I have prayerfully prepared a message designed to bring you peace and happiness in a troubled world. I know that the truths it contains provide solutions because my precious wife, Jeanene, and I have proven their worth in our own lives.
For you to obtain the maximum benefit from our time together, I suggest that you carefully write down any impressions that come to you. They are personalized messages from the Lord sent through the Holy Ghost for your guidance.
Temple Ordinances Strengthen the Family and the Home
Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness are the family and the home. Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan’s relentless efforts to splinter the family and to undermine the significance of temple ordinances, which bind the family together for eternity. He does this by constant encouragement to promote promiscuity and to defile the sacred, intimate expression of love between a husband and wife that results in the birth of children.
Fifty-seven years ago, on July 16, 1953, my beloved Jeanene and I knelt as a young couple at an altar in the Manti Utah Temple. President Lewis R. Anderson exercised the sealing authority and pronounced us husband and wife, wedded for time and for all eternity. I have no power to describe the peace and serenity that come from the assurance that, as I continue to live to qualify, I will be able to be with my beloved Jeanene and our obedient children forever because of that sacred ordinance performed with the proper priesthood authority in a house of the Lord.
Our seven children are bound to us by the sacred ordinances of the temple. My precious wife, Jeanene, and two of our children are beyond the veil. They provide a powerful motivation for each remaining member of our family to live so that together we can receive all of the eternal blessings promised in the temple.
The sealing in the temple has greater meaning as life unfolds and you discover the beauty of the differing characteristics between you, your spouse, and your children. You can share your love for each other and your gratitude for the blessing of being together. You can draw ever closer together and find greater fulfillment in mortality.
When my wife was carrying our third child, our second child was severely ill. Jeanene would hold him on her lap while they did fluoroscopic examinations. She received excessive radiation, and as a result she was unable to have additional children, and the one that she was carrying passed away prematurely. But we have them. They were born to us in the covenant. That is the blessing of the ordinances of the temple. Even though this mortal probation was for different lengths, those who were sealed to us with the holy priesthood through the ordinances of the holy temple will be ours for forever.
I know that I will have the privilege of being with that beautiful wife, whom I love with all my heart, and with those children who are with her on the other side of the veil, because of the opportunities made possible through the eternal ordinances that were performed in the Manti Temple. What a blessing to have once again on the earth the sealing authority, effective not only for this mortal life but for the eternities. I am grateful that the Lord has restored His gospel in its fulness, including the ordinances that are required for us to be happy in the world and to live everlastingly joyous lives in the hereafter.
What to me has become a vitally important part of remembering the blessings that come from the temple is that I love my wife more each day. I recognize that my sealing to my wife is in a sense not yet eternally conferred. We have lived the commandments. We have obtained the blessings of the ordinances in the temple. We have honored those commandments, but she and I both must be found worthy beyond the veil so that those ordinances can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
The requirement that it be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is how Father in Heaven and the Savior assure that no one will gain those blessings unworthily. An individual may be able to deceive mortals by appearing to be righteous, but there can be no such deception with the Holy Ghost.
Discussion with a Recently Married Young Couple
I have asked Rebecca and Ben Marlowe, a recently married couple, to assist me as I try to help you prepare for eternal marriage.
Elder Scott: Ben Marlowe, you are one extraordinarily blessed man. How did you capture the heart of an angel?
Ben Marlowe: I know. She is beautiful.
Rebecca Marlowe: It’s the other way around.
Elder Scott: She is not only beautiful; she is very intelligent.
Ben: Yes, she is.
Elder Scott: I know you are going to find that a blessing in your life as you continue your plans for the future. I would like to ask you some questions, if I may. Rebecca, has your sealing to Ben brought all the happiness you dreamed that it would?
Rebecca: It’s brought all that happiness and more, and the reason why is because, now that we’re sealed, we can do everything together. That was something I didn’t fully comprehend before we were sealed. Being able to do everything together and go through everything together has been such a blessing. And just knowing that no matter what happens we’ll be together forever is a wonderful blessing.
