I was inspired by a young South African couple I met during a recent devotional on strengthening families. The husband shared an experience he had with his wife. They ate breakfast one Sunday morning, and like many rural couples, walked two hours to Church, participated in three hours of meetings, and then walked two hours home. They were tired and hungry, of course, but they were also out of food. They eventually went to bed.
At about 2:00 AM they woke, their stomachs growling. He felt terrible that he hadn’t provided food for his wife. He was concerned how she was feeling about him. Instead of acting sad or angry, she teased him about the funny noises his stomach was making. They both laughed together and fell asleep.
He expressed appreciation for her kindness, support, and loyalty. He said, “She could have left me. It is my responsibility to support her. But we are the same.”
When asked to share her thoughts about the experience, his wife said, “He is my best friend. He does so much for me. When I have problems with people at work, he gives me advice and helps me feel better.”
It was evident that this couple is working through life’s challenges together. In his words, they are “the same.” Having no food was not “his” problem or “her” problem, but “their problem. They did not treat the lack of food as a major marriage crisis, but as a temporary setback that they would work through together. They used humor to soften the situation. They demonstrated faith by going to sleep, anticipating that they could improve their situation the following day.
I sensed that this man and woman are not only committed to each other, but they are committed to God. They have faith that if they keep His commandments, He will help them work through challenges. This couple emanates a quiet confidence, a feeling of peace and serenity. They are enjoying the journey of life together as husband and wife. They are truly being blessed by a kind, loving Heavenly Father.
Each of us can experience similar blessings in our marriages. The Lord has provided a pattern for us to follow to achieve unity in marriage, and unity with God. Our first parents, Adam and Eve established the pattern for us to follow. We learn in the scriptures that the Lord created Adam and Eve, and then He counselled all of us, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Moses 3:24).
Adam and Eve did cleave to each other. They were blessed in their relationship as they kept the commandments and followed the Lord’s counsel. Adam and Eve did not allow the challenges that came into their lives to separate them from each other physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
What did Adam and Eve do?
- They worked together: “…Adam began to till the earth…and Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him” (Moses 5:1).
- They prayed together.” And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord…” (Moses 5:4).
- The mourned together over their wayward children. Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren” (Moses 5:27). Also Handbook 2 Administering the Church 2010, 1.3.1).
How can husbands and wives cleave to each other and to God today, amid all of the demands of life and the distractions of the world? Prophets provide inspired answers to this question.
Prophets counsel us to “give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities” (Handbook 2 Administering the Church 2010, 1.4.1). We must set aside, and turn away from things that distract us from our marriages and our families. We must simplify our lives, and give highest priority to basic worship activities in our homes.
We must spend time with those we live. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf told of a nurse who cares for the terminally ill. He related, “She has often asked a simple question of her patients as they prepared to depart this life. ‘Do you have any regrets?’ she would ask. Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.” President Uchtdorf counseled, “Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, ”Of Regrets and Resolutions,” Ensign, November 2012); (See also Susie Steiner, “Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” Guardian, Feb. 1, 2012).
During a particularly busy time in our lives, Sister Cook and I found it challenging to incorporate all of the counsel of the prophets into our family life. She was occupied in caring for our children and our home. I was involved in a demanding career and a busy Church calling. We were doing our best to have regular prayers, scripture study, family home evening and family activities, but we had very little time together as a couple.
On day I was going to the hardware store to buy a board to make a repair to our home. Sister Cook asked if she could go with me. I was surprised that she wanted to take time out of her busy day to go to the hardware store, but I agreed. A few days later I had to deliver some papers to a neighbor. Once again, Sister Cook asked if she could go along. This pattern continued until I finally asked her why she was acting so strangely.
After some prodding, she told me that she had been reading her scriptures. She turned to Doctrine and Covenants Section 25, the Lord’s revelation to Emma, wife of the prophet Joseph Smith. The lord acknowledged Emma as “an elect lady' (D&C 25:3), and admonished her to be a comfort to her husband “in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness” (D&C 25:5).
Sister Cook then revealed the verse that inspired her recent behavior. “And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going” (D&C 25:6). During personal scripture study, the spirit prompted Sister Cook to find ways to spend more time with me. One way was to run errands with me. I found that I enjoyed having Sister Cook “go with me at the time of my going.” The pleasant time we shared together caused me to look for ways to spend more time with her. Her small act of love led to increased unity in our marriage.
Cleaving to each other requires faith, diligence, and persistence. As we make our marriage and family relationships our highest priority, we are richly blessed. Elder L. Whitney Clayton said, “The promises of the Lord are extended to all those who follow the pattern of life that builds happy, holy marriage relationships. Such blessings come as the delightful, predictable consequences of faithfully living the gospel of Jesus Christ” (L. Whitney Clayton, “Marriage: Watch and Learn,” Ensign, May 2013).
May each of us cleave unto our eternal companion and to God, and reap the associated blessings.
“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
“The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991, 71).