Enduring to the End

After meeting Karen I knew very quickly that I wanted to spend eternity with her. I am not a believe in “soulmates” but we definitely had a connection from the beginning. I believe that comes from having similar desires and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She has been my best friend since the day I met her. I know that I have been incredibly blessed to have her in my life but I also know that this did not just happen nor would it continue without effort on both of our parts.

Both of us came from homes where our parents had endured struggles that challenged them temporally and spiritually. We also were fortunate enough to see our parents work through their challenges together and come out stronger because of them.

I have loved our textbook this year. However, the chapter in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, that pertains to facts to consider about marriage left me wanting. It does a great job of delivering the facts regarding the struggles with marriage but it does not cover marriage and the work necessary for marriage to be successful the way I see things. The closing paragraph of the chapter is good. It reads:

Both the soft stories and the hard evidence attest to the fact that good marriages are undeniably worth the work, sacrifice, and dedication they require. The benefits of marriage are unique; the disadvantages of alternative family forms are real, profound, and all too common. The benefits begin at the marriage ceremony; extend into the lives of husbands, wives, and their children across time; then stretch out to bolster neighborhoods, communities, and the world at large.

I would like to focus on the portion of the quote that says “marriages are undeniably worth the work, sacrifice, and dedication they require.” I found a great article in the October 1993 issue of the Ensign magazine. It discusses what is necessary for us to endure to the end. I would suggest that these same principles can be applied to enduring to the end in our marriages.

Besides keeping the commandments, other component parts of remaining faithful to our covenants include:

  • Looking unto Christ (see 3 Ne. 15:9)

  • Taking upon us the name of Christ (see 3 Ne. 27:6)

  • Feasting upon the words of Christ and pressing forward in steadfastness, hope, and love (see 2 Ne. 31:20; Moro. 8:26)

  • Offering our whole souls to Christ and continuing in fasting and prayer (see Omni 1:26)

  • Following the example of Christ (see 2 Ne. 31:16)

  • Worshipping the Father in the name of Christ (see D&C 20:29)

  • Seeking to bring forth Zion (see 1 Ne. 13:37)

  • Being patient in afflictions and humble in repentance (see Alma 32:15; D&C 24:8)

Notice that the common focus of all of these exhortations is loyalty to Christ. Consequently, enduring to the end is more than just “being active” in the Church. Enduring to the end requires a personal awareness of obligations made to the Savior and a personal determination to keep those covenants faithfully. While the term “being active” describes visible behavior, “enduring faithful to the end” describes an inner commitment to the gospel and to the church of Jesus Christ.

I would add that this also describes an inner commitment to our spouse and the covenant we made at marriage.

Having a successful marriage does take work but the rewards far outweigh the efforts. A happy successful marriage is very possible when we remember to put the Lord and our spouse first. There is no room in this relationship for selfish desires.

I have loved this project and I hope that my family will enjoy reading some of my thoughts on this most important topic. I love you all!

Defending Family

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As long as I can remember I wanted to be a father. As a youth I would watch men who I respected so that I could learn to emulate the things I found to be good. I was aware of their weaknesses but I was more focused on the things that they appeared to be doing right when it came to them and their families. I knew that I wanted to play an active role in the lives of my children. I wanted to be the best husband that I could possibly be. I have not always been perfect in these goals but I do know that I have tried my best. My family is the most important thing in this life to me. As I get on into the later years of my life I have found myself worrying about the welfare of my children’s current and future families. I so badly want them to have the same happiness that I have had.

In the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, it reads:

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ‘the time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us” (Kimball, 1980, p. 4). While our own families are our most important responsibility, every family of the earth is in need of the vital blessings that come from living proclamation principles. I believe, therefore, that a deep and active belief in the principles articulated in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” should motivate us not only to apply true principles to protect our own families, but it should also move us to share these principles with others.The statement by the prophet Joseph Smith applies here—that when we gain a witness of the truth, we will not be “content with blessing [our] family alone, but [range] through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (Smith, 1976, p. 227). In the Doctrine and Covenants we are taught, “And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouth of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days” (D&C 1:4). “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41). As we share the principles of the proclamation with others, we can fulfill that directive to preach and warn our neighbors, helping them strengthen their families.

