Are you a Saver or a Spender?

Our first child was born a year after we were married.  I had graduated with my bachelor’s degree in nursing, but my husband still had a year to finish his chemical engineering degree and a couple years after that to finish his MBA.  During that time, he was working, going to school and we were extremely careful with our finances.  So, I was surprised when he said that he was going to put $25 every month into our baby’s college education fund.  How could we afford that?  And college for our baby?  That felt like forever away.  It seemed like a huge sacrifice at the time, but as I look back, we always had enough to get by and now that baby is actually in college on full-ride scholarship with an additional $30,000.00 in his education fund to help him get through medical school!  That small amount added up each month and my husband added extra whenever he could so that all 9 of our children have substantial education funds for college.

My husband and I were both taught the importance of saving money in our homes growing up.  We have paid off our credit cards monthly and have always put money into savings.  We went without things early on which has allowed us to enjoy many more “luxuries” now.  My husband taught me the importance of spending money on “assets that produce income” early on so that later in life we could easily purchase things that “consume income” without going into debt for them.  In the book, Till Debt do us Part, Poduska said, “My neighbor, a certified public accountant, once said that from a financial standpoint there are really only two kinds of people: spenders and savers.  He maintains that spenders tend to be in debt, live from paycheck to paycheck, and have little or nothing available for investment.  Savers, however, tend to pay cash for what they buy, maintain a savings account, and remain financially secure thanks to long-term investments.”  I am so thankful that I married a “saver”.  I knew and understood the principle of staying out of debt and only buying what I had money for, but he truly understood the benefit of saving and how even a little bit adds up over time.  My favorite quote in the book is that “you can never get enough of what you don’t need because what you don’t need can never satisfy you.”  If you can put off purchasing the things you don’t need early on, you will have a much better chance of having the funds for the things you want later.

Finances can have a tremendous impact on emotional intimacy, for better or worse.  In the 1984 pamphlet, Cornerstones of a Happy Home, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I am satisfied that money is the root of more trouble in marriage than all other causes combined.”  On the other hand, couples that work together to manage their finances build trust and emotional safety.  In the article, “Escaping the Debt Trap,” Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard said, “When couples view each other as partners with an equal voice, and when both desire to maintain a loving relationship, they will be more likely to find mutually satisfying solutions to financial disagreements.  Effective communication in financial matters includes a knowledge of income and expenses by both spouses.  Problems arise when one spouse makes financial decisions without consulting the other.”  Spending/saving habits are passed on for generations so the way we spend/save and what we teach our children about financial management can help them to have strong marriages. Janene Baadsgaard also said, “When couples share financial responsibilities through engaging in open communication, determining reasonable expectations and limits, cooperating in the budgeting process, and eliminating and avoiding debt, they can become free from the devastating debt trap and enjoy greater peace of mind and harmony in their homes.”  My goal is to pass these principles onto my children so that they can also have greater peace of mind and harmony in their homes. Hopefully this will continue on for generations!

P.S.  When I asked my 9 year old if I could borrow a $5 bill, she said, “No, I’m saving it.”  She relented when I explained that I only needed it in order to take a picture (above) and then I would give it back.  It looks like our children are learning the lesson to save at a younger age than I thought!

Family Councils

I have been involved in many councils over the years within my family, church, government and school board responsibilities, but the councils that have been the most important to me are the councils with my family.  This past week I learned a new principle about councils that I had not implemented in group councils before but that I feel is vital in setting the best foundation for a council meeting.  In his book, Counseling with Our Councils, Elder M. Russell Ballard shares that when the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet together for their council meetings, they begin by expressing love and concern for each other.  This seems so simple, but it is easily forgotten in spite of the powerful spirit of love it brings to the meeting. I have followed this practice when counseling individually with my children.  I begin by sharing the wonderful things that I have seen them accomplish during the week and express my admiration and unconditional love for them.  This brings a beautiful spirit into our meetings, but I had not thought of doing it each time we begin our family councils.  This week we had some important topics to cover which included some necessary reproach regarding slacking off on chores and tardiness.  Thankfully, because of what I had learned, we began the meeting by specifically acknowledging the many positive contributions each our children were making and by expressing our absolute love for each one of them.  This set a great tone for the meeting and everyone seemed more open to receiving correction and making plans for improvement.

