All young girls look forward to their own fairy tale wedding. It is a thought driven into the minds and hearts of the young by Disney princesses sashaying and singing their way across the screen, in the Jane Austen novels we read as teens, and in the romantic comedies we view with our gal pals in college.

Indeed, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all young women are taught and implored to look forward to one day go to the House of the Lord–the temple–to be married for time and all eternity. The ultimate fairy tale wedding, to never be parted from one’s true love, not even through death.

mormon temple marriageOnly those who are married in the temple and whose marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise will continue as spouses after death. A temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage… 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.” (Celestial Marriage, Russel M. Nelson, October 2008 General Conference.)

Surely, a marriage of this caliber is one that involves much thought and an understanding of the heart. President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlined the decision process of marriage this way:

“In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that, of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong.” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in Speeches of the Year, 1976, 143–44; see also Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, 10–11).

Couple cooking togetherWiser counsel has perhaps never been given. But what happens when you have made THAT list, and checked it twice, and you find yourself years later scratching your head in confusion. What if “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance?” What if all the fasting and prayer yielded a positive confirmation by the Spirit, and you find yourself living in a marriage where either party just cannot figure out how to respect the other?

Discomfort in marriage is not something that is traditionally shared with one’s friends. In fact, we are often counseled to not talk about our spouse to our friends. Just because your friends are not sharing that their husband leaves his socks on the ground or a pile of dirty dishes on the counter doesn’t mean it too doesn’t happen at their house.

couple preparing salad togetherMarriage in God’s holy house and a testimony of marrying the right person does not exclude you from having difficulties in marriage. It has taken me 11.5 years to come to that realization.
In fact, perhaps the valid answer you received when going to your knees and asking God if he/she was the right one meant that marriage is better than being single. Or that this person would provide you with so much learning experience that you would come out of the refiner’s fire with a solid gold halo. That resounding ‘yes’ that filled your heart with joy didn’t mean that your marriage would never experience trials.

Agency in marriage is the one thing you cannot take without asking, (although you should ask if it’s okay to take the last donut). We all go through trials and it is not fair to assume that your spouse exists only to please you and support you through your own. Agency is God’s gift to everyone, including our spouse.

couple talking.Sometimes another person’s use of agency can create chaos in a marriage. So, when that happens, does that mean that our earnest prayers of our youth were misunderstood? That you got it all wrong?
I have asked myself that question over the years. And the Spirit always whispers: “If it was right then, it is right now!”

God sent us here to experience trials. That is what his divine gift of agency is all about. The trial, for some, just might be surviving your marriage and learning to see someone else through God’s eyes; to love someone so unconditionally you would stick with them through it all.

There is no other way in which the Saints can make spiritual improvement and be prepared for an inheritance in the celestial kingdom than through tribulation…if all our surroundings were peaceful and prosperous now, we…would not stretch out after the things of eternity. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, 2011.)

About Jessica Clark
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.

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