image hereSo why do we like each other so much? What's up with the world anyway? Why the love songs? Why the romantic comedies? Why the politics? Why the obsession and the gossip and the scandals and the ALL WE EVER TALK ABOUT IS RELATIONSHIPS-NESS?
(Seriously. If love wasn't on the earth, we'd have nothing at all to talk about.)
In the Proclamation to the World, it says:
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan....Go here to read the whole thing.
Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.
So back to my question. Why are we obsessed with love and marriage? Why do we bother looking for a companion when, statistically, half of us will end in divorce? What drives us to begin such a seemingly hopeless endeavor?
Because the family is ordained of God.
Frankly, we keep on keepin' on because that's how we were made.
But it's so much more than just the perpetuation of our species. It is my belief that Heavenly Father created us with a very specific idea in mind. To be happy. (See this scripture for further information.) And you know what? He knew that it wasn't possible to be happy by ourselves.
Disclaimer: If you're not happy as a single adult, you won't be happy as a married one. The commandment to get married does not exclude you from living a full, rich, independent life. You still need to be your own person and know who you are. But you will never reach your full potential on your own.
I am not an expert on marriage. But in our just-got-married-yesterday/I-can't-remember-life-without-him eight years of matrimony, we have learned three 'secrets' to marital bliss.
1. You have to actually be married.
Commitment counts. Countless studies have proven time and again that married couples are significantly happier than singles - or even those who simply live together. Something about publicly binding yourself to one person can actually increase love. It's true. You can read about it here and here and here and here.
And for those of you who are already married and think you're off the hook for this one, go back and read that line up there again. Commitment counts. If you're married, be married. This means divorce is not an option. Ever. So no "we'll stay married UNLESS ...." lists. No. No. Stop. You will stay married. Period.
This leads to:
2. Selflessness and sacrifice.
(I don't know why this picture represents selflessness. But apparently Google Images thinks it does.)
I firmly believe that any two decent people can make a marriage work if they're willing to pay the price. (I learned that from President Spencer W. Kimball.)
It means bending yourself to the other. It means putting their needs before your own. It means giving 100% of yourself ... and not expecting anything in return. No "I'll change this about me IF he changes that about him." Just "I will change for him because I love him" ... even if you don't like him all that much at the time.
I don't believe in soul mates. I don't believe that in heaven we pranced around promising enduring love throughout the eternities, with desperate pleas to find each other on earth.
Instead, I believe that we have to work hard to become one another's soul mates.
This means change.
But WAIT! you say. I want to marry someone who loves me for who I am! you say. I shouldn't have to change! you say. CORRECT! I say. And yet change you will, and change you must. Because that's what marriage is all about: Loving the other without the change, but changing yourself because you love the other.
That's why it's so hard.
[And let me just say something right here. To make a marriage the joyful state of ecstasy that I know God intends, it takes two. TWO people working hard to sacrifice and change. That said, everyone has ups and downs. Sometimes one person will be working harder than the other. One will be giving, giving, giving without getting anything back. Sometimes BOTH will be down in the dumps. That's why the whole commitment thing is so important - to get us through the normal ebb and flow of human nature.]
3. This is where God comes in.
Now, I would be stupid to claim that a non-religious couple can't make it. Nonsense. I know plenty of happily married couples that don't go to church. And plenty of unhappy couples who do.
What I will say is this: Heavenly Father makes it a heckuva a lot easier. That's because when that one spouse is struggling, or when both of you are losing focus, He's there to remind you. A covenant marriage involves three people: husband, wife, and the Lord. That way, one of you is always pulling. And that one (the Lord) is pulling harder than the other two could ever manage on their own.
Not to mention the fact that changing one's very nature to match someone else is nothing short of a miracle. And the Lord? He knows miracles.
So there we are. That's it. One, two, three. All the little tips and advice (like communication, prayer, date nights, lots of intimacy, etc.) somehow fit into one of those three categories. Just three secrets, when it comes right down to it.
Pssst. I want you to know something.
I sure love My Man.
I love him because he's hot. Because he makes me laugh. Because he's fascinating. Because he's a wonderful father. Because I could talk to him for several decades and not come close to being done.
And yet -
If he were in an accident that rendered him speechless - mindless - bruised and battered and broken - I would still love him.
I love him because love is a gift from God. It is the very best gift of all.
What do you love about your spouse?