I’m reading the transcript of my conversation with Tim, 26, a practicing Mormon and married father of one child, who lives in one of the new Maytown subdivisions. Typically, when I ask men how they would meet girls when they were single, they often say “through a mutual friend,” or in high school, or college, or through work, (Almost everyone, it seems, says something like “I know people who meet in bars, but that’s now how I do/did it.” One wonders why I never talked to those people!)
But Tim was the first person, I think, who mentioned “church dances.”
Well, a lot of my friends were from church. And so we had a lot of church activities. We’d have church dances. And way we [my wife and I] met was like a singles activity in Indiana. And so it’s just a bunch of singles from the area — the region that gets together — and they have activities planned and you kind of hang out and meet each other.
Planned activities for singles to meet each other? How many institutions have planned activities for non-college-educated young people, in particular, to meet other singles? I encountered it in the Evangelical Protestant church I grew up in. And I know the Amish have their weekly “singings” at a family’s house, where the young adults who are “rumspringa” (“jumping around”) meet, and it works incredibly well. But apart from some conservative churches, and very small sects like the Amish, who else does this? One of my friends, who came of age in small-town Wisconsin during an older era (I think it was during the 60s), tells me that the local YMCA hosted youth dances. For some reason, I don’t think the YMCA that’s close to Maytown hosts those anymore. (Though I’m sure they still do at the New York City locations.)
Having attended the church dances, Tim proceed to defy the advice of almost every single person with whom Amber and I have talked: take your time; get to know the inside and outside of a person; live together with them for two, three years, even longer. Be absolutely certain that you can live with this person for the rest of your life.
“We met in October at that singles ward retreat…. And then we hung out and we got engaged six months later. And four months later we were married. So in ten months we were married.”
It may seem like a foolish decision to a lot of people. But it made sense to Tim.
I think it helps just with us because our core values were pretty the same and so it’s literally like we’ve known each other for a lot longer than just having met somebody at a bar and you have no idea what their standards or their morals or like. And so you already know that it’s possibly somebody that you could create a family with because of that fact…. I think it’s worked out a lot quicker with people that I know that’ve met at church and get married. It’s a lot quicker.
I mean, I know a lot of people that have dated for six or seven years and they just don’t want to tie the knot. And I don’t think they have that kind of eternal perspective of what they’re looking for in a wife and they still don’t know if they can trust the person they’re dating to marry them and that they’re gonna stick around. So for me it’s always been real quick – for people that I know it’s been real quick.
How did Tim know that their core values were the same? And how did he know what those core values were?
Well, I mean, I know how she was raised because I know that she was brought up in the same church. And our church is – I don’t know, a lot of times I see that churches, from one church to another even if it’s the Church of Christ here in Kentucky or in Ohio – then they teach different things.
Well, our church is maybe a little bit unique in that way that it’s literally – if you’re in Brazil or if you’re in the States, the lesson on that Sunday is exactly the same. So it’s totally different. And so because of that I knew kind of what she had been taught. I knew some of the values, meaning chastity, and we believe in being chaste until marriage and things of that sort.
We follow what’s called the Word of Wisdom, which is basically a code of health. It tells you what you should and shouldn’t partake of to make you healthy. So we don’t drink alcohol or coffee or things that are addictive, especially drugs. So I kind of knew where she was, where she stood on those principles.
And so that made my – I didn’t have to check on that part with her. I mean, I didn’t have to check on that at all. I kind of just knew. And then it left me time to just figure out her personality and if we meshed. [Emphasis mine.]
In other words, the institution of the LDS church and their traditions simplified things for Tim. Many working class young adults in Maytown have no such institutions or good traditions that help guide them in their search for lifelong love. They do encounter bits of “wisdom” — whether through the media, hearsay, family, friends, or however — about love and marriage, that form something of a new “tradition.” But they are left largely on their own to piece it all together and figure it out.