Last year, I posted a topic about Marriage Fitness. The author is Mort Fertel, and he makes no illusions that his method is a quick or easy solution to a better marriage, but he does guarantee it works, if followed. Part of the package includes a book with the same name.
He has an interesting perspective on the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah. As we all know, Jacob (who later changed his name to Israel), greatly loved Rachel. After working for 7 years to marry Rachel, he was duped into marrying Rachel’s sister Leah, and then had to work another 7 years to marry Rachel. Fertel makes an interesting note that Jacob didn’t complain that he married Leah, and was satisfied to know that he could still have Rachel.
Let me quote directly from the book, because I love this point.
Jacob lived in the community as a single man for seven years. He knew the tradition that the older sister marries first. That’s why he didn’t complain about marrying Leah….Jacob knew he had to marry Leah–that wasn’t a problem for him. He wanted to marry Rachel, and the fact that he did not–that was a problem for him. So when he was told that he would marry Rachel, he was satisfied. That’s all he wanted. He didn’t need an explanation for why he married Leah. He knew he had to marry Leah in order to marry Rachel. He knew that to marry the woman of his choice, he had to marry the woman of his fate too. And that’s why the story of Jacob serves as a paragon for a successful marriage. Because the truth is when you marry, you marry Rachel and Leah. You choose your spouse which you don’t yet know–your fate. And to succeed in love, you have to commit to both–Rachel and Leah, your choice and your fate, the revealed and the unrevealed.
Most people don’t enter a marriage with this attitude. Most people, when they wake up to find Leah next to them, complain that Leah was not their choice. Most people become frustrated with their spouse and their marriage when they discover character flaws, problems, and differences. Most people feel so duped into marrying Leah that they divorce Rachel. But it’s not possible to marry one without the other. Leah always appears. The key to success in love and marriage is to know what to do when “she” does.
Soul mates are not perfect for each other. Soul mates love each other with all their imperfections. Soul mates love each other no matter what.
I found this story intriguing, and have enjoyed the book and other materials from the package. One of the pieces of advice I have tried to implement (which my wife fully supports) is to have a set day for a baby-sitter every Friday night. This is a scheduled appointment, and we have a girl in the ward who has agreed to do this. However, she has not proved as reliable as she agreed at the beginning.
Fertel says a consistent date night is a must, and should not be canceled for any reason. He says it puts marriage as a priority, and forces you to do something. And he says that the date night can’t include movies, or other people (ie no kids or extended family). You must talk face to face for at least one hour, and it can’t include anything logistical. Learn about hopes, dreams, philosophy of life, etc. The more I thought about this, it reminds me of what dates were like when we were single. Unfortunately, it seems that children and work crowd into the romance. He says too many couples become roommates, and this is why we drift apart. I must confess that I have fallen into this trap, and I resolve to get my marriage in better shape!
So, what do you think of Fertel’s analogy of Rachel and Leah?
I hadn’t heard this analogy before, but I think it is interesting. We do have to work and accept many things as they are. I also think the key is just as you said in the last paragraph and have been working on getting my marriage back to “dating status” over the past few years. It’s been nice. Thank you.
>>> THREADJACK: Sorry. I don’t know any other way to contact the powers that be. With general conference coming up, it might be fun to see if anyone can predict the growth of the Church over the past year, with a “prize” for the winner. Kind of like guessing the number of gumballs in a jar.
We must always remember as we study and read the scriptures that the are not a absolute account of everything that happened and all that was said but a filtered oral history that was finally put into writing several hundred years later. I can imagine that Jacob had a few choice words for his father in law when he pulled back the veil the first night.
Good insights, MH.
I am curious to hear from those with small children. Have you been able to have a consistent date night? Obtaining a reliable baby sitter has been very difficult for us.
We try to have regular dates, but a consistent date night with young kids didn’t work as well as we assumed it would. Now that my youngest is seven, it’s much easier to do. So, endure to the end of the young kids years. 🙂
Fwiw, Jacob was buried with Leah – and not with Rachel. Probably that was nothing more than custom, but I like the symbolism I can take from it.
