“Unity among the human family is not natural. It’s a miracle and such great miracles require exceedingly great faith and works. It will only happen by God’s unique ways, which are higher than ours.” ~Ahmad S. Corbitt
This quote flashed to my view while scrolling my Facebook feed on Friday. Also on Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. While I know that Brother Corbitt referred to a broader context than unity in my marriage, his statement perfectly described our marital journey.
Meeting My Future
I met Anthony on a fluke. I graduated from Brigham Young University and had been working for a year. My cousin Evan told me about a work abroad program he planned to do and I signed up for it, too. I quit my job in Utah and headed to Texas to spend six weeks at home with my family before moving to Germany for a year to work as an au pair.
My uncle co-owned Putt Putt Golf and Games in Midland, Texas. Anthony had been in that business for eight years and had been recruited from Lubbock, Texas to work as an assistant manager at the new store in Midland. He basically knew my entire family and extended family living in Midland. He’d become good friends with my brother Daylen and had eaten dinner at my parents’ home several times.
I decided to work for a couple of weeks as a birthday party captain at Putt Putt before leaving for Germany. Why not?
One night after I’d finished a party in the hot West Texas summer heat and had my arms elbow-deep in hot dishwater, Daylen came up to chat with me. Suddenly, he called through a pass-through window by the sink to the golf counter, “Hey, Anthony, I want you to meet my sister.” Anthony’s upper torso popped through the window and he said hi and reached to shake my hand, which was dripping wet. When I protested, he said he didn’t mind wet hands, and so I shook his hand. His demeanor and personality impressed me.
But that wasn’t all. When I shook Anthony’s hand, I received direct revelation from the Lord that Anthony was my future. To be honest, I grumbled a little because I knew he was in a long-term relationship and he wasn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Again, the impression came.
I laughed because I’d told the Lord He would have to zap me with a bolt of lightning for me to commit to marriage. I’d had opportunities to marry good, honorable men before, but I couldn’t do it. But suddenly, at 25 years old, about to head to a far distant land, and with difficult obstacles to overcome, I was zapped.
Throughout the night, we interacted as our paths crossed and I decided to trust the Lord. I did something I had never completely done. I opened my heart.
We were like two comets that unexpectedly collided on our trajectories. The crash shattered our shells and crammed particles of each of us in the other’s soul.
I’m not sure if we could have been more different, from such different worlds, with such different approaches and ideas, but in that collision, all of the identities receded and we recognized each other’s soul.
But would that be enough to keep us in synchronous orbit?
Before we married, my dad asked me if I’d had confirmation of the Holy Ghost to marry Anthony. Dad said he felt like I would need to have had a confirmation and have recognized it because I would need to remember that revelation throughout our marriage.
Dad also counseled me to communicate. He was glad we loved each other, but could we communicate? He said communication would save our marriage during hard times.
We both brought baggage to the relationship, but I brought a lot of gaping trauma, some that I wasn’t aware of until that ring was placed on my finger. I’d been sexually harassed and assaulted and I resented and distrusted men generally. My relationships had been erratic. I’d experienced “light switch moments” where I went from on to off. I just suddenly, instantly was done—the feeling was gone, chemistry evaporated, relationship over.
And I had just committed to someone for eternity when my longest relationship had been a matter of months.
Building Unity in Marriage
What a ride it’s been as we’ve undertaken to created unity in marriage! We traversed my issues. We hung on when something unequivocally important to me became unimportant to him. We clung to each other while tossed by despair, grief, and external heartache.
And when we hit the walls, we communicated. We reassured each other we weren’t trying to be jerks. We try to avoid pushing buttons and doing pet peeves. During one decade, we had to touch each other in some way (like toe to foot sometimes) because we found that physical touch diffused anger and misunderstanding faster. In one phase of us, we’d go across the street and sit on a huge stone, “our thinking rock,” and talk things out in that neutral location.
Even when shaking mad, we don’t call each other names. We learned to avoid saying words like “I always” and “you never” while expressing our grievances. We try to talk out our issues right away. We used to let them fester a little and it’s miserable for both of us. So we just bite the bullet and work through it as soon as possible. We apologize and ask for forgiveness. And we forgive and forget.
We realized how we think differently and acknowledge those differences as we communicate. We’ve learned to identify the real issue, and if we don’t know what the real issue is at the outset, we’ve learned to be patient while it is uncovered and articulated.
We are so different! To keep feeling connected and create memories with both of us in them, we identified things we both like to do, and can do, together and then we do them. We also honor time spent apart doing other things we like to do. But the majority of our off-work time is spent together. We love spending time together even if we’re not doing anything memorable.
We read verses of scripture and pray together before bed. Even when traveling, we do this consistently via phone or face-to-face call. I’ve spent personal prayer trying to figure out how to overcome my weaknesses and issues. After prayer, we tell each other at least one thing we appreciate about the other that day—something we noticed, something we loved. Happily, even after 20 years, he can still find at least one thing to say every day.
My dad’s prophecy about remembering the revelation to marry Anthony has been fulfilled a thousand times. And when I have shut down, Anthony’s commitment to communication is the thing that opens my heart again.
The only constant in our marriage is that we love each other. And even that has changed. We are totally different people today than 24 years ago when we met. We’ve found ways to keep falling in love with each other and to give unconditional love.
You Must Battle for Unity in Marriage Every Day
“The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day.” ~Brigham Young
Eternal life is the seat I desire to obtain with my husband. We have experienced the war the adversary wages to divide us against each other. We’ve felt heartbroken and misunderstood and frustrated.
I’m grateful for a husband who is willing to battle for us. One night during an especially difficult “battle,” Anthony looked at me and said, “Delisa, this is worth it. Our marriage is worth it. Let’s figure this out.”
I certainly couldn’t figure it out without him and knowing that he wants to work it out as much as I do makes all the difference.
So when I read Ahmad S. Corbitt’s words—
Unity among the human family is not natural. It’s a miracle and such great miracles require exceedingly great faith and works. It will only happen by God’s unique ways, which are higher than ours—
I knew our unity was a miracle that required great faith and works. Because of both faith and works, the beauty of this marriage far surpasses the darkness of the battle scars. Every day we add to our unity which, through the grace of Jesus Christ’s atonement, becomes our personal Zion and heaven on Earth.
About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.