Leo Tolstoy said, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".
I don't know if I agree with this or not, but there are certainly millions of ways to be miserable in family life. When I served as a missionary for our church in South America, one of the greatest things I felt I did was bring people the option of living happily in the way God wants us too. We were going into homes, knocking on doors we'd never seen before and talking with new people all day long --and so many of those people were unhappy! There were husbands cheating on their wives. There was a mother who ignored all of her children except the 1 year old, and then had a new baby and started ignoring all but that baby. There were families living in grinding poverty who had fathers that only worked when they felt like grabbing a "changa" --single day of labor, and drank at night. There were husbands who belittled their wives, and vice versa. We spoke with a group of prostitutes one night and gave them some scriptures, and they seemed so unhappy and lonely it was heartbreaking. We taught a young women that was pregnant, with the father being a much older man who we knew --we KNEW wouldn't make any commitments and was jerking her around emotionally, but she couldn't stay away from him.
What we taught people was to make covenants and promises to each other, to be true to each other for not only this life, but forever. We taught them to be honest and kind to each other. Taught how God loves and values each of us. We taught how families were part of his plan: a father and mother committed to each other, and to raising, caring for, and loving their children. Why is this so hard to accomplish? I know it requires self-discipline, and sacrifice, but the love and peace available in a happy family is worth it isn't it? The security has to be worth it to little children who don't get to vote on the adult decisions.
(Tinkering at the Dinosaur museum)
I know it's worth it to me. I dated a lot in High School and college, and never felt really bad about dating more than one person at the same time. In some ways I was really rotten back then. I just wanted to be with a lot of people, liked a lot of guys, and enjoyed having a good time. I stayed chaste (look it up), but did a LOT of kissing! Told you I was rotten. When I made the commitment to Jeff, I knew I was committing for eternity. This was a little nerve-wracking! What if I'd chosen wrong? It took me a long time to find him, and I did it with my eyes open as wide as I could, looking for qualities I needed in a best friend --not just a romantic flingy thing. But, I had a lot of nightmares during our engagement, and even the first year or so that we were married. But, divorce wasn't an option on the table for each of us, and luckily, he was better than the good guy I'd thought he was. I completely trust him. Maybe not to change the light bulbs when I want him to...but yeah. In all of the big stuff, I completely trust him, and my kids can trust him too.
What about all of the families in my church --heck - in my ward - that get divorced? That have horrible tragedies of families? That happens too. I know I got really lucky in picking my spouse --or I got really blessed. No judgements are possible to make on another's situation. With so many variables, as many variables as there are people, how could you know all of the factors involved? But I believe in the principles. I believe in commitments, I believe that prayer helps a marriage and a family. I believe making the covenants (promises to God this time) we every Sunday, keeping our faith current, helps a family. I believe studying God's word in the scriptures helps us know how to treat each other, and Grace from God gives us the patience we need to deal with each others' peccadilloes.
(Corona Arch Hike)
I know we had an incredibly fun and peaceful spring break together this year. We got along, and the kids didn't fight (much). We really enjoyed each others' company and being together. I've been reflecting on how grateful I've been for this week.
It turned into a big religious thing -this post! But yeah, I think there's more behind our great week than just a good agenda of activities.