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This life presents us with the choice that has existed eternally–the Lord’s way or man’s way (the softer way of saying Satan’s way). We had that choice in the preexistence and even fought a battle to maintain our ability to choose. By virtue of our life on this earth, we chose the Lord’s way. Each day and each hour we have presented to us a fork in the road with basic two choices–The Lord’s or man’s way.

This choice is not like the time Yogi Berra was giving directions to his house. He said to his friend that when he came to the fork in the road, take it. In his case, either road led to the same destination, so it didn’t matter which one he took. That is not the case with the important choices we are faced with in this life. These choices lead to very different destinations. That’s why it’s so critical to make the right choices.

This brings to mind the choice presented to a friend of ours. He was on a business trip and after a meeting returned to his motel room. As he walked along the second story walk way he passed by a room with the drape left partially open revealing an attractive woman standing in the room, completely naked. He backed up to see if he was mistaken.

As he walked on, the door of her room opened and there she was, standing there coyly inviting him in for a visit. His first choice to back up and look again lead to a greater temptation and choice. Does this remind you of King David and Bathsheba? Unlike King David, our friend remembered his covenants and quickly moved on away from the temptation, realizing he never should have taken a second look. It was the second look that let Satan know he was at least somewhat interested and vulnerable.

Guarding Our Marriage

We live in the last days, a time in which the adversary has unleashed his powers on mankind, we need all the help possible to save and protect our families–and our marriages.

The words of President Gordon B. Hinckley ring in our ears and tug at our hearts as we contemplate the battle Satan is waging against married couples today. He said, “The family is falling apart all over the world. The old ties that bound together father and mother and children are breaking everywhere. We must face this in our own midst. There are too many broken homes among our own. … Can we not do better? Of course we can.” (“Look to the Future,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69)

It is usually because of small missteps, almost indiscernible because they seem so harmless and ordinary, that marriages fall apart. We can “do better” by paying attention to these small missteps. Couples must be vigilant in a world that so fully accepts and condones actions that lead to infidelity.

In our new book, Because We Love Our Marriage: 12 Ways to Safeguard Your Eternal Relationship, we have focused on how being made aware of these dangers is vital to saving your own marriage and family. Some are not aware of what these dangers are. Because many in the world treat these as acceptable behavior, they can easily creep into our lives, allowing Satan to quietly and cleverly pull us into his trap. The purpose of this book is to help couples become aware of what these behaviors are and what can be done to avoid them. We must be on guard and fortify our own marriage as never before.

President Spencer W. Kimball warned us when he said, “Most of us have vulnerable spots through which disaster can overtake us unless we are properly safeguarded and immunized.”

He then counseled us to “‘Put on the whole armour of God,’ as Paul admonished. With this divine influence and protection, we may be able to discern the adversary’s deceptions in whatever appealing words and rationalizations and we may be ‘able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’

“We must not yield to even the smallest temptations. Serious sin enters into our lives as we yield first to little temptations. Seldom does one enter into deeper transgression without first yielding to lesser ones, which open the door to the greater.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, chapter 10)

To help couples become aware of “little temptations” that can ruin their marriage, we have listed some of the key dangers we face in today’s world and have given evidence of the damage they can do if not guarded against. Besides identifying these temptations, we also show how husbands and wives can protect themselves against them. In sharing actual cases, we have changed names to protect privacy.

Where the book began

Our article published by FamilyShare.com and featured here on Meridian entitled, “10 Ways You Are Being Unfaithful to Your Spouse and Don’t Even Know It,” stimulated this book in the first place. When the article reached six million views, we knew there was a real interest. There was the expected push back by some saying, “You are so old fashioned, get up to date” and “Nobody comes before my children. I can always replace a husband.” Sounds like Satan’s philosophy. As we observed a number of marriages of friends being destroyed, we realized more and more the tactics Satan is using nowadays and that we needed to write a book where the ideas presented in the article could be fleshed out and explained in depth from an LDS perspective. We appreciate Covenant Communication for encouraging us and publishing the book.

This, along with our work in the field of marriage and family therapy, has revealed how serious these indiscretions are and how damaging they can be to a marriage. If couples are warned in advance, they are better equipped to recognize the dangers and make wise decisions that will ensure an enduring marriage. This book is for all married people, regardless of what marriage they may be in. It’s also for single women and men who want to be married—those who are divorced or widowed or have not yet married. The counsel we share is for all who desire a happy, fulfilling, protected marriage for themselves and their children.

We have been forthright—even blunt at times—in the presentation of these safeguards. The time for beating around the bush is past. We feel a little like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland must have felt when he said in a general conference priesthood session, “[W]e speak boldly to you because anything more subtle doesn’t seem to work. We speak boldly because Satan is a real being set on destroying you. . . .” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “We Are All Enlisted,” Oct. 2011 general conference).

President Boyd K. Packer comforts us with this statement: “One thing is very clear: the safest place and the best protection against the moral and spiritual diseases is a stable home and family. This has always been true; it will be true forever. We must keep that foremost in our minds.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,” April 2004 general conference)

Everyday Challenges

We have chosen topics faced everyday in our lives ranging from prioritizing our marriage and practicing forgiveness to extramarital interactions and the danger of pornography. Often little things creep in, such as flirting. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “What may appear to be harmless teasing or simply having a little fun with someone of the opposite sex can easily lead to more serious involvement and eventual infidelity.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Law of Chastity,” Brigham Young University 1987–88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, 52) We discuss the difference between flirting and appropriate bantering back and forth with fellow workers and friends. Being aware of the difference is crucial. We give examples of what has happened to others who stepped over this line and how to avoid this trap of the adversary.

Another little thing is, do we let our romantics thoughts wander to others? These can happen at work, in Church callings, or with friends and neighbors. President Howard W. Hunter said, “Be faithful in your marriage covenant in thought, word, and deed.” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” October 1994 general conference) Ways to navigate away from such thoughts are given, as well as examples of what happened to someone who let his guard down and what the results were.

We discuss the dangers of being alone with someone of the opposite sex. Situations that are a common occurrence in today’s world are addressed. Safeguards are given by those who have fallen into this trap and by those who made plans with their spouses that kept them from falling. These examples are specific and filled with ways you can be forewarned and armed to avoid this danger.

In all examples and suggestions given in the book we rely on the words of the prophets. We show the glorious blessing of repentance and forgiveness and how the atonement has blessed people who were willing to share their experiences with us, hoping that by their sharing others would be protected.

These and many other topics include practical advice and doctrinal discussion that can resonate with couples of every age and stage of life. Trials will come and now is the time to prepare to navigate your most precious relationship through these unique challenges. Remember: Safeguarding your marriage is paramount in keeping your family protected in these latter days and in securing your eternal relationships.

Because We Love Our Marriage: 12 Ways to Safeguard Your Eternal Relationship is available at Seagull Book, Deseret Book, and Amazon.com, retail $13.99. Also available on CD. Learn more at garyjoylundberg.com