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.