The sacred power of marriage

I come from a typical post-WWII California family. My parents were married in 1946 and had seven children within ten years. We were not LDS at first. Although we had our quarrels and disagreements, I grew up with happy memories of a loving family with four older sisters and one brother, my other brother having died shortly after his birth.

Although I don’t remember much of the first few years of my life, we have family videos that show lots of happy scenes – visits to parks, local Southern California attractions and vacations. Because both my parents worked, my grandmother took care of me until I was old enough for school. Life was good in our little family growing up in the sixties.

As I matured, I observed my parents in a different way for the first time – as a married couple. I watched how my father treated my mother. He was and is a kind and gentle man. He adored my mother and wanted to give her everything he could to help her be happy. I know she loved and appreciated him as she told me so many, many times.

The priesthood in marriage

My mother was an incredibly talented and intelligent woman, independent and used to taking charge. She was well educated and was a teacher. There is no doubt that she ran our house – just ask anyone else in my family. She got her way on most everything but dad didn’t seem to mind. There was little or no ego there – he was OK with her style.

When my family joined the church, my father entered a world that was difficult for him but which he accepted dutifully. Raised on a farm, dad was quiet and kind to his bothers and sisters. His dad worked hard on the farm and so did my dad – physical manual labor. Family leadership for dad meant providing food for the family. He also prepared it.

So when my parents learned that fathers are to preside in the home, mother did her best to encourage dad to take charge in family prayer, family scripture reading and family home evening. It worked for awhile but was just too foreign to dad’s nature. He was too easy going to enforce any routine on his family, but was always responsive to mother’s urging.

Dealing with stress in marriage

When mother struggled with frustration in her life, dad was always the calming, soothing influence in our home. He just wanted everyone to be happy. When mother was going through her difficulties with priesthood leadership, dad was very supportive. When her LDS bookstore failed, he took it in stride even though it meant a loss of their life savings.

Sure dad got frustrated with mother. He told me so. When he was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, mother sold his car without asking or telling him. Nobody knows why she did it. When he got home and found it missing he just figured she wanted the security of having some ready cash on hand. Yes, my dad is amazing.

Because of dad’s example, I am by nature a relatively easy-going kind of guy too. I am not particularly ambitious and am satisfied with very little. When I read of the success of others my age in business or academics or finances I am not filled with envy or desire to be like them. I am more interested in being a peacemaker and sharing my knowledge.

A family in today’s world

When I first married, I brought with me the idea that I would take care of earning the living and my wife would take care of the finances and raising the children. I found an early love for computers and have been making a middle class living most of my life. Several things have made my own marriage different from my parent’s experience.

Like my parents, we both have had to work to make ends meet. We tried to follow the advice of prophets and did all we could to live within our means. I don’t know if living in California is all that more expensive than where you live but living on my income alone was just not going to cut it. Finances have always been a struggle in our marriage.

Unlike my parents, we both came to marriage as true believing and active Latter-day Saints, married in the temple. That has made a huge difference in the way we approach life’s challenges and opportunities. There has always been a commitment to work things out. Although we have both been tempted, divorce has never been a serious option.

Based on teachings of prophets

“Soul mates are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

Do you recognize that quote? It is from President Spencer W. Kimball and was a great influence on me in choosing my sweetheart and asking her to marry me. We had a lot in common. We were both active LDS returned missionaries. We both studied computers in our local community college. We both came from average middle-class families.

I think the thing that has served us best in our 26 years of marriage is our commitment to the Lord which I hope is equal to our commitment to each other. The Lord commands men to love their spouses with ALL their hearts. That is also how he commands us to love him. The Lord knew that men would need to be commanded in this area and it works.

Summary and conclusion

I feel like my investment in our marriage is just beginning to pay off. I have done my best to love and encourage my sweetheart for many years and suffered with her as she struggled with self-esteem and self-image problems. You can read her story on her blog. I don’t know what has happened to her lately, but I am amazed at the powerful changes.

Our marriage is vitally important to me. I am more interested in seeing my wife blossom than I am in my own fulfillment and satisfaction. I am convinced that the Lord will take care of my needs as I take care of what Carol needs from me. The Lord has been so very patient with me and blessed me with a father who provided a great example of patience.

