Thursday Morning Quickie #13

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 15

Relatives and You

Ted and Joan were married in their early twenties and both thought they would get along well together. They lived in the same city as did their folks on both sides. All the relatives were pleased with the match, the beautiful wedding which was consummated in the Salt Lake Temple and the attractive and pleasant reception which was held in the evening. The couple went on a short honeymoon trip to Sun Valley and returned with confidence and a happy outlook toward the future. And then trouble began. Joan’s mother and father were exceedingly understanding parents who left Ted and Joan to make their own decisions but were interested in all they were doing. Ted’s father was of a similar nature but his mother was entirely different. She pampered Ted as an infant and through childhood. She had dominated and controlled his behavior and particularly his major decisions and choices in life. She even played an important role in his selecting Joan for his wife. After the marriage his mother immediately began to try to control and dominate Ted and Joan and their marriage. She insisted that they live in a certain apartment. She told Ted what to do with his money. She even dictated to Joan how to furnish her apartment and demanded that she cook certain dishes for Ted. She endeavored to control most of their activities. Joan, of course, resented it and Ted soon felt frustrated and like a child in the hands of his mother. The marriage started to “go on the rocks.” Fortunately, Ted was transferred to another city and although his mother insisted that they remain, they left. Their marriage improved “overnight”-as soon as Ted and Joan started to live their own lives.

Quickie Questions

1. What do you think of Ted’s mother’s behavior?
2. Did this young couple do the right thing in taking a job in another city, away from the mother?

________________________

Thursday Morning Quickie #13

Comments

  1. Moniker Challenged says:

    “the beautiful wedding which was consummated in the Salt Lake Temple” is hard to get past.

  2. Moniker Challenged–
    Agreed. I had to read it twice to make sure my eyes were not giving out.

  3. Yup, make that three votes: “consummated” and “in the Temple” should never be used in the same sentence (even if just referring to the wedding and therefore, technically correct) . . .

    . . . or so says this dude who’s had to explain one too many times to non-Mormons that no hanky-panky goes on inside the Temple.

  4. Too bad it was 1957 and Joan didn’t have access to teh interwebz for comfort and support: http://motherinlawhell.com/

  5. Finally a decent one for achange that seems realistic.

    The temple sealer at my wedding told my mother in law that he heard the apron strings attaching her and my wife cut when the sealing happen. Snip snip he said. Good advice that’s been heeded.

  6. Cynthia L. says:

    I hope this anecdote led to a robust and enlightening discussion about how cultural repression of women and limited opportunities for growth and fulfillment likely led to this mother in law’s deplorable behavior.

  7. Aaron Brown says:

    I suspect the worldly, corrupting influence of Sun Valley is being downplayed in this story.

  8. Cynthia L. says:

    And yeah, unlike the other scenarios, I’ve actually seen this one happen. More than once.

  9. Consummation only happens in the “true” temples. Apparently some in this crowd got married in the wrong temples…

  10. Well, I loved that it wasn’t until *after* the honeymoon that they had “confidence and a happy outlook about the future”. Seems like something you might want to feel pretty sure about before consummating anything in the temple OR Sun Valley, but I’m probably just too forward-thinking and jaded.

  11. Starfoxy says:

    This was obviously written before social networking, and fast cheap communication became ubiquitous. These days it would take more than moving across the country to get this sort of parent out of their hair. This particular couple got off easy, and the move is certainly not a permanent fix. The only way to really fix this sort of thing is for the couple themselves to set and enforce some really clear boundaries with the offending parent.

    And yeah, I’m glad I’m not the only one who did a double take on the consummated in the Temple bit.

  12. This one could have come out of my diary. My MIL literally dictated what shoes I would wear with my wedding dress and how my hair would look.

    The one Christmas I decided to go home after Christmas morning at her house instead of driving 3 hours to Grandmas, she told me I was tearing DH away from his family.

    It took a good six years of fighting before DH learned to stand up to her, and then everyone else got married and started having kids so she couldn’t keep up with criticizing me. I don’t know that we would have made it if we hadn’t moved across the country – literally from SoCal to NHampshire – a few years in.

