Keeping Love Alive

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 62–64


Doctrinal Overview

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; or student manual, 83). Paul taught, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his ninety-fifth year of life, said: “After we have been married 70 years, I can say to all of you that it gets better, that it gets better year after year, with the preciousness and the tenderness and the realization of some of the eternal blessings that lie ahead for us. And so to all of you I would say, and Ruby would join with me if she could be standing here, that life can be wonderful and so meaningful, but we have to live it in a simple way. We must live the principles of the gospel. For it is the gospel in our lives that makes the difference as we wend our way through life” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 22; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 19).

Principle

Couples nourish love in their marriages by following correct principles.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Marriage throughout the Years” (184)

Paragraph 7 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (83)

Selected Teachings from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (84–89)

“The Enriching of Marriage,” Elder James E. Faust (184–86)

“Hinckleys to Note 60th Anniversary” (186–87)

“How Do I Love Thee?” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (158–62)

“A Union of Love and Understanding,” Elder Marlin K. Jensen (162–66)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Invite students to describe the love newlywed couples feel for each other. Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “If you suppose that the full-blown rapture of young romantic love is the sum of the possibilities which spring from the fountains of life, you have not yet lived to see the devotion and the comfort of longtime married love. Married couples are tried by temptation, misunderstandings, separation, financial problems, family crises, illness; and all the while love grows stronger, the mature love enjoys a bliss not even imagined by newlyweds” (The Things of the Soul [1996], 106–7; or student manual, 142).

Explain that while this type of love is within reach, it takes real effort to achieve. Read the statement by Elder David B. Haight under “Doctrinal Overview” above. What is the “simple way” that helps us achieve a life together that is “wonderful and so meaningful”?

Show two potted plants, one that looks healthy and beautiful and another that is wilting or dead. Or draw two such plants on the board.

Two Plants image

Ask what may have made the difference in the condition of the two plants. Then have students apply their answers to marriage. The following questions might help your discussion:

  • What does it mean to nourish or nurture love in marriage?

  • Why does a marriage require such ongoing care?

  • Why do both partners need to be actively involved in nurturing a marriage?

  • Is work a good word to describe the effort needed to build a lasting relationship? Why or why not?

  • How can having fun be part of nurturing?

  • What are some courtesies that spouses could use to strengthen their love for each other?

Conclude with the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“The tender flower would wither and die without food and water. And so love, also, cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness.

“… 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. … Certainly the foods most vital for love are consideration, kindness, thoughtfulness, concern, expressions of affection, embraces of appreciation, admiration, pride, companionship, confidence, faith, partnership, equality, and dependence” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1977], 150; or student manual, 172).

Discussion. Turn to “A Union of Love and Understanding,” by Elder Marlin K. Jensen (student manual, 163–64), and read together the section “Developing Our Capacity to Love.” Read the following statements by Elder Jensen and after each, ask, Why is this so?

  • “It may be our own capacity to give love that makes us most lovable” (student manual, 163).

  • “Very little love can come from one who is not at peace with himself or herself and God” (164).

Summarize with Elder Jensen’s statement preceding that section: “If we want to make ourselves into worthy eternal companions, we can first concentrate on becoming unwavering disciples of the Master” (163).

Discussion. Write on the board Qualities That Can Strengthen a Marriage. Add below the title the following references from the student manual:

  • “How Do I Love Thee?” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (158–62)

  • “Hinckleys to Note 60th Anniversary” (186–87)

  • “The Enriching of Marriage,” Elder James E. Faust (184–86)

Divide the class into three groups. Have each group read one of the references from the student manual and underline the qualities that can strengthen a marriage. Invite a representative of each group to write their findings on the board. Have the class suggest other qualities, and add them to the list on the board.

  • Which of these qualities could be easily and quickly applied in a marriage? How?

  • Which qualities would take more time to develop? Why?

  • Which of these qualities have you seen in a married couple you admire?

Invite students to review the six questions under “Enriching a Marriage” by Elder Faust (student manual, 185) and silently rate themselves against each question on a scale of 1 to 10. Encourage them to ponder ways they can improve in their weakest area and set a specific goal they can work on during the week.

Conclusion

Share the following statement by President Hinckley: “I see my own companion of fifty-two years. Is her contribution less acceptable before the Lord than is mine? I am satisfied it is not. She has walked quietly at my side, sustained me in my responsibilities, reared and blessed our children, served in many capacities in the Church, and spread an unmitigated measure of cheer and goodness wherever she has gone. The older I grow the more I appreciate—yes, the more I love—this little woman with whom I knelt at the altar in the house of the Lord more than half a century ago.

“I wish with all of my heart that every marriage might be a happy marriage. I wish that every marriage might be an eternal partnership. I believe that wish can be realized if there is a willingness to make the effort to bring it to pass” (“Rise to the Stature of the Divine within You,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 97; or student manual, 79).