The Decision to Marry and Engagement. The Oddest Couples On Record : How many of you have seen a couple together and thought, “Now, There’s an odd matchup?” Perhaps it was because of the differences in appearance, personality, interests, or backgrounds.
The Decision to Marry and Engagement
The Oddest Couples On Record:
How many of you have seen a couple together and thought, “Now, There’s an odd matchup?” Perhaps it was because of the differences in appearance, personality, interests, or backgrounds.
Why people marry whom they do has been an interesting question asked by many. There have certainly been some unusual matchups in recent years.
For example, the youngest marriage on record occurred in 1986 when a 3-month old girl was married to an 11-month old boy to settle a 20-year land feud between two families in Bangladesh.
The longest-lasting marriage was 86 years, It began in 1853 and ended in 1940. It was between Sir Temulji Bhicaji Nariman and Lady Nariman in Bombay, India. They were both five years old when they were married.
The longest engagement was between Octavio Guillen and Adriana Martinez who finally married in Mexico City after being engaged for 67 years.
The oldest newlyweds on record were Harry Stevens and Thelma Lucas, married in 1984 when he was 101 and she was 84.
The greatest age difference on record was Ruth and Kevin Kimber, married in 1990, (she was 93 and he was 24).
The biggest weight difference was in 1978 between Jeanette Minnoch who weighed 110 pounds and her husband, Jon, weighed 1300 pounds. Jon Minnoch was the heaviest human being ever recorded. He weighed 1400 pounds when he died.
The greatest height difference was in 1978 between Nigel Wilkes, who was 6 ft. 7 in. and Beverly Russell, who was 3 ft. 11. in, Their son, Daniel was born by caesarean section and weighed 9 lbs. 5 oz. at his birth in March, 1986.
The shortest (height) marriage on record was between Charles Stratton, known as General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren in 1863. He was 2 ft. 10 in. and she was 2 ft. 8 in.
The tallest marriage on record was between Martin Van Buren Bates of Whitesbury, Kentucky and Anna Hanen Swan of Nova Scotia. She was 7 ft. 5 ½ in. and he was 7 ft. 2 ½ in. tall.
Revelation and the Marriage Decision
In the last several classes we’ve looked at prophetic counsel on how to recognize feelings of true love and how to choose an eternal companion. We have considered the counsel of Elder Bruce R. McConkie to use both agency and prayer in choosing a mate and president Kimball’s admonition to decide only after careful planning and thinking, fasting and prayer. Agency involves doing our part. Elder McConkie said that “we’re expected to use the gifts and talents and abilities, the sense and judgment and agency with which we are endowed” (Agency or Inspiration– Which?” Brigham Young University, Speeches of the Year, 1972-73).
Prayer involves asking God to do His part. Our part is to figure it out and make the choice. God’s part is to give us direction and confirmation in that choice.
Elder McConkie said that “we need to strike a balance between these two, if we’re going to pursue a course that will give us joy, satisfaction, and peace in this life and lead to eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “You can be given false spiritual messages… The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that it is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God, when those promptings are either centered in emotions or are from the adversary” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).
So, two questions arise:
“HOW WILL I KNOW IF I HAVE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE?”
“HOW CAN I TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUE REVELATION AND MY OWN THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS?”
D&C 93:12“Grace to Grace”
The Greenie Theory!
Why the Word of Wisdom? D&C 89:4
Why Gifts of the Spirit? D&C 46:8
D&C 6:14-16, 22-23It takes revelation to receive a revelation.
God --- Prophet --- Man --- Man must rely on God to fulfill His revelation!(Nephi’s three attempts at the plates)
Charles C. Rich was a prominent man in the Church and later settled the Bear Lake area in Utah.
He was a member of the Twelve.
Charles had learned about a family who had a daughter named Sarah Pea. Sarah had been taught by the missionaries and had heard much about Charles Rich.
Three different sets of missionaries told Sara about Charles C. Rich and indicated that she should get to know him and that they would be perfect for each other.
They boldly declared that Charles ought to be her husband. It was through “the missionaries” that they both felt that they should marry each other.
“It is a pleasure that I at this time pen a few lines to you, although a perfect stranger to you. I trust that these few lines may be received by you and may be the beginning of a happy acquaintance with you.
I will now let you know the reason for my boldness in writing you is because Elder George M. Hinckle and others have highly recommended you as a Saint of the last days, and as being worthy of my attention.
