Saturday, December 10, 2016

Week 13: Transitions in Marriage, In-Law Relations

In-Laws or Out-laws?

It’s a fair question. In-laws sometimes get a bad rap for being more like serial killers. The movie Meet the Parents comes to mind. When was the last time a husband told his buddies at work “Dude, I’m so stoked – my mother-in-law is coming to stay with us for a whole month!” And have you ever heard a woman say “Sure, I can go out for girls’ night – my mother-in-law is coming to town but I don’t need to clean the house because she’s really understanding and nonjudgmental.”

We just don’t hear that. Usually it’s the opposite. I know that personally, my house is never cleaner than when my in-laws are inbound. However, this is an expectation that I place on myself, imagining that my mother-in-law is going to be going over every surface with a white glove. I struck out big time in this area. My mother-in-law knows how busy I am and how chaotic our life is. Having raised four kids herself, she understands that children are actually more like mini-tornadoes, reeking destruction and making any effort expended on housework superfluous at times. At the same time, I feel that pressure to have my house in tip-top shape when she walks in the door. And the funny part is, I don’t feel the need to keep the house clean with my in-laws there, just to have it pristine when they walk in.

My husband has told me time again that his house was not perfectly clean growing up, that he had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for many a dinner, and that his saintly mother wielded the wooden spoon once or twice and even swore. Yet I still find myself up against my perception of her: an angelic woman who always serves well-rounded meals and never raised her voice to her children, whom she spent their entire lives cherishing. When comparing myself to this unrealistic ideal, I will always be found wanting.

So, how do we get around this in-law problem? In Creating Healthy Ties with In-Laws and Extended Families, we are given a few pointers for developing a healthy mother/daughter-in-law relationships.

Daughters-in-Law SHOULD: 

  • Communicate openly
  • Accept differences
  • Use empathy
  • Push for relational connection
  • Disclose information about themselves

Mothers-in-Law SHOULD NOT:

  • Give advice (unsolicited)
  • Criticize
  • Pin-down children-in-law as to specific reasons they are missing a family event
  • Take over discipline of grandchildren
  • Try to control everyone and everything including children’s beliefs
  • Communicate unclearly or indirectly

The Mother-in-Law list was actually more of a no-no list for in-laws in general, but I feel that it works specifically for the mother/daughters-in-law relationship. So, how is your relationship with your Mother-in-law? If it is strained, have a candid conversation. If you have a skewed ideal of her as a mom, try calling her up when you're about to lose it with your kids and see what she says. You may just find out she's human!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 12: Transitions in Marriage

The Dread Pirate Roberts Had All the Answers

I found a lot of good quotes from this week’s reading. My favorite was when President Gordon  B. Hinckley, speaking of his relationship with Sister Hinckley, said: “[I] get out of her way, and marvel at what she does.” I love this so much!

Another idea that I really liked had more to do with parenting than marriage: “Give your children regular, daily doses of Vitamin N. This vital nutrient consists simply of the most character-building two-letter word in the English language––‘No’ . . . Unfortunately, many, if not most, of today’s children suffer from Vitamin N deficiency. They have been over-indulged by well-meaning parents who have given them far too much of what they want and far too little of what they truly need” (John Rosemond, Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children).

I believe that many of our society’s problems come from a lack of parenting. It’s much easier in the moment to give into our kids, just to get them off of our backs. But we pay the consequences in the long run. And it’s so much worse now than it used to be, when both children and adults alike are used to having everything at the click of a mouse. If we have to wait longer than ten seconds for an internet page to load, more than five minutes for our McDonald’s order, or more than the promised 2-day shipping courtesy of Amazon Prime, we have a complete meltdown!

Along with impatience-itis, many suffer from the deluded thinking that everything has to be fair—not just kids! I’ve heard many grown-ups complaining of things their adult siblings were given by the parents, and how ‘unfair’ it was. Worse than that, the parents of these adult children sometimes go to great lengths to ‘make it up to’ their supposedly slighted kids. Most of the time, life isn’t fair and that’s just the way it is. I’ve worked hard to disabuse my kids of the notion that everything always has to be equal among them. In fact, when confronted with “but that’s not fair!” I often quote age-old wisdom to my little beasties: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something” (Westley as the Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride).

Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 11: Fidelity and Physical Intimacy

Can you imagine standing before God at the judgement bar? He will ask us if we've fulfilled our stewardships in mortality. I have to admit, I've never pictured Him saying, "So, Misty? How was your sex life on earth? Did you fulfill your sexual stewardship with your husband?"

In Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage, Sean Brotherson compares intimacy between a husband and wife with the temple:

“In our spiritual lives, we are counseled to return to the temple often after we have received our personal temple blessings to give of ourselves in service to others and be reminded of the great and powerful meanings of the standards that we have committed ourselves to live. Likewise, in our marital lives, a frequent return as a couple to the union of sexual intimacy makes it possible to give of ourselves in service to each other and be reminded of the commitment we have made to unity and fidelity and love to our marital companion.”

What a different perspective it provides, viewing our physical relationship with our spouse as something pure as the temple. As I read the above quote, a few parallels between the temple and intimacy popped out at me. First, the temple is a holy and sacred place, and we have to have a recommend to be admitted. Likewise, the sexual relationship between legally wedded husband and wife is also holy and sacred – and the marriage ceremony is the recommend to enter. We also have to come away from the world to participate in both (hopefully). Going to the temple brings us closer to our Father in Heaven, and though I can’t say I’ve believed this before now, that physical relationship brings us closer together as husband and wife, which hopefully brings us closer to God as well.

It’s really tough viewing sex this way, something akin to the purity of the temple, because the world has made such a mess out of it. Even the word ‘sex’ feels dirty because of how it’s been twisted by the adversary. It saddens me that most of the world doesn’t see that relationship as something sacred and special. I personally don’t understand how anyone could make themselves that vulnerable with someone they didn’t absolutely know and trust.

On the other hand, I feel that perhaps we only assume that majority of the world devalues this relationship. We base our opinion of the world’s views mostly on what we see and hear through the media. This is erroneous, because we all know that what is presented in the media has nothing to do with reality! But by flooding us with depictions of immodest and immoral behavior, and presenting those behaviors as generally acceptable, Satan creates a mirage of reality, preventing us from seeing things as they really are. I would bet that if asked, a good portion of people in the world would say that they personally regard the sexual relationship as something important and perhaps even special.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 10: Seeking to Understand

No Ifs, Ands, or BUTTS!

This week, we learned about Gridlock - which is what happens in the blessed marriage state when we can't resolve our perpetual problems. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman says that couples are in Gridlock when "neither can make any headway in getting the other to understand and respect their perspective, much less agree with it. As a result, they eventually view the partner as just plain selfish. Each becomes more deeply entrenched in his or her position, making compromise impossible."

All marriages struggle with perpetual problems, and mine is no different! I think all couples have one or two big ones that just won't go away. Like many other marriages, one of ours is our difference in need for physical affection. For the last 16+ years of our marriage, I have reacted the exact same way when my hubby gets touchy, specifically when he pats my butt. After reading Gottman's book, I know that this action is one of my husband's 'bids for attention', but I still can't help but roll my eyes and feel like a piece of meat every single time. I have expressed this to my husband countless times and he assures me that his fondness for my rear is no indication of disrespect to me. In fact, to him it is just the opposite!

When my husband's dad got home from work every day, the first thing he would do was set his briefcase down, walk over to his wife, bestow a kiss, and give her butt an affectionate little pat. I've known this for years, but it didn't click until this week's reading. For my husband, the butt pat is a symbol of being secure in a relationship. Seeing this affection between his parents made him feel safe as a kid.

My childhood was dramatically different. My mother was in and out of insecure, dysfunctional relationships. I was surrounded by pornography. My mother often spoke about sex in front of me, using vulgar language and way too many details. She joked about it all the time, and eventually I began to despise the way that made me feel. I never had any control over my environment and I often felt trapped and scared. For some reason, I associate anything sexual with this feeling of insecurity.
So, when I feel that hand on my butt, the first thing that comes to mind is, 'Ugh, he's making another sexual advance. Is that all he wants from me?' When, in reality, this habit of his has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with his dream of having a secure relationship like his parents. My dream is to feel safe and in control of my environment, just the opposite of how I grew up. So we find our lines getting crossed all over the place. Once again, I find that my partner is perfect for me in every way - the good and the bad. Indeed, our Father in Heaven "has hooked us up with partners and life experiences that are perfectly suited to grow us toward Godhood" (Goddard, Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage).

