Erik and Emily Orton- Navigating the Seas of Marriage

Wed May 29 10:00:52 EDT 2019
Episode 31

This week, Emily and Erik Orton's book, "Seven At Sea," was recommended by The New York Times as one of the best travel reads of the summer but on this week's episode of "All In," the Latter-day Saint couple talks navigating the choppy seas of marriage. From communication to trust to embracing life together, Emily and Erik share their advice for marital smooth sailing.

Find Emily and Erik's book, "Seven At Sea," here.

Listen to more of the Orton's story on "This is the Gospel" here.

Read the talk Emily references, "The Theology of Suffering," by Francine R. Bennion here.

Show Notes:
2:34- Living in a NYC apartment with seven people
3:58- An intentionally balanced partnership
7:57- Fostering open communication in marriage
12:19- The middle school class that has impacted their marriage
18:05- Acknowledging and supporting your spouse's ideas
21:30- How sailing impacted their marriage
30:09- The wind and waves obey thy will
33:01- What does it mean to you be "All In" the gospel of Jesus Christ?
39:37- Addendum from Emily


Morgan Jones: In February 2014, Eric and Emily Orton sailed from New York City to the Caribbean with their five children. One morning on the boat, Emily opened the laptop she shared with her husband and what she found was devastating. Her husband's journal was open. She wasn't trying to read it, but she couldn't unsee his words. Eric wrote that he wished he was happier and more in love with his wife. That moment could have been the beginning of the end of the Orton's marriage. But on today's episode, the Ortons share how to navigate rough waters that have nothing to do with the ocean.

We've received many requests from listeners to do an episode on marriage. I don't know a lot about marriage, but I've recruited the help of Eric and Emily Orton because, if your marriage can survive 10 months on a boat with or without discovering your spouse's digital journal, I think you're in business.

Erik Orton is an Emmy Award winning writer and former Broadway tour manager, Emily Orton is a former English teacher turned homeschooling, or should we say see schooling, mom. They are the parents of five children and the co-authors of their new book, "Seven At Sea." This is "All In," an LDS living podcast where we asked the question, what does it really mean to be "all in" the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm Morgan Jones and I'm grateful to have Emily and Erik Orton on the show today. Emily and Erik, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us via Zencaster today.

Emily Orton: Thanks Morgan, we're really happy to be here with you.

Erik Orton: Yeah. Thanks for having us on.

MJ: I understand you're currently in Hawaii, which I'm jealous of.

Erik: It's true. We are in Hawaii.

Emily: It's pretty nice here, I have to admit.

MJ: Well, I'm going to start with a question. And it's a question that has been burning within me since I first heard your story. And it is how do you live in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment with seven people?

Emily: Well, it takes a lot of forgiveness. No, we're, we're really used to it now. I mean, when we started, it was just two adults and two little babies. And so you know, we came up on us gradually, there are some, you know, real practical things about how to share one bathroom. And you always have to have an opaque shower curtain, I'll just leave it at that. But, you know, there is a lot of just knowing what's happening in each other's life and knowing when to give each other a little space and when to give each other a little extra love.

Erik: In fairness, we eased into it, because when we moved there it was Emily and I and we had two very young children, our oldest was two years old. And then we ended up having three more kids while in New York. And everyone just kept asking. "So now you're going to move, you're going tto leave the city now, right?" And we just never did. And we just kept adapting, adapting and got used to it now quite frankly, we prefer it.

Emily: Yeah, keeps our stuff to a minimum, it's very low maintenance. And we can just focus on the things that really matter to us.

MJ: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to talk in this episode about your marriage and your family. And I'll tell you, one of the reasons that I want to do this, there are a couple of reasons, one, we've had several requests from people that have listened to the show. We've had several episodes on being single in the church. But we've gotten several requests from people that said, you know, I'd love to hear a couple talk about marriage. And so we want people to know that we've heard you, and we would like to have a conversation about that. But I specifically chose the two of you; one, because you recently came into our office, and I was impressed with you. But also my boss, Erin, she said that she sat in several meetings with the two of you and that she was so impressed because she said that you're very balanced in your marriage, you seem like you support one another, you give the other an opportunity to talk. And I think that that is so important. I think feeling that mutual respect, there's so much safety and security in that. So first of all, what do you think, what would you say are the keys to having an equal partnership in marriage?

