"...Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" --Alma 37:6

Sunday, October 16, 2016

ABCs of Successful Romantic Relationship Development

I came across an article in a recent school course with a similar title. Thomas B. Holman, Frank Poulsen, and others began their article with the statement, "the purpose...is to present research and prophetic and scriptural guidance to help young Latter-day Saints be successful in finding an eternal companion. We do so within the framework of the....ABCDEs of mate selection."

These so-called ABCDEs are:

A- Aware of or acquaintance with another person
B- Buildup of the relationship
C- Continuation following commitment to a long-term relationship ( which may result in marriage for many couples)
D- Deterioration or decline in the interdependence of the couple
E- Ending of the relationship

The article continues by saying, "President Thomas S. Monson noted, 'Decisions determine destiny. That is why it is worthwhile to look ahead, to set a course, to be at least partly ready when the moment of decision comes.' Thus, we must look ahead to the type of marriage we want, set a course toward that goal, and then 'prepare every needful thing' (D+C 88:119) so when the opportunity for establishing a relationship that could lead to eternal marriage arises, we are read to move forward with faith."

We have to understand that not all relationships will go through all of the ABCDEs listed above. Some relationships are short-lived and are only acquaintances, others build up with a few dates. Commitment occurs with a few, but not for all.

The biggest realization and acceptance is that many relationships will deteriorate and end. Some are a mutual decision others won't be of our choice. For further details for each of the ABCDEs, refer to the following book,

Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives edited by Alan J. Hawkings, David C. Dollahite, Thomas W. Draper.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pathways to Eternal Marriage

In today's dating world, everyone is looking for Mr./Mrs. Right, that perfect person to share a perfect love and perfect eternal love. This approach to dating, according to Jason S. Carroll, "...creates feelings of anxiety about dating, as young people feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding their 'perfect match.' "

From experience, I can say that this anxiety is real. When dating, you are so paralyzed with a fear of making a mistake that even taking one step in any direction is nerve-wracking.

In the remainder of his article, Jason C. Carroll discusses a dating approach known as becoming. Carroll explains, "The difference between the 'finding Mr./Mrs. Right' approach and this approach is that the 'becoming' approach primarily emphasizes personal readiness, maturity, and growth....the main emphasis is on becoming ready for marriage and then committing to that relationship when you have made the decision to marry."

So for example, when searching for Mr./Mrs. Right, we all have a list. Don't deny it, you have a list. This list is of characteristics and personality traits that we look for and desire in our perfect match. With the becoming approach, you take that list and use it on yourself. You must ask the question: Do I have all of these traits? Are there any traits that I need to work on?

After asking those questions, we need to work towards becoming the perfect version of ourselves so that when the opportunity for a relationship comes we are emotionally mature and ready for such a commitment. But there is one more key to dating successfully.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, "Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril."

That is the key. Dating and relationships must be approached with the Lord. The Lord guides in the right direction toward the relationships we need to learn, grow, and fulfill our promises, commitments, and covenants with God.

Elder Richard G. Scott stated, "You have a choice. You can wring your hands and be consumed with concern for the future or choose to use the counsel the Lord has given to live with peace and happiness."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage

This topic is difficult to broach simply because of the hypersensitivity surrounding the issue and the modern desire to remain politically correct. During studies for a recent course regarding successful marriages and families, this topic came up.

An article entitled, "An LDS Family Law Professor's Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage" by Lynn D. Wardle , as evidenced by its title discussed the ever-sensitive issue. 

Wardle began her article with, 

"Future historians will likely identify the public policy controversies of the past two decades concerning the legal definition of marriage as the defining social issue for this generation of Americans."

So, this is our defining moment. How do we want this moment to define us?

Wardle continues by saying, "Marriage is the well-spring of social capital - those intangible resources that contribute to a strong society, economy, and nation - in any community...Economists emphasize the importance of trust that facilitates exchange...of social engagement, willingness to serve, and charity."

