My philosophy is that any good marriage could stand good counseling. There are great tools that we need to learn. We are working forward to making it better.
Somedays you probably contemplate what it would be like to be single. We are imperfect mortals.
What is the goal in this life? To live with our Heavenly Father and in order to do that we have to be like him. We have to develop His attributes.
Some of you may have a ‘perfect’ child. This is the almost self raised child. They are mild. They keep their room clean because they want to please you. They are peace makers in your home. Some of you may have that child. If you were blessed with that child you are taking a course in parenting 101. You still have to get up in the night when they are babies. You still have to potty train them. Is it really hard when you have a ‘perfect’ child.
What if some of you have children that are strong willed, say ‘no’, throw temper tantrums, hard to get to go to church, defiant at everything you say. Now you are enrolled in Parenting 505. It will teach you patience, reliance on the Lord, absolute complete humility. This hard one gives you the opportunity to learn Christ like behavior. You have the choice to learn it. You don’t have that same opportunity with the ‘perfect child’ in Parenting 101.
You either give birth to trouble or marry it! Heavenly Father wants to give us that opportunity to grow.
Most of us go into marriage with a faulty idea of what it should look like (in the church). Most of you are not raising your children to be good marriage partners. We aren’t teaching them what it’s like to be real in marriage. We are still teaching the same principles that we had when we grew up.
Girls…be active, get YW medallion, be clean, go to college, be moral, find the perfect missionary, get married in the temple and live happily every after. It’s not wrong it’s just incomplete.
Boys…same thing…add go on mission, find the right girl.
After you are married a few days you learn that marriage is not what you thought it would be. You still have the idea subconsciously you think it’s an extension of a perfect date, you just don’t have to say good night.
When you are on a perfect date what are your manners like? You are still trying to impress. How long do you have the energy to live like that?
When you are in this class you have to listen for yourself. We will talk both men and women’s side. You aren’t listening for what they should be doing. I want you listening for what you have power over that you can change.
Hopefully we will go from understanding to application. Some of you, those who maybe have a rocky or empty marriage, I want you to know and testify that if you change you the relationship will change. I’m not talking about abusive marriages, just regular normal empty marriages. No one husband or wife should be abused. That needs to be dealt with, with the bishop. You are not abused if you don’t get your own way.
The first part of a marriage is called the “Infatuation” part of marriage (October 2000 Agency and Love in Marriage by Lynn Robbins) This is where you live on love. It requires no effort. You are always thinking about fun things to do for them. No one said…you need to do this. You just did it. That’s not true love.
True love requires conscious effort and sacrifice. It’s a choice. In the ‘Infatuation’ period it’s like living in the Garden of Eden. You begin to slide out of that.
About year 2-3 when the first baby comes along Mom’s attitude changes from what Dad used to know. Dad is finishing up school. It’s busy and crazy. Baby comes. Mom is home with the baby and Dad is still working and finishing home. Women start wanting attention and time. I’ve been home with this baby all day. He needs space…I’ve been at work and school and just need someone to care. As each person looks at their own needs what begins to happen? We start sliding just a little bit.
Child 2 comes and you are still ok. When Child 3 comes it’s over. Mom is completely immersed in being Mom. Dad is trying to support the family and church callings.
With 3 kids you don’t let go of anything. You still keep your house clean and try to do it all. The more kids you have the more you let go of.
The #1 reason people want to get divorced is that ‘we are falling out of love’. Love is a verb. Do you fall out of kindness? You don’t fall out of kindness you stop doing kind things. You don’t fall out of love. You stop doing loving things. It’s a gentle slow slide out of love.
Alma 32 (The Parable of the Seed)
Change the wording…
37 And behold, as the tree marriage beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
This is the infatuation time. If you nourish with much care…what does much care say….time, effort, intentional…if you take a plant and just expect the plant to grow will it? It probably won’t.
My Dad’s hobby was plants/gardening. We moved into a house. He laid out a plan on gardening. He took a wheelbarrow and hand mixed soil for every plant he planted. The yard turned out incredible. That is nourishing with much care. What did he have to do? What did it look like?
He learned about the plant. He had to find the right balance. Then he had to do it…many times. He did it daily! That’s what carefully nourishing looks like.
38 But if ye neglect the tree marriage, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun trials, selfishness, illness, PMS, post pardem, work-a-holics, internet gaming cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
We are through the infatuation period. We have talked about intentional parenting. We need to do intentional marriage and marriage with a purpose.
“Pluck it up and cast it out”…I’m not talking about divorce. This means…ignoring each other. You are casting out your willingness to nourish. You are emotionally and spiritually withdrawing from them.
Critical years in marriage 5 and 10…hump years. In almost every marriage people stop and say this isn’t what I wanted. The next time is ‘empty nesters’.
If I feel like my needs are getting met…they aren’t moving, but I am and it creates distance. If I am really offended and hurt and will not move how do we close the gap. It doesn’t matter if they move from you or you move from them. You can begin to do the much nourishing.
