Clem, a coworker in our sister department, is apparently getting married. It seems like it was just yesterday that he had a moderate crush on Mouse and was lamenting how difficult it was to meet girls around here.

It wasn’t yesterday, but it was less than six weeks ago.

For the record, Clem is 21 years old.

One of my coworker Marcel’s friends also announced his engagement, three weeks after Marcel introduced to two of them.

The Cranstons, the family we live with, have four daughters. I’ve mentioned Becki, the youngest and only unmarried and childless Cranston. The oldest, about my age (29), is married with four children. The other two have three or four kids between them (or will, hopefully, once her/their pregnancy/pregnancies lapse).

Many moons ago I very much loved a girl named Julie. She and I dated for almost five years when I started considering popping the question. The reaction among those I told was uniform: You’re too young, don’t do it!

I was 23.

Of all the differences between the southern metropolis of Colosse and Mocum here in the Deseret ‘burbs, the most apparent to me (in part because I work with young people, mostly) is the timetable. In Colosse, as with most big cities outside of Deseret, you’re expected to date through most of your twenties, start thinking about marriage at 25 at the earliest, try to be married by thirty, then have kids a few years after that.

Not that I believe in the big city model. It underestimates a woman’s decline in fertility after thirty and (subjectively) it causes problems down the line when the parents can’t see their grandkids graduate from high school.

I discussed the issue with Clancy last night and we both reminisced about how little we knew of ourselves at 21 and how much we had to learn about life in general. On the other hand, a good argument could be made that if you fully form by yourself, sacrificing the “me” for the “we” becomes much harder.

Nationally, the average first-time groom is 27 and first-time bride is 24. Most urban centers like Colosse pull that number up while rural areas pull that number back down. Deseret is somewhat unique in that even in Gazelem, our urban capitol city, that number is probably being pulled down.

In a state-by-state comparison of divorces per capita (“Divorce Rate”), for all it’s religiosity Deseret is actually midling (#27). The reason that it’s not higher is probably because of the church that so emphasizes family and marriage. Or perhaps I should say encourages young marriage and strongly, strongly discourages premarital sex. From what I understand, they actually “check” to see if you’re a virgin before allowing you to marry in a temple. Though that could be urban legend, a couple LDS coworkers recently discussed a particular GYN whose job it was to check. So I don’t know.

But in any case, the cultural pressure to get married young coupled with a biological pressure to have sex doubling back to a cultural pressure not to have sex (in any manifestation, including masterbation I think) before marriage undoubtedly leads to more than a couple of ill-advised marriages. It certainly leads to a lot more marriages, young or old, wise or dumb.

Viewed in that context, Deseret’s midling divorce rate actually becomes somewhat impressive. Southern states (including my own) that have large rural tracts where people marry young and get married more don’t do nearly as well as Deseret does.

In fact, if one were able to come up with a marriage/divorce ratio (“Marriage Success Rate”), I’d imagine that Deseret would do pretty well. The south would probably do a lot better as well. Most of the states with the lowest Divorce Rates (most located in the northeast) would probably not have as good looking Marriage Success Rate.

So the question is whether or not it’s acceptable to have more failed marriages for even more successful ones or whether it is not, in fact, better to have married and lost than never to have married at all.


Category: Church

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4 Responses to The Temple’s Timetable

  1. Hit Coffee » Religion in the Workplace says:

    […] e at FalStaff seems to be given to what I call Good Soldiers, those that are living by the Temple’s timetable. Wildcat had the same insider-outsider mentality. But here’s the rub: I th […]

  2. Beth says:

    there is no physical checking of any such thing before going to the temple. However, you do meet with the Bishop and Stake leaders to talk about and declare your worthiness to go… just had to set the record straight.

  3. Hit Coffee » Profiles in Dislike: The Golden Boys says:

    […] n, though Charlie butted in with his usual bitter rant about marriage. Clem dated his wife a couple weeks before marrying her. Considering that he’s roughly 21 and just back from Mission, it […]

  4. trumwill says:

    Beth,

    You know more about these things than I, though the rumor is persistent even among Mormon boys out here. If not required, is it ever done or is it just one of those things repeated in whispers long enough that none of the boys actually ask?

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