I recently went and spoke at a different stake's girls camp. As I spoke to these beautiful girls, I told them that as I was growing up when I was their age, I always just assumed I would be married to a returned missionary, someone who cherished the gospel as much as myself, in the temple, we'd have four kids, and live happily ever after. Well, life certainly doesn't always turn out like we want or expect. I don't know that it ever does exactly. I did marry a returned missionary. He was only three days fresh off of his mission when I met him. So I just knew he would have the strong values and morals that I was seeking. I was sure he cherished the gospel principles and honored his priesthood with the utmost respect. I mean, he did just get home from his mission! I believe he did have a testimony and believed the same as me, however, his choices weren't always in line with what I had always pictured the man I'd marry to be. We didn't marry in the temple initially. It was devastating. One of the worst things I have ever been through. That was a choice that I made also. A choice that was life-changing. We were sealed almost exactly one year later, which was amazing, but not what I had expected. We had two children, and then dealt with four miscarriages. Not what I wanted or expected. And we didn't end up living happily ever after together. Our eternal marriage shockingly ended officially on October 3, 2013. It was a nightmare. It was not what I EVER would have imagined. I remember sitting in the attorney's office in June of 2013. He had left for the last time a month prior. I couldn't believe where I was. I couldn't believe I was actually going to sign a document that would end what was supposed to be for eternity. I couldn't believe the man that told me he loved me would make the choices he did. How could someone do that to someone they loved? I really believed he did love me when he said it. How could I ever trust again? I remember the reactions of people that knew us when they found out we were getting divorced. They were shocked. I had several people tell me we were the last ones they would ever expect would be getting divorced...well I was right there with them.
Satan is relentless at destroying families, and he is doing a very good job at it. I remember even when I was growing up, divorce wasn't super common. Now it seems divorce has affected more people than not in one way or another. It is so heartbreaking. It actually makes me sick that I fall into the "divorced" category. Satan uses many different tactics to destroy families. There are so many temptations that he puts in our pathway. They only become temptations, when we are the ones to allow them to be. I have firsthand experience of the effects of a spouse giving into temptations such as pornography and infidelity. It not only affected myself, but my children. I feel we can never be too careful when it comes to "cleaving" unto our spouse and our spouse only. Now this doesn't just mean in regards to the opposite sex. It means our spouse should come first and foremost before anything or anyone; that includes hobbies, work, even our church callings and our families we were raised in. They should be our first priority, along with our children. In the Doctrine and Covenants section 42 verse 22 it says, "Thou shalt love thy wife [or husband] with all thy heart, and thou shalt cleave unto her and none else." In Matthew chapter 19 verse 5 it says, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh." Like I mentioned, there are many tactics that the adversary is using to destroy families. These different temptations I speak of, again, don't only involve infidelity. I have seen people that are VERY close to me suffering in their marriages due to a spouse being putting video games, work, sports, friends, and even their parents or siblings, before their husband/wife. Marriage is definitely not easy. It is a growing experience where there is a lot of lessons to be learned including, patience, sacrifice, humility, selflessness, having an open mind, and many more. Although not easy, if both partners in a marriage are doing all they can to implement these qualities continually and consciously, they most likely will have a very successful and loving marriage. Marriage, along with parenting, is the hardest, yet the MOST rewarding commitment you'll ever make. It truly is ordained of God and the purpose we are sent to this earth. We are sent to have families of our own. To work together as husbands and wives to help one another reach the ultimate goal of eternal exaltation.
In the lesson outline I'm using to teach this, President Hunter says, "Just as baptism is a commandment of the Lord, so is temple marriage. As baptism is essential to admittance to the Church, so temple marriage is essential to our exaltation in the presence of God. It is part of our destiny. We cannot fulfill our ultimate aims without it. Do not be satisfied with anything less." There seems to be a lot of both men and women that are choosing to not get married for many reasons. Some look at it as it hindering their "freedom". Some are more interested in a career path than having a family. Maybe to some it's too much of a financial burden that causes them to not have the "fun" life to travel, buy expensive things, or just to do as they please. Some may just be waiting for the "perfect" person or the "perfect" time. There is never going to be a "perfect" time or person! I love what President Uchtdorf said in the last general priesthood session, "My beloved brethren, may I remind you, if there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?
In God’s plan of happiness, we are not so much looking for someone perfect but for a person with whom, throughout a lifetime, we can join efforts to create a loving, lasting, and more perfect relationship. That is the goal." From personal experience, it most certainly is vital that we find someone that has the values and standards that are most important to us and that will provide a means to help one another reach that goal of eternal happiness and that of living with our Savior and Father in Heaven together with our eternal families. Obviously, there is not a perfect person on the earth, and even a "perfect" person for any one person to marry. We all have flaws, downfalls, different views on certain things, etc. What is awesome is we will inevitably marry an imperfect person, but as we are all imperfect, together with your spouse, you can help each other, complement each other's weaknesses, and strengths, by cheering one another on and supporting one another in the way that would be in line with keeping the commandments and living in such a way to return to live with our Heavenly Father again.
As I have now been "officially" single for nearly three years, however even five years prior to that I remember as our marriage started failing, watching husbands involved with their families. Watching them sitting in church with their arm around their wife, helping wrestle the kids. Watching husbands and wives play happily at the park with their children. Watching husbands and wives out on little dates. I am not going to lie, it's hard. I get envious. As our marriage started to fall apart (not even realizing that was what was happening) I remember longing for those things. After our divorce, I remember feeling completely happy and content, FINALLY! How would I ever be able to trust again anyway? I just wanted to be a mom, and my kids were all I needed...or so I thought. Just in the last few months, I again, have felt that longing to have someone to talk to about my kids. Someone to confide in. Someone to share things with. Someone to fill a void that only a spouse can provide. It just goes to show how natural it is. That we were sent here to get married for eternity and to have our own families. It's extremely hard for me to hear people degrade their spouses. I know that marriage also brings frustrations, and we ALL get frustrated at times. We're human. But to hear others talk negatively about their spouse, it makes me cringe. Not that I didn't voice frustrations. I wasn't perfect. However, going through all of this, has made me realize how vitally important it is that we cherish our spouse. We don't speak ill of them. We hold them with the utmost respect. Sure, it is not always easy when we are annoyed or frustrated, I get that. I am saying that having been married, and now being a single mother, I would not ever want to take for granted again the beautiful thing marriage is. I certainly didn't realize how important these things were when I had them, like I should have. Not only do I long for that companionship, but I want so badly for my children to have that male role in their lives. Someone that will love them and be there for them like a dad should.
I want to end with one last quote by President Hunter, "I pray that the Lord will bless us that we may realize the reason for our existence and what we must do to find our way to exaltation and eternal life. Part of the eternal plan is the marriage we hold sacred."