The In-Laws

In the scriptures we are taught that "a man should leave his Father and Mother and cleave unto his wife."  While this is often our goal in a new marriage, the actual act can be somewhat difficult and we might even be caught by surprise when we realize we are unintentionally ignoring this counsel.  Family rules and old habits can be very hard to break.  Calling our parents for advice or help may have become a way of life for us and intentional, time consuming practice may be necessary for us to change the way we do things. 

Image of  Mother of the Groom Gift, Thank You for Raising the Man of my Dreams, Gift Boxed, MADE TO ORDER:

In-law relationships don't have to be difficult.  We can use the principles of nurturing fondness and admiration with our In-laws just as we can with our spouse.  Showing love and kindness, serving them and praying for help to see them as Heavenly Father does can go along way in building healthy, happy relationships with them.
If we are open with our spouse about our habits and our relationship goals, we can work together as a team to make positive changes and assure a smooth transition to married life.  By openly discussing each of our families spoken and unspoken rules, we not only help our spouse feel more comfortable, we also provide a better opportunity for our families to be accepting.  This helps us to avoid conflict within our marriage by given us a glimpse of why our partner feels or thinks a certain way.  Misunderstandings and hurt feelings are often just a case of rules that have not been clearly defined and shared.  When we understand more about how our spouse was raised and the rules that shaped their feelings and behaviors, we are better able to create our own family plan that involves rules we are both comfortable with.


God created men and women to be partners with neither being above or below the other in power.  When we understand that we were created to have different responsibilities but one purpose, we can grow together and accomplish all that God has asked of us.  Our families run smoother when we are working as one.  Our children learn how to work, love, forgive and sacrifice when they see us demonstrating these things.

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  When we make our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ the center of our lives, we gain strength from them as we strive to live righteous, peaceful lives.  Having separate responsibilities does not mean that we do not help each other.  It does not mean that one person’s contribution is more important or valued that another's.  It means that our loving Heavenly Father designed us both with divine attributes that make us best suited for the jobs he has asked us to do.  Husbands and wives who are devoted to God and to each other can have peace and happiness amid the chaos of the world when each is doing their best to fulfill their responsibilities to their spouse and to God.

Safeguarding our Marriages

It has been said by modern day prophets, that "Infidelity is one of the greatest sins of our generation." 

This week we have been studying the principles of purity within marriage.  I have been very intrigued by the readings we have had this week on the issue of emotional infidelity.  I think it is so widely believed that as long as we do not participate in any physical act, we have nothing to be worried about.  We have not committed a sin against God or our spouse. 

We have been warned time and again that Satan wants nothing more than to destroy families.  He will use any means necessary to accomplish this task.  He does not care which straw actually breaks the camel's back as long as it gets broken.  A quote from Goddard's chapter really stuck out to me on this topic.  He said "today Satan attacks us with subtle and indirect means.  He gets us inappropriately close to someone who is not our spouse under the guise of missionary work, friendship, or helpfulness.  He subtly builds inappropriate emotional bonds while quieting our consciences with weak rationalizations." 
 I'll always have my heart be a little broken.:

It is alarming to me to know just how many people have been through this very situation.  Even more alarming is how many never even realized it was happening.  In hindsight it is so clear and each step can be quickly identified from thoughts to feelings to actions.  

The good news is that we are not helpless in preventing this.  When we keep our spirits in tune and we stay close to the Lord, we will be aware of possible problems.  We will be careful to guard our selves and to take responsibility for the messages that we give to others.  Ultimately, we will have hearts that are full of charity, which is the pure love of Christ and this will endear us to our spouse and to the Lord.  I think what happens, is that at the end of the day, we will care less about what others think of us and more about what He thinks of us.  With this mindset, we are well prepared to safeguard our marriages.


"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity;  I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed.  And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard...[Yet] surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.  Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth.  If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly.  But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding.  In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me and ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.  The rats are always there in the cellar but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.  Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul." - C.S. Lewis

This quote really had me thinking about my start-ups this week.  What do they say about me?  How do I behave when I am "caught off my guard"?  I would like to think that I am kind and understanding, but I know full well that that is not often t he truth.  This behavior is in such stark contrast to the behavior of the Savior and the way He asks us to behave.  It makes me realize just how much we need His help.  We need to pray daily for Him to bless us with strength and understanding in our marriages. 

Like C.S. Lewis, we must take responsibility for our actions-irregardless of provocation, and come to the Lord with a broken heart that is open enough to accept the help and understanding He offers us. 

