It is that time of year again. I am starting to get phone call from friends telling me that their children are engaged and in true Mormon fashion, the weddings are scheduled for this summer. We Mormons take our weddings seriously, none of that secular “we are engaged and the marriage will happen in three years” nonsence. Yes, Mormons probably do marry a bit too young and are probably naïve about the ways of the world, but all in all, marriage is a great institution and I recommend it.
I don’t recommend doing what Rob and I did, but we got lucky. We got lucky with each other and we managed to figure out how grow up together.
When I told my boss at my part-time job that I was getting married, she sat me down in her office and begged me not to do it. She was married with two kids and she and her husband made good money at their jobs. She said I was too young and needed more time to figure out life. I didn’t know it then but she had filed for divorce.
The girls on my dorm floor were stunned when I withdrew from the university to move home, get a job and save money for the wedding. They were intrigued with the idea a boy and girl in college would even get married. Since it was a state-school, our campus had co-ed dorms and all variations of sleeping around was happening. My own roomate was too busy entertaining the mens basketball team members to bother with attending class.I was a novelty to the girls and I am pretty sure bets were made about if I was pregnant .
Surprisingly, the only person at my school that was encouraging was the Withdrawl Officer. I didn’t even know such a person existed until I went to the registrars office to leave school during the winter break and was told I had to met with her.
I steeled myself as I sat in her office, preparing to be blasted with a lecture on my stupidity for leaving school and following my heart. Instead she asked me what I was planning on doing and when I explained I had to drop out for one semester to save money for our wedding and that we were coming right back to school and moving into married student housing on campus, she smiled. I didn’t expect that response at all. I sat silently, not sure what to say next. She casually said, “I did the same thing. My husband and I got married my sophmore year at college and we finished our schooling together. It was delightful and I wish you the very best.” She shook my hand warmly. I felt my heart burst with joy. She understood! I skipped out of her office, deciding everyone who was negative about my plans had never been in love like I was.
When Rob and I met with his bishop before the wedding, he was worried by our answers when he asked,” Do you have jobs?” Nope. Not yet. “Neither of you?” No, we are going to get jobs after the wedding when we move to campus. “How much money do you have saved?” $300. “That’s it?” Yep. (We covered the wedding and honeymoon, but for living after that, it was kinda sketchy.) He asked a few more questions and we explained that we had student loans and grants and both of us planned to work part-time and go to school, so it would work out. The bishop looked doubtful, but he signed the temple recommend so we could get married.
Thank goodness we had a big turn out at our wedding reception in the church’s gym. We lived in a middle-class part of town and no one had big money. There was no family gifts of a new car, a house or a big check to start us off right. No one in our church had money, either. Everyone gave us checks for $20. It doesn’t sound like much, but lots of $20 dollars adds up. We had enough money from wedding gifts to pay our bills for almost three months in our student apartment.
It was a gift of manna from heaven. It turned out getting jobs in a college town with lots of cheap labor was harder than we imagined. Everything was harder than we imagined. Soon enough reality of life set in and we began the long slog towards college graduation, picking up children along the way, because that is what poor students who can’t afford to go out, do. They stay in and make babies because somehow it seems cheaper.
Twenty-six years later and Rob and I still remember vividly our feelings of excitement, anxiety and wonder during our engagement. It seemed miraculous to us that we found each other and that Heavenly Father knew we were meant to be together. It is good to start off married life thinking you are special and no one else in the whole world could possibly have what you have. It also helps a lot to have old people tell you they did the same foolish thing and it worked out. Who knows? It just might.
If you are lucky enough to get invited to a wedding or two this summer, remember to be a good guest and be as generous as you possibly can. Those $20 checks can be real life savers.