Thomas S. Monson knows a great deal about how to make marriage last. He has been married only once, and he and his wife Frances married in 1948. Here are some of his thoughts on the importance of a happy marriage.
I thank my Father in Heaven for my sweet companion, Frances. This October she and I will celebrate 60 wonderful years of marriage. Although my Church service began at an early age, she has never once complained when I’ve left home to attend meetings or to fulfill an assignment. For many years my assignments as a member of the Twelve took me away from Salt Lake City often-sometimes for five weeks at a time-leaving her alone to care for our small children and our home. Beginning when I was called as a bishop at the age of 22, we have seldom had the luxury of sitting together during a Church service. I could not have asked for a more loyal, loving, and understanding companion.
Thomas S. Monson, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Ensign, May 2008, 87-90
“Home is where the heart is.” It does take “a heap o’ livin’ ” to make a house a home. 4 “Home, home, sweet, sweet home, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” 5 We turn from the reverie of such pleasant recollections. We contemplate parents gone, family grown, childhood vanished. Slowly but surely we face the truth that we are responsible for the home we build. We must build wisely, for eternity is not a short voyage. There will be calm and wind, sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth. The thoughts we think, the deeds we do, the lives we live influence not only the success of our earthly journey; they mark the way to our eternal goals.
In 1995 the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation to the world concerning the family. This proclamation states, in part: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” 6
Happy homes come in a variety of appearances. Some feature large families with father, mother, brothers, and sisters living together in a spirit of love. Others consist of a single parent with one or two children, while other homes have but one occupant. There are, however, identifying features which are to be found in a happy home, whatever the number or description of its family members. I refer to these as “Hallmarks of a Happy Home.” They consist of:
Thomas S. Monson, “Hallmarks of a Happy Home,” Ensign, Oct 2001, 2-8
On October 7, my wife, Frances, and I will have been married forty years. Our marriage took place just to the east of us in the holy temple. He who performed the ceremony, Benjamin Bowring, counseled us: “May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another.”
When I was called to the Council of the Twelve just twenty-five years ago this weekend, President McKay asked me concerning my family. I related to him this guiding formula of prayer and bore witness to its validity. He sat back in his large leather chair and, with a smile, responded, “The same formula that has worked for you has blessed the lives of my family during all the years of our marriage.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Hallmarks of a Happy Home,” Ensign, Nov 1988, 69
Sustain your husband. In speaking to missionaries, I frequently counsel them: “Love your companion. Make him a part of all you do. He may be short or tall, thin or fat, handsome or homely-but he’s all yours.” I think I need not elaborate on the analogy. Your husband is yours. Together you form a partnership with God. Your husband, as the priesthood bearer, is the head of the home. You, the helpmeet, are not the head, but just as important-the heart of the home.
Honor his priesthood, and he will respect your womanhood. Both husband and wife should appreciate that “woman was taken out of man, … not out of his feet to be trampled underfoot, but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.” (M. Henry.)
Thomas S. Monson, “The Women’s Movement: Liberation or Deception?,” Ensign, Jan 1971, 17
Happiness abounds when there is genuine respect one for another. Wives draw closer to their husbands, and husbands are more appreciative of their wives, and children are happy, as children are meant to be. Where there is respect in the home, children do not find themselves in that dreaded “never never land”-never the object of concern, never the recipient of proper parental guidance.
To those who are not yet married, I counsel: People who marry in the hope of forming a permanent partnership require certain skills and attitudes of mind. They must be skillful in adapting to each other. They need capacity to work out mutual problems. They need willingness to give and take in the search for harmony. They need unselfishness of the highest sort, with thought for one’s partner taking the place of desire for oneself.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to deliver a commencement address to a graduating class. I had gone to the home of President Hugh B. Brown that we might drive together to the university where he was to conduct the exercises and I was to speak. As President Brown entered my car, he said, “Wait a moment.” He looked toward the large bay window of his lovely home, and then I realized what he was looking for. The curtain parted, and I saw Sister Zina Brown, his beloved companion of well over fifty years, at the window, propped up in a wheelchair, waving a little white handkerchief. President Brown took from his inside coat pocket a white handkerchief, which he waved to her in return. Then, with a smile, he said to me, “Let’s go.”
As we drove, I asked President Brown to tell me about the sign of the white handkerchiefs. He related to me the following incident: “The first day after Sister Brown and I were married, as I went to work I heard a tap at the window, and there was Zina, waving a white handkerchief. I found mine and waved in reply. From that day until this I have never left my home without that little exchange between my wife and me. It is a symbol of our love one for another. It is an indication to one another that all will be well until we are joined together at eventide.” Yes, a model to follow, “an example of the believers
Thomas S. Monson, “‘An Example of the Believers’,” Ensign, Nov 1992, 97