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Twoo Wuv

By Justine Dorton

fiddler_on_the_roof_fiddlerIn the late 1950’s, a man was stirred by the soul of a woman in his ward. He couldn’t get this woman off his mind. He discussed the matter with his Bishop. He had only spoken to her once. The story winds and meanders for a couple of months, and ends with the boy and the girl sitting in the Bishop’s office. The boy still hadn’t had a proper conversation with the girl.

The Bishop told them to get married.

Three weeks later, they were husband and wife.

Still happily married.

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It’s the early 1960’s, a girl is beginning her freshman year at University. Visiting home one weekend, her father has a young man at dinner with the family. “He’s in medical school. He’s Catholic. He’s Italian. It’s settled.” The arrangement is not well veiled in this list of his attributes.

One month later, they wed.

Still happily married.
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There is a heavy value in today’s society placed on romance. We sing about it, write about it, make movies about it. We herald it as a cause worthy of death. We spend billions of dollars watching movies that involve woo-ing. The romance novel industry is another billion dollar enterprise. It would seem we all want to know and believe that romance is alive and well, that a kind of love still exists that makes your tie flap, your knees weak, and your head woozy.

I remember well the “drunken state” I found myself in when I first met my husband. I almost lost my job, I became unable to coherently string together words in his presence. I buttoned my shirts up wrong.

But it, of course, didn’t last. And I might say emphatically how glad I am that it didn’t. Now, instead of my blood pressure rising in happiness at seeing my husband, my blood pressure drops. My heart has stopped skipping beats, but instead slows down in peace and calm when he is around.

I listened to a teacher recently refer to marriage as a mission. Our mission being to see that the other partner become a Queen or King in Heaven.

That doesn’t sound very romantic. It actually sounds like a lot of work. It’s a work I am privileged and happy to undertake. But it’s a work, nonetheless.

And watching the two marriages from the stories above, I’ve seen that it doesn’t actually take romance to make it work. It takes commitment. It takes dedication. It takes duty. Those aren’t very sexy words, but they’ve filled me with more satisfaction and happiness than romance ever ever could.

I think I was sold a lie about romance.

The message I remember from popular culture was clear – romance was the goal. I was always looking for ‘True Love’, but my conception of what True Love was… it involved a lot of flower bouquets and long periods of staring into someone’s eyes. It involved smoldering kisses and romantic getaways.

Romance is certainly nice – but the last twenty years have taught me that hard work is nicer. Working together with my spouse to take care of each other, to push each other, to wade through hard times together, it means more to me than every single rose petal and longing glance.

And now, I see friends passing up worthy and upright relationships because he doesn’t make them weak in the knees. I don’t know how to feel about this. No Bishop in his right head would ever – in this decade – tell two people to get married. And yet I see wonderful people waiting for the magical feeling that movies portray, waiting for the fairy dust to descend over them. Waiting and waiting and waiting, and never finding true happiness. I also see marriages ending because the flutters of early love waned. Spouses chasing that ever elusive feeling of ‘new romance’, and leaving their families in shambles in the wake of their quest.

I know I waited for it and expected it. Which really gives me no license to talk about it, I know. I know in many ways I got lucky. Women ten times more amazing and competent than me are still waiting. But it makes me sad.

I’m certainly not advocating arranged marriage. But I think if we understood that marriage is a mission, a work, a labor of happiness, maybe we could enter marriage with smarter eyes. And maybe we’d stick it out a little longer.

Because for me, laboring for happiness makes it sweeter and more enduring than any bestowal of happiness ever could have. And there’s probably no marriage on earth that doesn’t have to work for it. Sending the message that ‘True Love’ somehow makes it easy is a dangerous road to walk. We all see the fallout of that message around us.

So, help me out. I know romance isn’t wrong. But how do I teach my own children to value ‘working’ relationships. To see that enduring love is a labor of love, not a constant candle-lit dinner? And can we influence the adult world around us? Is it appropriate to somehow show that romance is hollow? I just can’t stand to watch any more friends’ marriages fail. I can’t stand the thought of watching one more man leave his wife in search of Molly Ringwald.

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

68 thoughts on “Twoo Wuv”

  1. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I keep thinking I would really like to arrange marriages for my kids. But then I look back on my own life, and remember that my dad was less than thrilled with my choice of a spouse. He certainly would have picked someone else. But here we are, 22 years later, and I still love my husband as much (actually more) as I did when I married him. And my dad loves him too.

    Marriage is work. Marriage is fun. Marriage is hard, and yet, sometimes very easy. Marriage is romance one day, and dealing with crap the next. I guess I just keep thinking that it is important not to make it sound like a fairytale to our kids. But it's just as important not to make it sound so intimidating that they are scared to take the "I do" step.

    It's funny. My husband was just telling me how someone he works with sent flowers to his wife to apologize for something. I told him I couldn't remember the last time he sent me flowers. He reminded me that I had told him that I thought they were a waste of money, and not ever to do that. Oh what fickle beings we women are!

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  2. I actually didn't get flowers for Valentine's day this year because I made such a point the week before about how much of a mark up the florists put on flowers that week. The funny things they listen to. 🙂

    I think the best way to show that love and marriage are work is to do just that, show it. Show your children. Show the world around you that it isn't a Hollywood script. I don't think airing dirty laundry is the way to do it. But I think kids who grow up seeing their parents working together but still having those moments when dad dips mom into a deep kiss or other such romantic things, when they see that balance, they grow up with a more realistic idea of what love is.

    I don't necessarily think romance is hollow (but them I'm also a month away from my wedding so my views right now are probably quite skewed), but I do believe that the chick-flick scripted romances are hollow. I don't hear the orchestra swell when my fiancé walks into the room. But I do feel a quiet excitement when I imagine being with him forever.

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  3. I watched my 20s and 30s pass by as an active single Mormon. It was torture. Everyone fussed about my "being too picky" and clucked about how unrighteous I was being for not making more of an effort to get married (!). Huh? I dated at least twice a month; looked good; smelled nice; had two degrees under my belt.

    When a thrice-divorced busybody asked why I didn't just "marry anyone" in my singles ward, I snapped. I would love to apologize to her now (well, sorta). I said: "I would feel like a prostitute!" And I would. How could I marry just any old guy? Celestial kingdom in exchange for a couple of thousand rolls in the hay? No thanks!

    Sorry–no butterflies; no wedding ring.

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  4. I had a distinctive "ick" feeling when I went on a date with a friend from singles ward. I had dated two non-member guys at that point, and didn't get that feeling with them. I was willing to date my friend–he was a nice guy.

    When I started dating the guy who I would eventually marry, another from singles ward but this was a long term crush, I had that moment of wariness when he put his arm around me at a group gathering. It was different than the "ick" I felt with the other guy, and eventually I got over it. I think it was wariness about being in a relationship that would actually lead to marriage. It was a moment of decision when I felt his arm go around me, because I knew where allowing it would lead. (I never told him about that moment, btw)I did get the butterflies and such, but it wasn't like with my very first love, thank goodness.

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  5. Wonderfully written, Justine. One of my ideas to teach them the things you are talking about is to literally TEACH them–talk about it. After Disney movies or Happily Ever After books, discuss the realities. Have family home evenings on marriage & relationships. Find those moments to see what their expectations are. I agree wholeheartedly with the teach-by-example ideas above.

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  6. I think realizing that marriage isn't all romance and actually takes a lot of work will change how many people stick it out, but I don't think that changes that I want to find someone who can give me some butterflies in the stomach. But I liked that goal of ensuring your spouse becomes a king or queen.

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  7. Boy, this is an interesting post. And I think about this subject a lot. You see, I have an unmarried son who is 29 years old and still waiting for the butterflies. He has had the opportunity to marry several lovely young women, but none of them has felt quite "right" to him.

    I've spent the last several years talking to him about being too picky, expecting too much "magic," etc. He didn't like it, and I've stopped. Because one thing finally occurred to me. Why should my son have to settle for less than I felt and feel about my husband? I was and am head over heels in love with him; in fact, I was giddy with it for several years. But I did not rush into marriage blindly. Giddy as I was, I still waited and pondered and tested the relationship. We dated through most of college and waited until we had both graduated to marry. Waiting wasn't easy, but it was worth it, and he was unwilling to wed until he could support me. (Yep, he's the old-fashioned type.)

