Lesson 16 – KEEPING LOVE ALIVE
Paul taught, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
Couples nourish love in their marriages by following correct principles.
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 , 106–7; or student manual, 142).
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).
What is the “simple way” that helps us achieve a life together that is “wonderful and so meaningful”?
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 , 150; or student manual, 172).
Marlin K. Jensen: A Union of Love and Understanding
“The teachings of Christ suggest that we should begin vour search for an eternal companion with greater concern about our ability to give love than about our need to receive it. Of the Savior, John wrote: “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Indeed, it may be our own capacity to give love that makes us most lovable. The greater our own personal substance is and the deeper our own mental, emotional, and spiritual reserves are, the greater will be our capacity to nurture and love others, especially our companion. President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency posed a question that puts our ability to genuinely care about others in perspective: “How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse.
Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak” (Ensign, Nov. 1982, p. 93). Very little love can come from one who is not at
peace with himself or herself and God. As Enos learned, no one can be concerned about the welfare of someone else and give love to another until he or she has taken care of his or her own soul. Thus, our preparation for an eternal marriage must include repenting, learning, acquiring faith, and developing the security that comes with a vision of our potential as children of a Heavenly Father. Only when we love God above all others, as the Savior taught (see Matt. 22:34–40), will we be capable of offering pure, Christlike love to our companions for all eternity.”
Elder Jensen, in the same talk, said: “If we want to make ourselves into worthy eternal companions, we can first concentrate on becoming unwavering disciples of the Master.”
Qualities that can strengthen a marriage:
From “How Do I Love Thee?” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (158–62)
- Remember that your marriage is the most important association you will ever have other than your membership in the church.
- Keep striving to be charitable.
- All solutions in life are gospel solutions, so follow Christ.
- Be kind, selfless, without ego and vanity.
- Be caring, sensitive, compassionate and courteous.
- Concentrate on qualities you can control, like thoughtfulness, patience, a kind word, and delight in the accomplishment of another. “These cost us nothing, and they can mean everything to the one who receives them.”
- Give yourself totally to your spouse in trust and faith. If you do that, you end up sharing everything.
- Hold on to each other as tightly as you can, and invest all that you are into your marriage.
- Do not impede or impair your spouse in any way for your own gain or vanity.
- Delight in the happiness of your spouse, and the happiness you can bring him/her.
- Do not belittle, criticize or be cruel.
- You should be emotionally secure and physically safe with each other.
- Temper tantrums are not cute even in children, but are despicable. Be slow to anger.
- People have different capacities at different times and even day to day. Monitor your spouse’s load levels and help lift or readjust his/her cargo so he/she doesn’t sink.
- Charity never faileth. Love as Christ does, for that way never faileth.
From “Hinckleys to Note 60th Anniversary” (186–87)
- They made a list of some essentials for a happy marriage:
- Live the gospel
- Love, appreciate each other.
- Develop self-discipline.
- Curb temper and tongue.
- Look on the bright side of things.
- Develop, maintain respect for one another.
- Give soft answer.
- Speak quietly.
- Don’t be selfish.
- Look after one another.
- Develop talents, opportunities of companion.
- Recognize differences.
- Pay tithing, stay out of debt.
- Develop ability to communicate with each other.
From “The Enriching of Marriage,” Elder James E. Faust (184–86)
- When you divorce, you lose more than you gain. Selfishness, bad communication and lack of enrichment in marriage are some of the ways that lead to divorce.
- Some ways to enrich a marriage are through prayer, trust (there are no harmless flirtations), virtue, tithing (can recharge your spiritual battery), parenthood, and the presence of the divine.
- You should show constant appreciation and gratitude to your spouse.
At home, ponder or discuss the answers to these six questions from President Faust’s talk. Set some goals for improvement:
First, am I able to think of the interest of my marriage and partner first before I think of my own desires?
Second, how deep is my commitment to my companion, aside from any other interests?
Third, is he or she my best friend?
Fourth, do I have respect for the dignity of my partner as a person of worth and value?
Fifth, do we quarrel over money? Money itself seems neither to make a couple happy, nor the lack of it, necessarily, to make them unhappy, but money is often a symbol of selfishness.
Sixth, is there a spiritually sanctifying bond between us?
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).