Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Choosing & Being the Right Spouse

I have had other things on my mind lately, and so I never did sit down and blog from last week's lesson for our Marriage and Family (Dating) Class.

The Bishop's Wife - who is the teacher over this class - referenced a very interesting article, that I found online. Most people know that I enjoy romances or any kind, from Disney to the paperback novels that I have hidden under my bed...

The article comes from a speech that was given just after I began (in theory) to date and it's called Hanging Out, Hooking Up, and Celestial Marriage by Bruce Chadwick. I particularly liked his examples from the well-known story of Cinderella, or any fairy tale really. The whole thing is worth the read, but I am including this portion, which was the part we discussed in class and what I really liked.
I have five suggestions that I want to share with you today to assist in establishing and strengthening a celestial marriage.
The first suggestion is for all Cinderellas and Prince Charmings to throw away their glass slippers. Following Satan's encouragement, contemporary society greatly emphasizes courtship, the hunt, or the conquest. The rest of the story, the most significant part of the life story, is dismissed with six words: "And they lived happily ever after."
There is a very dangerous misperception embedded in this Cinderella and glass slipper syndrome. It is the focus on finding the perfect person to marry with whom you will live happily ever after. I am convinced that the Lord's plan is to find a right one rather than the one. I admit there may be rare cases where two people covenanted in the premortal existence to find each other and marry in this life. They see each other across the Marriott Center parking lot, and it is love at first sight. Occasionally students ask if I knew my wife in the premortal existence. What can I say? Of course I did. But then I add that I knew all of my sisters in the premortal existence, and no matter who I married, she would be an acquaintance. Let me be crystal clear: this is not Church doctrine; rather, it is a flippant response to a question for which I don't have an answer. The First Presidency has affirmed that premortal covenanted marriages--glamorized by Saturday's Warrior--are rare indeed. To most of us Heavenly Father says, "There are thousands of my sons and daughters attending BYU who are worthy to enter my house and covenant to be your eternal mate. You pick one you like who is worthy, and I will give you my blessing." There are actually many whose foot will nicely fit within the glass slipper.
A second suggestion is don't wait for others to carry your glass slipper about the campus looking for a match. In other words, don't wait for your Heavenly Father to write the name of the person you are to marry on your kitchen wall or to deliver him or her to your front door. Instead, be a little more proactive and seek someone you like, someone who is worthy, and someone who inspires you to be a better person. The Spirit will guide you but won't do the courting or make the choice for you.
...this Cinderella mentality of "If I marry the right person, we will live happily ever after" fails to prepare couples for married life. When problems arise in a marriage--and they will arise--a husband or wife is tempted to think, "Oh no, I married the wrong person because I am not happy ever after." Nonsense! Good marriages are created after you get up from your knees at the altar of the temple. Strong marriages emerge out of helping each other obtain your education, struggling financially, dealing with sickness, and coping with the shock produced by the birth of your first child. Life changes and moves ahead in many unanticipated ways. Changing jobs, moving to a different city, raising teenagers, caring for an aged parent, retirement, and similar activities and events are what produce eternal marriages. Overcoming these problems as a team--helping and supporting each other along the way--are what produce a happy marriage. I loved my dear wife when we married 40 years ago this summer, but the love I felt for her then is insignificant to my love for her after these many years of trials and triumphs.
There are no written "money-back" guarantees for marital happiness. There is no antidivorce insurance. Occasionally a spouse changes in ways that make maintaining a marriage impossible. But I fear that the Cinderella complex encourages people to give up on a relationship too quickly and to start another search for the perfect spouse. The best marriage guarantee you can have is the one you sign in the presence of your bishop--and it has to be renewed once [every other] year. Using this recommend in the companionship of your husband or wife is the best antidivorce guarantee available--not just because you have entered the temple but also because of what temple worthiness represents. This guarantee requires supporting each other in Church callings, working out the payment of tithing, praying together, studying the scriptures together, and giving service together.
In rejecting the Cinderella complex, I am not suggesting that you marry just anyone. But I am suggesting that some of us may have raised the bar a little too high. There are very few perfect people in the world, and if you do get lucky and find one, he or she probably won't want to marry you anyway. But don't despair. The traits and characteristics we are looking for in a spouse will emerge out of the years of experience together. My advice is to look for the potential in a spouse and then help each other achieve your desires. In other words, good marriages are earned by experience, not found with glass slippers.
I know what a lot of people are thinking - if they made it through that whole excerpt - and I hate listening to someone tell me that I've raised the bar too high, or that I'm too picky. Being picky implies that you have pickings to pick from, or that I'm beating men away with sticks just to keep them at bay. Since the opposite is true, I really can't claim any titles of being picky or having the bar raised too high. 