That quote is longer than I typically like to insert but it says exactly what I know and feel to be true regarding the family and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” In a talk given by Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy, he says:

Latter-day Saints have been blessed with revealed truths regarding families that remain unknown to the world at large. We understand that the family is an eternal institution ordained by God from before the foundation of the world, with the potential to continue on forever beyond this mortal sphere. Happy, loving families, though imperfect and falling short of the ideal, are the closest thing we have on earth to a small-scale model of eternity, a tiny seed of unimaginable glory to come. (Ensign, June 2011)

The family is central to God’s plan for us here on earth. It is in families that we learn the values, life skills, and truths that we use to be successful in this lifetime. No matter how much the world tries to imitate the family through ideas, programs, or villages, it will never be able to duplicate the success that can be found by simply supporting the family units. Elder Porter says, “If the family breaks down, everything will break down.”

Elder Porter goes on to clarify:

We live in a day when the love of many, even toward their own children, is waxing cold; a day when so many people love pleasures more than God; a day when good is called evil and evil good. Those who defend the traditional family, who stand for fidelity and chastity and all that once was considered wholesome and praiseworthy are mocked and ridiculed. On the other hand, those who see no problem with fatherless homes, who advocate abortion, who fight all attempts to limit pornography, and who seek to redefine the very essence of what a family is, are praised and upheld as champions of tolerance. Truly, the world has turned upside down.

The successful family will be founded on righteousness and sacrifice. When selfishness is allowed to enter the family unit it will be damaged and if left unchecked may be destroyed.

We live in a time where tolerance is defined by accepting what is socially acceptable. If we do not agree with what is socially acceptable we find ourselves being attacked by those who are preaching tolerance. Even during these times we must remember to be loving and charitable towards those who may offend. At the same time, we must find ourselves defending God and his teachings.

I want to close this post with a rather lengthy quote from Elder Porter. He does an incredible job of wrapping up the need to defend the family.

Regardless of what the future may hold, God has ordained that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, the parents of the Church will be given power to help save their children from the darkness around them. As the hearts of fathers and mothers turn to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents, we eventually will witness the rise of a generation refined and prepared to meet the Savior at His coming. The triumph of God’s kingdom in the latter days will be a triumph not only of the Church as an organization but of tens of thousands of individual families who by faith have overcome the world.

May we as members of the Church rise up and assume our divinely appointed role as a light to the nations. May we sacrifice and labor to rear a generation strong enough to resist the siren songs of popular culture, a generation filled with the Holy Ghost so that they may discern the difference between good and evil, between legitimate tolerance and moral surrender. May we arise in faith and in love so as to prepare the way for the great millennial reign of Christ, a day to come when in every village and city of the world, boys and girls will play in innocence, and every child of God know the peace of a happy home.

 

Temple Covenants Save Families

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The temple is such an important part of our family. It is central to all that we do and all that we are. I know that my family will be saved because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the saving ordinances of the temple. In the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, it reads:

Thankfully, latter-day prophets and apostles assure us that the Atonement and sealing ordinances are suf- ficiently powerful to eventually bring salvation to the children of parents who diligently seek to keep their temple covenants. The Prophet Joseph Smith promised that “when a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother” (1976, p. 321). Of course, Latter-day Saints understand that exaltation is more than salvation; God will righteously and mercifully judge the ultimate reward of those who have strayed from the gospel path in this life (Faust, 2003). But as Elder Orson F.Whitney taught:

The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fullness of knowl- edge brings the fullness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can compre- hend (1929, p. no).

This promise brings great comfort to Karen and I. We know that through our continued obedience to the commandments of God and our efforts to be the very best that we can be, we and our posterity can receive salvation.

