There’s no shortage of marriage advice out there. I can read a self-help book, watch Dr. Phil, or browse Pinterest and come up with tons of marriage advice. And a lot of it is pretty good.
But I don’t want a self-help book marriage, or a Dr. Phil-type marriage, or even a Pinterest marriage.
I want a celestial marriage. A marriage that lasts from now until forever, even after we die. A marriage that is strong and stable, and can weather the challenges of life. A marriage that is happy.
I learned about a celestial marriage not from books, or teachers, or from the media, but from watching two people who had a happy, celestial marriage. My parents taught me by their example, and I’ve had plenty of time to observe them.
These are nine lessons I learned from their example:
1. Respect Each Other No Matter What
I saw my parents respect each other every day. They didn’t talk down to each other. They didn’t demean each other’s ideas or opinions. They valued what the other person contributed to the family.
2. Work Together—and Sometimes Separately
Countless times, I saw my parents work side by side making dinner, doing yard work, cleaning the house, planning the finances, and numerous other tasks. I also saw my dad go to work every day, and my mom stay home and do things like laundry and take care of us. I learned that marriage is a partnership, and sometimes it means I’ll do things together with my husband and other times we’ll do different, but equally important, things.
3. Husbands should preside
From my dad, I learned that husbands should preside. He organized our family prayer and scripture study, and took the lead in family meetings. When he was gone, my mom organized these things. I learned that both fathers and mothers are the spiritual leaders in the home, and that fathers should lead out and preside.
4. Get an Education
From my mom, I learned that I needed an education. I knew she had gone to college, and watched as she took continuing education classes, read books, and learned from people in the community. My parents taught me that education is important to provide financially for myself and my family, if needed, as well as to better teach my children.
5. Together, Make Decisions Prayerfully
I watched my parents make important decisions, and even not-so-important decisions, very carefully. They worked together to make the best decision possible, and always made their decisions a matter of prayer.
6. Go to the Temple Often
I don’t remember my parents ever telling this to us outright, but I do remember them going to the temple almost every month of my growing up years. It was a priority for them. Through their example, I learned the importance of temple attendance for strengthening a marriage.
7. Support Each Other in Church Responsibilities
In The Church of Jesus Christ, the work of the ward, or congregation, is carried out by the members. Members accept various callings, or responsibilities, to serve in their wards. I watched as my parents both accepted various callings, and supported each other. My mom supported my dad when he was in a leadership position that took him away from home more. My dad supported my mom when she was asked to organize a choir.
8. Teach your children the gospel of Jesus Christ together
Both of my parents taught us about the gospel. As kids, we needed both of their perspectives and formal lessons about religion. From their example, I learned that neither the husband nor the wife is solely responsible for teaching their children the gospel; it’s a team effort.
9. Never forget you love each other
When I was really young, my dad would leave sticky notes around our house for my mom. On the bathroom mirror, in the kitchen, by the phone. He was always reminding her that he loved her. Now, I see my parents interact, and I can tell that they love each other, and that they remember it. They do nice things for each other. They say, “I love you.” And they tell us, their kids, that they’re happy they got married.
Marriage Brings Stability
When I was growing up, I never thought about my parents’ marriage; I took for granted that they were married and committed to staying that way. Now I see that the very fact that they were married and committed made our childhood incredibly stable. We never had to worry that our parents were fighting, or that they would divorce, or do anything else to break up our family.
As I wrote this article, I realized that 90-percent of what I knew about marriage I had learned from my parents’ example. Sunday School, Young Women, and Institute taught me valuable lessons about marriage, ones that I cherish very much.
However, actions speak louder than words, and the actions of my parents always spoke much louder than any words they or a teacher could ever have uttered. I hope to one day have a marriage like theirs, and teach my children through example what a happy, successful marriage should be.