With married students encompassing 25 percent of the population at BYU, it may be no wonder marriage preparatory classes are consistently popular on campus.
However, the key to finding that special someone might not be during FHE or marriage prep classes, but an experience far beyond one’s time zone.
Mallory Stevens, an English major from Provo, met her husband Kory Stevens, a linguistics major from Burbank, Calif., during an information session for a study abroad trip to India. However, it was not until they traveled half way across the world that their relationship took flight.
“As I’ve looked back on how things happened for us, I feel like our study abroad was the best thing for our relationship,” Stevens said. The reason for this was not the study abroad itself though, but the unique situations they found themselves in.
“The toilets were holes in the floor, we ate our meals with our hands and after four months of Indian attire, a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt sounded like heaven,” Stevens said. “We didn’t necessarily look or feel our best, but that broke down the getting-to-know-you boundaries really quickly. I think it’s when you get rid of all that extra stuff that you really figure out who a person is and really fall in love with them.”
Like Stevens, Maile Christensen, a BYU alumni from Jersey City, NJ, also fell in love with her husband of 11 years, Peter Christensen, during a study abroad trip to Nanjing, China. According to Christensen, it was because of a smaller social circle that helped everyone get to know each other.
“We weren’t constantly putting our best foot forward as people often do when dating. Instead, we were just being our natural selves and this helped us to really get to know each other well,” Christensen said in an e-mail.
Christensen recalled that it was during a run with her future husband through Luoyang, China when they officially began dating.
“As we were running, Peter suddenly turned to me and asked, ‘So when are we going to start dating?’ I almost fell on my face,” Christensen said. ” I really thought Peter was teasing me because I figured it must be obvious by then that I really liked him. But it turns out that he was serious. And here we are 11 years later with 4 kids.”
Taylor Crane, an advertising major from Bountiful, met his fiancé during his time spent at the Jerusalem Center and said the turning point in their relationship was when they began talking at the Western Wall on a Sabbath evening. He also attributes his luck to the close friendships formed on study abroad.
“It some ways it’s like high school all over again. Everyone knows each other and everyone is in each other’s business,” Crane said in an e-mail. “In a way that helped me, because I was aware of that element, and I knew that if I was really going to chase this girl I had to be really interested in a potentially long-term relationship.”
However, he said the key to their relationship was taking things slow. According to Crane, whether or not someone finds themselves in a unique situation abroad, simply learning how to have fun will lead to better success.
“I feel too often students succumb to the pressure often found within Mormon culture that we need to date and find our spouse immediately,” Crane said. Once he figured out that everything has its season and time, he was able to relax and not over-analyze relationships. “I am happier, enjoyed dating more and ironically found my eternal companion.”