12 Tips to a Better Marriage – For Men (Level 3)

26

DC temple

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?

LEVEL 3

 “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.

MMM logo small

 

 

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. Love, love, love this! Thank you from a family that needs this message so succinctly put! We were sealed in that beautiful temple, too!

  2. If you follow all these yourself I’m impressed. Of course they say behind every great man is a great woman. Yours must be amazing. I’m wondering if you can talk your EC or as I like to think of her, MMW to come up with a list for me to work on…(I know I can work on your lists. As you said they can go both directions. But I’d love one geared toward women.)

    • As I mentioned in the post, I struggle to be consistent with some of them – but there aren;t any that I willfully refuse to try and accomplish.

      And yes, my EC is amazing and deserves my efforts.

  3. Perfect example of why I’ve never gotten married!
    While I did pretty good on list 1 & ok on list 2…I totally Sucked on this list.
    Goose Egg
    :o(
    xoDaleB.xo

  4. I know it is for the men, and I confess, my sweetie pie drops the ball on the first 4, and I have had to stop doing all of the behaviors mentioned. I finally realized I have the choice to be mad/let it go undone, or I can try to support him as best I can. I can lovingly remind him it is time for Scripture study or FHE and ask him to call the family together. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to, he just isn’t thinking about it. I may still be irritated by his forgetfulness, but when I do feel frustrated, I just have to remind myself of all the other things he does get right. And #11…. that’s huge. I am blessed to have a man who is aware of all my numerous faults, but never speaks a negative word about me. Ever. (And believe me, I have deserved it!)

  5. When Joel and I were in our first year of marriage, there was a night that did not go well. I was pregnant and sick, we had been arguing all day- we were both emotional- and both exhausted. We went to bed, and the blanket I had been using slipped off. I was cold, but too tired to get up and find where the blanket had dropped. Joel woke up, and without a word, gave me his blanket- warm and toasty- and got up and walked around to my side of the bed and retrieved my cold blanket and used it. The spirit powerfully confirmed that this was a man, who would always take care of me. I was safe with him- and his heart was genuine and pure. Needless to say- he got the biggest kiss ever when he got back into bed! Its been almost 18 years, and I have never forgotten that act of Christ like service- and anytime there has been the temptation to doubt who he is, this event is brought to my mind- along with the many other times he has repeated this pattern. I am so grateful to have a husband that loves the Savior, and does everything in his power to follow his commandments. That honors our covenants made in The Holy Temple and that honors His Priesthood and uses it regularly to bless the lives of others. I cant imagine a life with anything less. I know that Heavenly Father would not want any less for me either.

  6. What does one say to all of the ‘feminists Mormons’ who are appalled by the men being the Patriarch’s of the home? I realize you quoted excellent sources, but lately I’ve been reading about too many women who feel that the church does not have equality. I am not one of them, but I read or hear their concerns and have a problem with what to say.

    • I say follow the prophet! People can be “appalled” at how God runs things, or you can have faith. It is time for everyone to pick sides.

      • Why does feminism translate into having to do everything ourselves.? At the end of the day I am often emotionally exhausted and gladly support any effort my husband makes toward getting FHE and scripture study done.

  7. Might I suggest another item for your list (which is excellent, by the way). I know, 13 is such an inconvenient and “non-scriptural” number… but J.S. himself couldn’t keep the AoF to just 12! 🙂

    13. Tell yourself and your wife at least once every day that she is THE BEST (daily is good but best results are realized with the advice given on your shampoo bottle: “repeat as needed”). If you repeat this often enough, both of you will become convinced of its truth. Others may say that you both are deluded but who cares what they think? It’s her to whom I’m sealed. Besides, I can’t think of a better delusion under which to live. It’s been an important element of a successful formula for happiness in over 22 years of marriage for me.

    Thanks for this series of posts. Truly wise and inspired counsel.

