How to remain in love with your spouse despite the ongoing rigors of life

I have been married for five-plus years. There are many things that a couple can do to keep love alive, including the following:

Pray together. Pray when things are good, and pray when things are tough. Pray for inspiration, and, most of all, pray for guidance. I know that being in a prayerful mood has helped to keep that spiritual fire burning.- Have personal and family scripture study. Study together as a couple. Make time for it.

Have a weekly date night. This does not necessarily have to be a spend-a-lot-of-money night. In our case, we make time for each other, even if that only means that we go for a walk together and have ice cream. Do it with the idea that it's your time together, not time to discuss kids, bills, household things. The idea is to spend time together and to stay acquainted with each other.

Go to the temple together. We live in Connecticut, and the closest temple is in Washington, D.C., which is a six-hour drive. So this is a mixed blessing. We may not get to go to the temple as often as some, but we do have six hours to be alone in the car together, coming and going. And I love that! My husband loves it when I bring along a book to read aloud to him while he drives. I have to admit I enjoy it too, and usually it opens an avenue for discussion.

It's in the temple that we make new commitments with each other. On the travel back and forth we have the time to reassess things together. I love our trips to the temple. They help to remind me that I do have a wonderful testimony of my marriage and that I do love my eternal companion. - Name withheld, Connecticut

What we did:

`Wife of my youth'

I have remained totally "in love" with my spouse for nearly 40 years because of my anxious concern for her comfort, well-being and happiness. I have always felt the responsibility to entertain her and to make her dreams come true.

My proverbial marriage motto through the years has always been: "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth . . . and be thou ravished always with her love." (Prov. 5:18-19.) So, I have remained ravishingly in love with my spouse - no doubt about it!

To offset the realities of her everyday life and to get her "out of the house," I bought a small used boat to water ski and explore the bayous - which she loves! A few years later, we became certified scuba divers (her dream for years).

Yet, ironically, the "entertainer and dream-maker" could not offset every reality. In the past few years, "the wife of my youth" has undergone a double mastectomy and is presently involved in chemotherapy. The prognosis is good, and she is still unequivocally ravishing to me. Oh, do I love her! - J. Thomas Cearley, Slidell, La.

Spend time

My husband and I strive to:

Spend time together. We have been counseled to continue to court our spouses after we are married. Also, we go to bed at the same time. Not only does this give us a chance to pray together, it also gives us time to talk in the quiet of the night about things that are important to us.

Choose our arguments carefully. My mother always taught me that if it won't make a difference in your life five years from now, it isn't worth fighting about today.

Show appreciation. I tell my husband that I appreciate how faithful he is in going to work every day, which allows me to stay at home with our children. He does the same in expressing his appreciation for the things I do. When appropriate, I "brag" to my friends and family about things he has done for me. - Lucy Hannigan-Ewing, Anchorage, Alaska

Journal entry

Whenever the rigors of life get to us, I pull out a copy of my journal entry back when my husband and I first fell in love. I read all about how wonderful I thought this man was and review all the qualities that made me want to marry him. This really helps me to refocus. We have faced a lot of rocky roads and many trials in the last 25 years but those same qualities are what keep us together. My journal entry has saved our marriage more than once. - Ramona Dutton, Salt Lake City, Utah

Bury the hatchet

I try to accept my spouse's efforts today rather than dwelling on yesterday's frustrations and hurts. However, I am sometimes guilty of burying the hatchet on old mistakes and irritations yet keeping the handle sticking out in case I need it again. Knowing this about myself, I work hard at forgiving and forgetting. - Kim Thomas, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Be affectionate

When your spouse goes out of town, put a love note in his (her) briefcase, running shoes, notebook or coat pocket. Be creative.

Don't be afraid to hug and kiss in front of the children. They need to see you be affectionate with each other.

Hold hands when you go out together. - Patricia Hawthorne, Shalimar, Fla.

Be faithful

After almost 39 years together (seven children, 20 grandchildren), we are more in love than ever. We learned to:

"Cleave unto each other." Be faithful and don't become emotionally involved with anyone else.

Communicate in love and listen in love. Forgive quickly and never hold a grudge.

Keep the physical part of the marriage strong and healthy. Tell each other often both in word and deed that they are loved and appreciated.

Leave and greet each other with a hug and a kiss daily.

Speak highly of each other both in and out of the home.

Realize that thoughtful gifts (not necessarily expensive) can strengthen your love.

Treat each other as equals, especially where money is concerned. Work toward goals together as a couple.

Support each other and be proud of each other's accomplishments.

Above all - cherish each other. - Carole C. Pulley, St. Louis, Mo.

Sense of humor

Don't take offense easily, and learn to apologize. Don't harbor anger.

Develop a sense of humor and use it. - Larry and Debbie Knoebel, Fredericksburg, Texas

How to checklist:

Live gospel as couple; pray together, attend temple.

Spend time together weekly; keep good communication.

Express love in word and deed; be affectionate.

Forgive, forget mistakes; remember when you fell in love.

Write to us:

Feb. 17 "How to help children overcome shyness."

Feb. 24 "How to be an active contributing member of your community."

March 2 "How to make your home safe for children, other loved ones."

March 9 "How to help young people refrain from gambling."

March 16 "How to have a feeling of wholeness in the home although yours is a single-parent family."

March 23 "How to mend a relationship in which you have hurt another."

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, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: 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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