Emily: We're like raising hands here to make sure we can take turns. I think that doesn't happen by accident. And there have been times when we've stepped on each other's toes or felt like we, we weren't evenly balanced, and we can feel it. And so then afterwards, we would talk about it and say, "What can we do? Like when we're together alone, or when we're speaking? When we're together alone, or when we're speaking with somebody else? Or when we're speaking in a group? What can we do to make it so that we each feel that we got a chance to say what was important that we felt supportive of each other?" And so I would just say that didn't come by accident. It's something that we continue to practice and that we talk about. So I'm glad that it's working, because you know, the foundation is that we do love and respect each other and then we have to practically figure out how to manifest that in our communication.

Erik: And I would say that I think that there's two parts to this. One is that you have to do, there's sort of the public when you're in a social setting, or in our case, like now we're on a podcast, but there's also in private. And so for example, this morning, we were out on our walk. And, and I just said, "Emily, how are you feeling? How's your day, you know, how was yesterday?" and then she talks and talks and I listen. And she's able to say the things that are on her mind? And, and then she says to me, you know, "How are you feeling? And how was your day yesterday? or, you know, if you're having a conversation later in the day, you know, sometimes pillow talk is, is great. And you know, at the end of the day, you can say "How was your day?" but just to have that back and forth in our personal private conversations outside of outside of our being with our children or with friends or any other settings starting there, I think lays the foundation so that when you are in those other settings, and there are other parameters, whether it's having dinner with friends, or you know, in our case, we work a lot together, you know, we're in a meeting or we're at a gathering or we're speaking. And then we've had all kinds of practice in our personal private place that we can then carry into a public place. And so I would just say that...I think it's hard to do it the other way around, to start outwardly and then do it inwardly. If we can start when it's just one on one is the best place.

MJ: Okay. So I love that you touched on the fact that this is a very intentional thing. I think that being intentional in relationships is so so important. And I love that you talked about communication and that this started as a result of having conversations in private where you had this open dialogue and felt comfortable communicating your feelings and your needs. How do you foster open communication in a marriage?

Emily: That is such an important question, Morgan and I think, well we've been reading this this book called "Multipliers" by Liz Wiseman, and she has a very important idea in there that says assumptions lead behavior. And so I think that's actually a foundation in our communication as well, if we start by assuming that, you know, each of us are of value, that each of us have worth, that each of us have this divine potential. And, you know, obviously, we have these covenants that we've made to support and help each other grow. I think that's the foundation for the kindness that is required, the humility and the forgiveness, I mean, you do have to be so vulnerable, even to say something as simple as, like, I, I really feel like you hijacked that last conversation, or something like that, because we have to be willing to show that's like expressing that we had hurt feelings or that we felt offended or that we experienced, you know, sort of the, the sting of pride being hurt or, you know, whatever it is, and, and that's, I think something that requires a lot of kindness. And one of the stories I think from the very beginning of our marriage, it was pretty early on, we had our first daughter, Karina and we had been married less than two years. And I remember we pulled into the hospital parking lot. And neither of us had ever been to a baby delivery before, we just saw them on TV, and we didn't know what was going to happen, for sure. But we'd heard about wives yelling at their husbands and just like a lot of tension and things being uptight in this dramatic moment, and we just said a little prayer in the car like that we knew we were going to do this, we didn't know what was going to happen. And we just prayed that we could be kind to each other. And so I think really keeping kindness at the forefront, knowing that what you say is going to be then treated with kindness. I think Eric took a class in middle school called peer counseling. And they train these kids, these like 12 or 13 year old kids, and then the other other kids would come into the class and like, you're not going to try to solve their problems. You know, that's a whole like other issue and risk for the school to have kids actually telling other kids what to do. But they said, "You're not going to try to solve any of their problems." And they taught them how to listen, and how to validate. And I mean, I wish I had taken that class when I was in middle school. Because I think that's the greatest gift, one of the greatest gifts, that Eric brought to our relationship is that he knew how to listen and validate. And through his example, he's been teaching me, which helps me be a better partner. And it also helps me be a better mother and a better friend. So I always knew that he was going to listen, and he was going to say like, "Oh, I see how you're feeling that way, that must be hard," or you know, not trying to solve my problems. And the other thing that Eric has done for me that makes it so that I feel safe coming to him with all my like imperfections, and embarrassing, ugly things is that he always points back to my intention. He says, "I know that you want to do what's right. And I know that you love our children." And every time I fail, he draws my attention back to my original intention and knowing that he believes that goodness about me, makes it possible for me to say, can you please help me with this ugly, or embarrassing thing about myself?