I liked the idea.
“Because the truth is when you marry, you marry Rachel and Leah. You choose your spouse which you don’t yet know–your fate. And to succeed in love, you have to commit to both–Rachel and Leah, your choice and your fate, the revealed and the unrevealed.”
MH, as surprised as you may be, I disagree with the premise totally. 🙂
It’s not that I don’t think this is a common problem in LDS marriages, quite the opposite; it is and there-in lies the problem with LDS courting norms. It may be changing now, but for years missionaries were encouraged to marry soon after returning from their missions and young ladies were given the definite impression to marry somewhere between graduation from High School and their Senior year of college, if they attended college at all. If a young woman was not able to “snag” a husband by the time she was 21, then she might consider serving a mission, but not if marriage was looming on the horizon. Add to that our fairly rigorous rules for what is and isn’t acceptable for LDS couples to engage in during courtship and marring young without knowing who you are and what you’re all about is the recipe for what you describe above. Finding out that you didn’t marry miss or mister perfect and then trying to deal with the aftershock doesn’t need to happen.
Statics (I know dirty word) show that first marriages, after both partners have completed their education, are far more likely to succeed then ones entered into during late teens or early twenties. I suspect that they fail at a much higher rate because neither partner is actually mature enough to develop a strong bond based on truly getting to know their spouse before marriage. If you’re discovering that you married Leah and Rachel on your honeymoon, you took a short cut in the dating game. If you need to make special appointments for Friday night dates in-order to build your relationship, you’re in-trouble. Marriage is a project that you get to work at every day. You either go out of your way to spend quality time with her or you don’t. Once a week ain’t going to do it…
My wife and I have been married for a very long time; indeed she is my very best friend, confidant, lover and advisor. Our marriage has survived my disaffection from the church because we have remained loyal to each other. We respect each other’s beliefs and can discuss them without trying to win. The fact that she’s a doll and still looks as good in her bikini today as she did when I married her hasn’t hurt our relationship either. 😉
Until we get out of the mind-set of getting married and making lots of babies before we’re 25, folks are going to keep waking up to Leah when they thought they were getting Rachel. By the way, Jacob only had to wait week to get Rachel after Leah so I’m guessing he wasn’t too upset with the arrangement!
doug, you make it sound like mormons are the only ones that have marriage problems. mort fertel happens to be a jewish marriage counselor, and isn’t singling out mormons or non-educated people with marriage problems. are you trying to say non-mormons don’t fit fertel’s analogy?
Fertel’s analysis of Jacob’s marriage to Rachel and Leah may not reflect the challenges that Jacob–and his wives–faced. Jacob was frustrated when Laban lied to him and gave him Leah as a wife, for he said to Laban, “What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?” It does not appear from that comment that Jacob assumed he would have to marry Leah first.
We know that Jacob loved and adored Rachel and desired only to marry her. This reflects one of the supreme challenges of polygamy–and perhaps one of its downfalls: the inclination of a man to love one wife more than another. Although we know that Jacob loved Rachel with all of his heart and adored her until she died, we do not understand all of the reasons that he had a difficult time loving her well. Was she jealous of her sister, whom Jacob loved more? Did that jealousy manifest itself in the natural emotions of resentment, bitterness, or unkindness? Was Jacob unable to love Leah well because he had assumed Rachel would be his bride?
We learn so little of the complete story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah from the brief account given in the scriptures. Therefore, it is difficult to fairly understand or judge the actions of Jacob, Leah, or Rachel. Perhaps in this account, we learn more about the pain caused by deception and of the challenges of plural marriage than we do about marriage itself. Hopefully, we marry Rachel, a person we love and long to marry. It may be unfair to compare the challenges of married life with being married to Leah, someone whom Jacob did not want to marry and whom he found difficult to love. Unless a person has an arranged marriage that precedes a marriage founded on love and mutual respect, we may not fully understand the dynamics of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel’s interrelationships.
