Sunday, February 18, 2018

I Love You Because

This past week we celebrated Valentine’s Day. I am not much of a traditionalist and don’t care for all the commercialization and pressure that we feel to buy stuff that has no real lasting value. I believe that the simple things we do each day to show our love is more important. In saying this, I also know that my wife likes flowers and cards so I did give her some chocolates and a valentine’s card (she bought her own flowers) and we went out to dinner together.

Last year for valentine’s I bought my wife a frame that has “I love you because” written on it. We then can write expressions of our love to each other. It has been fun to see the message change every few days. I will write something to my wife and then a few days later it will be erased and my wife will write something to me. At first it was easy coming up with some way to express my love, but after a while it started to become more difficult to say something different. Usually something will happen in our daily interactions that I can use to say why I love her; and sometimes it has something to do with saying I’m sorry! Every time my wife writes me a new message, it reaffirms that she really does love me and I know by her reactions the same is true when I write something to her.

My wife and I have been married for almost 43 years and while we have had our struggles, we have endured and our love for each other has grown more than we could have imagined when we made our covenants that bind us together not only in this life but through all eternity. Not only did we make covenants with each other, we made covenants with God. In those covenants we promised to be loyal and faithful to each other and that no one else takes precedence over our spouse, not even our children. This means that our friends, hobbies, other family members, and even our work are secondary to our spouse. This does not mean we should ignore our employers requests to fulfill our responsibilities to them or the importance of our children. If we fail at work, then we fail in our primary responsibility to provide for our spouse and children. But we should not ignore our family needs and focus all our efforts on work. If we are an employer or supervisor, we should remember that our employees have other responsibilities than the ones we give them. We need to remember that our employees will be much more effective if their family responsibilities are being cared for.

I was not a good example of the proper priorities of putting my wife first above all others and it took many years to learn how to put her first. I also know that most couples struggle with this as well, but as long as we try to improve and repent when needed and make the necessary changes we can eventually grow and be perfected through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Many individuals when they retire when asked what they would do different if they could change anything say they would spend more time with their family.

The sanctity of marriage and family are under attack from all directions. When was the last time you watched a show on TV or gone to a movie that portrayed the family, especially the husband in a positive manner. Most of the fathers on TV are lazy and portrayed negatively or insignificant.

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. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

This inspired document shows every family how we can be successful and teach our children that families can succeed in today’s environment and not follow the example portrayed in the media. President Gordon B. Hinckley speaking to the youth of the church in a fireside on September 22, 1996 spoke of the myth some have about marriage. He said:

“Marriage requires a high degree of tolerance, and some of us need to cultivate that attribute. I have enjoyed these words of Jenkins Lloyd Jones, which I clipped from the newspaper some years ago. Said he:

“There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young [men and women] who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and [beautiful] wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear the divorce courts are jammed. …

“Anyone who imagines that bliss [in marriage] is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

“[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just 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” (“Big Rock Candy Mountains,” Deseret News, 12 June 1973, A4). (A Conversation with Single Adults)

Successful marriages are hard, God intended it to be so, but as we endure all the smoke and dust around us and as we become more selfless and empathetic to the needs of our spouse we can all enjoy the beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. To be successful we not only are partners with our spouse but with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Only with faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and keeping the covenants we made in the temple can we achieve our full potential that Heavenly Father knows we can become.

It is tragic that the ever increasing number of women reporting abuse through the #MeToo Movement, it is bringing to light the amount of abuse women have experienced not only from individuals in power but in their marriages. Spouse and child abuse is a gross sin. There is no excuse for it and should be stopped. There have been reports in some social media of LDS bishops that have counseled women to stay in abusive relationships. The stand of the LDS Church is that abuse is not to be tolerated. I have been a bishop of a married student ward and have been in counseling sessions with couples that are going through trials. Fortunately, I have never had a spouse that reported spouse abuse but if I had, it is clear what I was required by the church to do and that is to call the church offices and report it. While bishops try to help couples with their problems and help the members to repent and stay together, anyone in an abusive relationship should be removed from the situation and the abuse dealt with according to church policy and the local laws. There may have been bishops that mistakenly told the wife to stay in an abusive relationship, but that is not what bishops are taught.

Our marriage has endured through many delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts. We have also had our share of beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. On one occasion when my wife was experiencing the smoke and dust that was a result my selfishness, she was complaining to a friend. Her friend simply said: “why don’t you just divorce him?” Because of our temple covenants my wife said: “No!”, then her friend said: “then shut up and deal with it”. We have been dealing with “it” ever since and can say we are experiencing more beautiful vistas and less sidetracks, smoke, and dust. Our love continues to grow stronger every day and we continue to write those “I Love You Because” note to each other often.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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