This is an important election year which deserves not only our attention, but our informed involvement. Those who are elected will have great influence on laws pertaining to marriage and the family. Our support and actions can positively affect the future of not only our own families, but families everywhere.

One of the great tragedies of our time is the blatant attack on the sacred institution of marriage. In it’s flawed state it has become a target of disdain. Many disillusioned young adults fear it, many others have distorted its meaning, and too many have given up on it.

What happened to marriage as we knew it in previous generations? Why is it feared and why has it become so vulnerable to failure and redefinition? A series of events led to the problems we now face. It’s complicated, to say the least, but we’ll sketch by a few events on our way to suggesting some possible solutions.

After World War II there was a period of prosperity and an increase of happily married couples having several children, thriving in their jobs and homes. The period between 1945 and about 1960 became known as the “Baby Boomers”. Dreams were finally being realized, at least for a time. However, there was an underlying rumble happening.

German writer Florian Kunkel, suggested that, “To some people, this scenario was only the attempt of the average American to veil the rising political dangers. The Soviet Union, also a winner of World War II, had become the second superpower beside the USA. Without the threat of a Nazi empire in Europe, their coalition had no more common base. Instead, the differences became bigger and bigger: The contradictory systems of capitalism and communism weren’t able to cooperate. With the separation of Germany, the cold War began to reach out his icy fingers, . . . with two possibilities-win and rule over the world or lose and perish.”(

A Moral Revolution

Fear began to the fill hearts of people. Bomb shelters were built, children were taught how to run for cover. It became a time of great uncertainty-a fertile field for the onset of the hippie movement. Along with the Civil Rights Movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War, college students began their sit ins as they smoked marijuana, espoused “free love” and made their peace signs. It became far more than a protest against war-it evolved into a revolution against religious values.

Songs about defiance to authority and a “new morality” were rampant. One example is shown in this verse by Bob Dylan, a popular singer of that day, from his song called “The Times, They Are A-Changing”.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend a hand
For the times they are a changin’.

Indeed, times did change. Before our very eyes we witnessed the deterioration of moral values. Sexual promiscuity became acceptable behavior. The “me generation” was in full swing. Hippies established communes where free love reigned and marriage was not needed. Children were to belong to and be reared by the community within the commune.

Fortunately, communes went out of style because they simply didn’t work. But the damage had been done. The era of irresponsibility had begun. “Do whatever feels good” became the motto of many. The sex-without-marriage philosophy had inserted it’s tentacles into the minds of the vulnerable, and became acceptable behavior by far too many, including so-called educated, but highly misled adults. It was a tragedy of major proportions.

Inspired Book of Mormon prophets saw this day and gave this warning:

For behold, at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, . . . Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! (2 Ne. 28:20-22, 24-26.)

Satan was, and is, on a rampage, and prophets of old were warning us. Satan’s attack on marriage had begun. This social climate set the stage for no-fault divorce laws to become a reality. With the emphasis on self rather than the needs of the family, some partners in a struggling marriage chose to “get out” rather than “work it out”.

Divorce Laws Changed

In an article by attorney Muller Davis, he stated that “Prior to 1969, marriage was generally regarded in most states as a contract between two parties that could be dissolved only if one of the spouses committed an act legally recognized as incompatible with the continuation of the marriage. The incompatible action was called a “fault ground” for divorce. Divorce was granted by courts only upon proof of a “fault ground” such as adultery, extreme and repeated cruelty or desertion for an entire year. At the granting of a couple’s divorce, one person was found guilty and one innocent.” (The Christian Century, June 5-12, 2002, pp. 28-31.)

No-fault divorce opened the door for anyone to get out of a marriage, regardless of the wishes of his or her spouse or the needs of the children. There didn’t need to be any grounds for divorce. A study of the effect of no-fault divorce laws on marriage “revealed that no-fault divorce laws led to measurable increases in divorce rates.” (Journal of Marriage and the Family, v57 n2 p477-88 May 1995) Recently Dr. Douglas Allen of Brigham Young University said, “it’s safe to say between 10 percent and 20 percent of marriages ended as a direct result of no-fault divorce laws.” (Mormon Times, Sunday, Mar. 07, 2010)

Divorce became too easy and more and more marriages began breaking up instead of working at solving problems and creating a stable family environment.