  13. StillConfused says:

    So why didn’t the two just tell his mother to “suck it”. Moving away was a rather wimpy approach.

    Consummated — a little “quickie” in a secluded corner?

  14. We spent the first year of our marriage living in the same city as the MIL. My wife is the favorite daughter, so moving away from there was a wonderful thing…
    Moving away is more effective than setting boundaries with an unwilling mother-in-law can ever be. I’ve tried both approaches.
    Personally, I think every couple needs to live far away from parents for a while. My parents waited six years after they were married to move away, and were gone for just two years–but my father still says it was a wonderful decision.
    I wish more temple sealers would talk about cut apron strings…

  15. I do wish husband had just put his foot down on his mother’s influence…

    I too reread the consumated part about three times…huh.

  16. In some cultures this problem is institutionalized because a woman’s only power is through her sons. I had a co-worker tell me her father beat her mother a few times. I was of course horrified, and she went on to say that he didn’t want to do it, but his mother told him to. He, the dutiful son, had no real choice. This co-worker went on to say her father beat her once or twice as well as a child for the same reason, but she didn’t hold it against him. She blamed her grandmother. “Women can be very nasty”, she concluded. She went on to say that she intended to live in the US at least until her MIL died.

    Some conversations leave you with so much to say you can’t even talk.

  17. HA!!! My mother isn’t really very controlling, the part about “demanding that she cook certain dishes for Ted” reminds me of a rather tense exhcange between my wife and my mother. About sloppy joes, of all things. It stared with my mom telling her “that’s not how Rick likes them” and ended with my wife bluntly saying “I’ve been cooking sloppy joes for Rick for almost 4 years and he seems to like them just fine, so if you don’t like it that’s your problem and you should really just leave MY HUSBAND out of it.”

  18. MAN, these must have been written by someone a lot older trying to sound a lot younger. Reminds me of that great scene in Better off Dead when Lane’s dad is trying to use slang to get through to him–“Right off!”

    Amiright or amiright?

  19. Whoa, this is my mother-in-law… and we did move to California… although for a different reason but we will never live close to her.

    Sometimes I don’t want sons because I don’t want to be that crazy MIL.

  20. “consummated in the SL Temple…”

    Is that how those rumors get started?!

  21. Just a few weeks ago a coworker asked me if it’s true that in our temples, the priest has sex with the bride before the ceremony to make sure she is a virgin.

  22. @20: But then she wouldn’t be anymore, duh! Obviously it’s just the bride & groom on the altar after the I Do’s are said (or so feared my MIL).

  23. Starfoxy says:

    Moving away is more effective than setting boundaries with an unwilling mother-in-law can ever be.
    I suppose the question is more effective how? I agree that moving can be more effective at actually extracting the offending parent from day to day life. But the most important part, to me, is solidifying the relationship of the couple. In this example the husband did nothing to confirm to his wife that he loved her, and was ‘on her side’ when it came to his mother.

    Moving away could certainly be part of setting boundaries, but I think the more important part is the couple demonstrating to each other that their relationship to each other is more important than their relationship to their parents.

  24. Fletcher says:

    Hands Down this is the greatest TMQ ever! Bravo Scott, for not posting the best gem first.

    (beavis and butthead laughing)
    Consummated. Get it? They mated.
    (/beavis and butthead laughing)

  25. Greatest ever, Fletcher? Really? I mean, thanks, but did you happen to see the one from last week? I don’t think it’s even a fair fight…

  26. Fletcher says:

    Last week’s TMQ was too outlandish to relate to. Yes, the story was strangely awesome (rollerskating and armed robbery). But this week’s is awesome because it still happens. The modern applicability/relateability pushes it to a higher platform.

    Plus, it said “consummated in the Salt Lake Temple”. That is better than armed robbery on roller skates.

  27. MelissaBea says:

    I learned from Sex and the City that this kind of mother makes her sons impotent. Poor Charlotte. Trey’s mother not only chose their apartment, but decorated it, too. And sat next to the bathtub while he bathed. No wonder he couldn’t get it up.

