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Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. Most of us marry feeling that nothing could possibly separate us, believing that a celestial marriage will be perfect and easy—a happily ever after. Yet life is not that way and we face the harsh reality of conflict where our perfect happiness can be shattered. What will save our happily ever after is to realize is that life and marriage evolve in stages. Our marriage probably won’t ever be like it was at the beginning nor should it, because it could be something even better. Our purpose in marriage is to help each other meet the Savior, and our spouse can be our greatest purifying fire, our greatest teacher, and our greatest gift—if we will allow them to be.

In the book The Lifecycle Stages of a Marriage by Barbara Markey, ND, Ph.D., she explains that relationships proceed in three basic stages: the newlywed stage, the cooperative stage, and the endearing stage. Each of these stages gives us opportunities to become like Jesus Christ. Here are a few ideas for how you can build a celestial marriage with your spouse and the Savior no matter where you are at in your marriage.

The Newlywed Stage

We can also call this the “Hollywood Stage.” And like Hollywood, what we think we see is not real. We have amazing passion and believe it is real, but we are more likely living on a high, feeding this belief through excessive generosity to our loved one. We build trust, respect and emotional intimacy at this stage, which is needed and important. But this type of cycle is like running a sprint: we do great at first, but eventually run out of steam and revert back to our previous habits and self. Often during this shift, we may feel discouraged, like our marriage is broken, like our spouse is no longer the person we married.

Tips: We need to focus on what matters most, and what will create the strongest foundation for future stages of marriage.

1. Set gospel foundations early on in your marriage.

To read the full article on LDS Living, click here.