Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three Keys to Happy Marriages

It's Wordful Wednesday and I'm excited to participate this week. You can click HERE to check out other Really great posts all centered on the three most important things to your marriage.

I came across this quote not so long ago that spoke volumes to me. Val R. Christensen said, “Close observation leads me to believe that the growth of individuals after marriage is largely dependent upon the positive and negative attitude of their partner. Indeed, what you think of your wife or husband can determine to a great degree what she or he becomes. Your partner can become a slave and a grouch, or a productive and charming person. You both progress according to the way you treat each other.” I have tested this theory within my own marriage and I hold it to be a true principle. It only works however, when you are looking for and emphasizing the sincerely wonderful things that you love about your spouse---not when you are trying to CHANGE them, not when you are trying to get them to do something different. The world tells us that your attitude should be, “I will love you once you have changed into what I want you to be”. God’s way says, “I love you for who you are now and for what I know you can become.” What a difference.
I find that for me there are three key factors that help me to foster a successful, happy marriage. The first key is TRUST. I could not be happy in a marriage without fully trusting my husband. I trust that he will keep his sacred covenants to me. I trust that he will provide for our family. I trust that he will honor his priesthood covenants to Heavenly Father. I also trust him to never hurt me deliberately. It goes without saying then that I too, must be trustworthy. I must hold the trust that he places in me as most sacred and not to be squandered. Christie H. Frandsen said, “Trust is as central to a happy marriage as faith is to a testimony. If trust is strong and secure, the marriage can grow and flourish despite difficulties and crises. But if trust is weak or erratic, then the marriage will crumble under the pressures of daily life.”

The second principle that is of key importance for me is SELFISHNESS/SelfLESSness. I have never known a marriage to last, or to be happy, when selfishness is one of the main ingredients. I remember that when my husband and I were first married we were living in Little Rock, AR and it was pretty hot and humid during the summer. My husband had grown up sleeping with a fan blowing on him. I did not like the feel of a fan blowing on me and I was very stubborn about it. I cannot tell you how many fights we got into simply because I only cared about myself. I only cared that I was comfortable. If only I could have thought for one second how he felt and sacrificed my own slight discomfort, I could have saved our marriage literally hours and hours of anguish. Gordon B. Hinkley stated once, “Selfishness so often is the basis of money problems, which are a very serious and real factor affecting the stability of family life. Selfishness is at the root of adultery, the breaking of solemn and sacred covenants to satisfy selfish lust. Selfishness is the antithesis of love. It is a cankering expression of greed. It destroys self-discipline. It obliterates loyalty. It tears up sacred covenants. It afflicts both men and women” I admit, I have grown much in respect to this, mostly by the example of my good husband. As I have learned to hold my tongue, control my temper and look at situations from my husbands perspective I know that a lot of the pitfalls listed by Gordon B. Hinkley have been avoided. Many arguments and hard feelings have been avoided and avenues have been opened up for real “heart-to-heart” moments to occur.

The third key to a happy marriage for me has been keeping an ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. Fostering an eternal perspective helps me to prioritize all of the demands on my time, money, talents and energy. I know that something that is going to be important after this life should take precedence over something that is not going to be relevant later on. It also helps keep me grounded as to the things that REALLY ARE important. My mom gave me a little book many years ago that I have always loved called, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and it’s all Small Stuff.” In effect, it says, don’t worry about the little things that don’t really matter. Richard Carlson writes, “Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren’t really that big a deal. We focus on problems and concerns and blow them way out of proportion.” I have tried to incorporate that philosophy into my relationships at home. I’ve still got a long way to go in that regard but I know that the better I get at it, the happier I, and my marriage will be.

I love being married. My husband is absolutely my very best friend. I can honestly say that I love him WAY more today than I did 17 years ago. I hold fast to the promise by Spencer W. Kimball that, “marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive.”


JRoberts said...

Great list! When I read SELFISHNESS I was very interested to know how you were going to fit that it...but O how I totally agree! :)

Meg said...

I love the Val Christensen observation.

Nice to "meet" you by the way...thanks for stopping by. :)

Esther said...

very applicable advice...very well said. Thank you.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Not sweating the small stuff is perfect....and so true!