Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More on Dating/Marriage

SilverRain has an excellent post on her blog. It's entitled Singles of a Certain Age, or What I Wish Church Leadership Would Understand. She discusses the challenges that singles in the church face and the issues involved in singles' activities. She makes the excellent point that we want to be viewed as whole people and not as fundamentally broken due to our marital state. I want to give the whole post a hearty amen!

Other great singles-related blog posts:
I wrote a post about retention of YSAs in the church and a post on the ethics of dating.
Seraphine at Zelophehad's Daughters has a series of posts about being a 30-something single in the church.


CJ said...

To be honest, I think the church is sometimes a convenient scapegoat. I'm not saying the church is without problems, or that church membership doesn't, on occasion, take a rather assembly line-esque approach to marriage. BUT, even acknowledging those facts, it's absolutely possible--even for educated professional women (trust me, I know)--to successfully date, and get married, while following church guidelines.

I actually didn't really care for the post you referenced. First, she contradicts herself: on the one hand, she talks about how it's this terrible choice, to attend a family ward, then she says she thinks singles wards should be more like family wards. Also, I find that she has a very unrealistic idea of what actually happens in family wards. They're not glamorous, or activity-filled. Sure, some YSA activities are kind of silly, but they're no less silly in family wards--and there are far fewer of them to be had, anyway.

What makes an activity fun isn't the activity, but the people you're doing it with--and the attitude you take toward it. If you have this attitude of "this is childish, and beneath me", going in, NOTHING will be fun, or inspiring. It's really important, too, to take personal responsibility. If the activities in your ward aren't fun, take the initiative and organize a few of your own.

Also, things can be Mormon-friendly, or involve church friends, without being church-sponsored. By passively waiting for the church to provide her with socializing opportunities, she's feeding in to the very restrictive attitude she apparently so resents. It's possible to socialize OUTSIDE of church, too.

SilverRain said...

Let me try to get this right this time. Lack of sleep is not conducive to good HTML.

Thank you, Keri for the post.

CJ, I'll defend myself on a few points.

First, it is not a contradiction. I said that the choice between attending a full family ward (not the ward itself), a 30+ singles ward, or a traditional midsingles ward as they currently stand is "lamentable" which means "unfortunate".

I also didn't say that singles wards should be more like family wards, I said that activities in singles wards should be activities with a broader appeal, not just excuses to flirt.

I've attended family wards for 28 years, attended singles wards for only 4, and am currently attending a family ward. I hardly billed them as glamorous or activity-filled, nor did I claim that family wards have compelling activities. What I said was that well-adjusted singles with responsibilities and lives of their own generally want to do the same sorts of things that well-adjusted marrieds with responsibilities and lives of their own want to do, but with other singles in order to meet friends and potential dates in real-life ways.

And if you read my post, you'll note that I mentioned that the types of people who are willing to waste time on frivolous activities are often not the types of people that those with real-life responsibilities find interesting.

It's not that volleyball and dances are "beneath me", it's that if I'm going to take time away from my children and my life to try to meet other singles, I want to 1) meet singles with a certain level of maturity and 2) do something worthwhile while I'm doing it. (By "worthwhile" I mean beneficial to the community or myself in some way.)

Further, I am not allowed to belong to a singles ward of any kind because I have children. I can attend, yes, but not hold callings or participate in any meaningful way.

You'll notice that in my post I did mention that I've made efforts to organize better activities in the Church. I've also spent incredible amounts of thinking time trying to figure out how I could organize activities outside of the Church without potentially endangering my children or ignoring them in favor of flirting. If you have any magic solutions, I'm all ears.

It would certainly be refreshing to be criticized, for once, for something I'm actually saying or doing.

CJ said...

@ Silver Rain, I think you need to concentrate on not being so defensive. I write a blog, myself; it's the nature of the beast that, when you put yourself out there and share opinions, people will respond to them. They won't always see things 100% from your point of view; they won't always agree with you; they won't always understand your meaning the way you want them to. But that doesn't mean they're "attacking" you, or that you need to "defend" yourself.

