Honorable, happy, and successful marriage is surely the principal goal of every normal person. Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joy. It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children’s children down through the many generations.
In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning, thinking, praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all decisions, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage, there must be a union of minds as well as of emotions.
Many TV shows and stories of fiction end with marriage. “They lived happily ever after.” We have come to realize that the mere performance of a ceremony does not bring happiness and a successful marriage. Happiness does not come by pressing a button, as does the electric light; happiness is a state of mind and comes from within. It must be earned. It cannot be purchased with money; it cannot be taken for nothing.
Some think of happiness as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills; but true marriage is based on a happiness which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.
Two people coming from different backgrounds learn soon after the ceremony is performed that reality must be faced. They must assume responsibility and accept new duties. Some personal freedoms must be relinquished, and many unselfish adjustments, must be made.
A person comes to realize very soon after marriage that the spouse has weaknesses not previously revealed or discovered. The virtues which were constantly magnified during courtship now grow relatively smaller, and the weaknesses which seemed so small and insignificant during courtship now grow to sizable proportions, The time then comes for understanding hearts, for self-appraisal, and for good common sense, reasoning, and planning.
There is often an unwillingness to make the financial adjustments necessary. Some young wives demand luxury. They consequently leave the home, where their duty lies, to pursue professional or business pursuits. When both spouses work, competition rather than cooperation enters the family. Two weary workers return home with taut nerves, individual pride, increased independence, and then misunderstandings arise.
Marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common. Yet real, lasting happiness is possible. Marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can imagine. This is within the reach of every couple, every person. While every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.
There is a never-failing formula which will guarantee to every couple a happy and eternal marriage; but like all formulas, the principal ingredients must not be left out or limited. The selection before courting and the continued courting after the marriage ceremony are equally important. But they are not more important than the marriage itself. Its success depends upon both partners.
Financial, social, political, and other situations may seem to have a bearing; but the marriage depends first and always on the two spouses, who can always make their marriage successful and happy if they are determined, unselfish, and righteous.
The formula is simple.
First there must be the proper approach toward marriage. A person must try to select a spouse who is as nearly perfect as possible in all the matters which are of importance to him.
Second, there must be a great unselfishness. All should be done for the good of the family.
Third, there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.
Fourth, the commandments of the Lord, as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ, must be lived completely.
With these ingredients properly mixed and continually kept functioning, it is quite impossible for unhappiness to come, misunderstandings to continue, or breaks to occur.
Those approaching marriage must realize that marriage means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens. But also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.
Before marriage, each individual is quite free to go and come as he pleases, to organize and plan his life as it seems best, to make all decisions with self as the central point. Sweethearts should realize before they take the vows that each must accept literally and fully that the good of the little new family must always be superior to the good of either spouse. Every decision must take into consideration that there are two or more affected by it. As she approaches major decisions now, the wife will be concerned about the effect they will have upon the parents, the children, the home, and their spiritual lives. The husband’s choice of occupation, his social life, his friends, his every interest must now be considered in the light that he is only a part of a family, that the totalness of the group must be considered.
A marriage may not always be even and incidentless, but it can be one of great peace. A couple may have poverty, illness, disappointment, failures, and even death in the family, but even these will not rob them of their peace. The marriage can be a successful one so long as selfishness does not enter in. Troubles and problems will draw parents together into unbreakable unions if there is total unselfishness there. During the depression of the 1930’s, there was a definite drop in divorce. Poverty, failures, disappointment—they tied parents together. Adversity can cement relationships which prosperity can destroy.
Total unselfishness is sure to accomplish another factor in successful marriage. If one is forever seeking the interests, comforts, and happiness of the other, the love found in courtship and cemented in marriage will grow into mighty proportions.
To be really happy in marriage, one must faithfully observe the commandments of the Lord. No one, single or married, was ever sublimely happy unless he was righteous.
One who has a pattern of religious life with deep religious convictions can never be happy while inactive in the Church. Inactivity is destructive to marriage.
Marriage is ordained of God. It is not merely a social custom. Without proper and successful marriage, one will never be exalted. Read the words of your Lord, that it is right and proper to be married.
If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure, they are sure to have this great happiness.
When a husband and wife go together frequently to the holy temple, kneel in prayer together in their home with their family, go to their religious meetings, keep their lives wholly chaste—mentally and physically—so that their whole thoughts and desires and loves are all centered in their companion, and if both work together for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God, then happiness results.
The Lord said: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22.)
This means just as completely that “thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else.” Frequently, people continue to cleave unto their mothers and their fathers and their friends. Sometimes mothers will not relinquish the hold they have had upon their children, and husbands as well as wives return to their mothers and fathers to obtain advice and counsel and to confide, whereas cleaving should be to the wife in most things, and all intimacies should be kept in great secrecy and privacy from others.
Your married life should become independent of your parents. You love them more than ever; you cherish their counsel; you appreciate their association; but you live your own lives, being governed by your decisions, by your own prayerful considerations after you have received the counsel from those who should give it. To cleave does not mean merely to occupy the same home; it means to adhere closely, to stick together:
“Wherefore, it is lawful that … they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
“And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.” (D&C 49:16–17.)
Brothers and sisters, may I say this is the word of the Lord. It is very, very serious, and there is nobody who should argue with the Lord. He made the earth; he made the people. He knows the conditions. He set the program, and we are not intelligent enough or smart enough to be able to argue him out of these important things. He knows what is right and true.
We ask you to think of these things. Be sure that your marriage is right. Be sure that your life is right. Be sure that your part of the marriage is carried forward properly.