Unfortunate feature of apartment-living: the walls are paper thin.
Inspiration for this post came to me at the regrettable hour of 3am. And it didn’t come by way of a “still, small voice” nor anything close. In fact, it came screaming and thumping from my neighbors’ balcony. The couple next door were at each others’ throats in the middle of the night and I got a second-row seat.
My mind was led, at first, to consider how so much anger was warranted and at such a late hour. Had she been unfaithful? Had he always had a temper and chose this time to unleash some built-up stress? Was there some unacceptable display of behavior from either side that left them both in emotional ruin? Any story I could have conceived was sad in nature. I suppose the root cause doesn’t really matter – whatever the cause, the result was the boiling blood, pounding head and sore knuckles of a husband, and the barely-whispered, broken, perhaps tear-filled replies of a wife. A heart-wrenching ending.
Luckily, negative events can always be turned as motivation to consider the positive. I was next guided to consider my own marriage – and what I found there was cause enough for peace and gratitude.
I’m going to say something obvious: Marriage is hard. It was designed to be that way. The Natural Man and Woman would not have thought – in any dimension – to join themselves legally, emotionally and physically for the duration of their lives. Such an act is contridictory to our selfish beings. It requires sacrifice and trust, substances that are hard to find organically and difficult to cultivate otherwise.
God instituted marriage not for the sake of our pure happiness, but rather to mold us into the kind of people who can experience and appreciate true, lasting joy. It was a law enforced to make us better. That process is one requiring nearly all a blacksmith’s tools and methods. It hurts. But God also provided a way for it to be not only endurable, but downright blissful.
In LDS temples, we perform marriages and not of a typical kind. The primary difference is that while civil ceremonies pronounce the couple man and wife “as long as you both shall live”, Mormon marriages instead have the authority to pronounce the couple husband and wife “for time and all eternity”. Essentially, by preisthood authority given from God, our families become never-ending. This covenant binds us not only to each other, but also to our Heavenly Father. Our marriage becomes a three-way promise instead of a two-way one, with each figure having equal right to participate and influence the whole.
My marriage has been imperfect. And it will be for quite a while to come. But because of the covenant we laid as a foundation for it, and because we always choose to utilize our third partner, I believe we will never, ever have an encounter as the one I witnessed last night. We haven’t yet, despite many instances of me wanting to scream for probably less-meaningful reasons than were had by our neighbors.
In a world where marriages seem too much a burden and too great a task for some to even attempt, I am deeply grateful for the extra hand and power we chose to add to ours. I know that so long as we adhere to and keep those sacred promises that our marriage can transcend the difficulties of this world, and obtain the hope of a better, brighter world to come.
For LDS readers: What is an experience that made you grateful for the sealing ordinance and covenant? How has your understanding of the sealing changed over time? What is your testimony of temple marriage? Leave a comment below to edify others!