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Posted on: Thursday, February 11, 2021
Greg: In February 2020, we were a thousand miles apart. I was at my new job in Richmond, Virginia, and Liz was working as a chef on a cruise ship sailing the Mighty Mississip'. I had bought an engagement ring and planned to pop the question come Eastertide... This was the last month of normal before the virus hit. When the work from home order came, I drove 18 hours back to Louisiana to work there.
Liz: When the cruise ship management told us we were shutting down, I was euphoric that I would get to see my family and Greg.
Greg: Because of the virus, we got engaged months earlier than we otherwise could have. The first day we saw each other was March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. If you're going to propose on a day in Lent, there's really only one good choice.
Liz: Planning the wedding was difficult; finding a reception venue, nearly impossible. The family you always knew you'd be planning a wedding with, weren’t there because they were quarantining. Inviting people to showers was exacerbated by fights over how stringent precautions had to be. The focus shifted from our wedding to the virus, which was more important for many people. Dozens of people cancelled within the month of the wedding, which hurt a great deal. Our reception was at high-risk of being cancelled all the way up to the wedding day itself, which added to the existing stress of the situation.
The walk up to our wedding day was somewhere between Valhalla and Mount Doom. I was filled with so much doubt that something else horrible would stop the
wedding. But my parents were there, prepared for anything, even if it meant holding our wedding reception at their house. It was a wonderful comfort
to me that we could maintain the spiritual development of our marriage. God put the blinders on so that we could focus on what mattered most despite
the doom-and-gloom tumbling down around us. Everything fell into place. The Holy Spirit was there.
Greg: Our wedding was wonderful and the most joyous occasion of my life, because I decided it would be. Yes, the majority of my family did not come. Yes, the reception was a third of the size that my bride wanted it to be. And as the stress built up, I just had to say, over and over and over, "We choose to be joyful." My wife was a princess in her wedding dress, my groomsmen were goofy bachelors, my mom was there to dance with me, and my dad was there to tell me, "Well done." My God was in the Eucharist and he smiled down on me like I've never known Him to do so before. The adage goes "No matter what you take from me, you can't take away my dignity." I propose a modification: "No matter what you take from me, you can't take away my joy."
In retrospect, getting married was the only good thing about 2020. But it was so much greater than all of the bad, that our cup is still overflowing with marital grace.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 09, 2021
My wife and I had only been engaged a couple months when the Wuhan Virus hysterics really took off. When different parts of the country began to shut down travel, businesses, and the like, we didn’t expect it would last long. With an August wedding, we were certain the country would be open by then. Unfortunately, it would seem the powers that be had other plans.
A month out from the wedding, our reception venue cancelled due to Covid restrictions. Then various friends and family members began to back out. This was the biggest setback, especially for my wife, who dreamed of sharing her wedding day with the many people she loved. This was the moment where pushing back the date became a real option, but we held out, with the mindset of making every safety accommodation possible. Every other pew in the cathedral was to remain empty, and hand sanitizer would be readily available to all our guests. We also believed that a prolonged engagement was less than ideal. As much as it hurt not having everyone there, the sacrament remained what was most precious to us. If we could get that right, we could roll with the punches on the rest.
[Pictured: reception "before;" below: reception "after."]
Fortunately, as different walls popped up, we had an excellent support system to help us. They wanted a happy wedding almost as much as we did. When the venue dropped out, my in-laws offered to host the reception on their property. When the baker quit two days before the wedding, a friend offered to make the wedding cake herself. Various families donated air conditioners and decorations. It really was an extraordinary thing to be a part of! The wedding ceremony was picture-perfect. The reception had a variety of hiccups, but what reception doesn’t? We were, and are, married. No virus or world power could take that covenant away from us.
Looking back, the most stressful stuff was not Wuhan-related. That award goes to the category 4 hurricane named “Laura” that hit our state four days after the wedding. That may seem like a lot, but if you read the tortures the woman and her seven sons experienced in the book of Maccabees, one can’t help but conclude that life isn’t that bad. I married my best friend. We’ve been told many times how beautiful our wedding ceremony was and how much fun our reception was. We were on the receiving end of more charity from our community than we could hope to repay. And my wife’s family was there every step of the way plugging the holes that appeared in the bottom of the boat that was our wedding. With all of that in mind, I must affirm that life really is not that bad.
Posted on: Thursday, February 04, 2021
Marriage Fact Sheet - February 3, 2021
Get the facts on how your marriage impacts civilization and why children need married parents more than ever!
