ABOUT WEDDINGS
On our most recent anniversary, Cathy suggested this hand photo. We are each wearing our "kelibet," which is the Ethiopian word for engagement. In Ethiopia, the first phase of the wedding is the kelibet ceremony where rings are exchanged. At this stage of proceedings, you are engaged to be married, but not actually married yet. Since we got engaged in Ethiopia, we bought rings and began to wear them immediately. These rings were not expensive, but the memories they evoke are dear to us, so we only wear these rings on special occasions. We have other wedding rings that we wear at other times to remind us of the covenant we have made to each other.
Thankfully, my sealing clearance went through the first presidency quickly. Even so, we only had a month before our intended wedding date to plan the wedding. I think it took us approximately two hours of discussion.
We decided on the Provo City Center Temple because it is near my hometown, it is splendidly elegant and, most important, its history represents how lives can be burned to the ground and rise again with a higher and holier purpose, and even more beautiful than before. At the wedding we enjoyed the presence of loved ones on both sides of the veil. My oldest son was my escort.
Instead of wearing a wedding dress, Cathy chose to wear her temple dress. Coming out of the Temple, she wore a beautiful Ethiopian celebratory dress that we bought on our engagement trip. We had our couples pictures taken the day before on the temple grounds because rain was forecast for our wedding day. But we had a great little window of time right after we came out of the Temple to take some great group pictures. We splurged a little bit on the photographer. He gave us a great deal, and he was very experienced and affordably priced.
After the wedding, we had a lunch of all you can eat fajitas at Los Hermanos, which our guests loved -- and it was a third of the price of catering a brunch at the nearby Marriott. Something fun and festive was more our personality anyway.
The next day, we had an open house and many of our friends and relatives came to congratulate us. We planned it for the next evening partly because we had both been through weddings where all of the festivities were on one day, and it was hectic, running from one thing to the next all day. Planning it as we did, we were done with our wedding luncheon by mid-afternoon. We got to spend a lot of time relaxing together in our hotel room and having a quiet, private dinner together at Market Street Grill.
For our open house, Daniel Coburn made wings for our guests as a wedding present to us. We had other trays of meat and cheese, vegetables, and other food that we bought and friends put together. Instead of wedding cake, we served cake bites from Sweet Tooth Fairy. We served each other bites of a giant wedding cupcake. Throughout the evening, a mix of our favorite love songs was playing on the stereo.
We had circles of chairs set up in a few places in the house, so groups of friends or family could sit down together and talk. The whole mood of the evening was festive and happy.
I don't say this to either boast or sound cheap, but we did the wedding for around $1000, including dress, rings, and everything. (A client of mine who owned a hotel donated his presidential suite for the night -- so that was a nice freebie that we very much appreciated.) We splurged for lunch for our sealing ceremony guests and the photographer, but all in all did our wedding inexpensively and with almost zero stress. And guess what! It was amazing! We just got to relax and enjoy our day (and the next evening) together with loved ones.
I remember my first wedding, which was a financial stress for my parents and my former wife's -- not to mention that my former wife had all kinds of dreams about her wedding day that would have cost millions of dollars to fulfill. No matter what we did, it seemed like we were disappointing someone. It was stressful, and the focus really was not on the sacred moment in the temple -- which Cathy and I chose to focus our wedding on. (To my former wife's credit, when she remarried in a simple ceremony at the university library where her husband worked, she walked down the aisle to a favorite Beatles song. I respect the fact that she also learned valuable lessons from the stress of our first wedding -- and did something simpler and more reflective of their personality as a couple.)
I bring this up because many in our group will marry in their middle or mature years as we did, and I hope this perspective might help you to create great memories around your wedding, without breaking the bank, and without creating an undue amount of stress for yourselves. It won't be exactly like ours. It will be your own creation. It can reflect your personality, even if you don't choose to spend a lot of money or are unable to. The thing I do hope is that it will be centered on the covenants you are making, and that your guests will understand how important that is to you.

Jeff & Cathy discuss the challenges and blessings of mid-single life. As highlighted in our most recent General Conference, single adults have now become the majority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During our mid-single years, we each felt like a minority in our church – many mid-singles feel like they don’t fit in. Little did we know that we were all in a class that was becoming and now IS the majority of our adult members! President Ballard and Elder Gong both cited in their talks at General Conference in April 2021, that more than 50% of our adult members are either-divorced, widowed or not yet married. 

President Nixon talked about “The Great Silent Majority” of Americans, the same applies to mid-singles. Why are we silent? 1. Because we are busy and have a lot on our minds and on our plates 2. We may not feel comfortable speaking up 3. We just plain aren’t there because some of us become less active. Why? We are dealing with painful emotions. We don’t like being talked about. Divorced men tend to get treated with suspicion and women tend to get pitied. Transitioning to celibacy from marriage is hard. We may feel less relevant in a family oriented church as we adjust to less traditional family units. 

We have compassion for all of those concerns it is worth living a covenant life despite all the challenges associated with it. 5 good reasons to stay on the covenant path and to start speaking up:

  1. There are more of us than we thought and there is strength in numbers.
  2. There are more opportunities to date within the Church than ever before.
  3. The eternal blessings of being sealed in the temple are just as real now as in our twenties.
  4. There is power and strength in our covenants to withstand the turmoil in these last days. Standing in holy places gives us support while we are without a spouse.
  5. We can give our much needed perspective and compassion as people who have experienced loss and grief in ways that no one else can.

Our Church and communities need your voice! You are the great silent majority. It’s time to not be silent anymore. Allow your voices to bless and build the Kingdom of God. 

LILY Pod Episode 1: The Silent Majority

ON TRANSITIONING FROM MARRIAGE TO CELIBACY

There was a recent BYU article about "Transitioning from Sexually Active to Sexually Inactive" that got a good deal of well-warranted criticism. The author (who has never been divorced or widowed) gave a heartfelt and vulnerable apology for the insensitivity of the article. In fairness, she was assigned to write the article by a professor she worked for. The following was my response to her apology. I hope it was mostly constructive and helpful. That was my intent.

Paige, my wife Cathy and I are both divorcees and we have written a book to mid-singles, which will be released this fall. I think the biggest omission in your article is, honestly, an empathetic acknowledgement of how difficult it is to adjust to celibacy. There is NOTHING else in life that can fill that gap -- and an article suggesting that other things can compensate just fails to understand. Adult human beings are not designed for celibacy. Once we are used to being partnered, going back to celibacy is one of the hardest things we've ever done. Any other idea like, "just pray" or "exercise more," is not really going to help very much. You might as well be honest and just say, "it hurts like the devil, you deeply crave intimacy and can't have it, and you will be sorely tempted, and there is nothing you can do about it without breaking your temple covenants." That would be honest and empathetic. You can say, "We don't make covenants to follow Christ only when it is easy."
Writing to divorcees, you will get nowhere with unbridled Latter-day Saint idealism -- and making the gospel seem easy. Divorcees in the church have long since learned that it is not accurate to say, "If you just live the gospel everything works out." Be honest with them and show empathy and they will at least feel understood. Treating them like they have returned to adolescence with "For the Strength of Youth" lectures on chastity is guaranteed to turn them off.
I'm not trying to be critical at all -- just some feedback for future efforts.

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