As reported by Elder Ballard, the Brethren also begin each meeting with a prayer and invite the Spirit of the Lord to be present so that decisions can be made in an atmosphere of love and according to the will of God.  They then address each item and allow any and every member of the council to contribute to the discussion.  Oftentimes in the past, I have decided in my mind how to deal with a family issue before our meetings have even started.  Even though I had some ideas this week as well, we opened each agenda item for discussion and sincerely listened to each child’s idea of what we could do to improve.  Their ideas were outstanding and because they had contributed to the decisions, everyone seemed much happier about making the necessary changes.  I felt like we followed the examples shared by Elder Ballard in order to “make decisions in harmony, unity, and faith, with the combined judgment of each member and in harmony with the Spirit” (Ballard, 1997, p. 48).

In his April 1998 General Conference address, “That We May Be One,” President Eyring talked about the importance of couples using their “similarities to understand each other” and their “differences to complement each other in serving one another and those around them.”  This wise counsel can also be applied to all of our relationships including our relationships with our children. As we shared ideas in our family council meeting, we were able to relate to each other because of our similarities, but there was also incredible value in our differences that allowed us to formulate a much better plan together than any one of us came up with on our own.

The Importance of Physical Intimacy and Fidelity

Some of the most important conversations I have ever had with my mother were the long, detailed conversations we had about sex before my wedding day. I had been taught throughout my life that sex should be reserved for marriage, which I observed, but thankfully I was also taught that sex is a beautiful, wonderful expression of love, so there was no hesitation on my wedding day.  My mother is very conservative, so others might be surprised to know that she taught me about the details and function of how arousal works.  She taught me about the differences between men and women and gave helpful ideas so that both my husband and I could achieve fulfillment.  And so much more….

President Hugh B. Brown said, “Thousands of young people come to the marriage altar almost illiterate insofar as this basic and fundamental function is concerned. The sex instinct is not something which we need to fear or be ashamed of. It is God-given and has a high and holy purpose … There is no excuse for approaching this most intimate relationship in life without true knowledge of its meaning and its high purpose.” (You and Your Marriage, Bookcraft, 1960, pp. 73, 76; emphasis added).  We have a responsibility as parents to teach our children about the purposes and joy of sex so that their only learning does not come solely from corrupt messages in the media.  As Dr. Victor Cline explained, “Sex should be a celebration. It comes from God. He created our sexual appetites and natures. He has ordained us to make love both physically and spiritually. He is pleased when He sees us bonded together sexually, in love, for this is the plan of creation. And this plan permits the husband and wife to jointly participate in creating new life and, in a sense, perpetuate part of themselves into eternity through their children. The sexual embrace should never be a chore or a duty, but a loving part of a larger relationship. Of giving to our partner, cherishing, respecting, protecting each other. It won’t always be easy. But the rewards can be incredibly great if we choose to make them so.” (How to Make a Good Marriage Great, 1987, p. 39)

It is also important for married couples to talk about their intimate relationship.  In his 2003 Meridian Magazine article, Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage, Dr. Sean Brotherson shared the following: “As couples learn to communicate about sexual intimacy, they must learn to become comfortable with the topic and expressing their feelings and thoughts in specific ways…. The eminent psychologist John Gottman has noted that couples in such discussions often tend to ‘vague out,’ making their communication unclear and less than helpful. Gottman recounts in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: ‘So often when a husband and wife talk to each other about their sexual needs, their conversations are … indirect, imprecise, inconclusive. Frequently both partners are in a hurry to end the conversation, hopeful that they will miraculously understand each other’s desires without much talk … The problem is that the less clear you are about what you do and don’t want, the less likely you are to get it.   Sex can be such a fun way to share with each other and deepen your sense of intimacy. But when communication is fraught with tension, then frustration and hurt feelings too often result’” (1999, pp. 200-201).