I understand the points you're trying to make; I simply disagree with your assessment. And, both in your post and in your comment, you come across as angry, and intolerant of differing points of view. If you're having trouble socializing, within the church or without, it's possible that this is due, at least in part, to the fact that, perhaps, you're coming across differently than you realize.

Only one man was perfect; none of us are Him. The rest of us need to learn from our mistakes, and learn to take positive feedback. When you talk about how much more mature you are than the activities you're doing (activities which are, presumably, entertaining to others), and how you want to do something "worthwhile", you come across as holier than thou, stuck up, and angry. If that's now how you intend to come across, well, then, this is a learning opportunity.

As I said, I write a blog, too, and I've had my own upsetting moments. I've gotten comments I didn't like, or that hurt my feelings. The best advice I can give you is, either learn to take feedback positively, or ignore it. Sometimes, it's better to laugh than get angry.

CJ said...

Also, another comment I have is, I find your comment that you've spent "incredible amounts of time" thinking about how you can organize activities outside of the church "without potentially endangering [your] children" offensive. The world outside the church isn't that different than the world inside the church; you will find good people, and bad people, everywhere. It's not as though membership in the church is an automatic guarantee of being a good person--and there are plenty of decent, loving, wonderful human beings who are not church members, who, indeed, don't believe in God at all. Exposing children to diversity--of culture, of religion, of philosophy--is a wonderful, healthy thing.

There are many great ways to meet people: through volunteer activities (depending on their age, taking kids to volunteer at a soup kitchen is a great learning experience, and a wonderful way to meet new people), through your kids' school (most schools have really excellent participation opportunities for parents, which can be a terrific way to meet new friends), through learning opportunities (like continuing ed classes--most communities offer cool classes in interesting subjects, like children's book writing, or stained glass making), etc etc etc.

I truly do not think people intend to criticize you. Most people are friendly and accepting by nature. If you're having trouble connecting to people, it might be because you're coming across as unfriendly. Have you thought expressing to people, calmly and in a friendly way, that you feel as though you're being criticized, and asking them for some feedback on why they're responding the way they are?

SilverRain said...

CJ—Have you ever thought to ask a similar question? Why I might be responding as I am? It rather seems to me that the pot is calling the kettle black.

I have been blogging for quite some time, I know how to deal with criticism. The issue I have with your points is twofold: one, that you made that criticism here and not on my original post, which is the internet version of talking behind my back. I have issue with that. Big issue. Two, that you put words in my mouth, and then criticized those imaginary words.

As a case in point, I did not claim that the world "outside of the church" was evil. I said that I had a hard time figuring out how to organize activities outside of the usual Church channels. My problem with organizing activities has nothing to do with WHO is attending, and everything to do with WHERE it will be. I can't use church buildings. I can't use my house without advertising my address and thus endangering my children to possible predators. I don't have cash to pay for other places.

My kids are both under five. No soup kitchen is going to want them underfoot, and they aren't even in school yet. Which underscores, yet again, that you are making comments about something you know nothing about. Had you made these comments to my face, you would have received a much more patient and calm reaction. I have a lot less issue with people who are genuinely trying to give feedback, which from the way you chose to do it shows me that you are not, despite what you are saying.

I'm not going to sully Keri's blog with any more of this argument. If you care to back up your condescension with actual discussion, to prove that you are telling the truth about your "feedback", feel free to come over to my blog to continue it and I'll revise my opinion of your comments. It could be that I'm wrong about your motives. I freely admit that I can often overreact to people talking behind my back with an air of superiority.

Keri, I'm sorry for arguing here. I don't want to carry out an argument on your blog, particularly when I appreciate the shout-out. I'm still growing a new spine, and sometimes it is a little stiffer than I would like.