I recently wrote a letter of sorts to my sons. This one is to my daughters.
I grew up, like lots of little girls, playing dress-up and dreaming of the day I would find my handsome prince and he'd toss me up on his horse, jump on behind, and gallop off, first to the temple, and then into the sunset to live in his castle happily ever after.
Well for starters, riding double with a saddle is unpleasant. And jumping there hurts like a mother. Castles are damp, drafty, and moldy (I know this because I've been to many of them). Don't let the movies fool you.
Welcome to reality. Your handsome prince might not be either. He could be really cute but really twisted. Or slightly toad-like but princely. He might not own a horse. Ever. Or he might gallop into the sunset with someone else, leaving you with a screaming princess under your arm and a shattered life. Maybe your castle is actually a hovel to begin with. Or always. Maybe you have to go be a scullery maid to put him through school. Maybe your handsome prince gets sick and dies early. Maybe he likes you...and the twelve other dancing princesses. Don't just latch onto the first dude who smiles at you. And don't expect that just because he takes you to get married in the temple it's a lock on Eternity. It takes two of you working like crazy to keep a temple marriage intact.
Date lots of people so you have a frame of reference. You need lots of toads to kiss before you find the Prince. Don't just fall into his arms because nobody else has opened his, or because all your friends are getting married. Or any other reason but that you love each other deeply and know you can build an Eternal life together. Who is he when you aren't around?
Don't just wait for a rescue. Make your own stories. Don't just wait for his. You might not meet your handsome prince until you get old and prune-y. You might not meet him at all. Things happen. If you sit around waiting for the cherry guy to fall into your arms, you could be waiting a long time. Go out into the world. Learn how to live on your own. Learn how to live within your budget. Go to school. Go on a mission if you feel called. Explore what kind of Child of God you really are. Get a degree. Learn to do things which make you happy. Learn to serve others. Get out of your cocoon and be a butterfly. Be worth something.
Be logical about your must-have list. Expecting a guy to be perfect is ridiculous. There has only ever been one perfect man on this planet and you'll not be going out with Him. So you're going to have to logically decide what's a definite must-have, and what items are just perks. Because if your guy is missing a few of your must-haves, they might not be changeable. Remember, though, that if your guy's nearly perfect, (somehow) won't he expect the same kind of perfection?
Expecting him to change for you is ridiculous. You might be completely ga-ga over him and find out that he can't keep a dime in his pocket. Changing that will be impossible. If he's casual about his priesthood responsibilities, that probably won't change. Laziness will stick. Dishonesty will still be there. If he skates along the raggedy edge of the law, hit the ground running, before the ring. Essential things about him will stay the same or only change for a little while. It's human nature. Keep that in mind.
Make a must-be list. For yourself. You can't expect him to do all of the changing. He won't. You're going to need to make changes. You're the one you can control. So choose right, before the problems arise. Change things about yourself that are weak or unpleasant. Make this a habit, not just something you do right before he comes to the door to pick you up. I had a roommate in college who was a full on slob. She'd race around the room tossing things in the closet and under the bed, hoping he'd think she was a good housekeeper, when in reality she sucked at it worse than the vacuum she never used. That's bait-n-switch. How would you feel if he was doing the same thing? Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
If you're a horse and you marry a rhinoceros, expect trouble. You're already going to have some problems meshing your lives together. If you add in extra differences, the mountain of problems increases exponentially. If you have mismatched (or nonexistent) spiritual beliefs, or come from other cultures, you'll have a much rougher road. You'll have to make extra decisions not only for yourselves, but for your children. If you go bullishly ahead with your choice, just know that you'll have to deal with the consequences sooner or later. You need to discuss how you'll make it work before he slides that ring on your finger and the kids come along.
Expectations can be a killer. Go into it with your eyes open. Life isn't going to be all roses and smiling cherubs. There are Maleficent Moments in everyone's existence. Be prepared. Be strong. Suck it up. Running home to mommy is for pansies. But getting wise council from her is smart. Your parents love you and want the best for you. They've been there, done that, and ripped up the t-shirt for rag material.
Train him early to talk with you. It's supremely important. You can't expect him to read your mind because half the time he'll be in his computer game world and you won't even be a blip on the horizon. You have to be able to work things out in a way that doesn't give you ulcers or get you locked up for assault with a deadly frying pan.