The most important thing that my parents ever taught me about sex, by word and example, is that fidelity is critical to a happy marriage.  This past week we celebrated my parents 65 wedding anniversary with them.  As we sat at the elegant table, I asked my dad what he loves most about my mom.  Without hesitating he said, “everything.” This is not because my mom is perfect, but because he loves her with all of his heart.  He made a commitment as a young man to follow the counsel of President Kimball, “The Lord says in no uncertain terms: ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else’ (D&C 42:22). And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: ‘Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else.’ The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse (Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle,1972, pgs. 142–43).President Hunter taught these powerful truths: “Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed…Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage.  Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed” (Conference Report, President Howard W. Hunter, Oct. 1994).

Is there anything more destructive to emotional intimacy than infidelity in thought or deed?  I don’t think so.  Emotional intimacy is built upon love, respect, trust, kindness and genuine affection within a relationship.  Infidelity destroys trust and is definitely not kind, respectful or loving.  Even if the infidelity does not progress to intercourse with another person, Dr. Goddard states that “the damage to family relations that comes from divided loyalties and ugly dishonesty is [enormous] and tragic.  Trust is destroyed. Covenants, with all of their glorious promises, are wasted.”  In his book Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, Dr. Goddard gives some excellent suggestions on how to prevent inappropriate relationships outside of marriage that often begin innocently and end tragically.  He suggests the following:

  • Do not allow the seeds of lust to germinate…
  • Do not let your mind be poisoned with…any form of pornography.
  • Never make excuses to spend time alone with a member of the opposite sex.
  • Do not flirt with anyone but your spouse.
  • Do not give gifts or charm to win the affections of anyone but your spouse.
  • Do not allow your heart to dwell on anyone.
  • If you find yourself making excuses for continuing the relationship, you are addicted. Get help.
  • Spend more enjoyable time with your spouse. Have weekly dates….Find ways to improve your relationship.
  • Be patient…Enjoy your partner as he or she is.
  • Renew your spiritual efforts. Turn to the Lord in Prayer. Ask for strength.
  • Fill your empty places with service, scripture study and love for your family.
  • Don’t set yourself up for failure….Avoiding is better than resisting.
  • Keep your soul free of the soul-numbing barrenness of pornography. Preserve or renew your awe in the blessing of simple acts of affection.
  • If you have squandered any part of trust, work to re-qualify for it.
  • Celebrate the sweet gift of companionship. The amazing message from our marriage partners is: “I’m trusting you with my life, my body, my hopes, my dreams. Please be kind and gentle.”

Beware of Satan’s lies and traps. Dr. Goddard states, “He offers love, fun and a satisfying life.  But it is a lie.  He wants to get us to violate our covenants.  But he has no joy to deliver on his grandiose promises.  He is the master of misery. That is all he has to offer…. While Hollywood makes drama out of lust and seduction, the truly great dramas celebrate something different: faithfulness and holiness.” President Spencer W. Kimball gave this beautiful invitation, “to those who claim their love is dead, let them return home with all their loyalty, fidelity, honor, and cleanness, and the love that has become but embers will flare up with scintillating flame again. If loved wanes or dies, it is often infidelity of thought or act that gave the lethal potion” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 147).

Turn toward your spouse.  Once again, the answer is MORE LOVE (for your spouse only :).

“The Answer is More Love”

School thy feelings, O my brother;

Train thy warm, impulsive soul.

Do not its emotions smother,

But let wisdom’s voice control.

School thy feelings; there is power

In the cool, collected mind.

Passion shatters reason’s tower,

Makes the clearest vision blind. …”

~Charles W. Penrose

In the October 2007, President Gordon B. Hinckley shared the story behind the words to the Hymn quoted above and ended his talk with the following words: “I plead with you to control your tempers….speak out with words of love and peace, appreciation, and respect. If you will do this, your life will be without regret. Your marriages and your family relationships will be preserved. You will be much happier.  You will do greater good.  You will feel a sense of peace that will be wonderful. May the Lord bless you and inspire you to walk without anger, without bitterness of any kind, but to reach out to others with expressions of friendship, appreciation, and love.”  These are powerful truths. I have experienced the regret that follows an angry outburst and so I am continually working to, “train [my] warm impulsive soul.”  The consequences of controlling anger and maintaining a “cool, collected mind” are more valuable than I could ever express in words.  The result is peace in place of regret as relationships flourish in loving environments.

