Marriage—one man, one woman, defined by God and taught through prophets and apostles. But not just marriage, Eternal Marriage, the Ideal.

Image courtesy of The New Era magazine.

I believe in a Creator who wants the Ideal for His Creations, in all facets of their lives. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who Designed a Plan of Happiness for us, and it is His Vision of the Ideal. It is filled with guideposts and opportunities to learn and grow, to become more like Him. Of those privileges and classrooms, the most important one is the family, formed through an Eternal Marriage between a man and a woman. In the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” we are instructed that,

 THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

There’s a whole lot of important info in that paragraph. All the important facets of life are mentioned: marriage, children, family roles and the ubiquitous “pursuit of happiness” goal. To me, it looks and sounds like a pattern, and I know that our Heavenly Father and Savior work solely through patterns in teaching us. But this isn’t just any regular old how-to-knit-your-grandma’s-sweater pattern. This is the Ideal Pattern for how to create and keep a marriage and family that will last through all Eternity.

I am passionate about this matter. It’s something I am mindful of every day of my life because I have experienced how good this rather trying life can be when a person is striving to create an Ideal eternal marriage. Many will say that marriage, a good marriage, is hard work. And it is, but it isn’t a drudgery, something akin to trudging through your final year or two of a college degree (Hello!). It was never Designed to be that way, and we shouldn’t turn ourselves into martyrs believing that if we do nothing more than suffer through unhappiness NOW then our marriages will magically become virtuous and filled with Christ-like love and devotion when the Temporal becomes the Eternal. They won’t. An unhealthy marriage now is not going to become the blessed union we want it to be in the hereafter just because we believe in Eternity. Marriage is a proactive union; one that requires BOTH husband and wife to sacrifice and work at being selfless.

My earthly Classroom consists of my honey and myself, and our four kidlets. Mi Hombre and I have known one another since we were 12. We met at church and developed puppy-love crushes, spending Sunday church surreptitiously passing love notes to one another. I’ve still got most of them.

Private family photo.

We were married in the Atlanta, Georgia temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’ve been married a little over 21 years now. Our marriage has been a happy one, though life has rarely offered us perfect moments or pain-free days. But somehow the fewer days of pure joy and happiness have weighed more on the scales of life than those other kind. And it has required a lot of hard work on both of our parts to build it and maintain it. We’ve learned to rely upon each other and the Lord so that we could endure financial hardships, clinical depressions, emotional and spiritual maturing, numerous medical issues, the births and raising of four children, and every other kind of blessing or trial that is a part of life. We have learned through some incredibly difficult yet unifying experiences the importance of planting and nurturing our marriage firmly in the soil of the Lord’s Gospel, and hearkening to the wise counsel of inspired prophets and apostles.

Photo by Robert Dean Barrett.

I love my husband. A lot. He is my best friend, my eternal companion, the missing piece to the puzzle of my soul. His strengths complement ideally all the weaknesses my mind and heart are riddled with. He is amazing. I feel I am a better woman because he strives to be a better man.
I count myself so very fortunate to have him in my life now and to have been joined to him in an eternal covenant of marriage, formed in a sacred House of the Lord.

I frequently look back on the beginnings of our married life and beyond in awe. How did we manage to develop such a strong bond of friendship as we muddled our way through life? I believe it was a direct result of personal intentions we each held to. The first was that we both determined as youth to marry in the House of the Lord. That in and of itself offered the best and surest protection for our marriage. It was never a guarantee, but when two people exercise their agencies in personal righteousness and are joined within a sacred, eternal covenant within the priesthood of God, nothing, absolutely nothing but free will, can break their bond. There were other principles that were or have become important to us, and we have tried to keep a focus on them throughout the years our marriage has continued to mature.

• Love the Lord FIRST
• Don’t disparage your spouse to anyone. Ever.
• Say, “I love you more.” A lot.
• Forgive. A lot.
• Say, “I’m sorry.” A lot.
• Spend time together, with children and without
• Pray, pray, pray
• Attend the temple together, regularly and frequently
• Attend Sunday church as a family, and support each other in various callings
• Continuously learn and grow as individuals, then share what is experienced with each other—listening to or reading uplifting books, talks, messages, videos, etc. (The LDS Church really makes this one easy-peasy, nice ‘n’ cheesy.)

We have learned to create loving moments in spite of the undulations our relationship goes through. And during those moments (or days, or weeks, or months), when one of us has not been at our best, we learned to just keep breathing in and out, and most importantly, to keep believing in each other and in our love for one another. And that is probably the sum total of how we have managed to create the strong bond we share today. We just believe in each other, as a son and a daughter of God, filled with Divine Nature and Eternal Potential.

I’m not saying we are the poster-family of perfection. We’ve still got lots of faults between us. We’ve never been “perfect” at prayers, scriptures or even going to the temple. We’ve definitely not been perfect parents. But I think we’ve paid enough due diligence to correct principles to reap blessings and power, which have strengthened us and blessed our union. And now that we are older, we pay better attention to each other and those important things listed above. We’ve learned that the more faithful we are to those living principles, the greater power and love we experience as a husband and wife, father and mother. Nurturing our marriage and family have been the hardest and most rewarding tasks we’ve ever attempted. We continue to be amazed daily at how each of us grows, becoming a better person, despite the many stumbles we each make.

I was inspired to write this post because I’ve been seeing and hearing of difficult issues within marriages among dear friends. I realized that many of those things were painfully familiar to Mi Hombre and me, and I desired to speak with hope and faith that Eternal Love is real and possible here and now. It isn’t a chimera our Father hangs before us like the proverbial carrot, teasing us to wear ourselves out attempting the impossible. His Love for our Mother is sincere and genuine and unending in depth and breadth. He yearns for us to follow the Lesson Plan already laid out, teaching us the how and when and where to progress toward that same “Endless Love.”

I’m so very thankful for a loving Father, Who prepared a Savior, thereby instituting everlasting principles of love and faith to cushion our sojourn here on earth. Through them, the pathway to Eternal Happiness as Husbands and Wives has become possible for all of us.

A couple of great talks by a prophet and an apostle: The Marriage that Endures by Gordon B. Hinckley and *“Salvation and Exaltation” by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Lori is new to the blogging world, living vicariously on the internet as A Mormon Woman of Faith. Her guiding mantra for life is et lux en tenebris lucet, which translates into and the light shineth in the darkness. This simple statement emphasizes her belief in the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the World. To Him she looks in complete faith and hope, knowing His Light dispels all darkness. 

Lori has a passion for great literature and uplifting writing, including sacred scripture, believing that "out of the best books" come many truths foundational to happiness now and in the hereafter. She enjoys writing as a means to share her love for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, her everyday thoughts and her devotion to her family. Besides working hard at being a wife and mother, she is also in the final, painful throws of a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing emphasis.

I've come to know Lori as an invaluable and faithful participant in gospel conversations that regularly occur on my WBMW Facebook page, and knew instantly that she had a voice that needed to be heard by more - and I told her so. I'm honored that she accepted my invitation to help us with our Family Proclamation Celebration, and wish her great success as she fearlessly has stepped forward to teach the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

I hope you're visiting, daily, Chocolate on My Cranium and Mormon Mommy Blogs to find out what is being shared on their blogs during our Family Proclamation Celebration!


Kathryn Skaggs

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