While I think Carol’s points are valid for an understanding of the scripture as scripture, I think MH’s point is perhaps more relevant to daily married life.
The CofChrist doesn’t have the theology of exaltation being related to spiritual childbearing, so we don’t have the pressure to marry young or produce large families. Neither my parents nor my wife and I married until our late twenties, and we didn’t have our daughter until we were in our thirties. The extra maturity mattered a lot at points in our marriage.
We do need to learn that in every marriage you are sooner or later going to wake up beside a stranger and have to learn to deal with that.
A few points here.
First a small, nit, It was the Lord that gave Jacob his new name. he didn’t choose to change it.
Second, as Carol stated we know little of the whole story and the faily dynamic. So assigning thoughts to Jacob is rather useless. “Jacob knew…..” We know what the story says and we know the outcome. We also know that Jacob was able to marry Rachel and worked a total of 14 years to achieve it. He also married Leah. He had children with these two women as as well as two others. So he was not so disappointed now, was he?
Another thing, this story led to a Jewish tradition of the groom checking the out the bride’s identity right before the ceremony to prevent this “bait and switch” from occuring.
With that in mond, I do agree with Fertel’s premise that you have to be prepared to deal with a myriad of issues in the future, mostly unexpected.
“doug, you make it sound like mormons are the only ones that have marriage problems. mort fertel happens to be a jewish marriage counselor, and isn’t singling out mormons or non-educated people with marriage problems. are you trying to say non-mormons don’t fit fertel’s analogy?”
Nope, not at all, but then you already know that MH. I don’t know much about orthodox Jews, but I suspect they may have some of the very same kinds of issues as it wasn’t that long ago that they were practicing arranged marriages. Facts are facts brother, uneducated couples have more marital discord then educated people. Marring young greatly increases your chances of ending up as a statistic. Now if you’re going to tell me that the LDS culture doesn’t push young people into marriage before they’re ready, then I think you’re being naïve. Are there other cultures that do the same? Sure. Does that mean we shouldn’t push to change the cultural norm just because other people have the same type issues? Come on…
I realize the days of Spencer W. Kimball are gone, but much of his thinking is still part of the church today. Until we work past it, we’ll continue to have too many unhappy marriages, women who feel like second class citizens, higher than average depression rates, and abusive men who think it’s funny to tease their wives’ about how many sisters wives there going to have in their celestial home.
Divorce and marital unrest will always be part of society, but the numbers can be reduced. I don’t think it’s healthy to bury our head in the sand and say it’s just part of living in an imperfect world and move on. No, Mormon’s aren’t the only ones with failing marriages, but they are part of that group and the culture is certainly a contributor…
I definitely enjoyed reading the analogy and the comments. It’s interesting to read how people react, so thanks for posting.
What I liked about the analogy that Mort Fertel displayed was that it was simple. In my own words, it seemed he was trying to say that marriage is never a perfect match, and there are those things about your spouse that you just deal with because you love them. I thought the comments veered away from the point slightly, but were still good comments.
After being married for a few years, and having the honeymoon phase wear off to give me a clearer view of my spouse, I couldn’t agree more with the analogy of being married to two different people (as one). My wife is definitely my best friend, but has sides to her that make me raise my eyebrows, and sometimes make me lose my cool. But when the day is over, good or bad, we get into the same bed and talk with each other. The moral in both of our heads is always the same after a fight or disagreement–love each other like our Savior loves us, and know that we’re probably married to the only person meant to deal with our shortcomings.
My thoughts on some of the points made in other comments:
1) No consistent date night for us–probably my fault, since I’m cheap, but we do have them when we can.
2) Doug, I think you missed the point of the analogy, since you ended up expanding on it in your second to last paragraph (the one with the wink).
3) Carol–I had trouble relating your thoughts to the analogy, but enjoyed your literal translation/interpretation to the story.
