Saturday, January 7, 2012

An olive branch

I titled this post carefully and hopefully it makes sense. I'm going to talk about something personal and very close to my heart and hope those who read it will appreciate it for what it is and see why it is important to me to share these thoughts. I could share a lot of thoughts, but I am trying to keep this succinct.

Thanks to Wikipedia I have this definition to help me show you the connection I am trying to make.
An Olive Branch: is usually a symbol of peace or victory and was historically worn by brides.
This thought comes from an experience I had while attending college. I was at BYU in a class called Clothing the Family. It sounded like a useful class that would cover budgeting and smart practices and skills to, well, clothe the family.

The class was an utter disappointment.

One day the class had gone to complete poo when a married girl in the class commented on how her husband just wasn't living up to his potential and the "professor" carried on with it. I am not for man bashing. I don't mind joking around about the differences in the genders but serious bashing is right out for me, (I'm gonna get mean here) especially coming from a dim witted, wobbly stiletto heeled, died platinum blonde girl and a justifying debited, needy, older woman who really should know better.

Listening to my tuition money coin in and tinkle around in these empty headed women I couldn't take it any more, and as I sorted through what they were whining about I wondered what was different? Why didn't I have disappointments in my husband that I was just bursting to share with this group of tawdry women? Was it because I was still a newlywed and still had my blinders on? That couldn't be it, some of these girls were more freshly married than I was.

So what was it?

I think sometimes, we women get some pretty big ideas about what marriage and men are like and what our role will be like with them. I know there was plenty I had wrong. But ultimately I think a big problem is we tend to think of our future spouse in a checklist form for so long that when we are married we still think of marriage and our spouse in this checklist form instead of human form, you know, like WE are.

But I had one thing right, the man I married and the fact that I married my man for who he was: imperfect, anal, sometimes irreverent...

I bet most women had that same thing right when they married their spouse. Somewhere we loose perspective though. We've got flaws, sins, weaknesses addictions: I'm talking chocolate, exercise and lack there of, self demeaning practices, weak self worth, sense of entitlement, feminist ideas, laziness, unrealistic expectations... whatever, anything that is out of moderation, anything that hinders our ability to love others, anything that puts us above others, that supersedes our ability to love and forgive:
To get over ourselves.
To marry him for who he IS, every day.

Somewhere, I think we forget why we married them. Even just for a moment, and if we let that moment grow, we have a problem. It's our problem. My heart started beating really fast and my thoughts clarified.

"If you marry someone
for their POTENTIAL
you will be consistently disappointed.
If you marry them for who they ARE
you will be pleasantly surprised."

Class was over for me that day.
But I've come back to this thought often in my life. I am certainly not a perfect woman or wife. I struggle, have setbacks and disappointments, I let my husband down, I waste time, forget stuff and just avoid things that need doing because they are unpleasant, I have different forms of addictions. We all do. Think about it, you've got some "bad habits" just like me. I could go on, but think about it, I'm not perfect. So why should my husband be?

You are not perfect. So why should your husband be?
He shouldn't.

I am gonna go out a limb here and vocalize some thoughts I keep having. This idea applies to many aspects of marriage but I am going to touch on just one now.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we expect our men to be seriously moral.
This is awesome.
I think it is right.

However, we also live in a world where this is extremely uncommon. Many women in marriages just accept that their husband does things (strip joint, web sites etc) that in the LDS church we seriously frown upon. We don't accept it. However, as a local church leader shared in a Young Women's lesson, the temptations are always there, people are always cajoling our men to take a peek, it's not so bad, it's still funny, it pops up uninvited, etc.

Any woman or man who thinks that pornography isn't a problem in their home to some extent is just plain fooling themselves. I don't care how great you all are. I'm not saying that everyone needs counseling or anything like that, I am just saying it is a temptation, like any other temptation, it's real and it's something that you can't just ignore and hope it isn't a problem or won't be a problem. You'll face it somewhere, your husband, brother, friends, son etc. It's something you have to actively fight against. If you don't, it's sure to rear it's ugly head. I see it all around me, and have for years in various forms and casualties.

It's downright crappy. But it's truth and the flesh is weak... It's that temporal body we are so blessed to have and so blessed to try to learn to over come.
So what to do?

Support our men in their struggles. I don't mean pat them on the back and say, "That's cool, I don't mind, it doesn't hurt me." That would be a lie. That's one of those big ones, you know, the Ten Commandments. So don't lie.

If you are a woman, it hurts. No matter what level it exists in. But we have to help them, it's the whole "for better or for worse" thing that we commit to do when we married them. It's their sin, but we can't let it become ours, (it becomes our sin when we let it tear our marriage, family and relationships apart, when we ignore Christ's atonement and it's role in our healing, forgiveness and their recovery) we have to help them daily fight it. It's not the man's fight alone. There have been lots of awesome talks about fighting it in General Conference. Here's a search. They often talk to the men about it, but it's real for women too. So I'm saying my two bits about it to women. Because we have a role in helping our men fight it.

I have been blessed in my marriage because I have a husband who is serious about fighting the temptation. We have found a system of checks that works for us. I don't babysit his browser or anything like that it was a plan he came up with and it works. It's active. It's always active.

In the words of a very wise woman who knows, and whom I love dearly: If he's there, in the marriage and he wants to work on it, you've got something to work with. That's so much better than not having a marriage at all.

I mean be willing to forgive, be active in their recovery, be active in their success. Always be active in your fight against the Destroyer.
Remember you married a person, not a check list, not a perfect ideal.

Extend an Olive Branch: Strive for Peace, Strive for Victory in your marriage.
It's hard, but nothing is as hard as walking in this world alone.
p.s  pictures are completely my own (except the olive branch which was found through Google and I can't find the origin). If you would like to share please do so by linking back.


  1. Love this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! You are a sage for our age. :)

  2. Again...when I grow up I want to be just like Coretta. We had a very strong talk about this topic in General Conference last night. I appreciate all of the things you talked about in here. It is all so so important. The theme for our conference was about fortifying our home, family, children etc. That is what we are having to do! Also I am choosing to be in love every day and do what it takes, not always easy, but worth it!

  3. Great thoughts, Coretta!

    I agree with you in that our husbands are NOT checklists and that if we base our love on those requirements we're always going to be disappointed.

    Love this -- "be willing to forgive, be active in their recovery, be active in their success. Always be active in your fight against the Destroyer" Key word is ACTIVE! :) This applies in SO many other aspects in life and marriage and really spoke to my heart today.

    Thanks for sharing! CAN'T WAIT to see you!