First of all, did you know that the character who says that ^ quote is called "The Impressive Clergyman"? Yeah, you probably did. Anyway...
Marriage! I know what you're thinking...No, I'm not getting married. Haha. However, I'm taking a class on The Family: A Proclamation to the World which is basically just a study of the divine nature of families and what we can do to make our present/future families happy/successful.
As part of this class we are required to complete a Family Citizenship capstone project in which we spend 6-8 hours doing something that will help us in our families. It could be a service project or a number of other things. I chose to read a book called Covenant Hearts by Bruce C. Hafen. There are four parts of the books and I decided to write a blog post at the end of every part as a sort of summary of what I've learned and the insights I've gained from it about marriage/families.
So without further ado...
Bruce Hafen's main theme for this first part of the book is essentially what marriage is (a covenant between man and woman and God), why it's important (society's well-being depending largely on the individual successes/failures of marriages, our eternal happiness, and the development of both our children and ourselves as future gods/goddesses), the significance of weddings, and how the family has diminished in meaning/importance in society over the years (see statistics for divorce/abortion for more info). The world needs help and strengthening our families is the best way to give it.
#1 - In the preface to the book Hafen says: "Part of what's at stake is that our marriage really can be the most satisfying and sanctifying--and the most demanding--experience of our lives. It is more than coincidence that the most sanctifying experiences of our spiritual lives should be the most demanding experiences." (xi)
"No wonder we cannot be exalted without being married, because marriage is such a potent laboratory for helping us develop Christian character." (p. 32).
That was kind of an eye-opener for me. I guess I'd never thought about that before--that marriage is really hard because it is the most refining experience we can have on this earth--which means consequently, it is also the most rewarding experience. It brings to mind a quote by Mae West, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it."
#2 - Hafen says, "Once a couple is married in the temple, they are not yet living a celestial life....Their temple wedding gives them the authority of eternal marriage, but they will spend the rest of their lives working to create a marriage of celestial quality, striving and growing against opposition." (xi)
I guess I kind of already knew this..Mom always told me that marriage isn't a bed of roses (or maybe it is, if you count the thorns!), but sometimes I think I forget. I also really liked this quote by him that "Marriage, like religious faith, is no more satisfying than we are willing--striving--to make it." (p. 47) This is true of any relationship. If you aren't willing to give it all you've got, then it will suffer and die.
#3 - Another point he (Hafen) makes is that joy in marriage is dependent on joint growth as a couple through trials. "Joy is a higher, wiser form of existence than merely being comfortable." (p. 13) Throughout my teenage years I have waffled between two ideals: wanting to be completely comfortable with the person I married, and knowing that I wanted him to be someone that I would respect and look up to...who would encourage/inspire me to be my best self. I've gotta strike a balance somewhere, I suppose. Ideally, leaning closer to the "joy/growth" side of the scale. Bruce Hafen gives an example of this type of a relationship in describing the play, The Magic Flute, and how the husband and wife in that play overcome their hardships/struggles because of their love for each other. He says, "Is it possible that the inborn desire for permanent male-female belonging is a key source of the desire and energy we need to change ourselves for the better?" (p. 18). I definitely feel like this has been true for me in my very limited experience with relationships. Yes, I want to be good for God. But it is also true that one of my biggest motivators to be good comes from knowing that my future marriage with my eternal companion depends upon it. I want to be worthy of those blessings and of that relationship.
#4 - Marriage is completely and utterly selfless, or you're doing it wrong.
Basically, all of this just says to me that marriage (like any other kind of relationship) is hard work.
So what can I do? I'm not married. But, I do have roommates and I have my relationship with God--both of which can always use some improvement.
-Do my part of the chores--and more.
- Spend time with them.
-Listen to them. Really listen.
-Don't take the easy way out. Communicate!
-Listen to Him. Really listen.
-Stretch myself. Re-commit to God!
-Give Him more time in my life. An hour a
day studying scriptures, praying/meditating.
-Serve everyone! Be a friend!