S01 E02 - Four Pillars of Marriage with Brad and Debi Wilcox


The Evolution of Marriage

When you belong to a religion in which Eternal Progression is a core belief one thing is certain, you will absolutely change and evolve and grow over time. As you change and grow, your relationships also transform.

In order to ensure your relationship is one worthy of Celestial glory, you have to make sure your growth brings you closer together and doesn't pull you apart.

Brad and Debi Wilcox suggest you invest your efforts in four different areas of your relationship:


Read a book together. Discuss your beliefs, politics, ideas, family, and new experiences. Take time to connect and share with each other the things you've accomplished during your day.

You experience something new every single day. Months or years of new experiences and thoughts added up are what contribute to your growth and evolution as a person. When you don't share those things with your partner, you could end up waking up one morning feeling like you're married to a stranger.

Emotional and Social

Research shows that the happiest and most fulfilling marriages are based on a core foundation of friendship. Without emotional or social connection, your friendship will fade. You'll develop a relationship more like a business partnership than a deeply-connected, fulfilling, inspiring marriage.

Developing an emotional connection requires you to share your feelings, forgive one another, experience new things, and do more for your date night than go grocery shopping. It requires daily connection, laughter, hugs, and kisses. 

Sometimes developing emotionally can be painful and uncomfortable, but growth often is. Make sure to lean into the challenge, otherwise you'll stunt your growth and impede your eternal progression.


Your spiritual growth means you're both investing in your relationship with God. This is always reflected in the actions you take that demonstrate your faith. Daily prayer, scripture study, church attendance, service, forgiveness... as you grow spiritually and live a life of goodness, there will be no space for the evils of the world to creep in.

Physical and Sexual

Your sexual relationship is key to supporting and strengthening the other three pillars. A thriving sexual relationship will act as a spiritual, physical and emotional catalyst. It will enhance all other aspects of your marriage.

Learn to have regular conversations about your needs, desires, thoughts, and feelings. If you can learn to communicate about everything in your relationship - including your physical relationship - when things are going well, it will make it so much easier to talk about things when they aren't perfect.

About Our Guests

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Brad Wilcox is a professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University where he also enjoys working with such programs as Especially for Youth, Women’s Conference, and Campus Education Week. He is the author of the book, The Continuous Atonement, and the BYU devotional, “His Grace is Sufficient.” Brad grew up in Provo, Utah except for childhood years spent in Ethiopia, Africa. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile and later returned to that country to preside over the Chile Santiago East Mission from 2003-2006. He and his family have also lived for a time in New Zealand and Spain where he directed study abroad programs for Brigham Young University. Brad has served as a member of the Sunday School General Board. He and his wife, Debi, have four children and six grandchildren. Reading, writing, teaching, and traveling are some of his favorite things. He loves Peanut M&M's and pepperoni pizza, but he realizes that doesn't sound too healthy so he is really trying hard to learn to love salads. 

Check out Brad's books:

Show Notes


  • 2:54 - Elder Faust asked Brad and Debbie Wilcox to be a model of a happy marriage to their missionaries
  • 3:45 - “Always go to the funeral”
  • 5:20 - We all want to make a difference in the world, but that starts with making a difference in your family
  • 6:00 - What Brad and Debbie are still learning after 35 years of marriage (lifelong learning, “empty nest” stage)
  • 7:50 - How Brad and Debbie met and fell in love
  • 11:00 - Things fell more into place when the pressure was off
  • 11:45 - First Kiss
  • 12:34 - Things progress more naturally in dating when there isn’t so much pressure
  • 13:45 - Sometimes things don’t just “fall into place” naturally when you meet the right person. It takes an intentional choice to give things a try. It takes vulnerability and risk.
  • 15:00 - The transition that happened when baby came along - they had to be more intentional in their marriage
  • 15:45 - The purpose of marriage is growth; the relationship matures over time
  • 17:15 - “Love isn’t two people looking madly at each other, love is two people looking in the same direction” The maturity and growth happens while working towards a common goal and purpose
  • 18:45 - The four “legs on a table” of a relationship (emotional/social, intellectual, spiritual, physical), and how strength comes in having a balance of all four.
  • 19:39 - the purpose of an engagement - strengthen the pillars of emotional/social, intellectual, and spiritual before adding in the physical helps to create a strong foundation
  • 21:50 - How each of the four pillars of a relationship help with the “hard work” of marriage
  • 23:55 - Intellectual - It’s not necessarily about sharing interests, but showing interest in the other person’s interests. Share your world with each other.
  • 25:55 - Emotional/social pillar
  • 27:00 - Spiritual pillar
  • 27:50/31:15 - It’s not always realistic to have scripture study and prayer together as a couple. As long as each individual working on their spirituality separately, that adds to the spiritual pillar of the relationship.
  • 29:15 - Simply being active in the church and having a temple recommend helps to be on the same page with core values
  • 29:30 - Fear of marriage in young people, and common causes of divorce
  • 30:20 - If you can live a certain way before marriage, it is a good indicator that you will be able to continue living that way after marriage (activity in the church, living within your means, etc).
  • 30:55 - The church alone can give a couple the spiritual connection the marriage needs.
  • 31:30 - Individual spiritual habits fulfill a need in our lives
  • 33:30 - Physical Pillar - men and women compliment each other with the emotional and physical sides of an intimate relationship.
  • 34:35 - “Choreplay”
  • 35:10 - Air traffic controllers vs Bowlers (landing airplanes vs knocking down the pins)
  • 37:25 - We’re meant to go together; we teach other to create a fuller and more meaningful experience
  • 37:50 - Different temptations for men and women
  • 38:10 - Avoidable mistakes of young couples
  • 41:30 - Problem solving vs listening
  • 41:45 - Asking for what you need instead of expecting your partner to “just know”
  • 42:45 - “You’re not allowed to complain about something you’ve never asked for”
  • 44:20 - Our society has taught us that asking for what we want is selfish - these leads to covert contracts. “My partner should just know what I need”
  • 46:00 - It’s easy to get discouraged, but just caring about making your marriage better shows that you are on the right track.
  • 46:30 - Satan will never have a marriage, and will never have a family. No wonder he is out to destroy our families.
  • 47:20 - “A problem identified, is a problem half-solved”
  • 48:20: - An example of real-life compromise

The incredible photos on this site were generously donated by the incredibly Talented Scott Jarvie. Hire him for your wedding or purchase his beautiful book, Mormon Temples in America.