The psychological costs have been enormous. “Current findings indicate that children may suffer long-term negative effects from divorce. For example, significant numbers experience moderate to severe depression and difficulty in establishing love relationships. Children of divorced parents are two to three times more likely to dissolve their own marriages than are children of intact marriages. The divorce process itself has a decidedly adverse effect on children. Almost no child wants his parents to divorce. . . . Since divorce affects close to 1 million children annually, the damage created is enormous.

“Not only are children disadvantaged by divorce, but the marriage partner who was supposed to benefit also suffers, according to recent reports. Both sexes have increased health hazards as a consequence of divorce. Depression is relatively well recognized as a possible result, but less obvious are the physical hazards. They range from loss of weight to increased cigarette and alcohol consumption, lower immune function and a higher risk of dying.

“This research has at least corrected the assumption that divorce is cost-free to all concerned. The cost is more than individual: when multiplied by the over 1.1 million divorces per year — which affect almost 1 million children annually — an enormous cost is piled on society every year.” (Ibid: The Christian Century)

Witnesses to the Sorrow

At a recent convention when we were speaking on this subject, a woman came to us after and said, “I’m in a second marriage. Both of us were divorced. I wish I could tell every person thinking about divorce to not do it. No divorce is worth it, unless it’s an extreme case. I wish I had stayed with my first husband and worked things out. This is much harder.”

This is not a singular case. Many have voiced this same opinion. Make your first marriage work and it will save you and your children a lot of heartache. If you’re now in a second marriage then make that one work. Don’t be an example of serial marriage.

At some point you need to show that marriage works and problems can be overcome. Making that happen the first time around is by far the best solution.

A few months ago we attended a sacrament meeting where a young couple were asked to speak on the importance of temple marriage. As the young father was stressing the importance of not only being married in the temple, but the need to stay married, he said:

My wife came from a divorced family and I myself now come from a divorced family, both were married in the temple. When we got married a few years ago my parents were still married. While we were away at college my mom divorced my dad. I know that I very much enjoyed having both my parents, and at times as I went through school it even felt like a badge of honor to be able to say that I have both parents and they are still married. I have told myself and have had many discussions on how important that is to me to be able to give what feels like a gift to our son and any other children we may have in the future. I say it is a gift since as I had said before I did feel proud and lucky to able to tell my classmates and friends that my parents are married and also from what I knew, were happy. I learned that even though someone gets married in the temple it doesn’t mean their marriage will last. We now know that marriage takes a lot of work, whether married in the temple or not.

He then quoted Elder Robert D. Hales:

A celestial marriage requires, after the vows are taken, a continuing consecrated life of worthiness leading to happiness and exaltation. If we live the laws properly, we will, with another individual and with our family, be able to have a little heaven on earth. Something as wonderful as a celestial marriage doesn’t just happen. (We asked permission to use these excerpts from the young father’s talk, and asked for a copy. He said he would do anything to help others stay married.)

What We Can Do

For the sake of ourselves, our children and grandchildren, we must do all we can to protect marriage. We suggest that the following three actions can safeguard your own marriage and marriage in general.

First action: Support legislation that favors traditional marriage and strong family values. Let your state and federal representatives and senators know how you feel about the sanctity of marriage and the need to preserve and promote family values. Don’t wait until a bill appears, let them know in advance, then keep an eye out for proposed legislation and follow up with your opinion. Elect people to office who will support your views. Before voting, find out where they stand on these issues.

Attorney Muller Davis suggests that “Marriage needs reinforcement from every aspect of society in order to survive. Legislation without shared social mores will be no more successful than was the prohibition of alcohol. However, this does not mean that legislation has no part in a cultural campaign to change American marriage values. Legislation, rather than facilitating divorce, can support marriage. For example, legislation could give a voice to the spouse who does not want her [or his] marriage to fail — as well as to a spokesperson for the children — in deciding whether there should be a divorce. Legislation can be shaped to add balance — not favoring the spouse who wants to terminate the marriage but ensuring more protection to the other spouse and the children.” (Ibid, The Christian Century) This is not to say that spouses being abused should not be able to divorce. That has always been available for the protection of all family members.

