One of Provo’s biggest stereotypes is the rate of how fast couples become engaged. Living in Provo almost my entire life, I would say this leans more towards being a fact rather than a stereotype. Couples are known for getting engaged only within several months of knowing each other. This is obviously much faster than the national average. A major part of this trend has to do with religion. With majority of the young single adults living in Utah County being members of a Christian faith, sexual relationships before marriage are not an option. I understand that if the rest of the world lived by that simple principle the national average of time before getting engaged would be a lot shorter.
But still, couples getting engaged within 2-4 months of knowing each other? That’s not even enough time to experience all four seasons with the person. Now I understand there are many reading this who fall under this category and have wonderful relationships. I’m not saying that if you get married within this fast time frame you will not have a successful marriage. I will say however, that the odds aren’t exactly in your favor.
Aside from the premarital issues, the other reason the lengths of engagements in Utah County seem to be so short is due to the high volume of returned LDS missionaries. When these young men and women return home from their missions they are counseled by their local leaders to focus on finding a wife. I agree 100% with these church leaders. Having said that, I disagree with how about 90% of these returned missionaries interpret it. I feel many RM’s hear this instead, “You did a great service out there. Do you know what your next mission is? To find a spouse. The longer you wait, the more damnation you are bringing upon yourself.” So the gung-ho RM runs out into the wild to find a spouse.
What I think these church leaders actually mean when they say “focus on finding a wife” is simple. Focus on staying obedient to the principles of the church, as these are important in marriage. Focus on your finances and make sure you can provide for your future family. Focus on education, whether that’s formal education or alternative methods (we all have our own effective ways of learning), as your knowledge will benefit your marriage.
Financial issues are the biggest problem in marriages. They can be especially hard when you simply have no money like so many Utah County newlyweds. One of the biggest flawed-mindsets in the LDS church is “I know I don’t have any money, but if I get married the Lord will provide.” I understand you are never going to be completely “ready” financially for marriage, but if you don’t have a couple grand saved up in your account, you might want to hold off on marriage. If it will take you more than 5-6 months to save up a couple grand in savings, you either need a new job, or most likely need to find out where you money is being wasted.
The Lord will provide if you do your part in getting prepared. However, with only 2-4 months of knowing someone before getting engaged you’re not really allowing yourself time to get prepared for marriage. This is why you see so many newly weds in Utah County living off some sort of government help and getting money from parents. I’m sorry to say, but that is not the Lord “providing,” that is simply those around you paying for your life because you didn’t want to work for it.