Some Soul-Searching Is Necessary When Advising Daughter on Marriage

Published August 17, 1989. For nearly two decades now I have been counseling and teaching many college-age students as they make the transition from single to married life. I’ve taught at five universities and have had several thousand students during the 20-year period.

Not long ago, however, I had a new experience. A 20-year-old young woman asked, “What kind of man should I marry?” I’ve heard the question before several times. But this time it was different. It came from my daughter, Tammy.

Not that Tammy is anxious to marry at the present time. She spent last year at BYU-Hawaii and is now entering her third year of college. But knowing young college women as I do, it is not unusual for them to have marriage on their mind. Over 90 percent of U.S. citizens marry sometime during their lifetime. And most young women marry in their late teens or early 20s. So Tammy and her roommates from BYU-Hawaii, Nancy and Sharon Olsen from Sandy and Rachelle Moon, a life long friend and neighbor, are among the young women right on track. Marriage is somewhat on their mind and somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

When Tammy asked the question, “What kind of man should I marry?” I began to think about what I might say. Should I answer it form a college professor’s perspective? What recent research could I quote? What new studies would be of interest? How could I approach the topic from a marriage counselor’s orientation? What contributes to marital stability? What distilled wisdom could I impart to my 20-year-old?

When you are asked that all-important question by your own daughter, though, you don’t do the counselor-teacher-educator bit. This is your own flesh and blood asking you a key question for her future happiness and stability. What sound advice and counsel could I give as a father? I thought for a long time.

Finally I was ready to give my answer, which she anxiously awaited. “Tammy,” I said, “marry a man who has a job.”

There was a pause, “Is that all?” she asked.

“No,” I replied, “that is not all. But it is a very good start.”

But on second thought, was I being too practical? Maybe there is more to choosing a husband than selecting one who is employed. Later that evening I was reading a statement by LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff, who gave some timely advice to young women. He noted, “When the daughters of Zion are asked by the young men to join with them in marriage, instead of asking, ‘Has this man a fine brick house, a span of fine horses, and a fine carriage? they should ask, ‘Is he a man of God? Has he the Spirit of God with him? Does he pray? Has he got the Spirit upon him to qualify him to build up the Kingdom? If he has that, never mind the carriage and the brick house, take hold and unite yourselves together according to the law of God.”

That thought stimulates additional insight for young women, past and present, for choosing a husband. President Woodruff suggests that there is more to life than material things – like a fine brick home, a fine span of horses, and a fine carriage – when choosing your future marriage partner. He reminds young married couples they can’t live on bread alone.

But some bread is necessary.

So, Tammy, my final counsel as your father is this. Marry a man of God . . . who has a job.

If you have advice for Tammy, Sharon, Nancy, and Rachelle and all other single young women, on choosing a husband, we would like to hear from you.

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