As the above quote makes clear, we know that salvation and exaltation are two very different things. Exaltation will come when all involved are doing what needs to be done.  This includes keeping the commandments and making their covenants in the temple for themselves.

I feel that it is important for me to mention the possibility that their will be those in our family that make choices to turn from those things that have been taught in our family since its inception. If this occurs, it is necessary for us to love the individual without excusing the behavior. We should remember that our Father in Heaven has experienced this type of heartbreak. A paragraph in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives explains it well:

Our Heavenly Father knows, far better than any mortal, the pain and sorrow associated with having children who exercise their moral agency to their condemnation rather than exaltation. Can there be any better parent than God? Children’s decisions may bring us sorrow, no matter how faithfully we have taught our children. This consolation does not excuse families from their obligation to teach and model correct principles and try to lead their children to Christ, but it does bring a clearer perspective of the divine work of parents and families.

We should continue to pray for our loved ones that their hearts will be changed and that they will have a desire to draw closer to the Lord. It can be a helpless feeling but if we stay strong and close to the Lord we will receive support from the Spirit in our trials. We are commanded to love one another regardless of choices some may be making.

I had the privilege of officiating a marriage today. It was a fun event for those involved. To many, it was perhaps even a sacred spiritual event. Knowing that there is so much more available to them made me want to share with them what they were missing. Today was not the time or place for such a conversation. Perhaps sometime in the future that conversation will be possible.

The sealing power available to us in the temple is awesome! He has shown us how we can attain lasting happiness in this lifetime and the life to come. I feel to leave all reading this with an urging, using the words of Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, “Here am I” (2009, p. 22).

I know this to be true and I have experienced His love as I have sought to qualify for the promised blessings.

Faith in Family Life

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Faith is an integral part of successful marriages and families. In the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, it reads:

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” faith (as a principle of action and power) leads the list of nine foundational principles upon which “successful marriages and families are established and maintained ” (¶ 7).

Karen and I have always made our faith central in our relationship. As young people we both, independently, made goals as to what we wanted in a spouse and what we wanted for our future children. I had received direction in my patriarchal blessing as to what I should look for in a future wife. We were very blessed to find each other. We recognized from early in our relationship that we had something very special. This special feeling has been made possible by our foundation of faith.

Later in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, I found an interesting description of religious practice:

Religious practices are “outward, observable, expressions of faith such as prayer, scripture study, rituals, traditions, or less overtly sacred practices or abstinence that is religiously grounded” (Dollahite et al., 2004, p. 413).

We have made these and other practices commonplace in our home. By doing so we have  established these as habits in our children’s lives. We have never forced any of this on our children but we have made sure that they understand why we feel the way that we do and we have made sure that they recognize the spirit influencing their lives.

This thought is supported in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives:

Rituals can be powerful, but sometimes simple conversation can be salient as well. Boyatzis and Janicki’s (2003) study based on surveys and diaries found that most Christian mothers in their study frequently engaged in discussions with their children regarding matters of faith – a practice that has been reported to be influential, even years later in a children’s lives (Wunthrow, 1999).

Both Karen and I have made sure that we speak often to our children about the role of the Lord in our lives and their lives. As I discussed in my previous blog, we have experienced positive outcomes through the meaningful family time we share in which we will often have deep conversations regarding our faith and its role in our lives.

I am so grateful for the security that I feel in my marriage. This is due to the confidence I feel in knowing that I am part of an eternal marriage. Our faith has given our family comfort because we know that purpose of our lives. We also know the role that family plays in our eternal progression. I am grateful for loving Heavenly Parents who want me and my family to grow and become like them.