I liked the analogy a lot. Even with “sufficient” dating time there is no surety that every stone has been turned with a prospective spouse until you’ve actually tied the knot. It’s a fine line to walk in knowing when you have enough information to make a decision about whom to marry, so I think Doug has a point. At the same time, I think this analogy betters serves those who are already married. For better or worse this is the situation you are in, so if Leah isn’t too much of a pain in the neck, we should just be grateful for Rachel.
There is no doubt we don’t know who we are marrying. In our 20s, many of us don’t even know ourselves or how we will cope with life and all that happens.
I can’t say that I disagree with you Doug, but it seems to me that you have viewed this post through a somewhat tinted Mormon lens. I think the problems of not having date nights in marriage are much more universal, and your simplistic explanation that all marriage problems in the church can be boiled down simply to church teachings to get married early are missing Fertel’s point. I also believe that everyone (even Doug) discovered unexpected and unwanted personality traits, despite his seemingly long and well-educated courtship.
While I’m glad Doug has a hot wife and a wonderful marriage, the rest of us can use some remedial reminders on how to keep our marriage fit. I’m also a bit surprised that he seemed to poo-poo Fertel’s premise in comment #7. I would have expected someone like Doug to embrace a non-LDS perspective on marriage more than he has; but then again, it sounds like he’s much more of an expert on maintaining a healthy marriage than I am. My wife refuses to wear a bikini (despite my encouragement), so I guess I’m stuck in a bad situation…. j/k
Doug, do you have any suggestions for how I can get a reliable baby-sitter here in Utah County, or are consistent date nights over-rated?
One other thing Doug, I’m positive Fertel is not an Orthodox Jew. He could be a Conservative Jew, or a Reform Jew, but I’m positive he didn’t have any sort of arranged marriage. While he does wear a ya-mica on occasion, I don’t believe he comes from the structured Jewish background you implied. The reason he came up with this idea of Marriage Fitness was because his own marriage was in trouble. The source of his trouble was the loss of twins at birth; the resulting grief caused strain between he and his wife. Nothing in his story points to religion as a source of any trouble, his lack of education (he has a Masters degree I believe), or that he married too young, but rather the day-to-day struggles that we all go through. I think his message is quite universal. He thinks Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and most marriage counselors are worthless by the way. He makes it clear that he is not a marriage counselor, but more of a fitness coach.
I have a question about the distinction between leah and rachel. Perhaps I am miss reading but there is a sense that Fertel is praising ability of Jacob to clearly see between Leah and Rachel, yet I am not convinced that the metaphor is as easily applied to a single individual. It is far more difficult to separate out the person of our fate from the person of our choice. Though I agree with the insight I am not convinced that merely having regular date nights can heal some of pain brought on which might result from being blinded in the frenzy of romance.
I agree that the analogy is fitting if you read it with an open mind. There are certain things about our spouses and even ourselves that I’m sure we’re not aware of before marriage. It takes time.
Regarding reliable babysitters: my daughter is one. That doesn’t mean she could commit to every Friday night. She has a life, too. Call her sometime in the week before, however, and she’s happy to do it if she has no plans (in fact, she’ll do it if you call her an hour before if she has no plans). I think the mistake that is being made here is expecting the same girl to be available every week at the same time. Sure, she may have told you she would do it, but things come up. Enough on that.
I think it is interesting that people seem to feel that the church pushes people into early marriage. I agree that it is a very big part of “mormon culture”, and I think we need to be very careful to make sure that we are educating our children in principles of the gospel as well as just allowing them to be swayed by cultural expectations.
We just received the special “dating” copy of the New Era, and my daughter (almost 14) thought it was ridiculous and confusing- many mixed messages- don’t pair off, don’t avoid commitment, etc. Granted, she’s young, but it led to an interesting discussion about dating, marriage, and so forth.
I guess my point is, we need to be teaching our children healthy attitudes toward dating and marriage. I have a couple of good friends (now divorced) who have commented that they married their husbands a) “because he asked” b) because the ex-husband was a returned missionary, and HE had received inspiration that it was the right thing and c) because no one had ever told them that they shouldn’t just marry the first (seemingly) nice young RM who asked.
