Friday, March 31, 2017

Serving My Neighbor

Recently I have helped my neighbor who has had some health problems. I have retrieved her mail for her each day while she was in recovery. I have checked on things and cared for her plants. I feel glad to have been able to help and serve my neighbor. Serving each other build good friendships and a better community.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FAML 300 Week 13: Transitions in Marriage: In-Law Relations

My husband and I, the beginning of transitions.

When a couple gets married they have no idea the many little transitions that take place during those early years to truly form a marriage. I will refer to my readings from Harper, J. M. & Olsen, S. F. (2005). "Creating Healthy Ties With In-Laws and Extended Families” [from  C. H. Hart, L.D. Newell, E. Walton, & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Helping and healing our families: Principles and practices inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (pp. 327-334). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company].

Building a couple identity is important in strengthening a new marriage.
In this chapter we read about a young couple that was recently married, with the holidays coming they are faced with their first transitional problem. Both of them are used to spending holidays with their own families, and now they need to decided how the two of them will spend these holidays. I have seen this among many friends and even in my own life, and each couple has to decide what works for them. This deciding has an important impact on the marriage. These couples need to find a way to keep their relationship with their parents and yet build an identity as a married couple.

Harper and Olson teach us that the first thing a couple does is separate themselves from the family they grew up in. President Spencer W. Kimball said when referring to how couples should protect their identity as a married couple, “She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us. Even the children must take their proper but significant place. I have seen some women who give their children that spot, that preeminence, in their affection and crowd out the father. That is a serious mistake.

The authors also add that a “husband needs to realize that strengthening his miarriage and making certain that his wife feels secure with him is the biggest single thing he can do to help his wife and his mother develop a quality relationship.”

 I believe that as couples focus on building their own marriage and family—not turning their backs on their family of origin but mainly focusing on that marital relationship—they will find the other relationships fall into their proper place.

Our time away from family strengthened our own family unit.
My husband and I only spent our first five years of marriage near family. During this time we did the usual tradition of splitting the holidays with our parents, running from one in-law to the other each holiday. It was wonderful, and yet it was also tiring. I think the biggest blessing to our marriage and our own family traditions has been the change that made us move to where our families weren’t within easy travel distance.

With this change we were able to focus on building our own family routines, traditions, and habits. If there is one message I learned from this week’s message, it is that we need to keep our spouse as our number one. No children, parents, siblings, or hobbies should come in the way the marital relationship. If we want our spouse to love their in-laws, then we need to make sure he or she feels loved and secure.

  • Build that friendship and love. 
  • Make your spouse feel important in your life. 
  • Accept them for who they are, and don’t try to change them. 
  • See what you can do to show love and support for them. 
  • Know their dreams. 
  • Listen to each other.
  • Love each other.
An image of a couple standing on a hill, paired with a quote from Elder Robert D. Hales: “None of us marry perfection; we marry potential.”

Monday, March 20, 2017

FAML 300 Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

A conceptual photograph showing prescription bottles filled with conversation heart candies, paired with the words “Rx for Friendship” at the top and “Be One” at the bottom.

President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk entitled “That We May Be One” in May of 1998, and even though it is almost twenty years old, his counsel is still applicable today. He stated, “A man and his wife learn to be one by using their similarities to understand each other and their differences to complement each other in serving one another and those around them.”
I love this quote, it really stuck out to me because it takes both sides of a marriage, the easy parts and the hard parts, and President Eyring says that it is possible to still be one. He helps us see how we can relate to each other in marriage, through our similarities we can understand each other. Then instead of using our differences as a dividing factor, we can use them to our advantage and help and serve each other and those around us.

An amazing cake my husband made.
 Here is an example of how we can use our differences to our advantage. My husband loves to shop and cook, and he is really good at it. Cooking and shopping cause me a lot of stress which makes me feel terrible in the end. We use these differences to our advantage, my husband will make amazing dinners—much to the surprise of those that visit us, and I am good at keeping the home organized and running. I feel that through our differences, we can accomplish so much more together.

