Ministering Angels

"They neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those what are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pain in the Rear-view Mirror

By Melinda

I got married about six weeks ago. It's customary to ask newlyweds, "so, how's married life?" If I was feeling cheeky, I would answer, "no wonder they say you can't explain sex to a virgin!" But I haven't been feeling cheeky in the last six weeks. Mostly I just feel surprised at how easy the adjustment to being married has been. Amazement and happiness are very non-cheeky emotions, so mostly I just answer, "married life is great" and then I grin while the asker tells me how happy I look.

Yesterday was the six-month anniversary (month-iversary?) of our first date. And I have faced up to the fact that a cliche that sounded so lame six months ago is actually true. I don't remember what life was like before I met Dirk. *poof* Thirty-three years slips away from me like a dream. I remember being single, but in a detached way like trying to remember how hot it was last July during the cold snap that's going on now.

I remember I had a chip on my shoulder about being lonely, six months and two days ago. I could admit I was lonely to people I trusted, but by dang if any married person offered me sympathy, or suggested life would be better if I could get married, I would have bitten his/her head off. I was doing just fine thank-you-very-much and I didn't need a spouse to be happy thank-you-very-much and I was taking advantage of all the opportunities afforded single people thank-you-very-much and God loves his single children as much as he loves his married children thank-you-very-much.

And then I got married. So I don't have to keep my dignity intact about being single anymore. It hurt like an abscessed tooth to be single, and the pain was about that productive, too. I could sure look good for an audience, but I cried myself to sleep at night an awful lot, especially the past couple of years as my biological clock started resisting the snooze button.

I was a bit bemused to realize how Darwinian my misery was, but it was killing me not to pass on my genes. I wanted a Mini-me -- a little person who would have my eyes and whose mannerisms would make my mom laugh because "you used to be just like that!" and her parental curse had been granted; I'd gotten one just like me. I didn't care if it was conceited to want to perpetuate myself, and I should be content with mothering others' kids, I wanted a baby all my own.

Mission story: We were teaching a three-generation family. Grandma was in her late sixties; Daughter was in her mid-forties; and Granddaughter was about five. Grandma refused to progress towards baptism because she had done something so horrible that God could never forgive her. It took a couple of visits before she would confide in us what she had done. As Daughter had approached her forties and it became obvious she wasn't going to marry, Grandma had told her to go get pregnant so she could have someone to take care of her when she got old. Daughter did; hence the existence of Granddaughter.

The story has stuck in the front of my mind all these years because I remember thinking it wasn't such a terrible sin. Yeah, there's the law of chastity and all that, but having a baby was something very practical that just had to be done. There aren't social or governmental systems in place in my mission country to take care of the elderly. Having a child greatly increases your lifespan and quality of life because there's someone responsible for you when you get old, weak and creaky. That mother-daughter pair needed the next generation.

Selfish, isn't it? Here they've gone and deprived a child's spirit of the chance to be born into an intact family. Instead, she'll be raised to take care of her elderly mother and grandmother. She'll never have siblings or a father. But the number of broken households in that country was high, and so she wouldn't have had a good chance of being raised in an intact family anyway. At least she's in a family that needed and wanted her, even though her existence is tormenting her grandmother's soul.

American Mormons can take it on the chin for the law of chastity. If I don't have kids, I've got a dozen nieces and nephews (I've got a lot of siblings), MediCare, and the Adopt-A-Grandparent program to watch out for me. Mother and Grandmother had nothing. I couldn't make myself feel that they'd done something more than slightly wrong, but the Grandma was convinced she was going to hell for telling her daughter to have a baby out of wedlock. Grandma was so strict about having violated the law of chastity by proxy that she couldn't believe God would forgive her.

I don't tell the story to encourage anyone to break the law of chastity; I tell the story to illustrate how strong the drive is to pass on the genes, and how necessary kids are.

On that first date, six months and one day ago, Dirk got himself a second and third date with one comment. He had babysat three nephews and a niece (youngest was 9 months) for two weeks so his brother and sister-in-law could go on vacation, and he'd liked it. Holy cow. Good father material was sitting right across the table from me. I like him for himself now, and I'll be happily married to him even if we have fertility problems and no children. But the first inkling I had that I might want to consider marrying him was on that first date when Dirk let it slip that he could like having kids too.

I'd noticed in my dating life that coming across as baby-hungry was a bad thing. Perhaps it was the glazed looks I got when I started telling niece and nephew stories, or that I'd heard men I wasn't dating dismiss former dates as "baby-hungry" as if that was a turn-off. So I'd quit packing around pictures of my nieces and nephews, and I never mentioned them, other than the fact they existed and I liked them. So when a man started telling niece and nephew stories on the first date, I knew I'd found someone worth finding.



at 12/17/2005 4:39 PM Anonymous Magson said...