Family Recreation

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Good wholesome activities are an important part of having a successful family. We have always tried to do a lot of things together as a family. Our goal was to create memories and traditions that would possibly last into future generations. This was something Karen and I began while we were dating. We attempted to do things that would create memories that would strengthen our relationship with one another. While reading the chapter on wholesome family recreation in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, I came across an interesting paragraph that supports what Karen and I had tried to do:

Research suggest that joint activities lead to the highest marital satisfaction (Holmes & Jacquart, 1988; Orthner, 1975). Parallel activities have a small positive effect on marital satisfaction, while independent activities may have a negative effect, especially for wives (Orthner & Mancini, 1990). Joint activities strengthen relationships by promoting interaction, communication, and cooperation. Increased interaction in joint activities may also lead to more conflict than parallel activities , but when resolved in a healthy manner, conflict can help relationships grow and improve. Conflicts provide parents with opportunities to model appropriate conflict resolution skills for their children.

Karen and I have had very little conflict in our relationship. That being said, I can see how conflict is a possibility when two people are doing things together. If conflict does occur it is important to resolve it in a healthy way and be a good example to any children. We have made it a point to do everything together. We do this in all areas of our lives.

Another thing that Karen and I did, mentioned earlier, in trying to establish tradition is supported in the textbook:

… the habits children develop early in their lives stay with them and are difficult to change.

Continuing further in the same paragraph:

Time spent playing with children also helps them become more secure and independent (Belsky, Garduque, & Hrncir, 1984; Slade, 1987).

Our family has always been very close and we have always enjoyed doing many things together. Even now, as our children are moving into adulthood, we come together often to do things together. We have continued the traditions that we started early in their lives.

The closeness of our family has helped our children to be better at communication. We have tried to encourage proper communication amongst our family members. By having this standard in our home, we are all equipped to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. By learning this while young, our children have taken this ability into adulthood and into their own families.

In conclusion of this post, I want to quote once more from Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives:

Wholesome family recreation has been shown to provide benefits to marriages and families across the lifespan. Parents should carefully consider how they choose to spend their individual and family time. They should thoughtfully plan in order to create meaningful, memorable, and strengthening experiences for their families.

 

Honor Thy Father

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I love the way the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, introduces the chapter on honoring fathers:

There is much to consider in this invitation and divine command. A perspective of fathering that embraces the divine injunction to “honor thy father” suggests a set of high ideals for men in family life. Indeed, if men wish to receive honor in their efforts as fathers, then it is essential that they be worthy of honor.

This was a thought that I developed early in life. My father had earned my love and respect by being the wonderful man that he was. He was worthy of any honor and respect I could give him. He taught me how to be the man I became and continue to evolve as I learn more. It is so important that we, as men, husbands, and fathers, be worthy of honor.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (¶ 7) states, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness.”  The textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, states:

A brief examination of this statement makes clear three fundamental realities regarding fatherhood. First, fathers are directed to take upon themselves the responsibility of spiritual leadership in family life as part of a loving Eternal Father’s plan for family functioning. Second, a father’s responsibility to preside occupies the first and foremost duty among the varied obligations that rest upon men in family life. Third, the manner in which a father is to exercise spiritual guidance among family members is explicitly articulated: “in love and righteousness.

As a father it is important that I embrace the principles of good fathering and have good spiritual focus so that I can bless my family that I love with all my heart. They mean everything to me and I always want to be worthy of their love and respect. Also, by being a man worthy of honor, I will teach my sons what type of man they should be and my daughters what type of man they should look for as a spouse.

Another way that I feel that I can be a proper example is by being a good husband to my wonderful wife. Karen is my partner. My role as a father can only be defined by including Karen in that definition. Karen and I strive for a healthy marriage so that we can both perform our roles as mother and father the way that God intends us to do our callings.

I have always felt that as a father I need to be present in my children’s lives. I have made it one of my main goals to be an active father. I have strived to be involved heavily in all their activities. By being involved in their lives I am able to help them directly and quickly when trials occur in their lives. I can help them to see God’s hand in their lives.

By acting in righteousness, I am able to influence and bless the lives of my family and encourage all in my family to strive to live a life where you can be found worthy of honor.

