I come from a typical post-WWII California family. My parents were married in 1946 and had seven children within ten years. We were not LDS at first. Although we had our quarrels and disagreements, I grew up with happy memories of a loving family with four older sisters and one brother, my other brother having died shortly after his birth.
Although I don’t remember much of the first few years of my life, we have family videos that show lots of happy scenes – visits to parks, local Southern California attractions and vacations. Because both my parents worked, my grandmother took care of me until I was old enough for school. Life was good in our little family growing up in the sixties.
As I matured, I observed my parents in a different way for the first time – as a married couple. I watched how my father treated my mother. He was and is a kind and gentle man. He adored my mother and wanted to give her everything he could to help her be happy. I know she loved and appreciated him as she told me so many, many times.
The priesthood in marriage
My mother was an incredibly talented and intelligent woman, independent and used to taking charge. She was well educated and was a teacher. There is no doubt that she ran our house – just ask anyone else in my family. She got her way on most everything but dad didn’t seem to mind. There was little or no ego there – he was OK with her style.
When my family joined the church, my father entered a world that was difficult for him but which he accepted dutifully. Raised on a farm, dad was quiet and kind to his bothers and sisters. His dad worked hard on the farm and so did my dad – physical manual labor. Family leadership for dad meant providing food for the family. He also prepared it.
So when my parents learned that fathers are to preside in the home, mother did her best to encourage dad to take charge in family prayer, family scripture reading and family home evening. It worked for awhile but was just too foreign to dad’s nature. He was too easy going to enforce any routine on his family, but was always responsive to mother’s urging.
Dealing with stress in marriage
When mother struggled with frustration in her life, dad was always the calming, soothing influence in our home. He just wanted everyone to be happy. When mother was going through her difficulties with priesthood leadership, dad was very supportive. When her LDS bookstore failed, he took it in stride even though it meant a loss of their life savings.
Sure dad got frustrated with mother. He told me so. When he was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, mother sold his car without asking or telling him. Nobody knows why she did it. When he got home and found it missing he just figured she wanted the security of having some ready cash on hand. Yes, my dad is amazing.
Because of dad’s example, I am by nature a relatively easy-going kind of guy too. I am not particularly ambitious and am satisfied with very little. When I read of the success of others my age in business or academics or finances I am not filled with envy or desire to be like them. I am more interested in being a peacemaker and sharing my knowledge.
A family in today’s world
When I first married, I brought with me the idea that I would take care of earning the living and my wife would take care of the finances and raising the children. I found an early love for computers and have been making a middle class living most of my life. Several things have made my own marriage different from my parent’s experience.
Like my parents, we both have had to work to make ends meet. We tried to follow the advice of prophets and did all we could to live within our means. I don’t know if living in California is all that more expensive than where you live but living on my income alone was just not going to cut it. Finances have always been a struggle in our marriage.
Unlike my parents, we both came to marriage as true believing and active Latter-day Saints, married in the temple. That has made a huge difference in the way we approach life’s challenges and opportunities. There has always been a commitment to work things out. Although we have both been tempted, divorce has never been a serious option.
Based on teachings of prophets
“Soul mates are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”
Do you recognize that quote? It is from President Spencer W. Kimball and was a great influence on me in choosing my sweetheart and asking her to marry me. We had a lot in common. We were both active LDS returned missionaries. We both studied computers in our local community college. We both came from average middle-class families.
I think the thing that has served us best in our 26 years of marriage is our commitment to the Lord which I hope is equal to our commitment to each other. The Lord commands men to love their spouses with ALL their hearts. That is also how he commands us to love him. The Lord knew that men would need to be commanded in this area and it works.
Summary and conclusion
I feel like my investment in our marriage is just beginning to pay off. I have done my best to love and encourage my sweetheart for many years and suffered with her as she struggled with self-esteem and self-image problems. You can read her story on her blog. I don’t know what has happened to her lately, but I am amazed at the powerful changes.
Our marriage is vitally important to me. I am more interested in seeing my wife blossom than I am in my own fulfillment and satisfaction. I am convinced that the Lord will take care of my needs as I take care of what Carol needs from me. The Lord has been so very patient with me and blessed me with a father who provided a great example of patience.
There is a sacred power in marriage. It is the kind of power that can change lives. I am witnessing a miracle in the making. Carol has lost 70 pounds in the last year. It is going to take her more time to get to a healthy weight. Now the pressure is on me to follow her wonderful example. I wish I knew her secret to motivation and could bottle and sell it.