As a member of the church, having a "Celestial Marriage" was something I aspired to ever since I first learned the words to “families can be together forever,” and “I love to see the temple.”
I constantly day-dreamed of what my husband would be like and the perfect family we would have together.
In young women’s lessons I would learn of all the important things I needed to do to prepare myself to get married in the temple one day so that my marriage would be “eternal.”
The day of my wedding finally came and it was beautiful and wonderful and magical! And then I had a little bit of a meltdown. When I got married I crossed the biggest thing off my bucket list... now what?
In the church, we talk a lot about preparing to go get married in the temple one day... but what happens after we go to the temple? What happens when we go back to living our normal lives? What happens when kids come into the picture? How do I ensure that my marriage is actually Celestial?
I felt like Rapunzel in the movie Tangled. She dreamed of seeing the floating lanterns her entire life. When she finally got the chance to see them, she was worried it wouldn’t be everything she imagined it would be. Flynn reassured her that it would. Then new questions arose - “What if it’s everything I imagined? Then what?”
“You get to find a new dream.”
The truth is, my wedding day was everything I ever imagined it could be. However, it was a beautiful, fleeting moment, and then it was over. Forever a memory.
I realized I needed to find a new dream...
I want an incredible, passionate, tender, loving, fun, playful, extraordinary marriage! I want a marriage that makes me wake up in the morning so happy to be alive. I want a marriage that makes me excited for eternity.
What does it take to create this kind of marriage?
I hear people say things like, "Put God first in your marriage."
Or, "Just read your scriptures and say your prayers together every night."
This kind of advice is nice... but it is too generic to be helpful in a lot of situations.
Can I be brutally honest? Growing up, my husband and I have both noticed that there are lots of marriages in the church that are… well… not very Celestial. We constantly see polite couples and rarely see passionate couples. We see LDS couples who barely tolerate each other, who disrespect each other, and who decide to divorce because they, "just aren't happy anymore."
Getting married in the temple does not guarantee a happy, Eternal Marriage.
Why aren’t we talking more about what it takes to make marriage work once we exit the temple doors!?
In this week’s episode of the podcast, we sit down with Merrilee Boyack to talk about what it really takes to create a Celestial Marriage. The great news is that it isn’t terribly difficult to do. In fact, it is beautifully simple! All it takes is a willingness to learn the tools and skills necessary and a dedication to the practice.
It’s not something that happens overnight. After 38 years of marriage, Merrilee is still learning new things to enhance and cultivate her relationship with her spouse. It’s a life-long, eternal process.
Here are some of the great principles we talk about in the episode:
Commit to your marriage as the #1 most important intimate relationship in your life.
That’s right - your relationship with your spouse is even more important than your relationship with your kids! In the end, your kids will leave the nest, choose their own eternal partners, and be committed to creating their own eternal marriages (hopefully). Act in a way that demonstrates the importance of this relationship to you.
Of the many roles that Merrilee has had in her life - author, mother, lawyer, motivational speaker, life coach - the most important one to her will always be that of “wife.”
Date night is sacred time.
Think of the person that you were 10 years ago. Do you have the same interests? Do you believe the same things? Have you learned new hobbies? Don’t stop getting to know your spouse. They are not going to be the same person that you married forever.
Heavenly Father asks us for at least three hours a week to worship him. Do the same thing for your marriage. Commit to date night like you commit to going to church every Sunday!
Leave the kids with a babysitter and don’t allow more than 50% of the conversation to revolve around the family. Mix it up, get creative and have fun with each other. Keep getting to know each other. This will protect you from waking up one morning and thinking, “Who is this person that I’m married to?”
Remember, an outing with kids is a family gathering, not a date. Talking about the kids the whole time is a family planning meeting, not a date.
Don’t take your spouse’s name in vain.
How often do you complain about your spouse to your friends or family? This has sadly become a cultural norm. We often don’t think twice when we hear someone poke a jab at their husband in relief society, or jokingly complain about their wife during guys night.
You must protect your spouse’s name. Do not speak poorly of them to others, especially to family and friends. Create a safe space for them to be deeply vulnerable with you without the fear that their weaknesses, mistakes or shortcomings will be spread to others. Give your spouse the gift of knowing they can trust you with their whole self.
Quit trying to “fix” your spouse by demanding they be like you.
“Perfect” in a gospel sense simply means, “whole.”
You are truly one with your spouse when you both bring your strengths and weaknesses to the table. Often times, your strengths will align with their weaknesses and vice versa. Celebrate what you both bring separately to the table and support each other as you help one another learn and grow.
Neither of you are perfect. Acknowledge your differences. Allow the beautiful power of the Atonement to make up for the rest. That is when you become truly whole.
The “Treat as if…” principle.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “fake it til you make it?” There is power in committing to an outcome and than doing everything in your power to make that outcome a reality. If you want to be confident, act confident! Eventually it will become who you are.
It is the same with your spouse. If you treat your spouse like they are lazy, stupid, or inconsiderate, that is what they will become. If you want them to be more patient, treat them like they are already patient. If you want them to be more loving and caring, treat them as such! Treat your spouse according to their potential. You will get what you are looking for.
These are just a few simple things that can help your marriage become truly Celestial.
A heavenly marriage doesn’t happen by accident! It is intentionally created.
The potential to become like your Heavenly Parents together with your spouse is the greatest gift God has to give you. It is central to the Plan of Happiness and the most important thing you can do in this life.
Creating a celestial marriage is not an impossible task. With proper tools and skills, a dedication to growth, patience, practice, and a whole lot of trial and error, you can have an incredible and amazing marriage that makes you excited for eternity.
This is the dream!