Married, but Still Single at Church (from the series: Single and Married in the LDS Church)
By Sylvia Cabus
I joined the church as a 27-year-old singleton – just returned from Peace Corps and about to start a graduate program in international relations. Knowing the dating pool would be limited, both demographically and culturally, I wondered if I should go back overseas. (Would this impact my desired temple marriage.)
I dated both members and non-members and by the time I had to make the decision to go overseas, I felt that the decision was already made for me. I left for Kenya as a single 29-year-old.
It’s almost two decades later and I’m been married to a wonderful Moroccan Muslim man. He is so acculturated to Mormonism that he told me that he received “revelation” when he went on his pilgrimage to Mecca – and he cooks Moroccan food for the missionaries. He is regularly asked to participate in ward events, and is a familiar figure to many church members.
Yet, I’m only half a step above my previous status as a single Mormon woman. I’m married, but for all logistical and administrative purposes, I’m still single. I sit alone with my son during meetings; just the two of us hold family home evening; I have undertaken the solitary journey of raising a feminist son in the Church – even though I didn’t go to Primary and Young Women myself. I don’t know how to deal with teaching tithing, fasting, or other practices that are required and not spelled out in a manual.
Despite my feminism in and out of church, patriarchy is still an influence on my son. In the ward directory, my son and I are listed under my husband as “head of household” even though my husband is not even Christian. I depend on my home teachers and other accommodating brethren for blessings. Perhaps the most sensitive experience was when my husband was allowed to participate in our son’s blessing by presenting him before and after the blessing, and by holding the microphone. I was gratified at this public acknowledgement of my husband as a member of the ward family, but also discouraged that I, as the church member, was not permitted the same recognition.
I don’t regret joining the church, and I don’t regret marrying my husband, and I certainly don’t regret the adventure of raising our son. I’m lucky to live in an inclusive, welcoming ward where my husband is always welcome. I’m confident that we will have a special dispensation in the eternities. But the temporal reality is that, as far as church is concerned, I’m just as “single” now as I was when I was 27.