Monday, May 13, 2013

Realistically Ever After

Ever since graduating high school and beginning college, there are those milestones that I see myself and my friends cross over that really make me feel like an adult. And in this day and age of social media, you can clearly track them. College graduations, marriages, children, the beginning of real careers. And sadly another one of those things I have been seeing is friends my age having to go through divorce. It really hurts my heart to have to see.

Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel like everything I have been watching and reading in the past few months is about how basically marriage is great while it lasts, but eventually unhappiness is inevitable. In one week alone, I watched three separate movies unintentionally that all blatantly taught that message. "Hey, enjoy it while it lasts, because soon [insert problem ie jobs, kids, aging, etc] is going to come along, and one or both of you will be left unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and out of love."

It was really frustrating to watch. And I think I realized that I was starting to believe it in tiny ways creeping in on my thoughts. It's easy for that idea to creep in when all you seem to see on entertainment news or social media is people getting divorced after years together, citing reasons of "just not being in love anymore," "drifting apart," or "irreconcilable differences."

I still am so perturbed that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are on tabloid covers for "marriage turmoil" because of what he said at the Oscars when he thanked his wife and said about his marriage: "It's good. It is work, but it's the best kind of work. And there's no one I'd rather work with." The fact that so many people are distorting what I think are really sweet (and realistic) words makes me so upset with society.

There is plenty of advice about how to make a marriage work. I've read a few things, but to be completely honest, I never have to look beyond the contents of for wonderful and inspired advice on marriage. Years and years and years of advice. Just last month, there was this beautiful talk.

My marriage is only shy of two years old, and I know I am no marriage expert. I know that it's not always going to be newlywed bliss. Children are going to change our relationship and probably make the highs higher and the lows lower. Getting older in general and the challenges you face in life will also do that. But I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that marriage can last for forever, and it is worth fighting for because you can have lasting happiness. I just love what Elder Clayton says in his talk: "I have observed that in the happiest marriages both the husband and wife consider their relationship to be a pearl beyond price, a treasure of infinite worth."

As a teenager, I remember my mom counseling someone close to her over the phone who was beginning the separation process from their spouse. She asked, "how often do you pray together??" (the answer was never) Again in college, a girl in my student ward remembered being so bold in asking her youth leader how and why she had gotten divorced. The woman said, "honestly,  I think it all began when we stopped praying together." Also just last week (I'm giving away how much tv I have watched, no!), Katie Couric was interviewing Mark Burnett (creator of "Survivor") and his wife Roma Downey ("Touched by an Angel" girl) and they too said that the reason they are still holding hands and are happy in their marriage is because of prayer. And I wonder how many people watching that interview scoffed at them.

I just read another book about marriage by the professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece who wrote about saving her marriage that divorce papers had been filed for. I read it because it was causing quite a conniption in people when she said that it is important to be submissive in marriage, and I wanted to see if that's what she really meant to say. She got wrongly criticized, because what she was saying is that wives should serve their husbands, AND VICE VERSA. She has it figured out. Marriage is not a one man show, and you can't expect to make it work if you're only ever thinking of yourself.

Like I said, I've been thinking a lot lately of all the things that need to happen to make a marriage work.   And in thinking about it, there's a lot more I could talk about. But I feel very strongly about these two:
Prayer and service.

It's so simple but it works.

I'm no marriage expert, but that's my two bits to the volumes of advice about relationships that are out there. I love being married, and I want to continue to love being married. I want others to love being married. I want others to want to get married. I just want us all to be happy. And despite what the world says, I really think it's possible. That's not to say there won't be difficult times. It's still life. But how sweet it is to know that you really can have your own happily ever after, if you're willing to work for it.

So there you go, thanks for listening.


  1. I still think about that RS lesson/comment in college too. It's interesting what thoughts stay with you 5 years later.

  2. Well said Annie! You are exactly right, marriage is thinking of your spouse before you think of yourself. I really think that remembering the Lord in our relationships is the key to success. Thanks for writing this ;)

  3. you are definitely right. thank you for being able to put into words something that is so important and can easily be twisted.

  4. I loved that talk from conference. It really is so true what you said. Prayer/keeping the spirit in your home is so important! My mom told me once that their sealer told them to pray morning and night together to keep the spirit with them and keep satans power at bay. My mom said that she and my dad never did those things very well and she thinks if they had, they probably wouldn't have gotten divorced. As soon as they stopped doing those simple things, it let satan in to cause contention and other issues. It's sad when young couples get divorced. I know there are other serious issues that arise, but I wish too that everyone could have happy marriages!

  5. Loved your words and your take on marriage Annie. I know some people don't like to call marriage "work" but I think it does take work. Love should come natural but day to day one has to work on the relationship to make it grow and make it beautiful.