Marriage vs. Cohabitation

I am currently taking a marriage prep class for my major at BYU-Idaho.  This week we have been talking about how important commitment is to a relationship.  In our society we have seen an increase of couples who choose to live together prior to marriage.  This is often seen as a trial marriage to test the waters of marriage without the commitment.  Some may suggest that this is beneficial and would create stronger marriages, but the research clearly indicates that cohabitation doesn’t lead to stronger marriages.  For my class we have been reading, How To Avoid Falling In Love With A Jerk, by John Van Epp.  He outlines several reasons why it is important to forgo cohabitation and exercise faith in the marriage commitment.  I want to share a few quotes from his book in support of marriage.

  1. “Marital commitment by definition, includes faith and risk.  You cannot practice or test this type of commitment.” (pg. 280).
  2. “…those who practice marriage by premarital cohabitation are actually less effective in marriage than those who take the leap of faith from singlehood into matrimony.”(pg.278)
  3. “The final step of making a commitment to marry does involve risk and require greater responsibility, but it must be taken to gain a greater sense of security and oneness in the quality of your relationship.” (pg. 281)

Marriage does require faith, and there is always a risk in putting your trust in a potential spouse.  However, if you want to have a successful marriage, you need to make a commitment to marriage, not just a practice commitment with a built in escape clause.

Check out Van Epp’s book here:http://www.amazon.com/How-Avoid-Falling-Love-Jerk/dp/0071548424/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457489770&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+avoid+falling+in+love+with+a+jerk

An interview with my parents

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I was raised in a great home with loving parents who taught me the gospel and helped my to become the person that I am today.  My parents weren’t strict, but I knew what was expected of me.  They were always there to guide me and help me when I needed them.  For my class, I chose to interview my parents about their parenting style.

What influenced your parenting style

  • Our love for our children and our desire to raise our children to love the gospel, develop a testimony and live the commandments.  We also raised our children the way that Dad was raised.  Not too strict, but everyone knew the rules.

What is your parenting style?

  • Not overly strict, but our children always knew what we expected of them.  We wanted our children to have fun and we tried not to get too serious.  We allowed our children to learn from their mistakes, but we were always there to give direction and help them through.
  • Mom:  I learned from my mother that it is OK to make mistakes and I tried to be that way as a mother too.  To be patient with my children and allow them to make mistakes.

What were your objectives as parents?

  • We wanted to raise our children to become strong and independent adults.  We wanted to raise kids that would grow to be active in the church, serve missions, be married in the temple, be educated, develop good life skills and be able to raise families of their own.  We wanted our boys to be worthy priesthood holders.  We wanted our children to set good goals and be surrounded by positive peer pressures.

How do you believe that you followed your own ideal?

  • We feel like we did a pretty good job.  As parents, we always saw eye to eye on parenting.  We were on the same page.  Our children have all grown to become adults that we are very proud of.

What were your greatest challenges as parents?

  • Dad: Not showing enough love and affection.  I felt like I didn’t give enough hugs or tell my kids that I loved them.  I didn’t come from an overly affectionate home, so that didn’t come naturally.  (For the record, I always knew that my dad loved us…without a doubt!)
  • Mom: It was challenging to not always know what to do.  It was also a challenge as a mother to feel like there were never enough hours to get everything done.

What are your greatest joys as parents?

  • Dad: We have 5 of them! (His children)
  • Seeing our children grow to be successful adults and having families of their own and watching them do the same things with their children.  We are blessed with our grandchildren and they bring us joy.  Our children all had good friends, good values and good education.  Looking back we can see all the blessings that have come to our children through prayer.  It brings us joy to see our children progress through their covenants of baptism and temple marriage and to see our sons as worthy priesthood holders.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Happiness in family life

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Two views on happiness in family life.  One secular and the other spiritual.  Both offer great ways that we can experience happiness in family life.

I found an article written by Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist.  He gave 5 tips to finding happiness in family life.  His tips were:

1. Parents that endorse each other are happier.  They convey to their children that they respect and love their spouse.

2. Happy families value their extended family.

3. They schedule time to plan and carry out fun activities to do together.

4. In happy families, parents set the example of giving compliments.  They compliment each other as well as their children.  Children will then follow that example.

5. Parents are careful with their language.  They do not use sarcasm, cutting remarks, or bad language.  They are careful with their criticism.

I really enjoyed this article and the advice that was given.  I felt that the counsel given was very much in line with the proclamation on the family.  I definitely can see value to what was presented in the article, and I believe that these 5 tips could increase love and happiness within a family.

In comparison, I chose to read an article by Thomas S. Monson.  It was a First Presidency Message from the Ensign from October 2001.  The title is “Hallmarks of a Happy Home”.  In this article, President Monson teaches us that happy homes are built on 4 things.

1. Prayer. President Monson counsels that in adaptation to our personal prayer, families need to pray together.

2. Learning.  Our homes should be filled with good books and we should seek learning. Parents are encouraged to read to their children. Parents should be an open book of learning for their children.  Their children should be able to look to them and desire to follow their examples.

3. Love.  Children need to feel the love of their family.  President Monson counseled parents to “choose your love; love your choice.” Parents need to be committed to the success of their marriage and be willing to forgive and apologize as need be.  Children should also see their parents love and serve others around them.