This is an important election year, so we suggest you bookmark the following links for quick access at any time. To locate your state elected officials click here
To locate your federal officials click here

Second action: We must teach our children the importance of marriage. They need to know that it’s not just about them and their desire to be together, though that is definitely important, but it’s more than that. A successful society depends on their marriage succeeding and children being born to them. Couples have a responsibility that goes far beyond themselves.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen said:

Every marriage affects those in the concentric circles of influence that ripple outward from the couple, through their children to the larger community. That is why guests and friends have always celebrated weddings as community events.

As Wendell Berry put it, “Marriage (is) not just a bond between two people but a bond between those two people and their forebears, their children and their neighbors.” Therefore, “Lovers must not . . . live for themselves alone. . . . They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own. . . . If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing. . . . It is the fundamental connection without which nothing holds, and trust is its necessity.” (

Children need to clearly understand, in the words of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, that if there are problems “The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache.” (Ensign 2007 May, 70-73)

Third action: This action is crucial. Show your family and the world that marriage can be happy and lasting. Let yours be a shining example. Let them see that difficulties can be overcome, that marriage is a sacred vow not to be broken, but rather to be enhanced by daily acts of kindness and caring to each other. And that marriage can be filled with joy, in spite of the difficulties of life. Here are a just few tips on how to accomplish this.

Tip #1: Be forgiving. President Gordon B Hinckley’s prescription for a happy marriage states: “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.” (Ensign Nov. 1997, 69) Just to clarify, according to the dictionary, forbearance means “tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation; patience.” Marriage does indeed require patience, tolerance, and restraint.

We all know what forgiveness means, and sometimes it’s not easy to do, especially when you are deeply hurt by the actions of your mate. It’s important to talk about these hurtful actions with statements like, “That really hurt when you said (did) . . . ” Then listen to each other without getting defensive and work out solutions. If major offenses have been committed and the offending party is repentant, a loving relationship can be restored, even though it may take time to forgive. Allow your spouse time to heal and reach a point where he or she can forgive you. It will be well worth it, for the sake of your family and your own happiness. Seek help from your bishop when the needs are serious.

Tip #2: Help each other achieve a heart’s desire and make dreams come true, even when it involves disappointment and sometimes failure. Be there for each other. Be each other’s best friend and cheerleader. After reading the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, who tells of his work to set up schools throughout terrorist-ridden countries, we were touched by this comment in his acknowledgments:

Most of all, I owe immeasurable gratitude to my incredible wife, Tara. I’m glad we took a leap of faith together. You are an amazing companion, confidante, mother, and friend. In my frequent absences over the eleven years of our marriage-to the rugged Pakistan and Afghan hinterland-your love has made it possible for me to follow my heart.

I love you.

When you jump onto your spouse’s bandwagon it becomes a tender vote of loving confidence. When we believe in the good intentions of each other, even if those good intentions don’t work out quite like you planned, you form a stronger marital bond. If you succeed, then you celebrate together. If you fail, there is no blame, but rather a time to comfort and encourage each other through the disappointment. That’s what marriage is all about.

Tip #3: Make your marriage fun. Have regular date nights and occasional get-aways. Life is so full of have-to’s that we can easily become “weary of well-doing”. Nothing can snap a person out of the doldrums quite like a fun date with your spouse. Taking a break is good medicine for the spirit and magic for a marriage. It can be simple and inexpensive, or a little more elaborate. Talk about the things you both enjoy doing, then take turns doing those things together, making sure they fit your budget. Plan for a weekly date. After all, that’s what Friday nights were made for. There are tons of things you can do. Here are a few ideas, and remember, these are without the kids (have fun with the kids another time):

Dinner out is always a treat. It can be as simple as a trip to In-N-Out Burger (and if you have to wait in line in the car then use that time to talk about fun things, not problems). Or you may prefer a steak dinner at Outback or another favorite steak house (arriving before 5:30 will get you in right away). Whatever your interests and budget allows, do it with enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s fun to go with another couple. Take along a few jokes to share and steer you away from talking about problems. Take advantage of buy-one-get-one free coupons from newspaper ads or entertainment books kids sell, or go online and look up a restaurant to see if they’re offering discount coupons, then print one off and go have some inexpensive fun eating out.

If time is limited, try a quick dash out for an ice cream cone. Just laugh and have fun doing it. We recently discovered an Italian restaurant not far from our home that serves gelato, the Italian variation of ice cream. Oh, is it good.

