Couples can blend their lives in the hues of a masterpiece.

Over the nineteen years of our marriage, nine beautiful children have blessed our home, along with continuing financial and occupational disappointments for Craig, failing health for me, and increasing responsibilities vying for our limited time. The stress increased until several years ago I found myself saying or thinking, “Maybe we aren’t really right for each other.”

I also noticed that when Craig and I got a night out together, we really didn’t have much in common. For instance, he’d want to see a movie, and I’d want to go to the temple. He’d want to play ball, and I’d want to dance. We both enjoyed eating out, but he preferred spicy Mexican food, while my system would only tolerate fresh fruits and vegetables.

I must have expressed my frustration, because one day Craig found himself repeating, “Maybe we aren’t really right for each other.” Hearing himself say this out loud bothered him, for he spent the next few days praying and fasting about our marriage relationship and the frustrations we were facing.

Then one evening he approached me and said, “You and I are like the primary colors—red, yellow, and blue. Between the two of us we have everything necessary to make a successful marriage and an eternal family. Together, we lack nothing. Just as it takes all three primary colors to make all the other colors, you and I, with Heavenly Father’s help, have the ability to blend our qualities to make a happy, eternal marriage.”

As I thought about that, I saw our differences in a new light. Craig is the one who radiates love in our family. I’ve sometimes been jealous of that trait because I wanted to do that, too. After all, I have a lot of love in me, but my love doesn’t always seem to come out graciously. Once, when I told Craig that I felt bad about not being able to show love well, he replied, “But you bring spirituality into our family.” I do love to read the scriptures and listen to general conference, and I’m always eager to share what I have learned. Suddenly I realized that Craig and I were helping each other and our children: he showed me how to give love, and I shared with him what I had learned from the scriptures and prophets.

Now, when I get caught up in my sunup-to-sundown work, I appreciate Craig’s encouragement to stop and relax with him. And when I catch him—“Mr. Soft Touch”—doing more than he should when he helps our children with their chores, he appreciates my encouragement to become a better delegator and let them do more. We are learning how much joy there is in taking turns: sometimes watching television together for him, and sometimes reading books aloud together for me.

We have also discovered that we really do have a lot in common. We both dislike grocery shopping, for instance. But, more important, we have found that we both like popcorn, long walks, vacations, our children, church, a clean house, new clothes, homemade bread, and—each other! I like to talk; he likes to listen. I am consistent, persistent, dependable, and determined; he is kind, tolerant, patient, and unwavering. We are both honest, loyal, committed, and united in our eternal goal of reaching exaltation.

As I sat in the celestial room of the temple early one morning, I thought that he and I are like the crystal prisms hanging from the chandelier in that room, receiving the light and transforming it into all the sparkling colors of the rainbow. The love we share blends all of our differences into a beautiful, unfolding, eternal relationship.

We have found that when we curb our self-pity, anger, and selfishness, we become united. As long as neither of us ever gives up—he picks me up when I stumble, I pull him up when he is down—we will continue to create a wonderful marriage.

Together, we have the resources to realize that dream. We have the joint responsibility to make and shape. When we are finished, the masterpiece that we have created will be our prize. We decide how beautiful that masterpiece will be.

[photo] Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff

[illustration] Illustrated by Sue Hansen

Kathlene Hardcastle is a homemaker. She serves as a visiting teacher in the Crescent Fourth Ward, Sandy Utah Crescent North Stake.