Here we are, men. Level 3. By this point we have embraced the simple concepts I suggested in Level 1 and Level 2. Most of those concepts are merely extensions of the idea behind President Hinckley’s teaching that “…a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.” (Link)
You may also have noticed that many of the suggestions can work both directions – meaning that our wives could do similar things for us to show their love.
Level 3 is different for several reasons:
A) Many of these suggestions are not our wives’ responsibilities – they belong to us.
B) Most of these are not MY suggestions – they come from much more authoritative people.
C) I had to change from talking about “you” to talking about “us,” because we are all in this together
D) I saved this for Sunday for a reason.
Shall we begin?
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
1) Providing for our Family is OUR job – not HERS. God set it up – since the beginning – for the fathers to be the breadwinners, to bring home the bacon, to put food on the table. (Making myself hungry) Society, and economic conditions have made it much tougher for this role to fall to us. Many more wives choose to work, or work out of necessity.
However, this does not let us off the hook. The goal should still be to follow prophetic counsel and be ferociously engaged in fulfilling our role as provider. We can’t sit back and let the government, or our wives do it for us.
Far too often we are unwilling to adopt a lifestyle that permits a single income family. These are tough decisions, that we need to resolve with our wives and our God.
—The next three are based on the same counsel that comes from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The responsibilities of a father “presiding” is something that many of us are really quick to “punt.”
2) FHE is OUR job – not HERS. It is not her job to plan it, run it, or pick up the mess afterwards. If our wives are in charge of FHE, we are abdicating our Priesthood responsibility. I hear guys say, “I delegate it to my wife, because she is better at it and like that kind of thing.” Cowards.
3) Family Scripture Study is OUR job – not HERS. It is our job to see that it happens every day. We need to marshall the kids, gather them, and teach out of the scriptures. Don’t just “read for mileage.” Teach out of the scriptures. We can’t sit and wait for our wives to do it. It is not her job.
4) Family Prayer is OUR job – not HERS. It is the same Priesthood responsibility as FHE and scripture study. It is not our wives job to see that daily family prayer is occurring in our homes. We need to step up, take charge and see that it gets done.
I have been doing this long enough to know that, right now, some of you are busy trying to figure out how to explain that I don’t know what I am talking about, or how your family situation is different. I will leave that to you to wrestle with. But here is a reminder that thesse aren’t my ideas – even though I have been the beneficiary of the blessings that come from these things my entire marriage.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” With that kind of love, brethren, we will be better husbands and fathers, more loving and spiritual leaders. Happiness at home is most likely to be achieved when practices there are founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. Ours is the responsibility to ensure that we have family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening.” Elder Russell M. Nelson “Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women.”
“It is our responsibility as fathers to lead our families in daily prayer, daily study of the scriptures, and in family home evening. We must prioritize and preserve these opportunities to build and strengthen the spiritual underpinnings of our families. President Hinckley said: “Try not to let anything interfere. Consider it sacred.” Elder Claudio Costa, “Priesthood Responsibilities.“
–Now I know some of you are saying, “Hey, MMM – I thought this was going to be about having a better marriage?” Although these things are about family, doing them can also make for happier marriages. How so? I will explain…
There is a countless number of wives – OUR wives, who at this very moment are having to move through life with three available options that they should never have to deal with:
A) Sit back and do without items 1-4, and quietly hope that we will step up and fulfill our Priesthood responsibilities.
B) Nag and pester and cajole and argue and criticize us for not stepping up and fulfilling our priesthood responsibilities.
C) Throw up her hands and do it herself, because she is sick of waiting for us to step up, and she understand how important these things are.
We must stop abrogating or delegating those responsibilities that God’s prophets have specifically assigned to us.
And now..back to the list.
5) Offer and give blessings. This requires that we need to be aware, in tune, and WORTHY! We can hardly drag out wives off to an R-rated movie, or click through some porn sites, and then feel good about laying our hands on their head. In those situation we should expect a glaring silence from the Spirit – our wives deserve better than that.
