I’m Sorry…But Marriage Won’t Fix Me

By: Ramona Morris

As I near my thirtieth year of life, life seems to remind me that I’m getting older.

In a church where marriage is at the forefront of membership, I am past my prime. At 29 years old, I’ve recognized that silent ageism exists within church walls.

Growing up, I referred to myself a ‘realist’. I experienced the highs of marriage and the crushing lows from the examples around me. I valued love for what it truly was and not for the fairytale many claimed it would be.

At my age, I should be married with at least 2.5 kids to sweeten the deal.  In the eyes of many, I’m simply a lost cause due to my belief that I shouldn’t settle for convenient love. I’ve been told that I will never get married and that I’m too ugly for any man to find me attractive by leadership over the years.

Once upon a time these words seemed tattooed to my skin as I adjusted my morals to accept the bare minimum from potential suitors. What followed was heartbreak after heartbreak which I tried my best to endure for the sake of being sealed for time and all eternity.

I’d like to think that if I married young, I would’ve been divorced a long time ago. The men dated in my early twenties taught lessons on finding resilience and inner strength but left me with emotional scars that still run deep.

In time, I learned to value family and to sacrifice for those you loved. Instead of focusing on my dating life, I dedicated my twenties to my grandmother’s care. This caused tensions with my boyfriend at the time and eventually caused the relationship to come to a screeching halt.

 A few years later, I joined the church. By now, I had fallen into the cozy comfort of singleness. I took no pleasure in hurrying love or keeping up with the marriage-hungry missionaries who got married 2.5 seconds after returning from their mission.

As time passed, more pressure than ever was placed on securing time and all eternity…even at the risk of my happiness and mental health.

I began to feel lost, broken and less valuable if I wasn’t married. I started to express my disdain for the practice of “marriage for the sake of marriage”, fighting against the controlling culture surrounding young single adults to seek an eternal partner.It didn’t matter that I spent most of 2021 trying to fix my mental health and fighting against the daily suicidal feelings related to my post-covid after-symptoms. All that mattered was that I was single and needed to be “FIXED”.

I sacrificed so much of my life to making other people happy and taking care of everyone’s needs before my own. If I choose to make selfish decisions now, why does that automatically make me a bad person?

I started to value friendships over love connections and to carefully pray during the dating process. Most of all, I learned my limits, boundaries, and possible red flags that I had been immune to in the past.

I began traveling more, visiting places I had only seen in postcards. I became the captain of the “Catch Flights Not Feelings” club, determined to take life at my own pace.

I was expected to date conveniently simply because someone was in my proximity and not because I could see them as a good fit in my life. I was accused of being cold, snarky, and even love avoidant when I marched to the beat of my own drum and even “walling” myself up to avoid being hurt.

I was expected to rush love connections and to see everyone with marriage in mind…even from the first meeting. I was expected to take up the heavy lifting of fixing someone in my role of “priesthood support”.

Eventually, weddings stopped sparking joy within me. I began to feel numb when engagements were announced and felt less excitement during virtual weddings. Something within me during the years had broken, seemingly dislodged by the silent pressure of being single in a family-oriented church. Marriage seemed more predictable in my eyes as I could often gauge how long it would take someone to get engaged once they started dating.

Most would probably think this means that I hate love. I don’t. I understand that love is pure and magical when experienced with the right person. I recognized that love in its purest most beautiful form isn’t convenient, isn’t showy or performative or even in competition with others.

Love is beautiful and sacred. It takes no prisoners, yet it claims no ransom. It pulls, tugs and hits hard without aggression. And like many, I crave it… yet I am waiting for a love that is sure and can stand the test of time instead of having something in comparison with my friends.

In the process of dating and failing, I’ve recognized the things I deserve. The things that speak to my heart and rebuild it brick by brick after every disappointment.

Now that I’m about to leave my twenties behind, I care less about what people think about my life decisions and more about what makes me happy. Other opinions be damned.

I learned what I did and did not deserve and stuck by my guns calling off potentially abusive relationships.

I owe it to myself to determine what I want…when I want it and who I choose to share my future with.

I owe it to myself to choose my timing and to determine the moment I begin and end

I owe it to myself to choose for myself…not to choose someone for the sake of being removed from the shelf like a precious china doll.

I owe it to myself to choose carefully and to be cautious yet receptive to love

Love is patient… it can’t be rushed.

In a church that favors marriage, I can acknowledge that even when the music stops, and I am standing alone that I feel comfort in knowing that my love has no timeline other than what I set for it. I can know that I validate myself instead of feeling represented by a band of gold.

And I’m fine either way my life swings.

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9 Responses

  1. Katie Rich says:

    “I can know that I validate myself instead of feeling represented by a band of gold.” Amen!

  2. nicolesbitani says:

    This is not only so important for single folks to hear, but it’s crucial for married people in the Church to listen and realize the pressure they are putting on singles – even if well-meaning – can be so damaging. Thank you for this excellent post!

