Tall, Dark, Handsome, and…Returned Missionary?

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I remember sitting in my young women’s class one Sunday with a bookmark-length piece of paper my leaders had passed around resting on my lap. Dotting the top and surrounded by curling filigree were the familiar words “What I Want in a Future Spouse.” I wrote down some stupid things, like dark hair and beautiful brown eyes or someone who is tall — it’s really funny to see how preference changes over time — but then there were more important and personal things, too, some that, as a girl, I don’t think I understood fully.

Things like:
“He must honor his Priesthood.”
“He must be able to look past my weaknesses.”
“He should talk to me about important things.”

And then, near the top: “He must be a returned missionary.”

I must have written that last one dozens of times, spurred on by well-intending leaders who made sure that we knew the importance of a mission. I’ll admit to picturing a handsome young man, home from an international mission with lots of stories and a new-found love of a culture. We’d decorate our first home with flags and native prints and tell our children his stories. That, in my head, is what it would be like.

It’s been four years since I left the Young Women’s and a lot has changed since then. My list is no longer hair/eye color focused and I’ve become incredibly picky when it comes to the spiritual things. I, like most people, I’d imagine, regret that I found certain traits so important, and as I get older, I find myself regretting unexpected things.

Namely, I regret that “Returned Missionary” had such an unshakable place on my checklist.

By saying that, I realize full well that I’m stepping into an area of scarlet letters and glaring taboo. It is not socially acceptable where I am from to admit that you’re not necessarily looking for an RM. I’d imagine that’s the case for most of you reading this as well. A lot of you have sat through Sacrament meetings where proud fathers talk of their sons who have returned from serving “honorable” missions. A few of you, like me, have probably gone on dates with some of these RMs who unintentionally use their missions as social/romantic leverage. It happens a lot.

The question I have is this:

What are we really looking for? In all of our searching for a potential spouse, is there something else we need to be focusing on? In my opinion, the answer to that second question is yes.

Read Arianna Rees’ full post on her blog, igobyari.com.