Thou Shalt Love Thy Wife with All Thy Heart
October 1973

Thou Shalt Love Thy Wife with All Thy Heart

After the Lord had created Adam, he made it crystal clear that he did not intend that Adam should go through life without a companion, when he said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18.) So Eve was created and given to Adam to be his wife and companion.

Many of you young people in the Church have reached an age where you are old enough to look for a companion and mate. As you commence dating on a steady basis, you will enter a period known as courtship. This will be a thrilling and important time in your lives. President McKay referred to it in these words:

“Courtship is a wonderful period. It should be a sacred one. That is the time in which you choose your mate. Young men, your success in life depends upon that choice. Choose prayerfully the one who inspires you to your best and always remember that no man injures the thing he loves. … The seeds of a happy marriage are sown in youth. Happiness does not begin at the altar; it begins during the period of youth and courtship. …”

Young people, choose prayerfully and carefully. Don’t rush hastily into marriage. Determine that you have common goals and interests. Especially be certain that you possess the same religious convictions and beliefs.

A wise man once counseled: “Before marriage keep thine eyes wide open, then after marriage keep them half closed.”

Marriage brings adjustments, because each has his or her own personality. Reared in homes with varying backgrounds, marriage naturally will require the making of adjustments.

Marriage, my beloved young brothers and sisters, should not be just taken for granted. It must be worked at, but realize that you can have the kind of marriage that you earnestly desire and for which you are willing to work. Marriage will require giving and taking; it will mean sharing, because life was meant to be shared. A happy and successful marriage means forgetting oneself and thinking of ways in which to make one’s companion happy. It might be well each day for the husband to think, “What can I do today to make Mary happy?” And Mary should say to herself, “What can I do today to make John happy?” A happy home is where the wife is treated like a queen and the husband is treated like a king. And so, it is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

A happy and successful marriage will be one that is built on the important principle of love; a love recognizing not only a fleeting physical attraction, but more importantly a deeply spiritual love that will continue forever. At the dedication of the beautiful Oakland Temple, the prophet of the Lord, David O. McKay, emphasized the fact that love is eternal in these words: “One great purpose carried out by those who come into the temple is the sealing of man and wife in the sacred bonds of matrimony. That purpose is based upon the fact that man and woman truly love each other. That means that a couple coming to the altar should be sure that there is love in each heart. It would be a terrible thing to be bound for eternity to one whom you do not love, but it is a glorious thing to be sealed for time and eternity to one whom you do love.” President McKay then continued, saying: “Let us ever remember that love is the divinest attribute of the human soul. … love must be fed; … Love must be nourished; love can be starved to death just as literally as the body can be starved without daily sustenance. … If that love is fed daily and monthly and yearly throughout a lifetime, the husband’s attention will not be drawn to somebody else. …” He then concluded with these words: “If your spirit lives after death, as it does, then that attribute of love will persist. …” (David O. McKay, “Responsibilities of Those Who Enter the Temple,” Improvement Era, vol. 68 [1965], p. 92.)

Honeymoons should not end right after the marriage ceremony, but should never cease. President and Sister McKay set a wonderful example to the Church and to the world. On their 65th wedding anniversary President McKay referred to their married life as 65 years of “wedded courtship.”

There are many kinds of marriages, but Latter-day Saints should realize that there is only one place on earth where one can obtain a first-class marriage, and that is in a House of the Lord, and it is one of the purposes for which temples are built. What a worthwhile and splendid tradition it is for those who are married and sealed in the temple to return each year on or near their wedding anniversary and recall the promises they have made to each other and to the Lord. Of course, this will be in addition to the many other times that they will attend the temple.

We are mindful that the Church has constantly stressed the importance of the home. Many valuable and worthwhile suggestions and programs have been introduced to point to ways in which a happy home may be realized.

I am convinced that a happy home is the result of a happy marriage: that is why it is so important to select a suitable companion and mate.

In our world today there is an apparent disregard for the marriage vows made, and we view with concern and alarm the noticeable increase in divorces throughout the land. This would indicate that homes are not happy and, as a result, marriages are failing. Too many men and women become discontented and develop a “roving eye” as their attention is attracted to someone else. Hence, too many divorces are a result of unfaithfulness on the part of the wife, the husband, or both. There would be fewer divorces if the counsel and guidance given by the Lord were followed. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph he said: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22.)

I am persuaded that many divorces today could be avoided and are not justifiable. President Stephen L Richards, a former counselor in the First Presidency, once aptly remarked: “In the case of marital disagreement, which may lead to separation, the proper remedy is not divorce, but repentance—repentance usually on the part of both husband and wife, repentance for both acts committed and harsh words which have made a ‘hell’ instead of a ‘heaven’ out of the home.”

In order for a married couple to make a “heaven” out of their home, they must realize that repentance, love, faithfulness, humility, and forgiveness are basic essentials in achieving this noble and lofty goal.

A serene home must also be a place where the Spirit of the Lord will dwell and abide. The Spirit of the Lord will not dwell nor abide in a home where there is constant bickering, quarreling, arguing, discord, or disharmony.

The Prophet Joseph had to learn many of these valuable lessons, as we will likewise have to do. David Whitmer, a close associate of the Prophet and one of the Three Witnesses for the Book of Mormon, related an enlightening experience which occurred while the prophet was translating the gold plates. These are Brother Whitmer’s words:

“He [Joseph] was a religious and straightforward man. He had to be; for he was illiterate and could do nothing himself. He had to trust in God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right feelings towards everyone. To illustrate so you can see: One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went upstairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went downstairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, and asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came upstairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.” (Brigham H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 131.)

It is my sincere and humble prayer that we may all live in such a way that we will have happy and serene homes where love abounds and the Spirit of the Lord is ever present, for which I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.