According to the official website of the LDS church, members believe that all of us are literal sons and daughters of God, and that we lived together in heaven before coming to Earth. After death, we return to heaven and are reunited with our husbands, wives and children. It's this belief in the eternal nature of a union, more than anything else, that might set Mormons apart from other faiths and non-faiths in this country—though misconceptions, no matter how erroneous or outrageous, are often hard to shake. Contrary to what popular culture (and outsized rumor) might have you believe, the Garretts do not practice polygamy. Nor do they have horns.
Stan Brown, a 58-year-old marketing professional who has been married since 1980, elaborates. "We get married not 'until death do you part,' but for eternity," he says. "When we're with God in the afterlife, we'll be together as families. It puts more emphasis on family unity, and working things out, rather than just throwing a marriage away. It's much more durable than disposable."
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As with most religious unions, the pre-marital process involves more than simply securing a marriage certificate. Eliana Osborn, 34, freelance writer and adjunct English professor in Arizona, has been married for 13 years. She explains the journey to marriage thusly: "To get married or sealed in the temple, both parties have to be LDS. To do so, you have to get what is called a temple recommend. You have to talk to your bishop or pastor, then to the higher up guy, the stake president, who is the head of 5-10 congregations. There are questions about belief and worthiness, but also discussion about marriage in general and yours in particular."
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LeeAnne Hanks, who lives with her husband, Jeff, and their three children in Pleasant Grove, UT, speaks of the time leading up to marriage. "You would never enter into a marriage without praying about it, counseling with your parents and bishop, reading scripture together. If you're living a Christ-like life," she says, "your marriage will be a good one."