Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

Is There Life Before SixteenIs There Life Before Sixteen? On Your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set, Date PART 2

By: Michael W. Allread

From the book: Serving With Strength Throughout The World

Some young people wonder why we develop the desire to date before we are old enough to date. Maybe an example from sports will help. Many coaches feel the purpose of practice is to drill so much that in a game a player will not have to decide what to do. He or she will have been conditioned to simply react, instinctively, to any situation. The time for preparation is over when the game begins. By requiring us to wait until we are sixteen to date, maybe the Lord has blessed us with a great opportunity to think through our dating experience before we are actually in the situations. David O. McKay said: “The seeds of a happy married life are sown in youth. Happiness does not begin at the altar; it begins during the period of youth” (True to the Faith, comp. Llewelyn R. McKay [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], pp. 317-18). Happiness in marriage begins when we start to develop Christlike qualities (see Alma 37:35-37).

Take out a sheet of paper and write down the top five qualities that you would like in a future mate. If you can’t think of any, here are a few that I’ve heard frequently: Good looking, smart, spiritual, genuine, and rich. After you have made your list, then prioritize the qualities from most important to least important. You may even evaluate your list and decide that some of the attributes you originally thought were important, are not. For instance, good looking may not be as important as some other character trait. To ensure you will be worthy of someone like that, begin today to develop those same qualities. In other words, become the type of person you want to marry (see D&C 88:40). “Success in marriage depends not so much on finding the right person as on being the right person” (Lowell L. Bennion, Looking Towards Marriage [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], p. 47).

One important point to remember is that friendship plays a vital role in successful marriages. Having friends and being a good friend to lots of people before you begin dating is a good way to prepare for marriage. “The number of friends (both male and female) has been found to be significant in relation to success in marriage . . . the person who is able to get along well with friends has acquired the behavior patterns which are also important in getting along well in marriage. In many ways marriage is a friendship” (Rex A. Skidmore and Anthon S. Cannon, Building Your Marriage [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], pp. 73-74).

With these qualities in mind, do you see any reason to wait to start developing them? Is there life before sixteen? Sure. And if you use those early teenaged years to develop your personality and learn to get along with people, instead of worrying about dating, you’ll be better prepared to date when it’s time. With the amount of work some of us need to do, turning sixteen may happen too quickly.

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