President Uchtdorf’s address in the general priesthood meeting follows a pattern he introduced some years ago: it addresses both men and women and families of all sorts.
“. . . the same principles apply for our dear sisters.”
“These principles of saving relationships apply to all of us, regardless of whether we are married, divorced, widowed, or single. We all can be saviors of strong families.”
I The Ethos of the Disposable
The first world seems to have become the world of replacements. When something starts to degrade, wear out, or we grow tired of it, or it ceases to be fashionable, we dispose of it in favor of the next new thing: cell phones, cars, clothing and President Uchtdorf states: even relationships. When that ethos is applied to our families or marriages the result can be deep remorse.
President Uchtdorf asserts that Latter-day Saints are known as valuing families, and “having some of the finest marriages. . . ”
I believe this is in part, due to the precious truth restored by Joseph Smith that marriages and families are meant to be eternal. Families are not just meant to make things run more smoothly here on earth, and to be cast off when we get to heaven. Rather, they are the order of heaven. They are an echo of a celestial pattern and an emulation of God’s eternal family.
The assertion covers much historical ground, but it clearly represents the current teachings among Latter-day Saint leaders. If strong marriages are a hallmark of Mormonism as President Uchtdorf asserts, they are not simply the result of doctrinal positioning. Strong marriages and relationships require “constant intentional work.” LDS doctrine “must inspire us” to our best efforts in saving our eternal relationships.
II Strengthening Marriage.
President Uchtdorf notes that he has officiated in sealing many couples. They do not start out looking across the altar anticipating divorce and heartbreak. But some marriages to end. While tragic discoveries sometimes happen, or drastic personality changes can occur, there are other forces that can work against any marriage. Romantic love changes over time and sometimes we stop thinking of the happiness of a spouse instead playing up faults, and coming to the conclusion that our spouse is not smart enough, fun enough, or young enough. The logic may lead to justifications for looking elsewhere.
Brethren, if this comes close to describing you at all, I warn you that you are on a road that leads to broken marriages, broken homes, and broken hearts. I plead with you to stop now, turn around, and come back to the safe path of integrity and loyalty to covenants.
III. To the Single Men
Some brethren yield to the deception that must find the “perfect woman” before they can enter into serious courting or marriage. “Brethren, may I remind you, if there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?”
The plan of salvation requires us to seek for someone “with whom we can join efforts to create a lasting” relationship. That is the goal.
IV. Principles for Better Marriages
Those who succeed in marriage know that it takes patience and the blessings of Christ’s atonement. It requires us to be kind, envy not, seek not your own, be not easily provoked, think no evil, rejoice in truth. The Pauline qualities of charity are needed to triumph. And it is not instantaneous. We need time to learn, time to teach, time to find humility.
Because no matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow . . . be not weary in well doing . . .
V. Look for the Good.
Everyone has irritations in relationships. Choose to find the positive. Marriages do not end when partners are happy. Make the work of a better relationship one that is pleasant. Look for the positive in family members and friends. In a marriage, remember why you fell in love. Work to deliver happiness to your partner. Every marriage, every friendship, every family has has imperfections, moments of awkwardness, we are not identical and those differences yield richness and improvement if we can be flexible in our expectations.
But there are times when loved ones are thoughtless, immoral, hurtful, even evil. No solution covers every case. But in general we must counsel together and seek the will of God. What is right for one relationship, one family, may not be right for another. But one thing is sure: the beginning and end of the solution must be within the bonds of charity. “Charity never faileth.”
Sincerely apologizing to your children, your wife, your family, or your friends is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Is being right more important than fostering an environment of nurturing, healing, and love? Build bridges; don’t destroy them. Even when you are not at fault, perhaps especially when you are not at fault. Let love conquer pride. If you do this, whatever adversity you are facing will pass, and because of the love of God in your hearts, contention will fade.
Selfless love is the fabric of the plan of salvation.