Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marriage, Mountains, and Misperceptions

Part of the doctrine of our religious beliefs is that marriages should be conducted in a holy temple, by someone with priesthood authority to seal, or bind, the marriage together eternally. Because admission to temples requires living a certain standard of worthiness, we teach our children from the time they are young to keep themselves pure and worthy to be married in the temple. the moment I have two little girls who are completely obsessed with getting married. Thanks to the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella, starring Brandy in the lead role ("Mom! That Cinderella looks like ME!"), my girls are convinced that a handsome, Asian-looking Prince is going to sweep them off their feet into a life of beautiful ballgowns, endless dancing, and romantic *married* kisses. (The kissing has been demonstrated on me so that I know exactly how the Prince will kiss my dimpled darlings on that magical day). No detail of planning their weddings has escaped my almost-three and almost-four year old princess wannabes.

Luckily for me, they also love the temple. They love to visit the temple, they love to talk about the temple, they love to walk around the grounds at the temple, and they especially love the idea that when that magical day arrives that they marry their own Prince Charmings, they can do it at the temple.

Several days ago we were curled up on my bed talking and I saw the opportunity for a brainwashing--er, I mean, teaching--moment.

"Mia, what if you meet a wonderful, handsome Prince and he says, 'Mia, oh Mia, I love you so much! I want to marry you. Will you please marry me--but not in the temple. I'd rather get married in our backyard.' What would you say, Mia?"

Mia looked confused, so I prompted her a little bit.

"Do you love the temple, Mia?" A vigorous headshake up and down. "Do you want to be married in the temple when you are a grown up lady?" Mia grinned and nodded. "Well then, if your handsome prince wants to get married somewhere else, you just shake your finger like this and say, 'No, no, no mister! I'm only getting married in the temple, mister, because I'm a REAL princess, and real princesses get married in the temple.' "

Both girls were instantly enthralled with this new role-playing exercise Mommy came up with. What's not to like about scolding an imaginary Prince and yanking your husband-to-be back onto the path of truth and right? Apparently even preschool age princesses enjoy bossing their someday-Princes around.

We played out every scenario that my tired Mommy brain could invent. What if the Prince wants to get married at church? What if he wants to get married on a boat? Or on an airplane? Each one made them giggle harder and shout louder, "No, no, no mister! I'm only getting married in the temple, mister!"

The last scenario I had was for Grace. "What if your Prince says, 'Grace, you are the most beautiful princess in the entire world. I love you and want to marry you. I want to be your husband and you will be my wife, and we will have a family. But I only want to get married on a mountain, not in the temple. Please, will you marry me on a mountain?' "

Grace's jaw dropped open. The giggling stopped. Her eyes were huge. She looked completely horrified.

"Oh NO! I cannot get married on a mountain! I would fall off and get hurt very badly!"

Time will tell if this teaching moment has lasting impact. I'm guessing by the time the girls are old enough to receive marriage proposals they'll probably find more tactful responses than, "No, no mister!" But heaven help the poor man who asks Grace to marry him on a mountain.

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