Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"He's Not Good Enough For You"

Yes, I have been MIA recently. I have lots of long and depressing explanations, but suffice it to say that life has been so completely overwhelming that I've had several days where I didn't know how I'd make it through to the end of the day. Life has delivered a King Kong-sized punch to the head and I'm still trying to recover.

And on top of all that, it turns out I may have a faulty thyroid. I couldn't get the kind that makes you skinny. Nope. I have to have the one that makes you fat and unable to lose weight. But they have to test my levels again on Tuesday morning, so we'll see whether something actually is wrong or whether the first test was flawed, which would make all the personal crazy in my life psychosomatic.

But anyways, I have to unload about something that really bugs me.

Someone I know (who may or may not be related to me) recently ended a relationship where marriage had been on the table, but apparently it was not meant to be - in part due to the fact that one set of LDS parents decided and repeatedly said that the child's significant other was "not good enough" for their precious darling.

This is not the first time I have heard something like this, and the reason it bothers me may or may not be because it happened to me, but I'm wondering what would give someone the idea that this was 1) okay to think and 2) okay to say. 1) I can sort of get because of the whole natural man thing, but honestly, 2) eludes me.

It's an attitude that I think I understand better outside of the church. Like, as an example, if Paris Hilton came home and told her parents that she was going to marry the assistant manager of the local Wendy's. I can see her parents saying he's not good enough for you - because they would prize class stratification, and in their eyes, their daughter was far above this man in education, life experience, background and breeding.

But in Christ's church, where is there room for this kind of thinking?

Particularly when we have a set of scriptures that warns so heavily against prizing wealth and creating distinct social classes based on worldly things?

I can see telling your child that you don't think the other person would be a good match. Or that you are concerned that they don't have much in common. There could be all sorts of warning signs or other issues that you might feel necessary to point out.

But I don't understand how someone who would basically hit all the right spots on an LDS litmus test - who is active in church, a returned missionary, temple worthy, has a testimony, is getting an education at a major university and is generally a very nice, trustworthy, kind, loyal, thoughtful, good (etc., etc.) type of person is "not good enough."

Is there a list of qualifications somewhere that I somehow missed about what makes a follower of Christ good enough or not good enough for marriage?

I can also understand how a parent might feel that no other person on earth is good enough for their baby (which is a little over the top, but I love my kids to distraction, so I can sort of get it). But at some point they're going to have to cut that particular tie and let go.

Or if the signficant other did not have the same standards and beliefs of the family, I can certainly see where that impulse might exist (although, again, I think it would probably be better phrased as he doesn't share your beliefs and that's very difficult on a marriage or he can't take you to the temple , etc.), but I still don't think it's okay to say someone isn't good enough.

Am I way off base in thinking that if we believe Christ's words, and think ourselves to all be equals in His eyes, how can any of us say that anyone is good enough or not good enough?


At 10/18/2009 10:31 PM, Blogger Janice said...

I think you got it just right. No one is better than any person and putting a person down for any reason is wrong and hateful-no matter the reason behind it. I also think it's up to the kids planning on getting married.

At 10/18/2009 10:44 PM, Blogger Ian said...

In my opinion, it's probably as bad as racism. It's more like class-ism or something like that. After all, we're all equal in God's eyes, especially after we cross over the veil.

I suppose though, that if the other person was a known to be having an affair or some such problem, I could kind of see how one could say that they aren't good enough.

At 10/18/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I agree with you on this one. I don't think anyone ought to stipulate who is or isn't good enough. Some of the circumstances you mentioned or in the case of abuse, of course your loved ones ought to be concerned about your welfare. Barring those, I don't think it's right for anyone to judge whether a person is "good enough."

At 10/19/2009 2:54 AM, Anonymous Genny said...

Be thankful this loved one didn't marry into such a family. Yuck. Narcissism takes many forms and this clans' narcissistic traits are quite apparent. These folks seem to lack empathy, tact and class. Reminds me of the movie The Family Stone.

At 10/19/2009 3:26 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I'm sure the people who said this were perfectly awful, snobbish jerks. However, marriages where the partners have the most in common are the ones most likely to succeed. If I grew up dirt poor and I marry Richie Rich there will be some conflicts. People don't usually jump numerous class levels from where they grew up.

And even more so, if I grew up super rich and marry a guy who grew up poor, but have that LDS value of mothers staying home, it's likely there are going to be huge conflicts about finances and money. Men usually marry down (shorter, younger, less earning potential) and women usually marry up (taller, older, more earning potential).

Of course you can make any marriage work if both partners are willing to work at it. I'm not condoning classist behavior. I'm just saying there are some logical reasons behind marrying someone who grew up in the same socio-economic class you did.

And to be perfectly honest, if my beloved's family declared that I wasn't good enough for their little darling, I would either break it off or make moving half way around the globe a requirement of the marriage. Who wants that for inlaws?

At 10/19/2009 4:38 AM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Sariah, thank you for this. It's a salutory warning against me becoming that mother. My middle daughter (OK, she's only 9) has been best friends since she was 2 with my best friend's son. They are very close, see each other every day, and people have said that if either of them married anyone else when they grow up, there would be problems and raised eyebrows over their friendship. So you'd think I'd be content having my litte angel marry this lad twelve years from now, right? His (single) mother is very strong in the Church, he has a great testimony and is eagerly looking forward to being a missionary eight years from now. BUT I have been thinking that he isn't good enough for my daughter because he has a statement of Special Educational Needs. Nothing major - he's just a slow learner. But the intellectual snob in me didn't want my grandchildren's gene pool diluted.

