19: Adjusting to Married Life

Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 70–72


Doctrinal Overview

Married life requires many adjustments. President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Two people coming from different backgrounds learn soon after the ceremony is performed that stark reality must be faced. There is no longer a life of fantasy or of make-believe; we must come out of the clouds and put our feet firmly on the earth. Responsibility must be assumed and new duties must be accepted. Some personal freedoms must be relinquished, and many adjustments, unselfish adjustments, must be made” (“Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 3; see also student manual, 170).

Principle

Wise preparation for marriage includes foreseeing the need for adjustment.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Adjustments in Marriage” (9)

“Overcoming Those Differences of Opinion: A Formula for Finding Unity in Marriage,” Elder Robert E. Wells (286)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Object lesson. Explain that when we marry we must learn to adapt to our spouse because two people do not always look at a situation the same. To illustrate, draw the accompanying diagram on the board. Give students twenty seconds to count the number of triangles in the diagram.

Triangle diagram

When time is up, tell students that there are sixteen triangles in the illustration.

Point out that just as some students found a different number of triangles than others, two people can look at the same situation in marriage and draw different conclusions. Both partners must be willing to adapt and learn from the other’s point of view.

Scripture activity. Explain that the transition to marriage was considered important enough to be provided for under the law of Moses. Read Deuteronomy 24:5 and ask:

  • What special considerations did the law give to newly married men?

  • In what ways might such a law have helped the people?

  • Are you aware of any similar laws in our country today? Explain.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Scripture activity. Read Psalm 127:3–5; Isaiah 54:13; Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28; Moses 2:27–28. Divide the class into three groups. Have the first group read Matthew 16:26; Doctrine and Covenants 75:28–29; 104:78. Have the second read 1 Corinthians 7:3–5; Ephesians 5:25; Hebrews 13:4; Doctrine and Covenants 42:22. Have the third read Mark 10:6–9; 3 Nephi 13:24. Have them identify the topics addressed in their verses and discuss why couples might have difficulty adjusting in these areas. Invite a representative from each group to share their findings with the class.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Student manual. Invite students to read the “Adjustments in Marriage” section (student manual, 9–10). Ask what marital adjustments are mentioned in the reading. Write them on the board and discuss them as a class. If the students do not mention the following adjustments, include them in the discussion:

  • Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said there must be a willingness to sacrifice pleasures, appetites, and desires for the good of the relationship.

  • President Spencer W. Kimball said there must be a willingness to assume responsibility, fulfill duties, relinquish some personal freedoms, be patient with a spouse’s weaknesses, and establish an independent home.

  • President Joseph F. Smith said there must be financial responsibility in marriage.

  • President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1977], 148; or student manual, 171).

  • President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Selfishness is at the root of adultery, the breaking of solemn and sacred covenants to satisfy selfish lust. Selfishness is the antithesis of love. It is a cankering expression of greed. It destroys self-discipline. It obliterates loyalty. It tears up sacred covenants. It afflicts both men and women” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 96; or Ensign, May 1991, 73).

Ask students what other adjustments couples may need to make, based on their observations of marriages.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Role play. Have students turn to “Overcoming Those Differences of Opinion: A Formula for Finding Unity in Marriage,” by Elder Robert E. Wells, then a member of the Seventy (student manual, 286). Outline the main points of the address using a handout or overhead transparency. Choose volunteers to play the husband and wife in a role play. Give the couple a hypothetical difference of opinion to work through, such as those listed below, or create one of your own:

  • The husband has received an unexpected bonus at work. He wants to use the money to buy a new tool. The wife feels strongly that they should invest the money in a savings program.

  • The husband has been getting home later and later from work each week. Last Monday he did not get home until after the children had gone to bed. The wife feels that he is not spending enough time with her or the children. The husband feels that he needs to stay late at work so he can be promoted and earn more money to support the family.

Set the stage for the role play. (For example, it is after dinner, the children are in bed, there are no distractions, and both spouses are calm and relaxed.) Ask the volunteers to resolve the problem using the formula outlined by Elder Wells. Allow them to refer to the list of main points if necessary.

After a few minutes, give other volunteers a turn. Have them pick up where the former students left off. Do this several times until the difference of opinion is resolved. Discuss how well the couples followed Elder Wells’s counsel.

Discuss the following questions:

  • How can we recognize selfishness in others? in ourselves?

  • How can we overcome it?

  • Why would it help if each person focused on what is right rather than on who is right?

Conclusion

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20 to learn why resolving marital differences is worth our best efforts. Explain that all marriages have problems, but that in healthy marriages both spouses make adjustments and work together to resolve their differences. Discuss why wise preparation for marriage includes foreseeing the need for adjustment. Discuss how an eternal perspective helps husbands and wives love and respect each other and overcome selfishness as they work through their differences together.