Growing up I can remember the one and only time that my father raised his voice at me.  We were driving home after a long day at Disneyland and the helium balloon that I was holding  blocked my dad’s vision as he was driving.  Later that evening my dad came into my room and told me how sorry he was for his angry reaction and he expressed his love for me. The most amazing part of his apology was that there were NO excuses.  He did not say that he was tired after a long day at Disneyland with lots of kids.  He did not say how dangerous it is to have a balloon floating in the front seat.  He just said that he was sorry and his countenance emanated love for me.  He was wise enough to recognize that he could have communicated the danger of the balloon without anger. Oh, how I LOVED my dad in that moment and every day of my life before and since.  It is not that my dad avoided correcting or counseling me.  He disciplined and guided me throughout my life, but never in anger. . . He modeled the scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 121:41-42 “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.”  I have felt loved deeply by my dad throughout my life and have sought his counsel and guidance because I trust and love him with all my heart.

These same principles apply to marriage.  When has an outburst of anger ever helped your marriage relationship?  That might be possible in rare circumstances just as the Savior needed to cleanse the Temple, but healthy boundaries and calm communication function better than angry eruptions.  In his book Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage Dr. Goddard shares an entire chapter on charity and the power of the pure love of Christ in marriage relationships.  He states, “Love first, don’t wait to be loved” (p. 131). Even when courageous confrontations are needed, love can still be present and can make all the difference in conflict resolution.  Joseph Smith said that “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.”  As my friend Janae Hancock said to me today, “The answer is more love.”

Principles for Resolving Conflict in Loving Relationships

“Despite what many therapists will tell you, you don’t have to resolve your major marital conflicts for your marriage to thrive,” says Dr. John Gottman.  “Most marriage arguments cannot be resolved.  Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it can’t be done.  This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality or values.  By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.  Instead, they need to understand the bottom-line difference that is causing the conflict—and to learn how to live with it by honoring and respecting each other.  Only then will they be able to build shared meaning and a sense of purpose into their marriage” (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, pp. 28, 139).

It is certainly true that no matter how many times we talk about it, I will always prefer to own a practical, safe minivan and my husband will still prefer to drive a fast, top-brand sports car. More seriously, the things that help me to feel emotionally connected are not the same as what makes my husband feel connected.  So, should we just keep silent about our differences and avoid the conflicts that can’t be resolved anyway? No!  As Dr. Gottman teaches, “avoiding conflict…leads to emotional disengagement” which puts us on a “course toward leading parallel lives and inevitable loneliness—the death knell for any marriage” (p. 140).  The key is to learn how to manage conflict in a way that allows you to honor and respect each other which requires empathy and leads to compromise.

Dr. Gottman suggests the following keys to managing conflict (pp 157-159):

  • Listen to each other’s negative emotions which “hold important information about how to love each other better.”  Remember the motto, “When you are in pain, the world stops and I listen.”
  • No one is right. There is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective ones.”
  • Acceptance is crucial.  It is virtually impossible for people to heed advice unless they believe the other person understands, respects, and accepts them for who they are…Make sure your partner feels known and respected rather than criticized or demeaned.”
  • Focus on fondness and admiration.”  Dr. Gottman teaches the importance of  cherishing your partner by maximizing positive thoughts about your partner and minimizing negative ones (p79).  As Neil Barrignham says, “The grass is greener where you water it” (

The following 5 steps are Dr. Gottman’s model for resolving conflict.  (These steps can be studied in more depth in Chapter 9 of his book).

  1. Soften your start-up
  2. Learn to make and receive repair attempts.
  3. Soothe yourself and each other.
  4. Compromise.
  5. Process any grievances so that they don’t linger.

Soft start-ups are critical in order to have a productive, respectful conversation. Gottman’s 4 steps to a soft start-up include:

  1. “I share some responsibility for this…”
  2. “Here’s how I feel…”
  3. “About this specific situation…”
  4. “Here’s what I need….”

