Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Marriage

(Hello, it's me, Natalie. I'm never sure how to word introductions to posts because while the answers on this site are written by my mom (Jane), I am the one who formats and posts them. Often we discuss the answers before posting and then I make any changes we agree on. Sometimes it is necessary to write a brief introduction, and I am the one who does that. So, when I say "we", please understand that play no part in writing the answers.)

The Question:

We received a question regarding marriage recently and while we aren't including the question per request of the author, she had no problem with the answer being posted here. She is LDS (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), as are we, so some of the content refers to those things specific to our faith. We talked about editing it to make it more universal, but decided that the general messages are clear and that one wouldn't need to be LDS to apply the principles in her own way.

The Answer:

I've spent a lot of time thinking about you. In many ways, your question is beyond me. It's much easier to address questions about parenting. The parent/child relationship is actually very pure and simple. A marriage is complex with so many variables. I've decided to answer you, not as any kind of an expert, but as though you were my daughter.

There is nothing more important in your life, than your marriage. It lays the foundation for everything else that will follow. To me, the ideal marriage is described in Moses 7:18

"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."

I know this description doesn't usually apply to a marriage, but think about it. It contains all the conditions we really want--to be completely unified, to have all of our needs met and to gladly and joyfully meet our spouse's needs. I think that the key to achieving that goal is in that tiny phrase "and dwelt in righteousness". As we seek to keep the commandments together, magnify our church callings, pray and study the scriptures together, attend the temple, and give service together, we invite the spirit into our marriage. That spirit brings with it patience and a deepened love and regard. It overcomes a multitude of differences. I don't know where you both stand spiritually, but I can promise you this, that any efforts either one of you make together or individually will bring you closer as a couple.

On a more practical note, you can change the tone of your marriage immediately by changing the way you argue. No sarcasm. No accusing. No blaming. You might address this with your husband if the time seems right. Or you might just need to slowly turn the tide by eliminating this yourself. Simply express your needs. "Do you have time to help me for a few minutes?" If he refuses, try not to hold a grudge or blame. Serve and care for him. This gesture of love without manipulation will invite him to reciprocate. Maybe he is refusing to do the things you ask him to do because he doesn't want to feel like a child. Maybe he will find his own way to serve you. Maybe he'll completely miss the mark. But when you notice his small efforts and express your appreciation, he will like the feeling of making you happy. If he feels that he can't, he'll stop trying. Plan on being the more giving one for a while and don't keep score. Don't try to set him up to disappoint you by asking him to do the things that you have argued about before. It's tempting sometimes to gather negative evidence. You must start gathering positive evidence instead.

It is impossible to do what I'm asking you to do without the Lord's help. He wants your marriage to succeed. He will soften your heart, soften your husband's heart, bless you in unforeseen ways. He will recognize your efforts to "overcome the natural man" and help you to be a saint.

Finally, I am all for getting professional help if you feel that you need it. Sometimes just a few sessions with a counselor can give you the skills you need to work together and communicate in ways that build rather than tear down.

Don't give up. Marriage is an amazing adventure really--a huge challenge, but you married this man because you loved him. I have pondered your situation for many hours and prayed for help in answering. It dawned on me how much, even though I don't really know you, I want your success. Imagine how much the Lord, who knows you perfectly, loves you completely, and has paid a price for you, wants you to succeed. Pray continually for his help.

All my love,


  1. Perfect and practical advice. I really appreciate how Jane always includes the Lord, and seeking his help, in all her advice. I agree that sometimes working out problems can be hard, since often the way to achieving more harmony is to be "the more giving one" for awhile. It's worth it, though.

  2. I love, "gathering positive evidence". It goes directly against the 'natural man' that wants to gather the negative to feel justified- which means it's the perfect approach!

  3. This was a good answer. I feel like becoming this type of spouse (a patient, giving, forgiving one) is the journey of a lifetime (maybe an eternity). That is why our family relationships are so important.
    Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. It can be hard to remain quiet or still be kind even if your spouse isn't. It can be difficult to trully put another's needs before your own--to trully live the definition of charity. But when both spouses strive to act this way it can be amazing!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.