MJ: Yeah. Eric, I'm curious for you. What was it about that class that made you actually pay attention and learn something as a middle schooler, I feel like most middle school age boys, even if they had a class like that, boys or girls, I feel like wouldn't take it super seriously. And it definitely wouldn't be applied into their marriage and family 25 years later, or 35 years later.

Erik: Wow, this is not something I really thought about for a long time. I think first of all, in fairness, I was asked to be a part of this class, it was a very small class. And they really genuinely wanted to have teenagers so that whenever a young person felt like they were not comfortable speaking with an adult that they would have a peer that they could go to. So there was maybe 10, or 12 of us in this class. And Emily has really drawn my attention to this. And I don't think I realized it, you know, how impactful it was. But yeah, they taught us simple skills. Like look, when you, when somebody is talking, you just your main job is to listen. And the last thing you want to do is offer solutions and try and fix their problem. And you just listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. And then like she said, you know, you want to make sure that you can, you can restate what they said so they they know that you heard them. Because if you can say it back to them, then they say, "Oh, yeah, Eric heard what I had to say." And then they would specifically say, you know, your job is not to solve their problem. But you can ask them questions that will help them solve their own problems. And so we learned to say things like, well, what are your ideas about what you could do to change this situation? Very open ended questions, and help them create sort of an array of options for themselves. And then once they have, once they have some options, say no, "What do you think are the best options?" and basically, you're just walking through somebody, walking them through the process of solving their own problems? And so going back to your original question about what fosters open communication, I think the number one thing is trust. So if I can go to her and know that she's going to trust my underlying good intentions, and trust that I, I want to do the best things in life, you know what I think, the good things, then I feel like I can, I can be vulnerable, and I can, I can puke up whatever poison is inside of me. and use it as something that I've brought into myself, it's not something that other somebody else has put into me. And just being able to talk through those things and say them out loud, and know that I can share them without being attacked or threatened or berated. I think that, you know, the rather I can be understood and heard and validated and forgiven. I think whether it's a marriage, or whether it's a child and a parent, or coworkers or friends, it's the people that we trust that are going to hear us and love us anyway, that's who we're going to have a computing communication with, whenever we fear that we're going to be shut down or judged. Or, you know, looked down on, that's the last person we're going to go to with our vulnerabilities. And so I guess just to answer your question about open communication, I would say, trust, and I don't know if I answered your question about the career counseling class.

Emily: Well and I think the reason you remember this stuff from peer counseling is because you didn't just sit in a class and have them teach you some principles, like, they put you in a room by yourself with some other teenager, and you had to actually practice it over and over again. So you got to, you got to do it. And that's what makes it stick. And I would say the other thing that you do is, in general, you will not offer unsolicited advice, you will always say, "May I give you some advice?" Or "Would you be interested in a suggestion?" And sometimes, honestly, this actually drives me crazy. And I'll say, "Look, I'm actually I want solutions. Can you just tell me the answers? I want some help here. I want to figure it out for myself or what I think it means, can you help me solve this problem?" So anyway, I think it does, it doesn't mean that we have like, a smooth, seamless marriage. But it does mean that all these problems have process, you know, that they go through. And you know, we will have to say like, oh, I'm feeling defensive or I'm feeling lonely, or like, okay, I need a little space to figure out what I'm feeling before we can talk. But it all in the end, it always comes down to us having to communicate about it in a kind way.

