Comments from our articles Wake-up Call for Wives and Wake-up Call for Husbands have led us to write this culminating article. We were pleased to hear from such a large number of readers, most expressing gratitude for the help given in the articles. Much of that help came directly from you readers. We thank you again for your input.
We were touched by the sincerity of both husbands and wives in their desires to be loving, fulfilling spouses. Others expressed deep hurts caused by their mates and felt helpless to know what to do. They won’t divorce, in most cases, but are simply existing in the marriage, praying for help. We yearn to somehow help heal these unhappy marriages. Others wrote of the deep love and happiness they enjoy in their marriage. Many wished for a few more items to be discussed, so we will attempt to address the issues requested and add a few more of our own thoughts.
1. Remember what brought you together
Before we jump into deeper waters, we want couples to reaffirm their love for each other. One thing that can help this happen is to remember your courting days and the early years of your marriage. What is it that attracted you to your mate? Let your mind wander back to those early days when you first fell in love. Was it her cute smile, his deep blue eyes, her testimony, his desire to serve the Lord? Seriously think about it. It’s fun and important to remember those days.
What caused you to ask her to marry you? Why did you say yes There had to be things about your mate that made your heart flutter, your cheeks flush, and you arms yearn to hold that wonderful person and make you want to spend the rest of your life with him or her. Then remember your wedding day and the vows you took at that time, the promises you made to each other and to the Lord. Keep those memories bright and shiny.
Take the time tonight when you are together and talk about those early years. It will put a spark back into your marriage. Then tell your kids about how you met and where you were married. They’ll love hearing the story again and again. Remembering can strengthen your commitment to each other, and it can bless your marriage and family.
2. Be the same person wherever you are.
Is the person people see at church the same person your family sees at home? We received a letter from a husband who had served many years in a prominent stake position. He said, “On the surface most would think we are the ideal LDS family. Others see my wife as a kind, faithful servant that works hard and is helpful to others, but she is a different person at home. My wife prefers to focus on the negative things in our home and with our children, and seemingly has nothing positive to say to anyone in our home. Our children recognize that their mother isn’t very happy and usually stay out of her way. I love when we have visitors in our home because my wife usually keeps that kind, loving attitude up for them, making it so we get to see a pleasant wife and mother for a short time.”
This letter is about a wife but it could just as well be about a husband who has fallen into this pattern. It has everything to do with creating a happy marriage. Of course, everyone is on their best behavior when at church or other public places. Home has to be a place where we can relax and let our hair down; however, that doesn’t mean we become a different person than others see. We owe it to our spouse and children to be on good behavior at home, too. Being a happy face at church and a sad face at home makes for confused kids and an unhappy home and marriage. Spouses and children need to see that best-foot-forward image at home more than anywhere else.
So what do you do when your spouse behaves like the one in the letter? We suggest you stop looking at all the negatives in your wife or husband and start focusing on the positives. It may take a little practice, but it will pay big dividends. Whenever your sweetheart does something good, tell her or him that you appreciate it. Notice it! Keep a sharp eye out for every good thing your mate does and let her or him know you’re noticing those good things. And compliment your spouse. It’s so nice to be acknowledged.
Say please and thank you to each other. These simple words that we learned in kindergarten and Primary do work. One couple, as they got ready to go to their marriage therapy session, was approached by their eight-year-old daughter who asked them where they were going. The mother replied, “We’re going to meet with someone who is teaching us how to be better parents.” The daughter asked, “What has he taught you?” Reaching for something to say, the mother replied, “He’s teaching us how to say please and thank you.” To which the daughter said, “It’s about time somebody did.”
Couples need to get back to the basics. It will change your attitude toward each other immensely. Time and time again it has become evident that the use of these simple courtesies has opened up the ability to handle the harder things in marriage.
If things don’t change, and sadness and negativity prevail, it may be a sign of clinical depression. A visit to your doctor may be helpful. There is medical help for these types of mental illnesses. Or it may be that
Another suggestion came from one of our readers. He said,”Cut the criticism. Nothing kills a marriage faster than constant criticism. Practice EPR-- Encouragement, Praise, and Recognition (appreciation). This is a secret sauce and I have a firm testimony of it. Both partners have to be committed to it. It is as easy to form a culture of EPR as it is criticism. It becomes a habit-- but a very good one. This is not a pollyanna thing. It is real and it works for those committed to it.”
So we issue the call: Wake up, husbands and wives, and bring the light of the gospel home. Don’t leave it at church. Let it shine and bless your marriage and the lives of your children every day.
3. Keep sexual intimacy alive and well
Even though we addressed this subject in the previous articles, because of the letters we received it needs to be reiterated and expanded. The following words from a reader spotlights the seriousness of this problem in many marriages. He wrote: “I tell my wife she looks nice, but she mostly ignores me. I tell her I love her but she hasn’t told me she loves me for many years.