How to choose the right husband or wife

“Cineminute” is a short video of Duane and his guitar talking about this post. To view it click this link

As a bishop of a ward (congregation) of young single adults in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was constantly counseling individuals on love and marriage; i.e. how do you know who is the one? Then what do you do?

Various systems have been promoted. Apostle and later president of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball purportedly told an audience of college students, “I could march you out of here two by two at random and if you married and kept the Lord’s commandments, you would all have successful marriages.”

A chill shot through the 12,000 spines in the seats before him. Neither Elder Kimball nor the Church ever advocated such a system, much to the relief of all young lovers, but there is great wisdom in those words.

One member of our ward from another country was the daughter of parents whose marriage had been arranged by their parents; the custom in that land. She said her parents considered it no big deal. They cared for each other and their children and had a happy and successful marriage.

How do smart people make this important decision? The most brilliant man I ever met, Hugh Nibley knew it was time he should be married as he headed for Brigham Young University to become a member of the faculty. To fulfill that obligation, he promised the Lord he would marry the first girl he met at BYU. He assumed the Lord would pick out his bride and arrange the meeting. Apparently He did, and he did, and they lived happily ever after.

My experience was this. A recently returned missionary and having come of age, I was looking for a wife, but apparently not looking hard enough. Some of us need a “whap upside head” with a spiritual two by four to get our attention. Thus it was as I knocked on the door of a coed apartment looking for my sister Diane. Diane opened the door, but it was not my sister Diane, it was my wife Diane; or would be. I could not have been more sure if an angel had appeared, introduced us, and performed the marriage ceremony on the spot.

How easy was that to choose a wife? Not as easy as I supposed. The impression that thundered into my spiritual ear apparently forgot to mention it to Diane. It took me a year and a half praying, pondering, courting, impressing, and pleading to heaven and to her before she shared my decision. It was worth every agonizing second.

I should be twice as wise as most of the people I know because I got to choose again 26 years and 15 children later. Diane died of cancer.

But now I was not a confident (okay cocky) youth but a half century old father bearing weighty responsibilities; heart broken and miserable, lonely and apprehensive. I was committed to move forward, but chained by memories and raw grief to the present. I stumbled even in simple social situations. I certainly didn’t trust myself to make any eternal decisions. The experts I read said that losing one’s spouse is not just a monkey on your back. It’s the 800 pound gorilla of grief. Some recommended don’t even work with power tools, drive heavy equipment or fight traffic until you get your head together. This would take about a year. That was my decision.

Until the Lord brought into my life seven months later a beautiful, talented, loving, righteous angel not the least intimidated by the prospect of becoming the instant new mother of 15. About one sixteenth of my head said, “Be careful. Go slow.” My heart, my emotions, the rest of my brain, and my hormones (50 year-old-men still have them) said, “Go slow? Are you out of your mind? Sweep this woman off her feet and marry her before the word gets out that she is available. The battle of the brain was over. Two months later I was a man twice blessed at the marriage alter.

In choosing a mate, it seems the recipe is not as important as the ingredients. The successful matches include love and the Lord in the right order. To paraphrase the foremost expert on the subject, “Love the Lord with all your heart…and your (closest) neighbor as yourself.”