Economists are citing the importance of trust, willingness to serve, and charity. We have heard those terms before from the scriptures. We are taught that charity is the pure love of Christ. We are taught that with willingness to serve, comes humility, hope, love, faith, and truth. With trust comes blessings beyond measure. 

What does all this have to do with same-sex marriage? John Witte states, "A breakdown of marriage and the family will eventually have devastating consequences on these larger social institutions." What does he mean? Wardle continues the thought with, "When the institution of marriage disintegrates, the transmission and inculcation of the root paradigms and core values of a society also disintegrate."

Same-sex marriage is simply one example of how the family and marriage are being broken down and torn apart. The true nature of families is integral to the strength of the society. You break or remove one part and the rest falls apart. True marriages and families are the capstone of our society and community. Remove the capstone and the arch falls apart and can't hold itself together. 

The above article referenced is found in the book,

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Healthy, Stable Marriages

In 1995, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors gave new revelation in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Near the end of this prophetic proclamation it states,

"We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."

I know that in today's political environment, conversations regarding marriages and families can be a bit touchy. There's the controversy over homosexual relationships, abortion laws, women's rights, and gender identities. With so much controversy and confusion, so-called "Gadiantons" have declared themselves the heroes and protectors of marriage and families. These "heroes" simply continued and helped with the distortion of the family and increased their own vain, greedy, political power.

So, within this tumultuous world how can anyone have a healthy, stable, successful marriage? Alan J. Hawkins, in his article, "A Public Policy Agenda to Help Couples Form and Sustain Healthy, Stable Marriages", states,

"For youth and young adults, the pathways to a healthy, stable marriage are increasingly convoluted and challenging to walk....how can we help young people find safer and more effective pathways to healthy marriages?....a modest public policy agenda.....stresses the availability of a series of educational opportunities, including: (a) school-based relationship literacy for youth; (b) positive relationship formation education for young adults; and (c) effective premarital education for engaged couples, as well as ongoing relationship enrichment education in the early years of marriage to help couples learn the needed skills for a healthy marriage."

So if we simply learn the skills, values, and principles of a healthy relationship, then abortions, unexpected pregnancies, extra-marital sexual relations, and other non-healthy relationship traits will diminish.....That's the idea anyway.

Hawkins' video gives more detail and information on his agenda and just how much he believes it can change the dating and relationship world into something far healthier and stronger than it is now.

Do I agree with Hawkins? I do believe that there is an extreme lack of education regarding just what a healthy relationship is. My exhibit A is a recent film entitled, "Fifty Shades of Grey" which is based off a book with the same title. This film and book are the definition of an extremely unhealthy relationship based on all the wrong ideas and principles.

The problem is that the adversary and the rest of the world is telling youth and young adults that such relationships are healthy and that emotional connections intimacy are secondary, or less important than, a healthy sexual relationship (complete with various "toys" and other questionable items).

So with all the wrong principles and answers being shoved in our direction, where can we find the right answers? The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Our Heavenly Father has provided us with the proclamation and His holy scriptures to guides in the ways that we should go, including finding and maintaining healthy, successful relationships.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Eternal Family

This is the second post in my current series, regarding successful marriages and families. This post is specifically about the doctrine of the family according the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We believe the family to be an eternal unit and that priesthood keys were restored through Joseph Smith that allowed for the ordinances and covenants of eternal marriage and families to be restored to the Earth.

In my course readings I came across this quote, which reads, "Birth into a family was the way God chose to send His spirit children to earth. Marriage and family relationships are the central means He has prepared to achieve His purposes."

Elder M. Russell Ballard taught, "The family is where the foundation of personal, spiritual growth is built and nurtured; the Church, then, is the scaffolding that helps support and strengthen the family."

To know that I can and will be with my parents and siblings, and my own future family for eternity is a great blessing to me. To think and know that many in today's world, believe that life ends upon one's death and that loved ones are simply gone forever, is extremely depressing. To think that this life has no divine purpose and that we are simply a natural evolution or accident makes no sense to me.