MJ: Yeah. I think it's interesting. Eric, you mentioned that these are the people, the people that we have to have that open honest communication with are often the people that we know are going to love us no matter what. And I think sometimes I just heard something the other day where it was like, why is it that we treat the people that we love the most the worst? And I think sometimes it it becomes very easy, because we know that those people are going to love us no matter what, it becomes very easy to fall into bad communication habits. So I so appreciate you guys sharing those thoughts. Another question that I had and Emily, you mentioned earlier in the interview that Eric has a lot of big ideas. And over the years, he's come to you with some of these big ideas, including sailing with your family for 10 months. And so my question is, how do you learn to trust the inspiration that your spouse has?

Emily: That's a good question. And I think my default response is always to be supportive. And then know we can ask questions and prod deeper later. I just saw like a little clip of the most recent "Mary Poppins" and Mary Poppins said, "We're on the brink of an adventure children, don't spoil it with questions." And I love that quote. And like when the idea happens, that's not the time to, to start squashing it. That's the time to like, I guess, kind of use some of these same principles like, Okay, tell me more about your ideas. Well tell me how you think it will look like, tell me how you think we're going to pay for it, let's talk about how, you know, whatever. And if it's a bad idea, it will, it will implode on itself, like it will become apparent under further contemplation. But there's a lot of things that actually can happen. And so I think that's that's kind of been how I do it. I just have made my default response to be, you know, I believe in you. And then let's explore further. And so I guess, kind of a trust, but verify idea.

Erik: Something that Emily and I have discovered over the years is, us especially but most people ask the question, you know, what could go wrong? And you have to look at all the risks involved with any endeavor. And that's good, and that's responsible. And we kind of somehow stumbled upon this question of, "Well, okay, that's certainly could go wrong. What can go right?" Because usually, we only look at half of the equation and we prepare for the worst, but we never let our minds and our imagination explore all of the upside of taking a risk. And that's the whole motivation because if it's just avoiding risks, that's fairly limiting, whereas if you can open up your mind and your heart to the possibilities of success, and all the things that could go right, it's actually very difficult because the number of things and the variety of things that can go right is usually fairly unlimited. And we've been surprised that as we add that other half of the question, or, you know, or the analysis to the process that once we started to fill in that side, it normally tips the scales.

Emily: Yeah, I would say my brain doesn't always think, oh, this is a great idea. But my mouth always says, "Oh, let's explore that further." And then my brain catches up as the details fill in.

MJ: Yeah. So I'm so intrigued by this idea of, first of all, Emily, I should actually say that was a very impressive Mary Poppins impersonation. But secondly, I'm so intrigued by this trip that you all took, and people can read plentyabout it in your book, "Seven at Sea," but I am curious about what you feel like that experience did to strengthen your marriage and family? I would imagine it strengthened it not weakened it but how did that experience affect your marriage and your family?

