Marriage

I came across this quote today.  I like it.  I acknowledge that there are exceptions for abuse or other extremes, but it is a sound principle we can all do better at.

“When people are married, instead of trying to get rid of each other, reflect that you have made your choice, and strive to honor and keep it, do not manifest that you have acted unwisely and say that you have made a bad choice,nor let any body know you think you have.  You made your own choice, stick to it, and strive to comfort and assist each other.”  Brigham Young, Deseret News, 29 May 1861, 98.

Love and Marriage Manual: A Free Download

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have a little present for you.

I wanted to share with you what I like to give as a wedding gift when an LDS couple gets married.  I put together this FHE manual for newlyweds, a collection of talks and articles about topics that are important for married couples to study and discuss and understand.  There are some really great talks in there!

I print it out, hole punch it and put it in a 3-ring binder.  I print out the title page (above) and write a personal note to them about how these messages can bless their marriage and have blessed mine.  I usually get one of those binders with a clear plastic pocket on the front cover, slide in the title page, and tie up the whole thing with a pretty bow.

You can download the title page by clicking on the picture of it above, and you can download the whole manual (as an 80-page .pdf file) by clicking on the table of contents below.  When you click on either one, you will probably get a dialogue box that pops up asking if you want to save the file.  When you click Save, it will download to your computer.  Then you can open it and print it.

Anyway, I think it makes a great wedding gift, but I also think it would be a great Valentine’s gift to your husband, and something that would definitely strengthen your marriage if you study it and discuss it together.  All of the talks are by prophets, apostles, general authorities, and general auxiliary leaders.  (All are cut-and-pasted from lds.org or BYU devotionals or Women’s Conference talks.)  Even now, I can still think of more talks I love that I wish I had included, so feel free to print out your favorites, hole-punch them, and add them to the binder.  I love the doctrines and principles that are taught in these talks.  I hope you will too.

“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully. . . . . When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union—when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other—your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced.”– Elder Russell M. Nelson

Marriage and the Atonement

If you are a perfect spouse, and if you have a perfect spouse, feel free to disregard this post.

Marriage seems to be the best opportunity we have to practice forgiveness and repentance.  It’s like a crash course in why we need the Savior.  Is anyone else as surprised as I am how easy it is to hurt or be hurt by the person you love the most?  Sometimes our list of demands is great, and we pay more attention to it than we do our list of goals and self-improvement or our list of blessings.

I have a husband who is very patient with my frequent bouts of grievances.  He rarely returns the “favor.”  He far surpasses me in patience and long-suffering.

I’ve seen a lot of marital discord among family, friends and neighbors.  Every time it pops up, I feel so sad and I realize that none of us is immune to Satan’s attacks on marriage and family.  I hold on to my own marriage a little tighter and open my eyes a little wider.

And, surprise, surprise, I start studying what the prophets and apostles have said because I’m a firm believer that whatever seems to be plaguing society at the time has probably been addressed very carefully recently by living prophets.  So far, that’s always been true for me; I find answers for whatever is heavy on my heart and mind.  Anyway, here are few great talks and thoughts I came across after I did a search for “marriage and the atonement” . . . .

From Celestial Marriage by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Meanwhile, mortal misunderstandings can make mischief in a marriage. In fact, each marriage starts with two built-in handicaps. It involves two imperfect people. Happiness can come to them only through their earnest effort. Just as harmony comes from an orchestra only when its members make a concerted effort, so harmony in marriage also requires a concerted effort. That effort will succeed if each partner will minimize personal demands and maximize actions of loving selflessness.

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty—the fulfillment of which brings true joy.” 34

Harmony in marriage comes only when one esteems the welfare of his or her spouse among the highest of priorities. When that really happens, a celestial marriage becomes a reality, bringing great joy in this life and in the life to come.

From Divorce by Elder Dallin H. Oaks Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache. A broad-based international study of the levels of happiness before and after “major life events” found that, on average, persons are far more successful in recovering their level of happiness after the death of a spouse than after a divorce. 3 Spouses who hope that divorce will resolve conflicts often find that it aggravates them, since the complexities that follow divorce—especially where there are children—generate new conflicts. . . .

Of course, there can be times when one spouse falls short and the other is wounded and feels pain. When that happens, the one who is wronged should balance current disappointments against the good of the past and the brighter prospects of the future.

Don’t treasure up past wrongs, reprocessing them again and again. In a marriage relationship, festering is destructive; forgiving is divine (see D&C 64:9–10). Plead for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord to forgive wrongs (as President Faust has just taught us so beautifully –see that talk here), to overcome faults, and to strengthen relationships.

If you are already descending into the low state of marriage-in-name-only, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

From Covenant Marriage by Elder Bruce C. Hafen Of the First Quorum of the Seventy:

Our deepest God-given instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But [Satan] drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him—and then they wonder why they feel left alone. . . . .

