery shopping! I probably did too much today because now my back hurts from standing so long, but good grief! I love it! I especially love the Asian market. It's like treasure-hunting or playing Where's Waldo because I have zero idea what I'm looking for. Nori! La-yu! Mirin! Bonito flakes! It's just a bunch of nonsense until I look it up on Google . . . Thank goodness for Google. Phew!*

Here's what, though: As I walked around the Asian market, I gained an appreciation for immigrants. It's such a challenge to make your way around something as normal as a grocery store when you don't speak the language. I felt mentally tired from trying to make sense of Japanese and Chinese, even though I had the safety net of being in America. What must it be like for immigrants? What must it be like to know that you have to learn a new language for the basic necessities of life? And that when you walk out the door, you still won't really know what's going on? Additionally, the foods you're used to aren't in any of the regular, you-can-find-one-anywhere kind of stores; they're in out-of-the-way specialty markets. What a headache!

I'm sure any of you who've lived abroad or served an LDS Church mission know these feelings all too well, and maybe you're even laughing at me a little. That's fine, but . . . I want you to remember those feelings, especially now, when international travel is severely stifled. Remember what it's like to be new, to be out of your element, to be confused.

It's important, I think, to experience those feelings every once in a while -- even in your own country. It forces you to be grateful for a home or to put yourself in someone else's shoes. It forces you to grow.

What a crazy, wonderful, diverse world we live in. I love it!

*No, it's not the first time I've been to an Asian market, but it's the first time I went to buy a long list of unfamiliar ingredients.

Thing I'm thankful for: the almond cookies I found at the Asian market. I hope they taste just like my best friend's mom's cookies I ate as a child! (She is Taiwanese.)