A few years ago, our LDS Bishop called me into his office where he was counseling a newly married young couple. “Tell them what it means to be equally yoked,” he directed. “Tell them why you and Jeff are happy in your marriage.” At the time, I mumbled something about horses and wagons and pulling together.
…Let me see if I can be more clear now. I’ll start by quoting the Proclamation:
“Marriage between man and woman is essential to God’s eternal plan. …Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
Elder David A. Bednar once said:
“Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave
1. [because] The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation and
2. By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children” (6/06 Ensign, 82-84).
It has been said that in a contented marriage, partners have 5 positive feelings or interactions for every 1 negative one. Since Jeff and I have been hitched to the same wagon now for nearly 15 years, I thought I’d share 5 POSITIVE THINGS he does that reinforce our partnership.
He actively loves (which I’m sure often involves “praying with all the energy of his heart” for charity). He makes sure we have a weekly date; he brings home newspapers from his travels for me to read and discuss with him; he always shares his chocolate.
He listens. He understands that I cannot sleep if the kitchen is a mess, so no matter how late he got home from work or how tired he is, he works beside me until the last dish is loaded in the washer. He understands unspoken cues like—pulling-the-blanket-over-my-head-on-Saturday-morning means “Please feed and dress the kids and make sure they’re ready to go to soccer/piano/scouts/etc. by the time I get up.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught
“I am satisfied that the application of a single practice would do more than all else to [strengthen marriages…It is that] every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion… Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness.” (11/04 Ensign, 82).
Jeff gets this.
Jeff forgives and moves on. When Jeff and I were first married, I backed his brand new car into a cement pole. When I called Jeff to tell him the bad news, I expected the first big trial in our fledgling marriage. But do you know what he said? “Are you okay? Don’t worry about the car. It’s a car. But you—how are you?”
Do you know what is even more wonderful to me about this story? In all the time since this accident, Jeff has never complained about our insurance rates going up. He never stands behind and beside the car waving his arms (like missionaries do), to help me back up. He forgave and forgot about it.
As I think about Adam and Eve, they inspire me as people who certainly had trials but who “got over it” and moved on as equal partners. To quote Marie Hafen:
“Adam and Eve fell that they might have JOY. But they didn’t skip merrily out of Eden singing and wishing everyone a nice day. They walked in sorrow into a lonely world, where they earned their bread by the sweat of their brows and learned about joy in the midst of misery and pain.”
Just as we have no record of Adam constantly bringing up Eve’s transgression in their two hundredth year together, Jeff has never once mentioned the totaled back-end of his car.
Jeff remembers who I am. He tells our children by word and action that I’m a beloved daughter of God. He remembers I’m his best friend by calling me in the middle of the day just to see how I’m doing; he relishes telling every new dinner guest our “how-we-met” story; he is the first to give me credit as his partner for any success he experiences in his career.
So there—5 good things about Jeff. I’ll have to get back to you on a negative one. In the meantime, I’ll just keep gratefully pulling along right beside him.
Michele is a wife and mother of two who currently resides in Alpine, Utah. She and I became friends in Minnesota, and she has been a mentor and example to me for many years. Thank you, Michele, for sharing these great ideas and insights.
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