My first boyfriend broke up with me solely because his patriarchal blessing said that he would recognize his wife when he saw her for the first time. He hadn't had that feeling for me, and so he figured he might as well break it off and keep looking, even though he still liked me. It hurt. Years later, we've remained friends, and I recently asked him if he had had a special feeling the first time he saw his now-wife. The short answer, he said, was no.
They met on his mission—she was the daughter of one of the leaders and she was setting up for a dinner. While my friend thought "She'll make a good mother someday"—a very creepy patriarchal comment that many Mormon boys tell Mormon girls (I got it a few times myself from other young men—I think it's repressed code for, "You're hot and I secretly want to have sex with you")—he didn't have any other special experience besides that. After his mission, they became good friends, and eventually they wanted to marry. Still, he was concerned that she was "the wrong one" because of his patriarchal blessing. He was so worried that he tracked down his patriarch, called him up, went over to his house, and explained the situation. The patriarch hemmed and hawed a little bit but reassured my friend that if he had prayed and felt good about it, then he should go ahead and marry her. My friend was relieved, but the thinking process began: was he not in charge of his own life? Had God already made all his most important decisions for him and left him vague emotional clues to follow like a scavenger hunt of predestination?
My patriarchal blessing has similar harmful things in it, including that Satan would take possession of my body if I wasn't careful. Do you know what kind of anxiety this causes a fifteen-year-old girl?
A few years ago, I asked some other friends, who had been in my same stake and had married each other, if they would be willing to share their blessings with me to compare. The wording was exactly the same in many parts, although John Doe's blessing had more in it about being a leader, not a follower. But it had a similar passage to mine about marrying the special one that God had reserved for him. "She will stand fast by your side in the callings which will be yours" and she would essentially be a really nice servant while John went out and did marvelous things. That was not how I viewed my spunky friend Jane Doe. Her blessing was similar to mine about how we already made commitments to honor the priesthood, how our future included lots and lots of temple work, being obedient to leaders, and standing fast by the side of our husbands. God had also prepared a special someone for her. The wording in this section was specific and exactly the same as mine, about how her husband would "take [her] by the hand and lead [her] to the temple."
My beloved Mr. T ended up doing no such thing; he actually, bless him, walked in front of me from the car to the front doors of the temple in a state of mental abstraction, and I ran up and grabbed his hand, terrified that my blessing would suddenly not be true.
My mother, also bless her, lorded my blessing over me when she found out that I didn't want to have a second child—she didn't believe that some women's bodies and temperaments and desires are simply different. I had experienced a traumatic birth and soul-sucking postpartum depression. Yet she said that I HAD to have a second child because my patriarchal blessing said "children."
"Chil-dren," she emphasized. "That means more than one." Fulfilling a prophecy from one old white man I had known for five minutes was more important to her than the mental and physical health of her own daughter. That's obedience for you.
I was relieved, however, that these two other blessings from John and Jane also contained that same part about Satan: "He will strive to enter into your tabernacle and to destroy it." Dude. That's scary. If you're not obedient to the church leaders, Satan's gonna getcha. I am saddened that this kind of fear is being seeded in our young people by well-meaning but ultimately life-harming patriarchs. It doesn't matter how much comfort this crystal-ball prophecy brings to people; when real people are hurt by false, canned, and recycled prophecies, any good they might do is nullified.