Friday, October 28, 2011

Becoming Equal Partners

I totally loved this article called Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners. Last night I was supposed to talk about it at a meeting but we ran out of time so I have all this information that I felt like sharing. I will use a lot of quotes from the article too. It starts off like this:

His house key is in the lock. He’s home from work and about to step inside. In the kitchen, real life is scattered all around. The baby is crying. The three-year-old just poured milk—not in a glass but all over the counter. The seven-year-old needs some daddy attention. And dinner isn’t ready.
With a deadline at work tomorrow, a head buzzing from rush-hour traffic, and a Church meeting tonight, he’s hoping she will greet him with some relief.
Hearing him come in, she is glad a relief party has arrived! But when she sees his face fall as he looks around, she defends herself: “Look—I work all day too. I’ve been with these kids nonstop, and I really need a break. Will you please fix this macaroni and cheese and help with the kids?”
In the heat of her request, his hope evaporates into exasperation, and he is about to react.
At this crossroads of their busy day, these two have some choices. Will they use this moment to practice being the kind of companion each has covenanted to become? Or will each one default to past conditioning—familial and cultural? Certain attitudes and ideas have crept into the very air they breathe, challenging them as they try to work with each other rather than against each other.

I loved this part b/c it just sounds so familiar. So often poor Paul comes home to chaos and I always feel that he should be my relief but he's just as tired as I am from work. Sometimes I have trouble remembering that he's had a rough day too so I LOVED this reminder. :)

The article goes on to discuss that perhaps the wife in this scenario was raised in a family where the mother was dependent and taught "girl power" and such. Well, in our situation that is SO true. I mean, I was raised by a single mother so, yeah, females can do anything. GIRL POWER!! hahaha!! Luckily for me, Paul was not raised in a home stereotypical of the 50s. His mom was pretty independent as well but she always has a clean home and seems to have everything together. She is amazing. I'm not quite there yet, but it's something that I strive for.

The article moves on to talk about how couples should not be independent nor dependent of each other but interdependent. Here's another quote:

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”... states that fathers “are to preside” and “to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families,” while mothers “are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Fathers and mothers are to “help one another” fulfill these duties as “equal partners.”... the restored gospel teaches the eternal idea that husbands and wives are interdependent with each other. They are equal. They are partners.
 I love that! Interdependent... what a great word and one I hadn't thought of. When I was talking about this with Paul he reminded me of a marriage class we took before we were married. They talked about how couples should be like letters.... You have 'H' couples. They had a couple stand up there and reach apart and hold hands, demonstrating that they don't really need each other. They are completely independent and the other is just there. Then you have 'A' couples. They had a couple stand up in front and lean on the other forming the ^ in the A. If one of them moved the other would fall and they were completely dependent on the other. Finally, the way we should strive to be is the 'M' couple. A couple stood up there holding hands but unlike the 'H' couple who were as far away from each other as possible the 'M' couple was together, closer, and working together along the way. I just thought it was a nice visual and felt like sharing. :)

The Hebrew for help in “help meet” is ezer, a term meaning that Eve drew on heavenly powers when she supplied their marriage with the spiritual instincts uniquely available to women as a gender gift... President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come [more] naturally to a woman.”
I loved this! I loved reading about how important women are. Men are the head of the family but the wives are TOTALLY necessary to make the relationship work. I think this is kind of funny because Paul normally says that he just trusts my instincts because they are normally right. ;)

The article goes on to talk about the men:

Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to “rule over” Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. A ruler can be a measuring tool that sets standards. Then Adam would live so that others may measure the rightness of their conduct by watching his. Being a ruler is not so much a privilege of power as an obligation to practice what a man preaches. Also, over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. If a man does exercise “dominion … in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37; emphasis added), God terminates that man’s authority.
President Kimball said, "We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners" but rather " a contributing and full partner." Together, a couple will make decisions and they will each listen to the counsel of the other. The man will listen to the "promptings of her inner spiritual compass just as she will listen to his righteous counsel." (What great information!! I loved this article... can you tell? Well, I'm not done.)

