Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Possibility of Marriage

"When a couple have commenced a marriage based upon reasonable standards, no combination of power can destroy that marriage except the power within either or both of the spouses themselves; and they must assume the responsibility generally. Other people and agencies may influence for good or bad; financial, social, political, and other situations may seem to have a bearing. But the marriage depends first and always on the two spouses, who can always make their marriage successful and happy if they are determined, unselfish, and righteous.

The formula is simple; the ingredients are few, though there are many amplifications of each.
First, there must be the proper approach toward marriage, which contemplates the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection in all the matters that are of importance to the individuals. Then those two parties must come to the altar in the temple realizing that they must work hard toward this successful joint living.

Second, there must be great unselfishness, forgetting self and directing all of the family life and all pertaining thereunto to the good of the family, and subjugating self.

Third, there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.

Fourth, there must be complete living of the commandments of the Lord as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ." - "Marriage and Divorce" by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball 

I would say that I have always thought this simple formula to be true.  It's good to have someone like a prophet of the Lord to back me up on it.

I was blessed by good examples of strong marriages throughout my life.  My grandparents, my parents, aunts and uncles and friends.  When I became a little older, I began to see that their lives weren't without struggles or sadness, but they learned to work through them in order to keep their marriage strong. I can still remember my dad kissing my mom in the kitchen when he got home from work and all of us laughing or being grossed out.  To this day, I remember the feeling I had when I saw him do that, that I knew they loved each other even when at other times I saw them disagree.

By the time I was old enough to go away to college, I met lots of wonderful young men.  I dated and hung out with friends and wished I could already be married.  By the time I finished my only year away at school, I looked back and realized that I had only dated pre-missionary boys.  I think that was not by accident.  I truly think that Heavenly Father knew in my heart that I could have married any one of those boys but my heart was already taken by one.

When he and I met with his stake president before our wedding, his stake president told Ben, "Always put her first in all situations and you will be a happy man."  The first couple years of our marriage, every once in a while he would ask me if I was happy just to be sure.  So sweet.

What I really want to point out here, is that I have the firm belief that any marriage can work out.  Having 
said that, they can only work out when both parties are following this simple formula as stated above.  I would like to elaborate on those four principles briefly from my own experience:

1 - I think I selected a spouse who is as close to perfection for me as I could have asked for.  We have similar goals and interests and a mutual respect for allowing each other to participate in things that don't interest each other.  Having said that, he is nowhere near perfect and neither am I.  Mr./Mrs. Perfect does not exist.  It makes me crazy when Ben leaves his toiletries on the bathroom counter each morning, when I find cans of Mt. Dew  around the house, and can you believe I married a man who makes mouth noises?  Gross.  But, in the grand scheme of things, these aren't important and I learned a long time ago that it is easier to clean up a few things or roll over and put the pillow over my head when I'm trying to go to sleep...and I'm not going to be mad about it either, which leads me to #2.

2 - I'm happy to sacrifice a few moments of picking up instead of the constant nagging that could ensue instead.  Some may see my sacrifice to delay a career for having a family as a complete sacrifice of my life.  I don't see it that way.  I choose to see that the things I sacrifice for my family are part of the job I agreed to 20 years ago when we started our family.  On the flip side, Ben sacrifices his time and money to allow me to be a stay home mom for all these years.  It has put a financial strain on him and I am completely aware of the fact that he sacrifices much for our family as well.  The fact that I'm sitting here blogging while all around me there is laundry to be done, dinner to prepare and a house to straighten is proof that he is willing to sacrifice a little bit of his sanity to let me have this outlet of writing in order to keep my own sanity.

3 - I could not have the strong marriage I have now if it weren't for the continued courtship we enjoy.  We go on a date regularly, if not every week. When our kids were little and I was at home literally all day and we had no money so we rarely went out, I finally told him I needed to remember what it was like to be me, to be Stacy his wife and not just the mother of his children. (I truthfully wanted a reason to get out of my sweatpants and put on a skirt)  Since that time, it is a rarity that we miss a date night.  When he takes me out, I am reminded that I am the most important person in his life.  

4 - I am in awe of marriages that are able to stay together without their knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That isn't to say that it can't be done.  I just know that my perspective on the fact that this life isn't the end, nor is it even the largest part of our existence makes this earth life a tad bit easier.  It's like knowing there is a happy ending at the end of the movie or having a tag team partner in the wrestling match of life.  I firmly believe that two people who put Christ first in their marriage can overcome pretty much anything.  
Like I said earlier.  I married when I was young and naive.  I can't imagine the amount of courage it would take for me to join my life to someone else even in my later 20's or 30's after being single and on my own for a while.

