Cycle Affects Marriage

Published December 30, 1982. Just a few days before Christmas, I returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri. The University of Missouri-Kansas City has started marriage enrichment courses much like those we have at Brigham Young University. On Thursday I met with faculty, students, and some administration personnel. We discussed common interests and concerns on how to conduct these marriage classes.

While in Kansas City I learned something very impressive about another community. At Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, the total community has become interested in the physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being of each person. In Kansas City we also discussed the possibility of other communities adopting similar models to that of Steven’s Point.

And what if the communities also became interested in marriage and family stability? Rather than becoming involved in marital and family matters when discord and disruption occurs, could various community individuals, agencies, and institutions become involved at the preventative rather than the corrective level? Numerous people in Kansas City are interested in such a movement and are using many resources to do so.

The following day I met with community members to discuss how marriage and family life could be stabilized during the coming decade. Many of those attending were members of the clergy or representatives of various religious denominations in Kansas City.

I shared some of my thoughts with them, and they, in turn, suggested ways they felt we could upgrade the level or quality of marriage and family life. One particular thought impressed me very much. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

It has often been said that the family is “the basic unit of society.” Strong families usually generate strong communities and a stable society. While family life does contribute a great deal to stable communities, it was suggested that the quality of the marriage greatly influences, and in many cases, determines the quality of family life.

Thus, we have a cycle of (a) the quality of the marriage greatly influences (b) the quality of family life which greatly influences (c) the quality of community life which greatly influences (a) the quality of the married life. And the cycle goes on and on.

It was not suggested that we spend less time trying to promote quality family life in America. The suggestion was merely made that we should spend as much time building and maintaining well-functioning marriages. And by so doing, marriage education and enhancement could become a prominent part of community life in the United States in the next few years.

While in Kansas City I was also interviewed on a mid-day television program. The reporter asked me why I was in Kansas City, and I related the common interest I shared with various people in their city. She asked several other questions, and time began to run out. With less than a minute remaining she asked, “If there were just one thing you could tell married couples to do in order to survive in the 1980s, what would you tell them?”

That was quite a question for live television, and several thoughts came to mind. Then I suggested that married couples today must be willing to change, to be flexible, or simply be willing to grow to survive. People and marriages change as the years go by. If contemporary married couples could become more sensitive to the changes that occur in themselves, in each other, and consequently in their marriages, I have much hope for the future.

This article concludes my fourth year of writing for the Deseret News. The year 1982 has been a busy but interesting one in our home. And as 1983 begins, Susan and I hope for ourselves, as we hope for you, that marriage will continue to be meaningful in the years ahead. O.S. Marden noted, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”

May we all hope for that “something tomorrow” during the new year ahead.

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