The Joy of Marriage

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 9–12


Doctrinal Overview

“Happiness in marriage and parenthood can exceed a thousand times any other happiness” (James E. Faust, in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 14; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 8).

“Marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 3; see also “Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1977], 146).

“The marriage vows taken in these hallowed places and the sacred covenants entered into for time and all eternity are proof against many of the temptations of life that tend to break homes and destroy happiness. …

“Worthy young Latter-day Saint men and women who so begin life together find that their eternal partnership under the everlasting covenant becomes the foundation upon which are built peace, happiness, virtue, love, and all of the other eternal verities of life, here and hereafter” (Heber J. Grant, “Beginning Life Together,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1936, 198–99).

Principle

If couples obey the gospel principles that lead to marital happiness, marriage can bring a more “exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive.”

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Happiness in Marriage” (133–35)

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (83–84)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Scripture activity. Invite students to suggest scriptures that show that happiness in marriage is possible and important to seek. The following references and questions may help your discussion:

Help students understand that seeking a marriage and family that will last throughout eternity is one of the greatest pursuits of mortality.

Student manual. Some in the world teach that marriage and families are outdated and no longer bring happiness. Invite students to read “Marriage Brings Happiness and Joy” in the student manual (133–34) and summarize what prophets of God teach about happiness in marriage and the family. Discuss questions similar to the following:

  • According to President Kimball, why is marriage perhaps the most vital of all the decisions we make?

  • What reasons does Elder Boyd K. Packer give for keeping faith in marriage?

  • According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, why is it important to be united as one in the Lord?

  • Given Elder James E. Faust’s observation, why do you think so many people try to find happiness by pursuing the things of this world rather than an eternal marriage?

Conclude that it is still possible to find happiness in marriage. This happiness has the potential to become a fulness of joy throughout the eternities.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Student manual. If our goal is to have an eternal marriage, it is important to understand the forces that work against it. In 1900 in the United States there was one divorce for every twelve marriages. By the year 2000 this rate was estimated at one divorce for every two marriages. The trends for divorce are similar in many countries throughout the world (see student manual, 169, 176, 184).

Have students turn to “Satan Tries to Destroy Happiness” in the student manual (134). Read Elder Boyd K. Packer’s comments about Lucifer’s single purpose, and discuss questions such as the following:

  • According to Elder Packer, why is Satan so intent on destroying marriages and families?

  • What are the consequences if he succeeds?

Read President Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement in the student manual (134). Discuss questions like the following:

  • What trends does President Hinckley warn us about?

  • What can be done to avoid such problems?

Discuss how the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball can apply to eternal marriage: “Satan is very much a personal, individual spirit being, but without a mortal body. His desires to seal each of us his are no less ardent in wickedness than our Father’s are in righteousness to attract us to his own eternal kingdom” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 35).

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Discuss how the following teachings relate to eternal marriage:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21).

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 255).

When seeking any blessing, it is important to learn and apply the fundamental principles associated with it. This is particularly true of the blessing of a happy marriage. This course is built on the premise that we can find correct principles that lead to happy marriages in the scriptures and in the teachings of living prophets.

Group work. Refer to the list of scriptures under “Scripture Study” in the “Happiness in Marriage” section of the student manual (134). Write the following statement from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” on the board: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Explain that the scriptures and the teachings of living prophets are the best place to find teachings of Jesus Christ regarding marriage and family.

Divide the class into groups and assign scriptures from the list in the student manual. Ask each group to identify a principle that can be applied to a marriage relationship. Also ask the groups to explain how the principle will increase the likelihood of achieving success in marriage. After a few minutes of group discussion, ask each group to present their findings. Possible answers are listed below:

  • Job 6:25. If we speak in a Christlike way, we are more likely to have happiness in marriage.

  • Proverbs 15:1. Patience and self-control make happiness in marriage more likely.

  • Matthew 12:34–37. Christlike communication comes from a Christlike heart.

  • 1 Nephi 1:20. Through obedience and faith in Jesus Christ, we can avoid and even be delivered from many trials that destroy marriages today.

  • 3 Nephi 18:19–21. Families can be strengthened to resist the temptations of Satan by praying together.

  • Alma 41:10. Wickedness in marriage never results in happiness. Righteousness greatly increases our chances of finding happiness in marriage.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:22. When we are loyal and committed to our spouse and gospel covenants, we increase the probability of a happy and enduring marriage.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:23. Adultery and thoughts of adultery can destroy marriages.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 50:28. Perfection in marriage must be preceded by sanctification from all sins.

Discuss additional scriptures of your own or suggested by your students. Tell students that these are only a few of the principles about marriage and family in the scriptures. Encourage students to look for such principles daily in their scripture study.

The law of witnesses. Read Elder Henry B. Eyring’s statement at the end of the “Happiness in Marriage” section in the student manual (135). Discuss the following questions:

  • Where can we turn for safety in these perilous times?

  • What is the law of witnesses and how can it help save marriages?

Explain that topics and readings in this course use the approach of the law of witnesses. If several prophets have given counsel on a topic related to marriage, it is included in this class. As we apply their teachings on what is needed to have happy and enduring marriages, we will be entitled to the promised blessings.

Course overview. If you have not done so already, give students a copy of the “Student Manual Readings” from the beginning of this manual (pp. viii–x). Preview the upcoming lessons and readings. Bear witness of the power for good that comes from studying the teachings of prophets. Assign students to complete the readings prior to each class.

Conclusion

Review the statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith on happiness from the discussion activity above (see p. 11). Explain that we can find true marital happiness in this life by learning and living correct principles and by seeking the influence of the Holy Ghost in our marital decisions. If we live by these principles, we will greatly increase our likelihood of achieving happiness in marriage in both this life and the next.