Dear 100 Hour Board,
So I"m a 28 single female and sometimes I wonder about the "what if". Like what if I never get married. Sometimes I do wonder if marrying outside of the Temple would be an option for me. If I would take it or even if I would seriously date a nonmember. I also understand completely how important temple marriage is. Any thoughts or feelings about this subject would help.
-My name here
The thing I like to keep in mind in my "what if" moments is that God and I have the same ultimate goal: happiness. God doesn't want me to be lonely or sad, and God doesn't want me to miss out on the manifold joys of life. That doesn't mean he's going to shower me with blessings all the time, but it means that he does have the very best intentions in shaping a plan for my life.
Dating outside the church doesn't necessarily mean marriage outside the church. If you aren't having much luck dating LDS men, there can be a lot of excitement in exploring other options. You don't have to go out with anyone you don't feel comfortable around, but there are innumerable wonderful, caring men out there who don't happen to be LDS. Whether or not you do end up marrying one of these men, there are important lessons you learn by dating and getting to know a variety of people. I think dating outside the LDS faith sounds like a good idea for you, since you seem to be frustrated about dating in general.
Other than that, I totally agree with guppy's advice below about following the Spirit. I never would have predicted where I've ended up, but thus far the Spirit hasn't prompted me to do anything differently, therefore I have to believe that this situation and these experiences are what God wants for me right now. That includes dating nonmembers, not being the most active in church, and not having a clearly defined path. It can be hard at times, not knowing what the future holds, and not knowing all the intimate details of God's plan for me. But when I pray sincerely and ask for his guidance, I feel a sense of peace, and I know that he's watching out for me, even if I can't always sense it.
I'm sorry that you aren't particularly happy about the situation you're in, but don't give up hope. You could meet your future husband tomorrow, and he may or may not be a member of the church. But trust in the Spirit, and trust in God's plan, and everything will work out.
First and foremost, follow the Spirit. Whether that leads you to never get married, or to get a civil marriage, the Spirit will never lead you wrong. Even if you make a decision based on the Spirit that others might disagree with, if it's God leading you, don't back down from what you know is right for you.
With that, I have family friends who married nonmembers outside of the temple. Sometimes their spouses got baptized and they got sealed. Sometimes they didn't. But in nearly all cases, they had an incredible family, with love and respect for all members. I think that temple marriage is important, but it's not so essential in this life that God will never let any of His children marry nonmembers who would otherwise be perfect for them. Wonderful and loving mixed faith families are examples of that. Does this mean you should give up on your dream of temple marriage? Of course not! But if the Spirit tells you that yes, you should start dating nonmembers seriously and yes, that nonmember there is who you should marry, then follow those promptings.
To look at it from the statistical side: there are roughly 2 men for every 3 women in the Church today. I don't think God intends for 33% of the women in His Church to be single. In addition, the average age of marriage is increasing in the U.S., and the average age for women to get married in 2013 was 27. I remember when I was 22 and had no possibility of marriage on the horizon, looking at our mission Facebook page of all the people from my mission getting married, realizing all the sisters I had gone out and returned with were engaged or married, remembering that my mother had married when she was 21, and lamenting to God, "It's hopeless, I'm never getting married." God's response? "Look at you, a self-confirmed spinster at age 22." I realized in that moment just how ridiculous I was being. Just because we're not following the general trends of the Church doesn't mean we're not following God's plan for us. And God's plan for us is so much better than what we may think we need.
What if you never get married? You'll still have an incredible, amazing life, full of happiness and service. Sheri Dew has never married, yet has done astounding things and has changed lives. And all faithful individuals will have a chance at all blessings, including marriage, in the next life. (And to lay any rumors to rest, that does not mean polygamy.)
Regardless of what happens, if you keep following God and co-creating your life with Him, you will have an amazing, happy life.
-guppy of doom