Comments from our articles Wake-up Call for Wives and Wake-up Call for Husbands have led us to write this culminating article. We were pleased to hear from such a large number of readers, most expressing gratitude for the help given in the articles.  Much of that help came directly from you readers. We thank you again for your input.

We were touched by the sincerity of both husbands and wives in their desires to be loving, fulfilling spouses.  Others expressed deep hurts caused by their mates and felt helpless to know what to do.  They won’t divorce, in most cases, but are simply existing in the marriage, praying for help. We yearn to somehow help heal these unhappy marriages. Others wrote of the deep love and happiness they enjoy in their marriage. Many wished for a few more items to be discussed, so we will attempt to address the issues requested and add a few more of our own thoughts. 

1. Remember what brought you together

Before we jump into deeper waters, we want couples to reaffirm their love for each other.  One thing that can help this happen is to remember your courting days and the early years of your marriage.  What is it that attracted you to your mate?  Let your mind wander back to those early days when you first fell in love.  Was it her cute smile, his deep blue eyes, her testimony, his desire to serve the Lord?  Seriously think about it. It’s fun and important to remember those days. 

What caused you to ask her to marry you? Why did you say yes There had to be things about your mate that made your heart flutter, your cheeks flush, and you arms yearn to hold that wonderful person and make you want to spend the rest of your life with him or her.  Then remember your wedding day and the vows you took at that time, the promises you made to each other and to the Lord. Keep those memories bright and shiny.

Take the time tonight when you are together and talk about those early years. It will put a spark back into your marriage. Then tell your kids about how you met and where you were married. They’ll love hearing the story again and again.  Remembering can strengthen your commitment to each other, and it can bless your marriage and family.

2. Be the same person wherever you are.

Is the person people see at church the same person your family sees at home?  We received a letter from a husband who had served many years in a prominent stake position. He said, “On the surface most would think we are the ideal LDS family. Others see my wife as a kind, faithful servant that works hard and is helpful to others, but she is a different person at home. My wife prefers to focus on the negative things in our home and with our children, and seemingly has nothing positive to say to anyone in our home.  Our children recognize that their mother isn’t very happy and usually stay out of her way.  I love when we have visitors in our home because my wife usually keeps that kind, loving attitude up for them, making it so we get to see a pleasant wife and mother for a short time.”

This letter is about a wife but it could just as well be about a husband who has fallen into this pattern. It has everything to do with creating a happy marriage. Of course, everyone is on their best behavior when at church or other public places. Home has to be a place where we can relax and let our hair down; however, that doesn’t mean we become a different person than others see.  We owe it to our spouse and children to be on good behavior at home, too.  Being a happy face at church and a sad face at home makes for confused kids and an unhappy home and marriage.  Spouses and children need to see that best-foot-forward image at home more than anywhere else.

So what do you do when your spouse behaves like the one in the letter? We suggest you stop looking at all the negatives in your wife or husband and start focusing on the positives.  It may take a little practice, but it will pay big dividends.  Whenever your sweetheart does something good, tell her or him that you appreciate it. Notice it!  Keep a sharp eye out for every good thing your mate does and let her or him know you’re noticing those good things.  And compliment your spouse. It’s so nice to be acknowledged.

Say please and thank you to each other. These simple words that we learned in kindergarten and Primary do work.  One couple, as they got ready to go to their marriage therapy session, was approached by their eight-year-old daughter who asked them where they were going.  The mother replied, “We’re going to meet with someone who is teaching us how to be better parents.” The daughter asked, “What has he taught you?” Reaching for something to say, the mother replied, “He’s teaching us how to say please and thank you.”  To which the daughter said, “It’s about time somebody did.”

Couples need to get back to the basics. It will change your attitude toward each other immensely.  Time and time again it has become evident that the use of these simple courtesies has opened up the ability to handle the harder things in marriage.

If things don’t change, and sadness and negativity prevail, it may be a sign of clinical depression. A visit to your doctor may be helpful.  There is medical help for these types of mental illnesses. Or it may be that you need to visit a marriage counselor. Do what needs to be done to save your marriage and family.

Another suggestion came from one of our readers. He said,”Cut the criticism. Nothing kills a marriage faster than constant criticism. Practice EPR– Encouragement, Praise, and Recognition (appreciation). This is a secret sauce and I have a firm testimony of it. Both partners have to be committed to it. It is as easy to form a culture of EPR as it is criticism. It becomes a habit– but a very good one. This is not a pollyanna thing. It is real and it works for those committed to it.”

So we issue the call: Wake up, husbands and wives, and bring the light of the gospel home. Don’t leave it at church.  Let it shine and bless your marriage and the lives of your children every day.

