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.
“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.