Mothers as Nurturers

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This post should be one of the easiest ones for me to do. I get to talk about the most incredible woman in the world, my wife, Karen. Specifically, I will be talking about her role as a mother. This is something in which she finds so much joy.

Satan has found a lot of success in confusing the world about the role of women and the their role as mothers. Fortunately, we are blessed to live in a day when we have living prophets who teach us and truth and bring clarity to an otherwise confusing world. In the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, President Spencer W. Kimball is quoted speaking of women in the latter days:

To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times.

It was very important to both Karen and I that if possible, she be allowed to stay home with our children. We were fortunate that we were able to make that happen. Karen truly amazes me. Her ability to keep things running smoothly in the house while running our in home office is incredible. Above all of her other roles she has carried, her role as mother has always been the most important to her.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World, states:

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

A mother is the first person a child will develop a relationship with. A mother is defined more by her relationship with her children than by certain tasks and duties she performs. A mothers attention and love becomes the foundation of an eternal relationship. By being available and supportive, a child gains psychological and physical security needed develop personally and socially.

All of this can be summed up by simply saying that the foundation of all successful mothering is found in the ability to love the child. There are many who claim to love their children but then do not do what is necessary for their children to develop normal and healthy.

The textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, states:

The relationship formed through a mothers attentive love provides the foundation for all of the other major tasks of motherhood. Mothering scholar Sara Ruddick
identified a number of central tasks for which attentive love provides the foundation, including: (a) preserving children’s lives and wellbeing, and (b) fostering children’s growth and development (1983).

Karen has always given our children a safe place and encouraged growth and development. One of her main goals with our children was that they would have every opportunity to explore and figure out what their interests were. We always gave some direction but encouraged our children to try new things in hopes that they would discover their interests and talents.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the role faith plays in mothering. A paragraph in the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, had a huge impact on me. It reads:

A recent study of a large sample of Latter-day Saint parents found that a mother’s private religious behaviors—including fasting, personal prayer, scripture study,
study of other religious materials, and thinking about religion—were a more significant influence on the quality of her parenting than the family’s religious behaviors. Mothers who spent more time in these activities were more likely to feel close to their children and to be effective in providing warmth, love, and support, while setting clear and appropriate boundaries and expectations. They were also less likely to resort to physical coercion, verbal hostility, unreasonable punishing, indulgence, or psychological control—all unhealthy patterns of discipline in
parenting. The findings suggest that humbly seeking for the Saviors influence and help enables us to become the kinds of mothers we desire to become (Behling, 2010).

It is so important to develop a personal relationship with our Savior and practice personal religious habits in order to be a more effective mother.

A First Presidency statement in 1942 declared:

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.

I know that through Karen’s example and efforts our children and future generations will be blessed. She is wonderful!

Parenting with Love

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Our role as earthly parents to God’s wonderful spirit children is something Karen and I have taken very seriously. While dating we had discussed our views of family and parenting and found that we had very similar thoughts as to how this should occur.

The textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, at the beginning of chapter 10 reads…

After Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, “the first commandment that God gave . . . pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife” (¶ 4). Parents bringing children into this world and then rearing them in love and righteousness is essential to the great plan of happiness (Alma 42:8). In the course of teaching and nurturing children in a family setting, parents can learn and grow by practicing godly virtues that lead to sanctification.

The textbook continues further on in the opening of the chapter…

Despite many similarities among modern-day families, each family has unique circumstances that affect the way parents raise their children. Family members’
individual talents and personality traits, coupled with intergenerational influences, family structure, living arrangements, and cultural norms and expectations
make it impossible to prepare a handbook for parenting that addresses every situation. President Ezra Taft Benson (1974, p. 381) said:

Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

This is something that I hope any of my family that is reading this understands, all of God’s children are very different. They cannot all be raised the same way. Each of God’s children has their agency to choose. Two children in identical situations will choose differently much of the time. As a parent, when this is understood, we will approach each child as if this is our first time parenting. When we do this we show appreciation for that child and for the blessing granted us to be the earthly guide for one of Father’s children.