I believe that marriage is ordained of God.  I believe that He wants us to succeed and have peace and joy in our marriages.  He stands waiting and willing to provide us with guidance to achieve it. 
"The future of this world has long been declared; the final outcome between good and evil is already known. There is absolutely no question as to who wins because the victory has already been posted on the scoreboard. The only really strange thing in all of this is that we are still down here on the field trying to decide which team's jersey we want to wear." Jeffrey R. Holland:

Managing conflict

Dr John Gottman explains in his book "the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" that the first step
 to resolving conflict in a loving relationship is to "Soften your start-up".   Back when we were learning
 about the four horsemen, Dr. Gottman explained that the first indicator that a marriage is in trouble is not 
if a couple is fighting or even what they are fighting about, but how they are fighting.  He says that a 
harsh start-up is the first indicator of trouble.  Start-ups are the way we bring up a topic to discuss with our
 spouse.  If we begin discussing a frustration we have with our spouse by blaming, being sarcastic or 
raising our voice, we have basically opened the front door and invited the four horsemen in.  When we
 begin with a harsh start-up, our spouse is more likely to become defensive, to fight back and to have hurt
 feelings.  If we really want to improve our marriage and solve our problems, we have to start by 
softening our start-up.
 Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand then to be understood." Use this quote to teach your family the importance of effective communication.:
How do we do this?  Dr Gottman has a few suggestions, one of which is "complain but don't blame".  
Another is "Make statements that start with "I" instead of "you"."  I think these are two great ways to 
soften our start-ups.  For example, one of the things that comes up often in my own marriage is my 
frustration with how distracted my husband can get especially during times when I could really use his
 help, like when the kids first get home from school.  Being that he is home during this time most days, it 
is very helpful to have two of us tackling the four children that are all now wanting our full, undivided 
attention.  Often he will become distracted and decide to start a project our in the garden right before the
 kids get home and become totally oblivious to what is going on inside and I am drowning in pleas for 
help with homework or this, that and the other.  If I approach the subject with my husband by raising my
 voice and saying "you never pay attention and help with with the kids when they get home, can't you 
remember what time it is?!"  He is going to get upset and defend himself - rightfully so.  However, if I
 talk a min and walk outside and calmly say "hey, the kids just got home and I am feeling pretty
 overwhelmed, would you mind coming in and helping me?"  He will always drop what he is doing and
 dive right in with help. 
If we can recognize how powerful start-ups can be, and that we can control the atmosphere of the
 conversation by softening our approach, we are much more likely to have a positive outcome and our
 ability to successfully solve our problems will only get better with practice.  What are some ways you 
could improve your start-up?


What does pride have to do with marriage?  This week I read an address given by President Ezra Taft Benson on this very subject.   You can check it out here   It made me look at pride very differently.    He said that when "we pit our will against God's" we are being prideful.  He mentions that the proud "wish God would agree with them." 

He describes pride as any time we are in opposition or contend with others we are displaying pride.  This means that when we argue with our spouse and fight to be right, we are being prideful.  When we are selfish and put our wants or needs ahead of theirs, this is pride.  When we think that our way of doing marriage is better than God's, this is pride. 

I found this great chart on another blog this week and really love the visual reminder.  The blog can be found here .

What are some of the ways pride has entered our marriage?

Emotional intimacy

The idea of emotional intimacy is an area I think popular culture has gotten it very wrong.  Again.  If you believe hollywood or television, in a marriage the woman wants emotional intimacy and the man wants physical intimacy.  In truth, everyone needs to feel emotionally connected to their partner.  This doesn't mean that you bring them flowers everyday or stare into their eyes for hours, but it does mean that you make an effort to do what Dr. Gottman calls "turning toward" your spouse.  Paying attention to their needs or desires.  Maybe they've had a long day and would enjoy a foot rub.  Maybe they are really stressed from work and need a nice dinner out.  Maybe they just need a hug for no other reason than that it would make them feel loved.  These little acts show our spouse that we are thinking of them, and everyone likes to feel remembered.  

It's the small things done often that make the difference. - Dr. John Gottman on #staymarried
 One of the sweetest things my husband does for me may seem like nothing at all to most, but to me it means the world.  I have a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis.  There are days when I hurt all over and I get very cold.  My husband always seems to notice when I am uncomfortable and he will appear out of nowhere with a blanket he has warmed in the dryer and cover me up.  There have been times this has brought me to tears because while it is a simple act, it was so comforting physically and showed how much he cares about me emotionally. 
Sometimes it takes a little more work to get outside of ourselves and start paying attention to the needs or wants of our spouse.  For many of us the act of "turning towards" does not come so naturally.  In this case, it may help to take a few minutes at the start or end of the day to write a few quick ideas down or things that we have noticed about our spouse.  This will become a habit if we do it consistently and will also help us to pay closer attention during the day when we know we will need to write something down later.  Once we have written down some of our partners emotional needs or wants, we can begin to turn toward them with our actions and return to our notes and write down how those actions were received.  This will help us to remember things that seemed especially helpful or appreciated.  Before long we will have an entire book of helpful "turning toward" actions!  
Here is an awesome quote from Dr. Gottman:
"Never get tired of doing little things for your partner.  Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart."

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