Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Striving together toward perfection

A good marriage doesn't require perfect people

A good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It requires only a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

Speaking Saturday morning, Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve said in the world today the whole concept of marriage is in peril and divorce is commonplace.

"The concept that society has a strong interest in preserving marriages for the common good as well as the good of the couple and their children has been replaced for many by the idea that marriage is only a private relationship between consenting adults, terminable at the will of either."

The weakening of the concept that marriages are permanent and precious has far-reaching consequences, Elder Oaks said.

"The kind of marriage required for exaltation — eternal in duration and God-like in quality — does not contemplate divorce. In the temple of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal."

There are many good Church members who have been divorced, said Elder Oaks. "We know that many of you are innocent victims — members whose former spouses persistently betrayed sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. Members who have experienced such abuse have first-hand knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce.

"When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is needful to have a means to end it."

Elder Oaks said some look back on their divorces with regret at their own partial or predominant fault in the breakup. "All who have been through divorce know the pain and need the healing power and hope that comes from the Atonement."

Continuing, Elder Oaks spoke to those contemplating divorce. "I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face the reality that for most marriage problems the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility, but selfishness."

Divorce is not an all-purpose solution and often creates long-term heartache, he said. "Spouses who hope that divorce will resolve conflicts often find that it aggravates them, since the complexities that follow divorce — especially when there are children — generate new conflicts."

Elder Oaks asked couples with serious marriage problems to think of their children and to see their bishop. "Latter-day Saint spouses should do all within their power to preserve their marriages.... In a marriage relationship, festering is destructive; forgiving is divine."

Concluding, Elder Oaks said, "The best way to avoid divorce from an unfaithful, abusive or unsupportive spouse is to avoid marriage to such a person. If you wish to marry well, inquire well." He encouraged dating and courtship to provide opportunities to experience the prospective spouse's behavior in a variety of circumstances and about their families.

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