‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22.)
Those familiar with this scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants of the LDS Church generally think of this in terms of being totally faithful to one’s spouse and reserving physical and emotional intimacy for that person alone. And while I believe that to be a correct interpretation, it is not the only one. I believe it also has something to do with where our priorities are and where our loyalties lie.
Lately, I have been very focused on self improvement. I’ve been trying to lose weight, get in shape and do lots of exercise. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking, jogging, swimming laps and playing tennis. I’ve also been trying to get my spiritual house in order by reading the scriptures more consistently and improving the quality of my personal prayers. I’ve been spending more time with my children, taking them on camping trips and to the swimming pool. I’ve been setting goals in my career and achieving them. I’ve been serving more effectively and faithfully in my church calling. All these things are good. But this weekend, I came to the realization that I have somewhat neglected the most important area of my life — my marriage.
Now, I do not intend to air out any dirty laundry on this blog — that would be inappropriate. Nor is this blog post written in response to some argument or fight Robin and I had over the weekend. No, it’s just that our 12th anniversary is coming up this Saturday and I have been thinking about the incredible journey we’ve shared together over the past dozen years. By in large, our marriage is a very happy one. Robin and I get along well. We rarely fight. We share many of the same goals and work together to raise our four children.
But as I recently looked at my list of goals and plans for improvement, I realized that there wasn’t much on my list that related to improving my marriage — ironic, because I believe that is the most important part of my life. I am coming to understand that if I fail to focus on strengthening our marriage and fulfilling my wife’s needs, I am not following God’s counsel in the scripture quoted above. “Cleaving unto her and to none else” means putting her first in my life — ahead of work, church, career and even our children. Of course, that doesn’t mean those other things aren’t important, or that I can’t have my own hobbies and interests. It doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice my own goals and plans for self improvement. It’s just that I need to shift my priorities to put our marriage at the very top of the list, ahead of everything else, and change my actions and desires to reflect that.
A friend of mine recently told me that on his wedding day, he promised his wife that his purpose in life was to make her happy every day. Sounds like a sappy newlywed thing, right? But today, 11 years into his marriage, he still stands by that promise and does what he can to fulfill it. He’s not perfect and neither is his marriage. But his top priority and primary goal is to make his wife happy and fulfilled. As the old saying goes, “A happy wife equals a happy life.”
So stay tuned for some thoughts on how to strengthen marriage and feel free to share some of your own!