May we restore the concept of marriage as a covenant, even the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. 14 And when the wolf comes, may we be as shepherds, not hirelings, willing to lay down our lives, a day at a time, for the sheep of our covenant. Then, like Adam and Eve, we will have joy.

I need to do a better job of expressing appreciation and love.

What do you do to protect yourself against the “wolves” that attack marriage?  How do your covenants bless your marriage?

GCBC Week 14: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage” by Elder Richard G. Scott

I cried through almost all of this talk when I first heard it on General Conference Sunday back in April.  It was such a sweet talk, so sincere and heartfelt.  You could just tell how much Elder Scott  loves his late wife and how much he misses her.  It was also a wonderful reminder of how importance day-to-day kindness is in family relationships.

“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage” by Elder Richard G. Scott

He told lots of stories that were filled with examples of love and service.  As I listened and read, I knew that there are things I can do better to show my love for my husband.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness are marriage and the family. Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan’s relentless efforts to splinter the family and to undermine the significance of temple ordinances, which bind the family together for eternity.

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As a mother you have been given divine instincts to help you sense your child’s special talents and unique capacities. With your husband you can nurture, strengthen, and cause those traits to flower.

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I think one of the reasons that we are counseled to get married early in life is to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change.

How about you?  What were the main points that you felt like were take-away principles from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

Being a good mom is a lot easier if you’re a good wife.

I mostly use this blog as a vehicle to talk about motherhood.  Today I’m going to switch gears just a little bit to share some thoughts I’ve had recently about marriage . . . except it’s not really switching gears since marriage and parenthood are so connected.  One of the most important things we can teach our children is how marriage is supposed to work.  (Heaven knows the rest of the world won’t teach that!)

“Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but eternal joys as well. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through many generations.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976, p. 10.)

Even harder than teaching about good marriage is modeling it.  Good marriage takes hard work.  It almost always takes work, but sometimes, when the cares of day-to-day living start to wear on you, that work can seem even harder.  Essential, but hard.  I have learned that when my marriage is healthy, I’m so much better equipped to deal with the other challenges I face.  There is a lightness and a sense of safety that comes from knowing that “all is well” on the home front. On the flip-side, when I let disagreements fester or small problems go unresolved, I find myself more easily overwhelmed in all my other pursuits.  There’s a heaviness that holds me back and makes it harder for me to be successful as a whole.

Recently, some of the stresses that my husband and I have been facing individually have led us to realize how much we need each other.  We need one another’s strengths to face our own weaknesses, plus we need blessings from the Lord that are sure to come if we are paying more attention to our marriage covenant.  I don’t want to cause any false alarm because I have always been certain of my love for my husband and my gratitude for my marriage, but, like all important things, Satan works hard to cause distraction.  We’ve just been busy.  We’ve dealt with big things in both of our roles.  We haven’t done things to damage our marriage, but we’ve waded through a short phase where we just kind of got too busy for each other. Even the greatest of seeds, when ignored, won’t give good fruit.

“Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.”  -Elder Russell M. Nelson

In short, we’re stupid if we think we can handle life’s challenges alone.  And even together, if we don’t have the Holy Ghost, we’re alone.  We need the teamwork.  We want it.  So we’ve chosen to cling to each other, and we’ve been thinking and praying and talking about the things that are important to us and to our family.  Even just that much makes me feel so much more grounded.  At women’s conference last week, I attended a workshop where the speaker said, “Whenever I feel distance between myself and my wife, I know I need to repent.”  It struck me that rather than focusing on what needs to be done in a marriage, things will always move toward resolved when we’re each focusing on what to be.  Trying to keep my husband’s welfare and happiness as a top priority has made me happier.  It really has.  It gives me strength to deal with the same things that have been there for months and overwhelmed me, but I feel stronger because he is my partner.  We both feel better, not because life is any easier, but because we know we can lean on each other.

I just wanted to share some of the articles I’ve studied recently that I found to be the most helpful. They have great reminders of the basic nurturing that is easy to forget.

“Enriching Your Marriage” by James E. Faust

“Nurturing Marriage” by Russell M. Nelson

“Oneness in Marriage” by Spencer W. Kimball

“Coping With Difficulties in Marriage”  (The Ensign interviews Val D. MacMurray, twice a bishop, and [then] assistant commissioner for LDS Social Services.)

I also collected some favorite quotes from these articles and a few others and made little signs (ha ha ha, here I go with my signs again) to hang on the mirror in our master bathroom.  We both want to stay focused on what matters most, so I created these little “Marriage Mirror Messages.”  If you want to print them out and use them, you can click here to download the file. Please note:  I am not a graphic designer.  I just know how to type.

I wondered if this post might be a little bit too “dirty laundry” to put out there, but I can’t imagine that we are any different than any of you, and we all need reminders sometimes about what matters most.  I know that my own personal journey in the past week or so has helped me feel full of the Spirit and reminded of the great blessings that I have, not to mention the great blessing I’m married to.  I guess I just hoped it might do someone else some good to remember the same things.