Part of the discussion with my daughter involved talking about the pros and cons of waiting until you are older to get married. I think we need to be having these kinds of discussions with our kids.
I don’t want to oversimplify fertel’s program that merely having a date night will solve all the ills of a marriage, because that isn’t even close to true. having a consistent date night is just 1 of several of fertel’s points. I picked that because I thought it would be easier to accomplish than some of the other suggestions. fertel wants all couples to have the king of communication and passion that doug says he has in his marriage. if we all had this kind of marriage we would be able to work through significant challenges, such as doug’s disaffection with the church, and still maintain a healthy marriage as doug has demonstrated.
meggle, I think you conversation with your daughter is a valuable one. we definitely need to make sure our daughters don’t marry simply because someone asked.
You know MH; sometimes I just don’t know how to take you. Don’t look at that in a bad way, it’s probably my fault. I’ve been very lucky to have a supportive wife and a great mom in our home. Our marriage has become what it has because of what we’ve suffered through instead of despite it. I don’t think many would want to go through the things we’ve worked through. Just saying…
I haven’t read Fertel’s writings so I can only comment on what you published here. If that sounds narrow and simplistic, that’s only because the sample you gave us was narrow. If I understand the point of your post, you’re stating that most people don’t know the Leah side of their spouse before they get married. There all enthralled with the Rachel side and then become disillusioned when after marriage they discover all the flaws (the Leah). You and other’s here have commented like that’s an unavoidable situation for couples. So, based on that narrow scope of marital discord, I’m simply asserting that not knowing the “Leah” of your intended is avoidable.
I’m not saying for a minute that my wife doesn’t have faults and or differences in her way of thinking about things. My point is, I knew what they were before we each said “yes”. Marriage has plenty of challenges all by itself without the added strain of finding out you didn’t really know the person you hooked up with. Now there’s nothing wrong with Fertel’s ideas of helping those couples now deal with the short cut they took in the dating game and finding a way to build a healthy relationship. On the other side of the coin I have known plenty of men who don’t communicate well or show the proper respect for their wife, but think that the Friday night date is going to make everything wonderful in their marriage. Sorry, I just don’t think so.
At the risk of sounding simplistic again, I think the whole Leah/ Rachel thing is avoidable. That doesn’t mean I think marriage is easy or that other “things” won’t cause problems. Most assuredly they do. But don’t you think it’s possible to avoid this particular pitfall?
I wrote about my issue with the pressure to marry young and its almost unavoidable problems because I lived it. My mission president, in my exit interview, told me to use the things I learned as a missionary to now go pick my own companion and raise my own converts. He also said that sooner was better than later as I would start to forget the communication skills I’d learned in living with someone 24 hours a day.
I was married less than eight months later and then found that I had indeed married “Leah” and “Rachel” was nowhere to be found. My wife felt the same way about me, but we didn’t split up. You see we both believed what SWK said about two people with common goals for exaltation could make any marriage work. As we had been married in the temple and not wanting the stigma of divorce, we worked at it hard for six years and produced four children. Finally, we just couldn’t do it anymore and the marriage ended. By this time I had finished my education and had a good job. I took my time dating and decided that getting to know someone “well” was more important than all the sexual chemistry in the world. I didn’t want to get caught again so I was much more careful at selecting my next wife. That maturity was a life saver as all the odds where now against me in making a second marriage work. The girl I chose already had three children so between us we had seven very young kids. We had one together a few years later and I had the privilege of raising eight of the greatest people on the plant. As I stated at the beginning of this comment, I don’t think many would want to trade me shoes. I attribute me and my wife’s survival to the fact that we didn’t marry blindly or without knowing the issues that confronted us.
Let’s call a spade a spade here. The church pushes young people to marry for two primary reasons. First, they want couples to start having children early as the statistics show they’ll have more children than those who marry later. Second, they’re fearful young men and women will begin having sex and thereby separate themselves from the church out of guilt. Both of these motivations are completely wrong reasons to marry before someone is responsible enough to raise and care for a family and mature enough to really learn about the person they’re courting.