So thank you for reminding me that it's not up to us parents to decide who is and isn't good enough. Besides which, there are so few Latter-day Saints in this part of the world that I should be grateful if any of my daughters can just find a worthy priesthood holder to marry.

At 10/19/2009 8:28 AM, Blogger TJandMaryBronley said...

First of all, it is utterly ridiculous that any parent would say this, and repeatedly. Second, if the one guy/girl is foolish enough to listen to these parents then he/she is equally at fault. I have a friend who was 27 when she met her 22-year old husband. She was a convert living at a friend's parents' house but wasn't wealthy. The guy grew up in a ver wealthy family. His mom didn't like the girl. Eventually, he told his mom to quit controlling his life. She still tried, but very much failed. If the child in your scenario can't stand up for someone they love, then maybe they don't truly love them. And there are just as many hypocrites in the church as outside of it. Problem is, we know better.

At 10/19/2009 9:59 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I think there's a huge difference between a parent sitting down PRIVATELY with a child and sharing legitimate concerns about issues that might make a marriage difficult and a parent publicly passing a value judgment on someone. Saying publicly that the beloved isn't "good enough" is sad and wrong. Having a private, candid talk with a child to discuss concerns that could be problematic is far different.

And (barring a situation where the beloved is abusive or dangerous) if the adult child chooses to proceed with the marriage, the parents need to shelve their concerns and welcome the future in-law with open arms.

At 10/19/2009 11:57 AM, Blogger Valerie Ipson said...

That's so sad. I agree with you...if the guy fits all the "criteria" of a worthy priesthood holder and the girl has chosen to be with him and loves him then the parents just need to chill.

At 10/19/2009 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...or they could have just selected the wrong word choice. Come on, Sariah, you're an author. You do that all the time. Write a chapter, then go back over it and realize that you've totally used the wrong word. Remove "not good enough" replace with, "His hatred for chocolate is going to cause marital conflict", and you're off to another chapter.

It could happen.

At 10/19/2009 12:58 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I (obviously) have very strong feelings on the subject for various reasons, so it's hard for me to be lenient on this one. I will say in this circumstance that it simply wasn't a wrong word choice - if I make a mistake in a chapter I go back and fix it and don't do it again. I don't repeatedly use the word over and over and in all my books to come because it wasn't a good choice.

In this instance the "not good enough" had to do with the person's upbringing - i.e., said person was not as wealthy as the other family was, and those words were used for that particular reason, despite both families supposedly having the same values and beliefs. Had it been said only once, or even two or three times, I think you could chalk it up to a misstep (a crappy misstep, but still). It was said much more often than that.

I also think that if, as a parent, you have a concern, you should talk to your child and be straightforward with them (although I think it is to your peril if you start talking about how you hate the significant other or using very negative language - that obviously won't go over well with your child who loves said individual), but I also think there is a time and place to express whatever concerns you have, and (barring that this is an abusive or dangerous relationship) then I would hope that most people wouldn't hound their children - that they would trust that they had raised their kids well, raised them to be independent and smart and faithful and able to rely on the Spirit themselves, and that their kids were able to make that decision on their own.

At 10/19/2009 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/19/2009 1:30 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Sad. It's been around since the beginning of time. Hopefully we can teach our children better.

Anna Buttimore--FWIW, I was labeled a "slow leaner" in 3rd grade. I laugh now, because, yes, I do take my time to do things, but I graduated from college with a 3.8, run my own company now and have written 10 novels (6 published, 2 under contract).

At 10/19/2009 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't really had to deal with the class-ist perspective in "they're not good enough" conversation, so my comments might be completely out of context.

Having been on both sides of this comment, I know how it feels all around. One of my boyfriends, no matter where we went, who we met (even in his family) I was too good for him. I was told this repeatedly to my face. He fit the "criteria" for a worthy man and we started to discuss marriage, but it didn't pan out. I have been grateful that it didn't work out ever since I got over my broken heart. I was blinded by my love (I had had a crush on this guy since my sophomore year of high school) to know that we weren't as equally yoked as I thought we were.

My current boyfriend's mother doesn't think that I am good enough for her son. His family are not members of the Church. In fact, they feel very strongly against the Church which is one reason why I am not up to their standards. We have decided to move forward with the relationship, but it hasn't been easy. He is constantly told what a bad person he is because he spends time with me, instead of his family. It is hurtful to watch and feel, but we are willing to work through it. I have my eyes wide open, and that has helped through the stickier situations.

Parents opinions can affect a relationship, but it is up to the couple how far they will let the opinions of those who love them, and whom they love effect the relationship. It is harder than you think it is to ignore words said by others.

At 10/19/2009 7:56 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Once upon a time, I got to be the guy who wasn't good enough. (Nice is different than good.) =) They really wanted an RM for their daughter and kinda pressured her to end things with me. At the time, I thought her parents were a little too controlling (considering she was 21) but, looking back, it's hard to see how that could have been a successful relationship.

I don't really blame the parents for wanting more for their daughter.

At 10/20/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger MainTour said...

Hi Sariah -

I feel for your suffering - I too have been enduring (if you can call it that) one of the more challenging years of my life.


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