Important Lessons learned about Marriage from Adam and Eve
In his book, “Drawing Heaven into your Marriage,” Goddard points out some important lessons learned from Adam and Eve. I had never thought to look at what I can personally learn from our first parents on the earth about marriage. This was very enlightening. We know that the curse that was given to Adam and Eve as they left the Garden of Eden was actually a blessing. It was the only way for them to know good from evil and to progress. It is interesting to me that as we take a closer look at their story and their testimonies we can learn a lot about marriage and how to improve our relationship with our spouse.
“The human story began with obedience and sacrifice.” (Loc 844). What does obedience and sacrifice have to do with marriage? Goddard explains that “success in marriage hinges on our willingness to apply the same principles.”
After Adam and Eve left the presence of God in the Garden they went into the lone and dreary world. Sometimes our lives in our marriages can feel like a “lone and dreary world”. But Adam called upon God. “The only remedy for our loneliness is to call upon God.” (loc727). God gave Adam and Eve commandments and Adam was obedient to those commandments. They were obedient without knowing exactly why they were asked to do certain things (Moses 5:6). Faith is fundamental to obedience. The Lord will always show us the path we are to take for our own journey in this life. If we exercise faith in God and complete reliance on Him we will be willing to be obedient to do what he asks of us. Even if that is more patience with our spouse, more time devoted to our spouse, more willingness to help out around the house, willingness to forgive quickly and over and over again, etc. Whatever he asks of us we will be willing to obey Him whether we understand it or not. “Faith is the stubborn resolve to see God blessing us in all circumstances. Even in our struggles and disappointments, faith requires us to believe God is ministering to us.” (loc 751) This leads us to the next important principle:
Adam and Eve were to offer their very best, “the firstlings of their flocks.” They were to lay their best upon the altar before God and sacrifice what they needed or wanted most. There is a powerful lesson here for each of us regarding marriage. “Sacrifices are the key to our eternal growth and eternal possibilities.” (Loc 760). “What we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.” (loc 773) If we are to truly grow and become “one” in our marriages and become like our heavenly parents then it requires great effort on our part and great sacrifice. When things get hard in marriage we must see it as an opportunity for our own growth, for us to give up something for something better. Nothing comes without a price. Only the investment we make in our marriages pays far greater than any other investment we can make in this life and in the life to come. We have to determine for ourselves, what are our “firstlings” of our own flocks? What are the things that we can lay upon the altar of God and sacrifice in behalf of our relationship with our spouse? What are we truly willing to sacrifice or give up?
The Savior requires us to have a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” What does this mean? Elder Bruce C. Hafen explained, "animal sacrifices symbolized the Father's sacrifice of Son, but the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit symbolizes the Son's sacrifice of himself. Elder James E. Talmage wrote that 'Jesus died of a broken heart in similitude we now offer ourselves - our own broken hearts - as a personal sacrifice.'" (Bruce C. Hafen - The Temple and the Natural Order of Marriage) Goddard gives his definition of this great sacrifice. It means to “surrender our demands that things be done our way. We become agreeable, submissive, cooperative, appreciative.” (782) So often in marriage we hold our partner to a set of standards and most of those standards are both unreasonable and unexpressed. And then we judge and complain and get frustrated when they don’t live up to these standards or expectations. “Overtime this leads to cancerous assurance that our partner is fatally flawed. The cure for this is humble submission… a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (Loc 782). What do we gain for ourselves if we can truly do this? “In striking the marriage bargain, we are (unknowingly) giving up the egocentrisms of childhood in favor of the charity of Godhood. We make a covenantal step toward unselfishness. As we progress in marriage we gain ennobled character as well as eternal companionship.” (Loc 796). This is a great promise. We as a covenant people just as Adam and Eve were required, covenant to bring all to the altar – “the Lord cannot bless what we will not bring.” (Loc 812). This is so important to remember. We must be willing to bring our whole souls to him so that He can transform us. What we bring to the altar, will be accepted and it will change us if it is done in the name of the beloved Son. “We do it in the spirit of redemptiveness. We do it as a small but meaningful imitation of His sacrifice. We show our willingness to rescue our spouse by giving up our tiny preferences in favor of our spouse’s blessing.” (Loc 803). This is the only way to true happiness in marriage now and forever.
“Each of us should pray earnestly for the heavenly help to make those sacrifices that will sanctify our relationships. As we enter our homes, we can pause to beseech God to grant us grace, goodness, mercy, compassion, and patience. We can ask Father to help us see our partner and his or her struggles with the loving-kindness with which He views them. In so doing, we place our time, our minds and our hearts on the altar. That is the ultimate offering, the required sacrifice. Making this sacrifice is the heart and soul of the required obedience.” (Loc.812)
Goddard, H. Wallace. Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage: Powerful Principles with Eternal Results. Fairfax, VA: Meridian Pub., 2007. Kindle Version