And for another great quote:

In an equal-partner marriage, “love is not possession but participation … part of that co-creation which is our human calling.” 9 With true participation, husband and wife merge into the synergistic oneness of an “everlasting dominion” that “without compulsory means” will flow with spiritual life to them and their posterity “forever and ever” (D&C 121:46).

The article jumps back the scenario it discussed at the beginning about the young wife waiting for her husband to get home and here is what it says:

Young wife, do you see in him someone who has worked all day to bring sustenance to your table? Young husband, do you see in her someone who has worked all day to make nourishment of that sustenance? Can you both see beyond the doing of the day and remember the inestimable worth of the being to whom you are married?
Sometimes, being a stay at home mom, it is so easy to forget that I have done anything to contribute to this family. All our money comes from my husband. He doesn't feel this way, I know he doesn't but sometimes when were both feeling stressed about the day it is easily forgotten. I loved that this article reminds us of that. I may have to print out this paragraph and put it on my refrigerator. It would be a great reminder to me of how I should focus on my husbands feelings and remind myself and even though the house isn't spotless I did "make nourishment of that sustenance." I nourish my children physically, spiritually, and mentally every day and I wouldn't be able to do that without the sustenance provided by my husband. A great cycle for me to remember. :)

Finally, a journal entry from John Haslem Clark of Manti, Utah in 1921. This actually turned out to be his last journal entry.
“The folks have been here today, but have gone to their homes. The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased. We are alone, We two. We two whom destiny has made one. Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees. I kissed you first. How shy and afraid was your girlhood. Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are. I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth. Where you are is home. Where you are not is homesickness. As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing in earth. It is loyalty. For were I driven away in shame you would follow. If I were burning in fever your cool hand would soothe me. With your hand in mine may I pass and take my place among the saved of Heaven. Being eight years the eldest—and as the years went by and I felt that the time of parting might be near—it was often the drift of our thought and speech: how could either of us be left alone. Alone, after living together for 56 years. I scarcely dared think of it and though a bit selfish comforted myself thinking [that] according to our age I would not be the one left alone.”
 Another handwriting then appears later on the same page. It is Therissa’s voice, gently closing John’s journal:
“Almost two years and a half since the last writing, and its following events are so sad, so heartbreaking for this, his life’s companion that this pen has been laid down many times ere this record is made. Loss and loneliness [are] ever present and will be with me to the end. … Will time soften this sadness, will I be able to leave the Old Home and not feel that he is waiting for me, calling me? I am only content at home where I feel that he is watching over me, his presence always with me.
“On March 11, 1923, John Haslem Clark passed away after an illness of only one week. He seemed so like himself, talking and active. We had no thought that the end was near until he passed into unconsciousness a few hours before his death. Oh, may we all be as clean and pure, ready to go before our Maker.”
Finally, the article closes with this paragraph:
If our young couple could only know that this love is what they could feel and understand at the end of their lives, what wouldn’t they give! They’d listen more and choose better, over and over, day after day, crossing after crossing. They would learn, by patient experience, that “work is love made visible.” 11 They would realize as the years pass that their marriage is helping them become better disciples of Jesus Christ, even becoming a little more like Him. Then they would understand as they cross the final threshold of mortality that the extent to which they have become one with Him is the extent to which they are one with each other.
 I will say that I am an incredibly lucky girl. I ended up with an extremely incredible guy whose family already taught him most of this stuff but often I find myself forgetting everything that he has gone through during the day. That is the main part that I need to remember in this article. I do think that Paul and I are pretty interdependent of each other. We had to learn that fine balance very early in our marriage when trials hit us and I'm so grateful for those trials -- not necessarily grateful for the death of my son but for the growth and opportunity the struggle allowed for us.

To my awesome husband -- Thank you, Paul, for putting up with me and all my "girl power" times!! Thank you for loving me when I make mistakes and for being there when I feel depressed or "off". Thank you for laughing and flirting with me and even for your sarcastic mouth. Thank you for being willing to spend eternity with me. I love you!!
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