Take some time. Some girls take more time to pick out a pair of shoes than they do a boyfriend. I was stupid. I only took four (4, vier, quatro, chi, IV, yes four) days of dating and hanging out to decide to say 'yes' to my ex (the operative word being EX). I didn't give myself long enough to really explore the guy's personality. I had no good idea what made him tick. I had no clue what happened when he got mad. I could have talked to his best friend and found that, in reality, he was a pathological liar. I could have found out that he was actually in love with himself and any girl who worshiped him. I could have found out that he couldn't be bothered to keep a job. And I could have found out that he had a drinking problem. I didn't give it enough time. I didn't want anything to pop the euphoria bubble I was bouncing around in. Bad mistake. Take plenty of time to get to know him.
Infatuation isn't love. We went straight from him serenading me in the Spanish from his mission, to the physical kissing. I was completely hooked. If you go straight to being physical, hormones take over your brain and you lose that ability to think about anything at all. And you won't listen to council from friends or family, either. After the initial loss of all cognitive ability that comes with the kissing and cuddling, comes that period when you've ripped off the mask and see the not-quite-as-handsome guy beneath. Give yourself a chance to experience that before saying I do. Too many girls just jump at that bubbly feeling they get from kissing (or Heaven forbid sleeping with) the guy. Then when the mask comes off and they see the warts and moles and boils of his actual personality, they freak.
Life doesn't conform to your plan. You plan for life. Waiting for Mr. Right to come along is idiocy. Get schooling. Make a plan. Be flexible, because if there's anything I've learned, it's that plans always change. But at least you have one. Get a college education. Get a skill set. Be able to work and work hard. Work hard at home. Do your best. Be excellent.
When you marry him, you marry his family. If you don't think that's true, you'll be in a world of hurt. His family raised him. Sometimes people can rise above their upbringing. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes they go the complete opposite of their parents' upbringing, instead of finding a happy medium. How he treats his mother (especially when he doesn't think you're looking) is how he'll treat you. Remember, his parents are going to be your kids' grandparents.
Sitting around all the time eating bon bons and watching Netflix is uncool. He'll hopefully be going off every day to work hard to put food on your table and a roof over your head. If you sit around all day doing nothing, how is that fair? You don't have that right. Growing up means you accept responsibilities, not just that you can stay up longer and eat what you want. It means your efforts should match his. You aren't the Queen of the World and you aren't the scullery maid. You're his partner, which means you work hard too. It means sometimes you have to fix things. Sometimes you have to kill your own mouse. Sometimes you have to dig the garden or landscape the backyard. And you can't always expect him to come home from his grueling job and do all your work too. Do your own. Give 130%.
Remember that relying on someone else to make you happy is a fallacy. You choose to be happy or not. If you need a guy to prop you up, you're going to be disappointed and unhappy a huge chunk of your life. Because at some point he's going to disappoint you. He'll definitely do things that make you want to bury him in the backyard. That's a given. If you let those things knock you off your perch, you'll be running to a lawyer as soon as he does something stupid. You have to know who you are and that you are loved and a valid, intelligent, gifted, worthwhile person in your own right. His love doesn't make you worth something.
You didn't marry Mr. Goodenough. Stop looking for Mr. Right after you get married. Your husband is IT. The words "Married for Time and all Eternity" should mean something to you. Those words don't mean married until rough seas make you feel like barfing. They don't mean married until someone cuter or richer or better in bed comes along. They mean you're married until long after the world ends and the Sun explodes. They mean you've got your man forever. Stop looking. Stop comparing. Be true to him in your heart and mind and actions. He'll be able to tell. He'll be your Prince if you let him be.
There are absolutely some things you don't have to put up with. Things can change even if you've done all your homework. You don't ever have to put up with being battered. You don't have to put up with him sleeping around with other people. You don't have to put up with porn. You don't have to put up with someone who hurts your children (and I'm not just talking about the occasional much-needed smack). You don't have to put up with criminal behaviors. If you choose to allow these things, you do so at your own and your children's risk. You are not a punching bag or a doormat. You are a Child of God. You are the Queen he chose to marry. Don't risk your Eternal Salvation.
Always remember that there are people who will love you whatever happens--God, Christ, and your parents. We want and expect you to succeed. We know that you can't do that without being close to the Lord and following Christ's example. If you make them the third partners in your marriage, you'll have a successful life.