    I think it HAS made a difference in our marriage that we went into it madly in love. That undercurrent in our relationship, which is definitely more prevalent at some time than others, has carried us through many trials and tribulations. Even when the romance has gone underground for a time, we know it's there, like a sort of benediction on the totality of our commitment to each other. Of course, there is much more to our partnership than romance. We have similar beliefs, goals and outlooks on life. We are both committed, loyal people. We have created a family that both of us love to distraction.

    At the base of it all, though, is the deep and yes, passionate love we feel for one another. Passion. It can indeed go hand in hand with agape love and even good sense. Why should my son have to settle for less?

    (And yet, having said all of that, I still wish I could arrange his marriage!!!)

    😉

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  8. I went into my youth with the expectation of butterflies, too! And I'll admit that I did find them. But I felt them with a few different relationships I had, but that wouldn't have been necessarily good for me in the long run. I just don't think butterflies in the stomach is an accurate predictor of success in a marriage.

    And Sue, I see what you're saying, and I don't necessarily disagree. But I have seen powerfully happy and content marriages come out of situations described above. I think we too often sell our abilities short when we assume we can't make it work unless x, y, or z is present.

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  9. Just last month, I chronicled the story of my husband and I's relationship. We met while still in high school, broke up for his mission, but I didn't exactly wait for him. I got engaged, broke it off, then married my husband.

    The year before I went to college, our Institute course was "Courtship and Eternal Marriage." Attending those classes saved my life. Our teacher taught us that it was possible to fall in love with someone you shouldn't marry. I had never considered that before. I had only been in love once, and honestly thought I'd marry the guy. (Which I did, but that's beside the point.)

    The next year I went off to BYU-I. Met a great guy and fell in love with him. I wanted to marry him so badly. Luckily our "divorce" took place before the marriage. Then I started dating my husband again, and falling in love with him. But I was TERRIFIED to get serious. I swore I wouldn't say the words "I love you" until I knew GOD wanted me to marry him.

    I remember one time in particular where I was completely infatuated with him one day and completely annoyed with him the next. "That's not love!" I told myself. I talked to my mom about it, saying my feelings should be consistent.

    She kindly explained that loving someone doesn't mean you're head-over-heels everyday.

    The point is, I really feel that being "in love" is NO REASON to get married. It's good to love the one you marry, but not necessarily marry the one(s) you love.

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  10. "Now, instead of my blood pressure rising in happiness at seeing my husband, my blood pressure drops."

    I love this. So true! I'm not sure how to best communicate this to the next generations, but I certainly agree that more marriages could and would work if expectations were helped and made more realistic, though, to be fair, my story isn't very realistic.

    I was too school oriented in high school and most of college to date much or have a boyfriend. I also didn't have any butterflies with any men I met. It wasn't until I was inactive and finally dating in Boston that I met my husband to be. There were definitely butterflies, but they were there because I KNEW that this was who I was going to marry, but I couldn't see how it was going to work out. I felt like I had finally found my best friend and that I would spend the rest of my existence with him, but despite my inactivity, I didn't see how I would be marrying a non-member. Long story short, we did marry, he converted and we went to the temple. I also had several experiences with my patriarchal blessing along the way that lent me the belief that I had actually found my "soulmate". I know most people don't put much stock in that, but it was too specific for me to argue otherwise.

    Point is…I wasn't accustomed to much romance, so anything my husband did along the way that showed he was thinking of me seemed over the top. And as the years went on I made sure he knew that I appreciated the flowers from our courtship so that they wouldn't stop coming and I wouldn't have an excuse to blame him for letting things get stale. But because of my experiences and my expectations that we were meant to be (which anyone can probably make themselves believe) I have worked hard to make this the marriage that I want. I have pursued and given as much of the romance as I would want to receive so our kids have definitely seen the manifestations. The "love languages" have also helped me in the quest to keep showing affection. And the Golden Rule is always a good thing to fall back on.

    I don't think romance is wrong to expect, but maybe the pressure needs to be taken off the men a bit. There's a lot to be said for taking the initiative, and especially in marriage it can add to the passion factor for women (seems backwards I know, but it's well documented). So why not teach from the get go that all the affection and romance doesn't NEED to start with the men? Would that help in both courtship expectations and long term happiness in marriage? Men like to be on the receiving end of demonstrations of love just as much as we do from what I've experienced.

    I also like the thought that our mission is to elevate and exalt our spouses to their full potential. Great post.

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  11. You are so right, Justine. I see it in the singles around me and, of course, it's epidemic with our young women.

    I agree with Wendy. You have to talk about it with your kids, just like anything else. I have three boys and every opportunity I get I tell them, "see what your dad just did? when you're married, you do that!" My husband and I make an effort to talk with our boys about each other and what we contribute to our marriage and family.

    A happy marriage is work, lots of it, but all worth it. After seventeen years I couldn't be happier.

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  12. "My heart has stopped skipping beats, but instead slows down in peace and calm when he is around."

    Justine, like Corktree, this concept describes what I love about my marriage. Previously, I had experienced the trauma of failed marriage and actually wrote in my journal about eight years ago that I didn't think I should ever marry again because I had tried very hard and it seemed like it would just be easier and more peaceful to stay single. After writing those words, I instantly felt darkness that scared me so much that I quickly turned the page and wrote, "I don't think what I wrote is true, because I've never felt such a negative STUPOR OF THOUGHT…" Shortly after that, I flipped open the scriptures and read about Simon-Peter fishing all night without success. Jesus arrived and told Peter to cast his net in the lake one more time. Peter did and the net was so full of fish that it broke. The Spirit whispered to me, "Kathryn , cast your net in one more time and you will be blessed."

    My husband of six years has been an amazing blessing in my life. He gives priesthood blessings that are as powerful as my patriarchal blessing. He loves my kids like they are his own flesh and blood. We are currently in another parenting crisis and last night, just after he gave me another amazing priesthood blessing, I said to my husband, "You are such a peaceful blessing in my life. I feel so safe when I'm with you and I don't know how I would have survived all these parenting crises without your calm strength."

    Marriage can be a glorious blessing; however, I used to say to my younger beautiful and talented single sisters who taught with me at BYU, "There are much worst things than not being married. Don't lower your standards just to be married."

    Purely physical attraction can create those butterflies, so I warned my only daughter to not base her eternal marital decisions on butterflies. I was not physically attracted to my husband when we first started dating. He was new to the singles scene after a divorce, and I felt sorry for him. He was super smart and spiritual, but I initially thought of him as a sad little puppy. He absolutely adored me and treated me like I was a glorious celestial creature. The love that eventually evolved seemed very spiritual and pure. With that love, I eventually felt the physical attraction (butterflies) that would also be a source of joy in our marriage.

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  13. OK–but what about this…

    We've all heard of people who got engaged and at some point broke it off. They said it wasn't right for whatever reason and they're really glad it didn't happen. However, often times they'll say something like "I think we could have made it work, but …." Well, what if you're one of the people who felt like that but DID get married.

    I have struggled since the day I got married wondering if I did the right thing. I fell really hard for my husband while we were dating but right after getting engaged I got cold feet. Really cold. I talked to everyone, got blessings, and prayed, prayed, prayed. In the end I decided I should move forward–it had felt right all the way through our courtship–more right than any other relationship in fact. I was even given specific council to move forward in a blessing from a priesthood holder I very much trusted. I felt like I was scared but didn't know why. I wasn't excited about my wedding… I didn't recognize it at the time, but I believe I fell out of love with my husband, I just thought that when we got married things would go back to the way they were…well they didn't. 4 years and 1 child later I question it all. the. time. It's really hard because I feel like most of the motivation to do better and to serve comes from the love you feel for your spouse… so what about when you don't feel love for your spouse? When you feel like you never really loved your spouse? Not that I don't love him at all, but I feel very little for him romantically and never really have (except for when we dated). He knows this. To a point–he knows I've struggled with this off and on. I just don't think he realizes how much it affects everything. He thinks I'm this up-tight ball of frustration and that I get annoyed easily. And I want to scream "It's because I don't love you!" It's hard to be happy and polite when I feel STUCK. And I know that if I divorced I would be labeled as someone Justine talks about in this post…someone who was just looking for more.

