'From I to we: Building unity in marriage'


“Marriage is worth it,” Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, told listeners during a BYU Women’s Conference session on April 30. In a candid, casual setting, the Relief Society general presidency and their husbands spoke together to discuss a variety of facets of the topic, “From I to we: building unity in marriage.”

The discussion — held in the Marriott Center — included Sister Burton and her husband, Brother Craig P. Burton; Sister Carole M. Stephens and her husband, Brother Marty Stephens; and Sister Linda S. Reeves and her husband, Brother Melvyn K. Reeves.

The auxiliary leaders and their husbands shared personal stories and experiences to illustrate important points that help bring couples together. Each couple brought a question for the group to consider, and then all three couples discussed solutions that have worked in their own lives.

Sister Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, asked: “What are some of the challenges that interfere with marriage?”

Drawing on topics such as finances, social media use and good communication, the leaders spoke of ways couples can work together.

Sister Reeves spoke of the need to be transparent, open and honest with finances. She shared a story of when she and her husband had a young family and were saving for new furniture for their home. At that time, a representative from the Boy Scouts came to their home asking for donations. Figuring it was a good cause, Brother Reeves gave the money to the Boy Scouts. Sister Reeves said that from that experience they learned very quickly they needed to work together and talk about their finances — especially as they make purchases.

Transparency is crucial to strong marriages, she said, including in social media use.

Sister Burton and Brother Burton shared how they, as newlyweds, had to learn how each other communicates — especially when conflict arises.

Recognizing that both come from different backgrounds where dealing with conflict resolution may have been handled differently, Sister Burton said that learning how to talk and trust each other is a skill that will help them become united as they make decisions and raise a family.

Sister Stephens asked, “How can we be guardians of the marriage covenant?”

It is important to work together, she taught. Sharing a time in her life when her husband was serving as a bishop and she was home with six little children, she spoke of how much better things went when the couple worked together.

“I had a schedule on Sundays,” she said. “I had almost tunnel vision of that routine.”

One Sunday her husband came home earlier than expected and she was loading up their children in the car. As she was about to leave, her husband asked, “Can I come?”

“Just because we can do it on our own doesn’t mean we should,” she said. “We are guardians of the marriage covenant and we need to work together to keep the family strong.”

When Sister Burton asked the question, “How can we strengthen, help each other and build unity in marriage?” all of the couples agreed that it is important to be sensitive to the feelings of their spouse, as well as to find humor in everyday events.

“Television shows couples in terrible arguments and then they kiss and make up and everything is OK,” Brother Reeves said. “But that is Satan’s way of making us believe that we can say hurtful things and somehow love comes back into the home. But that just isn’t true. It is so important to be kind, and to nurture your marriage.”

Sister Reeves reminded listeners to “choose to not be sensitive” so honest and open dialogue can occur when discussing things that are going well, and other topics that may need improvement.

The Burtons spoke of the importance of counseling together as a couple, especially regarding revelation, which both received individually and as a couple.

“Revelation is scattered,” Sister Burton said. “Sometimes it comes from one, sometimes the other.” But as couples work together, she reminded listeners, they are able to accomplish what the Lord wants them to do.

It is important to pray together and attend the temple as a couple. Oftentimes it is through listening to a spouse’s prayer that an individual can know what is on his or her mind — in particular — those things that are causing worry.

As couples work together they are able to consecrate themselves to each other, their children and to Heavenly Father. As couples sustain and support each other — recognizing that marriage is a process, not an event — they are able to become a team. @marianne_holman

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