  3. Larry Mann says:

    Of course you want to find love and have love in your life – we ALL do . . . but the Church’s emphasis isn’t really on love; no, it’s on reproduction. Marriage is only an accessory to reproduction. So they push marriage.
    We’ve all heard “Families Are Forever” more times than we can count, but it’s not a slogan about the joys of love. It’s about eternal reproduction.
    You take baby making out of Mormonism, and what are you left with?
    Well, maybe you’re left with love – but that’s not what Mormonism is about.
    That’s the first thing anyone needs to understand about Mormonism.
    It’s NOT about love.

    • Em says:

      That hasn’t been my experience. I’m sorry it had been yours. For me membership in the church has been entirely about love – loving the Savior, loving God, loving others. I think the focus on marriage and reproduction can sometimes skew our discourse towards an emphasis on family live at the expense of the wider charity God calls us to live. That is a flaw I think we need to address.

  4. Serena says:

    Ramona Morris, WHY do you stay in a church that has this inane mentality of marriage?? And do NOT believe that you are too ugly to get married!! Heavens! Your beauty is sophisticated and strikingly chic and lovely! It baffles the mind that you would have to battle these things at the young age of 29! Leave and find your happiness because it cannot be dependent on ANYONE but you!

    • Em says:

      I don’t know you at all Serena. I agree with all your kind words about Ramona. But the Exponent needs to be a safe place for people to be where they are in relation to the Church – why she stays is her business and her call, and she doesn’t need to justify that decision. I would say the same to a poster who left the church if a commenter asked why she didn’t just come back. I can tell you feel strongly and have personal experiences that inform your stance. Please make comments of this kind about you and your life, rather than implying Ramona is wrong to stay despite real issues. Active, not active, former member, future member, culturally mormon — whatever our relationship to the church woman’s voices are welcome here without justifying where they stand with membership. Tell us more about why this post hit you so hard!

    • nicolesbitani says:

      As a fellow nuanced and active member of the Church, I found much of Ramona’s post resonated with me. It’s not helpful to feel judged on the inside for your nuanced perspective and judged on the outside for not making the exact same choices others might. She deserves respect, not ridicule or being told what to do.

  5. spunky says:

    Amen, my dear. I wasn’t married until the ripe old age of 30. I remember feeling the “old maid” vibes at church when I was 24…. and also having co-workers tell me that, “24 is when I got married for the first time.” I took that as a mantra. I wanted to be happy more than I wanted to be married. It does feel contradictory to church culture, but I reminded myself that again and again and again. Sending you love and blessings on your beautiful, spiritual, amazing journey.

  6. In response to Serena’s comments to Ramona, which I believe to be sincere and caring, as she wonders why Ramona has stayed in her religion I would like to add the following. Whether individually or collectively, and in the Church or not, we are responsible to be better by not passing judgment on one another. Unfortunately, as human beings we all falter from time to time, we can be quick to judge one another on one topic or another. The famous quote from Jesus would stand true in this case as well “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone…” There should be higher expectations on members of the Church, we must quickly understand that we are not following the prophets and apostles, and especially not the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we are judgmental since this is not how we are taught to behave. One would only need to go back and read the many years of general conference talks to know this to be true. https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference?lang=eng
    President Uchtdorf once stated “Judging others? Stop it. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2012-03-1170-judging-others-stop-it?lang=eng

    Ramona’s story is heart-wrenching, to say the least. I think she is very mature in her thoughts, about marriage. Too many people put little thought into marriage and the importance of seeking out a healthy relationship, so much so that the world, in general, is not doing a very good job in this department, and the divorce and separation rates are out of control. As Ramona, stated it is not about the band of gold. Ramona seems to know herself well and she is holding out for someone who is worthy of her, that makes perfect sense to me, as I too am a realist. The one thing that I disagree with is that marriage is not at the forefront of membership. It cannot be, since we have all been gifted our agency to choose whether or not we want to marry in this life, the Lord will not interfere with our agency. Perhaps this was a ward culture that Ramona was familiar with, but that is not the same as the principles of the gospel. For myself, I wasn’t married until age 32.

    As a convert to this church, it can be hard at times to adjust, but what matters most is that we adjust to the principles of the gospel and not to the culture of a ward, branch, or stake, necessarily. I remember after leaving the church about six months after being baptized (some of my own doing and some because of others), it took eight years for me to come back. I came back because I knew with every fiber of my body the principles of the church were true, I had a strong testimony of this, that I could no longer deny. I went back because of God, He never gave up on me. I promised God that I would return to His church to follow Jesus Christ and become his disciple because of his love and sacrifice on my behalf; that was 34 years ago and I am still here.

    Where ever we go in life we are bound to be offended by what people may say or do. There can be a number of reasons why such things occur and everyone seems to have their own perspective. My husband once said if a person is offended at ie: work or the grocery store would that person stop going to work or the grocery store. Perhaps the person would, but most return to work, and the community grocery store. So why should we leave the church because a few are speaking ill of us?

    We are counseled to forgive 70 x 7, how are we all doing in that department? Matthew 18:21, 22. “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

    Life is full of injustices, many times we cannot forgive on our own, it is at this time we need to ask the Lord to help us to forgive well so that we can continue to grow and mature in the Lord’s truths. We need to be patient with ourselves and everyone else as we are all at different levels of spiritual growth, for this reason, the Lord requested that we forgive one another.

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