June’s Topic: Mormon Marriage
Our June podcast on marriage led to three distinct and valuable discussions. In the spirit of those conversations, we would like to present a different challenge for each podcast. After listening to the podcasts choose which one was the most applicable to your life right now and try to complete the following challenge below.
Deborah Kris gave such wonderful insight into the workings of an interfaith marriage. So often our church rhetoric hurts part-member families and dissuades us from beautiful mutually-enriching relationships with people from other faiths. Our challenge this month is to build a stronger inter-faith networks in your ward community without the goal of proselyting. Who are the part-member families in your ward? Find ways to interact in non-church related settings. Discover mutual hobbies and interests. Ask them to come teach a class on their career, talents, or the tenets of their faith. As a corollary to this, reach out to the members in these families and ask if there is anything specific you can do to can help make their church experiences more spiritually enriching. Every family should feel like their ward is a welcoming supportive community without ulterior motives. Find ways to encourage this interaction and teach others this lesson.
Once you have kids your marriage is wrapped up in navigating and negotiating parenting. Co-parenting is an extremely challenging and rewarding goal. Regardless of your own familial arrangements, the following challenges will help parents see each other as equal partners with valuable assets to share. First, discuss as a couple the next big parenting challenge you are about to face. It can be anything from teaching discipline, work ethic, sex ed, financial responsibility, spirituality, or potty-training, to dealing with teenagers, tempers, empty nest syndrome, bullying, relationships, or serious mental illness. Once you’ve isolated the challenge, commit to face this challenge as equal partners by 1) following through with your specific responsibility and 2) relying on and trusting each other expertise. Next, divide this challenge into two distinct realms based on your preferences, i.e. for traveling one partner is in charge of all of the macro responsibilities like purchasing flights, getting rental cars, arranging housing, carrying passports, having confirmation numbers, and overseeing all of these tasks during the trip. The other partner is in charge of all of the details such as making a packing checklist, packing the bags, planning for activities, having food and entertainment available and accessible during the trip, assigning loading and unloading tasks, and handling the details of daily activities and physical necessities during the trip, etc. Having different expertise will help you to work together in productive ways and to see each other as resources for help. It is important to learn to trust and rely on each other’s parenting abilities and work toward a shared goal.
“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” With all of the competing interests and concerns of daily life, love and marriage can quickly become afterthoughts. We want to challenge you to invest in your marriage (with resources like time, money, energy, and professional help, etc) as you would any other important asset (such as education, car, house, or career, etc.) On a more concrete level, try to use annual holidays as reminders to invest in the health of your marriage. For example, focus on the health of your sex life every anniversary, your emotional connection every Valentine’s day, the individual needs of each partner during their birthdays, your spiritual state every General Conference, your physical goals as a couple each New Years, etc. You will have to invest time, money, energy, focus, and even get some professional expertise at some of these stages, but it will be the best investment you make all year. One tip is to switch off who is in charge of each activity, i.e. the wife has all of the even years to plan the anniversary, the husband is in charge on all the odd years, that way you get to do exactly what you want at least every other year!
Deborah Farmer Kris is a K-12 educator who is equally at home teaching fractions to fourth graders and Twain to twelfth graders. She blogs at the-exponent.com, an online forum for Exponent II, and nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue. She and her husband are expecting their first child — a little girl — this summer.