Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, God established the institution of marriage:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.Genesis 2:24
During His mortal ministry, the Savior quoted that passage and then further emphasized its implications:
So then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.Mark 10:8-9
In other words, marriage is intended to be permanent and durable, a complete union of two people, not a temporary or tentative arrangement. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once combined the following adjectives to illustrate that point: “United, bound, linked, tied, welded, sealed, married” (“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” Brigham Young University Devotional, 12 January 1988).
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob illustrates what this looks like in practice. Listen to his description of the marriages he observed, not among his own people, but among their enemies:
Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children.Jacob 3:7
In contrast, he lamented the behavior of the men among his people, who had “broken the hearts of [their] tender wives, and lost the confidence of [their] children” (Jacob 2:35).
Why did God establish this institution, and why is it so important for us to value it, to defend it, and to strive to live up to its high ideals? Here are a few ideas:
- Marriage provides a unique environment for the development Christlike attributes, including patience, forgiveness, kindness, and humility. Of course, we all have many opportunities to develop those attributes, but the closeness and interdependency of a marriage relationship provides a particularly powerful setting for it.
- Marriage helps us learn to be unified. Disciples of Christ always strive for unity, but it often seems elusive, particularly among large groups of people. We can, however, work to achieve it on a smaller scale, within families and particularly within marriages.
- Marriage gives us many opportunities to love and serve one another. No one is more aware of your spouse’s needs than you, and therefore, you are uniquely positioned to support, to heal, and to encourage him or her.
I love the way David O. McKay captured the ideal for which we strive:
Love [is] the divinest attribute of the human soul. There is no difficulty, there is no sorrow, there is no success, there is no fame, there is no wealth, there is nothing in the world which can separate two hearts that are bound by the golden clasp of love.Secrets of a Happy Life , 36–37
Today, I will be grateful for the institution of marriage. I will strive to be a better husband and to more fully live up to the ideal described by God when He established this most important relationship.