I am so grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel, that if we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to put off the natural man (or spouse). We can be perfected in Christ. What a glorious message!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 9: Managing Conflict; Consecrating Ourselves

Houseguests from Hell!

Have you ever had an unwelcome houseguest? Perhaps someone you weren’t thrilled to have staying with you in the first place? After a couple of days you think to yourself, ‘At least they’re leaving tomorrow!’ But when the sun rises, disappointment comes right along with it. You discover that your house guest is enjoying their visit so much, they have no intention of leaving anytime soon!

Sometimes our marital challenges can feel this way. According to The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there are two main types of marital conflict: solvable problems and perpetual problems. Solvable problems tend to be situational, more like annoying dinner guests. Perpetual problems are those issues that keep coming up, day in and day out, year after year—the house guest from hell!

I know that in my almost 17-year-long marriage, I have found myself thinking, ‘Why are we still talking about this? Shouldn’t we have worked it out by now?’ But these unsolvable issues are about more than the issue itself. Much of the time there are deeper tendencies, attitudes, or beliefs underlying them. As these pesky perpetual problems make up 69% of marital conflict, even happily married couples must find a way to co-exist with them. The alternative is to allow their relationship to become flooded with negativity until it drowns. Speaking of successful relationships, Gottman says “. . . these couples remain very satisfied with their marriages because they have hit upon a way to deal with their unmovable problems . . . they’ve learned to keep them in their place and approach them with a sense of humor . . . because they keep acknowledging the problem and talking about it, they prevent it from overwhelming their relationship.”

So, if you have found yourself dreading yet another conversation over the way the bills are paid, or how often you and your partner are intimate, or seemingly insurmountable differences in parenting styles, the best thing you and your partner can do is admit that you have yourselves a perpetual problem. Then you laugh about it together. Keep the nasty little thing out in the open so that it doesn’t creep up and overwhelm you.

In Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, Goddard has a chapter on consecration, which I feel ties in nicely with marital conflict. Most of us think about the law of consecration as being a financial thing. But Goddard insists that “Our marriages are ideal places to practice the law of consecration.” Our problems, both solvable and perpetual, give us just such an opportunity. If we agreed on everything, how would we learn to sacrifice and compromise? How would we put off the natural man if we wanted the same things all the time? Joseph Smith said that “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” I would tweak this phrase: A RELATIONSHIP that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the JOY unto life and salvation. Are we not all more careful with something we have worked for? Do we not jealously guard those things we have sacrificed and saved for? I have to believe that if we consecrate ourselves in marriage and hold nothing back, we will be rewarded with the deepest, sweetest joy imaginable.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 8: Beware of Pride

How many of us would willingly approach a house with a vicious-looking dog snarling at us through the fence? As a kid I had to walk past a dog like this on my way to and from school, and it was the worst part of my day. But after completing this week’s reading, and completing a self-inventory of manifestations of pride, I sort of feel like I should hang this sign around my neck.

This week’s reading was amazing. I have always loved President Benson’s talk on pride, but as I listened to it in the car I felt like this beloved prophet was speaking directly to me. The road rage that so often rears its ugly head is actually a manifestation of pride—that my time is more valuable than the car in front of me. The place I need to be is more important, perhaps even dire, than theirs. I find myself looking around at all the yards and homes that I pass while I am driving. “I sure wish I had a pond and willow tree like that,” I’ll sigh wistfully. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have more land?” “I bet that cute little house has a much smaller payment than ours.” The truth is that less than two years ago we were crammed into what my family lovingly refers to as ‘the shoebox’ on a military base. I’m not sure I was ever happier than when our house was finally finished and we were able to move in and enjoy things we hadn’t had in three years: carpet, a couch big enough to fit our whole family, a kitchen more than two people could fit in, etc. You get the idea. And now I find myself still looking around, envying and coveting everything I don’t have. Pride!

In John Gottman’s book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, the fourth principle is Letting Your Partner Influence You. He even has a section entitled Learning to Yield, which immediately put me in mind of Mosiah 3:19: “For the natural man is an enemy to God . . . unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord . . .”