3. Keep sexual intimacy alive and well

Even though we addressed this subject in the previous articles, because of the letters we received it needs to be reiterated and expanded. The following words from a reader spotlights the seriousness of this problem in many marriages. He wrote: “I tell my wife she looks nice, but she mostly ignores me. I tell her I love her but she hasn’t told me she loves me for many years.

We went on a vacation for a week several months ago and had a good time but there has been no kissing or intimacy since then.

It is very frustrating and challenges my optimism to deal with the constant rejection month after month, year after year.  I want to have a great marriage but my partner seems to have other aspirations. . . .

“Life would be nearly perfect if the girl I love and married in the temple would love me. As a faithful Latter-day Saint, the only person on earth that can make love to me won’t—that makes life so sad and disappointing.”

Since every case is different, we can’t possibly know all the reasons why some couples have intimacy problems.  However, there are a few commonalities that can be addressed, which we’ll do by quoting more comments from letters readers sent following our last article. We’ve selected just a few from the many.

Letter 1:“I don’t get how women have a hard time feeling guilty with sex after they’re married. I was never taught to never have sex; I was taught to wait until marriage. What is so confusing about that? And how do women NOT see how much better their relationship is after sex!!”         

Letter 2: “[Regarding sexual intimacy] I think it is important for wives to not only be willing, but be the INSTIGATORS! Your husband doesn’t want to be the only one asking (or pleading in some cases) every single time. They need to know you’re attracted to them as well, and sometimes when the wife initiates the intimacy, it helps!”

Letter 3: “I so agree with the importance of a happy and lively sexual relationship in marriage, but in listening to the husband mentioned in the article complain, I wonder how much foreplay he is or isn’t engaging in. We women have a harder time going from off to on, but with the right ‘moves’ from our husbands, we comply with gusto!”

Letter 4: “In my marriage, my husband lacks the desire for intimacy and I’m the one that begs for the touch. I’m told that he doesn’t need it or think about it, and I have to go without. . . . We’ve been married almost 33 years and the majority of that time I’ve been starved for intimacy. My husband is a good man . . . . So, even though sex would definitely help our relationship and it is important, I can just accept the way he wants to show me love and choose to be happy. As Sister Hinckley said one time, ‘You can either laugh or cry your way through life. I choose to laugh, as crying gives me a headache.’ So, after 33 years I’m just going to laugh the rest of my life with my husband.”

Letter 5: And now for a final opposite point of view from a very frustrated over-sixty husband. “I have continued to treat my wife with respect, tenderness, kindness, helping her in anyway she needs but I never approach the intimate anymore because the verbal answer is the same as is the physical.  Just to suggest how the intimate would go – it is akin to ‘when you are through please let me know so I can turn out the light and go to sleep.’  It isn’t that she has not been available physically it is just that an emotional response during the intimacy has been limited and makes it virtually impossible to respond to the demands of the sexual arousal.  When the arousal is not forthcoming she automatically thinks it is because I am no longer physically able to perform.  Such is not the case.  Her response, ‘it’s ok – I understand’ and ‘I am fine with it’, is so demeaning that it just became impossible to go on.

“I can still recall the last time we were intimate, the words came to my mind ‘it just isn’t worth it any more,’ and I decided I had made the last attempt and the last intimate overture.  So for approx 2 years now – no physical intimacy – and she says nothing – assuming that ‘I have a problem’ and she is being a good wife by not bringing it up.  I still have needs and would love to pursue it but having pursued it for several times and receiving the same response each time, it is just too painful and emotionally draining that I cannot go there anymore.  One counselor indicated that I should go home and sweep her off her feet and give her a big kiss to break the ice.  I suggested that with the intimacy of the relationship basically dead, to do that would be like going home and kissing my sister.  Not that my sisters aren’t nice and wonderful mind you.

“So then – with all of the ‘availability of relationships’ out in the world today, it is very difficult not to pursue some outside interest.  However, lately I suggested to someone, that there are times when rather than look at the reasons why one should divorce, perhaps it is wise to look at reasons why to stay together.  e.g.  The family, the interaction with grandchildren, the pain that would be projected into the lives of the children, the peaceful home environment etc.  In other words there are more reasons to stay together than separate.  Hence, I stay and play the role of fulfilling her needs of food, and any other material needs she may have.  Even good conversation, which  again leads her to surmise that all is well in the nest.  So, as was indicated previously, ‘Thousands of men suffer in silence’ and indeed I am one of them.  Is there an itch to view inappropriate material? Absolutely, with the justification that it is better than going out and finding a real person with whom to fulfill some intimate exchange.  So far I haven’t a good answer.  I have spoken with many men and so many of them say, ‘It appears that later on in life we are just meant to suffer through it and hopefully make it and be rewarded for the sacrifice in marriage.’  This certainly was not what was anticipated when we made our vows over the altar of marriage.” 

