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Here's another tricky topic to teach- Howard W. Hunter Chapter 16: Marriage- An Eternal Partnership. Those of us that don't have perfect marriages will struggle with this lesson.... oh wait! That's all of us! It doesn't matter if you are married, single, widowed, divorced, struggling through, or what not; there will be tender feelings when it comes to this lesson. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't teach the ideals. It's necessary to teach the ideals so we have something to shoot for- to see the potential that God has given us. While it may not be this life, eventually we will have that ideal. The key though, is trying our best now.
I have 2 favorite points in this chapter. The first is that while marriage involves two people, it in large measure depends on the individual if it is to be a success. We have to individually choose to accept the gospel, make those covenants, and keep the commandments. We have to individually give our all. As long as we keep our side of the bargain, no blessings will be denied us. More than that though. Marriage isn't simply about two people, it also includes a relationship with God. Including God in our marriage makes all the difference. He makes up for our shortcomings and helps us see beyond the here and now. He gives us hope when we feel it disappearing. He shows us love when we aren't feeling it from others.
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The second is that marriage is a learned behavior. I have never thought of marriage as such but when I read that sentence, I immediately knew how true it was. Those of us that are married have experienced the truthfulness of this statement as we have learned to merge two different lives into one. It takes to time to adjust to being one with somebody else. I remember the first young married ward we lived in. All of us had such similar stories- taking offense to something because our perspective was so completely different than our spouse's. Our spouse didn't mean to hurt our feelings but because we were still learning to communicate, understand each other's differences, and accept each other completely, we become offended. It seems silly once we learned how to be married but the struggle was real. It's so important to understand though. Simply because we are married in the temple, doesn't mean life will be complete bliss. It takes works- a lot of it but it can and should be wonderful.
- Prepare yourself for questions by reading these details on the Church's stance on same-sex marriage. You may also want to read about Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Enhance your study of this topic and the following chapter by studying The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It's a 3 week study that includes several articles and videos to further dive into The Family: A Proclamation to the World, including marriage. You can use the marriage journal pages in your lesson.
- You may also want to read some of the manual, Strengthening Marriages. It includes several lessons to learn as a married couple- remember it is a learned behavior!
- Often times in our marriages we tend to focus on all the things that DON'T happen instead of realizing all the good that is around. Take time to talk about the good- how do you know your spouse loves you? It's often the little things. As you let your class share, someone may start to understand the great love their spouse really has for them but they have failed to notice. If you need ideas to get your list started, read 10 Ways to Tell If Your Husband Still Loves You.
- You can also focus on the ways you can express love for your spouse. In Does Your Husband Know You Love Him? I list several ways you can share that love every day.
- Begin your lesson reading about Adam and Eve up to the point when they are married then jump to the part in the manual that talks about how their marriage was an eternal one. Marriage from the beginning was meant to be eternal (See Section 1).
- Use one of the above handout to focus on our individual part in marriage. Whether we are married or single, we can each choose to be the right kind of person by continuing to improve ourselves daily (See Sections 3 and 4).
- Use the other handout to focus on how marriage is a learned behavior. The first year of marriage is rough because there is so much to learn! Taking the time to appreciate the good in each other helps us learn quicker. One side of the handout is for writing down the positives and the other side is to send notes to our spouse. If you want really cute notes or ideas to continue to show your spouse love, I'm a huge fan of The Dating Divas. They make it so easy to remember to express your love to your spouse and give you tons of ideas. I recommend the monthly membership to get the most out of it, however, if you are looking for something super easy, try these printable love sticky notes. I pick one and add a little note to surprise my husband throughout the year. It's been a great way to help me express my love to my husband without being overwhelming.
- Demonstrate the difference between a temporal marriage and an eternal one with two varying items such as a paper plate and a china plate. Which one would you rather have? You could demonstrate this in greater detail by having 2 people come to the front. They can each choose anything they want from their different sides of the table- one with the cheap, temporary items; one with the nice long lasting items. Both types of items need to be of the same thing though- plastic spoon, silver spoon, etc. Ask the two volunteers to point out the similarities and differences between the items. Take a vote from the class asking which they would prefer to have.
- Do a pre-board activity. Write "What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Was Married" or "What I'd Like to Know Before Marrying Someone" on the board. Give each person a sticky note to write their answer and post it on the board before class starts. Read and discuss the words of wisdom with Section 2.
- Break into groups to discuss the 6 different ways to strengthen the bonds of marriage as mentioned in Section 5. Have each group read their portion then talk about the truthfulness of it and discuss real life examples. Then have them discover ways to further develop these qualities. Have each group share a bit when you come back together.
Questions to Ponder
- How does understanding the eternal nature of marriage, affect your relationship with your spouse?
- In what ways is marriage a "partnership with God"?
- What can you do to help children and youth prepare to be married in the temple?
- What impresses you about President Hunter's counsel about deciding whom to marry? (Section 2)
- How does President Hunter's words in section 3 comfort those who are not married?
- In what ways is marriage a learned behavior? What things are you learning?
- How can you apply the message that "this is the church of Jesus Christ, not the church of marrieds or singles"?
- How has living gospel principles brought happiness to your marriage?
- How can you more full manifest your love for your spouse?
- What can you do to improve your patience with others, especially your spouse?
- What things can couples do to develop a great "oneness of heart"?
- How can spouse show fidelity in marriage through thought, word, and deed?
- How can we prepare for marriage since it is a learned behavior?
- In what ways is an eternal marriage an individual matter?
- How can you continue to keep your marriage strong?
Suggested Study Schedule
Use this guide as you study and ponder the lesson and what your class needs to hear. Please note, this is a study schedule only. Please stick to the manual when sharing quotes with your class. Remember to come join our Private Facebook Group where we discuss more ideas, thoughts, and helps for each chapter.
Watch: Marriage is Sacred (about 2 minutes)
Watch: Enduring Love (about 4 1/2 minutes)
"Why Marriage, Why Family" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson "Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female."
"Why Marriage and Family Matter- Everywhere in the World" by Elder L. Tom Perry " It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill."
"Marriage: Watch and Learn" by Elder L. Whitney Clayton "We can learn so much by watching and then considering what we have seen and felt."
"Nurturing Marriage" by Elder Russell M. Nelson "Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully."
"Having Faith in God's Timeline" by Sister Catherine Edwards "Recognizing that my life is on a different timeline has been a process. My queries to God regarding His design for me have led to a sense that I have distinct potential and goodness."
OR "Confidence to Marry" by Sister Melissa Howell "By relying on the Lord, many Church members have found that while their fears may not be entirely eradicated, Heavenly Father will assist them in creating a happy marriage."
There are so many great talks about marriage, I couldn't include them all. If you are still struggling with this lesson, I recommend doing your own search on LDS.org. Here's one more that I enjoyed, "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage" by Elder Richard G. Scott
"From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise"- Hymn #297
"Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth"- Hymn #298
"Families Can Be Together Forever"- Hymn #300
"Love One Another"- Hymn #308
"O Love That Glorifies the Son"- Hymn #295
"Oh, What Songs of the Heart"- Hymn #286
"The Lord Be with Us"- Hymn #161