Whom Shall I Marry?
October 2004

“Whom Shall I Marry?” New Era, Oct. 2004, 4

Special Issue: Dating and Temple Marriage

The Message:

Whom Shall I Marry?

President Thomas S. Monson

Young people, you live in tumultuous times. You have choices to make—choices with eternal consequences. But you are not left unaided in your decisions, however small or large they may be.

It has been said that history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. Decisions determine destiny. That is why it is worthwhile to look ahead, to set a course, to be at least partly ready when the moment of decision comes.

One of those decisions for us to consider is this: Whom shall I marry?

Marry the Right Person

For a moment let me take you with me back to my college days. As a student at the University of Utah, I was attending a dance on campus. I was dancing with my date, a girl from West High School, when a young lady from East High School danced by with her partner. Her name was Frances Johnson, although I didn’t know it at the time. I just took one look and decided that there was a young lady I wanted to meet. But she danced away. I might never have seen her again.

About two months later I did. One day while waiting for the streetcar in Salt Lake City, I looked across the way and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was the young lady I had seen dancing across the floor. She was standing with another young lady and a young man whom I remembered from grade school days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember his name. I had a decision to make. What should I do? I found in my heart an appreciation of the phrase: “When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.” I squared my shoulders and plunged toward my opportunity. I walked up to that young man and said, “Hello, my old friend from grade school days.”

He looked at me blankly and said, “I can’t quite remember your name.” I told him my name. He told me his name, and then he introduced me to the girl who later became my wife. That day I made a note in my student directory to call on Frances Beverly Johnson, and I did. That decision, I believe, was perhaps the most important that I have ever made.

You young people will have the responsibility to make a similar decision. You have an important responsibility in choosing not only whom you will date but also whom you will marry. President Gordon B. Hinckley admonished: “Your chances for a happy and lasting marriage will be far greater if you will date those who are active and faithful in the Church.”1

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) counseled: “The most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority.”2

Become Well Acquainted

It is essential that you become well acquainted with the person whom you plan to marry so that you can make certain you are both looking down the same pathway, with the same objectives in mind. It is ever so significant that you do this.

I should like to dispel one rumor that is very hard to put to rest. I know of no mission president in all the world who has ever told a missionary that he had the responsibility to marry within six months after his mission. I think that rumor was commenced by a returned missionary, and if not by a returned missionary, by the girlfriend of a returned missionary.

Keep an Eternal Perspective

I would admonish you to maintain an eternal perspective. Make certain that the marriage in your future is a temple marriage. There is no scene so sweet, no time so sacred as that very special day of your marriage. Then and there you glimpse celestial joy. Be alert; do not permit temptation to rob you of this blessing.

In the delightful musical Camelot, as the plot thickens and Queen Guinevere becomes infatuated with Lancelot, King Arthur, her husband, pleads with her—and with each of us—“We must not let our passions destroy our dreams.”

Precious young people, make every decision you contemplate pass this test: What does it do to me? What does it do for me? And let your code of conduct emphasize not “What will others think?” but rather “What will I think of myself?” Be influenced by that still, small voice. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head at the time of your confirmation and said, “Receive the Holy Ghost.” Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice that testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised, “Thine ears shall hear a word … saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.”3

The tenor of our times is permissiveness. A most popular feature of one of the leading newspaper Sunday supplements portrays the idols of the movie screen, the heroes of the athletic field—those whom many young people long to emulate—as flouting the laws of God and rationalizing away sinful practices, seemingly with no ill effect. Don’t you believe it! There is a time of reckoning—even a balancing of the ledger. It’s called Judgment Day, even the Big Exam of Life. Are we prepared? Are we pleased with our own performances?

Move Forward with Courage

Once you make a decision concerning whom you would desire to marry, may you have the courage to move forward. After a stake conference in Tokyo many years ago, a young Japanese convert, perhaps 26 years of age, drove Sister Monson and me to the hotel where we were to stay. He was extremely neat and meticulous in all that he did. The car was polished to a brightness seldom seen. He even wore white gloves. I engaged him in conversation and as a result learned that he had a girlfriend who was a member and whom he had dated for some time. I asked him if he loved her. He replied, “Oh, yes, Brother Monson.”

My next question was obvious: “Does she love you?”

“Oh, yes, Brother Monson.”

I then suggested, “Why don’t you ask her to marry you?”

“Oh, I am too shy to ask.”

I then recited, for his benefit, the words of the hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” with emphasis on the phrase, “Fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake.”4

Some months later I received a lovely letter from my Japanese friend and his new bride. They sent the wedding announcement. They thanked me for my urging and added: “Our favorite hymn is ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints.’ We took fresh courage. God did not forsake us. Thank you.”

Seek Guidance

In making a decision as momentous as whom you will marry, I suggest you seek the help of your parents. Take the time to confide in them, for they will not leave you nor forsake you. They love you dearly and want for a precious daughter or stalwart son the best in life and the ultimate promises of eternity.

Of course our Heavenly Father will also bless you and guide you in your decision and in making other decisions throughout your life. You have a formula, a guide, to assist you. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9: “You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.”

That counsel from the Doctrine and Covenants has directed me, and it will direct you.

My dear brothers and sisters, if you want to see the light of heaven, if you want to feel the inspiration of Almighty God, if you want to have that feeling within your bosom that your Heavenly Father is guiding you to the left or guiding you to the right, instructions from this passage will help you: “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.”5 By so doing, the Spirit of our Heavenly Father will be yours.

I bear this testimony to you. I invoke upon you the promise of the Lord when He said: “I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

“Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”6

May each of you qualify for that great reward, that eternal glory, is my sincere prayer.


  1. “Four B’s for Boys,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 41.

  2. “Agency or Inspiration?” New Era, Jan. 1975, 38.

  3. Isa. 30:21.

  4. Hymns, no. 30.

  5. D&C 87:8.

  6. D&C 76:5–6.

Illustrated by Daniel A. Lewis