This letter brings up the important point that just because bodies and abilities change with age (and sometimes from illness or stress or an unresponsive spouse) does not mean you cannot have a sexually intimate relationship with your wife or husband. By being willing to explore new ways to bring pleasure to your mate you can enjoy a new dimension of love.  Later years can be sexually fulfilling if couples put their mind and heart into it.

At all stages of life, in order to enjoy sexual fulfillment, we need to follow the admonition of Paul: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence; and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” (1 Cor. 7:3,4)

President Spencer W. Kimball clarified Paul’s statement when he said, “There are many aspects to love in marriage, and sex is an important one.



Just as married partners are not for others they are for each other.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 73)

Wake up, husbands and wives.  Enjoy a loving, sexual relationship, both of you.

  If your wife does not enjoy this part of your marriage, please do a little research and find out what might help her enjoy it more.  And ask her what would help. If your husband struggles with lack of interest, find out why. There are reasons, either physical or emotional. Get help so you don’t miss out on this important part of marriage.

On the subject of finding joy in sexual intimacy we recommend a couple of books: (1) The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, a pastor/counselor and his wife who approach the subject from a Christ-centered perspective while giving detailed help. (2) And They Were Not Ashamed by LDS author Laura M. Brotherson, which focuses on strengthening marriage through sexual fulfillment.  If you need to visit a marriage counselor for this issue then do so soon.

4. Talk about birth control

Sometimes there is a misconception about the Church’s stand on birth control. The following letter raised this issue.

“I have known many LDS women who use complete abstinence in their marriages, because the church does not endorse birth control, but abstinence is acceptable. Um, to WHO? By the way–abstinence is the most aggressive and effective method of birth control available to mankind. My husband would have been very, very unhappy if I had suggested this thing. I am still stunned when I hear a child-bearing age sister refer to this–if I were your husband, I would leave you, period. Men really need this physical release and demonstration of love. As a life-long active member, I urge young married women to find something else–but don’t do this to your wonderful husbands! It makes them very vulnerable to other women, at the very least…and destroys the intimacy of a marriage, as well. My advice: don’t even entertain the idea.”

The Church is very careful to stay out of the personal decisions of married couples. This is made clear in the latest Church Handbook 2: Administering the Church, under the heading Birth Control.  In part it states: “Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.” (Italics added)

It also states: “Sexual relations within marriage are not only for the purpose of procreation, but also a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual ties between husband and wife.

“Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.

“Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple. Elective abortion as a method of birth control, however, is contrary to the commandments of God.” 

If you need advice regarding your personal situation you may want to discuss it with your gynecologist.  Then prayerfully seek for answers that feel right to both of you.  Remember, “Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity.” (Church Handbook 2)   Seek help in knowing what’s best for you. That’s what having agency and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is all about.

5. Express your love

In a General Conference talk Elder David A Bednar said, “Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, ‘I love you’?

“We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.

“President Thomas S. Monson recently counseled: ‘Often we assume that [the people around us] must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. … We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.’” (October 2009, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”)

Saying the words is vitally important, then acting in a way that shows you mean it is the clincher. This insightful comment from a reader sheds more light on the subject: “As parents of soon-to-be husbands and wives, we should be doing a better job of preparing our children for marriage, and the intimacies that go with it. Along with that knowledge, and great love for each other, comes the principle by which marriage is based. Sacrifice. The alter we kneel at, isn’t just a place to hold hands… we lay our ALL there, willing to give all for this eternal union. If we aren’t willing to do that.. we shouldn’t be there, until we are.”

6. Know what it means to be married

There are many couples coming for counseling now who are the second, third, and fourth generation of families torn apart by divorce. They say they have no example of what makes a marriage successful. It is a living fulfillment of the scripture, “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7) In effect, they have been shown that marriage is a throw-away commodity.  And they are searching for what constitutes a lasting, happy marriage. If you fit in this category, stop the trend.  Show your children that marriage can be lasting and happy.

In order to get a personal definition of marriage it is suggested that each spouse ask themselves “What do I want out of a marriage?” It’s important that they look at it as “a” marriage, not “their” marriage. That way they can be more objective in defining what marriage is.  When each has written their list, then they share it with each other.  It’s interesting to see how many of these lists are almost identical. They then combine their lists to make a definition of what they want out of “their” marriage.

