Selecting and Becoming an Eternal Companion

The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150, (2004), 48–54


Introduction

Entering into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage is essential to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1–4). One of the most important decisions we make is our choice of an eternal companion, and it is important to not only find the right companion but to be the right companion. Help your students understand that the way they live attracts others with similar values, interests, desires, and goals. Since the commitment between a husband and wife is meant to be eternal, seeking and receiving divine guidance on this matter is critical. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” provides counsel on choosing and becoming an eternal companion.

Three generation family at the Salt Lake Temple

As you discuss this topic of eternal marriage, be aware that there are many righteous people, particularly sisters, who have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of marriage. Some of your students may be suffering from the effects of a failed marriage or may be struggling in a current marriage. Although marriage is a requirement of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, please be considerate of the feelings of your students.

Principles to Understand

  • A marriage is enhanced when the husband and wife share similar values and interests.

  • We should prepare ourselves to be the best companion we can.

  • We should seek the Lord’s confirmation in choosing a marriage partner.

  • The proclamation on the family is a guide for assessing our attitudes and those of our future spouse.

  • A husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and their children.

Teaching Suggestions

A marriage is enhanced when the husband and wife share similar values and interests.

Invite students to think of a happily married couple they know. Ask:

  • What interests and values do the husband and wife share?

  • How do these similarities help strengthen their marriage?

Ask students to read the statements from President Spencer W. Kimball and President N. Eldon Tanner on pages 75–76 of their student manual. Have them identify characteristics that help build a happy marriage. Write their answers on the board. The list might include the following:

  • Similar economic, educational, religious, and social backgrounds

  • Similar interests

  • Similar values about money, religion, work, children, use of leisure time, and education

  • Communication skills

  • Worthiness for temple marriage

Ask:

  • Why do similarities tend to strengthen a marriage?

  • In what ways can differences in values weaken a marriage?

Ask the students to look at the list of characteristics that build a happy marriage and consider which characteristics they think are the most important. Have several students share their feelings about the characteristics they chose.

Share the following statement from President Spencer W. Kimball:

“Religious differences are the most trying and among the most unsolvable of all differences” (“Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 5).

Ask:

  • Why do you think this statement is true?

  • How does this relate to the counsel of Church leaders to date only those in the Church who have high standards?

  • How does the gospel serve as a unifying bond in marriage?

We should prepare ourselves to be the best companion we can.

Ask students to list five or six qualities they consider important in their future spouse. Ask:

  • How are you going to find a person with all of those qualities?

  • To what extent have you developed those qualities in your own life?

Write the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson on the board and discuss how it applies to marriage: “Do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate” (“To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 96).

Ask: Why is this statement good advice?

Help students understand that having unrealistically high expectations for a future husband or wife may make it impossible to find someone with whom they believe they can be happily married. Share the following statement from President Spencer W. Kimball:

“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” (Ensign, Mar. 1977, 4).

Ask: What does it mean to “pay the price” to have happiness and success in marriage?

Have students read the statement from Elder Richard G. Scott on page 77 of the student manual that begins “By making choices …” and identify the marriage preparation he suggested.

We should seek the Lord’s confirmation in choosing a marriage partner.

Ask:

  • How do you choose a marriage partner?

  • Why shouldn’t you simply pray and ask the Lord to show you whom to marry?

  • In selecting a spouse, why is it important to understand that the choice of whom to marry is ours to make?

Ask students to read the statements under “We should seek the Lord’s confirmation in choosing a marriage partner” on page 77 in the student manual.

Help them understand that they have the responsibility to find someone with whom they can build a happy marriage. They must do all they can to make the proper choice of an eternal companion and seek the Lord’s confirmation in fasting and prayer.

The proclamation on the family is a guide for assessing our attitudes and those of our future spouse.