Brigham Young taught…

Parents should never drive their children, but lead them along, giving them knowledge as their minds are prepared to receive it. Chastening may be necessary betimes, but parents should govern their children by faith rather than by the rod, leading them kindly by good example into all truth and holiness (Widtsoe, 1978, p. 208).

Righteous parenting places emphasis on the Godlike qualities that we should be aspiring towards. Through this example, children are invited to adopt a parents perspective on many of their thoughts and ideas.

Quoting from the text book once again…

In order to promote optimal development and to rear children in love and righteousness, the following are crucial elements for each child, although specific implementations and approaches may be individualized based upon the needs and personality of the particular child:

  • Love, warmth, and support
  • Clear and reasonable expectations for competent
    behavior
  • Limits and boundaries with some room for nego-
    tiation and compromise
  • Reasoning and developmentally appropriate con-
    sequences and punishments for breaching estab-
    lished limits
  • Opportunities to perform competently and make
    choices
  • Absence of coercive, hostile forms of discipline,
    such as harsh physical punishment, love with-
    drawal, shaming, and inflicting guilt
  • Models of appropriate behavior consistent with
    self-control, positive values, and positive attitudes

In my opinion there are three desirable traits that parents should strive for in their parenting. These are love, limits, and latitude.

Of the three traits mentioned, “love” is the most important in my opinion. I was fortunate to be raised by a loving parents. I am especially grateful for a father who did not hesitate to show me love. He was an incredible example to me of a loving father. He grew up in an abusive home which makes the way he was even more incredible. I knew that I wanted to be like my dad when it came to showing my children love.

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:

Every child is entitled to grow up in a home where there is warm and secure companionship, where there is love in the family relationship, where appreciation one for another is taught and exemplified, and where God is acknowledged and His peace and blessings invoked before the family altar.

The second desirable trait is “limits.” Children need limits. They need to be regulated. The challenge for parents is finding the way to regulate with being coercive. In all cases parents must be aware of the developmental level of the child and where they are at emotionally at each given instance. Setting limits along with pre-established consequences is very important and will help children learn to be self regulating.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

Setting limits to what a child can do means to that child that you love him and respect him.

The third desirable trait is “latitude.” Children grow and learn by being given opportunities to make their own decisions. We learn by experiencing the consequences to our choices whether they be good or bad. It is important that we help them through this process. Weighing the pros and cons of a decision is a learned ability and we can help them through that process. It is important though that we make sure that they are the ones making the decision and that they recognize that. One of the hardest things we will do as parents is stand by and watch our children make a wrong choice and let the consequences happen. Of course we would not stand idly by if this was a life or spirit threatening choice. Hopefully, if we have done our job right early in their lives, our children can avoid the choices that lead to dire consequences.

I will close this post by quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley once again:

Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood. Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, none other is so serious. To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges. The good result from such efforts becomes life’s most satisfying compensation.

Vows and Fidelity

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The covenants I made with Karen in the temple on January 7, 1989 are something that I cherish with all my heart.  I strive to honor those vows and covenants each and every day of my life.  The love I have for Karen is deep and grows each day.

The textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, reads…

In our day the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared inn “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (¶ 4).  We live in a world that struggles with keeping the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14),  As Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1979, p. 36) has pointed out,  “The seventh commandment is one of the least heeded but most needed laws of God.”

When Karen and I were sealed, we did so with the understanding that we were giving ourselves to each other not only for this lifetime, but for all of eternity.

Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. (Doctrine & Covenants 42:22)

In this post I hope to share with you my thoughts on how to avoid infidelity and how to work each day to honor your spouse.

The above referenced textbook gives an incredible list of things to avoid.  This list is called “Wise Walls for Preventing Infidelity” (Broderick, 1991; Glass, 1999; Goddard, 2007).