  8. So what is your advice to a woman whose husband literally does none of these things? We were married in the temple over 20 years ago, have several children, and keep plugging away. He is a good man and an especially good dad, but I am still hanging on to a thread of hope that someday he will suggest family prayer or take me on a date or go to the temple with me or offer me a blessing when I need one or share the burden of managing finances. (continue through the list in similar fashion) Everyone thinks we are a great family, and in many ways we are, but my heart aches when I see lists like these and realize we could have so much more. He is stubborn and hasn’t changed in all these years. I feel like I carry a huge weight on my shoulders, and just like you suggested, I have always either patiently waited or nagged and pestered or done it all myself. Until I am so exhausted I can’t do it all anymore, then carry the guilt of not doing all the things our family should be doing. What is a hopeful wife to do? Thanks 🙂

    • I don’t have any specific advice, but am so grateful to see you recognize he’s a good man, husband, and father. My husband was raised by a good man, and father. He was not a member, but got baptized at one point just to get his nagging wife off his back. She’s got many good qualities, but her nagging is relentless! It didn’t get her off his back, but such is life married to a nagger.

      My mother in law led fhe, scripture study, and went to church with the kids every Sunday. I’m sure it was exhausting for her, and according to my husband she started MANY fights with her husband about it. Through it all my husband came through it “normal” and he is a great guy. During his mission (which his dad paid for 100%) he did a lot of reflecting on his parents’ dysfunctional marriage. He came to the conclusion that his dad was a great man and father, but not a good priesthood holder. Too often in the church good men get labeled as completely bad because they aren’t great preisthood leaders. Why would they ever step up once they’re labeled as a bad man? My husband continues to see the value, and is so grateful, for the things he learned from having a good father. He then recognized the value of his mother’s consistent spiritual practices. Because of his own reflection, and the habits practiced by his mother I now have a husband that does lead these things….most of the time. 😉 He also always defers to his father when we visit his parents. When his mom tries to call on someone for prayer, my husband will step in and defer to his father who should be the one doing it. His dad will then step up and call on someone. They are in their late 70s now, I doubt any major behavior changes will occur, but his dad has watched our functional marriage and made small changes and asked good doctrinal questions over the years. There have been times I’ve had to sit down and explain that by night I’m just completely spent and don’t have the strength to lead fhe or scripture study. Then the next day when he forgot tell him tag your it go gather them. Your husband may not ever change, but your kids can become good priesthood leaders themselves even without leadership from dad. Good Luck, sending hugs your way.

      • Thank you so much Big Mama! You are absolutely right — my husband may not be a great priesthood holder, but that doesn’t mean he is a bad man. (I need to drill that into my head!) I am grateful to hear that my earnest but sometimes less than adequate efforts can still help my sons learn how to lead in their own homes someday.

        • And what do you say to your child who asks “How come mom/dad doesn’t have to go to church but I do?” Or to children who resent that they were dragged to church to destroy their last day off from school for the weekend, because the other principles were rarely practiced/explained in the home, and who then also pretty much resent ‘religion’ because they didn’t live the Gospel at home?

          How do you overcome when children resent the one parent who takes them to church, and tries to instill principles, and who might very well then be thought of as ‘controlling,’ or ‘nagging?’

          I appreciate Big Mama’s post as an insight to families with only one active member in the church but who are basically good people otherwise, but it seems like the one parent who did the work of rearing her children in the Gospel was shed in a not very favorable light, and as if she was the one solely responsible for the dysfunction in the family.

          • That is such a difficult scenario, and I feel bad that it happens. It is patently unfair when anyone is painted as “the bad guy” for trying to do what is right. Even so, we still have to keep trying to do our best, and bring our kids long. I have very little wisdom on how to do that, because it is out of my range of personal experience, but I do know that both you and your bishop have the right to receive inspiration on how to deal with difficult situations such as this. Sorry I can;t be of more help…

  9. #4 is my favorite here. I recently wrote my own post about how much I appreciate my husband asking me to say prayers with him when we first married. I was not active for the first 17 years of our marriage, but I did have a testimony, and I agreed to pray with him (and later our children). If he had not taken the lead in this one thing, our family would be much different now. I’m truly blessed (as are my kids) that my husband took prayer as a serious matter and his responsibility.

  10. That is wonderful advice! Being an unhappy wife of a porn addict who does not honor his priesthood I can see how different and happy my marriage could be if my husband would have listened to this counsel better. Makes me sad. 🙁 Thank you for showing me that there are men that still care!

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)