Emily: You know, this is a really interesting point because doing something like that disrupting yourself so much, it puts you in a kind of crucible, and sometimes families who are struggling think, oh, let's go do something like this because, you know, then we'll be together and maybe this will make a stronger, like some Leadership Camp on steroids or something. And it actually just amplifies everything that's already going wrong and those kind of experiences have been known to actually break relationships. And so we went into that feeling like we have a healthy, strong relationship with each other and with our kids and we feel like making these memories together is going to be really important, that they'll really stand out to us almost like being able to stretch out time because we'll have all these unique memories instead of a whole bunch of the same memories sort of accordion squashed together in our brain. So the same thing happened with us, as we heard about happening with other families like it being in that small space and in a lot of intense situations, it did amplify some of the things that you know, the loose connections or things that weren't working quite right. And I feel like it caused us to have to address them in a deeper way. Each of the kids kind of grew in confidence as they developed a new skills and they also trusted each other more as they worked as a team, to do things that really mattered to our family, whether it was just washing the laundry by hand or working together to raise and lower the anchor. Or we would all have to, you know, go into an island with backpacks and come out with them full of groceries, like we did a lot of things as a team. As a mom, I got a lot of help from the kids doing basic stuff that I usually took care of easily by myself in our home in New York City. And I started to wonder like, "Well if someone else is taking care of the meals or, you know, working on these other jobs, what am i contributing?" I have a real strong need to be a contributor and be part of the team. And I realized, as they took on more responsibilities, I was able to see what was truly essential in my role as a mother, which was that I'm the emotional touchstone for my kids. And all they want from me, is to know that I see them and I hear them. And I love them. And I encourage them. And once I realized that was my role, like that changed how I chose to use my time going forward and when we returned home from the boat, and I realized I could be an amazing mom, even if I was paralyzed, or you know, whatever. As long as I can be aware of my kids, that's the main thing that they need from me and it's really important to them. And I realized my husband wanted something similar. I think, in our marriage, gosh, living on a boat. I mean, Eric's skills so far outstripped mine. A lot of times I felt like I wasn't bringing a lot to the table and I really want to be equal but I am the worst sailor, I have a terrible spatial sense, I can never tell which direction the wind was actually blowing or what that meant for us. I needed a lot of instruction, I was happy to pitch in anywhere, but I couldn't always anticipate what needed to be done. And I think that was kind of lonely for Eric, always having to be the one who figured everything out and anticipated what needed to be done, and then telling everybody how to make it happen. But I also came to realize that I was someone who was giving 100 percent, that I was happy to do my very best. I think that that really helped me in in our marriage and I don't always have all the skill sets for sailing a boat. But I have this other set of skills about being aware of the relationships and where everybody is, what they're doing, and that I'm somebody who is trying my best, just like you're trying your best, Eric and, and that made me feel like I was a good match for Eric. And I think, like I said, because a lot of those things, those loose connections or things that were kind of bumpy, were amplified in that tiny space. And that total lack of privacy, it made us have to dive deeper into this communication process. And we learned more about ourselves and each other and really kind of recommitting that, yeah, we choose to be together.

Erik: And one of the things I think about that's unique about being on a boat, and perhaps living in a small apartment, but especially about the boat is that there was nowhere to go. A lot of times, I think that we will avoid addressing thorny issues by just living parallel lives, especially in marriage, you know, you can live in the same home and not really communicate, not really speak to problems that are festering. And when we are living on a boat, we just, that just couldn't happen, because we were in too close proximity, and there's too much at stake. And so we had to communicate. And we talk about this fairly candidly in the book. And there were, there were some feelings that, you know, I think Emily and I both felt, in some ways, lonely in our marriage during certain parts of our trip. And in fact, we only brought one laptop with us. And Emily are both, we both think by talking and also by writing and so you know, we both journal and we would share this laptop and one time, and I had been journaling, and I'd left the laptop open. And she just in the process of oh, the laptop needs to be closed, she saw my journaling and saw some things that I had been writing and really alarmed her and, and so we had to really, I guess, come clean and talk about things and not ignore issues. And so in the end, I think it was very healthy and very helpful for us. But I think I guess here's a little bit of unsolicited advice for anybody listening is be wary of burying issues is because just because we bury them or avoid them doesn't mean they go away. And the braver we can be about approaching them head on and surfacing them, and really exploring them safely in a space that's full of trust and, you know, trust in each other's good intentions, the sooner we can do that, the better because the deeper we bury it, it just means the longer it's going to take to sort it out because it doesn't go away. And so I was grateful for the boat in the sense that for the reason that we had to surface things and deal with them out of necessity and if we hadn't put ourselves in that situation it could have taken who knows how long.

MJ: I love that you, because one of the things that I wanted to ask you, but I feel like you've answered it, one of the things that I was curious about is it's like, well, "Most families aren't going to sail on a boat for 10 months with their family. And so how, how is your story applicable?" But I think throughout this conversation, you've tied it in showing how these lessons that you've learned are actually beneficial on land as they are by sea. So I just have two last questions for you. A question just came to my mind. And despite the fact that we are running short on time, I like that can't stop myself from asking it and so I'm going to, but I couldn't help but think when you're talking about you know, being on the boat, the words to the hymn "the winds and the waves obey thy will" came to my mind.