MH, you of course are free to disagree with me and you usually do. I’m just of the opinion that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So having people wait till their mid twenties to marry makes perfect sense to me and for most would avoid the “Leah” “Rachel” problem you focused in on in the OP. I’m certainly note saying there won’t be other problems or that people who wait have it made. I’m not that stupid friend, but why not give yourself and your spouse every chance at success.
I really liked your article. I had one comment for your sitter, alternate. To ask a teen to commit their Fridays is unreasonable, but to ask two teens or three is reasonable. Work with that and you will have your Fridays.
I remember one weekend where my wife called 13 people to babysit. As a last resort, I asked a single, soon-to-be college graduate coworker to babysit, and she agreed. My wife hates calling babysitters, because sometimes it is just a real hassle. So it’s not like I’m relying on just one babysitter.
Doug, when I wrote this post, I specifically picked the topic as a non-controversial one. (I needed a break from the Wordprint post.) I didn’t think anyone would argue with me that we all need to get our marriage in shape. There were no GA quotes, and no references to Mormonism any where in my post. Marriage problems are not unique to Mormonism. I thought it was a unique perspective on the Biblical story of Rachel–certainly not theologically perfect, but a valid metaphor that I liked. I’m shocked that you would find a problem with it.
Given your background in #21, I can see that you tried to follow your mission president’s counsel, and the advice did not work out well for you. FWIW, I remember my last interview with the mission president. He had just been yelling at another missionary for something, and was really angry. When he came to me, he said, “Do you want your temple recommend?” I replied ‘yes’, and he proceeded to ask the standard TR questions. That’s it. No advice about anything.
Now, I’m pretty sure he did give similar counsel to other missionaries as you received, but if I had received your counsel, I honestly don’t think it would have made any difference. I always had a goal to graduate from college before marriage, and I guess I wasn’t influenced by that kind of pressure anyway. I dated my wife for just over a year when I proposed. I feel like I knew her pretty well, but perhaps she didn’t know me as well as she thought she did. (I’ve got some Leah in me, but she thought I was Rachel.) I think returned missionaries are more used to dealing with problems in a relationship than non-returned missionaries. I think a mission would have helped my wife deal with interpersonal dynamics better.
I have always been more satisfied by marriage than my wife has; we have 3 kids, and my wife has a difficult time being a stay-at-home mom. I think parenthood is our biggest challenge. My wife has a very flexible job that allows her to work when she wants to, and contrary to church advice, I think it is good for her to work once in a while. For one thing, it forces me to take more responsibility for child-rearing, and she seems to have a better attitude when she works. I think it is very healthy for our relationship, and helps me build a stronger relationship with my children. Working is much easier than parenting. I hope that as my kids get older, they will be easier to manage. However, I’m well aware that the teen years are no picnic.
So, in my case Doug, I waited longer to marry (over age 30), got my education, dated for a long time (we knew each other for 4 years, dated for 1), didn’t have kids right away, but I can still use some advice to maintain a healthy marriage. I didn’t follow the church’s teachings to marry early and have lots of kids, so your attack on LDS marriage culture doesn’t seem relevant to my situation, and I suspect that there are many more like me on the bloggernacle. I’m still trying to figure out why you don’t like Fertel, even though I didn’t go into 300 pages of detail on his program. He’s trying to help me have the kind of “best friend, confidant, lover and advisor” that you naturally have. I can’t tell why you think his metaphor is so bad.
Perhaps you just like to argue with me? 😉
“Perhaps you just like to argue with me?”
Sorry MH, I imagine I’ve used up any good will between us. You asked the following question and it struck a nerve with me, that’s all.
“So, what do you think of Fertel’s analogy of Rachel and Leah?”