I think I should be happy to get a good companion, such as one as I could take comfort with through life and such a one as could take comfort with me.
As you have been recommended to me as such, I would be very happy to see you and converse with you on the subject.
I should be happy to see you in Zion in the spring and hope that these lines are received with the same feelings that I write them.
I trust that you will be single and unengaged when I arrive.
When this letter comes to land and after you have read and meditated upon it, I should be glad if you would write me an answer to it. If so, you can direct your letter to Liberty, Clay County, Missouri…. No more at present but I remain yours with the best of respects.
Charles C. Rich
That was his proposal and this was her answer:
To Mr. Charles C. Rich,
“Entreat me not to leave thee or return from following after thee. For whether thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God. Where thou diest will I die and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also if ought that death part me and thee. With great respect I remain yours truly Sara Pea.”
That was her answer. They eventually met and soon after were married!
(See how easy it is!)
“A Marriage Proposal”
One day Heber came up to Willard Richards and said, “Willard, I just baptized your wife for you.”
Her name was Janetta Richards. Willard was certainly interested.
Willard wrote to Janetta and said,
“Dear Janetta Richards, I have always liked the last name Richards and would not want to change it. How do you feel about it?”
She wrote back and said, “I also have always liked the name Richards and I don’t think I would ever like to change it.”
That was the proposal and the acceptance.
(See, you guys make everything too difficult!)
“Then the Lord went away and left him alone. It was as though the Lord were saying to him, ‘Look, I gave you a mind to think with, and I gave you agency to use it. Now you do all you can to help yourself with this problem; and then, after you’ve done all you can, I’ll step in to help you.’ “This is the principle in action. If you want the blessing, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek” (How to Receive a Blessing from God,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1966, 862-63, 896, Harold B. Lee).
FIVE TEST OF PERSONAL REVELATION
TEST 1: HAVE I STUDIED IT OUT ENOUGH?
D&C 9:7-9. In these verses, the Lord suggests four important elements to personal revelation. First, we must study it out in our minds. HOW DO WE DO THAT IN MAKING THE MARRIAGE DECISION?
We must ask, in prayer, if it is right. By inference, if we are asking if it is right, it means that we have studied it out enough to believe that we have found the right or best answer. We are seeking a confirmation of our decision.
If it is right we will feel that it is right, with a burning in the bosom, a feeling of peace, or by some other way in which the Spirit confirms truth to us.
If our decision is wrong, we will have a stupor of thought.
TEST 2: AM I RECEPTIVE ENOUGH TO GET REVELATION?
Revelation is a privilege that must be earned. Our ability to receive revelation on important matters will be related to our personal worthiness, the degree to which we are keeping the bad out of our lives and keeping the good in. The better we live, the more receptive we will be.
Elder Richard G. Scott said:
“Not all our prayers will be answered as we wish. It is not always easy to know the will of the Lord, yet there are some things we can be certain of. He will never ask us to do anything that is not completely in harmony with His teachings. We cannot count on help if we are immoral or otherwise deliberately disobedient unless we sincerely repent. One who prays to know if another is to be the eternal companion while violating in any degree the law of chastity has little hope of receiving confirmation without repentance” (Ensign, November 1991, 85).
The Spirit will never give you permission to do something that is wrong!
AM I MERELY CONFIRMING MY OWN PERSONAL BIAS?
Elder Oaks said:
“Each of us is influenced strongly by our own desires and preferences. We may even mistake these influences as the ratification or promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is therefore significant when we feel prompted to do something contrary to our personal preference. That is good evidence of authenticity. Conversely, a feeling that seems to confirm a person in some action he strongly desires should be received with caution and subjected to more than one test of validity” (“I Have A Question,” Ensign, June 1983, 27).
What they seem to feel from the spirit differs from their own personal bias. They may resist or be closed-minded to the voice of the Spirit. The prophet, Jacob, gave a warning that is appropriate in such cases.
JACOB 4:10. God is omniscient. We are not. It is not our place to set the terms, to determine the time, the place, and the conditions in which we will meet the right person. Our place is to counsel with the Lord and stay open to the Spirit. Our desire must be to do His will, not ours!
TEST 4: DOES THIS REVELATION FALL WITHIN MY STEWARDSHIP?
Joseph Smith declared: “I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves” (TPJS, 21).
