Al was told in a priesthood blessing, right when we got married, that the temple should be our centerpiece. A centerpiece is pretty self-explanatory: it is placed in the center and everything else is placed and works around it. In that same blessing, we were told that we should have a picture of a temple in every room of our house, even the bathrooms, to help us be mindful of the temple when we weren’t inside its walls. With the help of Deseret Book and pass-along cards, we listened.
We are to seek the Lord with our spouse, and if we are looking for the Lord, we will find Him in His house. (Unintentional rhyme—nice!) Going to the temple together was established the very first day we met; our first date was literally at the temple. Since the day we met, we made it a goal to go weekly, even before we were engaged. The temple was important to both of us, and it was even more important that we established it as the centerpiece of our relationship together. We grew spiritually together. We set good habits right off the bat. We were attracted to each other spiritually. We fed our souls. We learned how to receive revelation together in the temple.
We most definitely don’t recommend your first dates be to the temple per se, but having that desire and goal to build together early is the perfect way to start off and continue strong spiritual habits. There is a real power that comes from a husband and wife, or an engaged couple, participating in the Lord’s holiest ordinances.
Joseph Smith taught that we need the temple more than we need anything else. It is there that we learn more of God and more of ourselves. It is where we learn our full purpose and potential, where we learn about our promises from God and where we make promises with Him in return. It’s where we receive answers to our prayers and the strength to continue. It is there that our love for God and Christ strengthens, and it is there that our love for our spouse and family grows.
When we got married, the first thing we said to our new bishop was that we wanted to work in the temple, and we did! We worked the Saturday afternoon shift at the Jordan River Utah Temple; it was so much fun to be there together and to see each other working. We grew together during that time, and we understood more about the temple and its importance. We would look forward to Saturdays because of our duties there.
There is nothing like working at heaven on earth and seeing the Spirit work on tons of people a day. If you are able to, and your schedule allows it, totally work in the temple together. Being there together and helping the Lord’s work move forward is special, and there’s nothing like it! I would encourage you to prayerfully think about it; it’s a deeply sacred experience that will bring you both together.
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Temple work brings so much resistance because it is the source of so much spiritual power. For those that live close to a temple, they usually have the mind-set of, “Well, if I don’t make it this week, there’s always next week,” and that is how the adversary gets to us. The knowledge that the temple isn’t going anywhere allows other things to come before our attendance and then procrastination sweeps in. It becomes easy to take for granted what the temple truly is, and what comes from going there and going often. To make and keep the temple as your centerpiece, sit down with your spouse and plan for it. Mark on your calendar what days you will go and keep them there; plan for it and plan around it. Do not make excuses.
When we were pregnant, almost everyone told us, “Well, when that baby comes you won’t be able to go to the temple anymore,” and, “Say your goodbyes now because that’ll end when you’re parents.” We even heard sad stories of, “Since our baby was born, it has been a few years since we have been back to the temple, and it’s only gotten harder.”
We had never been parents before, so we couldn’t say how life would be with a newborn and a growing child, but we were determined to keep the temple at the core of our marriage. We have learned to not let what other people say influence us when it comes to what it is we can and cannot do. Don’t let other people freak you out. You really can do whatever it is that you want to do if you make it a priority.
One of us had gotten a blessing right before our daughter, Gracie, was born, saying, “It is important to Heavenly Father that you continue to go to His house. Do not let anything get in the way of that. It is important, at every age, for your children to see you go regularly to the temple. Find babysitters, and He will help provide ways and means to make it happen.” And God did just that. When our first baby was born, we went back to our weekly goal, and it is a perfect strength. It’s a wonderful way to refresh and become better as parents and as spouses.
There are plenty of ways to continue to make the temple the centerpiece of your marriage, especially if a temple isn’t as accessible. First, make it a priority. Plan a time when you can go, save up money for travel expenses, and get anything you need to make the trip possible, if that is the case. Pick a day to go and plan around it. Stick to it.
Spend time reflecting on the promises that we made and the promises that were given to us by God. Respect and wear the temple garment properly. Garments are the Lord’s way of letting us take a piece of the temple home with us to have always. They remind us of the way we should live and the promises and strength given to us from Him. During hard times, reflect on the covenants you have made and ponder them—the power in those promises is real. Make the temple important, because it is important.
We must not lose sight of why we are truly here and what we need to be doing. We must never forget whose hands we’re in. We must never forget that we have a God. We have a God, and He is ours. He guides, directs, warns, strengthens, and gives us the greatest things. Choose God every day. Every day, choose eternal salvation. Because when we decide and redecide to choose Heavenly Father, the rest of life seems to fall into place the way it is supposed to. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
Image from Al's Instagram
For more insights on marriage, the gospel, and living life to the fullest, check out Cheers to Eternity: Lessons We've Learned About Dating and Marriage, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.
Author of the bestseller More than the Tattooed Mormon, Al Carraway and her husband, Ben, remind you that marriage isn't supposed to be "serious and hard." A successful marriage is one that you build as a team—emphasizing constant communication, working through hard times together, and (above all) remembering to put God first. Written for singles, newlyweds, and marriage veterans, Cheers to Eternity will help you bring new insights into your relationships, keep life in perspective, and make the rest of your life here and in eternity exciting, amazing and meaningful.