Happiness in Marriage
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other."
- The Family: A Proclamation To The World
In Chapter 3 of Successful Marriages & Families, a quote from Elder David A. Bednar mentioned why it is important to have Jesus Christ as the foundation of a marriage. He said, "The Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point in a cov-enant marriage relationship. Please notice how the Savior is positioned at the apex of this triangle, with a woman at the base of one corner and a man at the base of the other corner. Now consider what hap-pens in the relationship between the man and the woman as they individually and steadily “come unto Christ” and strive to be “perfected in Him” (Moroni 10:32). Because of and through the Redeemer, the man and woman come closer together." Below is a graphic that shows The Covenant Marriage Relationship.
When the Savior is at the center of our marriage, we can find joy and harmony. Of course every marriage in this life isn't perfect, but when founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, happiness and harmony will dwell in our homes and with each other. When trials and misunderstandings occur, we can turn to Him. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and ask for strength and guidance. He suffered so we wouldn't have to suffer. Because of His sacrifice, we can know that He is always there whenever we need His help. Because a covenant is a two-way promise and we have made covenants in the temple, the Lord expects us to do our part as He does His.
Repentance & Forgiveness
"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25–26)."
Jesus Christ taught us how to forgive throughout the Holy Scriptures. He teaches us that we should love one another and to forgive others for their trespasses against us. According to Chapter 20 in Successful Marriages & Families, "Interpersonal repentance and forgiveness have obvious benefits in repairing or mediating damaged family relationships. In addition, individuals and families who are able to forgive important transgressions are likely to have better emotional and physical health, and positive emotions improve health in a variety of ways."
Happiness will be found in families when taught principles of repentance and forgiveness. The Family: A Proclamation to the World states: "Successful marriages and families are established on maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." The quote above written by the The Apostle Mark in the New Testament teaches that if we do not forgive, neither will our Heavenly Father in heaven will forgive our trespasses. Chapter 20 in Successful Marriages & Families also teaches us about why repentance and forgiveness is so important: "Inwardly, repentance is achieved through humility and empathy, making it possible for the offenders to see themselves and those they wounded with a new perspective that is refreshing and motivating."
How can repentance and forgiveness bring peace and harmony in your family? Think of times in your life that you have exercised repentance and forgiveness. How did it change your perspective?
""In attempting to repent, we are actually progressing toward what Paul called ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).”"
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Marital Processes that Nurture Covenant Commitment in Marriage
To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our fami-lies will want to live with us in the eternities.
-Elder Robert D. Hales
As stated in Chapter 3 of Successful Marriages & Families, here are some ideas for nurturing our covenant in marriage:
Intentional personal dedication.
"To nurture their covenant commitments to one another and God, couples will wisely make a decision to be intentionally and personally dedicated. This involves a commitment to sacrifice for and organize one’s life around the companion spouse; it also means a willingness to change any and all behaviors and attitudes for the good of the relationship." (Chapter 3, Successful Marriages & Families)
Are there any behaviors holding you back from being more personally dedicated? If there are, what changes do you need to make?
Exclusive cleaving and unity.
In Chapter 3, a powerful verse is shared on this process: "The Lord declared, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22)." (Chapter 3, Successful Marriages & Families) It is so important that we eliminate anything that gets in the way, or is put above our full commitment to our spouse and family.
What does cling unto "none else" mean to you? What changes can you make to cling unto "none else"?
Practice spiritual patterns.
Sharing spiritual patterns such as praying and attending church together are sure to strengthen marriage. "Couples who practice their faith together generally have less conflict, are more likely to reach a mutually satisfying resolution if there is conflict, and are more likely to remain committed to each other and the marriage when conflict does occur." (Chapter 3, Successful Marriages & Families) Sharing spiritual experiences and thoughts invite a deeper relationship with each other. Attending the temple, reading scriptures, and serving others are other great ways to practice spiritual patterns.
What other spiritual patterns can you think of? Is there any spiritual pattern that can be strengthened? Talk with your spouse and take time to share thoughts & insights.
From the Family Proclamation:
"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Some think of happiness as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills; but true marriage is based on a happiness which is more than that, one which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness. Two people coming from different backgrounds learn soon after the ceremony is performed that stark reality must be faced. There is no longer a life of fantasy or of make-believe; we must come out of the clouds and put our feet firmly on the earth. Responsibility must be assumed and new duties must be accepted. Some personal freedoms must be relinquished, and many adjustments, unselfish adjustments, must be made." - Spencer W. Kimball
"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ"
When marriage is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, we will find so much fulfillment together. When we put Jesus Christ at the center of our marriage, it creates an environment of faith, love, happiness, and joy. Because not every day is perfect, we still can find joy each day. Prayer is an essential key to this along with repentance and following the commandments. Creating a strong relationship with Jesus Christ as husband and wife will prepare that companionship for the trials and joys we face in life.
