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PASTOR Ali and Mandy Zacks.

Make your spouse’s happiness your first priority

I LOVE to tell people that marriage is more than a legal partnership between two people. Achieving that oneness, however, requires sustained effort from husband and wife. The first principle of becoming one is to make our marital relationship and the well-being of our spouse the most central element in our lives. Married people should understand that the real essence of happiness in marriage lies in an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Thinking of self alone and of the gratification of personal desires will build neither trust, love, nor happiness. Only when there is unselfishness will love, with its concomitant qualities, flourish and blossom. I have come to realise that many people lose this perspective and see marriage as something that will hold them back from accomplishing their dreams. In reality, a gospel-centred marriage enlarges rather than shrinks us. Putting our spouse’s well-being and happiness above our own may mean rearranging our priorities and reconsidering how we spend our time. “Brethren, your first and foremost duty as a bearer of the priesthood is to love and care for your wife.” The instruction here is clear: in our list of priorities and duties, our spouse always takes first position. One newly-married sister shared with us her experience. Both she and her husband led busy and successful lives before deciding to date and marry each other. Their biggest obstacle during their courtship and new marriage was learning how to give each other quality time and attention amidst their busy and ambitious lives. Eventually they realised that a husband and wife can come together in a couple identity (what some like to call a “we-dentity”) while still maintaining their individual interests and strengths and that couples should support one another’s growth and development. This newly-married sister shared, “If something matters to my husband, even if it is not a huge interest or passion for me, that thing matters to me because I love him. I may not love the thing, but I love him more than anything and want to support him.” Lastly, I wish to say that the importance of giving our spouse top priority is unmistakable in the context of the gospel. Indeed, becoming one in marriage is at the heart of the plan of salvation and is essential to becoming like our heavenly parents. No wonder “marriage is ordained of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:15).