Perhaps I still have some guilt for not trying hard enough in my first marriage. Maybe I’m still bitter for letting my culture influence me to marry before I knew what I was doing. The fact that you’re still married to your first wife and I’m not should tell you something about the point I was making. It was good of you to open up and share a little something about yourself. The fact that you’re the age you are and only have three children also further makes my point about why the church doesn’t want you to wait as long as you did.
“I’m still trying to figure out why you don’t like Fertel,”
As I said before, I haven’t read his stuff so I don’t really have an opinion about his marriage book. The example of Leah and Rachel is a poor one in my humble opinion because there was nothing wrong with Leah from what I can discern. She probably felt just as betrayed as Jacob did. The whole idea of arranged marriages and forced relationships is offensive to me. Please don’t give me the “hey, that was the culture back then” line. It’s still wrong to treat a human being like a piece of property. No God that I worship would have anything to do with that kind of crap. Not now and not three thousand years ago.
Fertel’s point that people marry and then find out their spouse isn’t what they thought they were is valid. Don’t you think that one of the biggest causes of this confusion is that fact that many young people don’t even know themselves yet? So how then do you blame them for being different then the perception they put out while dating? I guess in the end MH, it’s just his metaphor that I don’t like instead of his actual point.
Just so you know, there are many topics that you comment on that I leave you at peace with. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, it just that I probably more or less agree with you so I don’t say anything. So you see, were not always at opposite sides of the spectrum. 🙂
Doug, as I’ve said before, I used to fight with my brother all the time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him. While my brother and I argued more about sports than religion, sometimes I feel a similar kinship with you. Don’t worry about losing goodwill–but I think we both need to take a timeout occasionally (which is why I put up a non-controversial post–or so I thought.) Sometimes you drive me crazy, but that’s ok; my brother drives me crazy too. I always have the hope that one day you’ll finally figure out I’m right! 🙂 (I’m sure you feel the same way about me.) Glad to hear that you do agree with me on some other topics, but please don’t keep it so secret!
Your point about arranged marriages and Old Testament polygamy is taking this metaphor too far. You know we agree on the topic of polygamy; in the past I have used Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel as an example of why polygamy is wrong.
Fertel isn’t a theologian, and we shouldn’t treat his analogy like it is. He could have used a Jekyll and Hyde metaphor, or Fatal Attraction, but those are a bit violent, and not exactly the kind of thing he was looking for. Fertel never intended his metaphor to be used to evaluate Old Testament polygamy or arranged marriages, and I’m sure he would agree with you–arranged marriages are terrible. Rather, if we understand what Fertel’s intended use of the metaphor is, I think it is a wonderful metaphor. Stretching it beyond its intended use is a disservice to Fertel’s message.
Your point that the LDS church teaches us to marry young isn’t part of Fertel’s message either. Yes, Doug, I think you have a point about LDS marriage culture, but I have to say that was the last thing I had in mind when I wrote this post. I was surprised when you brought it up, but now that I understand your background better, I can see now how you view this message from your point of view. I’m glad you’ve been able to learn from your mistakes, but I hope you can see that some of us heretical members can view the Brethren’s advice to marry early with more moderation than you did. (Yes, I heard the often quoted Brigham Young quote that an unmarried Mormon man of the age of 21 was a menace to society, but didn’t let Mormon culture pressure me into marrying early, despite all the Singles wards I attended over the years.)
I know I’m coming to this really late, but I wonder if we asked Doug’s 2nd wife if she knew both the “Rachel and Leah” in Doug before marriage, if she’d have a different answer than Doug. Unless Doug was disaffected from the church before they married. My point is that even if you marry later and court for several years, people still change. Whether by leaving the church or gaining weight or having an accident and being paralyzed or being really affected by a child’s death, etc. Nobody can know ahead of time how they’ll deal with a significant life change, much less being able to predict how their spouse will react. So the Rachel and Leah split may be apparent in the day to day and you can figure it out before marriage, but then maybe the serving woman/concubine might show up after marriage and you have to figure out if you can deal with that portion of the marriage too.
I find it right on!