Before I came to BYU-Idaho, I was already feeling the pressure to find a boy and get married. Sure, I had just graduated from high school and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but hey, it’s what everyone else was doing.
I had heard about “BYU-I-do” before I even stepped foot in Rexburg. It seemed like people only went to BYU-I to get spouses, not diplomas. At least, that’s all that I had heard about it.
After those first two semesters, I went home only to be asked more questions about my relationship status than my grades or my future career plans. Soon after, I heard the catchy slogan, “ring by spring or your tuition is free” and thought, “well, I’ve sure passed that checkpoint, but my tuition isn’t any cheaper.”
Well, the “BYU-I-do” nickname is just for fun, right? Isn’t the “ring by spring” slogan just a joke?
For many BYU-I students, the “ring by spring” mentality is very real.
I’m referring to the mindset that exists in our campus culture that says a person must get married as soon as possible in order to be successful.
We at Scroll believe that marriage shouldn’t be rushed by social pressures. The “when, who and why” of marriage should be up to you, your future spouse and Heavenly Father. It shouldn’t be decided by how many of your friends got married before you or how soon your mother wants grandkids.
I’ve known so many friends who have adopted this mentality and been negatively impacted by it. Getting into marriage just for the sake of getting married can lead to an unhappy, and in some cases, abusive relationships.
These rushed marriages can also lead to divorce. According to a 2018 statistic, Idaho had one of the highest divorce rates in the U.S.
Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I am in no way attempting to attack or belittle the idea of marriage itself. I believe that marriage and family are integral parts of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m saying that there are certain social expectations that have been built up among members of the Church, especially here at BYU-I, which pressure young adults to put marriage at the top of their list of priorities, regardless of whether they are ready for it or not.
The “ring by spring” mentality can become dangerous when you become convinced that your entire worth depends on getting married, or that you’re a failure because you’re not married.
This mindset influenced me for a long time. I felt like getting married was something I needed to accomplish in order to succeed in life — marriage felt like my only big goal. I started to care more about my social life than my grades. Doing well at school didn’t seem like a big priority, because I could just get married and all my problems would be solved.
Marriage seemed like something I needed to do in order to become “complete” because I wasn’t good enough on my own.
I could not have been further from the truth. I learned that I should continue my own personal development before I can worry about adding an eternal partner to the mix.
Thomas B. Holman, a professor of Marriage, Family, and Human Development at BYU, explored this idea in his 2002 Ensign article, “Choosing and Being the Right Spouse,” which said, “before we start holding others up to scrutiny to see if they are worthy of us, maybe we ought to work first on becoming a ‘right person’ for someone else.”
If I work on improving myself and becoming the person I want to meet, then I will be more prepared to contribute to a happy and successful marriage when the time comes.
All that being said, everyone is different, so we all have different timelines. Just because I’m taking things slow does not mean that I’m shaming couples who took things a bit faster.
Holman said, “waiting too long is clearly ill advised. But jumping into marriage too quickly can also be a problem.”
He then explains that both people should be prepared and mature enough to take care of a family of their own before they consider marriage.
If you’re feeling the pressure to say “BYU-I-do,” here’s a bit of advice:
You’re not going to have your diploma withheld just because you didn’t get married, there isn’t any extra credit for getting married as a freshman, staying single for longer than you anticipated doesn’t make you a failure and your tuition isn’t based on getting a ring by spring, so take things at your own pace.