An eternal commitment

They were married Feb. 9, 1944. Their future, during the height of World War II was, perhaps, a little more uncertain than it is for most newlyweds.

In June of the same year - just four months after their marriage - he found himself in a U.S. Marine boot camp near San Diego, Calif. A short time later he was fighting a cruel war in the South Pacific. She waited at home, working, getting an education, cherishing her deep love for him.Sometimes, at night, as he gazed upward from a South Pacific island onto a full moon, he would take consolation in knowing that she just might be staring at that very same heavenly body. Somehow, that made him feel just a little bit closer to her.

This month this wonderful couple celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary - a testament to the eternal nature of their love and their undying and never-to-be shaken commitment to each other.

Commitment is an interesting word - a word requisite in a marriage.

"Commitment is something we seem to have forgotten in this day and age," she was heard to say. "Somehow, we're teaching our youth the wrong thing. If we don't want someone on our basketball team, we just trade them away. If we're mad at our spouse, we leave. Our throw-away society has spread into our very relationships. And it's wrong. Just plain wrong.

"Marriage isn't always easy, but that's part of what makes it so good. I think the Lord intended it that way."

Those who have watched this marriage for these many years know that the couple practices what she was preaching.

The years have not always been easy. At first there was inactivity and the great void caused by a lack of gospel influence. Later there were the challenges - and great blessings - of full activity, including service as a bishop, stake president and mission president.

But life was good because they chose to make it so. Together.

Never, during the highs or the lows, did their commitment to each other wane.

It didn't matter if she were waiting for him to get active in the Church, or waiting for him to return home from another stake presidency meeting. She loved him, supported him and was true to him only.

And he to her. Sure he couldn't understand - even after 50 years together - why she was at times so unorthodox. To him, it was easier to just order from the restaurant menu. To her, a menu was just a suggestion from which she could create her own entree. He watched patiently as many a waiter left befuddled and confused. And why, he often wondered, did she have to ask him to rearrange so much of the house so often. But he did it, and, deep down inside, he loved it. Because he loved her.

And when there were genuine disagreements, there ultimately was always recognition that the issue, whatever it was, was less important than their love. And, by giving more and expecting less, they reconciled - and their love increased.

Of course they knew that would be the case because they were committed to each other. Other options were never considered.

For some, there may be times, because of such reasons as grievous sin, that other options might appropriately be considered. But such should only be considered in consultation with an inspired bishop or stake president and under the direct influence of the Spirit.

This couple, however, knew that marriage isn't a paper plate or an endurance race that can be discarded or discontinued when it no longer seems useful or because the obstacles seem too difficult to surmount.

On the contrary, marriage is an eternal commitment that, if given our consistent best efforts, will bring wondrous joy in this life and open the door to eternal exaltation. It most certainly is one of those sacred things with which the Lord admonished us not to trifle. (See D&C 6:12)

Another couple, who were separated by war during their engagement, passed away recently, within just eight days of each other, after spending 45 mortal years together. For many years others had looked to this fine couple as an example of a nearly perfect marriage. So those observers were not surprised when they heard the words of a letter, sent from a distant land in 1946:

"I'll be your life, Shirley. We'll complete our parents' dream and start one of our own. I'll never let you down. Darling, try and remember that always. I've been shown my mission in life and for you I'll do anything and everything that our dear Lord will permit me. I'll live right, Shirley, for you and everyone who's trusting me."

That is a commitment; a commitment that worked; a commitment from which all could learn.

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