Throughout his service in the Church, President Nelson has taught through word and example how to build a strong marriage and appreciate your spouse. Here are a few of his teachings on the topic, excerpted from the new book Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.
This is part of an ongoing series where we highlight the teachings of our prophet weekly.
I remember vividly an experience I had as a passenger in a small two-propeller airplane. One of its engines suddenly burst open and caught on fire. The propeller of the flaming engine was starkly stilled. As we plummeted in a steep spiral dive toward the earth, I expected to die. Some of the passengers screamed in hysterical panic. Miraculously, the precipitous dive extinguished the flames. Then, by starting up the other engine, the pilot was able to stabilize the plane and bring us down safely.
Throughout that ordeal, though I “knew” death was coming, my paramount feeling was that I was not afraid to die. I remember a sense of returning home to meet ancestors for whom I had done temple work. I remember my deep sense of gratitude that my sweetheart and I had been sealed eternally to each other and to our children, born and reared in the covenant. I realized that our marriage in the temple was my most important accomplishment. Honors bestowed upon me by men could not approach the inner peace provided by sealings performed in the house of the Lord. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)
Your Highest Priority Is Your Spouse
Love does not focus on what someone cannot do. Real love focuses on what someone can do. Love highlights unique qualities that are part of the divine heritage of every son and daughter of God. And beyond that, love flings open the gates of service, which lead to the sweet fields of fulfillment and understanding. There our joy is complete when the time ultimately comes for us to step aside and watch our loved ones at last able to work and willingly serve others as we had first served them. (“Barriers and Brotherhood,” National Barrier Awareness Meeting, Salt Lake Tabernacle, May 6, 1989)
Your highest personal priority is your spouse—husband to wife and wife to husband. Your commitment to each other is eternal. Your families—children and grandchildren—are yours forever. Through appropriate means, keep as close to them as you can. Even though distances between you may be great, let them feel what you are feeling as you serve the Lord in His work.
Loyalty to the Lord and love for your family are not to be competitive! They are to be synergistic! The Lord said that “thy duty is unto the church forever, and this because of thy family” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:3). An eternal family is the end. The Church is the means to that end. We are building eternal families! (“Personal Priorities and Holy Purposes,” Mission Presidents Seminar, June 28, 2017)
8 Ways to Better Care for Your Spouse
The following counsel was directed to men but is equally applicable to women in our Church today.
I would like to say that your highest priesthood duty is to care for your wife. That is an eternal charge entrusted to you. What about your children? Of course, you are to provide, protect, and care for them. You are also to teach them and to discipline them privately in love. But the best thing you can do for your children is to love and care for their mother. Let that love show. Let your children and grandchildren grow in the comfort and confidence of a cherished mother. Help her to achieve the full measure of her creation. Help her to realize her divine destiny—with you! Brethren, there are eight “-ate” words that I would like to suggest that each of you apply in your relationship with your wife.
1. Anticipate. Think of her hopes and needs and anticipate them. In most issues, she will be ahead of you. In this one, try to be ahead of her. Anticipate a secret desire of her heart and surprise her.
2. Appreciate. A simple word of thanks for her efforts to keep you clean and well nourished will let her know that you do know what she has done for you. The Lord loves a grateful heart, and so does your wife.
3. Celebrate. You have already learned not to forget your wife’s birthday or wedding anniversary. In addition, celebrate the Sabbath together. Celebrate your sealing by attending the temple regularly. Celebrate your continuing courtship with dates together at least once a week.
4. Cooperate. That means you work together toward a common goal, that you lift each other’s load and lighten each other’s burden.
5. Elevate. Brethren, when you return home at the end of a difficult day’s work, do not set foot over the threshold of your home until you are prepared to elevate the mood of your wife and your children. Whatever your day’s frustrations or vexations may have been, don’t ever let anger pollute the sacred spirit of your home. Difficulties can and should be discussed quietly and be transformed into opportunities.
6. Motivate. Brethren, motivate your wife to develop a talent she may have. Whether it is in art, music, literature, or some other field, help her to feel the growth of that talent. Most men belong to a group of peers committed to advancing the quality of their daily work. Encourage your wife to do the same. For example, participation in Relief Society will bring enrichment to her soul and opportunities to serve that will help her to advance her own innate capacity.
7. Radiate. I hope you will radiate goodness by being good. And please try to radiate more light than heat. The Lord placed a sun in the sky to provide light for the day. He placed a moon and stars to provide light for the night, and He placed you in the home to provide blessings of the priesthood and the light of the gospel. If you will radiate that light, your home will become a beacon of light to your entire neighborhood.
8. Supplicate. . . . Let your home be a house of prayer, a house of order, and a house of God. And as you worthily partake of the sacrament each week, you will have the Spirit of the Lord to be with you always. Husbands and wives study the doctrines together. Grow together in spiritual symmetry. Let your home become the primary sanctuary of your family’s faith. (“Fostering Families of Faith,” Western Idaho Stake Conference Broadcast, November 11, 2007)
A Celestial Goal
An understanding of God’s great plan of happiness . . . fortifies our faith in the future. His plan provides answers to ageless questions: Are all our sympathies and love for each other only temporary—to be lost in death? No! Can family life endure beyond this period of mortal probation? Yes! God has revealed the eternal nature of celestial marriage and the family as the source of our greatest joy.
Brethren and sisters, material possessions and honors of the world do not endure. But your union as wife, husband, and family can. The only duration of family life that satisfies the loftiest longings of the human soul is forever. No sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal marriage. To qualify, one needs only to deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances of the temple. By making and keeping sacred temple covenants, we evidence our love for God, for our companion, and our real regard for our posterity—even those yet unborn. Our family is the focus of our greatest work and joy in this life; so will it be throughout all eternity, when we can “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, . . . powers, dominions, . . . exaltation and glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19).
These priceless blessings can be ours if we set our houses in order now and faithfully cling to the gospel. (“‘Set in Order Thy House,’” Ensign, November 2001)
While salvation is an individual matter, exaltation is a family matter. Only those who are married in the temple and whose marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise will continue as spouses after death and receive the highest degree of celestial glory, or exaltation (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:53; 132:7). A temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage. Within the celestial glory are three levels. To obtain the highest, a husband and wife must be sealed for time and all eternity and keep their covenants made in a holy temple (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–3).
The noblest yearning of the human heart is for a marriage that can endure beyond death. Fidelity to a temple marriage does that. It allows families to be together forever.
This goal is glorious. All Church activities, advancements, quorums, and classes are means to the end of an exalted family. (“Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, November 2008)
Lead image from lds.org
Read more profound insights from our prophet in Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.
Internationally renowned as a surgeon, teacher, and man of great faith, President Russell M. Nelson has dedicated his life to healing hearts and ministering throughout his medical career and his Church service. This definitive volume of his teachings presents excerpts from his speeches and writings spanning more than three decades as an Apostle of the Lord, including many from his recent world tour and other unpublished addresses. Alphabetically arranged by topic, these teachings on more than 100 subjects provide a perfect, easy-to-use resource for talks, lessons, and more.