Building Lasting Love: A Guide to Facing Challenges While in a Relationship
April 2024

Digital Only: Young Adults

Building Lasting Love: A Guide to Facing Challenges While in a Relationship

The authors live in Sweden.

When I became ill after getting engaged, I was unsure if my relationship would survive.

a couple holding hands and praying

Claudiana: Shortly after Gustavo and I got engaged, I became very sick. We visited doctor after doctor, but none of them knew what was wrong with me. Most foods upset my stomach, and I spent weeks at a time in the hospital throwing up and losing blood. My quality of life was quickly diminishing.

Weeks turned into months and months turned into years, and I still had no diagnosis. The medicine that I was given to treat my symptoms made me swollen and caused me to lose my hair. I was soon unrecognizable.

I felt like a deformed monster and told Gustavo that it was OK if he wanted to break up with me. I didn’t want to compromise his happiness. But his eyes still shone whenever he looked at me, and he refused to leave my side. That was when I knew I had found true love.

After four long years, I was finally diagnosed with an aggressive form of Crohn’s disease and began treatment with a high-tech medication. My hair grew back, and my swelling disappeared. Five and a half years after meeting, Gustavo and I were finally married in the temple.

The fact that Gustavo and I stayed together with no promise of my recovery may shock some people. But he and I made certain decisions before and during my illness that helped us build a lasting relationship. If you and your significant other are facing trials while dating, here are some principles that helped Gustavo and I that may help you too.

Make Expectations Clear

Gustavo: On our first date, Claudiana listed some important things she wanted me to know about her.

  1. She didn’t want to date just to have a boyfriend. She wanted to find someone who was looking for a relationship that could eventually lead to marriage.

  2. She wanted a spouse who shared her values and beliefs.

At the time, I was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Claudiana made it clear that, although she didn’t want to impose her faith on me, she believed that sharing values would lead to a healthier and happier marriage.

Claudiana: I was worried that Gustavo would think I was crazy for telling him these things on our first date. But I wanted him to understand my expectations and that I wasn’t going to spend time on a relationship that could end in disappointment. Gustavo respected my standards and was interested in my faith—and because of this, I was willing to give him a chance. Making my expectations clear allowed us to be on the same page early in our relationship and reinforced our commitment to one another when times got hard.

Support Each Other Faithfully

Claudiana: At the height of my illness, my faith began to weaken. I thought Heavenly Father wasn’t listening to my prayers, and I wondered what I’d done to deserve this suffering. During one hospital exam, I was in so much pain that I thought I was going to die. In this moment I feared for my life and my future, but Gustavo grabbed me and reminded me of the things I used to teach him back when he was investigating the Church.

“Now is the time to put those teachings into practice,” he said. “You need to have faith.”

I thought of Ether 12:12: “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.” Gustavo helped me believe in a miracle—without him, I may have lost hope. He reminded me of the eternal love and enabling power of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that I was not beyond their promised blessings. I am forever grateful that he helped keep the fire of faith alive in me.

Gustavo not only supported (and continues to support) me spiritually, but he also supported me emotionally. When I was sick, people pitied me and felt sorry for me, but Gustavo didn’t. Of course, he listened to my worries and held me when I cried, but he also encouraged me, joked with me, and got me out of the house when I was depressed. Gustavo was a light to me during this dark time and helped instill a confidence in me that my illness had taken away.

If your significant other is struggling, do things that will lift them up. Show them that you care about them. Support them when they are happy and when they are sad. Help them to strengthen their relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Gustavo does these things. His optimism and love helped us build a relationship that withstood my illness.

Prioritize Good Communication

Gustavo: Claudiana’s illness hasn’t been our only rough patch. While we were dating, there would occasionally be moments of friction between us. One day we decided to sit down and have a conversation about the things we did that hurt or made the other uncomfortable.

This conversation made a huge difference because we became aware of behaviors we had no idea were affecting our connection. It’s impossible to read someone else’s mind, so it was important to be honest about what was and what wasn’t working in our relationship. As Claudiana and I continue to make our needs known to each other and ask Heavenly Father for help in overcoming our weaknesses (see Ether 12:27), we are able to better navigate conflict and disagreements.

Brick by Brick

Claudiana and Gustavo: As Church members, it can be easy to hope that God will tell us exactly who to marry and then grant us a perfect relationship. The truth is, although Heavenly Father can make “all things work together for good to them that love [Him]” (Romans 8:28), He values our agency too much to make these decisions for us.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then the Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said:

“Great marriages are built brick by brick, day after day, over a lifetime.

“And that is good news.

“Because no matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow.

“If it appears to take forever, remember: happy marriages are meant to last forever!”1

If you are in a relationship with someone who is experiencing serious health concerns or other struggles that may affect your future, believe in God’s power to help. Prayerfully counsel with Him and seek revelation for your unique circumstances to know how to move forward. As you involve Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in your relationship, keep your covenants, focus on your shared values, support one another, and prioritize good communication, you too can build a love that lasts.