Elder Scott: How does Ben show his appreciation for you?
Rebecca: Ben is so good at doing the little things, and for me that shows appreciation. It’s not a big thing here or a big thing there, but it is consistently doing little things to show that he is grateful for me.
Elder Scott: What does Rebecca do to make your life happy?
Ben: Everything she does makes me happy.
Elder Scott: Men, remember that phrase when you become a husband! That’s outstanding. Do you make the vital decisions together? How do you do that?
Ben: We do. We have had a lot of opportunities since we’ve been sealed to talk and discuss things that are coming up in both of our futures. Sometimes we may not totally agree, and that is something that is great for us because then we know that we can rely on Heavenly Father. That is something that we both always agree on.
Elder Scott: So, if there is a difference of opinion, you then work it out together through prayer with Heavenly Father.
Elder Scott: That is a wonderful, wonderful pattern for life. How do you determine what should be the highest priority in your marriage?
Rebecca: One thing that has been such a blessing for us is that ever since we’ve known each other we have had the same priorities in our lives. That has helped our marriage a great deal because we are both working together toward the same goals. We’ve determined that our priorities are, first, the Lord and the gospel—and that’s really helped our marriage—then each other, our families, and the family that we have created together. Everything else just kind of falls into place when you put those things first.
Elder Scott: You can’t go wrong when you have prayed to know what the will of the Lord is and then ask Him to help you fulfill it. That sounds like a wonderful pattern for a happy, productive, joyous life. Thank you. Have you ever disagreed on anything in your marriage?
Ben: We have. Like I said earlier, we’ve had some opportunities where we have been able to learn and grow together.
Rebecca: I think that because of our backgrounds and different perspectives, of course there are going to be disagreements in marriage. But I think how you resolve them is the important thing. Like Ben said earlier, no matter what we disagree on, we always agree about going to the Lord. So that’s how we resolve any disagreements that we may have.
Ben: But I don’t know how you can disagree with Rebecca.
Elder Scott: I think he is going to be a diplomat! Do you study the scriptures together?
Ben: We do. It is such a special occasion when every morning or every night we have that opportunity to come together. One thing that we’ve really tried to do after we have had our personal study is to think of questions—maybe something we didn’t understand. Then, as we come together as companions, we talk about those questions. She gives her insight because she has been blessed with a wonderful family who has given her so much knowledge of the gospel. And my mission and my family have helped me so much to gain gospel knowledge and also everyday knowledge that everybody needs.
Elder Scott: You are both blessed to be supported by parents who love you and who agree with what you are doing. That is an enormous blessing in life.
When I studied scriptures with my wife, she would read, I would read, and we would comment. We didn’t necessarily read the passages together. Is that the pattern you’ve found useful or do you do it some other way?
Rebecca: We always do our personal scripture study. Sometimes we will come together and, like Ben said, we will ask each other questions that we might have. I always have a lot more questions than he has. Sometimes we look at what is going on in our lives and the decisions that we are making or the challenges that we may be having, and we direct our personal study toward those things so that we can possibly find answers to our questions in the scriptures.
Elder Scott: Do you have any counsel for the single and married young people who are listening to this about how you have found happiness in your marriage together?
Ben: I think the greatest thing for myself is being able to spend personal time with Rebecca—always pushing aside work or school to make sure we have some time together so that we can talk, we can communicate, and we just continue to fall in love with one another.
Elder Scott: Do you have a night when you normally date, when you can go out and do things?
Rebecca: Yes, Friday night. He works at the MTC on Saturday nights because, I guess, they have the married people work on the weekend so that the single people can date. So Friday night is our date night.
Elder Scott: Oh, that must be fun. What are some of the things you do on your date night?
Ben: We love movies, so that is probably one of our favorite things to do—just sit and enjoy a movie—because it blocks out the things that we are worrying about or stressing about, and it is just that time we can be together.