“I still feel that it (marriage) is the cornerstone of civilization, and an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.” Actress and 1970s sex symbol Raquel Welch. It's sex o'clock in America - CNN.com
In 2017, at least three-quarters of high school seniors said they planned to marry at some point in the future Young people aspire to marriage, so let’s offer them more than a Valentine » MercatorNet
Married couples are much better off financially. Individuals who are married on average have a net worth 77% higher than those who are single. Marriage and divorce’s impact on wealth - Jay L. Zagorsky, 2005 (sagepub.com)
Married couples have roughly double the wealth of those who never marry. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Marrieds have a lower risk of disease -- from diabetes and cardiovascular disease to respiratory problems. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Remaining single has been called one of the greatest health risks people can voluntarily subject themselves to.Why Marriage Is Good For You | The Value of Marriage | Marriage Facts (city-journal.org)
Husbands and wives are 10% to 15% less likely to die prematurely. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
People who are married have sex roughly twice as often as those who are single. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Marriage lowers the risk that individuals will become victims of violent crime. In 2012, the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey showed married people had a violent crime victimization rate of 13.5 per 1,000 people. The rate for those who are divorced was 37.0 per 1,000. For those who’ve never been married, it was 40.7 per 1,000. Single People More Likely To Be Violent Crime Victims - Business Insider
And yet marriage is everywhere on the decline.
In 1970, about 70% of US adults were married. By 2018, that figure had fallen to 50%.Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Among adults , 18 to 24 – in their prime childbearing years -- 45% were married in1960, compared to 9% by 2016 Marriage Is Declining Rapidly! Does It Matter? — High Conflict Institute
Men and women are both marrying later in life. In 1968, the median age for marriage was 23 for men and 21 for women. In 2017, it was 30 for men and 27 for women. This has a negative impact of fertility and provides more time for pre-marital experimentation which can lead to dissatisfaction later in life. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
The number of children living with an unmarried parent is on the rise – 13% in 1968 versus 32% by 2017. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Out of wedlock births are also increasing, from 26 per 1,000 women in 1970 to 42 per 1.000 in 2016. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Young adults are particularly accepting of cohabitation. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, 78% think cohabitation is acceptable, even if the partners don’t plan to marry later on. Views on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
The share of U.S. adults (18 to 44) who have ever lived with an unmarried partner exceeds those who have ever been married – 59% to 50% Views on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Fewer marriages and later marriage contribute to declining fertility. In 2018, the U.S. birth rate fell for the 4th consecutive year. The number of babies born fell by 2%.According to the Census Bureau, in 1950 the average American woman had 3.5 children. Today the fertility rate is below 2 (with 2.1 needed just to replace current population). U.S. Birthrate Is Lowest In 32 Years, CDC Says : NPR
Posted on: Wednesday, February 03, 2021
It felt like the universe was conspiring against my marriage. Usually I take hardship in stride; however, this began to feel personal. When I first heard of Coronavirus, I ignored it. It was far away and irrelevant.
The virus seemed to want to prove me wrong.
In early March, with six weeks until the wedding, planning was going great: our venue looked amazing, our food was planned, my fiancée’s family had their travel plans, a family member was going to perform the ceremony. It was what we had dreamed of.
Then my university announced it was cancelling classes. Then our church suspended in-person meetings. We started to hear stories of travel being cancelled. Now I was worried. The worst part was having no idea what was going on or what to do. Do we send the invitations? Could we still have a reception? Where would we get enough hand sanitizer for the 200 people on our guest list? It was already being sold for $50 a bottle on Amazon.
There were dozens of questions with no answers. Move the ceremony forward? Move it back? Were we threatening our grandparents’ lives? Do we do the reception in waves? Do we cancel the big venue because we can’t have a large gathering? Will we ruin existing travel plans? Will we have a place to live if we move it forward? Or was everyone over-reacting, and we’d be fine in six weeks?
After working out which of the bad options were best, we decided to move our wedding forward three weeks to March 28. This meant cancelling honeymoon plans and rushing to get as much done as we could. Things were looking good, in spite of the (minor) disappointment of losing our ideal wedding.
The next weeks weren’t encouraging. The family member who was going to perform the ceremony had congenital heart failure and became deathly ill. Some of my fiancée’s siblings weren’t able to make the new date. We also wondered if travel restrictions would keep her parents from joining us, as they lived a few states away. Nothing was going right, and the questions kept piling up.
The week of the wedding arrived but Corona wasn’t done with us yet. Less than 72 hours before our wedding ceremony, we received a call that all Latter-Day Saint Temples were closing. We weren’t getting married, at least not in a way that remotely resembled our hopes.
March 25th, the wedding three days away, everyone started texting and calling to ask what we were going to do. Again, we had 0 answers, but amidst all of those questions, only one thing was clear: I wanted to marry this girl. And the universe wasn’t going to stop that.
We decided to keep the date and to have a small ceremony near where I proposed. My mom didn’t get the “small” memo, and built me the first (outside of Vegas anyway) drive-in wedding. We live-streamed the whole thing on Facebook.
It was not the wedding I expected, but I don’t regret it for a second. My wife and my marriage are worth it. And now we have a baby due one week before our year anniversary. It really has been a great adventure. I love my family.