Try a drive up the canyon or to the beach (depending on where you live) and have a picnic. We have a brother living in San Diego who calls us periodically, gloating that he and his wife are enjoying a picnic on the beach in the light of the setting sun at 75 degree weather, proclaiming, “We live in paradise.” Of course, he does that when we are in the dead of winter in Utah. However, we have our comeback, “Good for you, but sorry you’re not here with us snuggled up together in a warm comforter, sipping yummy hot chocolate, watching the snow as it gently falls, adorning our beautiful mountain peaks. Yes, we live in paradise.” We do have fun as couples trying to outdo each other.

Go to a movie, in fact, sometime you might even go to two movies, one right after the other. Do a “his choice” and a “her choice”. It can be a lot of fun. We did that one afternoon and evening and really had a good time. And the popcorn was great. Dollar movies make it a deal anyone can afford.

These are only a few ideas. Please share with us your favorite fun date night experiences at [email protected]“>[email protected].

Now for those get-aways. It’s so much fun to go away, even for just an over-nighter. It doesn’t have to be far. We live in Provo and sometime dash off to Salt Lake City. or other online services can get you a good deal. We usually go without an agenda and just do whatever we want, mostly enjoying eating out and relaxing in the hotel. Do what works for you. Just have fun doing it and enjoy being away from the kids and the normal duties. Even if the kids are grown and gone, do it anyway just to get away. No phone calls or texting during these dates. If you both enjoy camping, give that a try and be refreshed by the beauties of nature.

Each year we sponsor an over-night marriage retreat so couples of all ages can not only have fun getting away but learn ways to enrich their marriage. Our next one is coming up in June. We’d love to have you join us. We have some very fun things planned for this one. For details click here.
You might also enjoy watching this short Youtube video of a couple who attended last year. Click here

Tip #4: Anchor your marriage in the gospel. Just as a ship or boat relies on an anchor to keep it from gradually drifting away, the gospel provides that anchor for your marriage. A whole article could be devoted to how the gospel protects our marriages, but in this “tip” we’ll mention just three key points.

When we were married in the Salt Lake Temple those many years ago, we were told to kneel by our bedside every night, take each other by the hand and pray together, taking turns each night. We have followed this counsel diligently and found it has been a guiding force through the many challenges we have faced. Without this we don’t know how we could have made it through serious health issues, financial challenges, raising a disabled child, and a myriad of other concerns. We highly recommend praying together to every couple.

Another given is the importance of attending church together. Sometimes when sitting in sacrament meeting or a class we have reached for each other’s hand and given a squeeze, signifying a special feeling we’ve had. It feels good to share a spiritual moment with your mate. Or, if a husband sits on the stand, a nod or a smile can serve the purpose during those callings. Discussing talks and lessons around the dinner table can be enjoyable and unifying, too, solidifying what you gained from the meetings. This can be reinforcing for you and your children.

Make attending church the norm for you and your family whether you’re at home or on vacation. We have always been able to locate a meetinghouse wherever we travel, at times printing a location from so we don’t have to search once we’re there. That’s especially handy if you’re traveling in a foreign country and can’t read the phone book. Attending church away from home keeps you grounded and tuned into keeping the commandments no matter where you are.

We also find that attending the temple regularly keeps us focused on our eternal commitment to each other. President Thomas S. Monson said, “To you who are able to attend the temple, I would counsel you to go often. Doing so will help to strengthen marriages and families.” (Ensign 2008 May).

President Ezra Taft Benson reminded us that, “Temples are places of personal revelation. When I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the House of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways” (Ensign, Aug. 1985, 8). As couples we can be strengthened when we take our concerns and desires to the temple and seek the Lord’s guidance there. It may not come at that moment, but by attendance at the temple, answers will come, if not then, later.

The temple is a glorious blessing that can help us keep our marriage strong and lasting and guide us through troubled times.

If you are not near a temple, then take the time to talk about your temple marriage, or your goal to have one, and the blessings it can bring. Mentally review the covenants you have made. Counsel together often about the eternal goals you have for your family, and pray for guidance to achieve these goals.

We Can Make a Difference

We do have the power to make a difference in what is happening to marriage today. Mahatma Ghandi’ made a statement that rings with truth: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” We all can be that change. We can be the example of what marriage is meant to be-lasting and happy, even when life is tough. Let’s be the ones to let the world see that marriage works.

[For more information on books and events that strengthen marriages and families, and for a free download of the song “Save the Family” visit]