    I know that this was my decision to get married. I know this. But I also listened to and counseled with some people I trusted–bishop, parents, etc– and a part of me feels as though I received bad advice. Yes I know that love fades, but shouldn't it be there in the very beginning? And it's hard to feel that a loving and knowing God would hold me to something that I ultimately feel was a mistake. Yes a very big mistake and a very important decision, but a mistake nonetheless. Of course I pray and continue to pray for help and guidance. Honestly divorce doesn't look like the answer, but it's really hard to look around and think "how did I get here?" I have a nice home, I'm comfortable and by all accounts I have a good life. My husband is a good man. {However, he did lie to me before our marriage about some personal problems as well, so that hasn't helped. In fact I sometimes think that was why I wasn't supposed to marry him–he was keeping things from me}. My husband loves me and treats me very well….I know that everyone would call me a fool and an idiot if I ever left, but to ME I think I made a mistake. And truly it's not fair to him. He loves me and doesn't get that same love in return. I know I would be a much different wife if I was in love with my husband. I see so many friends who have that love and devotion to their spouse that I don't have. I was the girl who thought about calling off the wedding but didn't.

    Thoughts? Am I under the same category as the people above–someone who just wants more? I know I'm not alone in feeling like this, so what about us? Do you think Heavenly Father holds those of us who were unsure, prayed, fasted, did all they could to get an answer then moved forward only to realize after the fact that maybe it wasn't the best choice to the same standard? Meaning should I be held to the same standard to "stick it out and work on it" as everyone else? Coming from a divorced family myself it's not what I want for my daughter trust me, but I don't want to feel stuck and unhappy for the rest of my life either.

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  14. anon, I know it must be a very painful experience for you. I can feel it through your words I wish I had answers, I can easily bloviate in a vacuum, but I, of course, don't have all the answers in practicality.

    Here's what I know from the experiences I've had.

    When there are times that my husband and I are in a "dip" – a time when we are both maybe driving each other crazy, and don't feel the warm pulling strings of love we once did – my prayers are focused on increasing my love for him, and my actions are focused on serving him in a way that he wants love. I'm a believer in many of the ideas in "The Five Love Languages", by Gary Chapman. I know that my husband is a different love language than I am. I need love expressed to me in a certain way, and he in another. Once we – together – understood that, we both worked to improve our relationship by showing love in ways the other one needed.

    It sounds like your husband is a good man (from your words). Don't give up on him. Good men seem so hard to find! And you have extra considerations now that you have children.

    I don't have the answer, but I can absolutely testify that the Lord loves you and wants you to find happiness. Maybe it's going to be more work than for some other couples, maybe it's not going to look like the relationships around you, maybe it's going to need to involve counseling? But don't give up on the Lord, there are great lessons to be learned from all this hard stuff we have to go through in this life.

    I do know, from the two arranged marriages I'm aware of, that love can be coaxed along. It can be grown and nurtured even in the foreign-est of growing grounds. I see how loving these couples are with each other, having come to their marriage as virtual strangers, and they are every bit as happy as I am. I'm sure it was a ton of work (can you even imagine such a circumstance!!)

    God bless, honey. Sometimes happiness just has to be a choice. I know is has to be for me a lot of times.

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  15. Hmmm this post is thought provoking! I always felt like it would be nice to go back in time to the Little house on the prarie days when you met a good man and got married and worked a good honest life together.
    That said, when I joined the church I met a boy who wasn't a member. He swept me off my feet and taught me so much about love and self esteem. Eventually I realized I wanted a temple marriage and so after two years of dating I had to end the relationship. I broke the boys heart and mine.
    Soon after I became friends with a member who was much like my ex. We were friends for a year and then both went on a mission I wasn't attracted to him and so we never persued a relationship. When we got home from our missions he wanted to marry me and after a few months we began dating. We dated for a week and then got engaged. We've been married for 12 years now.
    My husband is my best friend. I often feel he convinced me to marry him. I have even said after an arguement that "this(meaning our married life) was all his fault!" He seems to wink at me and say he knows it and love's it!
    I'm thankful I married my best friend! He knows me and gets me better then anyone even when I'm not being nice.
    I think it's important to teach our kids to make friends with people who interest them and from there they can find the person they want to spend a life time and eventually an eternity with.

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  16. Love, attraction, lust are all so complicated. Here's what I've learned in my life. You don't always choose who you fall in love with or attracted to. But you can choose where those feelings take you. I was in love with someone for many years. Eventually, I had to choose not to love him anymore. Doing so led me to more happiness than I ever thought possible.
    It was easy to fall in love with my husband. But staying in love with my husband continues to be a daily choice. I can choose to find joy and love in our marriage. I can choose to be grateful for him or I can choose to get frustrated, angry or refuse to forgive. I believe the same goes for him. In our 12 years of marriage (seems so short) I have found myself at tiny crossroads where I have to continue to choose to love him. I have also found that the more I look for the good in my husband and ignore the weaknesses, the more I feel for him. When I seek to put his needs ahead of my own, my love for him grows.
    The only way I know how to teach this to my children is to model it for them. My parents modelled true love and a great marriage to me every single day. Their relationship has been such a powerful example to my sisters and I as well as countless friends.
    I have several Indian friends who are in arranged marriages. Most approach their marriages very seriously and work hard at developing genuinely happy relationships.

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  17. I have some thoughts for anon above, speaking specifically to your questions. It doesn't sound like you are someone who "just wants more." It sounds like you are really grappling with this issue, that maybe you feel bad for wanting out, and that you want help with this.

    I do wonder if you're stuck on the idea that you made a mistake. One of my friends wondered the same thing for at least five years before she decided it was good to stay in the marriage. Years later (she's a grandma), she has been happily married for a long time; not that it's been easy. I know others with similar experiences. Satan really knows how to use doubts like those against us.

    A thought on divorce . . . I wish I had the source for this, but I don't: it is my understanding that studies show that except for cases of abuse, divorce is generally much worse for kids than an unhappy marriage. I can't speak knowingly about whether or not the Lord holds you to your covenant. My gut reaction is yes He does, but He knows your heart and your situation, so I can't speak for Him. I do believe the Lord blesses our efforts to stay and make things work–and that love can be reignited from nothing.

    I had serious cold feet before I got married, too. And had an experience from the Spirit to tell me to go ahead and do it (in response to a friend saying it sounded like Satan was trying to keep us from getting married, the Spirit told me that's exactly what was going on). I've had times when I wonder if I really love my husband and times when I have thought of leaving. I've not often wondered if I made a mistake, but I have wondered a LOT if we will every be able to work things out and be happy together. What has been the most helpful was to get myself to the temple every week alone (endowments, initiatories, whatever), put our names on the prayer roll every other week (the names stay for two weeks I think), and apply some of those Love Language principles Justine mentioned, even when I felt more anger or distance than love, even when I wasn't getting much positives back. I also, through this process, turned it over to the Lord. I was at such a loss, so angry, discouraged, reactionary. I literally cast the burden at His feet, as I didn't know what else to do. I'm not sure how better to explain that process, but I believe it was the beginning of change for me.

    I suspect that if you really made the decision to stay (it almost sounds like your bags are half-packed), you wouldn't feel stuck because you would be choosing. It's those "I have to stay married" thoughts that keep us feeling stuck, not the staying itself. I hope that makes sense.

    Justine's idea for counseling is a wonderful idea. And if you're really an "uptight ball of frustration" it's probably really tough to feel the Spirit. I would start there. Shoot, I didn't want to tell you what to do. So what I mean is, it's wholly possible that you made a mistake and the best answer is to get out. It's also very possible that you're focusing on this in the wrong way, that Satan is having a hey-day with your thought processes. Being ultra in-tune with the Lord is the only way to know what to do, and trying things like counseling and the other ideas can help clear your mind & spirit so you can trust your heart and your ability to make the right choice. I hope that makes sense and that none of that sounded preachy. I wish you the all strength and insights you need to sort through things.

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  18. My parents had a wonderful marriage. They said, "We choose to work on overcoming our own individual weaknesses and in celebrateing one another's strengths." And, they did!

    I have found marriage to be blissful, excruciatingly difficult at times, and complicated but wonderful. My husband has traveled extensively throughout our marriage, and I found the challenge of raising children (almost alone) difficult and frustrating at times, especially because my dad was such a devoted and involved father.

    I fell totally in love with my husband the minute I saw him, and he tells him he felt the same. We got engaged on our second date (crazy, I know, but the Spirit told both of us conclusively this was the right thing to do), and we married 3 months later.

    Although I wish my husband's job had not been so demanding (or that he had not chosen to make it so), I love him more that ever and am more grateful for him than words can express. He is a spiritual rock to me, my best cheerleader, my closest friend (with best friend, Patti, coming in a close second.)