Erik: Peace Be Still

MJ: Yeah. How did you see that? How was your testimony strengthened of a living God who truly controls the wind and the waves?

Erik: Oh, yeah. That's a great question. And thanks for asking it. The first time we left Saint Martin, which is where we picked up our boat and spend a lot of time getting ourselves sorted out. We were crossing to the Virgin Islands and we left under great conditions, it was a beautiful Starry Night, it was going to be a night crossing. And I was on watch with Allison. And it was about three in the morning and the wind, just the skies clouded over all the stars disappeared. The temperature dropped, the winds picked up to 35-40 miles an hour. And it got pretty scary for me. You know, this was my first time, I had sailed overnight before but never in storm conditions. And so I was up at the helm and getting seasick and it was pretty awful. And I kind of had my hands on the wheel and it started to rain and I was shivering pretty hard. And Allison was there ready to help and do whatever I asked. And she prayed. And she prayed for us. And you know, I won't go into all the details about how we made it through the night and obviously we made it through. But I love Elder Groberg's book, "The Other Side of Heaven." I don't think that was the original name, but that's a name that is now and he talks about how oftentimes, most often, God does not calm the storm, despite controlling the elements, but He can calm us in the storm. And I feel like that for me most often that is what happened is that the external circumstances of our lives usually do not get altered or changed. God is a deep respecter of agency for everybody, and He's not going to affect other people's, you know, He's not going to change somebody so that your life is easier. I think or the environmental circumstances that we're in, He's not going to violate eternal law. But the one thing that He can change is us. And that when we change our heart, and we let peace in, or we open ourselves up to new ideas, or to love instead of resentment, or whatever the shift is, again, just this idea that He doesn't often calm the storm, even though He can, but He can, but He will and can calm us in the storm.

MJ: I love that.

Well, Eric and Emily, thank you so much for being with us on this episode. In conclusion with everything that you have experienced, and you've seen, in your travels around the world and in your experiences at your home in New York. What does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Erik: That's a great question. I think when we think of the phrase "all in," most often we think about it in the context of fully committing. And I think it definitely does mean that. I have to say, though, when I think of the idea of being all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it really makes me think about being aware of my place in the universe, that the universe, and the earth in which we live was created by a master Creator, that everything around us is part of it, and that we are in it, every single part of it, whether it's the environment, or our relationships, or our learning, and our growth, everything around us and everything that's happening to us and within us is part of the gospel. And if we can look at it through that lens, you know, we've had a chance to go to the temple while we've been here in Hawaii, and the temple teaches us about the creation and the fall, and the redemption. And so everything that comes before us for millennia, to the present day, and what comes after us is all part of the gospel and everything around us is part of it. And so when I think about all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as I think about recognizing how everything in our lives is part of that plan, and that how we choose to live our lives is just moving through that space that God has created for us, that we're in entirely.

MJ: Yeah, thank you.

Emily: Erik. I love that you say that.

Erik: Emily's a lot better than I am, she's the expert. I'm following her.

