Last time, I wrote about the importance of respect and trust in the marriage relationship. Respect and trust are the foundation of love. Without them, love withers and dies. With them, love flourishes and grows forever.
I also said that I believe it starts with the husband. He has the divine role to preside, provide and protect. We often think that the word provide refers to providing for financial necessities. That is true. But I also believe it involves providing for emotional and spiritual needs as well. And the word protect: does that refer only to physical protection? Or does it include emotional and spiritual protection as well? I have no doubt that the roles of providing and protecting include physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions.
Among people of faith, a man who worthily fulfills these roles has no trouble presiding and leading because his wife and children will respect, trust and follow him. He will lead in righteousness. But if he is self-centered and surly, the divine plan breaks down and “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” (D&C 121:37.)
I spoke to a friend in the ward last night. He reminded me that when the husband is fully connected to his Heavenly Father, he will naturally lead his wife and family righteously; but if he is not close to his Father in Heaven, the wife-husband connection cannot be strong or fulfilling. Yes, this responsibility rests firmly on the man’s shoulders, right where God placed it.
He can’t do it alone, though. It is impossible for him to do it without the support, cooperation and love of his wife. Impossible. How could he do it or why would he even want to do it without her?
Respect and trust are the glue that holds marriages together. And that glue holds the world together. It heals the world.
So where does respect and trust first break down? It usually happens early in marriage. It happens to most couples in one form or another. This is how it goes most of the time.
Courtship often is wonderful, a dream within a dream. The husband-to-be is usually very attentive to his fiancée. There are midday phone calls, humorous cards, multiple emails daily, silly texts, surprise gifts, and lots of flowers. There is gallantry and thoughtfulness. There is a listening, attentive ear. The fiancée is entranced and reciprocates her love with the same. All is blissful anticipation.
After the wedding, life is exciting and fun. There are a few bumps in the road, but for the most part, the couple gets along swimmingly. They are enamored and in love. It is an intense and wonderful time.
As time passes, though, there are those small disagreements and irritations, disappointments and unpleasant surprises. Then comes the day when a small insult is hurled, unintentionally or intentionally. Feelings are hurt and there is silence, sometimes tears. Apologies are easier in those days, and feelings soon are healed.
But this is where the erosion of respect begins, either in finding fault or receiving insult. We become defensive and raw feelings, often hidden, fester. Doubts enter our minds and troubled thoughts spiral downwards. Respect is tarnished and trust, damaged even slightly, begins to tilt sideways.
If the pattern of insult or accusation continues, respect and trust slowly recedes, and contention, anguish, and feelings of anger and loss ensue.
What is to be done? I”ll write again soon.