“Do I have what it takes to be a good spouse?”
“My parents went through a painful divorce, and I’m worried that if I get married I might get divorced too.”
“Will I be able to support a family if I get married?”
Sometimes fears like these can deter single Latter-day Saints from pursuing marriage. So how can we work to overcome the spirit of fear and replace it with love?
By relying on the Lord, many Church members have found that while their fears may not be entirely eradicated, Heavenly Father will assist them in creating a happy marriage.
Fear of Divorce
Perhaps you have experienced divorce firsthand. Perhaps your parents or someone else close to you went through a divorce. Or maybe the growing number of divorces today weighs heavily on your mind. Concern about the possibility of divorce has led many single adults to avoid taking the risks that could lead to a happy, fulfilling eternal marriage. But as you seek the Lord’s help, you can actually learn valuable, if hard-won, lessons from the negative experiences of those around you and then go forward with faith, discovering that a happy marriage is a real possibility.
Scott Balloch of Bristol, England, was 18 years old when his parents ended their marriage. As a result, he feared the possibility of a divorce of his own someday—but he also learned important lessons from his parents’ experience.
“I was much less blasé about dating because of my parents’ divorce,” Brother Balloch says. “I took the commitment of marriage very seriously.”
Before he and his wife married, they talked about his concerns and they consistently prayed and read the scriptures.
“That had a massive impact,” Brother Balloch says. “It lessened contention, and a lot of our fears were taken away.
“Nephi taught us a good principle: ‘I will go and do’” (1 Ne. 3:7), he continues. “When we’re fearful, it can make us more reliant on Heavenly Father. He’s provided a way.” The Ballochs explain that they have been blessed for seeking to follow Heavenly Father’s commandments in their marriage.
Fear of Being an Inadequate Spouse
Everyone has imperfections, and sometimes these shortcomings become more apparent in marriage. When Ken Nollsch of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, married his wife, Chalyce, he was continuing to overcome his long-held fears of being an inadequate spouse. As he has learned to share his burdens with the Lord, his fears have diminished.
Brother Nollsch wants to be fully committed, he says, “to putting her needs ahead of mine,” explaining, “I worry about how I spend my time and about staying away from selfish activities.” When Brother Nollsch gets overwhelmed by his fears, he reminds himself to emulate the example of the Savior, who said humbly to Heavenly Father, “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). “I say that over and over in my mind, and then I move on to what I need to accomplish,” Brother Nollsch says.
Brother Nollsch says his confidence in himself and in his wife has grown over time. He also focuses on the joy he finds in being a husband and father. “God wants us to be happy, and being a husband and father is one of the best ways to find happiness,” he says.
Fear of Financial Needs
While speaking to young men, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) commented on the commonly held fear of becoming the family breadwinner:
“I realize that some of you brethren may have genuine fears regarding the real responsibilities that will be yours if you do marry. You are concerned about being able to support a wife and family and provide them with the necessities in these uncertain economic times. Those fears must be replaced with faith.
“I assure you, brethren, that if you will be industrious, faithfully pay your tithes and offerings, and conscientiously keep the commandments, the Lord will sustain you. Yes, there will be sacrifices required, but you will grow from these and will be a better man for having met them.
“Work hard educationally and in your vocation. Put your trust in the Lord, have faith, and it will work out. The Lord never gives a commandment without providing the means to accomplish it.” 1
When Clyde and Joyce Hlongwane of Johannesburg, South Africa, started dating, Brother Hlongwane had concerns about supporting his future family.
“Before we married I was listening to a conference talk about paying tithing and how the Lord would provide,” Brother Hlongwane remembers. “I realized tithing was the key to the financial concerns I had—that no matter what, you pay your tithing.”
Brother Hlongwane was encouraged by scriptures such as 1 Nephi 17:3: “If it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them.”
“I knew it was a commandment to get married, and so the Lord would provide a way,” Brother Hlongwane says.
In addition, he recognized the need to do his part. When he and his wife were first married, he was working at a low-paying job and his income was not sufficient to support a family. He decided to pursue more education. Their financial situation has improved, and Brother Hlongwane is now looking forward to having a career in his chosen field.
Fear of Lifestyle Changes
Marriage affects how people live financially, socially, emotionally, and even spiritually.
Amy Byerly of Walpole, Massachusetts, was concerned about the lifestyle changes marriage brings. Talking with Bart, her soon-to-be husband, about her concerns lightened the burden. She also turned to the scriptures, and in Mosiah 2:41, she read: “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
“This scripture puts things into perspective for me,” Sister Byerly says. “Even if my lifestyle changed, I could still be happy if I was faithful. Also, it taught me that having an eternal family was much more important than all the fun things I did while I was single.”
Sister Byerly believed that Heavenly Father would help her in her marriage. “Knowing that God approved of our marriage helped me deal with any fears I had,” she says. “I knew I could be happy despite a lifestyle change.”
Fear of Changing Goals
Some single adults may worry that marriage will prohibit reaching their career or educational goals. “We were both worried about school and careers before we got married,” says Thekla Schenk of Mililani, Hawaii. “When we were first married, I wanted things to go my way. We were married on the condition that I would go to school.”
Sister Schenk prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help her finish college. She felt impressed that it would happen when it was supposed to, although she didn’t know how.
Although both are currently in school, the couple has determined that they will focus on Grayson’s education and career first so that Sister Schenk will be able to stay home with their future children. “We turned it into an ‘us’ thing instead of a ‘me’ thing,” Sister Schenk says.
She and her husband have sought happiness in marriage by trying to make each other happy. “It’s difficult to learn to put someone else’s needs first,” she says. “We need to strive to be spiritual enough to listen to promptings about what to do.”
In a message to his granddaughters on becoming great women, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “My dear granddaughters, you cannot do everything well at the same time. You cannot be a 100 percent wife, a 100 percent mother, a 100 percent church worker, a 100 percent career person, and a 100 percent public-service person at the same time.” Doing things sequentially, he said, “gives a woman the opportunity to do each thing well in its time and to fill a variety of roles in her life.” 2
When they were engaged, Sonia Lopreiato Piros and Gabriel Piros of São Paulo, Brazil, talked about the decisions they would have to make when their children were born. But after one year of marriage and the birth of their first child, “everything that was once so simple in theory turned out to be complicated to practice,” Sister Piros says. “We faced the moment of decision, and fear invaded our hearts. My husband was afraid he would not earn enough to provide for our needs, and I was afraid to end my promising career.”
Brother and Sister Piros began reviewing the Eternal Marriage Student Manual (item no. 35311) and attending institute classes together. They felt certain the right decision was the one they had made before they were married—that Sister Piros would set aside her career for now, even though both knew it would not be easy for Brother Piros to provide for the family’s needs.
“We exercised our faith, and as the scripture said, we proved the word of God,” she says (see 2 Ne. 11:3). The couple began to experience many blessings as a result of their sacrifice, including Brother Piros’s professional growth.
“We still face some challenges and fears, but we are certain that God will be there at our side and that He will answer our prayers,” Sister Piros says.
“God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear”
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith.” 3
Certainly there are legitimate reasons for doubt and uncertainty in some dating relationships. Individuals should always seek the Lord’s guidance when making a decision to marry. But as you take the proper steps in your relationships and as you feel the peace the Lord bestows on those who make righteous decisions, you can go forward with faith, knowing that great happiness can be found in marriage and family.
The Apostle Paul taught, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). He also wrote, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). May we strive to replace our fears about marriage with faith and love.
Face Your Doubts
“With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence’ [Heb. 10:35]. Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Liahona, June 2000, 38; Ensign, Mar. 2000, 9.