The doctrine of the eternal family further teaches us that we existed before this life and will continue to exist for the eternities hereafter calms my troubled heart and give me hope for my family who have passed on.

An early leader in the LDS church, Elder Parley P. Pratt felt great emotion at learning the doctrine of eternal marriages and families. He exclaims, "I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved- with a pureness- an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt...that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel...a crown of glory for ever and ever."

Daniel K. Judd stated, "The eternal nature  of the marriage covenant and the promise of everlasting family association are among the most beautiful and essential doctrines of the restored gospel. In fact, the purpose of the gospel and the Church is to exalt the family."

A final quote I wish to share is from Elder Hugh B. Brown who said, "...our very concept of heaven itself is the projection of the home into eternity. Salvation, then, is essentially a family affair, and full participation in the plan of salvation can be had only in family units."

Our very concept of heaven is home into the eternities!! I love that so much!!! There are many hymns in our Church that describe home as a heaven on earth, simply because it is. A loving home filled with the Spirit of God is a small sliver of heaven brought to earth.

Amidst all the chaos, temptations, and conflicts in the world we can have a small piece of heaven in our lives. Why would we give that up?

Please feel free to comment below and express your opinions as well.

Further Reading:

Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives edited by Alan J. Hawkins, David C. Dollahite, Thomas W. Draper. Chapter 32, "The Eternal Family: A Plain and Precious Part of the Plan of Salvation" by Daniel K. Judd

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Faith In Family Life

I beginning a series of posts during the next three months to discuss and share with you my thoughts regarding gospel principles and successful marriages and families. For those of a different faith, I am simply sharing my views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint's doctrines on the family.

For my first post in this series I would like to discuss the affect of faith, any religious faith, on marriages and family life.

In one of my current college courses I came across a statement that stayed with me. It is from a man named Joseph who is a non-denominational Christian father. He said, "There's something that...when as a family your hearts are pointed together toward the same thing, and it's God, then parenting and economics and space and food and disagreements and hassles and joys and celebrations and all that other stuff...it works different, it seems different, it feels different....Our family is all oriented in the same way. Christ is King, He's the center, He's what it's all about....Our faith informs our relationships and everything about us."

When you decided to take that step into marital status, it is key and extremely important that you and your future spouse have a common religious goal. In today's world, religion is being pushed to the side and being made to appear unimportant and having no affect on one's daily life. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Without religion, without faith, the commandment to Love thy Neighbor is gone. That love and divine heritage that connects us all fades away until it is completely forgotten. What reason have we then to sacrifice for our fellow man to serve those around us?

Many are saying we are human after all. It's in our nature to love one another. I say it is not. The natural man is selfish, and cares only for its survival. Without the simple knowledge of who we are, we come from, and where we are going, the world will fall into chaos.

This is being proven today. Marriages are being entered into with the attitude of, "Me, Me, I, I". People become concerned when they receive nothing from their marital relationship. They feel they deserve more from their relationship. However, no one is stopping to ask the extremely important question, "What have you put into the relationship? What have you done to serve your spouse, to help your spouse, to work together with your spouse?"

Faith provides a common direction, goal, and guide to how to serve each other and God throughout our lives. Faith is the anchor that keeps us from being swallowed up in the chaos of today's selfish, egotistical world demanding extreme individualism.

The introduction of individualism in the 17th and 18th centuries was initially a great revolution of the American family. It allowed for children to be seen as they truly are: innocent and pure. It also allowed for more freedoms for women and a newfound respect for their roles in the home. Most importantly it introduced the important of mutual affection and love in the marital relationship.

Now, however, individualism is being taken to the extreme. Only faith and faith filled communities can remove the selfish nature of the natural man and instill the virtues of selflessness, sacrifice, and the true love of Christ in a world in desperate need of these virtues.

Please comment and share how your faith, no matter the denomination, has influenced your life and your marriages. Thank you!

For further reading:

Successful Marriages and Families. edited by Alan J. Hawkins, David C. Dollahite, Thomas W. Draper; Chapter 18, "Faith in Family Life".