H. Wallace Goddard also uses this doctrine. In Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage he says, “The natural mind is an enemy to truth” (pg. 71). He also says that “any time we feel irritated with our spouses, that irritation is not an invitation to call our spouses to repentance, but an invitation to call ourselves to repent” (pg. 77). Goddard insists that irritation is actually a blessing to all marriages!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 7: Staying Emotionally Connected


The thing that impacted me the most from this week's reading was a concept from Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage. Author H. Wallace Goddard introduces a mind-blowing idea that I've never even considered, but now seems so obvious to me. Goddard says that ". . . anytime we feel irritated with each other it is an opportunity to grow. Irritation is an invitation to better thinking and acting. Since, in most cases, we are perfectly designed for each other, staying engaged with each other is vital . . . God . . . has hooked us up with partners and life experiences that are perfectly suited to grow us toward Godhood."

We always hear about how perfectly suited marriage partners are for each other because of their strengths, but we rarely hear that their weaknesses make them just as well-matched - possibly even more so!  Think about what this means! My husband's extroversion is completely matched with my introversion, especially when I am socially exhausted one hour into the ward party, and he is just getting started. His need for physical affection is the missing piece to my need for personal space, because conflicts over getting our own needs met versus meeting each other's needs force us to compromise and sacrifice to make our relationship work.

What a wonderful way to view our weaknesses! Without a doubt, I know that we are in God's hands. He has tailored our lives with the challenges that will make us into who He wants us to become. Now it appears that He has done the same with both the good and not-so-good, in both our partners and ourselves!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 6: Cherishing Your Spouse

I didn’t realize what a selfish person I was until I got married. Even after that, I couldn’t really understand the depth of my need for ‘me time’ until I had children. As the only child of parents who were in and out of the picture, I never really had to worry about anyone but myself. I didn’t have to battle anyone for the last brownie or compete for my mother’s attention. But it was extremely lonely, and I often found myself wishing I had a long-long twin somewhere!

About ten years into my marriage, I remember a certain conflict my husband and I had that taught me the principle of sacrifice. We had three kids ages two to eight. I stayed home with our kids while my husband worked and attended school, both full-time. It was an exhausting time for all of us, and yet now I find myself looking back on that time with longing. My children were all still babies, really—small and squishy and in constant need of something. Attending to their needs was physically draining, and I found that I couldn’t wait for them to become just a little more self-sufficient. Escape was my method of coping at that time: girls’ night out, book clubs, Relief Society activities, writing group, even drink-runs with friends. Anything to get me out of the house. What I couldn’t see was that my escape was leaving the one person who should have been top priority out in the cold.

My husband and I were in the car when I mentioned that I had just joined a new book club that would be meeting that week. He didn’t react well to this additional time out of the house, and I immediately became upset. My verbal defense was something along the lines of, “I need to get out of the house! What do you want me to do, never experience anything but you and the kids? I need more than that!” He then calmly brought to my attention the fact that I would be gone every night that week with all of my activities, and he wondered where he fit into things. While it took me a while to simmer down from this confrontation, I soon saw that I hadn’t been making our relationship a priority. So, I decided not to join that book club, which I resented at first. Once I did readjust my focus to my husband, I saw how very much I had neglected him. It is a lesson I will never forget.

It’s tough, putting your partner first—particularly when you have a small army of little people whose needs are so immediate. But, feedings and changings aside, no earthly thing should come before your marriage. Nothing. If any other relationship does so, then there is a problem. This is a lesson I’ve had several times, and I don’t expect it’s over just yet, either. Something I’ve come to see over the years (some of which I’ve prayed to know why life has to be tipped quite so far on the opposition side of the scale) is that marriage and parenthood (family life) is Celestial boot camp. In this stew, all the imperfect ingredients are boiled together, simmering until our reduction is the consistency God wants it to be.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Week 5: Behaviors that Negatively Affect Marriage

Myth Busted: Falling Out of Love 

I believe that ‘falling out of love’ is a myth. When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember learning a profound truth. My husband and I had been married about a year and a half, and the rose colored glasses were getting a bit thin. One day while riding to work, the Spirit taught me something profound: true love isn’t about butterflies or the attraction that brought you and your spouse together. True love is staying with that person when you aren’t feeling those things. True love is made up of sacrifice and compromise and hard work. I used to look at Hollywood couples and marvel at their short shelf life. In the past, I found myself thinking, if a couple who looks like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston can ‘fall out of love’, then what hope do the rest of us ordinary folk have? But herein lies the key. Obviously these beautiful celebrities lose their rosy goggles just like the rest of us. Attraction may be the magnet that draws us together, but it certainly isn’t the glue that holds us together. So if these perfect tens can lose ‘that loving feeling’ as easily as the rest of us, then clearly the secret to a successful marriage has nothing to do with looks or twitterpation. Sorry, Bambi. 