That's some great storytelling and bringing us up to date! Thanks for sharing!

at 12/18/2005 4:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hate to say this, but you come across as terribly naive in your description of bliss and contentment after just six weeks of marriage. I dare you to write the day you start to wish you were single again. The day will come, sister. It always does.

at 12/18/2005 8:58 PM Blogger Dirk said...

Maybe, but at this point in our lives, we are entirely blissful. Nonetheless, while we both recognize that we will have arguments and disagreements in life, and we know that marriage isn't the end of all troubles, I really doubt any such feelings will last very long for either of us. Primarily because we've both been single for a long time. We've played that game, and while the independence has it's benefits, the drawbacks are much greater.

Read back through Melinda's posts, six months ago we were two totally independant singles. One of whom thought he was mostly happy. (She, as she noted had a chip about being lonely/single). The sheer pleasure of just being with each other has changed both our outlooks on life 180 degrees.

Will we occasionally pine for being completely independant, for not having to live on a budget? Yes. But will we ever seriously want to actually be alone and lonely again. NO WAY!

Ms. or Mrs. anonymous you come across as terribly naive(about what being single is really like) and bitter. Being single is not really all that great. It means loneliness, and having to play the dating game(UGHH!!!), while being constantly hounded by the rest of "normal" married society for not being "normal".

Sure marriage will have it's dark times, but the primary reason we were both rather vocal in this and other forums in regards to being single was we were soo tired of the constant flow of intention and unintentional criticisms directed at us simply for not having found a mate. We've achieved that goal, and now you try to poisen our joy with your bitterness? No thanks, take it elsewhere. We are enjoying the blissful stage of marriage and are looking forward to dealing with the less blissful stages and aspects together.

As for the occasional slightly non-blissful moment, we've just reached one. Melinda thinks a couple of the above lines are over the top but I'm defending my wife, and our newlywedded bliss. So I'm not gonna change em.

at 12/18/2005 9:11 PM Blogger Coffinberry said...

Ignore Anonymous, Melinda. Your description reminds me of how I felt at my six-weeks-of-marriage-point... and that will be twenty years ago next spring! Happiness is something you create and something you choose, together. It isn't something you earn or deserve or magical. Yeah, sure, there are ups and downs, but the deal is to go through the ups and downs together.

(I do highly recommend "Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands", though...)

Congratulations on the bliss.

(you may know me better by this name, spelt backwards to avoid a googled connection: 41lirdneT)

at 12/18/2005 9:22 PM Blogger Stephen said...

I've only been married twenty years, so as to The day will come, sister. It always does I guess I'm not old enough yet.

Not that there haven't been some terribly hard times, but it has been worth it.

I loved your post.

at 12/19/2005 1:48 PM Blogger Sarita said...

Good to hear from both of you. Activity here has dwindled a bit, but so glad to have the update. Congrats to you both! And what's wrong with enjoying bliss? That can't be experienced without some hard times. And who's to judge that 6 months later things will suddenly be terrible?

I don't think Melinda and Dirk are the naive ones.

at 12/23/2005 11:13 AM Anonymous Lily T said...

Melinda and Dirk-
Your comments were heartwarming. I'm so happy to see couples who've "done their time" and happily find a way out of the single years. I believe happiness is something you create and choose and believe you two have seen the other side of the fence for long enough to always appreciate the life you'll have together, no matter the challenges ahead.

Pooh pooh to those who married too young and now wish they could go back to the glory days of their memories, or who haven't learned the valuable lesson of making your life what you want it to be.

Congratulations to both of you for finding each other and being dedicated to continued and eternal happiness. May the Lord bless you always!

at 12/28/2005 9:43 PM Blogger Andrea said...

I missed your great posts, Melinda. Thanks for the update. As for forgetting what it was like being single, I can attest to that from secondhand experience (still being single myself)--my best guy friend lost any insight he had into dating within 4 months of getting married. I could tell he didn't really remember single life any more. But more power to him! And to you and Dirk, enjoy your well-won happiness. Ignore the bitter hearts, as the song says, and be yourselves. You'll be great.

at 1/27/2006 5:41 PM Blogger Allison said...

I've been married almost twelve years, and never once have I wished I were single again. (I should mention that I enjoyed being single, too.) There have been arguments, and stress, of course. Life happens. But every time something truly stressful comes up, I am very glad to have my husband to share it with.

I wish you the very best, and hope you can ignore the voices of doom. (DOOOOM!)


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