Elder Scott: That may be great for a married couple, but I think it is a stupid idea for two people trying to get to know each other! If you are a young man trying to get to know a young girl, for heaven’s sake, don’t take her to a movie! Now, if you are married to an angel, I can understand why you would do that.
Rebecca: I would agree with that, though.
Elder Scott: Do exciting things. Do something that will make it an interesting evening. But don’t do what I did. When I dated my wife, one night I passed a police car on the wrong side. They took us to the station. Can you imagine trying to impress a young lady by being in a police station?
Rebecca: It is more exciting than the movies!
Elder Scott: That is just like Rebecca. She always turns everything into a positive and always makes life happy. Are you planning to have your own family?
Rebecca: Yes, we are. Absolutely. It is something that we constantly have on our minds because we recognize it is a commandment of Heavenly Father. Because we have had such wonderful families, we understand why it is so important in the gospel, and we desire to have that for ourselves.
Elder Scott: Are you going to decide on how many children come, or are you going to let the Lord decide that?
Ben: She has a number. I’m letting the Lord decide.
Rebecca: We’ll let the Lord decide.
Elder Scott: I really want to thank you both for being so good to do this tonight. It is just a joy. Whenever I am around either one of you, my life is enriched. You know, Ben, that years ago when this angel was just a young child and my wife had passed away, she knew my spirit needed to be lifted. She would call me, and I would hear those words that would just thrill my heart: “Hi, Elder Scott. This is Rebecca.” And from then on it has just been a wonderful blessing to know you and now to see you both so very, very happy in marriage.
Ben: We are indeed very, very happy.
Elder Scott: Is there anything you would like to comment on? You’ve got the world at your hand. Any suggestion you’d like to make?
Rebecca: I think one thing that Ben is really, really good at that I have appreciated in our marriage is doing the little things. Do the little things that help your relationship keep going. Also spiritually—to read your scriptures every day, and pray together and individually every day, and go to the temple, and do those little things. I know that Ben’s mission has blessed us so much because he was able to create those habits on his mission that he has implemented into our marriage and made it so much better.
Elder Scott: Thank you.
Ben: My only advice would be to say “I love you” every day. That is one thing that I have done in our marriage that has blessed us greatly. And not only to say it with your mouth—to mean it with your heart as well.
Elder Scott: Thank you both very, very much.
Focus on Building Family Relationships
Once I learned an important lesson from my wife. I traveled extensively in my profession. I had been gone almost two weeks and returned home one Saturday morning. I had four hours before going to a meeting. I noticed that our little washing machine had broken down and my wife was washing the clothes by hand. Having an engineering background, I began to fix the machine.
Jeanene came by and said, “Rich, what are you doing?”
I said, “I’m repairing the washing machine so you don’t have to do this by hand.”
She said, “No. Go play with the children.”
I said, “I can play with them anytime. I want to help you.”
She said, “Richard, please go play with the children.”
When she spoke to me that authoritatively, I saluted and obeyed.
I had a marvelous time with our children. We chased each other around and rolled in the fall leaves. Later I went to my meeting. I probably would have forgotten that experience, were it not for the lesson that she wanted me to learn.
The next morning, about 4:00 a.m., I was awakened as I felt two little arms around my neck, a kiss on the cheek, and these words whispered in my ear, which I will never forget: “Dad, I love you. You are my best, best friend.”
Are you having that kind of experience with your children? If you are not, you are missing one of the supernal joys of life. If you have not yet married, you can decide now that when you are a parent the happiness of your children will be a very high priority in your life.
Obedience Qualifies Us to Be Led by the Lord
When you live the commandments of Jesus Christ, you qualify to be led by the Lord. Therefore, you will not participate in the wrong things that go on around you. You can identify an eternal companion with whom you will have a marvelous life as you both express faith in the Savior and His power and live worthily through your courtship.