I believe there are several factors to a maintaining a successful and fulfilling marriage. Like so many things in life, it is the Sunday school answers, the little things that we have to constantly work at, that make or break this union that is ordained of God.

First, marriage is not just a promise between two people; it is a covenant each partner makes with God. It is a commitment that we need to follow through on, not an optional situation that we can brush aside as soon as the irreconcilable differences rear their ugly heads.

Second, the way to your sweetheart’s heart is his or her love language: touch, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, or acts of service. Learn which it is, and become fluent in it. My husband used to bring me flowers for every birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, mother’s day, etc., like clockwork. While the roses were beautiful, the gift became a bit predictable, and I also found myself fussing over the cost each time. My husband has learned that the way to my heart is much simpler and cost effective: peanut butter Snickers, Kit-Kat, and Crispy M&Ms to name a few. I still love flowers when they are unexpected or when I am feeling down about something. And I have learned that reaching out to hold his hand while we are grocery shopping, or simply scooting closer to him on the couch make him feel loved.

Third, make time for each other. Go on dates, even if it is a date to the grocery store or a trip to Lowe’s to get something for his latest project. Remember that you came together in the temple, and make the temple a regular part of your dating regimen.

Fourth, always, always put each other first. No other person (friends, siblings, parents, even your own kids) should be above your spouse in priority. Obviously when we are in the child-bearing years, the physical demands of our children tend to take up that first slot and putting each other first is more difficult, but this too shall pass! I have found that my kids love seeing their parents put each other first. After the kids go to bed on Friday nights we usually watch a movie. My middle child will often ask, ‘What are you and dad watching for movie night?’ If we say we’re not watching a movie she gets a little scowl and argues, ‘But it’s Friday, and Friday is movie night!”

Fifth, take care of each other. A few months ago I had a procedure that left me tired, weak, and stressed. At the end of the day I just broke down crying, and my sweet husband held me while I cried. That is the face of true love, in my opinion, the color of what marriage is all about. Not to mention, it brought us closer together and I felt so loved that I could have drowned in it. So, when I hear couples say ‘we just fell out of love’, what I am hearing each time is, ‘we stopped working on our relationship; we stopped communicating; we stopped putting each other first and making time for each other’.

Like our testimonies, our relationships are not self-sustaining. Remember that we aren’t in the Garden of Eden, where lush greenery and perfumed blossoms are growing wild all around us. We are in the lone and dreary world, where thistles, thorns, briars, and noxious weeds are allowed to afflict and torment us. We have to earn our bread, or in this case, our happy marriages, by the sweat of our brows.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 4: Doctrine of Eternal Marriage

As a child, I was terrified of wolves. I used to dream that they were chasing me, biting me, or chowing down on my loved ones. I'm not sure where this fear came from, but seeing as I repeatedly watched The Never Ending Story, I have my suspicions about Gmork - the fearsome creature that dwelt in a darkened cave. This foundationless fear stayed with me, even as an adult, until some combination of Twilight and Shiver cured me of my aversion to wolves. But still, I find that one wolf continues to torment me. Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy described this wolf as "excessive individualism that has spawned today’s contractual attitudes." Until I got married and had children, I had no idea what a truly self-absorbed person I was. Having been raised as an only child (though 'raised' is perhaps a strong word for parents who were in and out of the picture), there was nothing for me to be but selfish. I didn't have to share my toys or make sure I got first dibs on dinner. Whatever parental attention my parents did bestow was given exclusively to me. Sibling rivalry was a completely alien concept to me until my second child was born. Suddenly, "me time" was one of the most precious things I had. With this background, family life has been extremely difficult for me. You might have guessed that I'm an introvert, which makes my flight instinct that much stronger in noisy, chaotic, or overcrowded situations. It doesn't help that the world tells me I should 'look out for number one', 'make sure to get yours', and 'put yourself first'. There is some basis for these theories; after all, if I'm not whole myself how can I take care of my family? It's the airplane scenario of first-attach-your-own-mask-and-then-help-others. But the world takes this so much further. As Elder Hafen says, "The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and now he feverishly exploits it . . . He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone." This is a struggle I deal with almost daily. But it helps to know that Satan is exploiting my personality and history, and that I can defeat him in the end. Once again, I am grateful for the pure doctrine we are taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World: "The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave . . . Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Week 3 - Threats to Marriage