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  19. So, Anon, my parents have somehow managed to stay married for 24 years now. I phrase it that way because my dad has anxiety bad enough from how he was raised that there is no other reason why he has any kind of relationship with us kids and his wife (my mom) is that my mom never gave up hope. Hope to have an emotional relationship with her husband. Hope that someday he would put her before his mom, or anybody for that matter. Hope that they could progress eternally together. Hope that he could become the person he has potential to be. Currently they have a therapist, and that is exactly what they needed. And now my dad is just starting to see the hurt and pain surrounding his actions. Perhaps your trials are more something psychological that you and your husband can only get through together. If therapy is an option financially, I would find a good one and try it out. Especially since it sounds like you are beginning to resent your husband, and that is never good for children to see.

    I was never infatuated with my husband. I just knew that he fit and I never wanted him to go away, no matter how hard I had to work to keep him around. 🙂 Things are by no means perfect, but they are perfect for us and I just love him. Somehow I knew that everything I'd done and the paths I'd chosen had led me to him, even if the course was a little curvy.

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  20. In my opinion, too many people seem to expect the butterflies right off. In my experience, the butterflies can come after getting to know someone better – I didn't like my now husband that way for quite a while, but it came! I married my best friend. The cloud 9 feeling is long gone, but there is no one I feel more comfortable and happy with. I also believe love is a choice. I think you have to choose to love your spouse multiple times through your marriage – it's not just going to come automatically. I also loved the book the five love languages – I think everyone should read it.

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  21. Anon #1: I recommend watching the movie "Fireproof" and reading and doing the book that goes along with the movie "The Love Dare." The book is available at WalMart. The movie probably is too. It stars Kirk Cameron. But, of the two, the book is more important.

    Also, a thought from my branch president when I was single: "Sometimes the only purpose of marriage is just to learn to live with one single person for our lives. Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to be able to learn to live with everyone. But he does expect us to commit to learn to live with and love one person in our lives." I found that an incredibly depressing view of marriage as a single woman, but now married 13 years, it couldn't be truer or more profound.

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  22. For all that I think it's awesome when a couple has the romance/butterflies/etc. I agree with Justine that I think it's overemphasized. I also think that everyone's journey toward and in marriage is different.

    I think of some perfect love stories where the couple at some point faces almost insurmountable trials in their family in other ways. Other couples may have their marriage as the trial, the testing ground. I would never want anyone I love to experience that, but sometimes that part of those peoples' journeys. I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all description of what a 'right' marriage is — at least not at any one moment. Or even in any one era. Eternity is a long time, and I think sometimes we are too prone as mortals to give up too soon on things that matter most.

    My thought in teaching my children is to focus a lot on the Spirit and learning to recognize guidance, and also on work and the eternal nature of True Love. For all that I love kissing my hubby in front of my kids, I want them to know most of all that marriage is a covenant, a commitment, not a fairy tale in and of itself.

    And I believe that minus those extreme situations where divorce is really right (again, only the Spirit could guide, ultimately), God essentially promises a fairy tale to those who keep their covenants.

    I love what that branch pres said. I think for all that marriage should be a safe haven, it's also a crucible. We don't get to heaven together without a lot of work, a lot of refining, and a lot of commitment. Not sexy at all in the world's standards, but deeper and more lasting than anything. I think the best butterflies are created by God and His power, not just as an emotional reaction…which is, imo, so often what 'love' is equated to in the culture around us.

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  23. For all that I think it’s awesome when a couple has the romance/butterflies/etc. I agree with Justine that I think it’s overemphasized.

    I guess what I mean by this more is in the courting stage. I think couples should be looking more for guidance from the Spirit. While I think the Spirit can actually make us a little giddy (it does me, anyway), I want nothing more for my children than for them to discern what their 'feelings' for someone are really based in — truth ('yes, this is a good and right situation for you, move forward') or emotion (I loooooove this person so much, I just can't stand to be away from his presence for one second!) or, worse, hormones (needs no explanation).

    The ideal will have all facets. But hormones and feelings can change, but the spiritual anchor can last, if truly trusted. I think, also, a spiritual anchor can be created through commitment, covenants.

    (Yeah, I'm not very romantic when it boils right down to it, I suppose.)

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  24. Dear Anon #1,

    I feel compelled to share my story with you, as it seems quite similar.

    I knew I was not "in" love with my husband when I married him. I had been in love too many times with people I knew had serious faults and I stopped trusting myself to make the decision about who I should marry. I had been home from my mission less than a year and felt charity toward him.

    My husband shared with me his problems before we married. Did that help? I'm not sure. It made me nervous. I broke up with him for awhile, but then we worked things out (he hasn't had trouble with these things anymore).

    I had a bishop counsel me that it was okay to feel needed in marriage and that his problem was common/not that big a deal.

    I prayed for confirmation and God told me it was my decision, I was the one marrying him.

    I felt cold feet before my marriage, but didn't have the courage to back out at the last minute. I sometimes wondered if I made a mistake.

    I knew his family was more dysfunctional than my own, but felt okay with them (just barely).

    I wasn't always attracted to him physically, but enjoyed our friendship… and didn't trust the butterflies anymore anyway.

    So. Now we have been married almost 20 years! We have five children. Has it been easy? No. Do I sometimes go back to the story I just told, yes, and it makes it hard for me.

    But, am I happy? Yes. Very.

    How did I come to be happy? I prayed to learn to love him. I served him. I recognized his strengths. I read "And They Were Not Ashamed" by Laura Brotherson. Read it! It also describes the love languages mentioned previously and so much more. It helped me a lot. Go to her website: strengtheningmarriage.com (I think). Email her. She is wise.

    Mostly, I went back and rewrote the story of our courtship in my mind. Still based on true things, but with a different focus. This helped me to see the beauty in our life together. This helped me to fall in love with him. (I still struggle with his family, but improved there too).

    Like many others have suggested, love is a choice. Don't focus on the feeling that you made a mistake. Instead, look for ways to recognize his worth. Pray for spiritual guidance to know what to do in your situation. But don't lose hope yet. Give it a chance.

    I also worried before we married, I could see it, that because he loved me more than I loved him, we would come to resent each other one day. And that was true, but we worked it out. We have both grown in our capacity to love and forgive. We have both learned to love with true charity. We have become more celestial in the process (still a long ways to go, but getting there).

    Give yourself the gift of a new story in your mind. One thing that helped me was to go through all the photos I had of him and see what a good dad he'd been. Brotherson's book helped me learn to be physically attracted to him.

    I married him because he had a good heart. I married him because he was my friend and I didn't want to ever not be friends with him. Now I focus on those things. I look for good things, and I find them.

    I felt a confirmation in the celestial room after he had taken me through the veil before we married that we were friends before. I remember how consistent he is and how committed to the gospel he is.

    If you aren't able to find the good things about your husband and the spirit gives you no help… I'm not sure what my advice would be. But, just like in Fiddler on the Roof, pictured above, you can learn to love your spouse and feel happy about it.

    "Do you love me?….I suppose I do." God bless you. Know you are not alone, and that there is a way to stay in a marriage that might feel like a mistake and find happiness…if you choose to.

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  25. Love that you used the Fiddler on The Roof photo. I watched that recently with my kids. Love that movie and I cried a bit during that song about "25 years of marriage". It makes you think when you realize how many marriages in the history of the world were arranged, but still filled with love.

    I agree with you that our society places too much emphasis on romance and shows too few pictures of reality about marriage. It is work, but through that work each person becomes more like our Father in Heaven and Savior. Through that work we become one in heart and mind.

    So many have expressed it well. The Lord wants us to learn to love one person, very deeply, on a daily basis. And that requires a lot from us. Without this work, some of us wouldn't be able to become celestial people. (for those who never marry in this life, maybe you are already celestial enough and don't need the refinement of marriage?)

    I have found marriage to be work. But a good work. My husband isn't very romantic. But he does the dishes, diapers the kids, cleans the toilets, works hard, forgives me, leads quietly. He plays with the kids and tries to fulfill his church callings. He is my sturdy tree. And I have learned to love him even more throughout the years of our marriage as we have worked together.

    I try to give my kids an idea. But every relationship is so different. Mostly, I want to give my kids the desire to follow the Spirit and rely on the Lord. That's what they will need to know if their "butterflies" will help them establish a long and lasting, truly satisfying and soul-stretching eternal relationship.