4. Testimony.  Our homes should be a place where we teach the gospel and grow in our testimonies.

The counsel given in these two articles were very different, but I feel that both had value and I gained insight from each of them to help me strengthen my family and increase happiness in our family life.  One insight that I gained from both of them was that we need to be focused on our families and that happiness in family life is dependent on our actions.  We need to put forth effort and have a desire to work hard on these relationships that are so valuable to us.  I shared what I learned with my husband and our children.  We discussed ways that we can implement the counsel given in both of these articles to increase happiness within our own family.

Becoming equal parnters

“Temple marriage covenants do not magically bring equality to a partnership. Those covenants commit us to a developmental process of learning and growing together—by practice.

“. . . Equal partnerships are not made in heaven—they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time. And getting there is hard work.”

Bruce C. Hafen, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” Ensign, Aug. 2007, 28

I love this quote.  We cannot neglect our marriages and assume that we can have a celestial marriage if we are not working on it.  It doesn’t just happen, and it is not a guarantee.

What are you doing to make your marriage strong?  That is a question that I am pondering today.

Traditions

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For my Family Proclamation class, I chose to make a list of our family’s traditions and categorize them as formal or informal.  The idea of the project was to look at the traditions that are currently in place and see if there were any the needed to be discontinued.  Elder Hallstrom said this about family traditions in his conference talk from October, 2000:

Unwanted traditions are those which lead us away from performing holy ordinances and keeping sacred covenants. Our guide should be the doctrine taught by the scriptures and the prophets. Traditions which devalue marriage and family, abase women or do not recognize the majesty of their God-given roles, honor temporal success more than spiritual, or teach that reliance upon God is a weakness of character, all lead us away from eternal truths.

Of all the traditions we should cultivate within ourselves and our families, a “tradition of righteousness” should be preeminent.

Our traditions:

Formal

  • Family prayer each night before bed
  • Family scripture study each night before bed
  • Prayers before dinner
  • Family Home Evening on Monday nights
  • Special birthday dinners.  The birthday boy/girl gets to choose what and where to eat.
  • 7-11 a fun game that we play each Thanksgiving.
  • Christmas eve dinner.  We have a fancy dinner followed by a nativity reading with Christmas carols
  • Christmas eve pajamas and a book for each child
  • The pickle ornament.  Santa hides a pickle ornament  on our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  The person who finds the pickle receives a special gift.
  • Father’s blessings before the start of each school year.
  • Sunday’s are missionary prep days for the boys.  They are in charge of cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes after dinner.  They practice skills that they will need to have when they are on their own in the mission field.
  • Family trip to Utah each summer to spend time with family and cousins.
  • Special Valentines dinner as a family with heart shaped pizza.

Informal

  • Homemade pizza once a week
  • Play would you rather at dinner time
  • Saturday morning donuts
  • Everyone reports the best part of their day at family dinner
  • holiday baking
  • Mom and Dad tuck each boy in bed at night with hugs, kisses, and the bedbug phrase

    Goodnight, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. If they do, swat them with your shoe and they’ll turn black and blue and I love you!…Me too!

  • Donuts before our drive to Utah

Some traditions that we want to implement

  • Hike the Y every summer
  • Celebrate “Boxing Day” the day after Christmas.  My husband served his mission in England and it would be fun to bring an English tradition into our home.
  • Cookie dates.  Weekly couples counsel while enjoying cookies.  My instructor shared this idea with us in my Family Proclamation class.  What a fun way to connect with your spouse, discuss marriage and parenting issues and also just enjoy spending time together.

This is a great article about family traditions with a list of traditions that you can implement into your own families.

Provident Providers

Work and self reliance

WP_000766The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.

From this we learn that as parents, it is our duty to provide and care for our children.  To take care of their physical and spiritual needs.  We also need to teach them to love and serve one another.  I think that part of that is teaching them the skills that they need to be self-reliant so that they can then love and serve others.  President Marion G. Romney said this:

“Without self-reliance one cannot exercise these innate desires to serve. How can we give if there is nothing
there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come
from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak.”

In order for us and our children to be able to love and serve others, we must first learn to care and provide for ourselves.

I believe that it is so important to serve and give to others.  The mentality of the world today seems to be “what’s in it for me?”,  “What do I get out of it?” or “How can I get more stuff with as little effort as possible”?  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are taught to be self-reliant.  Work is viewed as a gift and many blessings come to us as we strive to work hard to support and care for ourselves, our families and others in need.  I believe that we can keep our children from the entitlement trap by teaching them to be self-reliant, developing gratitude and cultivating a good work ethic.

Elder L. Tom Perry said this,

“I am convinced there are thousands of ways for families to build self-reliance by working together in productive pursuits. Perhaps a good family home evening discussion could produce some ideas to help make your family unit more temporally self-reliant.”

L. Tom Perry, “Becoming Self-Reliant,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 66

I have created a FHE lesson in response to Elder Perry’s suggestion to discuss with our families ways to become more self-reliant.  It can be found here.

As I was studying this topic of self-reliance, I came across this quote:

“All honest work is the work of God.”

–D. Todd Christopherson

This quote really puts into perspective the mundane tasks that mother’s often perform.  Hard work is valuable, but sometimes it feels unappreciated.  I love this quote because it reminds me that even when I am sweeping the floor for the tenth time, or tackling the never ending laundry pile, or cooking yet another meal, or kissing a scuffed up knee, I am doing the work of God.  It is what we are meant to do and we can find joy and self-worth in these tasks.

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