A woman with blond hair reaches out and takes a cup from a sacrament tray held out in front of her.
The Sacrament teaches us ways we can be one not only with God, but with our spouse.
President Eyring gives us direction in how we can become more unified in our marriages. He states that even a child can understand what needs to be done to bring the Spirit into our lives, which will lead us to being unified—it is through the sacrament prayer. “They are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them” (D&C 20:77).
  1. We promise to take His name upon us, meaning the Savior’s name.
  2. We promise to always remember Him.
  3. We promise to keep the commandments
  4. We are promised His Spirit to always be with us.
President Eyring then warns that we must keep ourselves “clean and free from the love of the things of the world,” and we must always beware of pride. Those will divide us. We are also taught that “the spirit of God never generates contention. …  It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls.” President Eyring also quote President David O. McKay, “We must speak no ill of anyone. We must see the good in each other and speak well of each other whenever we can.”

A photograph of a chalkboard sketch of a temple, paired with the words “Build Your Future Line upon Line.”

As we strive to live by these teachings, and keeping Christ at the center of our lives, living each day seeking and following the promptings of the Spirit, we will find way that the Lord will show us how to be unified in our marriage relationship. I am thankful for the step by step guidance God has given me through the years. Of course unity is something we build, it is not something we get all at once. It takes conscientious efforts to keep the spirit of God in our lives no matter what the challenge is. Take your spouse’s hand, kneel in prayer, turn to the scriptures, and always have His name written in your hearts.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

FAML 300 04 Week 11: Transitions in Marriage: Fidelity and Intimacy

Between husband

This week’s topic is a very sensitive one, and probably something most of us have a hard time speaking about. I know that I didn’t ask very many questions growing up or even when I was making plans to get married. The only preparation I remember making was having a doctor appointment making sure I was physically healthy. I also read “Between Husband and Wife: Gospel Perspective on Marital Intimacy” by Douglas E. Brinley and Stephen E. Lamb. I truly don’t think anything really sunk in, because I was too embarrassed and na├»ve to allow myself to learn that this was something important. 

Intimacy is not something to be embarrassed about
 President Hugh B. Brown said, “Thousands of young people come to the marriage altar almost illiterate insofar as this basic and fundamental function is concerned. The sex instinct is not something which we need to fear or be ashamed of. It is God-given and has a high and holy purpose. . . . We want our young people to know that sex is not an unmentionable human misfortune, and certainly it should not be regarded as a sordid but necessary part of marriage. There is no excuse for approaching this most intimate relationship in life without true knowledge of its meaning and its high purpose” (Hugh B. Brown, You and Your Marriage, Bookcraft, 1960, pp. 73, 76).

Intimacy is fun, comforting, romantic, and spiritual.
 I was one of those illiterate young adults, feeling too embarrassed to talk. Sean E. Brotherson wrote an article for Miridian Magazine, “Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage,” in which he told how he was preparing to get married and realized he only had a basic understanding of marital intimacy. He turned to his mother and asked “what that experience was really supposed to be like. My mother laughed and said that sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was comforting, sometimes it was romantic, sometimes it was spiritual, and sometimes it was just a willingness to love. I still think that's about the best answer I've ever heard on that question” (2003).

 An image of a man’s hands and a woman’s hands folded in prayer, combined with a quote by Elder Neil L. Andersen: “Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers.”
It is okay to ask someone you trust answers to these questions. It is especially important for us to turn to our spouse after we are married and freely talk to each other about this aspect of marriage. Marital intimacy is a unifying aspect of marriage. Just as Sean Brotherson’s mother taught. Intimacy is fun, comforting, romantic, spiritual, and a way for full expression of love. It is way to bind a husband and wife’s hearts together as one. 

 Six pairs of feet are seen standing in a circle around a heart drawn in the sand, with the sun shining in the background.

