Friday, February 6, 2009

Engagement Advice

For my SFL 100 (Strengthening Marriage and Family) class I had a paper due today, entitled Engagement Advice Letter. I am pretty proud of how it came out.


Dear Friend,
You are the first one of our group to take the step towards getting married by getting engaged; I would like to share some wisdom that I have observed as I have watched my many siblings get married, talked to them about things they have learned, read books, and most recently learned in a class based on The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I love you as a dear friend and want your engagement and then your eternal marriage to last and leave you everlastingly joy.
You know that my brother Nathan and my sister-in-law, Sallee, were just married in July; I believe that through Nathan’s and Sallee’s engagement, wedding, and beginning of marriage I have had the best opportunity to watch and learn. One thing that I have learned from Nathan and Sallee is that it is important to remember that something that we view as “wrong,” is most likely not wrong, it is just “different.” At times when our views are different we have to make sacrifices to make each other happy.
My sister-in-law Sonia said “It is more important to be at peace with your spouse than it is to be right. At the end of the day, Ben and his feelings are more important to me than whatever it is we have been at odds about. This doesn't mean I agree with his position necessarily or that I give in, but rather that I love and support him and agree to disagree and move on” I love that, I think that I myself sometimes forget that and always think that I have to be right with whoever I might be arguing with about something; I think that Sonia is right and that it would be much better for me to end the day happy with whomever I am talking with and still love them rather than go to bed angry. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said something about this in his talk entitled “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness.” He says, “. . . a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics. Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife…those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally.” Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to be exactly the same, he wants us to take those “differences” and use them to work together, to become as one and to grow in love.
At times it is easier to see those “differences” in our spouse or fiancĂ© and it can be too easy to pick a fight with them. Sonia again offers great advice and says to choose your battles very carefully. She told me that it can be easy to argue over the many things that you feel differently about, but if you allow yourself to do that, it can be a huge pitfall as you start to alienate yourself from your spouse rather than building on the good things that you have in common. Sonia suggested having your spouse assign a number from 1-5 to identify how he feels about any given situation that might be a potential conflict, 1 indicating that he does not care and 5 signifying that it is crucial to him. This will help you eliminate a lot of the things about which you miscommunicate and help you identify the things you really need to discuss. President James E. Faust said about married (and engaged) couples, “They should be best friends, kind and considerate, sensitive to each other’s needs, always seeking to make each other happy.”
There is this amazing quotation from President N. Eldon Tanner, in which he gives advice to couple concerning their future together. “As I have performed marriage ceremonies for young couples, I have talked with them about their future and the things that will go into building an increase of love. … First, I remind them to keep the covenants which they make as they are married. Second, addressing myself to the young man, I tell him to make her happy. If he will do all he can to make her happy, she cannot help but want to reciprocate and do everything she can for his comfort and welfare. Third, I stress the importance of clearing up any misunderstandings they may have. I remind them that it does not matter who is right, but what is right. … Fourth, and very important, I remind them to continue to love one another.”
I love these two quotations about working together and strengthening your marriage by acknowledging the differences and forgiving the wrongs. The first one is by President Spencer W. Kimball, he taught: “Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage…means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties…it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.” The second one is from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his talk entitled “Divorce” in his talk he teaches: “Don’t treasure up past wrongs, reprocessing them again and again. In a marriage relationship, festering is destructive; forgiving is divine. Plead for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord to forgive wrongs, to overcome faults, and to strengthen relationships.” It amazes me how much we have from our Heavenly Father’s leaders, what they have given us to help us strengthen our marriages, we are extremely blessed.
There is one last piece of advice that I would like to give you and I believe that if you are able to follow this part, the rest will come not easily or perfectly but it will come easier and you will be able to see that any sacrifice is worth it. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it is written: “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.” As I have watched many of my friends families be torn apart because their foundations were not built upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, I know that I want my family, my future marriage to be based upon these things and I would wish the same for you. In his talk “A Rock-Solid Foundation for Marriage,” Brent A. Barlow says: “…our marriages can not only survive but thrive when we follow principles and teachings of the gospel. Revelations, both ancient and modern, provide guidelines that can help people of any age or geographical area build enduring marriages. Even when his or her spouse is not a member of the Church or is less active, a husband or wife can still seek divine guidance to build a stronger foundation for the relationship by following these principles.”
Continuing on with his talk, Brother Barlow tells of when the Salt Lake Temple was originally built; when work was resumed on the temple President Brigham Young had the builders lay a new foundation as it needed “to stand through the Millennium.” He then compares the temple building to a marital relationship, saying that it also needs to have a solid foundation. I think that we sometimes forget what our “foundation” needs to be, but in the Book of Mormon the prophet Helaman reminds us “And now…remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation…because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” The prophet tells us there, if we build our foundation upon Christ we will not and cannot fall. Bro. Barlow ends his talk with this statement: “By building on the foundation of the teachings of Jesus Christ, husbands and wives can make their marriages strong enough to withstand the trials and tribulations that come during turbulent times. We can avoid having our marriages “go on the rocks,” as so many now do, if we build on the Rock.” If we build our marriage, our foundation upon Christ we will be made stronger and we will be able to work together to use those capacities to allow “a married couple to think, act, rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally” as Elder Richard G. Scott has said.
Friend, I love you so very much and want for you, through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally with your chosen partner.
Love,




Barlow, Brent A. (2003, June). A Rock-Solid Foundation for Marriage. Ensign.
Faust, James E. (2007, April) First Presidency Message: Enriching Your Marriage. Liahona.
First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The (1995). The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
Holman, Thomas B., Larson, Jeffry H., Stahmann, Robert F. (2000). Preparing For An Eternal Marriage, Strengthening Our Family: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (pp. 32-47). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.
Kimball, Spencer W. (1982). The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Mathews, Nathan and Sallee, personal communication, January 21, 2009.
Mathews, Sonia, personal communication, January 23 2009.
Oaks, Dallin H. (2007, May). Divorce. Ensign.
Scott, Richard G. (1996, November). The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness. Ensign.
Sorensen, David E. (1997, October). The Honeymoon Trail. Liahona.
Tanner, N. Eldon (1980, May). Celestial Marriages and Eternal Families. Ensign.

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