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The Future Spouse Jar

Posted on September 08, 2014 by

 

Admit it, the title alone intrigued you. "Is he trying to grow a spouse in a jar like this?" No, this is more of a proactive suggestion for all my single friends, although admittedly this project could be good for any healthy couple to try.

Now, I'm not crafty by any means. I love being creative through writing, graphic and web design and advertising/marketing, but I'm probably going to pass on from this life without ever posting some idea to Pinterest. Sorry, Pin-aholics (update: I've given in and joined this Pinside). 

That being said, I have had plenty of experience being single and in a moment of 100% honesty I'll admit that yes, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about my future spouse. Who will she be? What will she be like? What will be her likes, dislikes, hobbies, passions, insecurities, strengths and faith? How will she spend her time, what career path has she followed, what books does she like to read or TV shows does she like to watch? What have been her greatest achievements and her deepest secrets and fears? 

When people ask, "Why are you single? You should be married!" it takes a lot of willpower not to shout, "It's not like I don't want to be!" And that's what I've come to realize over the past decade: I do want to be. Sorry all you marriage-haters and "I'm too happy just playing to get tied down again" mid singles; I'm not swimming in your pool. 


Public Service Announcement Ahead: 
Having spent a few years now in the wonderfully diverse world of LDS Mid Singles, I've learned that there is no such thing as an "average" or "typical" mid single. Sure, many of our challenges are "similar" (kind of like a Ferrari and a Pinto are both "cars"), but our personalities, backgrounds, goals and individual situations in life are as varied as the sands on the seashore. 

That being said, I feel like there are some big divides (some intentional, some through ignorance) between mid singles and everyone else in their family wards. And while I say this with love ("bless your hearts"), I have to be honest: it's usually not the mid singles' fault. These problems often come from the members of their family wards themselves. 

"We try to include everyone in our ward family!"  you cry. Ok, when was the last time you made an effort to reach out to a single person in your ward or neighborhood? If you're in a family ward (indicating the relationship majority) I'm willing to bet that all your activities, lessons and efforts are focused on the traditionally married families. Yes, the family unit is central to God's plan, but have you considered that you could be making the mid singles in your ward feel ostracized, forgotten, belittled and like failures?

Let me put this as lovingly and clearly as possible: please stop making your mid singles neighbors feel like they have a big scarlet letter on their chest. Whether divorced with kids, divorced with no kids, widowed, never married with kids or never married with no kids, here are things you are doing or saying that make mid singles feel UN-welcome.  

Bless your hearts. 

For all my fellow mid-singles, I hear your pain. You work hard at your job, to raise your kids as a single-parent, to keep your health in top shape and try to generally stay ahead of the wave in life. And when a party comes around, you are ready for a break, to kick back and just have a good time. So you plan your schedule accordingly, get yourself ready, call up your friends and head out to enter the exciting social scene. 

And we've all been there right? We love to socialize, meet new people, see old friends and just generally have a good time. But frequently we run into the same types of people at these parties, so I present to you the 10 People You See at Mid-Singles Parties. Take it all in good fun, I've exaggerated some and written others with perfect honesty. I'll led you decide which is which! 

1. The A-Teamers
You know who I'm talking about, the group of about a half-dozen guys and girls who show up together with a mission to kill (socially and romantically). They tend to view themselves as the IT crowd and watch each others' backs, laugh at each others' jokes, stay within eye-sight and generally try to turn themselves into the nucleus of the parties social atomic structure. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with an A-Team (I loved the TV show), but don't be so into your friends that you ignore everyone else around you. Be inclusive, not exclusive.

2. The Pack
You know exactly who I'm talking about here. That group of girls who walk (strut?) into the party and look like they are trying to turn the place into a club. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes and a perfect concept of their magnificence. Now, I'm not judging by appearances because "beauty" is never an indication of the heart. Rather, its what The Pack does that I'm conflicted about. These girls remind me of the movie Mean Girls and kudos to any guy who tries to talk to any girl in this group because he runs the risk of getting torn to shreds. The Pack is on scene to be seen and attention is their drug of choice. 

3. The Bros
Simply put, The Bros are the male version of The Pack. The guys greet each other with grunts, high-fives, chest bumps, bro-hugs and loud shouts that remind me of high school jocks yelling at each other in the hall. The Bros dress alike in skin-tight shirts to show off their gym results (probably Affliction or MMA shirts) and top-dollar shoes because everyone looks at your shoes at a party (sarcasm, me?). These guys are there to eat, check out the girls and otherwise try to show that they are the life of the party so the party should center around them. Top shelf substance, these dudes.

Over the past few our hearts have been saddened by the tragic loss of Robin Williams, an incredibly strong and brave soul whose ability to make us laugh endeared him to each and every one of us.

Having spent over half my lifetime living with, investigating, battling, treating and overcoming my own struggles with mental illness in the form of anxiety and depression, I can perhaps better understand what Mr. Williams went through during his impactful life. And as we all remember his wonderful, yet adversity-filled life, some may wonder...how do I help the other Robin Williamses around me? How do I help my spouse, sibling, parent, neighbor, friend, coworker, teammate, etc.? 

Here are five ways that you can help that person in your life. While I do not profess to be an expert, these come from personal experience from dear friends, teammates, girlfriends, siblings, counselors and religious leaders who have reached out when I needed help the most.

1. Be Compassionate:
In this world of Facebook statuses, selfies and this-is-my-life social outlets, most people are almost loath to open up about their everyday struggles. Now, add that societal pressure to the far too common stigma surrounding mental illness and you can see why many who struggle with mental illness hide their problems, especially men. 

If you have someone in your life who you think is struggling, open your heart and be compassionate enough to ask. Oftentimes those who struggle the most put on a brave face, or in Robin Williams' case laugh the loudest. But that doesn't mean they aren't silently hoping that someone will come to their rescue and help them carry the load. So ask. And keep asking until the truth comes out. "I'm ok" is not an answer you should be satisfied with. 

Also, when someone is feeling like they are in a dark place, your love may have to be the light that shows them the way. Yes, someone who is feeling anxious or depressed may not be the chipper life of the party, but they still have infinite value and worth and deserve respect, love and support. Hug them. Hold them. Write them an encouraging note. Make them cookies. Go with them to a support group. Whatever comes to mind, do it. At the most basic level, depression is a thief in the night who steals your loved one's ability to feel, love and enjoy life. So at whatever level you can, shower them with love and support. 

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