Today in Relief Society we had a lesson on Eternal Marriage. I love talking about this topic in the church because marriage is something that I think is often misconstrued in the media and the world. Our marriage relationships are of utmost importance and maintaining them is by far one of the most important things we will do in this life. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, and not all of them necessarily connected to the lesson we had today. This post is actually one that I started back in April but I finally decided to get it posted today. I had some other thoughts that I’d like to put together on other marriage related topics, but I think for now this will suffice.
In last April General Conference I was listening to the Priesthood session and was struck by President Monson‘s talk. President Monson said that the saddest part of his week was reviewing the cancellations of temple marriages. His remark was that most of those marriages didn’t have to end that way. He had two thoughts that I thought were particularly poignant “Choose your love, love your choice” and “Committment in marriage is absolutely essential”.
For those of you who know the story of how Eric and I got together, you might be surprised to find out that neither of us believe in “the one”. Meaning, neither of us believe that there is that one and only person out there that you are destined to be with and can’t be happy with anyone else. Now, this might be surprising because the short version of our story is this – Eric asked me on a date on Sunday, we decided to start dating on Thursday, we went on that date on Friday (no I don’t have those two out of order), I met some of his family on Sunday, he met my dad on Friday, he asked me to marry him on Sunday, we were married 6 months later and we’ve been happily married now for 4+ years. So, the question that begs to be answered is how do you decide to marry someone after just 9 days of dating them without feeling like you have an unshakable conviction that they are “the one”? Easy, after 9 days we knew each other well enough to know that we loved each other and we were willing to do whatever it took to make it work.
If you watch Disney movies or any chick flicks you will see lots of examples of people having these “fairy tale” romances, where they find this perfect person and when the movie ends you are left to believe that “they all lived happily ever after.” While that’s a nice thought, I believe there’s no such thing as “happily ever after”. What comes in the “after” is lots of work. Good work, enjoyable times, love, laughter and LOTS of good things, but work. Marriage is not, nor was it ever meant to be, sunshine and rainbows and romance. What I’ve come to realize is that the most important element in a marriage is not that fluttery feeling when you look into each others eyes, but it’s the commitment that you made to weather any storm together that you made on your wedding day. Quite frankly, it doesn’t even matter if you don’t even like your spouse in a particular moment, the important thing is that you committed to one another that you would love them and work together with them no matter what. Love is an expression of caring for another person above yourself and you can do that even if you don’t like the person at the time. Of course, it is best if you can like your spouse as well, and a lot of that comes down to attitude. Obviously, there were lots of things you liked about your spouse when you married them, and it’s important to focus on those things that you do like rather than letting temporary annoyances get in the way.
I want to close this post with an awesome quote from Dallin H. Oaks’ talk from April 2007 conference. He says simply pretty much what I wanted to say:
“In all of this, we should realize that a good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection. President Spencer W. Kimball taught: ‘Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage . . . means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 194).”