As they rediscover the meaning of marriage it’s fun to see the look in their eyes. It’s an “Ah ha” moment for many couples. They now look at each other with a sparkle in their eyes. They now have a vision, a path to follow. Keeping that sparkle alive is a choice well worth the effort.

A wise counselor, Gloria Hirsch, taught that “an effective marriage relationship has three main characteristics. (1) My mate’s welfare and well being means as much to me as mine, not more and not less. (2) I can believe in the good intentions of my mate. (3) I can delay personal gratification or needs at least 50% of the time or more for the greater good of my spouse.




These three characteristics are summarized by three words: Equality, trust, and sacrifice.” (Gloria Hirsch, director of Friends of the Family Counseling Center, Van Nuys, CA)

Regarding marriage, on the Church website we read: “Marriage is a covenant, or sacred promise, that a man and a woman make to each other and to God. Husbands and wives who keep their promises build lasting relationships with each other and receive strength to deal with the challenges they face. . . . Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on sound principles, like those that Jesus Christ taught. These principles include faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. A home established on gospel principles is a place of refuge and safety, where the Spirit of the Lord can abide, blessing family members with peace, joy, and happiness.”

A registered nurse who wrote us, adds this wise comment: “So many times young people getting married think that being married in the temple is the ‘end’; however, my husband always said that being married in the temple is the ‘beginning’ of an Eternal Courtship.”

7. Find joy in your marriage

Now, please, just go and have some fun together.  Go on regular dates, see a movie, a ball game, go out to dinner, or just go have some ice cream. Do things together without the kids. It’s a time to hold hands, put an arm around each other as you walk. Talk, laugh, and see the beauty of life around you.  Have some fun!

Discover the joy in sharing spiritual moments together. There is no greater joy than having a spiritual experience with your spouse. It is the essence of genuine happiness.  In order for this to happen you must put yourselves in situations where it can happen.

We had such a moment this very morning as we were listening to Mormon chapter six. (We downloaded the audio version of the scriptures from LDS.org and listen to the Book of Mormon each morning as we eat breakfast together.)  We were listening to the heart rending cry of that great prophet Mormon, as he looked over the slain of an entire Nephite nation, many of whom had to be his relatives and dear friends. We could almost see him as he cried, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!”  We were touched in our hearts by his cry, his longing. We felt glad that he still had his faithful son Moroni.  We talked about how we pray daily, even many times a day, that we and our children will hold fast to the teachings of Christ, that we will be an eternal family. What a joy it is to be united in this desire.  Studying the scriptures together can be a great source of joy as you share feelings of the Spirit.

Have you sat in a sacrament meeting, or been watching General Conference together and felt a feeling of joy over certain message of the gospel?  We suggest you sit side by side, if you still have young children let them sit on either side of you.  Hold hands at least some of the time, squeeze each other’s hand when a feeling of love or understanding fills you.  Share those moments, talk about them later.  Pray together, pouring out your hearts together that your marriage will be blessed, that your children will be watched over, that you all will hear and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

One of our greatest joys happened each time we took our five adopted children to the temple and were sealed to them eternally. Words cannot express that joy. The temple is a place of joy. Go there as often as you can. It will bless your marriage.

Married life, though it is filled with challenges and trials (hey, it’s why we came to this earth, to be tested, remember?) Still, through it all we are to find joy.  “Men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) That is the ultimate goal of marriage.  That is God’s plan for our happiness.  We can make it happen in our own homes.

There is much happiness in marriage as is evident in these two comments from readers of our last article. A wife wrote, “My husband is not only a wonderful provider, but he is an incredible person that has a huge heart! He tries so hard to do what he thinks will make me and our family happy and he exceeds our expectations regularly.”

A husband wrote, “Live for your spouse100% and you will find joy. My wife is the greatest gift in my life and shall always be!”

President Howard W. Hunter said, “Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person. The conscious effort to do one’s part fully is the greatest element contributing to success.” (From President Monson’s talk “Priesthood Power”)

Closing thought

Now, finally, a little story that illustrates the result of a happy marriage. Years ago there was a TV show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” hosted by Art Linkletter. On one episode he asked a young child where he lived. The boy said, “We just moved here and are living in a motel.”  Art Linkletter said, “Oh, you don’t have a home yet.”  The boy said, “Oh, Mr. Linkletter, we have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”

Being together as husband, wife and children, if you have been fortunate to be blessed with some, or if it’s just the two of you, that’s what constitutes a home, wherever you may be.  In other words, you, the husband and wife, are the heart that makes a home. Making that home a loving place to be is what constitutes a happy marriage and a happy family.


[For more information on articles, and books on creating happy family relationships by Gary and Joy Lundberg visit https://www.garyjoylundberg.com/]