Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness

Joe J. Christensen


Barbara and I have been blessed with six children. Some years ago, when we had taken all of them to visit with their grandparents, my father said, “Joe, I think you and Barbara have started something you can’t stop.”

At this Easter season we declare to all the world that Jesus is the Christ and that through his holy priesthood and its sealing power, marriages and families ideally need never stop—need never come to an end.

Today I would like to speak to all of you about our marriages. Here are eight practical suggestions that, hopefully, may be of value in strengthening our marriages, now and in the future.

  1. 1.

    Remember the central importance of your marriage. Listen to these words from Elder Bruce R. McConkie on the importance of marriage in our Father in Heaven’s “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8):

  2. 2.

    Pray for the success of your marriage. Years ago, when it was common for a General Authority to tour a mission and interview all the missionaries, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was visiting with an elder who was just about to finish his mission.

  3. 3.

    Listen. Make the time to listen to your spouse; even schedule it regularly. Visit with each other and assess how you are doing as a marriage partner.

  4. 4.

    Avoid “ceaseless pinpricking.” Don’t be too critical of each other’s faults. Recognize that none of us is perfect. We all have a long way to go to become as Christlike as our leaders have urged us to become.

  5. 5.

    Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together—just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time alone together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling.

  6. 6.

    Be quick to say, “I’m sorry.” As hard as it is to form the words, be swift to say, “I apologize, and please forgive me,” even though you are not the one who is totally at fault. True love is developed by those who are willing to readily admit personal mistakes and offenses.

  7. 7.

    Learn to live within your means. Some of the most difficult challenges in marriage arise in the area of finances. “The American Bar Association … indicated that 89 percent of all divorces could be traced to quarrels and accusations over money” (Ensign, July 1975, p. 72). Be willing to postpone or forgo some purchases in order to stay within your budget. Pay your tithing first, and avoid debt insofar as possible. Remember that spending fifty dollars a month less than you receive equals happiness and spending fifty more equals misery. The time may have come to get out the scissors and your credit cards and perform what Elder Holland called some “plastic surgery” (Ensign, June 1986, p. 30).

  8. 8.

    Be a true partner in home and family responsibilities. Don’t be like the husband who sits around home expecting to be waited on, feeling that earning the living is his chore and that his wife alone is responsible for the house and taking care of the children. The task of caring for home and family is more than one person’s responsibility.

In summary:

  • Remember the central importance of your marriage.

  • Pray for its success.

  • Listen.

  • Avoid “ceaseless pinpricking.”

  • Keep your courtship alive.

  • Be quick to say, “I’m sorry.”

  • Learn to live within your means.

  • Be a true partner in home and family responsibilities.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ. The tomb was empty on that third day, and “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Thus with gratitude for the sealing power within the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we can confidently say with the poet, “I shall but love thee better after death” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How Do I Love Thee?”). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.