Friday, January 27, 2017

FAML 300 Week 4: Doctrine of Eternal Marriage

I  have had my blog for almost ten years now, which is a pretty remarkable feat in a day when everything is so quick to come and go. I wanted to have a place where I could share my thoughts and beliefs with those that would care to learn. I also wanted to add a voice of hope and faith in a world that is crumbling with doubt and despair. I chose to name my blog “A Forever Family” because that is what I hope to live up to and also as a message to the world that families CAN last forever.

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Elder Bruce C. Hafen gave a talk entitled “Covenant Marriage” where he give three examples of wolvesthat continuously test marriage. The wolves are natural adversity, their own imperfections, and the last wolf is excessive individualism. As we do our best to build a strong marriage relationship—by serving, forgiving, being patient, giving your 100% in your marriage—then we will be able to avoid the wolves that would destroy our marital relationship.
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Natural Adversity, Imperfections, Excessive Individualism
Elder Hafen related a story about how his wife helped one of their children through a school project that was completely exhausting her. Later the child proudly presented the project with a big smile. Elder Hafen later asked his wife how she did it and her reply was that she didn’t know she had it in her, “I just made up my mind that I couldn’t leave him, no matter what.” Marriage and raising a family can be very difficult at times, but if we make the decision that we will do what it takes to make a lasting relationship, then we will strengthen our marriage and family.

An image of the ocean, with the words “Pray for courage not to give up!”

As a Mormon, we believe that marriage is a three way covenant, between God, our spouse, and ourselves. This relationship and covenant is not to be taken lightly. How we live in regards to this covenant has not only immediate consequences, but eternal consequences as well. Through the example of a married couple, their children will learn and may follow the same relationship patterns.
This week I created a genogram of my family, including three generations. I was to study the patterns found there and see what predictors and indicators there are for the marriages and relationships that exist, and then this will also tell a lot about how the next generation is affected.
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In my observations, when a couple has devoted their lives to each other and to God, marriage stays strong and the children usually make and keep strong marriages themselves. When there are problems in the marriage, the children end up suffering as well. The children are not just immediately affected, they are influenced by this example throughout their lives, and the problems may continue to afflict them in their marriages.

A green striped background, combined with a quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Let us be true to our covenants."

This idea that husband and wife can affect generations after them gives greater need and emphasis that we need to make the decision not to give up. Just as Elder Hafen’s wife said, “I just made up my mind that I couldn’t leave him, no matter what.” Are we up for that kind of determination? Never give up, make a fuss about making it work. No one is perfect, we just need to forgive and be forgiven. Then we move forward in love.
The Savior has never given up on us. We should never give up on our best friend, our spouse. Make your marriage something you want to last forever.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

FAML 300 Week 3: Threats to Marriage

Marriage has generally been unchallenged and undisputed for thousands of years, and I think that generally the world still feels the same way it has always felt about marriage. That marriage is next to family in being the most important unit in society. When there are strong marriages, there are strong families. When there are strong families, society thrives.

As I was studying about marriage, Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation, made an interesting point in his testimony to the Indiana House Judiciary Committee. He put forth the question, “What is marriage?” In order to vote and make decisions about marriage, one needs to understand what marriage is. From the beginning of time the union between a man and a woman has not been disputed as the definition of marriage until these recent decades.

Marriage between a man and a woman is the safest, surest, and most stable condition to raise children in. It is a place where children can know and love both parents that have brought them into the world. Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. Men and women are distinct and complementary. Children deserve a chance to grow up with both a mom and a dad” (Disciples of Jesus Christ–Defenders of Marriage, BYU Speeches, 2014).

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In the Proclamation to the World: The Family, we learn that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Then it is also said, “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.” Our gender is eternal, no matter what one might say, and who we marry also has eternal consequences. God has shown us that marriage is between a man and a woman and that those roles cannot and should not be changed.

Another important question is, “Why is the government involved in marriage?” Cathy Ruse, with the Family Research Council, spoke in Salt Lake City at the World Congress of Families in 2015. Ruse asked why marriage isn’t “a private right like baptism, like holy order?” She answered this question by stating the reason the government has any concern with marriage is because of children. The union of a man and a woman creates children, and the government promotes the man and the woman to care for their children so that they can become good citizens in society. The government has done this through the promotion of marriage.

However, times have changed. Children are no longer the main focus, and the focus is now on the adult relationship instead of the healthy promotion of children. Even though society is giving less support to the true nature of marriage and family, that doesn’t mean we just let it go. We can do our part to promote and strengthen marriage and family by letting our voice be heard. We must not let ourselves be silenced by the noise of a few.  We can stand and testify of the strength strong marriages, marriages between a man and a woman, have on families; and how those families strengthen our world.

Friday, January 13, 2017

FAML 300: Week 2: Divorce

Divorce is not a pleasant subject and most of us want to avoid talking about it or reading about it. I have to say, I was a bit discouraged to have to spend this week studying about divorce trends and the negative effect it has on families and children. Although, through all I have read this week from scholars and prophets, my feelings of the importance of marriage being a strength and a protector of families has deepened.

In the United States and across the world, the definition of marriage and families is changing. People everywhere are questioning whether it is even necessary to marry; to some the marriage license is just a piece a paper. Is it just paper, or is there more to marriage than just a superficial union between two people? The National Marriage Project wrote “The State of Our Unions 2012” where they share that marriage is “not merely a private arrangement; it is also a complex social institution. Marriage helps to unite the needs and desires of couples and the children their unions produce.” So many people are turning to other forms of relationships, but relationships such as cohabitation—though dedicated at first—are “twice as likely as married couples to break up before their child turns twelve.”

These kinds of break-ups are happening everywhere we turn. What is happening to the children that grow up in broken home? In the video clip, “Divorce School for Kids” from ABC News, children are sent to a special school to help them handle the stress and sadness that comes from having their family break-up. Often times, the long-term effects on the children are not even considered as couples go forward with divorce. Divorce causes children to be worse off than their peers that have two married parents. They often suffer depression, delinquent behavior, substance abuse, and psychological problems that can extend into their adulthood. In this divorce school, the children are able to talk and write about their feelings. Through these activities the parents learn the feelings of their children and have a better understanding of how much their children are struggling. This school helps the families work through these trials and strengthen their families.

If couples worked together from the beginning, meaning before they divorced, by devoting themselves to each other completely, serving, being patient, forgiving--then most marriages could be saved from this heart ache. Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches, “Modern prophets have warned that looking upon marriage 'as a mere contract that may be entered into at pleasure … and severed at the first difficulty … is an evil meriting severe condemnation,' especially where children are made to suffer” (Divorce, May 2007, Ensign).  Elder Oaks continues to counsel, “I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache.”

The answer is most often not divorce, but repentance. That may sound harsh, especially to those going through the pains of a troubled relationship. I believe that as couples turn to God, and seek professional help, they will be able to overcome most of the trials and afflict marriage. There have been studies that found that couples who worked to keep their marriage together found themselves happy five years later.

Life is full of ups and downs, some years are very tough. What a shame it would be to throw something beautiful away, such as your marriage, when you are going through a tough time. Your marriage is worth saving. Your family is worth preserving, and the world needs you to keep your family strong.