It’s that time of year again! Happy valentines to you and yours. Usually I’m busily rounding up supplies to make cards and contemplating anonymous drops and cookies of all kinds.


This year, I decided to simplify.


I did a self-survey and realized that what I care most about is God and my family. And, if those are the most important, then this year I want to center my goals on those. And, lucky me, I just finished co-authoring a book to help… both of those.


You might ask…why yet another book about marriage? Well, because one has never before been written celebrating the ultimate couple of the universe–our Heavenly Parents. Latter-day Saints have been counseled to model our lives after “the divine pattern” set by our Heavenly Parents, according to the Gospel Topics Essay. And in no part of life is this more important than in marriage. So with hopes of inspiring couples to cultivate powerful partnerships, we convened four incredibly insightful Latter-day Saint therapists. And together, we have designed a guidebook offering twelve principles for creating more divine marriages–filled with prophetic counsel, professional expertise, and practices for partnership. (If you read the sidebar, you can see the list.)


But, first, I want to talk to you a little bit more about the why. I am a person who needs the why


Elder Oaks has said, “Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.” 


If this is the case, then I can work on two things at the same time– I can work on my marriage by figuring out what my Heavenly Parent’s relationship is like… and emulate them.


How do we do that? It seems to me, if we are being counseled by the first counselor of the church that THIS is our highest aspiration… then we need to dig in. Learn more. Practice. 


So, a little digging in to get you started.


What are some of the things we know about our Heavenly Parents? More than what we realize, I believe. A keyword search on the Church website offers plenty (or, we combined them for you in the prophetic counsel portions of the book). 


One of my favorite learnings about my Heavenly Parents is found in other quotes from the Gospel Topics Essay. “Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family” and that They function “side-by-side” in Their efforts. 


We already know from 2 Nephi 26:33 that “all are alike unto God”… equality is divine!  And now, to hear that our Heavenly Parents apply that same principle in their marriage– that makes my heart sing. 


A few more great learnings we discovered:


“The restored gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the principle of full partnership between woman and man, both in mortal life and in the eternities.”
Elder Ulisses Soares


“I call the opportunity to be bound together in a marriage relationship and sealed into the everlasting covenant … A Divine Pair.”
Sister Sharon Eubank


However, even with that doctrinal foundation established, we are not marriage experts. So we tapped Latter-day Saint therapists to help us with their expertise… and very practical exercises. We don’t want to just learn of our Heavenly Parents, we want to BECOME like them. 


As Elder Bruce C. & Marie K. Hafen said, “Temple marriage covenants do not magically bring equality to a partnership. Those covenants commit us to a developmental process of learning and growing together – by practice. … But equal partnerships are not made in heaven – they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time.”


So how do we practice this? 


We determined twelve principles for a more divine marriage. Each of our four therapists wrote three chapters and added very practical exercises. Over the course of a year, each month I can practice one principle to help me get closer to my goal of a celestial marriage. Some of the exercises include making a vision statement for your marriage, challenging your assumptions about roles, dig in to your mutual and independent goals, committing resources to everyone’s growth.


This is my goal for loving a little better this year. Maybe it should be yours too. Why? For the big why of this earth life, President Nelson has taught, “Jesus Christ invites us to take the covenant path back home to our Heavenly Parents and be with those we love.”


That sounds like pretty good incentive for my Valentine’s this year. Yours too?