Gottman also explains the importance of complaining without blaming (I feel…about what…and I need…), starting your statements with “I” instead of “you”, describing the situation according to what you see without evaluation or judgement, clearly stating your needs (don’t expect mind reading), always being polite and appreciative.  It is also important not to wait too long before addressing an issue because a soft start-up is difficult when you are ready to burst (pp. 167-168).

Challenges and conflicts in marriage can teach and train us to better people.  Dr. Wallace Goddard said, “When we see our challenges within marriage as customized invitations to greater goodness, we will rejoice in His perfect purposes. When we understand our marriages to be the best opportunity, we will ever have to show our generosity of spirit, we will be ready to be the kind of partners God would have us be” (Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage, p. 111).  That greater goodness and generosity of spirit can be enhanced as we honor and respect each other even in the midst of conflict.  When my husband gave me a ride in his new sports car yesterday, he couldn’t wait to show me how quickly it accelerates.  I absolutely hated the experience, but was able to find joy through watching his excitement and loved the time together (especially after he slowed down).

“Do You Want to be Right or Do You Want to be Married?”

“Sometimes it is hard to see ourselves as we really are.” This week in my class the following question was posted, “If you were to ask your spouse or someone close to you how you do with accepting influence, how do you think they would respond?”  In Dr. John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, the fourth principle is “Let Your Partner Influence You” (p. 115).  Dr. Gottman shares many examples and statistics that support the importance of couples honoring and respecting each other as they search for common ground.  He reminds us that “accepting influence” is not only an attitude, it is also a skill that can be learned, and he includes exercises and games to do together in order to improve that skill.  He also states that, “A marriage can’t work unless both partners honor and respect each other… often in life you need to yield in order to win” (pp. 119, 125). At the end of the chapter Gottman suggests, “If you’re having difficulty accepting influence, you will benefit your marriage enormously by acknowledging this tendency and talking about it with or spouse” (p. 136).

In his book Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, Dr. Wallace Goddard states that “The natural man is inclined to love himself and fix others.  God has asked us to do the opposite.  We are to fix ourselves by repenting, and to love others.  It is not surprising that we have difficulties in marriage.  We so often do the very things that will destroy our relationships.  In great literature—including scripture—the highest and noblest service entailed sacrifice and selflessness.  In contrast, evil was always self-centered and self-serving.”

In his hallmark April 1989 General Conference address, Beware of Pride, President Benson teaches us the destructive nature of pride as the “universal sin” and “great vice” that has caused the fall of civilizations, nations, and our most precious relationships.  “Pride adversely affects all our relationships—our relationship with God and His servants, between husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student, and all mankind.  Our degree of pride determines how we treat our God and our brothers and sisters.  Christ wants to lift us to where He is.  Do we desire to do the same for others?”  Have you ever felt hostility towards your spouse, or in a state of opposition with your spouse or even hatred towards your spouse?  President Benson taught that “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen.  Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to or a state of opposition’…. We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are.”

Irene Eubanks shared the following story in her January 2008 Ensign article “Putting My Marriage Before My Pride.” “Like any couple, my husband and I have had disagreements during our marriage. But one incident stands out in my mind. I no longer recall the reason for our disagreement, but we ended up not speaking at all, and I remember feeling that it was all my husband’s fault. I felt I had done absolutely nothing for which I needed to apologize. As the day went by, I waited for my husband to say he was sorry. Surely, he could see how wrong he was. It must be obvious how much he had hurt my feelings. I felt I had to stand up for myself; it was the principle that mattered. As the day was drawing to a close, I started to realize that I was waiting in vain, so I went to the Lord in prayer. I prayed that my husband would realize what he had done and how it was hurting our marriage. I prayed that he would be inspired to apologize so we could end our disagreement. As I was praying, I felt a strong impression that I should go to my husband and apologize. I was a bit shocked by this impression and immediately pointed out in my prayer that I had done nothing wrong and therefore should not have to say I was sorry. A thought came strongly to my mind: ‘Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?’ As I considered this question, I realized that I could hold onto my pride and not give in until he apologized, but how long would that take? Days? I was miserable while we weren’t speaking to each other. I understood that while this incident itself wouldn’t be the end of our marriage, if I were always unyielding, that might cause serious damage over the years. I decided it was more important to have a happy, loving marriage than to keep my pride intact over something that would later seem trivial. I went to my husband and apologized for upsetting him. He also apologized, and soon we were happy and united again in love. Since that time there have been occasions when I have needed to ask myself that question again: ‘Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?’ How grateful I am for the great lesson I learned the first time I faced that question. It has always helped me realign my perspective and put my husband and my marriage before my own pride.”


