Because of the reviews I've been doing on the Pearl's book, I've been thinking a lot about my marriage, who I am, and what I expected life to be.
I never thought I would get married. I was always a fat, weird child. Too outspoken, too different. I was never content to sit quietly with the other girls. I remember when I was 14. We had just moved to the town I would graduate High School from. The LDS church in the town was very small. Like 30 people on a good day, small. It was my first time at that branch, so I was shy, quiet, and more or less polite. About 3 weeks later, once I had gotten used to everything, I became more like myself. The Branch President's (akin to pastor) wife remarked at how much I'd changed. "I thought you were different." She told me. "You seemed so much better a few weeks ago. You'll never get married with an attitude like that!"
I thought about that for years. What was my "attitude" exactly? Well, for one thing, I have problems with male authority. I grew up in a single-parent house. For all intents and purposes, I was the man of the house. Until my mom got remarried. (Nightmare. I'm not even going to get into that) But I've always had issues with men saying "I'm the man. Do this..."
Which creates problems for a Mormon girl, because that is your whole life. We are taught from a very young age to "honor and obey" the priesthood. In Young Women's, we are given lessons on how obedience is a virtue we should cultivate all our lives. Obey your father, Bishop, Stake President, Prophet. On one hand, they say "We don't want blind followers-think for yourself." On the other, those who do -and have the audacity to publicly question-are isolated or shamed.
But I'm digressing. Suffice it to say, the more I thought about marriage (good, Mormon marriage), the more I realised that I would never get it. I would never be the size 4 Molly who wants nothing more than to be a homemaker and raise tons of children. I always wanted to change the world. I didn't know how I would do it, but that was always my goal. I thought staying at home taking care of kids would be a nightmare. And when I tried to discuss my feelings with my leaders, I was either told: "there's a place in this church for everyone" or "Well, let's work on XYZ so you'll be ready to be a wife."
In college, when I found enough confidence to ask someone out, I realized that a lot of my preconceived ideas were right. I wasn't what Mormon guys wanted. At least the LDS guys in my area.
So what do Mormon guys want? Well, according to this study:
1. Being a good parent: 9.46
2. Being temple worthy: 9.43
3. Being a great spouse: 9.13
4. Being compassionate: 9.03
5. Being a good listener: 8.60
6. Having a sense of humor: 8.57
7. Being intelligent: 8.13
8. Being healthy and physically fit: 7.61
9. Being physically attractive: 7.13
10. Being the spiritual leader in their home: 7.11
11. Protecting their family physically: 6.64
12. Making a difference in the world: 6.4
13. Being able to be the final decision maker in big matters: 5.87
14. Being successful financially: 5.04
15. Having a successful career: 4.36
This seems to say that what Mormon men want is a pretty, temple-worthy spouse who will be a good wife and mom. Things like decision making, careers, and protecting the family are waaaay down at the bottom of the list. Oh. And look. There's changing the world. Right at #12.
I also think it's interesting that intelligence is in the middle. As an intelligent woman, I can tell you that LDS men don't want a smart wife. At least smart in the way where she would catch your logical fallacies, have differing opinions (and not be afraid to share them), and want to make her own choices. They want a wife that is smart, but agreeable.
The interesting thing is the more I read the Pearl's books, the more triggers I am coming across. All these things that Michael says a wife should be, Mormonism agrees with. Sometimes less radically, but the undertones are the same. The more I read, the more afraid I get that my poor husband got a bad deal.
He says I'm exactly what he wants (and to be fair, his words and actions match up), but I am always afraid. I'm scared because the ghost of Molly Mormon has followed me around for the past 10 years telling me I'm will never be a good wife. If I'm not a housewife, if I want a career, if I don't loving prepare meals for my adoring family, if I don't go to the temple as often as I can, if I don't pay tithing, serve in my calling, visit teach, do genealogy. If I don't do the hundreds of things women are supposed to do, cheerfully and full-heartedly, I will never be happy. I will never be the type of wife my husband needs, or wants.
This type of thinking is toxic. It also explains why Utah women have the highest rate of anti-depressant use. Because there is no competing with perfect. And all anyone ever shows or talks about is perfection. I'm far from perfect, and have accepted that. What I can't always accept is that my husband wants more from me than to be an airhead.
So I asked my him what the top 10 things he likes about me are.
1. You're smart
2. You're pretty
3. You are a good cook
4. You are nice to me
5. You comfort me when I'm sad
6. We have fun together
7. I love you...wait...should that be first?
8. You take care of me
9. You love kitties and PillowPets and lots of things
10. You tell me what you want (sometimes it's confusing, but that's OK)
It's interesting how much his list of traits differs from what an average Mormon guy wants. I don't know if it's because this list is specific to me, or because he didn't grow up LDS. Maybe that's the rub. He didn't grow up LDS, so he wasn't cultured to want a specific type. Which makes me think. If we're going to raise children, I would rather them make choices based on their likes/dislikes/experiences/needs rather than to be told they should strive for an LDS checklist of traits.
Some days are harder than others to shake the Mormon out of my psyche.