From chapter 18 in Successful Marriages & Families, the author says, “successful marriages and families are established and maintained,” even during the storm." Yes! Even during the storm can we establish successful marriages families. The storms of life are happening in families everywhere. In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:28, "For behold, he that is built upon the rock receives it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall."
Four Truths About Love & Marriage
From a 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults called "Love and Marriage"
by Wendy Watson Nelson
"Truths about love and marriage are brought to you by the Holy Ghost from our Heavenly Father. He decreed marriage to be an irreplaceable component of His plan of happiness.3 The Spirit is the messenger of these truths. I urge you to seek to understand them.
By contrast, lies about love and marriage originate with, and are perpetuated by, Satan and his servants. The adversary rejoices every time he persuades a victim to embrace anything that defiles or degrades love and marriage. However, truth is truth, lies are lies, and no amount of clever marketing, campaigning, or advocacy can ever change that."
"Personal purity is the key to true love. The more pure your thoughts and feelings, your words and actions, the greater your capacity to give and receive true love.
Trust me on this: Every time you pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father in prayer, and then listen; every time you study the scriptures seeking answers to the questions of your heart; every time you avoid anything that would wound your spirit (such as pornography); every time you worship in the temple; every time you find an ancestor’s ordinance-qualifying information, you are choosing to increase your personal purity.
Your future spouse will thank you because in that very moment you will be preparing for true marital intimacy. So, if you’re single and wonder how best to prepare for true love, the answer is: Do whatever it takes to keep your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions pure. Invite the Spirit to guide you. He will help you! And if you’re married, my counsel is exactly the same!
As you work to become more pure, you will have the Holy Ghost with you more and more. Your ability to receive personal revelation will increase, which means you’ll have clearer direction for your life. You’ll feel more peace and more joy, less lonely, and more hopeful about your future. You’ll also have increased mental clarity as you study and work. And, in addition to these great rewards for working every day to be just a little more pure, you’ll be increasing your ability to experience true marital intimacy.
This is why pornography is so devastating! Contrary to what all of its promoters claim, pornography will actually prevent you from experiencing the most marvelous kind of intimacy."
"As an important part of the expression of their love, the Lord wants a husband and wife to partake of the wonders and joys of marital intimacy.
Marital intimacy is ordained by God. It is commanded and commended by Him because it draws a husband and wife closer together and closer to the Lord! True marital intimacy involves the whole soul of each spouse.4 It is the uniting of the body and the spirit of the husband with the body and the spirit of his wife.
That soulful union represents just how united a husband and wife are in all areas of their lives. They work together as partners. They pray, play, struggle, grow, and enjoy life together. They sacrifice for each other and encourage each other to be all they were born to be.
My dear brothers and sisters, marital intimacy is sacred. In fact, a husband and wife can be drawn closer to God when joined in true marital intimacy.
So, how can you prepare for such intimacy? You will need to live righteously so the Spirit can be the companion to you and your spouse."
"For true marital intimacy, the Holy Ghost needs to be involved. It is simply not possible to have the kind of intimate experiences outside of marriage that you can have within because the Spirit will not be present.
Elder Parley P. Pratt taught that the Holy Ghost has the ability to increase, enlarge, expand, and purify “all the natural passions and affections.” Just imagine: He can purify your feelings! Therefore, anything that invites the Spirit into your life, and into the life of your spouse and your marriage, will increase your ability to experience marital intimacy. It really is as simple, and as profound, as that!
On the other hand, anything that offends the Spirit will decrease your ability to be one with your spouse. Things such as anger, lust, unforgiveness, contention, immorality, and unrepented sin will reduce your attempt for marital intimacy to be something that is nothing more than a sexual experience."
Write your thoughts & insights down about these truths in a journal or on a piece of paper. How can these truths strengthen your marriage?
Nelson, Wendy Watson. "Love and Marriage" 2017. Worldwide Devotional at Brigham Young University
“Chapter 3: Foundational Processes for an Enduring, Healthy Marriage” Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, by Stephen T. Duncan., Sara S. McCarty Zasukha, BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, 2016.
“Chapter 18: Faith in Family Life” Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, by Loren D Marks., David C. Dollahite., Joanna Jacob Freeman, BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, 2016.
“Chapter 20: Repentence and Forgiveness in Family Life” Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, by Elaine Walton., Hilary M. Hendricks., BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, 2016.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” (1995, November). Ensign, 25, p. 102.