Monday, July 18, 2011

Nurturing Marriage

Last week, our professor showed us a brief clip from Elder Nelson's Conference talk in April 2006. I can't find a video online or at the website and I'm super bummed. Even the voice clips cut out after his opening statement. This talk was given just days before he married Wendy Watson (who just happens to be a marriage & family therapist). He was so animated as he spoke with his first story and obviously had a lot of passion for the subject of marriage.

"As we Brethren travel about the world, sometimes we see worrisome scenes. On a recent flight, I sat behind a husband and wife. She obviously loved her husband. As she stroked the back of his neck I could see her wedding ring. She would nestle close to him and rest her head upon his shoulder, seeking his companionship.
In contrast, he seemed totally oblivious to her presence. He was focused solely upon an electronic game player. During the entire flight, his attention was riveted upon that device. Not once did he look at her, speak to her, or acknowledge her yearning for affection.

His inattention made me feel like shouting: “Open your eyes, man! Can’t you see? Pay attention! Your wife loves you! She needs you!

I don’t know more about them. I haven’t seen them since. Perhaps I was alarmed unduly. And very possibly, if this man knew of my concern for them, he might feel sorry for me in not knowing how to use such an exciting toy."

It struck me differently than it did 5 years ago when we were just newly engaged. I didn't realize back then how easy it is to become distracted by small, fun, meaningless things (e.g. facebook, blogging, video games, TV, baking).

Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.

I. Doctrinal Foundation 
Marriage has been divinely designated as an eternal and everlasting covenant. 7Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.

Marriage is but the beginning bud of family life; parenthood is its flower. 

True happiness is predicated upon personal purity. 13 Scripture commands: “Be ye clean.” 14 Marriage should ever be a covenant to lift husbands and wives to exaltation in celestial glory.

All of us are accountable for our choices. Couples blessed with children are accountable to God for the care they give to their children.
Priesthood authority has been restored so that families can be sealed eternally. Sobrethren, your foremost priesthood duty is to nurture your marriage—to care for, respect, honor, and love your wife. Be a blessing to her and your children.

II. Strengthening Marriage
To appreciate—to say “I love you” and “thank you”—is not difficult...As grateful partnerslook for the good in each other and sincerely pay compliments to one another, wives and husbands will strive to become the persons described in those compliments.

To communicate well with your spouse—is also important. Good communication includes taking time to plan together. Couples need private time to observe, to talk, and really listen to each other. They need to cooperate—helping each other as equal partners. They need to nurture their spiritual as well as physical intimacy...To pray with specific mention of a spouse’s good deed (or need) nurtures a marriage.

My third suggestion is to contemplate... If couples contemplate often—with each other in the temple—sacred covenants will be better remembered and kept... Contemplation allows one to anticipate and to resonate (or be in tune) with each other and with the Lord. Contemplation will nurture both a marriage and God’s kingdom.

I invite each marital partner to consider these suggestions and then determine specific goals to nurture your own relationship. Begin with sincere desire. Identify those actions needed to bless your spiritual unity and purpose. Above all, do not be selfish! Generate a spirit of selflessness and generosity. Celebrate and commemorate each day together as a treasured gift from heaven.

I think I may use this talk with future couples I see in therapy. I like the invitation at the end for each couple to set goals together to nurture their relationship.

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