Elder Dallin Oaks said: “Only the president of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. Only the stake president receives revelation for the… stake. The person who receives revelation for the ward is the bishop. For a family, it is the priesthood leadership of the family… When one purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own stewardship… you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord and you are not bound by it... I have heard of cases where a young man told a young woman she should marry him because he had received a revelation that she was to be his eternal companion. If this is a true revelation, it will be confirmed directly to the woman if she seeks to know. In the meantime, she is under no obligation to heed it. She should seek her own guidance and make up her own mind. A man can receive revelation to guide his own actions, but he cannot properly receive revelation to direct hers. She is outside his stewardship” (“Revelation,” 1981-82 BYU Fireside and Devotional Speeches, 25).
TEST 5: AM I TRYING TO FORCE REVELATION TO COME?
Sometimes couples are guilty of trying to force revelation to come according to their timetable, rather than the Lord’s. For example, suppose you are graduating and trying to decide where to go to school next year. You have met someone you think might be the right one, but the confirmation has not come yet. If you are not careful, you may be misled if you try to force the Lord to give you the answer by the weekend.
Revelation must come according to the Lord’s will, not ours; in His time, not ours; and in his way, not ours. And, it will come only when the Lord is satisfied that we have done our part.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said:
“It is not wise to wrestle with revelation with such insistence as to demand immediate answers to our liking. You cannot force spiritual things… Do not be impatient to gain great spiritual knowledge. Let it grow, help it grow, but do not force it or you will open the way to be misled” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).
President Kimball said:
“I believe if one wants revelation enough to crave them beyond [what is appropriate or righteous]…eventually he will get [them]…but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive…And so he gives strange experiences…and revelations” (Spencer W. Kimball, 458).
Sometimes in making important decisions, a person can become too preoccupied with the decision to the point that he cannot eat, sleep, study, or meet his obligations.
Elder Packer said that the “things of the spirit need not-indeed, should not-require our uninterrupted time and attention. Ordinary work-a-day things occupy most of our attention. And that is as it should be” (“Revelation in a Changing World,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).
A FINAL TESTING OF THE RELATIONSHIP
A fourth purpose of engagement is as a final testing of the relationship. It gives you the chance to be sure that the decision is right. It is a time to watch for possible danger signals including the following:
Frequent quarrels. Any relationship is subject to some misunderstanding and difference of opinion. But, if over a period of time quarrels continue, you should evaluate the relationship. Do the quarrels have a pattern? Do certain events or subjects tend to result in a quarrel? Are certain subjects avoided altogether? If the courtship and engagement is characterized by a lot of conflict, you can bet the marriage will be also.
A pattern of breaking up and making up. It is a danger signal if a couple breaks up and makes up several times during the engagement. The patterns we begin in dating and engagement set the stage for how we will act in marriage.
A strong desire to change the other person!
If you see many things that need to be changed in the other person, you better think twice about this relationship. In my experience I have found it to be often true that women marry believing men will change and men marry believing that women will never change.
Does the relationship really bring out the best in you?
As President Benson noted: “In his [or her] presence, do you think your noblest thoughts, do you aspire to your finest deeds, do you wish you were better than you are?” (Ensign, May 1988, 53). This should be even more true during the engagement period than it was during the dating period.
CHOOSING A MARRIAGE PARTNER
“How do you choose a wife [or husband]? I’ve heard a lot of young people say, ‘I’ve got to get a feeling of inspiration. I’ve got to get some revelation. I’ve got to fast and pray and get the Lord to manifest to me whom I should marry.’
Well, maybe it will be a little shock to you, but never in my life did I ever ask the Lord whom I ought to marry. It never occurred to me to ask him. I went out and found the girl I wanted…I evaluated and weighed the proposition, and made the decision that seemed right. Now if I had done things perfectly, I’d have done some counseling with the Lord, which I didn’t do…A more perfect thing to have done would have been to counsel with him relative to the decision and get a spiritual confirmation that the conclusion, which I by my [own] agency and faculties had arrived at, was the right one…
“You [must] go to work and use the agency and power and ability that God has given you… You make up your own mind, and the, to be sure that you don’t error, you counsel with the Lord…And if you get the sweet, surety that comes from the Holy Spirit, you know you’ve reached the right conclusion; but if there’s anxiety and uncertainty in your heart, the you’d better start over, because the Lord’s hand is not in it. And you’re not getting the ratifying seal that, as a member of this Church who has the gift of the Holy Ghost, you are entitled to receive” (Bruce R. McConkie, the “Agency or Inspiration—Which?” –Speeches of the Year, 1972-73, 111, 115-16).