I had a few other notes that now, over a week later, they are a little incoherent, and since I meant to go to bed early and I haven't yet, I don't really want to get into the whole discussion, I won't put into full thoughts.

The first regarded "THE LIST", the list that you write in Young Womens at the age of 12 or 13, when you think you know a little bit about life, and then as you start to learn more about life and men - or boys, rather - you amend and the list grows and grows. Of course, being attracted to the person and falling in love with them is a good start, but it isn't enough. The bishop's wife suggested that we have only a few things on our list:
  • A deep love of the Lord and His commandments
  • Desire to live the commandments
  • A person you can always honor and respect; one who complements your life
  • Someone who wants an eternal family
  • A person who you can give your loyalty, respect and allegiance to
Granted, I feel like she combined a few things to shrink it to so short a list, but the concept is simple. 

The next thing was about the types of relationships we should be in. We see our friends and family members fall into these relationships that we term "unhealthy" or "dysfunctional" or "dependent" and can't understand what one sees in the other. Relationships are meant to stretch us and make us become better people. They should always encourage us to give. When we love someone, we are willing to make sacrifices for them and we will continue to do so even though we aren't always getting what we want. In some cases this isn't a good thing, or a healthy thing, but we shouldn't give up. And we should recognize that sometimes we are going to be giving more than we are receiving. But again, relationships always encourage us to give. And I think the healthiest relationships are the ones where both are giving their all to each other - that way, both people are having their needs met, but not by themselves. I wrote down the quote, "What we attain too easily, we esteem too lightly." I'm sure that somewhere that is true. And I can assure everyone that any relationship I ever become involved in will not have been easily attained, and will therefore be highly appreciated.

One of the quotes that was read talked about how if you don't get married in the temple, you short-change your life. When the bishop's wife asked what we thought that meant, one of the guys raised their hand and said that when you are short-changed, you leave somewhere thinking that you have more than you actually do. After he said that, this analogy really resonated with me. If you are married anywhere but the temple, you are still going to feel great and as if you have everything you could possible desire. But eventually you are going to open your wallet and realize that something's missing. You are going to realize that anywhere but a temple marriage comes short of what you are entitled to.

The last quote sort of sheds light on my cynicism, but I'll share anyway. The bishop's wife said that feeling like "no one wants you" is a ploy by Satan. There are of course, plenty of options for all of us if we are patient and looking in the right places...or whatever. But to that I say, he(Satan)'s sure providing plenty of evidence for his case. I keep waiting for the other side's rebuttal, and haven't gotten much.


  1. Wow that was a really good article!

    1. I totally agree about being married in the temple. I am always excited when my friends find the person they want to marry, but there's definitely a hole in my excitement when they're not getting married in the temple :(

    2. I've always thought we could marry a number of individuals, but now being married, it's funny how I feel like Cary is the only one who fits me and can put up with me. I've made him promise to not go and die on me, because otherwise I'm s.o.l.

    3. Although I'm sure you learned from this... more importantly I would really like to take it and whack a great deal of the boys I know over the head with it.

    But Alas, I can just pray that they will figure it out one day.

  2. I like the definition of being short changed. And I'm waiting for the other side's rebuttal too.


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