  28. CS Eric says:

    Hey, don’t laugh. My patriarchal blessing tells me my marriage will be consummated in the temple.

    Unfortunately, my wife and I still haven’t found an empty room where we could make this come true. Maybe, as ScottB suggests, we’ve just been in the wrong temples.

  29. (28):

    It’s behind the cafeteria. You didn’t hear it here.

  30. One afternoon my very conservative, very Muslim boss called me into his office. He shut the door, sat down, and composed himself for a few minutes. Finally he says, “I heard something this weekend that I feel like I should address with you.” While turning beet red, and never looking up once, he proceeds to warn me about what happens in Mormon temples (he knew I had not yet received my endowment) and that I needed to renounce the religion quickly, before it went that far.

    What he had heard about the sealing ceremony: everyone is naked, goes into the room where the sealing takes place, and the bride and groom “consummate” their marriage during the ceremony while everyone looks on.

    I have to admit, when I finally did go through, it was hard not to think of that conversation :)

  31. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I immediately saw the ‘consulated in the temple’ line and wondered how long it would be before someone commented on it. I was not let down.

    I am lucky. I have no parents in law (both deceased), but siblings in law can be troublesome, too. My wife is now the one sibling that does not live within 100 miles of old homestead. I cannot imagine living that close. We live about 3000 mi away.

    My Mother is great with my wife. They get a long very well. But we moved aout of town about 4 months after being married and it is HIGHLY recomended. Not just to help cut the apron strings, but to allow the couple to grow and struggle on their own.

  32. The Other Brother Jones says:

    err, consumated

  33. CS Eric says:

    Sunny (#29)

    I almost hate to ask, but is there some kind of secret knock, or password, so we know the room isn’t…..occupied?

  34. 30–That is so sweet! My coworkers have just told me that I’m going to hell, but haven’t tried to do anything to prevent it. Although, some have congratulated me for escaping my husband. How else could I be out of the kitchen?

    I think escaping from your overbearing in-laws isn’t necessarily a good thing. Because then when you only see each other once a year, you don’t get the opportunity to face it and tell the in-laws to mind their own darn business. It’s bearable for a week, because then they leave, but you have to go through the whole thing again every time you visit each other.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was a temple sealer, I always practiced the ancient rite of prima nocte. Was that wrong of me?

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    Seriously, though, I have a friend whose parents (many years ago) were the president and matron of the SL temple. There’s actually a small room with a bed in there for the president to be able to take naps. According to my friend, there has indeed been some consummating in the temple…

  37. It might be ok as long as Mel Gibson isn’t around, Kevin.

    “What he had heard about the sealing ceremony: everyone is naked, goes into the room where the sealing takes place, and the bride and groom “consummate” their marriage during the ceremony while everyone looks on.”

    You mean, that isn’t how your marriage went? Hm.

  38. MikeInWeHo says:

    Everything I know about the heterosexual world I learned from BCC and Sex And The City.

  39. To forestall anymore double-takes, an alternate definition of “consummate” is to complete an agreement by a pledge or signing of a contract.

  40. (38):

    An alternate definition of humor is facetiousness.

    An alternate definition of literal is kill-joy.

  41. living in zion says:

    I have a daughter who got married two months ago. My husband and I regularly practice walking in tight circles, mumbling to each other about how they will grow up and it will all work out. It is so, so painful to watch up close as two young people negotiate living together. They live an hour and 1/2 away. We wish they moved across the country so we wouldn’t have to see the growing pains.

    (They did get married in the temple and I was with my daughter the whole time. No consummating in the Temple happened that day.)

  42. (36) the Dallas temple has a small room with a bed in it. They told me it was for people that got sick and needed to lie down. Obviously they meant that it was for people that got “sick”…

    MCQ, I’m still looking forward to my sealing. Too bad there was no nekkididity in the endowment :*(

  43. Stephanie says:

    Hey, don’t laugh. My patriarchal blessing tells me my marriage will be consummated in the temple.

    Mine does, too. The actual wording is “When the time is right that you receive a mate, the Lord desires that that be consummated only in the temple”. Um, [cough], maybe that’s been the problem with my marriage all these years . . .