Make the place where you live, no matter how humble or temporary, the embodiment of a clean, righteous environment where the Spirit can dwell. Keep it a haven of peace, free of conflict or dissension. This advice is given for both those who are married and those who are single. If you begin now to make your home an environment where the Spirit can dwell, it will be all the more likely that you will be able to do so when you have a family of your own.
Young men, don’t waste time in idle pursuits. Serve a worthy mission. Then make your highest priority that of finding a worthy, eternal companion. Get on with life and work at it. Don’t just coast through this period of life. It goes by too rapidly. When you find you are developing a strong interest in a young woman, show her that you are an exceptional person that she would find interesting to know better. Take her to places that are worthwhile. Show some ingenuity. It is all right to go to the movie after you are married, but it is stupid to do it beforehand. Get to know each other. If you want to have a wonderful wife, you have got to be attractive to her.
If you have found someone, begin to righteously grow those feelings together. You can form an extraordinarily wonderful courtship and marriage and be very, very happy eternally by staying within the bounds of worthiness the Lord has set.
How can two people in love avoid crossing the boundary and falling into temptation? Let us define love: To love another righteously is to protect, to elevate, to keep pure and undefiled, and to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the other. To love is to hold in reserve sacred, intimate experiences for the sanctity of marriage. When these experiences are appropriately shared in marriage, they draw a husband and wife together and strengthen them for the growing responsibilities of parenthood. These sacred acts result in the formation of physical bodies for the spirit children Father in Heaven entrusts to a mother and father. In that sacred setting, appropriate intimate expression is beautiful and purposeful. When you remember these facts, you will want to keep your courtship clean and pure.
Counsel to Married Couples
Now I would like to speak to you who have already found your eternal companion. I invite those who are not yet married to listen closely so that when that time comes you can make your marriage the best it can be.
The family proclamation states that a husband and wife should be equal partners (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102). Many couples practice equal partnership with their companion to the benefit of both and to the blessing of their children. However, many do not. I encourage anyone who is reluctant to develop an equal partnership with his or her spouse to obey the inspired counsel of the Lord and do it. Equal partnership yields its greatest benefit when both husband and wife seek the will of the Lord in making important decisions for themselves and their family, as Ben and Rebecca have told us they do.
If you are married, are you faithful to your spouse mentally as well as physically? Are you loyal to your marriage covenants by never engaging in conversation with another person that you wouldn’t want your spouse to overhear? Are you kind and supportive of your spouse and children?
Brethren, do you assist your wife by doing some of the household chores? Do you lead out in family activities such as scripture study, family prayer, and family home evening, or does your wife fill in the gap your lack of attention leaves in the home? Do you tell your wife often how very much you love her?
Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer, more pleasant, and purposeful. Many women seldom hear a complimentary comment and are not thanked for the multitude of good they do. That’s a tragedy. As a husband, when you sense that your wife needs lifting, hold her in your arms and tell her how very much you love her. May each of us ever be tender and appreciative of the special companion who enriches our lives.
As a husband, be aware of what you might unconsciously communicate by how you treat your wife in public. As I shake hands with members at the end of a meeting, occasionally I note that a man is in line in front of his wife. That is inappropriate—as a matter of fact, it’s just plain stupid. It is demeaning to her. The simple gestures like opening the door on the car or in a room for a woman show you want to give her the respect she deserves.
As husband and wife, work as a partnership to build on each other’s strengths. Listen to each other and help each other. I have seen men reject counsel from a wife who likely has struggled for a long time to find just the right moment to mention something the husband needed to change. Don’t do that.
I will share an example to illustrate what I mean: Early in our marriage, Jeanene found just the right time to talk to me about something I know she had probably noticed ever since we had met. She said, “Rich, when you talk to people, look in their eyes. You look at the ceiling and the walls and the floor, but you never look in their eyes.” That suggestion profoundly changed my life. My precious companion loved me enough to help me by telling me what I needed to know.
