One of my daughter’s favorite movies is about a town where everyone tries to live up to the same standard of perfection which happens to be a complete facade. Everyone is afraid to be genuinely who they are. Their desires to “fit in” create limited options for the citizens, including having only one flavor of ice cream…vanilla.
Can you imagine life where everyone was the same, where you could not choose for yourself? The adversary presented a plan to the Father to save all the children of God by not allowing them to make choices, thus eliminating ways to personal peace and happiness. Thank heaven we have a Savior who loves us deeply and who was willing to be an eternal sacrifice. Because of Him, we can choose life or death, light or darkness, peace or trouble, righteousness or wickedness.
Each child of God is unique. We grow up with different experiences and understanding. We have unique fears and methods of expression. We celebrate life in different ways. We also deal with stress in different ways. My husband and I are about as different as anyone can possibly be but the glue that holds us together is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In times of stress, my sweetheart goes to the gym and works out harder than his normal daily routine. I admire that in him. I definitely do not love working my body like that. When I feel stress, I need to blow off steam by talking it out. To him, this feels like complaining. To me, this is pushing the negative thoughts that are swirling inside my head out of that sacred space. I am easily consumed by worry and it seems the only way to get rid of it is by speaking it.
How can we help one another in times of stress when we have such different responses? By first understanding how we handle moments of pressure and trials, we can understand that our spouse doesn’t need us to fix anything for them. Sometimes it can be difficult to be present for one another when we assume that our sweethearts want us to relieve the source of their stress. Often, we just need to listen or support them in their positive outlets to handle the challenges that befall them. We can encourage them to be faithful. We can pray and fast for them. Does spending time together help? Go on a walk, paint a picture together, watch a movie or go to a park so that your loved one can break away from those stresses for a bit.
If he or she needs an outlet you cannot participate in for any reason, make sure they have time dedicated to their chosen activity. Clean the house and stay with the kids if your wife needs a night out with a friend. If your husband needs to destress at a movie or wants to go on a hike, you can provide a gift card or supplies that would make it easier for him to go. Caring for one another by noticing their needs will demonstrate your love for them and recognition that they need to unwind.
Before President Nelson was ordained as the President of the Church, he gave a beautiful talk on nurturing marriage in which he offered three suggestions. He said, “My third suggestion is to contemplate. This word has deep meaning. It comes from Latin roots: con, meaning “with,” and templum, meaning “a space or place to meditate.” It is the root from which the word temple comes. If couples contemplate often—with each other in the temple—sacred covenants will be better remembered and kept. Frequent participation in temple service and regular family scripture study nourish a marriage and strengthen faith within a family. Contemplation allows one to anticipate and to resonate (or be in tune) with each other and with the Lord. Contemplation will nurture both a marriage and God’s kingdom.”1
Whether inside or outside of the temple, we can choose to be in tune with our spouses and support them in the activities that will help them feel peace in times of difficulty.
1 “Nurturing Marriage,” Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 2006 General Conference