Have you ever watched a street juggler or magician with all kinds of objects flying through the air under his or her graceful control? I have seen them use the easy to manage juggling balls, bean bags, bowling pins, chain saws, oranges, and many other things. It is fascinating to watch each object spin through the air with grace, continually getting a little nudge to keep going. I have also seen an object fall to the ground by accident. Juggling is a talent that I do not have.
I often feel like I am juggling priorities in my life. Parenting, marriage, callings, work, homeschool, cleaning, organizing, cooking…the list goes on. Far too many times I have “dropped” one or more of those priorities. But instead of a harmless ball or beanbag, sometimes I feel like I just dropped the juggled chainsaws that then proceed to wreak havoc.
Marriage is high on my priority list though I often drop it. There is little else that causes me so much hurt as difficulties in marriage. How do we know what truly brings happiness in marriage? Why do good people sometimes get divorced?
Elder James E. Faust said, “There are no simple, easy answers to the challenging and complex questions of happiness in marriage. There are also many supposed reasons for divorce. Among them are the serious problems of selfishness, immaturity, lack of commitment, inadequate communication, unfaithfulness; and all the rest, which are obvious and well known.” 1
Selfishness can play a big role in happiness within a marriage. So, should we always put our spouses first or should we put ourselves first?
President Gordon B. Hinckley commented, “There are too many broken homes among our own. The love that led to marriage somehow evaporates, and hatred fills its place. Hearts are broken, children weep. Can we not do
better? Of course, we can. It is selfishness that brings about most of these tragedies. If there is forbearance, if there is forgiveness, if there is an anxious looking after the happiness of one’s companion, then love will flourish and blossom.”
If we can put the needs of our spouses before our own, we will be able to nurture and nourish our marriages. That does not mean that we sacrifice everything for others. It is essential that we maintain balance. The empty well does not quench anyone’s thirst. There are times when it is appropriate to make time for yourself, for your interests and activities which recharge you but when we focus more on doing what we want, rather than nurturing our marriage relationship, we are causing problems. Ignoring the red flags in our marriage relationships does not help. It is important that our spouses feel appreciated, loved, and connected to us. That happens by spending time and having fun together, having conversations, enjoying our families, and studying together. With all the chaos happening around us, we need to protect our greatest investments, our marriages, and families.
1. “The Enriching of Marriage,” James E. Faust, October 1977 General Conference
2. “Look to the Future,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1997 General Conference