17. Respecting Your Spouse

Lesson 17 – Respecting Your Spouse

DOCTRINAL OVERVIEW

“Brethren, treat your wives with love and respect and kindness. And, wives, you treat your husbands with love and respect and kindness” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 209).

“Under the gospel plan marriage is a companionship, with equality between the partners. We walk side by side with respect, appreciation, and love one for another. There can be nothing of inferiority or superiority between the husband and wife in the plan of the Lord” (Hinckley, Teachings, 322).

PRINCIPLE

Applying the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ in a marriage is the best way to avoid the consequences of abuse.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency: “I believe in the family where there is a husband who regards his companion as his greatest asset and treats her accordingly; where there is a wife who looks upon her husband as her anchor and strength, her comfort and security; where there are children who look to mother and father with respect and gratitude; where there are parents who look upon those children as blessings and find a great and serious and wonderful challenge in their nurture and rearing. The cultivation of such a home requires effort and energy, forgiveness and patience, love and endurance and sacrifice; but it is worth all of these and more” (“This I Believe,” in Brigham Young University 1991–92 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1992], 80).

Q – How can we as wives be our husband’s greatest asset? Per our discussion:

  1. Reciprocate in all things good our husband does.
  2. Recognize his strengths and weaknesses. Help support and celebrate him.
  3. Lighten his load.
  4. Help him grow his and our potential.
  5. Show love and affection.
  6. Care about how his day is, and how he feels about things.

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “If husbands and wives would only give greater emphasis to the virtues that are to be found in one another and less to the faults, there would be fewer broken hearts, fewer tears, fewer divorces, and much more happiness in the homes of our people” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 322).

Disagreements and irritations are common in marriage. Some of these come from differences in upbringing, preferences, or expectations. Making adjustments is a normal part of married life. There may be times when the counsel of a priesthood leader can help in overcoming differences.

Attributes that are needed in a successful family. Per our discussion:

Effort – Nothing just happens. Agency is involved, and to be good in our marriage, we need to work hard. Both need to put in that effort.

Energy – We need energy to put in the effort – to get things done and to nurture the relationship. We need to simplify, prioritize, get adequate sleep, and eat a healthy diet to have this energy.

Forgiveness – Don’t bring up the past, or fights will be worse. Not forgiving causes resentment. If you do forgive, future fights won’t be as bad. If you forgive, you can see the good more than the bad.

Patience – This comes line upon line. Not everything will come at once. Change takes time. If we are less angry and have less contention, we will have more of the Spirit. The Lord is patient with us. We need to see the bigger picture.

Love – This is true love, not just physical love. You need to be friends and honor each other. Love should be expressed verbally to spouse and children, and in front of children. Expressing love invites the spirit. Find out what pleases the other and makes him feel special.

Endurance – Endurance isn’t just hanging in there. It is actively waiting and praying. It is never giving up.

Sacrifice- Sometimes we need to give up traditions and opinions to make peace, or to do what is best for your own little family. Any sacrifice we make is symbolic of the atonement. Sometimes we give up what we want for those we love. We give up our time, our stuff, and we should give up our pride. The Lord will bless us as we think of others before ourselves.

Successful marriages require give and take as the partners work toward unity with each other while remaining in harmony with gospel standards. Husbands and wives should be a blessing to each other.

Abuse – “Abuse is the physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual mistreatment of others. It may not only harm the body, but it can deeply affect the mind and spirit, destroying faith and causing confusion, doubt, mistrust, guilt, and fear” (Responding to Abuse: Help  for Ecclesiastical Leaders, 1).

Types of Abuse

Spiritual abuse includes exercising unrighteous control, dominion, or compulsion.

Emotional abuse includes name calling, demeaning statements, threats, isolation, intimidation, or manipulation.

Physical abuse includes coercion, withholding resources, and physical violence such as pushing, choking, scratching, pinching, restraining, or hitting.

Sexual abuse may be either emotional or physical and includes sexual harassment, inflicting pain during sexual intimacy, and the use of force or intimidation to make a spouse perform a sexual act” (Responding to Abuse: Helps for Ecclesiastical Leaders [1995], 4.)

Causes of Abuse

  • “If a man does not control his temper, . . . he then becomes a victim of his own passions and emotions, which lead him to actions that are totally unfit for civilized behavior” (Ezra Taft Benson, student manual, 3).

*Alicia shared an idea of when you lose your temper, you apologize and pray for forgiveness in front of your kids or husband.

  • “Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, . . . spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride” (Ezra Taft Benson, student manual, 3–4).
  • “The exploitation of children, or the abuse of one’s spouse, for the satisfaction of sadistic desires is sin of the darkest hue” (Gordon B. Hinckley, student manual, 4).
  • How can pride lead to abuse?
  • How can selfishness lead to abusive behavior?
  • How can “wicked traditions of [one’s] fathers” (Alma 23:3) be a cause of abuse?

“The beginnings of both spouse and child abuse can be found in seemingly insignificant things, such as belittling the abilities and competency of another, constantly criticizing, being insulting or calling names, refusing to communicate, manipulating, causing guilt feelings, repeatedly making and breaking promises, intimidating, threatening physical harm, making unfounded accusations, or destroying property.

“Some have offended unknowingly. Others may not understand the far reaching consequences of their behavior. However, when there is abuse, every member of a family, particularly the father and mother, must be willing to reconsider their individual relationships with other family members. In some cases simply realizing that behavior is damaging to someone else may be enough to cause an offender to change” (Preventing and Responding to Spouse Abuse [pamphlet, 1997], 3).