I learned from my wife the importance of exchanging notes. Early in our marriage I would open my scriptures to give a message and I would see an affectionate, supportive note slipped into the pages. Sometimes they were so tender that I could hardly talk. Those precious notes from a loving wife were and are a priceless treasure of comfort.
I began to do the same thing with her, not realizing how much they truly meant to her. When she passed away, I found in her private things how much she appreciated the simple messages we shared with each other. I found that she not only kept the notes, but she protected them with plastic coverings as if they were a valuable treasure. There is only one that she didn’t put with the others. It is still behind the glass of our kitchen clock. It reads, “Jeanene, it is time to tell you I love you.” It remains there to remind me constantly of that exceptional daughter of Father in Heaven.
In her final days of illness, I tried to find supporting scriptures that would help her. I put printed copies of them around the house. I found each one of those messages carefully protected as if they were very valuable. In like manner, I have kept the precious notes she has given me.
As I have thought back over our life together, I realize how blessed we’ve been. There has never been an argument in our home, never an unkind word between us. Now I realize that blessing came because of her. It resulted from her willingness to give, to share, and to never think of herself. In our later life together, I tried to emulate her example. I suggest that as husband and wife you do the same in your home, and when you singles are married, plan to do the same with your companion.
Pure Love Brings Happiness
Now I would speak of something that is most sacred. When we were created, Father in Heaven put in our body the capacity to stir powerful emotions. Within the covenant of marriage, when properly used in ways acceptable to both husband and wife and to the Lord, those emotions open the doors for children to come to earth. Such sacred expressions of love are an essential part of the covenant of marriage. Within marriage those emotions should be used to allow a couple to draw closer in oneness through the beautiful, appropriate expression of these feelings between a husband and wife. There are times in her life, brethren, when you need to constrain those feelings. There are times when you need to allow their full expression. Always be sensitive to her feelings. Let the Lord guide you in ways that will enrich your marriage.
There are men, and unfortunately some women, who experiment with stimulating those emotions by influences outside of the covenant of marriage. There is a powerful difference between love and lust. Pure love yields happiness and engenders trust. It is the foundation of eternal joy. Lust will destroy that which is enriching and beautiful. A married couple must have no private, hidden activities that are kept a secret from each other. That pattern of life provides powerful spiritual insurance. When you travel, take along a picture of your wife. Set it before you so that you can constantly see it, to remember how you are loved and trusted. You will not be tempted to contaminate your mind or violate your covenants.
Pure love is an incomparable, potent power for good. Righteous love is the foundation of a successful marriage. It is the primary cause of contented, well-developed children. Who can justly measure the righteous influence of a mother’s love? What enduring fruits will result from the seeds of truth that you as a mother can carefully plant and lovingly cultivate in the fertile soil of your own child’s trusting mind and heart? As a mother, you have been given divine instincts to help you sense your child’s special talents and unique capacities. With your husband, you can nurture, strengthen, and cause those traits to flower.
Brethren, as a husband, consistently tell your wife how much you love her. It will bring her great happiness. I’ve heard men tell me when I say that, “Oh, she knows.” You need to tell her. A woman needs that reassurance. She flowers and grows and is greatly blessed by it. Don’t withhold those natural expressions of love. And it works a lot better if you are holding her close while you are telling her. As a son, tell your mother how you love her. It will give her great joy.
Let us be grateful to our Father in Heaven for His precious daughters. Let us help them as much as we can. Let us encourage every woman who questions her value to turn to her Heavenly Father and His glorified Son for a supernal confirmation of her immense individual worth. I testify that as each woman seeks that assurance in faith and obedience, the Savior will continually provide it through the Holy Ghost. That guidance will lead her to fulfillment, peace, and consuming joy through magnifying her divinely appointed, sacred womanhood.
