I remember when Randy and I were first married and attending a married student ward at the U, a Sunday school teacher pointed at the divide in the class and said that over the period of our lives, one half of this room will end up divorced. Everyone laughed, "no way", "not us".
Maybe I am not so accustomed to divorces around my life, but just lately two have shown up in my acquaintances and I have been stewing on their fates. Both of these women are LDS and were married for time and all eternity in the temple. (I know that while this is the correct way to be married, it is not a sure fire protection that trials won't happen in marriage - they do - and the selfish choices of one partner or the other...) One friend said this is not what she had planned in her life. She said, "Look at me, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone." She is in her early 40's with two kids. Her husband's affair ended their marriage.
Another decided that she had married too young and didn't have the chance to "do everything", so she moved out and left 3 kids to pursue her dreams.
How utterly sad. I don't know if it is the blah winter weather, but I have really been depressed for these two women and the selfish choices that led to the ending of their families.
I understand that life is not perfect, we are not perfect. There are no guarantees in this life to how others will react and choices they will make. Still, I have wondered how two people so in love in the beginning can end up so completely dissatisfied and unhappy. In looking for some peace in my thoughts, I have looked at what has been taught by our prophets. President Hinckley beautifully reminded me that stormy weather hits all of our homes on occasion, but " The remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man to square up his shoulders and meet his obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule."
I loved the quote from the Deseret News that President Hinckley used - don't we all wish to be perpetually young and ravishing? I have to say that more and more each day I am grateful for a dear husband that loves me and has loved me for 23 years, regardless of the physical flaws that I so easily see in myself. I think I need to be kinder to myself and my "flaws" because there are many who love me as I am... something we all need to think about.
Read the rest of the talk by President Hinckley in May of 1991.
“There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and ravishing wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear the divorce courts are jammed. …
“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.” (Deseret News, 12 June 1973, p. A4.)
Stormy weather occasionally hits every household. Connected inevitably with the whole process is much of pain—physical, mental, and emotional. There is much of stress and struggle, of fear and worry. For most, there is the ever-haunting battle of economics. There seems never to be enough money to cover the needs of a family. Sickness strikes periodically. Accidents happen. The hand of death may reach in with dread stealth to take a precious one.
But all of this seems to be part of the processes of family life. Few indeed are those who get along without experiencing some of it.
I know of no more beautiful story in all of literature than that told by the Master as recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. It is the story of a heady and greedy son who demanded his inheritance, which he wasted until none was left. Penitent, he returned to his father, and his father, seeing him afar off, ran to him and embraced him and fell upon his neck and kissed him.
Some of you within the sound of my voice could recount family sorrows in your own experience. But among the greatest of tragedies, and I think the most common, is divorce. It has become as a great scourge.
...more of betrayal, more of sorrow, more of neglect and poverty and struggle than the human mind can imagine. Millions of those divorced in this nation are lonely, frustrated, insecure, and unhappy. Millions of single parents are struggling to rear families, carrying burdens beyond their capacity to handle. Millions of children are growing up in single family homes from which the parent, usually the mother, out of necessity, is absent much of the time. These “latch-key children” return from school each day to empty houses, where, in many cases, there is inadequate food and only the refuge of the television set. Not only are the children suffering, but all of society is paying a frightful price for their circumstances. As they grow older, the incidence of drugs increases among them. Vast numbers turn to criminal behavior. Inadequately trained, many are unemployed. Some aimlessly squander their lives. Millions have become the “flotsam and jetsam” of society, washed upon the shore by oceans of neglect, abuse, and frustration, helpless to correct their circumstances. Time magazine, discussing the problems of New York City, stated that the most serious is the breakdown of the family. Sixty percent of those in New York City public schools, totalling some 600,000, come from one-parent homes. Comparable studies would doubtless bring forth similar statistics for other large cities in America and most of the large cities of the world.
We are building and maintaining more prisons than we can afford. The costs are enormous, almost beyond comprehension.
In an alarming percentage of the cases of those who are warehoused in these facilities, there will be found in their background a broken home where a father abandoned his family and a mother struggled in vain to handle the overpowering odds against her.
Why all of these broken homes? What happens to marriages that begin with sincere love and a desire to be loyal and faithful and true one to another?
There is no simple answer. I acknowledge that. But it appears to me that there are some obvious reasons that account for a very high percentage of these problems. I say this out of experience in dealing with such tragedies. I find selfishness to be the root cause of most of it.
I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.
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.
Too many who come to marriage have been coddled and spoiled and somehow led to feel that everything must be precisely right at all times, that life is a series of entertainments, that appetites are to be satisfied without regard to principle. How tragic the consequences of such hollow and unreasonable thinking!
There is a remedy for all of this. It is not found in divorce. It is found in the gospel of the Son of God. He it was who said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matt. 19:6.) The remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man to square up his shoulders and meet his obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule.
Marriage is beautiful when beauty is looked for and cultivated. It can be ugly and uncomfortable when one is looking for faults and is blinded to virtue. As Edgar A. Guest once remarked, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” (“Home,” in Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest, Chicago: Reilly and Lee Co., 1934, p. 12.) That is true. I can show you throughout this church hundreds of thousands of families who make it work with love and peace, discipline and honesty, concern and unselfishness.
There must be recognition on the part of both husband and wife of the solemnity and sanctity of marriage and of the God-given design behind it.
There must be a willingness to overlook small faults, to forgive, and then to forget.
There must be a holding of one’s tongue. Temper is a vicious and corrosive thing that destroys affection and casts out love.
There must be self-discipline that constrains against abuse of wife and children and self. 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.
There may be now and again a legitimate cause for divorce. I am not one to say that it is never justified. But I say without hesitation that this plague among us, which seems to be growing everywhere, is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary of righteousness and peace and truth.
The strength of the nations lies in the homes of the people. God is the designer of the family. He intended that the greatest of happiness, the most satisfying aspects of life, the deepest joys should come in our associations together and our concerns one for another as fathers and mothers and children.
My goal - each day make an effort to put my husband first when he walks through the door. To do this, I need to be better organized and complete all the daily "stuff" before he comes home.
PS - FYI: I am happily married to the kindest, most patient, sweet, hard working, loving, best dad ever, man in the world (sometimes things have a way of getting spread through family - I am just pondering on my friends, not on my own marriage).