    Thanks for this post!

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  26. As a marriage and family therapist for many years, and having a marriage of 26 years, this topic is my life! Marriage is definitely hard work, and a work always in progress. But there are truly wonderful rewards for staying with it. Take a look at: "A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage" — just this week my little book on this topic was released — you can check it out at amazon, borders, barnes&noble, or at my website: http://www.ashortguidetoahappymarriage.

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  27. My aunt had a strong feeling in the temple to not go through the wedding. Her mom told her "I've paid for all this and you're doing it." Well, 25 or so years later she was absolutely miserable. I think things could have been better but my uncle had mental health issues and wouldn't/couldn't work on things. It was really bad. My uncle died about 10 years ago, and while things are better, my aunt still really misses him because she really wanted to love him.

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  28. Somewhat off topic, but I just watched a movie called "Arranged" (see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0848542/ ). It is about two teachers, one is an Orthodox Jew, the other is Muslim, and they are both dealing with getting an arranged marriage. Their commitment to their respective religions is certainly interesting to watch from an LDS perspective. It's not rated in the US, but I would give it a PG rating (possibly a mild PG-13), mostly for adult themes as well as some smoking and alcohol at a party.

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  29. I think some people are comfortable with sharing their most intimate selves–sexual and emotional–with people to whom they are not attracted. Others are not. I also feel it is not fair to shame or force people to marry just because "it's a commandment" or "look what you're missing" because for some people, that kind of arrangement truly would be akin to prostitution.

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  30. Another commenter mentioned that an unhappy marriage is better for kids than divorce (unless there is abuse involved). As a child of an unhappy marriage, I have to say that I AGREE wholeheartedly.

    I learned SO MUCH from my parents' unhappy marriage. First & foremost I learned the value & importance of commitment. I learned that marriage is not perfect, it has ups & downs (I work hard to have more ups than my parents). I was also able to learn so much from their mistakes that I saw day in & day out. I was able to compare their relationship with other more successful relationships I saw & see WHY it wasn't working. I work hard not to make these mistakes myself – so far, so good. I've been married for seven years (after dating for two) and we are best friends. I love my husband so much, and we are good for each other. I chose carefully & practically. He gives me butterflies, but not necessarily all the time. Butterflies are great, but I think there are other more important, practical things that contribute to our daily happiness & success.

    My parents are still married, they always will be. I would have gotten a completely different picture of marriage if they had divorced – I don't even know if I would have had a basic knowledge of what a marriage is or could be. Myself & my two brothers all now have happy & successful marriages, & we have my parents to thank, even with their very imperfect, but committed, marriage.

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  31. Hey–this is the original anon #1.

    First, thank you for all your helpful comments. Really, I feel very grateful. Part of the problem I have with my situation is that I often feel very alone. These are not feelings I can share with anyone–as it seems to be a common {and often wise} practice not to discuss the 'dirty details' of our marriage outside of our marriages. However, sometimes there are those of us who suffer in silence and look around and think we are the only ones. So to be able to anonymously discuss and receive helpful advice is a true blessing.

    Second–yesterday {when I wrote my comment} felt like a particularly difficult day. While I absolutely feel that way and definitely felt that way yesterday, it's not that strong all the time and I don't feel that way all the time. I have been struggling with it a lot lately–This idea that I made a mistake seems to come in waves. One person said it sounded like I had my bags half-way packed. They're not. Not by a long shot. Yes it is very difficult to feel as though I didn't have the typical "newlywed" phase and that I perhaps fell out of love {either a lot or a little} with my husband before we actually married–but I should stress even more that it has very little to do with him and as one person suggested, perhaps I'm stuck on the idea and that it's mostly in my head. My husband is a great guy and I'm pretty amazed he treats me as well as he does.

    So far I think the best advice was to the person who said I should be doing everything I can to be in tune with the spirit. I agree that Satan wants nothing more than to destroy another family and I can easily see how he uses his lies and manipulation on me. I am recommitting myself to strengthening my spiritual bonds in some very measurable and direct goals. So thank you for that advice.

    Justine I have to say that I think it's this idea of what marriage "should" look like that gets in my head and really, really messes with me sometimes. And I have to add that I don't think it's just a society thing–I think it's just as prevalent in the church as well. Don't get me wrong I LOVE the GA's and Apostles, but I have yet to hear of one of their marriages that went through some really trying times yet they pulled through to make it work. It seems that when I hear about an Apostle and his wife that they had a perfect marriage–I can remember Elder Wirthlin actually saying that in his mind he had a perfect marriage–and that it was "love at first sight" when he saw his wife. Yet we are often counseled to stay away from such ideas–or at least not to get caught up in those expectations. I agree that marriage and the circumstances under which we get married vary greatly, but I really wish that would be stressed more in the church AND accepted/discussed. It seems to me that to be a general authority you have to have one of those 'perfect' marriages and what kind of message does that send to the rest of us?

    Anyway, thanks again for the help and comments.

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  32. There is so much that can be said on this subject, but I feel that I have a somewhat unique insight as a child of divorce. I can say without a doubt that things have to be REALLY bad before divorce is a better choice than a struggling marriage. This is true for the kids and for the husband/wife. You have to really ask yourself, what is living alone going to do for me? What is it going to do for my child/children? I am certain that in most circumstances, the negatives will be more than you can even imagine.

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  33. One of the ways that I learned to value working relationships was by reading the marriage books that my mom and dad had. They had a lot of them. They had ones about love languages, they had ones about 1000 ways to be more romantic, they had a bunch. Also, for some reason I really liked to read columns in magazines in which a marriage problem was presented, then dissected, and counsel given. As a teen, reading this stuff really opened my eyes to potential problems that could and probaby would crop up some day when I got married. It got me thinking of ways to craft my behavior to prevent problems from starting. It showed me that marriage wasn't all bliss-y and kiss-y.

    Along with modeling, I think that one of the best ways to help children learn about working marriage relationships is to have marriage books around that they can read. It also wouldn't hurt to have some family home evenings periodically in which the whole family (children too) goes through a marriage case study and talks about it, discussing it with an eye to future marriages. The more they become aware of marriage reality, the more they will be prepared to date with wisdom.

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  34. Why teach that romance is hallow? It isn't. Romance is meaningful and important in relationships. It just isn't the only important thing or the MOST important thing, but let's not pretend that just because hollywood makes a big deal out if it romance is not important. Maybe we do need to tweak the definition of romance to include thoughtful acts that do not have to be flowers and candlelit dinners – like a husband who stays up late doing to laundry when his wife is sick and needs extra sleep (like mine did last night).

    Maybe we also need to teach girls that their grades do not need to tank or their work suffer when they are in love. I got a 4.0 the semester I was engaged and it makes me sick to hear girls talk about failing classes because "they were engaged" as though that is an excuse. Love matters, the butterflies matter, but so does establishing patters of hard work and responsibility that will carry you through the times in your marriage when flowers are few and far between. Teach that just because you are busy you still do your homework and tell your husband/boyfriend/fiance that you love him. Just because the kids' schedules are crazy you still make time for a private walk holding hands or whatever it is you need to do to keep talking together and loving each other.

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  35. I remember after 4 months of being married how terrified I was because I no longer got weak in the knees when my husband walked in the door. I thought that my marriage was over because I was no longer in love (due to all those romance movies). In the end, I realized my love had actually deepened and was stronger. Yes the twitterings had disappeared but was replaced by what I now know as true love.

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  36. Amen Katie! We got engaged over the summer and are getting married mid-semester for me. I'm a PhD student. I've worked with my professors to schedule my class presentations around our wedding (I'm doing one the week before and one the week after). But then my engagement isn't my whole life, it's just a part of it. And things won't be less busy in my life when I'm married and going to school, so might as well figure out how to manage the time now. I'm in class till 7pm on Mondays this semester, so I've already told my fiancé that it'll be his job to do dinner that night.

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  37. I LOVE this topic!

    I agree whole heartedly with you Justine and I've learned a lot from these comments.

    For a long time I wondered if I married my husband because of a crush (that quickly faded after the wedding).
    I thought our marriage was missing something because it was nothing like the romantic comedy movies everyone watches.
    Now, almost 7 years later, I'm just starting to really love him. It's work, but very rewarding.

    Just like the way I really wouldn't like to be in the dating game again, I would NOT like to be in the early stages of marriage. We work together sooo much better now.