Have students turn to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” on page 113 of the student manual. Explain that this inspired proclamation can be a guide to assess our own attitudes and those of a future spouse. Read with students the following statements from the proclamation and discuss the questions that follow each statement. You may also want to select other passages from the proclamation that are especially suited to the needs of your students. Remind your students that potential marriage partners should have similar views on these important issues.

“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

  • Why do you believe marriage is ordained of God?

  • In what ways is the family important in Heavenly Father’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children?

“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents. … Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

  • How does knowledge of our first estate better enable us to understand the vital role of gender in the Lord’s plan?

“Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

  • What qualities can we develop in ourselves and our families now that would be of eternal worth?

  • How can frequent temple service help keep the ordinances and their importance fresh in our minds?

“We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”

  • Why do you think the Lord commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth?

“We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”

  • How does this statement regarding the sanctity of life address abortion generally?

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • How can this statement be used as a guide in selecting the person you will marry?

  • As a husband or wife, what will you do to build and maintain your family life “upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ”?

Share the following remedy President Gordon B. Hinckley prescribed to combat the destructive influences on families:

“As I look to the future, I see little to feel enthusiastic about concerning the family in America and across the world. Drugs and alcohol are taking a terrible toll, which is not likely to decrease. Harsh language one to another, indifference to the needs of one another—all seem to be increasing. There is so much of child abuse. There is so much of spouse abuse. There is growing abuse of the elderly. All of this will happen and get worse unless there is an underlying acknowledgment, yes, a strong and fervent conviction, concerning the fact that the family is an instrument of the Almighty. It is His creation. It is also the basic unit of society.

“I lift a warning voice to our people. We have moved too far toward the mainstream of society in this matter. Now of course there are good families. There are good families everywhere. But there are too many who are in trouble. This is a malady with a cure. The prescription is simple and wonderfully effective. It is love. It is plain, simple, everyday love and respect. It is a tender plant that needs nurturing. But it is worth all of the effort we can put into it.

“Now, in closing, I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).

Ask: How will following the principles taught in the proclamation on the family help our homes become safe places for our families and fortifications against the temptations and sins of the world?

A husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and their children.

Ask: How does loving and caring for each other help a husband and wife prepare for fatherhood and motherhood?

Ask a student to read the following statement from Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“I believe in marriage. I believe it to be the ideal pattern for human living. I know it to be ordained of God. The restraints relating to it were designed to protect our happiness.

“I do not know of any better time in all of the history of the world for a young couple who are of age and prepared and who are in love to think of marriage. There is no better time because it is your time.

“I know that these are very troubled times. Troubles like we have now are very hard on marriages.

“Do not lose faith in marriage. Not even if you have been through the unhappiness of a divorce and are surrounded with pieces of a marriage that has fallen apart” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 16; or Ensign, May 1981, 15).

Continue by reading the following statements from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (p. 113 in the student manual), and discussing the questions that follow each one:

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

  • In what ways can we provide for our children’s physical and spiritual needs?

  • What are you doing now to prepare for the responsibilities of parenthood?

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

  • What can you do to ensure that those principles are a part of your marriage and family relationships?

  • What are you willing to do to build a successful marriage?

“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

  • What do you regard as the most serious threats to the family today?

  • How can strengthening a family contribute to a stronger community and nation?

Ask your students to prayerfully ponder the qualities they desire in a spouse. Encourage them to set meaningful goals to become the kind of spouse that will always live up to the standards of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

Suggested Student Assignments

  • Have students identify two families that they admire. Ask:

  • What qualities do they have that contribute to their success and happiness?

  • In what ways are they different, and how are they similar?

  • How do they respond to difficult situations?

Ask students to interview one of the couples to discover:

  • What character traits they love about each other.

  • A regular practice each has personally implemented that helps him or her be a better spouse.

  • How, as a couple, they strengthen their faith.

Have them write what they learn in the “Notes and Impressions” section in their student manual and then add a paragraph describing what they plan to do to prepare for marriage or to become a better spouse.