“Ours is the privilege to bestow priesthood blessings of healing, comfort, and direction.” (Elder Nelson)
6) Be sealed in the temple. If that has already been accomplished, be faithful to those covenants, and take her back often. I know this seems like a “no-brainer,” but it is important. I personally know men who think that since they went to the temple one time and got sealed, their temple attending days are over, and their eternal marriage is in the bag. Not so.
“The noblest yearning of the human heart is for a marriage that can endure beyond death. Fidelity to a temple marriage does that. It allows families to be together forever.” Elder Russell M. Nelson “Celestial Marriage.”
7) Take her our on a regular date night – Weekly if possible. When I go on a date, I toss a note on Facebook that says “Date Night – Wahoo!” or something similar. I am always saddened and stunned when I see responses from our wives that say things like, “I can’t remember the last time we went on a date.” Or “What is Date NIght.” C’mon, guys!
If our wives can say they haven’t been on a date for months, then we suck. Side note: If the kids are with you, it isn’t a date.
“Keep the courtship alive. Make time to do things together – just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time together. Scheduling it will let your children know that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning and scheduling.” Elder Joe J. Christensen, (Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness)
8) Share the money management burden. It is not enough to go to work, make the money, and drop the check on her desk and expect her to manage the money. It is not HER job. it is BOTH of ours. Don’t make her carry the burden of handling the family finances by herself. It is patently unfair. It is also wrong, according to Church leaders.
“Where there is respect, there is also transparency, which is a key element of happy marriages. There are no secrets about relevant matters in marriages based on mutual respect and transparency. Husbands and wives make all decisions about finances together, and both have access to all information.”
“Husbands and wives in great marriages make decisions unanimously, with each of them acting as a full participant and entitled to an equal voice and vote.” Elder L. Whitney Clayton, “Marriage: Watch and Learn.”
No secrets. No accusations. No fights about where the money went. Sound good?
9) Repent fastest, and apologize first. I don’t remember who taught me this. I wrote it as a note once during a leadership training meeting. It has been a blessing in my life. We can’t play the game of seeing who is going to cave in and apologize first. Life is too sort for that nonsense.
10) Sincerely tell her you love her every day of your life. I’m not citing sources on this one. It is another no-brainer that somehow gets over looked. Also, texts are great, but eye contact is better.
11) Don’t ever criticize or say anything negative about our wives to anyone. Not our buddies, mother, father, coworkers, other women, or especially our kids.(The exception: Other than when working with your bishop or a professional counselor.)
“Let us not hurt the ones we love the most by selfish criticism! In our families, small arguments and petty criticisms, if allowed to go unchecked, can poison relationships and escalate into estrangements, even abuse and divorce. Instead, just like we learned with the poisonous venom, we must “make full haste” to reduce arguments, eliminate ridicule, do away with criticism, and remove resentment and anger. We cannot afford to let such dangerous passions ruminate—not even one day.” Elder David E. Sorenson, “Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love.”
12) Keep the commandments together. That is the only way we can have the Spirit in our lives, to help us with the ups and downs, the important decisions, and the difficult times. President Boyd K. Packer said it great:
“There are many things which go into making a marriage enriching, but they seem to be of the husk. Having the companionship and enjoying the fruits of a Holy and Divine Presence is the kernel of a great happiness in marriage. Spiritual oneness is the anchor. Slow leaks in the sanctifying dimension of marriage often cause marriages to become flat tires.”The Enriching of Marriage.”
There it is Level 3. Now I know there are many other tips that would help make for a better marriage, but I chose these 12 for a reason:I testify that this counsel is from God, through his prophets and leaders. I also stand as a witness that if we embrace these concepts, our wives will be happier, we will be happier, our children will be happier, and being exalted together will be greatly enhanced.
And nothing – nothing – would make our wives happier.