"Don't let this choice [of a marriage partner] ever be made except with earnest, searching, prayerful consideration, confiding in parents, [and] in faithful, mature, trustworthy friends." ~Elder Richard L. EvansLately I've been thinking about the days of my "maidenhood"-- the time before I met and married my eternal companion. I'm sure part of the reason is because my eldest daughter is now older than I was when I wed, and also because my husband and I just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. I also know and love several young ladies that used to be in my Shakespeare classes that are now coming of age, spreading their wings and teetering on the edges of their future lives.
What will they do? Who will they choose to have as their partners in life? Where will their choices take them?
All these questions and more are on my mind, and so I feel compelled to record what I would say about choosing a mate to all the young ladies I know and love. I hope my daughters and friends will read this post and feel the love that their sisters, mentors, and mothers feel for them. May the Lord inspire and strengthen you through this time of hope and transition to adulthood. More than anything else I wish to say, never forget that YOU ARE LOVED!
"In making a decision as momentous as whom you will marry, I suggest you seek the help of your parents. Take the time to confide in them, for they will not leave you nor forsake you. They love you dearly and want for a precious daughter or stalwart son the best in life and the ultimate promises of eternity."
"Of course our Heavenly Father will also bless you and guide you in your decision and in making other decisions throughout your life. You have a formula, a guide, to assist you. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9 : “You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."
“'But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.' That counsel from the Doctrine and Covenants has directed me, and it will direct you." ~Thomas S. Monson, "Whom Shall I Marry?"
Making A List
Back in the age of the dinosaurs, I was a young woman who attended a local Especially for Youth (EFY) one weekend while visiting my aunt. I was fourteen and excited to be spending time visiting family in a different state. It was the first time I had been far away from home without my parents, and I was determined to have a wonderful time. Everything about the weekend had been wonderful, all the speakers, the friendly youth, and the dance. But there is only one thing I still remember that weekend that effected me for many years.
One of the classes was about making a list of traits we wanted in an eternal mate. And so I sat down with the rest of the youth and made my list for the first time. Over the years, I added things and took a few silly things off the list, all while wondering and praying for my future husband. Who would he be? Did I know him even now? I prayed that he would be worthy, kind, and spiritually strong. I prayed that he would go on a mission and be worthy to take me to the temple to be sealed to him for time and all eternity.
"When choosing a spouse, they should have the following: ' a deep love of the Lord and of His commandments, a determination to live them, one that is kindly understanding, firgiving of others, and willing to give of self, with the desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home. When you are choosing your companion, make sure that noth of you have a desire for a celestial marriage relationship, a desire to have a companion for eternity, a desire to have a family for eternbity, and a desire to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.'" ~Elder Robert D. Hales, A Little Heaven on Earth
"...when choosing an eternal companion, we do not present a list of names to the Lord and ask him to decide. Instead, we exercise our agency by participating in dating experiences. We get to know the other person's inner attitudes and outward behavior. Then we make a decision and take it to the Lord." ~Elder Robert D. Hales, Ten Axioms to Guide Your Life
As I grew in age and maturity, I came to realize that the list I had made was not just about the attributes my future husband should have, it was also a list of the attributes I should have. And I began to ponder on what kind of a mate I would be to the worthy young man I was dreaming of.
"Be worthy of the mate you choose. ... This will be the most important decision of your life, the individual whom you marry." ~President Gordon B. Hinckley
"A marriage partnership is not a crutch. You do not marry somebody you think is a little higher than the angels and then lean on that person. Rather, you develop yourself and your own gifts and talents. As you develop, you grow together, supporting and strengthening one another." ~Elder Robert D. Hales, A Little Heaven on Earth
"As you strive to become a quality person, commune daily with your Heavenly Father who knows you best of all. He knows your talents, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You are here on the earth at this time to develop and refine these characteristics. I promise you He will help you. He is aware of your needs. He is aware of your unanswered prayers." ~Marvin J. Ashton, "Be a Quality Person"
Choice vs. DestinyChoosing an eternal companion is one of the most important decisions we can make in this life! It is not something we should do casually or lightly.
President Kimball, in "Oneness in Marriage" made this important statement:
"In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all the decision, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as hearts."As romantic and enchanting as it may sound to "find the one" made for us, our soul mate, our "perfect match," as I quoted above, we know that the Lord wants us to choose for ourselves, then seek His approval through prayer. President Kimball bluntly states:
"'Soul mates' are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price."
As the mother of seven daughters, and four sons, I have a lot to say on this subject, so I have decided to make this a series. Check back soon for Part Two!