39 Now, this is not because the seed marriage was not good, neither is it because the fruit love thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground heart is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree marriage, therefore ye cannot have the fruit love thereof.
This is where you ‘find new interests’, you aren’t listening and aren’t paying attention to me. That marriage is still good. Your heart is hard. You have to nourish with conscious purpose.
In the infatuation period is the 80/20. The others you dated just didn’t have the same things you wanted. Then you found the person you wanted and they had 80% of what you wanted. There was 20% of the things that annoy you. Let’s say that they have allergies. In the spring and in the fall they ‘sniff’. Because you love this person so much in the Dating/Infatuation your heart is torn that you have allergies.
5 years down the road that isn’t funny anymore. You are saying…could you knock it off.? Could you blow your nose? We go to the point where we are going to fix the 20% because we are wanting to ‘help’ them. We rationalize it that way. We start to parent our spouse. (Women do that) Men will criticize. Those things that didn’t bother us in the beginning are going to start bothering us.
We will encounter other things.
Example…There was a woman married to a guy and they went to a fireside. The husband was driving home and he thought my wife is always mad about the toothpaste lid. I will put the cap on the toothpaste lid. The next morning he got up and sure enough he left the cap off and put the cap on the toothpaste. He comes home anticipating that his wife will greet him.
How much effort did it take for him? Conscious effort. He does it every day all week and the wife never says a word. Saturday morning he is coming his hair. She comes in and folds her arms and say, We need to talk. She says, “I want to know why you haven’t brushed your teeth all week.” J
President Hinckley….Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .
Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
A lot of time you don’t even know what is missing, but you just feel like something isn’t right. Most of real life is happy normal life.
Stephen Covey…“At one seminar, after I’d spoken on the importance of demonstrating character within the family, a man came up and said, ‘I like what you’re saying, but my wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other that we used to. I guess we don’t love each other anymore. What can I do?’
“‘Love her,’ I replied.
“He looked puzzled. ‘How do you love when you don’t feel love?’
“‘My friend,’ I responded, ‘love is a verb. The feeling of love is the fruit of love. So love your wife. You did it once, you can do it again. Listen. Empathize. Appreciate. It’s your choice. Are you willing to do that?’
“Of course, I was asking this man if he was willing to search within himself for the character required to make his marriage work. All our relationships follow the contours of life; they have ups and downs. This is why our families provide a critical measure of our character—and the opportunity, again and again to nurture it.” 6
PONDER: What would it be like to be married to me?
PONDER: What specifically can you do in your marriage to make your spouse happy?
That is your homework assignment. DO whatever you wrote down as what you need to do.
There should be things that are more sacred to you than the intimate relationship…trust, shared experiences, the depth of the relationship changes. It’s built on much better long term things.
I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. “What God has Joined Together” April 1991
Anxious concern = nourish
If you are anxiously concerned about a child’s homework you are there, talking to the child, talking to the teacher. If you are anxiously concerned about your companion you have to know what brings them comfort? What makes them happy? What are their goals? What are their dreams? What’s on their bucket list? Do you know what’s on your bucket list?
Stop criticizing your spouse and focus on what you can do NOT what they aren’t doing. Stop looking at what the relationship is lacking and start focusing on what the relationship has.
- Play the “remember when…” game out loud with them. What were the fun things you used to do? As you talk about those things the feelings come back. You begin to regenerate the feelings of the infatuation period. Then re-do one of those things again.
- Stop taking offence….women are notorious. We take offense when none is intended. We don’t listen to the why first we get offended first. They forget your birthday.
As the decades passed, the moment came that her husband took the box down and asked if he could finally know what it contained. The wife consented, and he opened it to discover two doilies and $25,000. When he asked his wife what this meant, she responded, “When we were married, my mother told me that whenever I was angry with you or whenever you said or did something I didn’t like, I should knit a small doily and then talk things through with you.” The husband was moved to tears by this sweet story. He marveled that during 60 years of marriage he had only disturbed his wife enough for her to knit two doilies. Feeling extremely good about himself, he took his wife’s hand and said, “That explains the doilies, but what about the $25,000?” His wife smiled sweetly and said, “That’s the money I got from selling all the doilies I’ve knitted over the years.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “What is Truth”, CES Broadcast, January 2013)
- Live within your means. You need to appreciate that your husband is providing and guard and cherish that money that he brings into your home. Debt will destroy a marriage faster than anything. Christmas is coming. Cash or nothing.
- Maintain complete fidelity and trust. You would be amazed at how many marriages are broken up because they go onto the computer and starts chatting with old friends of the opposite sex. Be careful about reading romance novels. It’s not the reality of the real world. You have this idea that prince charming should be always in the ‘infatuation’ period. Stop comparing. Stop it! This also means you do not confess your husbands sins to your mom, sister, friend. You have no right.The only place you can discuss his weaknesses that are really bothering you…Heavenly Father, him, and bishop….all confidential.That’s the only places you should be discussing their flaws.