This intimacy between husband and wife is good, and even though we need to be careful to only talk about it in respectful ways it is good. We don’t speak openly about sacred experiences, because that would diminish its special-ness, this too applies to intimacy. Elder Parley P. Pratt said, “Our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very mainsprings of life and happiness—they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society. The fact is, God made man, male and female; he planted in their bosoms those affections which are calculated to promote their happiness and union.” (Parker Pratt Robison, ed., Writings of Parley Parker Pratt, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1952, pp. 52– 53.)

 A woman sitting outside with a man while hugging him from behind and kissing his cheek in an engagement picture.

My purpose in sharing these thoughts is to help married couples to feel more comfortable opening up with each other about their intimate relationship. Be able to talk about how each one feels. To have couples feel the way Sean Brotherson’s mother taught her son. If husband and wife are striving to love and fulfill the needs of the other, they will feel more love and unity toward one another.

Friday, March 10, 2017

FAML 300 Week 10: Seeking to Understand

We all have dreams
We have read and discussed a lot about ways to stay emotionally connected with your spouse as well as how to handle differences and conflict. Through this post I want to think about dreams. In the book I have been referencing a lot by John Gottman, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” we learn about something he calls gridlock. Gottman teaches that all couples have differences that will never change, but “when partners can’t find a way to accommodate these perpetual disagreements” this is gridlock (chapter 11). These are the symptoms of Gottman’s gridlock:

  1.  You’ve had the same argument again and no resolution.
  2. The issue can’t be addressed with humor, empathy or affection.
  3. The issue is increasingly polarized.
  4. Compromise seems impossible, because it would mean giving up something important.

The issues stem from unfulfilled dreams

Gottman goes on to tell us that these kinds of issues in marriage usually stem from an unfulfilled dream. I think a lot of young and early marriages suffer from this kind of conflict because it is hard to always let your spouse know all that you expect or dream. Most of these issues are things that one or the other spouse feels gives purpose to life. Here are some of the dreams he listed:
  • A sense of freedom
  • Feeling at peace
  • Exploring who I am
  • Adventure
  • A spiritual journey
  • Justice
  • Honor
  • Consistency with my past values
  • Healing
  • Having a sense of power
  • Dealing with growing older
  • Exploring a creative side of myself
  • Getting over past hurts
  • Asking God for forgiveness
  • Exploring an old part of myself I have lost
  • Having a sense of order
  • Being productive 
  • Getting my priorities in order

I wanted to list quite a few so that you can get an idea of what these “dreams” are made of. I remember as a newly wed having these dreams become manifest as I had in my head the way things were suppose to be especially when it comes to spirituality. Thankfully my husband is an amazing communicator and we have been able to be very open about our thoughts and expectations. When children came along, we already had spoken about how we would teach them spiritually. We started from the beginning having a family night each week with a spiritual lesson, we would read scriptures each night, pray together over meals and in our comings and goings, we set a tradition of going to church every week and sitting together as a family. Our dreams have blended together as one. 

When children came along, we had already talked about family routines and traditions.
I guess this doesn’t show a kind of dream that is in conflict. So I will give you an imaginary example that I had those dreams and expectations I mentioned in the last paragraph, but in this imaginary example my husband was agnostic and wanted nothing to do with religion. This would be a point where I would feel stuck, not wanting to lose the dream I have by not doing those things that are important to me. Yet my husband might feel threatened by the control organized religion has had in his life. He might want to have our children grow up free to believe what they want and not be indoctrinated into a religion. This kind of issue would cause a grid lock.

An image of a pair of broken scissors on a table, paired with the words “Get It Together.”

Gottman shares that in these times we need to take turns listening to “the dream” in a non-judgmental way. If we can hear our spouse speak from their heart what their dream is we are on our way to finding a way to compromise. Gottmans says that when we are listening to our spouse’s dream that might be in opposition to our own, we need work on soothing ourselves and if it gets to be too much tell your spouse you need a break to calm down before continuing. When compromising you find areas you can negotiate and be flexible with, and also the areas that you cannot give up without “violating your basic needs or core values.”

If we can work through these dreams and expectations then we can work through conflict without it turning into an issue that will threaten your marriage.