Avoiding Abuse

  • “When you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, nor abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions” (Ezra Taft Benson, student manual, 3).
  • “When there is recognition of equality between the husband and the wife . . . , then there will follow a greater sense of responsibility to nurture, to help, to love with an enduring love those for whom we are responsible” (Gordon B. Hinckley, student manual, 3).
  • “There must be self-discipline that constrains against abuse of wife and children. There must be the Spirit of God, invited and worked for, nurtured and strengthened. There must be recognition of the fact that each is a child of God—father, mother, son, and daughter, each with a divine birthright—and also recognition of the fact that when we offend one of these, we offend our Father in Heaven”” (Gordon B. Hinckley, student manual, 4).
  • “To our temperance we are to add patience…Patience is composure under stress. A patient man is understanding of others’ faults” (Ezra Taft Benson, student manual, 4).
  • “Nobody ever abused anybody else when he had the spirit of the Lord” (George Albert Smith, in Howard W. Hunter, in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 69; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51; student manual, 208).

Rebuke to Abusers

President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Unfortunately a few of you may be married to men who are abusive. Some of them put on a fine face before the world during the day and come home in the evening, set aside their self-discipline, and on the slightest provocation fly into outbursts of anger. “No man who engages in such evil and unbecoming behavior is worthy of the priesthood of God. No man who so conducts himself is worthy of the privileges of the house of the Lord. I regret that there are some men undeserving of the love of their wives and children. There are children who fear their fathers, and wives who fear their husbands. If there be any such men within the hearing of my voice, as a servant of the Lord I rebuke you and call you to repentance. Discipline yourselves. Master your temper. Most of the things that make you angry are of very small consequence. And what a terrible price you are paying for your anger. Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask your wife to forgive you. Apologize to your children” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 91–92; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 68; student manual, 358).

Childhood Abuse

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has given inspired counsel for the abuse victim, as well as for the spouses of those who were victims of child abuse. See Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse.

“Unless healed by the Lord, mental, physical, or sexual abuse can cause you serious, enduring consequences. As a victim you have experienced some of them. They include fear, depression, guilt, self-hatred, destruction of self-esteem, and alienation from normal human relationships. When aggravated by continued abuse, powerful emotions of rebellion, anger, and hatred are generated. These feelings

often are focused against oneself, others, life itself, and even Heavenly Father. Frustrated efforts to fight back can degenerate into drug abuse, immorality, abandonment of home, and, tragically in extreme cases, suicide. Unless corrected, these feelings lead to despondent lives, discordant marriages, and even the transition from victim to abuser. One awful result is a deepening lack of trust in others, which becomes a barrier to healing.”

Healing best begins with your sincere prayer asking your Father in Heaven for help. That use of your agency allows divine intervention. When you permit it, the love of the Savior will soften your heart and break the cycle of abuse that can transform a victim into an aggressor. Adversity, even when caused willfully by others’ unrestrained appetite, can be a source of growth when viewed from the perspective of eternal principle (see D&C 122:7).”

“You cannot erase what has been done, but you can forgive (see D&C 64:10). Forgiveness heals terrible, tragic wounds, for it allows the love of God to purge your heart and mind of the poison of hate. It cleanses your consciousness of the desire for revenge. It makes place for the purifying, healing, restoring love of the Lord.”

If you feel there is only a thin thread of hope, believe me, it is not a thread. It can be the unbreakable connecting link to the Lord which puts a life preserver around you. He will heal you as you cease to fear and place your trust in him by striving to live his teachings…Don’t view all that you experience in life through lenses darkened by the scars of abuse. There is so much in life that is beautiful. Open the windows of your heart and let the love of the Savior in. And should ugly thoughts of past abuse come back, remember his love and his healing power. Your depression will be converted to peace and assurance. You will close an ugly chapter and open volumes of happiness.”

How can we help someone who is being abused? Per our discussion, we all came to the conclusion that it is the person’s choice to stay with her/his spouse. We can be a listening ear, offer comfort, perhaps call the police. We can’t force anyone out of their situation.

Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–43:

“No power of influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-

Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”

Elder H. Burke Peterson

“The Man of Power is one who presides

By persuasion. He uses no demeaning words or behavior, does not manipulate others, appeals to the best in everyone, and respects the dignity and agency of all humankind—men, women, boys, and girls.

By long-suffering. He waits when necessary and listens to the humblest or youngest person. He is tolerant of the ideas of others and avoids quick judgments and anger.

By gentleness. He uses a smile more often than a frown. He is not gruff or loud or frightening; he does not discipline in anger.

By meekness. He is not puffed up, does not dominate conversations, and is willing to conform his will to the will of God.

By love unfeigned. He does not pretend. He is sincere, giving honest love without reservation even when others are unlovable.

By kindness. He practices courtesy and thoughtfulness in little things as well as in the more obvious things.

By pure knowledge. He avoids half-truths and seeks to be empathetic.

Without hypocrisy. He practices the principles he teaches. He knows he is not always right and is willing to admit his mistakes and say ‘I’m sorry.’

Without guile. He is not sly or crafty in his dealings with others, but is honest and authentic when describing his feelings. . . .

Conclusion

Persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge enhance relationships. Their lack can lead to abusive behavior. Abuse in all forms leads to barren relationships. When couples exhibit Christlike conduct and treat each other with love and kindness, they are much more likely to achieve a happy marriage. Applying the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ is the best way to avoid the consequences of abuse.

Thank you for sharing!

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