Elder Oaks said:
“Each of us is influenced strongly by our own desires and preferences. We may even mistake these influences as the ratification or promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is therefore significant when we feel prompted to do something contrary to our personal preference. That is good evidence of authenticity. Conversely, a feeling that seems to confirm a person in some action her strongly desires should be received with caution and subjected to more than one test of validity” (“I Have A Question,” Ensign, June 1983, 27).
Elder Richard G. Scott noted:
“It is vitally important to recognize that [besides answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’] the Lord also responds in a third way to prayer by withholding an answer… Why would He do that? He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience. When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence. When He answers no, it is to prevent error. When he withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting for an answer or murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.” (Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer, Ensign, Nov. 1989, 31-32).
Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept
In his devotional message to the students, President Bednar told students that answers to their questions and concerns will come “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30).
He said, “I believe many of us unknowingly accept a faulty assumption about the Lord’s pattern. And this faulty assumption then produces erroneous expectations about how we receive spiritual knowledge.
And that faulty assumption and our misinformed expectations ultimately hinder our ability to recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
“Let me suggest that many typically assume we will receive an answer or a prompting to our earnest prayers and pleadings. And we also frequently expect that such an answer or a prompting will come immediately and all at once. Thus, we tend to believe the Lord will give us the big answer quickly and all at one time. However, the pattern repeatedly described in the scriptures suggest we receive ‘… line upon line, precept upon precept…,’ or in other words, many small answers over a period of time. Recognizing and understanding this pattern is an important key to obtaining inspiration and help from the Holy Ghost.”
President Bednar continued:
“Most typically we receive a series of seemingly small and incremental spiritual impressions and nudges, which in totality constitutes the desired confirmation about the correctness of the path which we are pursuing” (Pres. Bednar, Devotional at BYU-Idaho, just days after 9-11).
Now, let’s suppose you are trying to make the marriage decision according to these tests. You feel you are doing all you can, yet an answer hasn’t come. What might it mean? Consider the following four statements:
First, Elder Dallin Oaks said:
“The spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in a testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every question to the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. That strikes me as improper. I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence he has given us to make these kinds of choices” (Revelation,” BYU Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26).
Second, Elder Oaks said: “I suggest that there is not a right or wrong [answer] to every question. To many questions, there are only two wrong answers or two right answers…No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord…Either answer is right” (Revelation,” BYU Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26).
Third, Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough. Remember you cannot force spiritual things” (Ensign, Nov. 1979 21).
Revelation is like a traffic light!
Sometimes we get a green light, a definite “yes.”
Sometimes we get a red light, a definite “no.”
But, many times we seem to get nothing more than a yellow light, as if to say, “O.K. Proceed with caution.”
As Elder Scott pointed out, at times like that we should move forward in the best way we know how.
THE PURPOSE OF ENGAGEMENT
Once the confirmation from the Lord comes, a couple will choose to get engaged. The engagement period is an important one for several reasons:
ADJUSTMENT OR PUBLICITY. All of those who love and care about us are involved in an engagement. Our parents gain a new child, and we acquire a new set of parents. Our brothers and sisters gain and new brother or sister, and our friends acquire a new friend. Engagement can give everyone a chance to adjust, accept the decision, and get to know and love your partner. Formal engagements also let’s everyone know that you are both “taken” and no longer available for dates.
PERSONAL GROWTH. Engagements allow couples the opportunity to mature and grow with greater intensity. This occurs through deeper discussions and spending quality time together and should involve all of the areas we have discussed: the spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional, and physical.
PREPERATION AND PLANNING
Marriage preparation requires a significant amount of preparation and planning. Until a couple becomes engaged, there are many questions, issues, and details that are not discussed. But once the decision is made to marry, the couple must face some of those important decisions.
1. How long will the engagement be?
2. Where will we live?
3. Will he work?
4. Will she work?
5. How will we budget our money?
6. How will the household responsibilities be divided?
7. Should we have a baby right away?
8. Should we get insurance, and if so, what kind?
9. How often should we visit relatives after we are married?
10. What will we do if the in-laws interfere too much?
11. How much independence from each other should we have? How much independence should we have from parents? Should we accept money or other gifts?
12. Will we need two cars? One car? A bike?
13. What will we do about furniture? Appliances?
14. Should we have a reception? If so, how big? Where should it be held? Who should we invite?
15. What should we do for a honeymoon? Time? Days?