How I Didn’t Marry an RM After All


Call this a disclaimer if you will- I have the highest respect for returned missionaries. I myself served a full time mission. I was 19. I loved it. It became one of the most defining periods of my life. My mission meant everything to me. It shook me awake and stripped me of selfishness and naivete (Well somewhat. I still have those things) I could write volumes on how much I loved my mission but you get the idea I hope.  

My husband and I met at a church dance. I know, it’s pretty cliche. We were married exactly 90 days after we met. I know, even more cliche. I never expected that to happen, I’m a slow mover and somewhat of a skeptic, but I got ‘swept off my feet’ (I’ll try and cool it with the cliches here.) I knew I had met the man I was going to marry, but I had one itching concern. He wasn’t a returned missionary.

On our first date I asked him if he served. He said no, and explained himself in a short story that I knew he must have recited many times in response to that frequently asked question. He had all the qualities I could have hoped for but no missionary plaque to show for it. He did not serve a mission due to personal circumstances. The decision was made with much prayer between him, his bishop, and the Lord. I don’t feel it’s necessary to go into the details here, but I support the choice he made and I’m proud of his character.

When we got engaged I became flustered with the questions and concerns of friends, family and peers regarding his lack of missionary service. In all honesty I shared the same concerns. So I sat down with my bishop and his insights gave me a much needed humbling. My bishop responded beautifully “Does he respect you?”

I said “More than I’ve felt respected in a relationship before.”

“Does he honor his Priesthood?”

“Yes. I know he does.”

“Then” he explained, “That is what is most important.”

We of course know the Lord has encouraged repeatedly through His prophets and apostles that “every worthy young man should fill a mission.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, 1981) This article is in no way intended to tear down the goal of every young man fulfilling that duty.  However, full-time proselyting missions may not be a one-size-fits-all to some unique and challenging circumstances. It makes me so happy to see that we can be understanding and Christ-like towards those who opt out of traditional 2 service and choose other forms of missionary service fitted to their needs. We never know the depth or nature behind their choice. And especially, the pain of not having met the sometimes overwhelming expectation of going on a mission.

A favorite mission leader of mine told me “I didn’t go on a mission just to ‘go on a mission.’ I went on a mission to become a missionary.” How profound. I like to think that’s of key importance. Being a missionary and internalizing missionary service. One might say doing so means internalizing Christ.

My husband is serving a mission. I know there is a badge on his heart. He shares the gospel humbly and fearlessly. He has touched the lives of many and even baptized his best friend. He serves me and is a missionary to me when I need it. I feel so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.

So to rephrase the title, these are a few insights on why and “How I married a forever missionary.”


Loading Facebook Comments ...

19 Replies to “How I Didn’t Marry an RM After All”

  1. My husband hadn’t served a mission when we started dating. He left when he was 23 and served two years. I don’t want people thinking that the opportunity has passed just because you didn’t serve by the time you were 20/21. Every worthy man should serve, and if you’re worthy and able in your early 20’s, go for it. It will probably be even more of a sacred at that point, but that’s okay! It’s supposed to be a sacrifice.

  2. My husband was not an RM either. He didn’t have any overriding personal issues that kept him from it, he simply joined the Marine Corps. I was a convert baptized into a singles ward and it was definitely a bit taboo to not serve a mission, especially if there wasn’t some publicly known and accepted reason for not going. But being a convert of less than 3 years it wasn’t high on my requirement list for a spouse. Much like your husband, mine has been an amazing lifetime missionary. He was injured in Iraq prior to our engagement and in the two years he spent at the hospital base recovering he made a huge impression on those around him through his faith. On an operating table in Iraq he was the first ever life saving surgery ever paused to allow the administration of a blessing, one that made a mark on the non-LDS surgeon who felt the power and influence of that blessing and attributed it to sparking in his mind just what to do to save my husbands life and leg. Back home now and serving in law enforcement he’s still making a mark as a missionary to those he works with and interacts with and he is currently teaching his friend who has expressed an interest in joining the church. There will never be a doubt in my mind that I married the man Heavenly Father intended, no matter the name tag he wore.

  3. There are many ways to serve. Sometimes family circumstances prevent it. Sometimes health concerns prevent it. Service missions are great and are very much needed in all areas. Service members have unique opportunities to serve. The gospel has been carried to many nations by LDS soldiers, even those who are not Americans. The important thing is the testimony and the desire to serve, regardless of where.

  4. So glad to see an article like this. I am the mother of 2 currently serving missionaries and one RM. While a mission can be a most powerful testimony building experience, it is not the end all, or be all for producing worthy priesthood holders. I have one son who had such a terrible experience with his trainer that he almost came home after only 2 months in the field. This Elder had no business serving a mission. He trained my son by telling him that “there was no way to follow all the rules” and he had a mouth worse than a sailor. Eventually my son asked to come home, if he could not be transferred. The MP did transfer him and he is now serving happily for 11 months now. However, just a few months after my son was transferred his trainer and nearly that whole zone of missionaries were sent home early. My point is that not all missionaries learn what we would hope them to, and that RM badge does not mean they served valiantly.We should always evaluate people as individuals, not with some random list of requirements.

  5. I remember during a sacrament meeting talk at the married college ward (not too long after my husband and I got married) there was a female RM speaking. She expressed her love and admiration for her RM husband and said “you shouldn’t settle for less than that”. This hit hard because my husband is not an RM. And personally, I don’t mind but apparently to others, I settled for less. My husband and I dated from ages 18 to 22, so I’m sure I’m one reason he stayed but when he turned 20 his father passed away suddenly and his mother needed help with working at the cemetery to keep her income (she and her husband were the sextons) so of course my husband stepped up. His father also didn’t serve a mission, yet he was a bishop and a highly respected man in the ward and community. My husband and his father may not have served a mission in another state or country, but they served well in their families and community when it was needed. And I certainly didn’t settle for less….I definitely got more.

  6. “It makes me so happy to see that we can be understanding and Christ-like towards those who opt out…”

    I just wanted to add, “or who are councelled to pursue other ways in which to serve the Lord” (i.e. when applications are declined).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *