Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage .....

So today's Valentine's Day - in case you didn't know. I'm sure the stores have been blaring it at you since New Year's. See, I almost forgot; it's not a holiday in Brazil. Our "Dating Day" isn't until June. (And, quite frankly, I usually don't remember that one, either. I'm rather lame like that.)

But the thing is that I've had marriage on the brain lately.

Most of you didn't know that I was (fairly recently) released from my church callings as Young Women's president and stake Girls Camp director. I've been in Young Women since ... Young Women. I've been known as the Girls' Girl forever. So when I was released, I sort of lost my identity. I had to redefine who I was at church.

But my crisis didn't last long - almost as soon as we got back from Christmas vacation, I was called into The Bishop's Office and asked to sit in The Chair.

That's when you know your life's about to change.

I've been extended two callings - as our ward's Marriage and Family Relations teacher and as a CES Marriage Preparation teacher for two stakes. I have twenty and one hundred students, respectively. Now I'm known everywhere as The Marriage Lady.

And let me just say, I LOVE my callings.

It is a little known fact that I got my Bachelor's in Family Science. The goal was to get my CFLE license (Certified Family Life Education) and Masters degree, and go on to teach marriage prep and parenting through state extension programs. Things were all set to get both at Ohio State (much to the chagrin of my thoroughly Michigander family) when the opportunity came to go to Brazil. And that, as they say, is history.

I love the family. I originally set about to go into Family Therapy, but I was horrified to see all the sadness and tragedy that had already occured. I wanted to prevent it. I wanted to stop the problems from ever happening, avoiding all the pain that comes from, well, not being prepared.

You need a license to fish or dig a hole in your backyard, but ANYONE can get married or pregnant. And starry-eyed couples spend exponentially more time preparing for the WEDDING than they do for the MARRIAGE. I ache to teach people HOW to be married - happily.

But I never got to fulfill my dream of teaching others. Instead, for the past seven years, I've been teaching myself.

And this is what I know:
  • There is no prince. There is no princess. There's just two human beings, trying to be happy.
  • If you hear a couple claim that they never disagree, it means that they're either lying or one is completely dominating the other.
  • There is rarely a "right" or "wrong" way of doing anything. Just different. This is a tough one for people to get - especially with money. The husband wants to spend money on the car and the wife wants to buy the kids' clothes. Who is right? NO ONE. They are just different areas to spend on. The only wrong way is to disagree.
  • Everything is fixable. Everything. Some problems are astronomically harder to fix, but that's what the Atonement is all about. Fixing the unfixable.
  • Never try to change the other. Change yourself first and foremost.
  • Never pray to marry the one you love. Pray to love the one you marry. If He can part the Red Sea, He can change your heart.
  • Look for the good. You always, always find what you're looking for - especially faults.
  • Communication is crucial. But before you can communicate your wants and needs, you need to know yourself. You need to know HOW you want to be loved - and how the other wants to be loved.
  • Sex is important. Yes, I just said that.
  • No one is a mind reader. I know women want the men to "just know" what they want. Guess what. THEY DON'T HAVE A CLUE UNLESS WE TELL THEM, SO HELP THEM OUT ALREADY.
  • You have to be unified in everything. Remember the egg. When hot water comes (and it WILL come), if you don't break the shell open, the egg will harden - and separate. Never more will the white and yolk become one. But if you break the egg open and unify - voila! The hot water (the trials and difficulties that EVERYONE passes) will solidify your relationship - and never again can you be separated.
  • Be friends. Have common interests and do things together. You must must MUST date - alone, without the kids. You need time to talk, too. My Man and I have a Sunday Session every Sunday at 9:00. That time is sacred. We have a notebook with our agendas in it - after a prayer, we discuss, in order: 1) spiritual experiences that week, 2) us - our relationship, 3) the kids, individually, 4) finances/budget, 5) any calendar items that week, including Family Home Evening, and 6) callings/work/house stuff. It is often my favorite time of the week.
  • A covenant marriage includes three people - man, wife, and the Lord. Even when one spouse falters - or even both - the Lord is still capable and willing to carry the load. Basing marriage on the foundation of the Savior's love is the surest way to find joy.
  • Only in celestial marriage can we really experience the true pinnacle of happiness. I know it. I've felt it. I have it.

I hope you each have a Valentine that you love as desperately as I do mine.


Kazzy said...

I enjoyed your list. When I was RSPres there was a married person not much younger than me in my ward that would like to say, in RS meetings, that her parents never argued. They always agreed. And guess what? I was later her VT companion and she constantly told me how "emotionally abusive" her husband was because he disagreed with her on some topics. It really is a dangerous thing to assume you will always think the same way. Date nights...crucial. Time to counsel together...critical. You were right on! Nice job.

Denece Hall said...

At my brother and sister-in-law's wedding the sealer gave some of the best advice I've ever heard at a wedding. The thing he finished with is that there are two things we have to do to have the perfect marriage. 1)Keep working at it 2)live rightously. He went into more detail with the two areas. It was great advice!

Kristina P. said...

I don't necessarily agree with the second one. I am always right. Always, dangit!!!!

Katrina said...

First, Go Buckeyes!!! (I grew up there.)

Second, congrats on the new callings! Sounds like they are meant to be.

Melanie J said...

It sounds to me like you're the perfect woman for the job. How interesting that the Lord has chosen to use your talents the very best way possible. I bet he's going to help you bless a lot of people.

Real Mom, Real Life said...

This is a great post... too many people forget some of these simple little things.

I love your blog...

BTW, I earned my degree in FS too... I have all sorts of plans once I work through the practical aspect of it :)

::Jan:: said...

Okay, this is like the best. I need to copy and paste this on my mirror. That was a really great topic for today as well.

All those things are so very important.

Jen said...

Well said.

Synergy Girl said...

Hi there!! Such a GrEaT post!! So....are you on call?? I swear I could use you here and there...!! Love your blog, your advice, and insight!!

melissa said...

I took that class though my stake. It did my marriage wonders we were on the verge of separating it helped alot

Annette Lyon said...

FanTAStic advice.

Deb said...

I love it, this was exactly what I needed to read. Thanks so much!

Pam said...

I have been trying to figure out lately what I wanted to finish my degree in and I think you helped me make up my mind. Family Science it is. Your Mother gave a GREAT lesson in RS today! I loved your input and help you shared with us! You are simply amazing!

Kimberly said...

You are going to be one fabulous teacher!

nikkicrumpet said...

That is a great list. So many important things to remember and to put into your lives. Although I must say...and don't kill me...but my hubby and I almost never disagree...and neither one of us dominates the's just that we think so much alike and love the same in ten years there just hasn't been much to disagree on. But then all our kids are grown so I know that takes a LOT of the pressure off lol Thanks for the great post...and it sounds like the Lord chose just the right lady for the job!

janae said...

So months and months ago I started seeing your comments on my old mission comp Heidi's blog (dawg eat dawg) ... and I wondered who you were, if you were Brazilian, and how you knew Heidi ... until today when you commented on my high school friend Rachel's blog (a scream & a hug). Heidi and Rachel don't know each other exist, and yet they both have you and me in common. So I decided that I had to know who you are. And you are HILARIOUS!! I grew up with an ex-pat dad and lived all over South America (but not Brazil) and I've always hoped that my hubby would some day work in Brazil for a few years just for the heck of it. I have a few close friends down there (Ulysses Soares, Osiris Cabral, Liz Prieto - who actually isn't there right now) in the off chance that you know any of them. Ha, ha. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.

Lara said...

This is such a wonderful post! One of the best things my husband and I did was go to a marriage class on resolving differences, etc. while we were engaged. Too many people expect the fairy tale and are rudely awakened.

I love your Sunday night idea. Love it. going to forward your post to my husband right now.

wonder woman said...

This is FANTASTICAL. I love it. I can tell you know what you're talking about, both from book-learning and experience. I've never heard the egg thing before -- I really like it.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You are a bright young lady (at a spry 27) and have figured out many things that some people spend their whole life mucking up. Your students are lucky to have you. I'm sure it's no coincidence that you're the "marriage lady". :)

Lisha said...

Thanks for reminding me, I'm sure you'll do fantastic in your new calling.

LisAway said...

I love this. I'm sending a link to a friend of mine.

" but that's what the Atonement is all about. Fixing the unfixable."

That is lovely and so true. It all is. Thanks for this beautiful post!