Blessings of Marriage
Marriage is so wonderful. I feel sorry for you who haven’t yet made that choice or haven’t had the opportunity. You get to know each other very well. In time you begin to think alike and have the same ideas and impressions. You have times when you are extremely happy, times of testing, and times of trial, but the Lord guides you through all of those growth experiences together. I remember one occasion with a little boy who was very ill. He was in a hospital and passed away. As Jeanene and I drove from the hospital, we pulled over to the side of the road. I held her in my arms. Each of us cried a little, but we realized that we would have him beyond the veil because we had made those covenants in the temple, and that made it much easier.
Jeanene’s kindness taught me so many valuable things. I was so immature, and she was so disciplined, so mature, and so spiritual.
It is so rewarding to be married. One night our little boy with a heart problem awoke. The two of us heard it. Normally my wife always got up to take care of a crying baby, but this time I said, “I’ll take care of him.”
Because of his problem, when he began to cry, his little heart would pound very rapidly. He would lose any food that he had eaten and soil the bed clothing. I knew that had happened, so I held him very close to try to calm his racing heart and stop his crying as I changed his clothes and put on new bedsheets. I held him until he went to sleep. I didn’t know then that just a few months later he would pass away. I will always remember holding him in my arms.
Some parents are not physically able to have the children they most desire to form their own family. I am a witness that the Lord can guide such parents to spirits He would have in their home through the process of adoption. Later, when those children are sealed in the temple by the authority of the priesthood, they are in every sense equivalent to children born in the covenant to that couple.
Marriage enables you to really find out who you are. It provides an ideal setting for overcoming any tendency to be selfish or self-centered. I think one of the reasons that you are counseled to get married early in life is so that you won’t develop inappropriate character traits that are hard to change.
Tribute to My Wife, Jeanene
I am grateful that Father in Heaven made women more sensitive, with greater capacity to express love, and more able to show patience and to keep things on an even keel. For women, the difference between right and wrong is as vivid as black and white, while many of us men see a wide range of gray. We haven’t had arguments in our home, but that was because of a compassionate wife who always kept things in proper balance.
My precious wife, Jeanene, although afflicted with an aggressive terminal disease, consistently found joy in life. She understood the plan of happiness, had received the temple ordinances, and was doing her best to qualify for the promised blessings. Her personal journal records: “It is a beautiful fall day. I picked up the mail and sat down on the swing. I was so happy and content in the warm sun, the sweet smell of nature and the trees around me. I just sat and gloried in the fact that I am still alive on this beautiful earth. . . . The Lord is so good to me. How I thank Him that I am still here and feeling so good. I am soooooo happy I just want to shout and dance through this beautiful house as the sun streams into the big windows. I love being alive.”
I know what it is to love a daughter of Father in Heaven who with grace and devotion lived the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. I love my dearest wife, Jeanene. She was always joyously happy, and much of it came from service to others. Even while very ill, in her morning prayer she would ask her Father in Heaven to lead her to someone she could help. That sincere supplication was answered time and again. The burdens of many were eased; their lives were brightened. She was blessed continually for being an instrument directed by the Lord.
Please pardon me for speaking of my precious wife, Jeanene. But we are an eternal family. Although she is on the other side of the veil, that love and appreciation for each other continues to grow and mature. I am confident that when, in our future, I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize that we are more deeply in love. We will appreciate each other even more, having spent this time separated by the veil. We have grown closer together through the kindness of the Lord.
The Lord Keeps His Promises
Some of you may feel lonely and unappreciated and cannot see how it will be possible for you to have the blessings of marriage and children or your own family. All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. Eternity is a long time. Have faith in those promises, and live to be worthy of them so that in His time the Lord can make them come true in your life. With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy. I pray that it will be on this side of the veil.
In closing I share an eternal principle that will assure you of a rich, purposeful life whether you are single or married. I have found that the best way to live life is to seek to know the will of the Lord as guided by the Holy Spirit. He knows what is best for you. As you are obedient and exercise faith in Him, He will help you realize His will for you in your life. May the Lord inspire, guide, and richly bless each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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Richard G. Scott was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given on 12 September 2010.