Over the nineteen years of our marriage, nine beautiful children have blessed our home, along with many financial and occupational disappointments for my husband Craig, failing health for me, and increasing responsibilities outside the home competing for our limited time. During the years, as the stress increased, I found myself saying or thinking, “Maybe we aren’t really right for each other.”
I had 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 watch a soccer game or something like that, and I’d want to go to a dance or a concert.
I must have expressed my frustration, because one day Craig found himself repeating my statement, “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 feeling.
Then one evening he said, “You and I are like the basic 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 basic 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 from a new perspective. In our family, Craig is the one who radiates love. I’ve sometimes been jealous of that ability because I wanted to do that, too. 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 sad about not being able to express my love well, he replied, “But you bring spirituality into our family. You love to read the scriptures and listen to general conference, and you’re always eager to share what you 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 daily work, I appreciate Craig’s encouragement to stop and relax with him. And when I find him 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 also 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 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 long walks, our children, church, a clean house, fresh 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 don’t give in to self-pity, anger, and selfishness, we become united. As long as neither of us ever gives up—he helps me when I begin to fail at something, I help him 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 our marriage and family. When we are finished, the masterpiece that we have created will be our prize. We decide how beautiful that masterpiece will be.