How to overcome challenges in your marriage relationship

Observe gospel standards, such as praying daily as couple and as family, attending Church and paying tithing.

Value covenants to each other above all other loyalties. Approach problems with the idea of how problems will be resolved, not whether they will be solved.- Set aside time on a regular basis for discussion. Almost any problem can be discussed if approached in the right spirit.

Be united in dealing with children; do not allow them to become a wedge between you.

Realize not all issues may be solved; you may need to agree to disagree.

Remember that most serious family problems arise from finances. Therefore, determine a budget, live by it and save some money.

Keep your problems confidential. Share them, as necessary, with appropriate Church leaders.

Remember that if professional counseling is needed, make sure the counselor is understanding of and sympathetic to gospel principles and will tailor counseling according to those principles.

Encourage the development of your spouse's talents and interests; this makes for a more contented partner.

Eliminate criticism. Resolve to pay your spouse at least one compliment a day. Build each other up.

Allow for human imperfection; cut your spouse some "slack."

Be slow to anger. If a situation becomes too heated, declare a "time-out" for 30 minutes.

Do not carry grudges. Face problems as they arise, and do not allow them to fester.

Maintain a sense of humor; it can make all the difference in the world. - W. Romney Burke, West Linn, Ore.

Additional Information

How to checklist

1 Value marriage covenants; be committed to each other.

2 Pray together; apply counsel

found in the scriptures.

3 Take time for each other;

learn to communicate, listen.

4 Be sensitive to other's needs;

express love; don't criticize.

How we did it:

Learn to compromise

My wife and I have overcome conflicts in our marriage by following these five rules:

Do not criticize or blame - ever! Criticism or pressuring will never help you get what you want. Your spouse will only attack back or retreat from the relationship.

Ask for what you want - please. The words "please" and "I have a problem" are magical. When your spouse doesn't have to feel blamed or feel defensive, he or she is more likely to help you get what you want.

Compromise. It is good that people are different. We see situations in different ways. If we don't evaluate our spouse's needs as good or bad, then we can decide how we can compromise and both get things we want.

Appreciate each other every day.

Do the right thing and say the right thing. Our marriage relationship is much better because we are more frequently saying and doing the honest, right thing with each other. - Bruce Packard, Flagstaff, Ariz.

Find time

The most important thing is to establish communication. Many people just turn off; they don't hear the other person and they don't listen. The other person doesn't feel appreciated.

As a bishop, I counsel people to listen, talk and communicate. Before I was retired, I was a trial and appellate lawyer. When I came home at night, I wanted to get away from the telephone and controversy and I wanted to unwind. Of course, my wife had been facing struggles all day with the family. The challenge for us was to find some time to talk and visit. We found that if we got the kids to bed at a decent hour, we had at least an hour or two to ourselves. We then communicated, and I'd ask my wife what her day was like. This communication helped us grow close and helped us appreciate each other's problems.

In addition, being a bishop takes a large amount of my time. I have learned the importance of delegation so that I have time for my family. - George R. Hyde, Kensington, Md.

Talk without anger

As a newlywed, I did not know how to handle myself when my husband became angry. I soon learned that that was not the time to tell my side of the issue. I would listen and when he was through talking I would say, "I am sorry you are angry, but I love you anyway." I did not take any blame or excuse myself.

Later, when he had calmed down, we could talk about the problem without anger. - Gwen Sutton Robinson, Newdale, Idaho

Ask Lord for help

The first thing my husband and I do in problem solving is decide whether the problem is major or minor. If it is a minor problem, we forgive and forget. If it is a major one, we discuss our feelings and try to come up with a plan to solve it. Once it is solved, we promise to be fair to each other and not bring it up again.

Sometimes I have a hard time letting go of bad feelings. Then I take it to the Lord and ask for help and forgiveness. This helps me release my problems and start over with a clean slate. - Name withheld, Idaho

Laughed, cried together

My "one and only" and I have had our share of trials. I truly believe why we have made it through marriage that started at 17 years for me and 21 years for him is commitment. Our special day, Jan. 15, 1961, was a day that we both took very seriously. I gave him through patience and faith the sharing of the gospel. My husband joined the Church in the late 1960s, and our family was later sealed in the temple.

I wanted our love and marriage to be forever. Family was the uppermost important thing in my life. We have laughed and cried together. We have had our hearts hanging by a thread. Our first child, "My Sweet Lady," had cystic fibrosis. I knew she could live, but instead her life was taken from her when she was murdered. The effects on her sister, "Our Sunshine," and on "Our Number One Son" were unexplainable. Without the knowledge of the gospel, our commitment to each other, my patriarchal blessing, scripture reading, love for Heavenly Father, a testimony, friends and our callings, we could not have made it. We read in Mormon 9:21: "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." Through constant prayer and holding each other, as you can see, we have been blessed. Heavenly Father gives us the strength to endure anything. If we ask, He will see us through anything, including these types of challenges to our marriage relationship. - Rosalie Gibson, Topeka, Kan.

Apply scriptures

Realize we can't change anyone else. We only have the power to change ourselves. We need to evaluate ourselves to see if we are really satisfied with our own imperfections. Then apply the counsel given in Matt. 7:1-5, such as "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Other scriptures that help us with our relationships with others are the golden rule found in Matt. 7:12; 1 Cor. 7:3-5, being benevolent; Eph. 5:22-23 loving our companions as ourselves; and 1 Peter 3:7-10.

When my wife and I apply these scriptures in our lives, we have a better chance of overcoming any challenges we face in our marriage relationship. - LeRoy Soderquist, Salt Lake City, Utah WRITE TO US:

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Oct. 29 "How to help a loved one with a disability reach his or her potential."

Nov. 5 "How to cope with the heartache of miscarriage."

Nov. 12 "How to engender understanding of differing religious beliefs among family members and loved ones."

Nov. 19 "How to help someone trying to come back into Church activity."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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