    I've also learned, through many experiences with other couples, that thing are NOT always as they seem! Not even close.

    I think people should talk about this more. We should have more activities in the church for strengthening marriages. My husband and I always joke about how in the single adult program there were so many dances (I know they're for meeting people) and now there are hardly any. We went to a stake ball last year and had a BLAST! I think it was the boost our marriage needed that month. We danced and had fun with good friends. It was awesome. So, more of that please.

    Great post.

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  38. Romance has it's place, yet it isn't everything. I think I'd be nervous about my upcoming marriage if I hadn't had that romance in the beginning. I'd also be nervous if I were still all a'flutter because I've been on the market long enough to learn that the flutering is fleeting. When the twitterpation wore off months ago, I did recognize that that little seed simply had become a seedling. Love changes over time; it's that simple of a fact. Love often needs work. Love isn't always easy. I learned these facts by observing my parents and each of their parents.

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  39. I have been married for 24 years and have five children. I am committed to honoring the covenants I have made and making those covenants work. I am content with my life and love my family. I think I probably married too young and too fast, but I did the best with the brain, spirit, and experience I had at the time. There have been some pretty challenging times in the past 24 years — times when the only reason I stuck things out was because of my kids. But then something changed. I was serving in the Young Women's organization where we talked and talked about agency and making choices, and it occured to me that regardless of past choices, I could make some very conscious choices about my life starting right then — and I did. So I chose to really be married to my husband (who has always been a good man) and to really be a mom. To quit second guessing and thinking about the "life I could have had." I decided to honor my covenants and let the atonement work in my life. Life isn't perfect, of course, but that choice has made all the difference.

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  40. Fair warning: I'm "borrowing a jack" here. 🙂

    I do not like the implication (from any source) that I'm still single because I'm waiting for The Perfect Man to come around. I'm still single because I haven't found the man who is looking for me. I'm still single because the man I was engaged to decided he didn't want to keep his covenants and I decided not to beg him to come back to me.

    That engagement was one of the most difficult times of my life.

    I worked.
    I prayed.
    I cried.
    I FOUGHT for that almost-marriage.

    EVERY DAY.

    I knew it was right. He knew it was right. The Lord said "yes, you should say yes to him and plan a future with him and do everything you can to keep this going." I was not naive enough to think that everything would be roses and chocolates, but I had the faith that everything would be ok no matter what. I KNEW IT. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with this man, but I did. I didn't get all fluttery (well, I certainly had my moments, but they weren't constant). I didn't have to be with him all the time. I didn't worry that I'd "fall out of love" with him. I always had that calm reassurance, even when he finally broke up with me and I could barely move or breath or stand that night, that everything would be ok. It would be ok because I worked and fought and cried and prayed.

    Even if I had married him and he had broken his covenants while we were married, it would have been ok. Somehow.

    Now? I still don't expect butterflies and flowers and choirs of angels. What I expect is to work and fight and cry and pray, but next time with someone who is going to do all of that WITH me.

    That's what I want. A worthy priesthood holder who will do what the Lord asks. If I have to wait until the Millennium to find him, I will. It's simply not worth my time otherwise, even if there are butterflies and roses.

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  41. I was married at the ripe old age of 19…oh boy… My husband and I were totally and foolishly in love with each other. Statistics said we wouldn't make it past the first 2 years of marriage but we were pretty sure we knew better. Before the wedding my mother counseled me to keep in mind that even though I probably couldn't see it at that moment, marriage would be hard work. She told me that we wouldn't always be "in love" with each other, we wouldn't always see things through the same lens, we most certainly wouldn't know the answers to every question. She told me that the most important thing to remember was to keep our hearts and minds open and cling to the principle that nothing is absolute.

    The very first time we found ourselves in marriage crisis it was my parents who lovingly gathered us up and counseled us through our pain and confusion. I will never forget that night. I looked at the two most trusted people in my world and realized they had set the example of patience and forgiveness and unconditional love. I knew at that moment that they had seen obstacles and a great deal of heartache but had patiently forged through it all ultimately knitting their hearts closer together. I wondered how many times they had let things go- prayed for patience and understanding- and here they stand as a pillar to me in the infancy of my own marriage. I knew that over the years it was not the moments of passion or romance (although, there were plenty of those moments) which defined who they were, rather the daily triumph over adversity and the common vision of the future which they shared. I never heard them speak ill of each other- even when I knew they were struggling to bear a heavy load. They maintained the status-quo from day to day and in this so much love was nurtured.

    My husband and I have been married now for 12 years. We have 5 1/2 children. We are happier now than we were as High School sweethearts- THAT is absolute. There is a line from one of my favorite Paul Simon songs entitled Kathy's Song "…the only truth I know is you…" Sometimes when my husband embraces me I feel there is nothing else in the world but us. I am a lucky woman. Thanks Mom!

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  42. I have a romantic streak (I love Austen, for instance), but I also have a pragmatic streak on these kinds of issues. I tend to think that if there is a foundation of solid friendship, mutual physical attraction and shared values, then if two people want to pursue a relationship and have shared experiences, love can very easily flower from that soil. After that, it's a matter of work and mutual commitment.

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  43. I've had another thought as I've had this in my mind for a day and as I've read through the rest of the comments:
    Part of that "romance" and butterflies thing is what our Love Language is. Neither my dh nor I is a touchy-feely mushy-gushy type. Roses, chocolates, and diamonds do not do it for us. We aren't the ones to kiss much nor touch each other much in front of other people. And I am probably the more practical of the two of us. But my defninition of what stirs my passion for him (I love a man with dishpan hands) is way different that the general population's definition of romance. While I get those butterfly feelings watching some romantic chick flick, I think that I wouldn't actually be attracted to that leading man if that was actually my life. But I think that many of us are suckers for a good romance, even if it wouldn't actually be romantic for us in real life.

    If my dh wants to romance me, then he gets the dishes all done and the kitchen cleaned up. He helps get the kids to bed. He lets me veg in front of the computer for awhile. He gives me a long backrub. He encourages me to get out alone in the evening to decompress.

    When my dh holds me, I don't feel "romance." I feel security. I feel safe. When I was being prepped for my 4th c-section, I was so shaky and my heart was beating so fast. I could hear it on the monitor and was trying to slow it down, but I just couldn't. Then, as soon as they let my dh come in, he held my hand, and seriously, instantly, my heart rate slowed down to normal. It was so dramatic to me, because I could actually hear the beeping of the monitor. My heart slowed down, my shaking stopped. Everything was OK.

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  44. Heidi, I'm very glad you shared your story. We need to be areful not to make hurtful and judgmental generalizations.

    Anon #1: From reading general authority biographies, I've never got the feeling that their marriages started out "perfect" — their journeys to marital bliss are similar to the ones being described in many of these great comments. I also grew up in a ward with a future general authority. They had lots of young kids and his job and church callings kept him very busy. His wife suffered from self-esteem issues and she didn't always feel validated. They probably spoke different love languages. But they were both very good people and she worked on her self-esteem issues and the Lord provided some refining fire in their lives, and now they are both amazing. I find the more I have the Spirit in my life, the less emotionally needy I become. Being filled with the love and peace of God reduces my need to be validated by mere mortals. I suspect most general authorities and their wives have reached that point and probably even some blissful state beyond… So I support your feeling that the Spirit is the key to finding peace in your marriage. Good luck! You can tell that we're all cheering for you…

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  45. Strollerblader, we were commenting at the same time, so I just had to tell you that I loved your last paragraph. It was really romantic! I must speak that same love language…

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  46. Strollerblader, your comment about your dh showing his true commitment by helping out with the mundane things is right on. There is almost nothing more attractive in a man than the willingness to pick up the ball when necessary. I also appreciate the comment about security vs. "romance." So, so true!

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  47. I look at my sons and have no idea how I'm going to tell them about love, romance and marriage. I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to give them the lasting example of a strong marriage, and that instead they will have the issues associated with having parents divorce.

    I want to teach them that marriage can be amazing, like others have mentioned in their comments, and hard, again like in the previous comments. After reading all the comments, I think I'm leaning more towards telling them that romance isn't love, and pretty much quote what Kevin Barney said, in particular "it’s a matter of work and mutual commitment."

    And I will teach, tell and pray that they will pray about what to do, and find someone they can (as Golde says in Fiddler)do everything from wash clothes to fight with, and still sing together after 25 years of the same.

