I’ve been a hopeless romantic for years. When I was about 13 years old I was already praying for my future husband, reading tons of horrible romance novels and hoping for a future filled with love and happiness. I guess that’s the dream for most of us. We yearn for companionship, for an opportunity to love and be loved in return. We want to know the secret to finding the happiness for which our hearts yearn. But too often we are looking in the wrong direction, towards a world that tells us we need to have a perfect body, fat bank accounts and a host of other things to fulfill this innate desire.
This summer has been a time of introspection. Only four months remain ’til Greg and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Time has gone by faster than we imagined it would, especially in those early months when we were both in school and I was living 185km away from Greg on a university dorm. Back then we anxiously waited for my final semester to end so I could return home to Montego Bay.
Marriage life has been all I’ve dreamed of and more. But sometimes I overhear conversations at work, in the media and elsewhere that make it seem as though a happy marriage is impossible. People sometimes talk as if fidelity is a naive dream that no self-respecting person in the 21st century should dare to have. But I dare to declare that we can have foolproof marriages and a fulfilling family life if we are but willing to pay the price. But what exactly is the price we must pay?
A happy relationship takes work. I like to compare it the tomato seeds Greg and I planted a few weeks ago. I’ve never been very good at planting – or at least I’ve never tried till now. But as we’ve been taking care of it, we’ve been surprised at how much it’s flourished. Like this plant, our relationships need our time, attention and love. Only after we are willing to pay the price will we be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour.
Sometimes it’s so easy for us to let our relationships wither because we are distracted by other things — our personal pursuits, vain ambitions. Other times we fail to give it our best because we are afraid — to get hurt, to forgive…
But as I’ve sought to be a better wife, I’ve had an enlightening experience. I’ve realised that “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). I’ve become even more convinced that we can achieve happiness with our spouses, children, family and friends as we seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father and be filled with charity.
For “charity suffereth long, and is kind;
Charity envieth not.
Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
Is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Charity never faileth… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
So much in this world is ugly and ailing. So much in this world threatens to destroy our confidence. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). I hope we’ll keep our faith centred on Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation. I hope we will continue to trust in His words and no longer fear. I hope we will be brave enough to love unconditional, to see the potential in others instead of focusing on imperfections. I know as we do this we will see miracles in our lives. Our perspectives will change. Our hearts will be softened and we will become more like who God wants us to be.
P.S. Here’s a bonus 🙂 Below are a few quotes from inspired leaders of my church that can help you discover the secrets to happy marriages and family relationships:
- Secret 1
“A good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection.” – Dallin H. Oaks
- Secret 2
“Marriage is the way provided by God for the fulfillment of the greatest of human needs, based upon mutual respect, maturity, selflessness, decency, commitment, and honesty. Happiness in marriage and parenthood can exceed a thousand times any other happiness.” – James E. Faust
- Secret 3
“Pure love is an incomparable, potent power for good. Righteous love is the foundation of a successful marriage. It is the primary cause of contented, well-developed children. Who can justly measure the righteous influence of a mother’s love? What enduring fruits result from the seeds of truth that a mother carefully plants and lovingly cultivates in the fertile soil of a child’s trusting mind and heart?” Richard G. Scott
- Secret 4
“Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.” – Russell M. Nelson
- Secret 5
“Our Father’s patterns help us avoid deception. Look to the Lord and not to the world for your ideas and ideals about men and women… He knows you have what it takes to face the world and to be fearless in building the kingdom. Do it together, for it is not good for man or woman to be alone. Lift each other, and together you will be able to lift the beautiful burdens of mortality and have glory added upon your heads forever.” – Sheri L. Dew
- Secret 6
“We have been counseled strongly [ …] to devote our best efforts to the strengthening of marriages and the home. Such instruction has never been more needed in the world than it is today, as the sanctity of marriage is attacked and the importance of the home is undermined.” – David A. Bednar
- Secret 7
“Complete trust in each other is one of the greatest enriching factors in marriage. Nothing devastates the core of mutual trust necessary to maintain a fulfilling relationship like infidelity. There is never any justification for adultery.” – James E. Faust
- Secret 8
“The mere performance of a ceremony does not bring happiness and a successful marriage. This requires forgetting of self, continued courting, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.” – Spencer W. Kimball