This post is part of a 10-part series celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically the sentence, “”Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Oh and PS there’s an awesome giveaway at the bottom of this post!– Celeste
The major hinge-point of my doubt centered around a principle my mother had taught me: pray to know if the person you are going to marry is “the right one.” And God never leads anyone astray. Right? And God knows everything, from beginning to end. Right? So certainly He must have know that the aforementioned temple marriage was going to end in divorce after almost 25 years, He must have had the foreknowledge that one of the parties was just going to walk away. And, knowing that, how could He have answered anything affirmative when the other party had prayed, upon being proposed to, that this was a good choice?
If that sounds complicated and over-analytical, it is. I am nothing if not complicated and over-analytical. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a really tough struggle for me.
Lesson #1: Don’t worry about it
My sophomore year was also an exciting time for me because I met and began dating my future husband. I never actually considered him as marriage material when we began hanging out. He was everything fun and wild and nothing like the serious persona I had in mind for the big “M” word. Zac was the drummer in a rock band and he liked punk rock music and he was from Minnesota, and he didn’t seem like he had a serious bone in his body.
I was having a great time with him, but of course, it was “nothing serious.” At one point, I attempted to explain my internal struggle with this marriage dilemma that I had constructed. And his advice to me? “Don’t worry about it!”
Lesson #2: Marry one and then make it right
Another piece to my puzzle came from a sermon I heard that year. There was a notorious economics professor at my university who also was my ecclesiastical leader at the time, and he gave a marriage talk unlike any I’d ever heard.
He stood up at the pulpit and acknowledged his wife, who was sitting in the audience. Everyone was prepared for the usual flowery accolades and the, “I don’t know where I’d be without my wife.” But he said nothing of the sort. He pointed out that she was his wife, and she was great, but he could have married any great girl. She was just one of a bunch of good choices. And ultimately, after listing pros and cons and considering other factors, he decided he wanted to marry her.
So then he consulted with the Lord, who didn’t say, “no.” And then they committed. And then they made it work. “I didn’t marry the ‘right one’; I married one and then we MADE it right.”
Shortly after we decided that we were going to take things seriously, Zac and I parted ways for the summer. I had a study abroad in Paris and he was staying at school to work. It was a long, long summer. And we Skyped every single day. My dad joked that I was wasting my wonderful cultural experience by spending it in the McDonald’s of Paris, using their free wi-fi. But I couldn’t help it: I was so in love.
I was also, however, in defensive mode. I told Zac all the time (all the time!) that he should date other people, that it didn’t bother me if he found someone else, yada yada . . . I had a veritable complex that he was going to find another girl who was more attractive in some way or another, and I would find myself left behind. I didn’t have enough faith in my own worth, or yet in his constancy.
He finally said to me, in one of our Skype conversations, “I don’t think you get it. I don’t need to find anyone else. I’m not on the lookout anymore. You feel free to date other people if you want, but I’m no longer looking.” When I understood that this was for real–that his feelings for me matched mine for him–the world became a beautiful place. And I was no longer in a panic. I was able to embrace that we were both acting “in good faith.”
Before we parted ways that summer, Zac and I hiked a mountain together. I brought along snacks and water, and when we reached the lookout point and stopped to relax, I pulled out my journal and the recent general conference issue of the Ensign magazine so we could have a discussion of eternal things. (Looking back, it really is a wonder that Zac was so undeterred; I did a lot of really awkward things.)
When he tells this story, he talks about how he was trying desperately to gauge the best moment to kiss me (up to this point we hadn’t kissed yet), and so he remembers absolutely none of our deep philosophical discussion. But it was poignant, I can assure you. And as part of it, I brought up “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” And I told him that as we embarked on our relationship (seriously, he should have run . . .), that we could do so by focusing on the first principles of successful marriages and families–the first three of which I considered to be individual principles: “faith, prayer, repentance.”
Since we were going to spend the summer apart, we could increase our capacity and understanding of those three pillars on a personal level. I look back in part embarrassment and part disbelief at my awkward style. Seriously, it was intense. But! I hope it doesn’t do too much damage on my ethos when I say that faith in Jesus Christ really is everything for me. And truly, it is not a group effort, or even a couple effort; no amount of tenderness and caring can pass a testimony from one partner to another. I believe in Christ and His power to save me, independent of my husband and every other person I know. And that belief is a part of the faith that makes my marriage work.
- Don’t worry about it. There are things that you won’t have any control over in your life and in your marriage. Faith moves forward without fear. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control; believe in God and move forward.
- Marry one and then make it right. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be choosy. Choose someone in whom you have faith–faith that they will make every effort to honor your marriage vows. And then you work together with full confidence–with full faith–in each other.
- In good faith. Believe in your partner. Believe that he loves you. Believe that he is trying his best, and that, despite the occasional terrible dinners or really uncomfortable moments, you both believe in each other and in your marriage.
- Faith in Jesus Christ. And I don’t sling around cliches or bumper stickers because they’re cute and church-y. If I didn’t think that Jesus Christ knew the darkest of abysses–both internal and external–then my faith would be nothing except clouds and kittens. But, like I said before, this one is a deeply personal matter, so you can’t really take my word for it.
And that’s it. Successful marriages are built, among other things, on the principle of faith.
***************** GIVEAWAY *****************
We often find The Family: A Proclamation to the World hanging on the wall next to the picture of a temple. Juju Lane has taken it a step further by creating this beautiful gold foil temple using words from the Proclamation! Enter below for your chance to win this lovely print for your home! a Rafflecopter giveaway