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Couple Home Evening

By Christie Rasmussen

As a family of two, my husband and I have had a spotty track record of regular Family Home Evenings. Excluding the few evenings we’ve gotten together with another childless couple, I can’t remember the last time I had an FHE with just my husband. I recall early conversations during our first month of marriage where we discussed what our Monday nights would look like. In my typical fashion, I had a clearly organized plan with alternating lessons, songs, prayers, games, and refreshments between the two of us. I imagined cozy nights in with us enjoying each other’s company through a carefully crafted routine. Chad’s plan was somewhat lower key, shedding pretty much everything except an activity. I tried to muscle my plans into our newlywed schedule for a few weeks, but with one-sided effort, I eventually gave into the a compromise of sorts: no FHE. It wasn’t malicious–negligent, really, if anything.

The laziness still irks me, though. With every General Conference talk and Relief Society lesson reminding about the blessings to be reaped from a weekly Family gathering, I get hit with equal waves of guilt and longing for something more than my current situation. I know that we’re not necessarily at the stage where FHE is in its prime, but I have a testimony of how those evenings knit my family together growing up. Shining memories of my kid sister quizzing us on how much is appropriate to give to charity (“40 dollars. 50 dollars is too much.”) or rapid fire rock paper scissors tournaments when we were too time-strapped to get out a board game–it’s all dear to me. I wonder if we’re setting the wrong precedent. Three years into our marriage, we’re no longer newlyweds and our tendencies are taking the shape of habits on their way to becoming traditions. How easily will that change when we look to expand our family?

The answer is somewhere in between, I’m sure. Something less structured than the FHE of a more robust family I was so accustomed to with two parents and four siblings, yet more than absolute absence of planning I currently experience. But the laxness of the past few years has worn down my rationale. With just two people, what makes FHE any different from any other conversation? Any other time we read scriptures together or talk about something spiritual within the walls of our home?

So tell me, when did you start your FHE tradition? Is it a tradition, or do you struggle just as much as I do pushing a practice that seems like an awkward fit for your current household? In a way, I’m using this post as resolve to be more diligent in my planning, and I appreciate any advice or stories to help nudge me along.

About Christie Rasmussen

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9 thoughts on “Couple Home Evening”

  1. "With just two people, what makes FHE any different from any other conversation? Any other time we read scriptures together or talk about something spiritual within the walls of our home?"

    Maybe it isn't!

    I'm married to a non-churchy fellow and when we lived together (currently living on separate coasts) I probably had better and more regular FHE than I did growing up in a full church family. Part of that is because I specifically did not set aside a day/evening. As two people it was easy to just fit it into the week whenever. If we did something out of the ordinary with just the two of us and it was uplifting, it was the FHE for the week. I got more out of that every week than I expected.
    It also stretched me to try and fit in some uplifting things into my weeks which led to a new tradition of hitting up museums when they were cheap and/or free and that became FHE once a month or so. I find FHE is just as much about learning to enjoy your family as it is about learning to enjoy the gospel, which has helped me with loosening the reins on FHE.

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  2. I think every marriage and family has to work with different expectations and challenges, and times change–the FHEs of families with toddlers and families with teens aren't constant experiences either. Now that we've been married almost 22 years and our four kids are starting to fly the nest, it's interesting to look back. Like you, my husband won't take the initiative. If there's going to be FHE, family prayer, or scripture study, it's up to me. I resented this for a long while, and wished he would live up to this patriarchal responsibility, but finally decided that for the emotional and spiritual health of our family and marriage, this was going to be my thing. So I plan it all, and sometimes if he's working late he's not even there, but it happens so my kids know the pattern in their life. (To be clear, he's active and supportive, just an introvert who struggles with depression, and not into schedules and leadership that way. But we're not good at couple prayer, and I feel guilt about that whenever it's mentioned, because I hate to be the one to ask all the time about it.)
    What I do best with is having a plan–16 weeks of the living prophets, or a conference talk every Monday, or going through For the Strength of Youth or Preach My Gospel. If he's open to something like that, where you feel like you've achieved the formal success but it's not too tightly scripted for him, that might be a good compromise. Im curious to see how ours transitions in a few years when we're empty nesters… look forward to other ideas here on this thread. Good luck!

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  3. When I served as stake relief society president, my stake president estimated 4% or fewer priesthood holders take the initiative with fhe and family or couple prayer. He said that reality didn't excuse the sisters from the responsibility of having those practices bless their homes and children. My husband serves on the high council and if something pricks his conscience at a meeting, all of a sudden he's back saying we need to have family home evening. But it doesn't last. One thing we did do was to take a book of gospel experiences and each read a chapter aloud. It took such little effort to bring an abundance of the Spirit into our home and relationship. We finished the book and that ended family home evening once again and I can feel the difference. The prophets know whereof they speak.

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  4. As a family of one I have had similar thoughts. I find my self reading the Ensign or listening to a conference talk while I walk on the treadmill. I there are two key factors for me: 1) it is a set-aside time to study the gospel and have meaningful conversations (if there are two of you), if even for a few minutes at a time. For me it is time to put away things of the world for a few minutes and focus on what is more important in life. 2) "Follow the prophet, he knows the way." There must be a reason that no other church activities are to be held on Monday. Family time to study the gospel and develop healthy relationships must be important. A colleague who is now in the empty nest phase still holds FHE every week. That's impressive to me.

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  5. Wow — the 4% stat is a bit disheartening (yet, given my limited experience, accurate). As unfair as it seems, it does make sense that just because your partner isn't initiating gospel study/family experiences does not excuse the other half from trying to make it happen. And the blessings are real! Thanks for your comment.

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  6. You are such an example of the benefits of faithful obedience, Rosemary. And I love the idea of getting back to the purpose of FHE — set aside time to study the gospel and connect. Even if it's not what you would have expected that time to look like, it's the time itself that matters. Thanks for reminding me!

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  7. "If we did something out of the ordinary with just the two of us and it was uplifting, it was the FHE for the week." — love this. Thanks for sharing your experience, Britt! I think a change in perspective is what we (my husband and I) need right now.

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  8. Thanks, Acw. Three years in has taught me that there are still some expectations that I need to let go (like the expectation that we would equally initiate gospel-based activities). And I think the plan you mentioned is key. Thanks for the suggestions on what has worked for your family!

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  9. I approach FHE in a more "spirit of the law" sort of way because I see FHE being a way to spend quality time with your loved one(s). Quality time is of utmost importance (it's even a love language). Are you guys getting good quality time in every day with each other? If so, I would consider that a win in my book.

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