We got married when I was barely 20 years old.  I was young and stupid, or maybe Ben was, but whatever:)  I had visions of a life full of traveling, business dealings and sexy shoes.  Anything was possible at that point because of my naive personality and ambition to do/be whatever I wanted.  Marrying Ben was one of the easier paths I chose in my life. 

We learned early on in our marriage how to manage our disagreements and how to live with another person.  Neither of us had lived alone for a great period of time if at all so we didn't have any pre-conceived notions of how we liked things.  The first time we had a really heated argument, he left our apartment in anger.  I cried and cried, until I finally went outside of our apartment complex and waited for him to return because in my young heart, I was afraid he wouldn't. Upon his return, we both decided that no argument was worth causing the other person that much pain.  We haven't had an argument like that since.  Yes, we disagree, but we usually work it out fairly quickly.  

But in the end, I think that choosing to be married to someone who loves the Lord and binding yourself to a person who is willing to sacrifice some of him/herself for you without either of you knowing what the outcome will be but still wants to jumps off the cliff telling you it's all gonna be o.k. while holding your hand, the journey is going to be awesome and totally worth it.  Totally and completely. No matter what.  

*For those of you who would like to know more about what our church believes or why we believe so strongly in the concept of marriage/family, please go here and here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Potty Training and chastity

I'm two weeks into the process of potty training child #8.  I think my reward for even having that many children is that the last two should have been born potty trained!  But, so far so good.  I was going to work on it the first week the kids went back to school but Derek was so sick and the antibiotics gave him the runs so I gave up on that after day 2.

Once he was feeling better, we started over.  He loves wearing his cute little boy underwear (he makes it clear that he doesn't wear panties like his sister).  To keep him from poop accidents, I told him if he pooped on Spiderman, he will turn into The Incredible Hulk and that would be too scary. (I'm not sure this has really been effective.)  I also have been taking this time to talk about body parts and why we need to keep them covered.  It makes for the start of good conversations about who can touch down there and why they would need to, like for cleaning up after an accident or the Doctor when we are having a checkup as long as mom or dad are in the room.

It has been interesting to talk to this kid about who has boy parts and who doesn't.  I want my children to be comfortable talking about this kind of stuff so that they will feel comfortable and confident asking questions in the future.  Who knew I was going to have to make it clear that bad guys are boys and bad girls are still girls and they have different body parts (I don't know why he asked me that, ha ha.)

Anyway, that leads up to what Ben and I did this weekend.  We attended a wonderful class put on by our stake called Especially For Parents day in preparation for our youth's upcoming Youth Conference weekend.  There were some awesome classes put on by some exceptional people.  I learned a lot of information and enjoyed all the classes.  One of them was taught by Dan Oakes MEd, LPC, who is an awesome member of our stake, our Young Men's stake president and former Bishop of mine.  His class was on helping our children live the Law of Chastity.

One of his suggestions was Teach early and Consistently and he gave some guidelines for when and what to teach our children:
Age 8ish - Just tell them the facts (menstruation, how babies are created)
Age 11ish - Puberty prep - they want to know "what is happening to my body?"
Age 13ish - Teach boundaries
Age 16ish - Dating prep and rules

**He also noted that when we talk to our kids we need to focus on development as well as morality.
**Don't mistake normal development for addictive behaviors
**Talk regularly and positively about these topics, even monthly.

My favorite quote on this topic comes from Elder Boyd K. Packer in the July 1972 New Era magazine "This power [the sacred power of procreation] must be strong...Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life."  You can read the whole amazing article here.

Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children about being chaste.  It cannot begin when they are teenagers, it cannot begin when by chance they come to us and ask us to clarify something they heard at school, it must begin young and it must be shown with love and compassion, ensuring that they will come back to us time and time again.  Our energies devoted to teaching our children about staying pure before marriage and having complete fidelity during marriage begins very early or if you have delayed, it begins today.  Brother Oakes reminded us that while the powers of procreation are strong and consistent, so should we be in teaching our children.

Let's go and have some awesome conversations with our kids!

"That's so gross Dad!" said one child after one such awesome talk with her dad about how babies are made.  We live to make our children suffer all the good stuff and so far, we have grossed out 6/8ths of them:)

Ha!!  Good times.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I've been gone too long

For a few weeks in September I was unable to log in.  Then, life got busy and things had to go.  But, I just wanted to say that I'M BACK!!  I hope to find make the time to write again because there is so much stirring around in my head that I want to say.  Needless to say, we started potty training today so I don't know what the week or two holds for me, lol.

In the meantime, here are a few questions mulling about in my head and I want your replies to them...

Women, as far as your home is concerned:

1.  How do you manage your time?  (lists, daily schedule, fly by the seat of your pants, etc)

2.  What things stress you out?

3.  How do you prioritize?

4.  How do you keep from getting over-scheduled?

I'm working on something and need your help.  Thanks!!