Becoming United

A few days ago, I wrote about the complementary natures of men and women and the need for both to value and leverage the strengths and perspectives of each other. Today, I want to write about what that looks like in a marriage.

Sister Jean B. Bingham pointed out that Adam and Eve reacted differently to the events in the Garden of Eden, but “as they made decisions that changed their lives forever, they learned to work together and became united in accomplishing the purposes God had for them.”

After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, they continued to face challenges which they could only overcome together. Sister Bingham observed, “I imagine there were at least a few times they had differing opinions about how to approach those challenges. However…they found satisfaction and success in learning to labor in love and righteousness together.”

Sister Bingham pointed out six ways that Eve and Adam continued to work together as described in Moses 5:1–12:

  1. “They had children together.”
  2. “They labored together in providing for themselves and their family.”
  3. “They prayed together.”
  4. “They obeyed the commandments of God and offered sacrifices together.”
  5. “They learned and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children together.”

(“United in Accomplishing God’s Work,” General Conference, April 2020, footnote 2)

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi gives us a personal glimpse of his parents’ relationship. During a particularly stressful time, when their sons had been away for some time on a dangerous assignment, Sariah voiced her fears in an accusatory tone: “Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 5:2). Lehi responded with words of reassurance, but with a somewhat more individualistic tone than he probably intended: “I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 5:5, italics added).

What did these two imperfect people accomplish together? They saved their family from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. They led their strong-willed sons on a long and dangerous journey to their promised land. They founded a great civilization on the American continent which endured for centuries.

My takeaway is this: There are differences of opinion in every marriage. It’s supposed to be that way. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t always see eye to eye. Don’t be discouraged if your attempts to reconcile differences are sometimes awkward and imperfect. Keep working at it, and together you can accomplish amazing things.

Today, I will remember the importance of working together. Like Adam and Eve, and like Lehi and Sariah, I will focus on the goals my wife and I share, and on the activities we can do together to accomplish those goals. When our opinions differ, I will do the work necessary to resolve our differences so that we can move forward in unity.

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