    "If that's not love, what is?"

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  48. Heidi, I'm sure I didn't make it clear, but I absolutely don't think all single people are this way. I do, however, know some women who believe that love is meeting at the top of the Empire State Building and waiting for the music to swell in the background every time their true love walks by.

    And I've also seen way too many marriages end because of this issue.

    It makes me really sad.

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  49. Thanks, Justine and Kathryn! I know that's not what you meant at all, but I sometimes feel it in people's inquiries about my relationship status. I have a failed engagement, I'm still single, something must be wrong, right? Wrong! I did everything I could, and I VERY MUCH appreciate this blog post for reminding me that what I'm looking for DOES exist, that there ARE men out there willing to work as hard on a marriage as I am! Isn't it wonderful? 🙂

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  50. Oh, Heidi, there are men out there willing to work hard! Hang in there. The Lord loves you, and having a failed engagement is not a sign of weakness or failure on your part. Happiness is out there to be had, I know it.

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  51. Reading comment #24 above was almost like reading my own history . . . for awhile.

    I, too, knew I was not in love with my husband when I married him. I had just barely returned home from my mission, and he was investigating the Church. I never thought to marry a new-ish convert.

    My husband shared with me many problems before we married. I let go of all the fears relating to those problems, thinking it would guide him through coming to Christ, and, when marriage became a prospect, that the Lord would care for me.

    After a night wherein he told me how attracted he was to me, and after being told for several months by ward members how perfect we seemed for each other I prayed for confirmation about a potential relationship from God. I felt good about a possible marriage to him. At that point, I had not felt attracted to him, but I thought much as the post above indicates, that marriage was about commitment, not fluttery love. Eventually, I did learn to feel a genuine, calm sort of love.

    I got cold feet before my marriage, but thought that it was normal, that I only needed to work through it and everything would be fine. After all, I had gotten confirmation. Who needs romantic first love when one has dedication and commitment?

    Two years into our marriage, I got pregnant after fearing I was infertile because of taking the pill for more than a year. I had longed for children and was overjoyed to have one. Before the marriage, I thought he wanted a family, too, but after marrying him discovered the depth of his reluctance. About five months after I became pregnant, he became angry, believing I had been conducting an online emotional affair, and chased me out of the house after breaking a few things.

    Without realizing it, I lived with a subtle undercurrent of fear for about the next two years. In that time, he made certain through surgery that we would not have any more children. He did not tell me of this. A little over year after my daughter was born, we "tried to have children" for three months, but I still did not know it was no longer possible. I thought it was somehow my fault, that I might have had secondary infertility.

    The truth came out, we went through counseling where I was convinced that I was a terrible communicator, that by reaching out for help in the midst of my misery, I had committed deep sin, and that the problems in our marriage were fully my fault. I abased myself, begged forgiveness, eventually came under the impression that it was granted, and the marriage moved on. I prayed to learn to love him. I served him. I recognized his strengths. Oh, how I tried! I finally felt genuine love blooming for him again. He obtained a second surgery to try to correct the first.

    It was successful: I became pregnant again. Three months after becoming pregnant, he became angry again. This time, I was ready for it. This time, I knew I had done nothing wrong. I had been so careful to not make him angry, or to do anything wrong. I spoke calmly, soothingly. It did not matter. He raged in front of my three-year-old, and tried to literally throw me out of the house. She tried to intervene. I tried to get her out of there, but he forbade it. He left as he had already been threatening to do for some time.

    I still thought I could make the marriage work, but this time I did not let him back into the house. We attended counseling. He showed no remorse, no recognition of my fear for my daughters. I finally, after much agony of heart, chose to proceed with a divorce.

    Now I am left feeling filthy before God and man, with only the slimmest shred of hope in the future, but knowing no other course, no other choice that is better than this one. I am commenting here only because I did not expect too much in love, and it did nothing to help my marriage. There is no formula for a successful marriage.

    Sometimes, there is only failure.

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  52. Oh, Lily, I am so sorry for your heartache. I really do wish everything turned out like the beautiful pictures and stories we are told. It's sometimes devastating to try to fit into a world that is far messier than our wishes.

    And you're right. Sometimes all the hard work in the world still isn't going to produce the results we so desperately yearn for. You sound like a strong and competent woman, I'm praying hope can invade and settle into your heart and give you some peace. Please don't feel like a failure. The Lord knows your heart and your struggles. He knows how much you gave it. Be gentle with yourself.

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  53. Lily, I agree with everything Justine said to you. Successful marriages can be quite impossible when one or both partners are emotionally damaged. I was married to someone like your husband and I've been divorced and I don't think I'm filthy. Satan would like me to believe that, but that is just one of his stupid lies. I think I'm a courageous heroine and I think you are too.

    A couple years a young woman in our ward went through a divorce. She had married a convert who turned out to be a scary alcoholic. She returned home to her parents, feeling absolutely devastated. She sounded just like you. She thought she had blown all chances for happiness and saw no hope for the future. Why would anyone worthwhile want to marry a divorced woman? I was assigned to be her visiting teacher. The first time I visited her, I felt prompted to tell her that "Satan wants you to believe that you are worthless. He wants you to believe that there is no hope for your future. That is a lie. A wonderful man will fall in love with your radiant spirit and you will have a bright and glorious future. I promise you that."

    She chose faith and hope. She is now married to the grandson of one of my favorite religion professors at BYU. She has a beautiful baby and her husband is a sweetheart. I also chose faith and hope after my divorce. I am now married to a great guy. Divorce does not have to define your life or be the end of the road. You can still have a happy and romantic ending to your life's story…

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  54. Kids want us to talk to them like real people.
    I think we need to verbalize more of what we think.

    "My heart has stopped skipping beats, but instead slows down in peace and calm when he is around."

    Loved that part.

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  55. Hi girls, I have a problem for you to solve if you want to pipe in. Maybe. This is somewhat on topic, but mostly I'm just asking for free advice.

    This is probably silly, but my husband said, ask your friends, they'd think you were weird.

    Anyway, here's the situation.

    My husband comes home and says to me, "Looks like you need to purge a few things" or something like that.

    This is in response to me telling him I've been working on my craft area all day and that I filled up a new container, but it was hard to tell since there is so much stuff there. Craft supplies are like that. I was still in the middle of the job.

    At the time he said this I was making dinner or cleaning the kitchen with the baby in the sling. The front room was picked up, the toddler had been chased, the kids had been home all day, I'd taken his car to the shop, the teenager to his band practice.

    And in response to this comment, I said something like, Yeah. I know. I'm in the middle of it. That is like telling me I missed a spot.

    I guess he could tell it irritated me.

    Because, as is the case when I respond in a way that shows my irritation with a comment he's made, that to me shows criticism or disrespect for my work, he gets mad at me for thinking he's said something unkind. He says he was just making conversation.

    Am I totally off base to be bugged by the first words out of his mouth about my work being criticism?(it is a pattern, but he doesn't see it that way).

    I try to explain to him later that it hurt my feelings. That I wanted him to treat me as an equal partner and that his comment made me feel like his child instead. He couldn't see it. He just got angrier, and didn't come to bed until I'd fallen asleep.

    I prayed to accept God's will in this matter. If it were just one time, I'd just say, yeah, whatever. But this pattern of however subtle criticism, has worn me down and I want to show him that it hurts me. When I try to explain it, he doesn't understand. He will just respond that I criticize him too. (not for his work, but I do give my opinion about things). I feel like every time I start to make some headway on improving, he shoots me down.

    Sorry for the rant. But if anyone feels like offering me advice, I'm taking it.

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  56. Free advice here again. While reading my scriptures this morning, I found these verses:

    2 Ne. 27:32 that says not to make a man an offender for a word.
    That one's for me.
    Then in verse 35 it say he that erred in spirit will come to understanding.
    I'm hoping that one applies to my husband.

    Thanks for listening.

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  57. free advice, I wish I had wise counsel. Someone I love dearly lived with a critical husband for almost 10 years. She would get anxiety attacks about the house being clean enough and the kids behaving when dad got home. It became, in my mind, emotionally abusive. She was so worried and afraid of his anger and criticism that she gave herself an ulcer over dust and dishes. They are in the middle of a divorce now.

