Relief Society Lesson 15: Eternal Marriage

a mother's love

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français


I would begin this lesson by mentioning that the topic is eternal marriage, and that this can be a difficult (or maybe just uninteresting)  topic for some people who are not currently sealed to a beloved partner. So as we discuss, let’s be sensitive to the fact that many of the people in this room don’t have this right now.

Starter question: In your own experience, or from what you have observed in others, what are the key characteristics of a successful marriage? As they are thinking, tell them a couple of your own insights or stories relating to this question. Personally, I might mention the idea of respecting my spouse’s desires and dreams and doing what I can to support them, as he does for me. That phrase from Marjorie Hinckley comes to mind, as she talked about what kind of husband President Hinckley was: “From the very beginning he gave me space and let me fly.” I think this applies to dreams and desires, and I also think it applies to conscience. My husband and I are not exactly on the same page on certain things ideologically, and after several years I think we are getting better at learning to honor the journey of the other person and allow each other space to follow our consciences. Giving each other this kind of space and respect has been key to the success of our marriage.

Other things people might say: love, kindness, consideration, helpfulness, respect, words of affirmation, quality time together, service, etc. As people mention kindness and consideration, mention that the manual points out how kind JFS was as a husband and how helpful he was. Read a few sentences describing that from the intro section.  Encourage a good discussion on this question – people should enjoy sharing their insights. 

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Guest Post: A Dysfunctional Marriage

by Margaret OH

My husband and I have been listening to a marriage therapy course with the fabulous Jennifer Finlayson-Fife.  We have found that meeting with a marriage therapist every few years for a “check-up” is great for heading off potential problems and for gaining skills that strengthen our relationship.  At this moment in our lives we don’t have the time to physically meet with someone in an office, but Dr. Finlayson-Fife (my husband and I refer to her as JFF) has been an excellent fit for us and conveniently comes to our house via the internet while our children sleep.

One of the skills that JFF emphasizes is effective speaking and listening in conflict.  I consider myself pretty good at listening but have learned a lot from the class.  JFF lays out strategies for productive speaking: state the facts, give a personal interpretation, make a manageable request.  The listener also has a responsibility: to listen with honest self-examination while holding the valued relationship close in his/her heart.  Both roles require vulnerability and a commitment to the relationship.  In my experience both roles, if done right, are difficult to perform.  It takes a faith in the relationship to be that humble and exposed.

In one video of a case study of a couple acting out a conflict, JFF lays out basic grading for the listener: An F grade for denying that there’s a problem; D for acknowledging there’s a problem; C for acknowledging and apologizing; a B for acknowledging, apologizing, and committing to change.   An A grade is more difficult: it requires seeing oneself through the eyes of your partner and taking ownership of the problem.  It is not just saying, “You’re right, I’ll change”, it is saying, “You’re right.  I see that in myself and I don’t like that about myself.  I am trying to be different.”

I have often throughout my adult life felt like I was in a marriage with the Church. 

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How do women currently exercise the priesthood? (Est-ce que les femmes reçoivent la prêtrise pendant la dotation? )

How do women currently exercise the priesthood? (Est-ce que les femmes reçoivent la prêtrise pendant la dotation? )

**Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

General Relief Society President Linda K. Burton has encouraged women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to learn more about the priesthood.  In this spirit, I have been studying speeches by currently serving apostles, auxiliary leaders and recent emeritus auxiliary leaders to search for answers to common questions about present-day doctrines surrounding women and priesthood.  Excerpts are included below, organized by the question they may address.

Linda-Burton-priesthood-questions copy

We rejoice that we are privileged to live in this season of the history of the Church when questions are being asked about the priesthood. There is great interest and desire to know and understand more about the authority, power, and blessings associated with the priesthood of God. It is our hope for this next sacred hour together that “the doctrine of the priesthood…[may] distil upon [our] soul[s] as the dews from heaven.” We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood.  (Burton, 2013)

Do women receive the priesthood through the endowment?

When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power. (Ballard, 2013)

We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge “armed” with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. (Dew, 2001)

Some members of the Church are now teaching that priesthood is some kind of a free-floating authority which can be assumed by anyone who has had the endowment…The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. It has been so since the beginning. Regardless of what they may assume or imply or infer from anything which has been said or written, past or present, specific ordination to an office in the priesthood is the way, and the only way, it has been or is now conferred…Do not miss that one simple, obvious absolute: The priesthood ever and always is conferred by ordination by one who holds proper authority, and it is known to the Church that he has it.  (Packer, 1993)

Do women share the priesthood with their husbands?

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Birth/Rebirth: From the Backlist: Motherhood Versus Womanhood

Wordle of the speech, "Are we not all mothers?" by Sheri Dew

Wordle of the speech, “Are we not all mothers?” by Sheri Dew

Our plans for a series with the theme of birth sparked an interesting discussion among Exponent bloggers.  Birth can be a difficult topic; not all women have the opportunity or desire to give birth and rhetoric equating womanhood with motherhood can have some damaging side effects.

Amelia: I spent too many years suffering—sometimes very literally so—because of my upbringing to think of myself primarily as a future mother, fighting with the equation of womanhood with motherhood, birth, and childrearing.

A lot of the rhetoric around reclaiming birth, natural parenting, breastfeeding advocacy, can really push my buttons.  It just feels like the other side of the coin the church has handed out to women for years—which I fully acknowledge is problematic on my part.  These things are part of what it can mean to be a woman for most women.  But too often even the feminist treatments of these topics feel reductive to me, finding something essential to womanhood in them.  I reject that entirely.  I do not believe that womanhood at its essence is about giving birth, carrying a child, breastfeeding, caring for children.

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Temple Issue Extras: Unveiling My Temple Marriage: A Story of Decisions

We haLogan 8X10d so many lovely submissions for our Summer 2013 Temple issue and couldn’t pack them all into 44 pages. (Order yours today to ensure that you don’t miss this touching issue.) Special thanks to Ashmae Hoiland who has allowed us to use some watercolors of temples in this series on the blog (and in the magazine). More of Ashmae’s work can be found at her website,

I always wanted to be married. However, getting married was a difficult decision. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be married, quite the contrary. After all wasn’t the ambition to marry the noblest aspiration of a young Mormon girl? In truth, I had been seeking and praying for a companion for decades—through my teen years; during college and graduate school and the tumult of my 20s; then half-heartedly into my early 30s. No, I definitely wanted to get married. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that getting married in the temple was a difficult decision. But when I found the person I wanted to be with I wasn’t in the place I thought I would be.

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