A lot of what I will be sharing is personal and I want you to know that I am not sharing these things so that you think that I have a "perfect" marriage and that my husband and I are "perfect" spouses! My DH and I have issues that pop up every now and then, we're human! BUT, I am sharing these things to show you that it is POSSIBLE and it is IMPORTANT. I feel that I have an amazing marriage, but I know that I could also consider it an awful marriage if my attitude and actions were differently. So, let's get down to it, shall we?
|Isn't this a darling picture?! ;D|
I'd like to start out by asking you some questions about your marriage. This is personal. Just think of the answers in your head. Be HONEST with yourself.
1. Do you ever feel that your spouse doesn't appreciate your efforts?
2. Do you ever feel that your spouse doesn't help you in the demands in your life?
3. Do you ever feel that you are not good enough for your spouse?
4. Do you ever feel that you do ALL the work in your marriage?
5. Do you ever fell that you can't do anything right?
I said yes to a few of those. I tried to ask questions on a broad spectrum to include everyone in answering YES to at least one. I'm sure you did--don't lie to yourself! Okay, do you want to know a way to help with YOUR attitude (you can only change you...)? The answer is simple--service!
You cannot change anyone in your marriage except for YOU. If you'd like to know exactly what type of a spouse you should be, listen to the words of President James E. Faust, "I urge husbands and fathers of this Church to be the kind of men your wives would not want to be without. I urge the sisters of this Church to be patient, loving, and understanding with their husbands. Those who enter into marriage should be fully prepared to establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives."
Marriage is the FIRST priority in our lives. Not second after our calling or the kids, not third after ourselves and the kids or our calling and the kids. FIRST. Men and women are different. You have to understand that in order to have a good marriage, and service is a way to help you realize how important your spouse is to you and your Father in Heaven.
There are so many ways that you can serve daily in your marriage, it just takes a little effort! It gets easier as you understand your spouse better and what is important to him/her. Let me give you an example from my wonderful husband.
I work for the local school district with children who have special needs. It is incredibly stressful and I am exhausted when I get home and feel like there is no time to get things done most of the time. I also like to be prepared for the morning so that I can just be ready to go after showering and dressing. There are nights when I am in the middle of a project and forget that I need to make my lunch for the next day. Most of the time when this happens, I'll make my way to the kitchen feeling incredibly frustrated. On almost all of these occasions, my DH has made my lunch for me. He knows that it is something that is important to me. I could get up in the morning and make my lunch, but because he knows that I like to have it made the night before, he supports my desire and makes up for my inability to get to it when I'd like to. He's awesome!
Now, I want you to know something--your spouse might not do this for you, but don't get upset! If this is something that you'd like them to do, all you need to do is ask nicely! BUT, I will tell you that they will be more willing to help you out if you've already been helping them.
I help my husband with his lunches by packaging up left overs from dinner--this way he can grab what he wants and put it in his lunch box the next morning. He doesn't like me to "pack" his lunch, but he appreciates my packaging up leftovers so he can choose his lunch each morning. I also try to leave kind notes in his lunchbox. After about 5 years of marriage and me doing this, imagine my surprise when I opened my lunch at work and saw a note from him to me!!! Did I complain that I did something for him that he didn't do for me? Nope.
Marriage is not about you do this for me and then I'll do this for you. It's about service and helping each other. And now, some marriage math! Each marriage partner needs to give 100%, not just 50%, to their marriage. Now, it's never going to be "equal" in the sense that service is the same. Also, there are times when we need to give 115% because our spouse can only give 85% because work is stressful or there are other pressures on them at the time. But try as hard as you can to always give 100% because you never know when you'll need your spouse to make up for your lacking! It takes work...
Elder Bruce C. Hafen has said, "Temple marriage covenants do not magically bring equality to a partnership. Those covenants commit us to a developmental process of learning and growing together—by practice....equal partnerships are not made in heaven—they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time. And getting there is hard work."
Equal does not mean the same. We know that 2+2 is equal to 4. But both sides of the equation are not the same. It's the same in our marriages--when each person strives to serve to the best of their ability, the equation will be the same on both sides even if they look different. You equation may look something like this:
1 hour at home + 2 jobs + 1 calling = 1 day at home + 2 children to look after + 1 calling
1 husband who is a bishop + 1 meal eaten at home + 1 job = 1 wife + 1 great day of cooking + 1 job
1 spouse struggling with depression = 1 spouse doing all the work needed to live
Do you see how the numbers work out, even if the service is different? It takes a personal choice to see the equality in our marriages even if we don't feel it always. But when each person is doing their best to serve at 100%, marriages will be strengthened and become happier and more functional.
I hope that the things I've talked about today have helped you. I know that even when dealing with someone that you feel is "difficult" that the best way to come to love them is to serve them. This is how to show Christ-like love and how we can keep the Savior's commandment to "...love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12) There is no other institution that is more important to keep this commandment in than in our marriages is my testimony.
Please take some time today to ponder how service can help uplift your marriages and turn your home into a haven from the world. Have a wonderful day! :)