    It doesn't sound like things are perhaps that serious, but it's something that needs to be addressed, in my mind, so you can let your relationship grow instead of wither. All I know about fostering relationships is from my own experience, and I don't have any professional training, but I know there are specific ways to speak to each other that are less confrontational (like using 'I' language instead of the more bickering 'you' sentences). Talking about strengths is important while you bring up problems. And a lot of listening.

    That's all pretty lame stuff as far as meaty advice goes, but it's all I got!

    I'm sorry things are rough. It's important to not ignore it, though, especially if it's damaging your relationship. Focusing on what you can control is another good thing – you can control forgiveness and your words, but sometimes not much else! God bless, honey.

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  58. free advice – perhaps it's just a problem with "tone" not actual words. The conversation sounded pretty innocent to me. You told your husband about your overwhelming pile of stuff, he said, "Looks like a purge is in order". You were thinking those exact thoughts, which is why you'd started the process. But, b/c he didn't acknowledge everything you'd done that day, you felt that he thought you were a messy time-waster when really he was just making a statement that you agreed with yourself. So maybe you need to ask him for compliments at other times to outweigh the perceived criticism. I'm a "words of affirmation" person according to the 5 Love Languages and it sounds like you might be too. I will go to the ends of the earth and feel on cloud nine when I receive compliments. But if the compliments peter out, then I start feeling like there's not point to what I do and no one pays attention anyway and I start taking offense at the littlest thing. If you haven't read the 5 Love Languages, I'd suggest doing so and share it with your husband b/c your scenario really doesn't sound like abuse, it just sounds as if you two have a history of talking past each other and neither of you "gets" the other and now the resentment is becoming ingrained on both sides – you resenting him for continual perceived criticisms and him resenting you for feeling like you jump on him over innocuous statements.

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  59. Justine and JES.

    Thank you so much. I am fortunate that my husband is not so critical that I've got ulcers. But I do need more compliments–just need to feel loved deep down, I guess. (can you say issues from my father?)

    I'll be buying that book. I do have a book that outlines the love languages, but I think we need some in depth help.

    I love you girls! Thanks for buoying me up.

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  60. I have another book recommendation for free advice. The title is awful, but the principles are good. It's called The Surrendered Wife (it's about surrendering the need to be in control, not about becoming passive). I have no idea how much of it would apply to you, but there are some great ideas for how to respond to your husband when he makes thoughtless or critical comments. Here is a link to the book's intro: http://www.surrenderedwife.com/surrendered_wife_books_surrendered_wife.html. One of my friends said it saved her marriage, and I know it has helped mine tremendously. At least check out the intro and see if any of it fits for you! Good luck!!

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  61. The Five love languages really does have a lot of helpful information in it. I'm sure it's not a panacea, but there are several things that have been helpful to my marriage.. And I hope I didn't come across as implying your marriage was abusive. JAS is right, it doesn't sound like it is, but I can see how regular run-of-the-mill comments can start to grate on a person if they are regular and constant. It's certainly worth the effort to tackle it.

    And Wendy's book sounds interesting. I've not read it, but I might have to borrow it from you, Wendy!

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  62. Lily, I will be praying for you. I understand intimately the trauma of divorce, especially when you have young children. I wrote a bit about my divorce in an earlier Segullah post, so you may want to check this out:
    https://segullah.org/up-close/i-dont-have-a-dad/

    While initially I thought my divorce was the end of the world, nineteen years later I view it as a tender mercy from God. My children and I were set free from living with a Korihor, who was also emotionally abusive. I remember seeing the movie "Peggy Sue Got Married" where she's going through a divorce and wishing that she had never married the rotten scoundrel. Through the magic of Hollywood she obtains the power to grant her own wish, but changes her mind by the end because she realizes that something wonderful did come from that marriage — her children. I feel the same way. I would make the same choice to marry him because I adore our three children.

    I'm also really glad you shared your story, because women like you and I, who have experienced scary marriages, sometimes find it hard to relate to women who complain about their marriages with vague feelings of discontent. Maybe after reading your story, some women decided their marriages weren't so bad after all! Thanks for representing our group of courageous heroines!

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  63. Lily, my heart just broke for you as I read your story. The saddest part of the whole experience is that you feel filthy. I hope that you are able to experience healing in your heart. Just from your words, I picture a woman who tried so hard, and yet the actions of a man broke her dreams. There is nothing filthy about you. Please don't think that the whole world or even church judges you as unworthy because your marriage went wrong. Many of us know and understand that not all marriages work out, despite hard work. I know that Heavenly Father, through the atonement, can heal your wounds and help your children.

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  64. Lily,

    There is hope, dear sister. And there is grace.

    The recipe for a true marriage was not present in yours. It requires BOTH people to truly be committed. Clearly he was not. I'm so sorry for your heartache. Know that God accepts your sacrifice and efforts. The true evidence of your heart cannot and should not be measured by you or by anyone else by what happened to your marriage, because you cannot be responsible for someone else's poor choices.

    Hang in there. Lean on family and friends who are aware of your situation and who care. Most of all, lean on that God who loves you more than words can say.

    And know you have a lot of sisters here who care!

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  65. Lily, Thank you for saving your children, and yourself from years of future abuse and intimidation.
    I picked out a few key statements from your post.
    “he became angry, believing I had been conducting an online emotional affair, and chased me out of the house after breaking a few things.”
    “I lived with a subtle undercurrent of fear for about the next two years.”
    “he made certain through surgery that we would not have any more children.”
    “that the problems in our marriage were fully my fault.”
    “he became angry again”
    “I had been so careful to not make him angry, or to do anything wrong.”
    “He raged.”
    Lily this is not love, you cannot have a marriage with one party in fear, always feeling that you have to be careful not to “make” him angry, the truth is you cannot “make” him feel anything thing he choose to be angry.
    This is about power, control and manipulation. He used his anger and constant manipulation to intimidate you and keep you in fear of him, and then convinced you , that you were responsible for his behavior. YOU ARE NOT, I repeat NOT responsible for HIS choice to be angry and abusive. Pres Monson just spoke of this at the priesthood session, I think you should read this, also d.c.121:34-end comes to mind.
    Lily, everyone deserves to be loved, it is not a loving Heavenly Father telling you to feel unworthy or unclean before him. Jesus did not say to the woman who touched his garment don’t touch me you are un clean, nor the leper who came to him asking to be healed, nor the woman taken in adultery, nor did he send anyone away who asked to be healed, his answer was always the same, “I WILL”.
    I pray that you will feel loved by our Heavenly Father, and those around you, as you work through these hard times, and remember our Father is BIG on forgiveness.
    You are my hero for choosing to save your precious daughters from years of feeling they have to be careful to not “make” him angry again.

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  66. Kathryn—Thank you, that post meant a lot to me, I'm not sure how I missed it before. Feeling that there may come a time when this is all behind me gives me something to focus on that isn't self-pitying.

    Tiffany—thank you, too. I feel so ashamed that I thought I could somehow make the marriage work. It seems now like rank pride. I know some judge me for my failed marriage, but I'm trying to learn that it doesn't matter, and to see them with charity, too. After all, I've been there.

    m&m—Thank you, too. I hope you know what a great friend you are.

    Faithful—when you put it that way, it seems so clear. I think it will take time for my heart to believe what my mind (and my friend) tell me. It makes sense, but I still fear that I could have somehow done more. It is strange to me to hear about marriages like my sister's, where her husband lets her go and hang out with old male friends that he knows have crushes on her. It is incomprehensible to hear that not all relationships are like mine. I have not dated much, only kissed one other person before my husband. Now, when I look at that relationship, I see that it was based on just the same shaky foundations as my marriage was. True, passionate love may not be necessary for a good marriage, but I think I'm going to hold out for butterflies next time, if there ever is a next time for me.

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  67. Well, I agree that it needs not be all about rose petals and gooey eyes and smoochy kisses and hollywood hogwash. But about the "weak in the knees" part I disagree. You need to be sexually attracted to your spouse. Just because he's a great guy on paper doesn't mean he's the guy for you.

    And all those "still happily married" couples? Well, there's plenty of "still not happily married couples" out there to match it. Remember, divorce was not an option back then. And happiness was not really the goal- at least not the happiness of the woman. There are plenty of women who were stuck in loveless marriages, then and now. Lets not paint the past with pretty colors. There are plenty of good reasons why women need to be MORE decisive and choosy.

    I agree though that marriage is more about hard work and commitment then fanatasy love stories. But if he doesn't fill your loins with fire, you shouldn't marry him.

    Reply

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