- Personally be living the gospel. Read your own scriptures. Have your own personal prayers. In your prayers ask the Lord often “What Lack I yet?” in marriage. You will be surprised what he will tell you to do. That’s part of living the gospel. We marriage someone expecting/wanting them to make you happy. You want them to make you happy while you make them good. It should be reversed. It is your job to make you good and make them happy.
Class member: “Why do we spend our whole marriage trying to change our husbands and then complain that they aren’t the men we marry.”
- Consciously look for the good in your spouse. You need to say 15:1 positives to negatives. If you choose to do this get a white board and put it in just your space. Everyday write a validation on it. This is your gift to them. What your write on the board is a gift. These are choices for you.
- Be quick to say “I’m sorry” and be very quick to forgive. Get down on your knees and pray until you can forgive. Why do ‘discussions’ get intense? Because we want to prove they are right. You are not at war. You can say I’m sorry ‘about the wedge in the relationship, and feelings of contention’ even if you don’t agree with them.
- Spend time together. Date night without children is important. Once a year going away by yourselves without children is important. This should be MANDATORY. That’s when you remember why you married each other. On date night….No cell phones, no electronics (it’s not gaming), not a movie. This is interactive. Put something in the emotional bank account of each other.Each of you are individually there. What do we do for date night? Have you become so old you can’t think of a date. Take turns. Go do something that is weird. Do something new. Get out of your rut. Do something fun and exciting.
- Learn your spouse’s Love Language. I love you can be words and that almost counts. You should say it everyday, but if it isn’t attached to feelings it’s not getting in. You have to say I love you so it’s felt.
Class member: I made a comment that my husband doesn’t like to hear ‘I love you’.
Those words somewhere in his life have caused him a great deal of pain. Example: Some children are raised by mothers who are critical and demanding and harsh. They always find fault . They are always criticizing. I’m not going to make it. Then they say, “I love you” and it doesn’t go in. That was related to someone who used those words, but never showed the feeling. They don’t always carry meaning.
You know the scripture in James…”Faith without works is dead”…that’s what it is. Don’t tell me you love me, but show me you love me by what you do. If those words are offensive don’t use them, but you must show it.
Examples…my love language is verbal validation. I need people (those that I love) to tell me not praise, but encouragement about what I am doing right. I needed my husband to say, “I love the way you read this story to the kids.” That’s what I needed, but he didn’t know what it was to give it to me. I decided I needed to teach him what he needed. His love language is physical touch. He would be exhausted…if I would give him a back rub he would just melt. You could just feel the tension going out of him. What makes you feel good is what you want to give. My feeling is thank you very much I had 10 children crawling all over this body I don’t want one more person touching me. I make 3x5 cards. They say the dumbest things. “I would walk across the desert barefoot to be with you.” One night he came home…he was in a good mood and so was I . I said, I need you to give me 3x5. He started to read them. He said you have to be kidding. I said put them in your drawer. About 3 nights later I was in tears. They don’t know if they should come in or go back out. Saying how is your day? I said I need a 3x5. Do you want me to go get them? I said you need to put your arms around me and read them. We both just started to laugh hysterically. He wasn’t threatened. He wasn’t criticized. It showed him what I needed. Now he is very good at validating.
Everyone feels love differently. Some is touch, some acts of service, some time, some conversation. There is a zillion ways that say I love you. If you don’t know…then you need to start paying attention to when you ‘feel that warm fuzzy’. You need to begin to validate when they give you what you need. Say, “I love it when we walk through the mall and you hold my hand.” I love it when you come home and you give me a hug.” Ask them…What is it that makes you feel loved?
Class member: I just had my kids take the love language quiz. I had no idea. I guessed wrong on them.
- Meet and greet at the crossroads.
- Be kind! We stop being kind. We are nicer to our friends at church that we are to our spouses. That means smile! Do happy talk.Everything is not this heavy thing. Do you know why your children would rather be with their peers rather than at home with you?Their friends are happy. You need to put something in that can come out that’s nice. When you were dating you could talk for hours. Say please, thank you, I appreciate, I’m grateful.
- Take responsibility for your own emotional well being. Women are emotional basket cases. You are responsible for figuring out what makes you peaceful. You find out what it is. You need to track your cycle….that week…be nice. During that week we find more fault with our spouse than any other time. Cut yourself some slack. Cut them a lot of slack.
- Avoid unreal expectations. No one is perfect. Stop worrying about the person you thought you married and love the person you married. You have to work through those unreal expectations.
- Learn to listen. Listen to them. Listen to what they are saying and what they are feeling. Listen to what their intention is.Listen first! Then you can say your part. Ask 3 questions before you give your side. That validates them and makes them feel like you are listening.
- Remember that this is an eternal relationship. Say evening prayers, go to the temple together, talk about covenants. Have your husband give you priesthood blessings. Seek his counsel and guidance. Women come to earth more spiritually sensitive.Satan takes that gift and tweaks it to make women feel self righteous.
Pick one of the “Homeworks” at the end of the chapter. Read the story at the end of the syllabus on Marriage.
President Benson…When marriage becomes a quest and ceases to be an irritant in that moment Heavenly Father will endow you with great power.
Your power will come as you make that eternal relationship your quest.