There is a sacred power in marriage. It is the kind of power that can change lives. I am witnessing a miracle in the making. Carol has lost 70 pounds in the last year. It is going to take her more time to get to a healthy weight. Now the pressure is on me to follow her wonderful example. I wish I knew her secret to motivation and could bottle and sell it.

4 thoughts on “The sacred power of marriage”

  1. I am almost at a loss of words. That is saying a lot. What a stunningly good and courageous essay. You describe your life as average, but somehow I am unconvinced. Your essays, particularly this one, reveal something extraordinary.I am going to try to get my newly married son to read what you just wrote. On my site, I just posted a couple of essays on temple marriage. Obviously, the issue has been on my mind a lot.Your family experiences sound amazing to me, and you have obviously benefited. It was nice to hear about your Dad, as I do not remember you mentioning him in previous essays, although I could be wrong about that.The gospel is about change. When loved ones change or when we change for the better, we should NOT be too surprised — but we always are. For all the psychology I have read over the years (way too much), ONLY the gospel impresses me as capturing the true powers of change — the power that makes changes in the soul.Thank you for this thoughtful and enjoyable essay.

  2. Thank you s.faux,President Monson asked us here in California to contribute our time and means to the passage of the proposed amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I thought about sermonizing but decided that an example of what I have learned would be a better use of my blogspace. I asked Carol if she didn’t mind getting involved.There is no way I could capture the real power of sacred married love between a man and a woman. There is just something abut it that can only be demonstrated by trying to live as the Savior demonstrated – by serving one another. As we were married in the temple so many years ago, we were counseled to do all within our power to eliminate selfishness from our lives and marriage.There is no greater satisfaction to me than seeing Carol work so hard to be healthy and happy. She is both, although she is in pain, because she sacrifices and makes a constant effort. Her struggles with disappointment are an inspiration to me. She will not give up. It took her a whole year of daily exercise to lose her first twenty pounds. Now she is losing ten pounds a month.Would I have loved her any less if she had not decided after 25 years to choose to live instead of die? No. I chose her as an eternal companion and knew that the Lord would bless us if I did my part. I have always believed that my sweetheart had the power within her to be healthy and happy. She says she is doing what she is to please me. That amazes me. That is an example of the power of married love between a man and a woman. The Lord has blessed our marriage, especially recently.What does losing weight have to do with happiness in marriage or the definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman? I don’t know. I’m not sure the essay was about losing weight but that is the outside evidence of the power of my love for her. I hope she never felt pressure from me, only encouragement. That is how I have felt that the Savior has dealt with me – always encouraging but never loving me less in spite of my struggles and failures over the years in so many areas.I was blessed to have a real world example of someone who never gave up on my mother. At one point in time that was particularly hard on him, he confessed to me that he had thought seriously about leaving my mother who seemed to push everyone in her life away from her. She was in pain and could not see the pain that she was causing those closest to her. I watched as he stuck it out and saw it through. She came around and was able to recover her mental and emotional health to a point where she was almost normal again.Some afflictions in mortality will only be healed by the resurrection. Mental illness will not exist in a glorified and perfected resurrected body. Dad was so good for mother because her torments – both mental and spiritual – did not seem to cause him any lasting damage. As we visit him in his own home in what may be the last year of his life, we are amazed at the sweet peace that shines in his face. He misses mother but he is content knowing that he passed a test in life that few other men could face.All because he loved his wife and served her endlessly. She knows that he did and loves him forever because of his sacrifices for her. Dad earned the respect of his children and all who knew him because he loved and served them. He thrived on serving others. I do not have the words to express how much I am amazed at a man who loves and serves in spite of what he was called upon to suffer in return. My father is truly an example of Christlike love to me.

  3. Tim ~ Thank you so much for posting the link to your wife’s blog. From one Carol to another Carol, I feel I have found a kindred spirit. Bless you both. BTW, Kalola is Hawaiian for Carol. =)

  4. Hi Kalola,Thank you for stopping by. I also visited your blog. I was sad to read that nobody commented on your blog on the occasion of your wedding anniversary. Sometimes I am amazed on which of my essays receive comments. Those that I think are especially thought provoking may receive no comments while others get a dozen. I think it just depends on when they are posted. People lead busy lives.I try to use my blog to motivate me to study the scriptures and share what I learn so even if nobody comments, I’m OK with that as I have learned something new and written about it. Writing for me is good therapy to deal with the stress of everyday life. I suspect that is why you blog as well. God bless you, Kalola.

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