Turning Toward Your Spouse


When my husband and I got married in 1995, one of the gifts we received included 2 perfectly soft pillows, the best we have ever owned.  At some point during our first 3 moves, one of those pillows was lost.  The loss was far more disappointing than I expected because every other pillow hurt my neck or head by morning and I didn’t want to spend the money for expensive ones.  In spite of my absolute love for our one remaining pillow, I always placed the perfect pillow on my husband’s side when I made the bed because of my love for him. Each morning I felt joy in the tiny sacrifice that I was making for my husband. Many years later we were talking, and he let it slip that he had always hated that pillow.  I was completely shocked and asked why he had never told me.  He replied that he thought I was putting the pillow on his side because I hated it too!!  He had chosen to endure the “awful” pillow because of his love for me!  We had quite a laugh over that tender moment of realizing that our love for each other meant more to us than years of sleeping soundly.  Obviously, we need to work on our communication skills, but our true desire was to sacrifice for the comfort and welfare for the other.

This past week we have been studying what John Gottman refers to as “turning toward each other instead of turning away.”  Throughout the day there are often countless opportunities to turn towards another person or to turn away.  This principle applies to all types of relationships.  In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Dr. Gottman states that, “Hollywood has distorted our notions of romance and what makes passion sizzle.  Watching Humphrey Bogart gather teary-eyed Ingrid Bergman into his arms may make your heart pound, but real-life romance is fueled by far more humdrum scenes. It is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life. In marriage, couples are always making what I call “bids” for each other’s attention, affection, humor, or support. Bids can be as minor as asking for a back rub or as significant as seeking help in carrying the burden when an aging parent is ill. The partner responds to each bid either by turning toward the spouse or turning away. A tendency to turn towards your partner is the basis of trust, emotional connection, passion, and a satisfying sex life” (p.88).  Gottman shares many examples of turning towards your spouse throughout his book and especially in chapters 6 and 12.  Chapter 6 includes many examples of turning toward a spouse and includes exercises and instructions on how to turn towards each other.

In his book, Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage, Dr. Wallace Goddard shares a beautiful example of how to turn toward a spouse even in a moment where the first inclination would be to turn away. He tells the story of a man who had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against the wishes of his wife.  Each time they tried to discuss the subject she would become angry.  The man sought the counsel of a young missionary who felt inspired to say to the man, “My friend, the next time you and your wife begin to discuss your baptism and you start to feel anger and frustration, stop. Say no more for a moment. Then take your wife into your arms, and hold her tight. Tell her that you love her, you appreciate her, and nothing will take her place in your life.”  The man listened to the counsel of the young missionary and could hardly wait to return and tell him what happened. He said, “You will not believe what happened. I did as you said. We talked again of my faith and my baptism. Again, she criticized me and told me I was deceived. I wanted to yell and tell her she was wrong, but I remembered your words. I stopped, took a breath, and looked at her, trying to remember all the years of love we have shared and the love that I still feel. She must have felt something in my gaze, for she softened. I took her into my arms and held her. I whispered that I love her, that I appreciate her, and that nothing could take her place as my wife. We cried. Then, sitting close, we talked for many hours about all we have experienced—the good, the bad—and then I held her again. For the first time in many weeks we felt love” (pp. 61-62).

During my married life I have found that when I turn towards my husband, he also turns towards me and when I turn away, it causes a downward spiral in our home.  President David O. McKay stated  that too many couples come to “marriage looking upon the marriage ceremony as the end of courtship instead of the beginning of an eternal courtship. Let us not forget that during the burdens of home life—and they come—that tender words of appreciation, courteous acts are even more appreciated than during those sweet days and months of courtship. … Love can be starved to death as literally as the body that receives no sustenance. Love feeds upon kindness and courtesy” (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1967], 289).  As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in the April 1991 General Conference, “I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.”