I am not a person who generally follows politics, or even watches the news for that matter. If something big happens in the world, I am likely to know about it only if someone posts about it on Facebook, if it comes up on the Yahoo home page, or if my husband comes home and says "Well, there's been another terrorist attack." I know my lack of attention to world events is pathetic, but I only have so much room in my head. So, when I read the assignment for this week (all 98 pages of it) I was baffled. I had no idea that four of the nine members of the Supreme Court dissented from the majority ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. I couldn't help hearing lines from the Book of Mormon in my head, about wicked versus righteous judges: "And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges" (Alma 10:27). On a lighter note, I kept thinking about Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith as well, when Palpatine takes emergency powers to start his war, effectively tramping out any vestiges of democracy. However, I was thrilled with the four judges who dissented, who had the courage to raise their voices in favor of democracy, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. My favorite quote was from Chief Justice Roberts: "Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty . . . Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples . . . Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today." (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015). Supreme Court of the United States) What the Supreme Court's majority ruling did for this country was not granting liberty to a minority. It was taking liberties from the rest of us. Bakeries who refuse to make wedding cakes for a same-sex weddings are fined. Therapists are now, by law, unable to give counseling to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. Think about what that means for a second! The government is telling individuals that they are not allowed to address something they see as an issue. One could say that they are not only encouraging but forcing people to be gay. One school district in Washington introduces same-sex lifestyles to their Kindergarten students as part of the curriculum. And that same school district, in fourth grade, has students "choose" which sexual orientation they are. Fourth grade - long before any child has any sort of sexual tendency unless it has been introduced to them. If I opt my children out of their family life unit because same-sex lifestyles are being taught as normal and completely acceptable, then I am a religious fanatic, or worse, a "bigot". There is no question in my mind that religious liberty will continue to be restricted by our government. A line is being drawn, and we must decide which side of the question we are on. How grateful I am to have The Family Proclamation! How blessed we are as a church to have a quorum of prophets, seers, and revelators up in the tower, watching the horizon for danger.

Monday, September 26, 2016


For one of my classes we had to create a marriage blog. Since I already have a family blog, which I haven't posted to in over five years, I decided to just use it. The topic we are blogging about this week is divorce. I found this week's reading about divorce, and the effects it has on children and society as a whole, very interesting. While all the statistics rang true for me, I couldn't help thinking about how different those stats look from the inside. My parents married young when they found out they were pregnant with me. The marriage didn't last long, being something right out of 'The Dysfunctional Home Show' (any In Living Color fans out there??). After the divorce, my mother remarried an alcoholic abuser. They were married for nine years, and as such, Mom's second husband raised me from age 3-12. He was the only father I really knew, having had virtually no contact with my biological father until the courts forced me to. My stepfather, who I called 'Dad', drank and smoked. Pornography was more like bathroom reading in my house - Friday night movie rentals were the ones you had to ask the counter attendant for. Drunken rages often ended in physical abuse and calls to the police. Obviously, my home life was anything but healthy or stable. And still, when my mom and dad sat me down to inform me of their divorce, it felt as though the trailer we lived in had been nudged off its foundation. My entire world shifted. If I had to compare this sensation to anything, I would say it resembles thinking you are on an island. When the island suddenly begins to pitch to and fro, take on water, and eventually sink, you realize you have been on a boat all along. It is beyond terrifying, and causes you to question everything you thought you knew. And yet, there is no contesting the fact that some marriage relationships, with their contagious, toxic environments, are far more damaging to children than divorce. Reading all of these statistics makes me think that marriage prep classes should be required for a marriage license - just like blood tests. Think of the classes, practice hours, and certification test that are required for a driver's license. People going into marriage should be told before hand that it's not always a picnic. That loving a person doesn't mean you will always like them. That the commitment they are making needs to be valued above physical attraction, fun, or any other reason they are so crazy about each other. They need to know that there will be hard times, that everyone has them, and that successful marriage are not 50/50; they are 100/100.