  • Resist the desire to rescue an unhappy soul who pours his or her heart out to you.
  • Don’t share the most painful things of your soul with an attractive alternative. This develops deep levels of intimacy.
  • If a conversation makes light of marriage, respond with something positive about your own marriage.
  • Discuss marital issues with your spouse. Work on the problems at home. If you do need to talk to someone else about your marriage, be sure he or she is a friend of the marriage.
  • Don’t have lunch or take work breaks with the same person all the time.
  • Don’t have lunch alone with an old flame.
  • If an old boyfriend or girlfriend is going to be at a class reunion, make sure you bring your spouse along.
  • When you travel with a coworker, meet only in public places.
  • Don’t flirt with anyone other than your spouse.
  • Don’t travel together with someone of the opposite sex when going to meetings for work, church, or in other circumstances.

These are all wonderful suggestions and guidelines for anyone to follow. My personal list was not this extensive but it has worked for me.  I simply never allow myself to be alone with someone of the opposite gender. Even as a Bishop now, I make sure that I do not meet with one of the women in the ward without making sure that she is aware that my door is unlocked and one of my counselors is just outside and can walk in at anytime. I give them that information for their peace of mind as well.

In order to strengthen our relationship each day we do simple things. We make sure that we have very open communication with one another. We take the time each day to communicate with each other about the events of our days and share thoughts and ideas with each other. The other thing we do is make ourselves 100% accountable to each other in every aspect of our lives. We have no secrets that we keep from each other. We share everything. All passwords to online material is known to each of us. Everything we do is done to support and strengthen each other and our relationship.

There is nothing in this life that is more special to me than my wife and I will not let anything harm that relationship. I hope and pray that my current and future family will develop the same appreciation for their spouses.

 

 

Equal Partnership

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This picture is a great representation of the way Karen and I work together in an equal partnership. We have a run a construction business together for over 28 years. We started it 6 months prior to our marriage while we were engaged.

The textbook, Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, does an incredible job of describing equality.

Equality is all too often used to mean “identity”; that is, that two equal things must be identical to each other. Such usage represents a fallen and harmful understanding of equality that is espoused by Lucifer, who passionately wants all to be “like … himself” (2 Nephi 2:27)

The textbook continues.

The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole (Joseph B. Wirthlin, 2008, p. 18).

This is an incredible truth that should be remembered at all times and not just in our intimate relationships. It would be wrong for either party in a relationship to want to change the good qualities of the others personality just so that that person would be more like themselves. This would be a perfect example of unrighteous dominion.

The example of equal partnership was set for us by our first parents, Adam and Eve. The proclamation states:

All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents (¶ 2).

The textbook continues:

Indeed, the restored gospel teaches us that the term “God” means an exalted man and exalted woman united in the everlasting covenant of marriage. Heavenly Father is no bachelor; indeed, Heavenly Father could not be a god if he were unmarried (D&C 132:19-20).

Neither individual in a marriage relationship is appointed to rule over the other. We are to walk side by side in an equal partnership as husband and wife. The restored gospel helps us to understand the true nature of Adam and Eve’s relationship and helps us to maintain the same relationships today in our relationships.

There are so many quotes in the textbook that I love regarding the benefits of equal partnership. There are numerous studies that show relationships with equal partnership are much healthier and the children in these relationships are better prepared to duplicate what they have seen in their parents relationships.

Karen and I have enjoyed a special relationship since we met. We have always had a relationship that allowed for open communication. There was a time while we were engaged that Karen’s mother took me outside to talk to me. She asked me if Karen made me a better person? I immediately answered that she did. I had no doubt about that. She then asked me to think about the next answer I would be giving before just blurting out the answer. She asked me if I made Karen a better person?  I did as she asked and thought about whether or not I made Karen better by being with her. I was able to answer in the affirmative and give examples of how I felt that I complimented her. I feel that if all couples can approach their relationships similarly, always seeking to improve their partner, they can only succeed.

Our heavenly parents want us to be like them and to find joy in the journey towards that goal.