Emily: No, I love how you're describing that. And it makes me think like you're I mean, you're absolutely right, we are all of us 100% of the population of the earth, we are in a total immersion plan of salvation. And we all chose to come here. And whatever degree of awareness we have of our Savior, Jesus Christ, doesn't change the fact that we are immersed in His plan, in the plan of salvation and redemption. And, you know, whenever we become aware of that might change the way that we choose to behave, or how we choose to treat each other or how we choose to spend our time. And so for me, just hopefully building off of that is this quote from Elder Neil A. Maxwell, he says, "The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar." And I feel that for me all in is an absolute reference to agency. And it's my personal agency, I am awake to my Savior's Atonement, I am awake to my relationship with God as a daughter of full of divine potential. And so, for me, that affects how I live on an everyday basis, it affects that I'm going to choose to spend time reading my scriptures or saying prayers or when I come into a question or crisis that I'm going to turn to the Lord or to the Scriptures or to inspired leaders. For me, it hasn't meant that I've, you know, avoided questions or doubts or learning about other ways of viewing our mortal experience here on Earth, but I choose to give my whole heart to my Heavenly Father. And that a lot of times, that means I have to humble myself because I did the wrong thing, or I don't know the answers, and I have to seek forgiveness or seek wisdom. And sometimes that means that I have to fully respect the agency of other people, and recognize that even if it causes me pain, that's part of the plan of salvation that I came here. You know, a lot of times a year we came so that God could test us to see if we would choose to be faithful after we left His presence. But I think also that we came to test ourselves, I read Francine Bennion's talk or address called "The Theology of Suffering," and it helped me become more aware that it wasn't just God sending me off, it was me sort of knocking at the gate saying, like, "I want to be like you, I want to see what I can do. I want to see, I think, I think I'll be valiant, I think I'll be faithful, you know, give me a chance to know what a physical body really feels like, to get into some of these relationships, to find out what hunger is, to find out what it is to be tired and know if I can still, you know, love other people under those circumstances. We're in this total immersion experience, whether we realize it or not. And because I realized it, I will make wrong choices but I will always choose to come back and I will not do anything that will, I will not violate my covenants, it's not worth the risk to me to let any of my questions go that far, all of my questions and doubts, have peace and rest not in being answered, but in knowing that the answer will ultimately present me with some new way that God is showing His love for me. And I always trust that the answer is going to be "Because I love you and now I'll give you some more details."

MJ: That was beautiful. Thank you so much. Thank you both, for sharing your experiences and your wisdom with us. We so appreciate it.

Erik: It's been great talking with you Morgan thank you.

Emily: Thanks Morgan.

MJ: After our interview, Emily thought of a few additional things that have helped she and Eric in their marriage, I thought they were so great I asked if she would record a little audio soundbite for us to share with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Emily: We fumbled a lot of things during our engagement. But there was one thing that we got right. And I gave 100 percent of the credit to Erik because it was completely his idea. And that was that we took a marriage preparation class at BYU. I know a lot of churches offer classes like this. But we just took it at school. And because we took that class, we asked each other a lot of questions. And we talked through things and had conversations that we otherwise would not have thought of on our own, things that were important to talk about before we got married. And there were a couple of things that seem little, but actually were a big deal to us that we learned. One of them was that at that time, studies showed that couples would speak to each other daily for an average of 17 minutes. And we didn't think that sounded like enough time for us had the kind of partnership or the kind of marriage that we thought we would find satisfying. And so we decided to just be aware of that and make sure that we gave communication more time than 17 minutes a day. Another thing that we read that seems kind of obvious, but it was important for us to think through was that marital satisfaction goes down once children are born. It's not guaranteed. But that's the trend and since we knew about it, before we had children, we brainstormed on ways that we could try to avoid or at least mitigate that dip in our marital satisfaction and fortunately, one of the best things that parents can do to give their children a stable foundation is to love each other, to make each other a priority. So keeping your marriage strong is actually one of the things that kids need most. And right now we have a daughter who's attending BYU and she has a lot of newlywed friends who tell her that they're kind of afraid of having kids because they think they'll have to give up pursuing their their own goals and their own dreams. And I can totally relate because I know that was one of Eric's huge fears before we had children. And I know when my kids were really little, just sometimes I would feel like "Ah, what about my life," but it didn't usually last very long. Anyway, we had this theory that rather than giving our children a better life, which is a great narrative, we would do our best to show them how to live abundantly and so far, our experiment you know has borne out successfully. Our story is that you don't have to make all of your dreams come true before you get down to the serious sacrifice of parenting. Like we, I mean, we've also learned that nothing will light a fire under you and to make things happen like having a family counting on you and cheering for you. There is sacrifice, obviously in parenthood, but the sacrifice is not giving up all your interests and aspirations. The real sacrifice is making room for these amazing people in your life.

MJ: Thank you for listening to "All In," and thanks to the Ortons for joining us today. You can find "Seven at Sea" in Deseret bookstores now. And if you'd like to hear more about the Orton's story, you can listen to episode number 20 of the "This is the Gospel" podcast. To view our show notes, visit www.LDSliving.com/podcasts and we'll look forward to being with you again next week.

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