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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

NURTURING NICETIES: MARRIAGE MATTERS

Is my spouse a jerk? Or are we friends?  Nurturing relationships begins with crucial understanding of basic truths.

He Is Risen; by Del Parson

First, and more important than character assassinations or evaluations, is surety that God is real, and that Jesus Christ, as His only begotten son, atoned for sin and error.

Dr H Wallace.Goddard
popular author, researcher, and Professor of Family Life for the University.of Arkansas, coaches companions in marriage to invite “partners to gaze with [each other] on truths.of eternity” where they “are more likely to find common ground,” and “open the door to love.”

This requires faith to “trust that God is working to rescue our spouses even as he is working to rescue us.”  (2007, pp.54-55).

Goddard tutors that when stress persuades us marriage was a blunder, to remember that most likely “God guided us to be together” and can use “our marital choices” to “bless and balance us” (2007, p.57).

Through faith, and fundamental gospel truths, all things are possible (see Mathew 19:26).

Basic truths are succinctly outlined in

                         The Family: 
           A Proclamation to the World:

Hands image from lds.org

Remembering that my husband has divine potential reminds me to look for traits and characteristics of his “eternal identity and purpose.” I also am a daughter of God, and therefore have “divine nature and destiny.”

HELP WITH HOW

Consciously choosing this point of view, regarding myself as a daughter of God and my spouse as God’s son, changes irritations to opportunities. They are an “invitation to better thinking and acting” (Goddard, 2007, p. 57).

I wonder how I can foster his divine character. How would a daughter of God respond to general crankiness or irritability, to doubt or pride, and other potential mortal imperfections? Without essential principles of Christian living firmly entrenched in our hearts our marriage would have failed many times.

Anciently, when church members at Corinth were arguing with each other, and battling in court, the Apostle Paul explained “a more excellent way”—Charity.

Paul Writing His Epistles; Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne  (1591–1632)

Paul’s warning reverberates through time into modern relationships.

Even if I “understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor … it profiteth me nothing.”

BE KIND

Paul describes some of the attributes of this more excellent way: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth[i] not itself, is not puffed up … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil …  rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1Cor.13:2-13).

I don’t need to move any mountains, but I’d really like some kindness, patience, strength, hope and endurance.

Elder Joseph B. Writhlin, a Latter-day apostle (1986-2008) instructed that “the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness and caring” extended to others in our lives. "Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it” (2007).

Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women ….

Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.

Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years. … The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words—these things are noticed ….

Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes (Wirthlin, April 2005).

PRAY … TO SEE GOOD

“Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion,” instructs President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion” (2009).

CHANGE IS POSSIBLE

If warring nations can begin to make peace, surely it is possible in marriages and homes. 

In her May 2011 visit to Dublin, Ireland, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, demonstrated a powerful example of the principles of charity, change (repentance), apology, forgiveness, and sacrifice.


“We can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all ... [With] forbearance and conciliation [we need to be] able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it." 

And with the majesty of her many titles, the longest reigning monarch in the world extended apologies and condolences to Ireland for her nation’s past atrocities.

Goddard claims “Marriage is God's graduate school for advanced training in Christian character" (2007, p.8).

“In real life, love is much more than a feeling, it is a long series of decisions to be together, and give to one another, a commitment to work together to build a shared life, a day to day involvement that changes who we are as people” (Goddard, 2008).

CLINICAL MATERIAL

Commenting about stress felt as we marry, raise families, and mingle together; Neil A Maxwell, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1981-2004), taught that in all our interpersonal relationships the people we interact with “constitute the sample of humanity” God given as “clinical material, and we make a mistake when we disregard that sober fact”(6 February 2000, February Ensign, 2001). 

Explaining further Maxwell quoted President Brigham Young as teaching, “There are … no two persons tempered alike; … we are tried with each other, and large drafts are made upon our patience, forbearance, charity, and good will, in short, upon all the higher and Godlike qualities of our nature” (in Deseret News, 6 July 1862, 9). 

“Our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others” taught a modern apostle, Elder David A. Bednar. “A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended” (2006).

Maxwell (2001) instructed, “The eloquence of Jesus’ example of long-suffering and patience with each of us is surely something we must emulate—more than we usually do—in our relationships with each other!” He continued:

You are going to have days when people make a large draft on your patience, when they lay claim to your long-suffering that you may feel they don’t quite deserve. This is part of the chemistry that goes on in discipleship if we are serious about it …

It is within these circles of influence that you can strive to carry out all the dimensions of the second great commandment [to love others (Matt 22:36-40)] including giving praise, commendation, and occasional correction. It is good for us to develop further our relevant skills. Paul prescribed, however, ‘speaking the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15).
We usually know if someone speaks “in love,” Elder Maxwell maintains, and we are more able to accept difficult course corrections and reproof when they are given lovingly. With love “there is a much greater chance that what we say will find its mark in the hearts and the minds of other people” (6 February 2000, February Ensign, 2001).

GIVE PRAISE

In the Book of Mormon Pahron, though censored by an angry Moroni, chooses not to take offense but looks at Moroni’s good intentions and commends him for his uprightness. (Alma 61:2, 9). 


Maxwell reminds us, “We too can give others ‘the garment of praise’ (Isa. 61:3). There are so many people with no such clothing in their wardrobes—or only a T-shirt. They shiver for want of a little praise. Meanwhile, each of us has far more opportunities for bestowing deserved praise than we ever use!”(2001).

PASS IT ON

How am I able to give admiration, approval, honor, and appreciation? 

Elder Maxwell advises that it is imperative to be able to “give and receive” corrective council as well as commendation. Paul counsels “not to reprove others too much, causing them to ‘be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow’ (2 Cor. 2:7), and President Brigham Young, directed that “we should never reprove beyond the capacity of our healing balm to reach out to the person reproved” (see Deseret News, 6 Mar. 1861, 1).

Brigham Young Portrait, by Kenneth Corbett

Again quoting Brigham Young, Maxwell teaches, “The principle of love within us is an attribute of the Deity, and it is placed within us to be dispensed independently according to our own will” (in Deseret News, 4 Apr. 1860, 34). We decide how we express love.” Interest in others is in our “own interest” to become more like our Heavenly Father (in Deseret News, 18 June 1856, 116). In all relationships “ …the mentoring, the tutoring, the commending, and occasionally the correcting” provides “ample clinical opportunities to develop our capacity to love.” Maxwell cautions us to beware least these ‘opportunities’ “pass us by unnoticed 
(see Morm. 8:39).

REFERENCES


And Nothing Shall Offend Them, David A Bednar (October 2006), Retrieved May 31, 2017 from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/and-nothing-shall-offend-them?lang=eng

Goddard, H. W. (2007). Drawing heaven into your marriage: powerful principles with eternal results. Fairfax, VA: Meridian Pub.

Goddard, H. W. (2008). Healthy Marriages: Facts and Fiction Part 2 retrieved May 31, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-k6aY_1zDs quoting Dr. Blaine Fowers, University of Texas Professor of Counseling Psychology, Education, and Research

Jesus the Perfect Mentor, Neil A. Maxwell, (February 2001). Retrieved June 1, 2017 fromhttps://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/02/jesus-the-perfect-mentor?lang=eng

Our Perfect Example, Henry B. Eyring, October 2009, Ensign November 2009, Retrieved June 1, 2017 from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/our-perfect-example?lang=eng

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102. https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true

The Greatest Commandment, Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 2007, Ensign November 2007 Retrieved June 1, 2017, from 


 https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/11/the-great-commandment.p1?lang=eng


[i] boasting or bragging excessively (Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved June 1, 2017 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vaunt).