“Love Was the Key,” Ensign, Sept. 1982, 27–28
My husband, Howard, has a fine Latter-day Saint heritage. Both of his parents came from devout pioneer families. Both of his grandfathers were called to help the “Hole-in-the-Rock” expedition search out a route to the San Juan River country in 1879–80.
Howard’s father moved his family from Paragonah, Utah, to western Colorado’s plateau region in 1927. Their new home was a good place to continue a sheep-ranching business, but there were no towns within fifty miles and no Latter-day Saint wards at all. It was difficult enough to make friends in cattleman’s territory when you were a sheepman. But to be a sheepman and a Mormon—that was a challenge!
Howard and his brother learned to work at an early age. Their life’s pattern of never-ending work and learning to live in a harsh, cold, isolated environment, far removed from family and church, developed self-sufficiency but not gospel testimony. The boys tried trapping and hunting, fishing, and training their dogs and horses. They were ingenious in their survival tactics, but anyone who tried to alter their life-style met with stubborn resistance. The results were two strongly independent young men who thought they didn’t need religion.
Howard and I met in 1938 when we were sixteen. My family raised cattle, and he was “one of those Mormons.” Nevertheless, four years later we were married. Six years and three babies later I was visited by the missionaries, and I became “one of those Mormons.” There was a difference, however. I had been searching for the true gospel for several years, and when I found it I embraced it wholeheartedly. I was determined to raise our family in the faith, and I tried energetically to convert my own family—as well as my husband—as I went along.
But my family turned from me—one of the hardest trials I had ever faced. Then my husband became indifferent, even resentful, after a small branch of the Church was established in our area. I was happy to serve in the Primary and Sunday School, and I took the children—now numbering five—with me. But Howard resented the time I spent at church, and let me know it. I felt betrayed and frightened. What could I do to develop harmony in our home?
One day I walked to the hay field, feeling very confused and alone. Weeping, I knelt near a haystack and poured out my troubles to my Father in Heaven. After a long time, the answer came forcefully: Love him!
This was not the answer I had expected. I thought, “I have loved him; I’ve done all I could.” But as I walked back to the house, trying to put that counsel out of my head, I found I could not.
That night I prayed again, “How, Heavenly Father, how do I show him my love?” Finally came another answer: Don’t criticize. Respect. Praise. Communicate. Bear your testimony!
I suddenly realized how wrong I had been. I had been critical and resentful. I had not praised Howard enough, and I had never told him how I really felt, except in anger. I had never talked to him about how much the Savior meant to me or how I felt about the gospel.
Now I knew I needed to change. I had no choice; the Spirit urged me every day. A few days later, for the first time, I was able to bear my testimony to him. He listened, and I felt encouraged. I asked the children’s help, and we fasted and prayed together. I called on the ward priesthood leaders, and they gave their support.
Slowly, with divine help, I began to see changes. Howard attended a few programs the children and I took part in; occasionally he came to church. After four of our children had been married in the temple without us, our fifth child announced his engagement and told us we would have a year to get ready to go to the temple with him.
Howard wondered if we could do it, but we set a goal. And, after thirty-five years of marriage, we made it! All five of our children and their spouses went with us to the Provo Temple, where we were sealed as a family. What a wonderful, spiritual, happy day!
Howard has since served as scoutmaster, elders quorum president, counselor in the bishopric, home teacher, and is now serving as group leader of his high priests quorum. He is loved and respected by all who know him. How grateful I am for that long-ago answer to fervent prayer: Love him!