A few days ago a handsome young man, a recent BYU graduate, came to our home to visit and talk about his desire to find a wife. He said, “What suggestions do you have for me? I want to get married and I can’t seem to find the right girl. Or when I think I have found her it turns out that she seems to like me at first and then loses interest in me.”
We shared two concepts that seemed to hit him like a bolt of lightening and he said, “Wow! That’s profound. That’s my answer.”
The ideas are definitely profound, and we definitely are not the originators of them. Most of us have heard them in one form or another from Church leaders and teachers for years, but somehow it had escaped this young man until we stated it succinctly just for him in a way that he seemed to grasp as though hearing it for the first time. It reminds us of the scripture, “To all things there is a time and a season.” It’s apparently his time for these concepts to take on meaning for him.
Because these ideas apply not only to finding a mate, but to keeping a mate and developing a happy marriage, we decided to share them in this Meridian article.
The First Key
The first key is: We suggested he make a list of all the things he wants in a mate, then to put his name at the top of the list and make it his goal to be that kind of a person himself. We told him that if he becomes that kind of a person he will automatically attract women with those same qualities which will allow him a chance to build a potential marriage relationship.
We became more specific and said, “If you want a faithful Latter-day Saint companion, then you be the most faithful, dedicated Latter-day Saint you can be. If you want someone who is forgiving, then be a forgiving person. If you want someone who loves the scriptures, then you must fall in love with the scriptures yourself. If you want a person who is prayerful, then you must be constant in your morning and evening prayers and have a prayer in your heart throughout the day. If you want a temple-worthy companion, then you must be temple worthy every day of your life.”
We took another step regarding his future family and said, “If you want a wife who wants children and wants to be a stay-at-home mother during their formative years, then you prepare yourself to be able to financially support your family so she can be a mother at home. And prepare yourself to be a good and loving father while you’re at it.”
Incidentally, if you are a woman with a similar goal regarding marriage and children, then we suggest you get an education and be intellectually attractive so you will attract a man who is likewise prepared. At the same time you will be preparing yourself to be a well-equipped mother and capable of financially caring for your family in case of unexpected illness, death, or other unforeseen tragedy.
Family Proclamation Reminds Us
This hearkens back to The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which states:
We went on to tell our young friend that if he wanted someone who will treat him with respect, then he must treat others with respect. In short, any quality he desired in a mate, he must cultivate that quality in himself. He will then become an attractive candidate to a woman with those same qualities. You can be assured that anyone possessing those qualities will be looking for someone who likewise possesses them.
We must include a caveat here. No one should expect a mate or potential mate to be perfect in all of these qualities, since no one is — but they must be on the path, quietly and obviously working to one day attain them in their fullness.
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “The pattern of the Lord is for His children to make decisions based upon eternal truth. This requires that your life continue to be centered in the commandments of God. Thus, decisions are made in accordance with unchanging truths, aided by prayer and the guidance of the Holy Ghost (“Living Right,” Ensign Jan. 2007, 13).
Application in Existing Marriage
The application of this first key if you are already married is the same. Simply make a list of the qualities you want in your spouse; then put your name at the top of the list. Examine yourself and see where you fall short, then make the change. Be sure to add, “Be forgiving.”
An associate of ours made an interesting observation about his spouse when he said, “My wife doesn’t get hysterical; she gets historical.” Too many times a spouse will dredge up the past and throw it in the face of their mate.
That does nothing to foster change. We must be forgiving, letting past sins and offenses stay in the past. Start now by noticing and commenting on the good in your spouse, concentrating on being the best you can be regarding areas where he or she may fall short. Nothing is quite as powerful as a loving, non-criticizing example.
This reminds us of a client who was very distraught over the way her husband talked to her. At times he would swear at her and call her insulting names. Interestingly, he expected her to crawl in bed with him at night and make love to him. Now, after the way he treated her, how absurd is that!
Unfortunately, her response to him when he spoke to her in that manner was to yell back and call him her own insulting names. It was only when she responded to his insults with control, calmly stating that he must never speak to her that way again, that change began to happen. She kept at it, setting this boundary in a kind, gentle, respectful and firm manner, and then leaving the room afterward instead of being drawn into a high-pitched argument. She would then go about her household tasks and treat him normally and with respect.
It took a few weeks until her kind boundary took effect. Now he treats her with respect, never swearing at or insulting her.