  44. Norbert says:

    One of the benefits of marrying a little older is having a decade of practice in telling one’s parents to mind their own business.

  45. #36…I don’t care how fired up I was, theres no way I could ever do ‘eet’ in the temple!!! Geez Almighty!!!

  46. Exactly. It’s just creepy!

    Well, we live about 8,000 miles from all family members, so it’s pretty much a non-issue. But even when we lived close, neither parent imposed anything onto us. They were just happy we had jobs!

  47. CS Eric says:

    A bit off topic–my uncle and aunt were President and Matron of the LA temple for many years. The Church had an apartment for them within walking distance, so I don’t know that they needed accomodations inside the temple itself. But that temple is so huge, it could easily fit a spare room in it. My aunt tells me there is a large conference room that had been unused for many years, until they were told by the First Presidency that the temple could host leadership training meetings.

    The worst part of the temple experience for them was that my aunt’s parents came and lived in an apartment next to them at the temple. In their case, the kids moved as far away as they could–from Canada to California–but the parents followed them anyway.

  48. Oh, man! Of all the days to have start working at 4:30 am and not finish until after midnight! Curses!

    I read this and thought, “Holy crap, I am so glad that my in-laws aren’t like this! Also, I am glad that my parents aren’t like this!” This biggest problem I have with my mother-in-law isn’t actually a problem with her. It is a problem others have with us. We are both educators and, since I sub for her a lot, we dominate conversations with discussions of our students.

    Well, and I suppose I could include the odd fact that she seems convinced that since my wife used to like butter brickle, then she must also love butter pecan ice cream and butterscotch. But I don’t think that’s quite in the same category as insisting that certain dishes be prepared on certain days at certain times and in certain ways.

    Regarding the second question in the OP, I believe the right thing to do would have been to tell the offending mother off, let her seethe about it, and then tell her you are pregnant and let the baby heal all wounds.

  49. mellifera says:

    True story: at BYU we took a road trip down to Vegas/St. George and stopped in for a tour of the St. George temple visitors’ center. One of the darling little couple missionaries (the man) was showing us around and said “Now, people used to travel from pretty far away to get married here, and there weren’t really any decent hotels in town, so the sealing rooms could convert into honeymoon suites. Now isn’t that thoughtful?”

    Said the one token male on the trip after he walked way…. “Intimidating.”

    So sorry, guys, there could be some truth to this rumor. Or he was pulling our legs. Or he was repeating a rumor.

  50. B. Russ says:

    My inlaw-imposition began well before the marriage with dearest MIL pulling the puppet strings. My FIL told me, in the course of an hour, that I was worthless, spiritless, and a bad fit for my wife when I asked his blessing in asking for her hand in marriage.

    Well, we got married and moved to Cali for two years, long enough to strenghten our bonds and loosen others. I’d say we have a pretty amazing marriage now. Wouldn’t trade those two years for anything.

  51. Ugh. We all knew you were worthless and spiritless, but that sucks if you’re a bad fit for your wife, too!

  52. B. Russ says:

    totally.

  53. DW and I both agree that I have a terrible MIL, while her MIL basically leaves us alone.

    We live 1200 miles away from both of them (in different directions), which drives *my* MIL absolutely nuts.

  54. (And the best way to deal with MILs is to find the one place in the world that they despise the most, decide you like it, and live there happily ever after. Because the MIL hates where you live. It causes her so much pain to have to come down for baptisms/etc. because she hates North Texas so passionately. Needless to say, I can count on one hand the number of visits she’ll make this decade. We’re in her neck of the woods frequently enough, but being a visitor in her neck of the woods is a different proposition altogether…)

  55. (49) My wife and I may have spoken with this same couple at the St George temple. In another blog post I repeated the supposed “fact” and was sharply called on the carpet by Ardis Parshall that it was not true.

    She’s the historian so I’ll accept her word that the rumor is not true. However, someone aught to get the facts straight and make sure the missionary couples in St George don’t spread any more damaging rumors!

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