I have no idea why I felt inspired to write about this now, but I think it has something to do with my husband learning how to love me, and our relationship growing and becoming stronger in the past few months.
Early last year, my husband and I got to a place in our marriage that could have been a breaking point. Thankfully, my husband picked up all the broken pieces and really did his best to fix everything. My husband is not your average guy. He is really amazing. Wonderful, really. He has a really hard past. He suffered things as a child that no child should ever have to experience. And the lack of help he received as a child to heal from those experiences has left severe spiritual and emotional scars (scars I didn’t see when we first got married, and scars that he didn’t even know were there). He is starting to heal, and it is a beautiful, but very hard, thing.
We have been married for six years, and those six years have been so hard. Of course marriage is a growing experience, and it isn’t always easy, but I never expected to have to deal with all of this hurt and pain. The thing is, I had a great, “normal”, very safe childhood. My father was a counselor and my mother was an elementary school teacher. Sure they had their faults and weaknesses – but they were, for the most part, normal faults and weaknesses, things that most parents struggle with. In general, my parents were kind, supportive, gentle, wise, and really taught us “the way [we] should go.” I have never really known many people with the kind of hurt and pain my husband has been holding inside for over 20 years. Those were the people who went to see my dad for counseling – people who had suffered hard things and needed help healing. Not me.
And yet, here I am. My husband and I see a marriage counselor just about every week. We have been seeing him since around September of last year, and I really think that he has been able to help my husband heal. There is still a lot of healing ahead (I hope). We’re nowhere near the end, but we are going to get there.
I am learning a lot about how to help my husband, and how to be strong when he is hurting.
And, thanks to the atonement of the Savior, the amazing man in my husband is able to come out from behind the scars and pain. I am learning to have more faith in the Lord’s ability to heal us. My husband has always been a righteous man, and always a very spiritual man. But the hurt from his past had caused such bitter feelings that they were eating away at our marriage. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. It was really easy to feel that way. I felt like maybe he didn’t really love me.
How foolish! My husband loves me with all of his heart, and always has.
And I guess that is why I am writing about this after studying Sister Elaine S. Dalton’s talk. Because last October when she gave this talk, I didn’t think that my husband loved me, and so I worried about how I was going to raise a righteous daughter in a home where her father didn’t love her mother.
I look back now and realize how wrong I was. He has always loved me.
Sister Dalton said, “Love her mother so much that your marriage is celestial. A temple marriage for time and all eternity is worthy of your greatest efforts and highest priority.”
My husband and I have learned that seeing a marriage counselor is not as embarrassing as it seemed at first. In fact, we love talking to people about what we learned from our marriage counselor. He is an excellent counselor. Our marriage is top priority. And right now, it needs some help. We are putting forth our greatest efforts to protect our marriage and strengthen it.
For Christmas after our daughter was born, I bought my husband this book – Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker. I read a little bit of it, and skimmed the rest, but my husband read it cover to cover. She talks about a lot of the principles mentioned by Sister Dalton in her talk. I recommend this book to any father of a daughter.
My favorite thing that Sister Dalton suggested fathers do with their daughters was attend the temple with them. I think that is a fabulous idea! My favorite temple trips were the ones when my father came with us and baptized us.
Here are some other things Sister Dalton suggested fathers can do for their daughters:
You are your daughter’s guardian in more than the legal sense. Be present in your daughter’s life. Let her know your standards, your expectations,your hopes and dreams for her success and happiness. Interview her, get to know her friends and, when the time comes, her boyfriends. Help her understand the importance of education. Help her understand that the principle of modesty is a protection. Help her choose music and media that invite the Spirit and are consistent with her divine identity. Be an active part of her life. And if in her teenage years she should not come home from a date on time, go get her.
I really enjoyed this talk. I apologize for not writing more about the talk, but I really felt inspired to share what has been going on in our marriage. Maybe to let you know that my life isn’t perfect, and we have struggles that are really, really hard – just like everyone else.
We have to rely on the atonement of our Savior for strength, for repentance, and for healing.
What did you get from Sister Dalton’s talk?