I married, almost 25 years ago the Mesa Arizona LDS temple. My father wasn’t there. My mother was there to ask God if she should leave my Dad. My best friend waited outside the building because the wasn’t allowed in. And one friend came in with me. My mother-in-law was there. A couple of mission buddies of Boe’s and a few couples he had baptized. None of our siblings or grandparents were present.
When I came into the dressing room, wearing my thrift store dress, the nice little ladies informed me my sleeves were too short (even though I had modified my wedding dress to cover everything (I guess I didn’t consider my arms as needing covering). They slipped my arms into polyester fitted sleeves, put on my the robes of the priesthood, slippers (no heals allowed!), a green apron, a sash at my waist, and an awkward veil. My bargain dress could no longer be seen. Boe was dressed similarly except he had a funny hat rather than a veil. After giving us a short speech, (something about never going to bed angry at each other and saying an enthusiastic, “yes”), we knelt across each other at an altar, right hands clasped and the ceremony proceeded as follows:
SEALER: Brother Watson, do you take Sister Maiden by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawfully wedded wife, for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this holy order of matrimony in the new and everlasting covenant; and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?
Boe: Yes. I will!! (Enthusiastically!)
SEALER: (turning to Boe) A simple yes will suffice. (Imagine the humiliation of being admonished in your own wedding!!)
Boe: oh, ok, Yes. (Smile)
SEALER: Sister Maiden, do you take Brother Watson by the right hand and give yourself to him to be his lawfully wedded wife, and receive him to be your lawfully wedded husband, for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this holy order of matrimony in the new and everlasting covenant; and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?
(Please note that I have given myself to my husband, yet he has not given himself to me. Yay patriarchy! To be honest I never noticed the discrepancy until much much later.)
SEALER: By virtue of the holy priesthood and the authority vested in me, I pronounce you, Boe Watson and Ruth Maiden, legally and lawfully husband and wife for time and all eternity; and I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection, with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal lives.
I seal upon you the blessings of kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions, and exaltations, with all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and say unto you: be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ
All these blessings, together with all the blessings appertaining unto the new and everlasting covenant, I seal upon you by virtue of the holy priesthood, through your faithfulness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
You may kiss your bride.
We gave each other a pathetic peck over the altar.
OH! Except Boe had to take me through the veil so he would know my new name, and be able to call me up in the resurrection (I guess?) It did kind of bug me that I was supposed to tell him, but not vice versa. All my married life I have felt this weird vulnerability about not knowing his new name. Even now, I’m both afraid of knowing and resentful I don’t know.
After pictures, we went to my favorite falafel restaurant for lunch, then checked in early to our hotel where we gave each other our wedding rings (LDS temple marriages don’t have a rings). We dumped out the champagne we were gifted on the airplane. In retrospect, it could have really helped! I cried a lot that night. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of horrible guilt for consummating my marriage. After a lifetime of being taught that sex outside of marriage was a sin, I found the abrupt transition to it not being a sin rather difficult.
The next morning I heard my mother whisper to my mother-in-law that it looked like the wedding night didn’t go well. I have no idea how she knew, because I put on my happy brave face, that most Mormons are so good at.
At our reception, my mother told me she was leaving my dad. I remember her crying a lot. And of course I was so torn between my own disappointment regarding my wedding, my devastation that my parents were divorcing and comforting my mother on my own wedding day.
Dad took pictures.
I was exhausted by all the necessary socializing, and putting on the happy face. I was told by a mutual friend how strange it was that the reception was on the day Boe’s former girlfriend had set her heart on for their marriage. Of course neither of us had any idea. Sigh.
After opening our gifts with just family, I was given strict orders of thank you notes and sent home in my stuffed and decorated beater Toyota. I remember I cried all night because my parents were getting a divorce. The following day I went to work. Good times. (Sarcasm) Keep in mind that I all this I experienced and witnessed through the vast knowledge and lense of being only 18 years old. My face was still covered in acne!
Our first year of marriage was really hard. UTI’s (which no one warned me about…At first I was sure I was dying of cancer), grief over my parents break-up and shockingly quick re-marriage to strangers, social pressure to get pregnant, and Boe and my opposing work schedules, made for an unhappy year. Thankfully, things got better did get better from there, despite a brief separation in my our seventh year of marriage. Each adversity required us to consciously re-commit and choose each other.
I always dreamed of a re-do, but never dared. Renewing your vows is HIGHLY frowned upon in LDS teachings, since your first ones were for all time and eternity. Renewing vows is considered a mockery of sacred vows.
When Boe left the church, and stopped believing in God, I started thinking back to our rocky wedding. I realized my vows both during our sealing and the required ceremonies before, only included covenants to God or the church, not to each other. In fact, I had to covenant to obey the law of my husband and abide by his counsel, and Boe covenanted to obey God. This was continually pounded into us every time we visited the temple.
I found myself in a situation that I had long thought would be a deal-breaker for my marriage, being yoked with someone of differing religious beliefs. Oh how I feared during those months of realization. I was raised in a mixed religion marriage and I was convinced such a partnership could never work for me. I felt so helpless witnessing my forever family and divided and shattered. Boe was SO angry and triggered by anything that had to do with the church!! Keeping my own church covenants became an exercise in walking on eggshells.
As time went on, and with many reassurances from Boe, my fear slowly subsided. Boe was his own person, and a person I deeply loved, with or without the church. He wasn’t going anywhere. I learned that his commitment to me had no string attached to his previous commitment to the church. He did his best to respect my still lingering threads of faith.
There was a little conflict as to how to raise our four children still at home. Boe could not agree to let them go to the church he now felt was his primary abuser. And I didn’t really blame him. I wanted to prevent my younger boys for being indoctrinated as Boe was. The two eldest had already decided to reject the church. And I didn’t want to be associated with the organization that had hurt my husband so badly. Even though I still believed, I chose my family over the church. I chose not to add to the severity of our crisis with my apologetic gymnastics. It was my choice, and I stand by it. My remaining threads of belief in the church have been cut one by one, carefully, thoughtfully, and with tremendous pain.
And still our marriage vows loom in the background, plaguing us with the realization that we that our marriage was founded principles we no longer believe.
So, this is a tremendously long story to announce that I will be commencing a series of posts in celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary. I can’t afford nor is it really plausible to have my dream wedding, on the beach with my entire family. There is no making up for the Jewish wedding I gave up by joining the Mormon church nor the evolution of my family relationships the last 25 years. But I can purge my old beliefs and values, replace them with new ones, and recommit to my life partner on my terms.
In each post I will discard a principle or tenant of Mormonism that I no longer identify with, and discuss the my reasons. I will choose new values and principles that will be my new foundations to the partnership with my husband, and most of all, myself.
A big thank you for http://www.ldsendowment.org for offering an accurate and respectful record and history of the ordinances performed in the LDS temple.