Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: inspiration

R: Living your Religion in Marriage

Photo by Sarah Wells http://www.freckleblossom.com/

 

 

Getting married is hopefully the best decision you’ve ever made, but like any major life change, it comes with a lot of transitions. Even if you come from the same religious background, it is likely that you and your spouse will have some differing views and traditions when it comes to religion. (Read more on merging traditions in the first installment of this series.)

My husband and I were both raised in a similar way, with religion being a top priority in our families’ lives. Despite that, we have had to learn how to make our religious practices work in our marriage.

Here are a few things we’ve learned

  • Talk about it. We had to sit down and discuss what religious practices we wanted to carry into our relationship. We decided which things were a priority to us, and what we would start doing now so that we could have well-established traditions for when our children are born.
  • Set a time to be spiritual. This could be every day, every week, or whenever you decide is best for you. We have loved setting aside time every day to study and pray together. It’s a quiet time when we can reflect on what is most sacred and important to us, and in which we can remember what is truly important. No matter what you and your spouse do during your spiritual time, setting aside time for it will ensure that you can have time amidst a busy schedule.
  • Involve friends and family. Just because you are married now doesn’t mean you have to exclude friends and family. My husband and I have loved having a weekly religious discussion group every other Monday night with four other couples in our apartment complex. We keep it fun and always have a treat and game to go along with it.
  • Lift each other. One of the best things about being married is that you have another person to encourage you. Never nag or criticize your spouse when it comes to religious habits. If you know he or she can be better, show your spouse! Treat them how you want them to be and that’s how they will act.

As my husband and I live our religion together, we feel closer together and find meaning in our marriage. As you find what works best for your new marriage, you will find that having religious traditions you can do together will increase the spirituality of your relationship and help you to be closer.

By Mckenna Clarke
This is the third post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition

Parenting Tip #9: Be in the Moment

Rosen 2010 613 (1)

Suppose Queen Elizabeth showed up unexpectedly at your home.  How would you respond?

A) Invite her in but continue to watch your Netflix. (only ten minutes left!)

B) Invite her in, talk to her, but at the same time post her picture to your Instagram.

C) Invite her in, make small talk while texting your friends to tell them about her!

D) Invite her in, sit and visit without any devices.

If you had trouble picking D, it might be time for digital counseling. Most adults would never treat a guest with such poor manners. But we seem to forget that our children should also be treated with good manners.  In today’s world, many people (parents) have trouble putting away their devices and living in the moment.

Children deserve our full attention. Babies learn how to communicate by watching their parents faces. They observe normal reactions:  smiles, frowns, laughter, crying, etc. These non-verbal cues help them learn the meaning of words and actions. Language skills are linked to thinking ability, social relationships, and reading and writing. In other words, the future success of your child depends greatly on their developing good language skills.  And that depends on you being in the moment with the child—looking the child in the eye and talking directly to him or her.

Although electronic devices are responsible for much of the distraction parents have while parenting, they are not the only problem. Work, church callings, desire to play (gaming, sports), and even household chores can cause parents to miss wonderful interaction opportunities.

jpg117Think play time. Children learn valuable social skills through face-to-face games. Playing games together helps children learn turn-taking, develop motor skills, and acquire conversational skills. Participating in these games requires hands-on for both parents and children.

But even more important than developing skills, children learn what’s most important to YOU by watching where you spend your time and your attention. If you are always on your phone, they quickly learn that that’s what you care about the most. No matter how much you TELL a child “you are important,” a child senses by your actions whether you really mean that or not.

When I was writing parenting tip #8—Play with your kids, I asked my daughter if she remembers playing together.   Her answer caught me by surprise. She told me that every time she came and asked me to play with her, I did. Now, not for one minute do I think that is 100% true.   I’m sure there were many times when I was too busy to “be in the moment”. But at the same time, it must be true that I stopped whatever I was doing often enough that her perception was that I always took the time to play.

Children grow up. The day will come when the house is empty of children and you have all the time in the world to clean, work, or surf the web. But you cannot recapture the time to get down, look your child in the eye, and listen to his or her heart. Make a commitment now to be in the moment.

For those of you attached to your phones, here are some practical ideas on how to have some device free time:

1. Have certain times during the day when you do NOT access your phone except to answer calls (screen the calls, answer only important ones). This means you are not looking at emails, Instagram, texting, etc.

2. Teach your children about phone-free times. Church, meal time, driving, movies, when company comes for short visits, bedtime, etc.

3. Choose to have device-free outings. When you take your child to the zoo, to the park, etc. decide to put your phone away and just enjoy the interaction. Watch their faces as they discover new adventures and experience the world. Be in the adventure, not posting about the adventure.

Remember, the things you love the most—think children—deserve the most time.

Sharing Hope

Heather Von St. Clair

Heather Von St. James

“I thought it was all post-partum symptoms,” Heather said about her cancer signs. Three months after giving birth to her daughter, Lily, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a relatively rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Heather’s exposure came from the coating of asbestos dust on her father’s work coat. Particles settled in the lining of her lungs, called the pleura, causing a tumor to grow. She experienced extreme fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath, and she was losing weight rapidly—five to seven pounds a week.

“I didn’t know any different since Lily was my first baby. But when I passed out on the sofa one morning after bringing laundry up from the basement, I knew it was more.”

“It was a very scary time,” Heather admitted. Mesothelioma doesn’t manifest itself until years after exposure, so most patients don’t live more than 15 months after diagnosis. Heather’s first fear was “that I would die and leave my husband and baby. Other fears and concerns were all the financial ones. Would we lose our home? Everything we had worked so hard for? None of it mattered if we could find a way to save my life.”

Despite the exhaustion and the worries, Heather found pockets of hope throughout that time. Her specialist in Boston, Dr. David Sugarbaker, said he would do everything he could for her. “Dr. Sugarbaker gave us the hope that we so desperately needed in facing this disease,” she said.

Another small blessing: “No hair loss! I was pretty happy about that one,” Heather exclaimed.

Other blessings came from her family, who acted as her support system throughout that time. Before her diagnosis, Heather’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law came to stay with her. And when she and Cam made the decision to go to Boston, where she was given chemotherapy, radiation, and an extra pleural pneumonectomy, they left Lily with Heather’s parents.

Heather, Cam, and Lily

Heather, Cam, and Lily

After surgery, Heather went home to her parents and Lily while Cam worked in Minnesota. Living apart from Cam was hard for both of them, but the support from her family helped everyone.

“It was just what we had to do to get through,” Heather explained. “We knew that. Knowing Lily was going to have consistent care and love by my parents was exactly the peace of mind I needed to make it through surgery. Then, going to live with them after and have the help with Lily was such a weight lifted. It was a huge part of my recovery.”

Even Lily played her part. “All I had to do was look at my daughter,” Heather said. “That sweet little face with those big eyes was all the motivation I needed to keep going in my darkest times. When I wanted to throw in the towel, I would cry out to God, and He carried me through by showing me my daughter.”

To those who know someone struggling with mesothelioma, Heather councils: “There is so much out there that dashes the hopes of people, so being a support and an information gatherer is a great help. Offer to clean, grocery shop, watch kids, or just be with the patient. Be careful of what you say. Think before you ask personal questions, especially about finances. A great way to help is to organize a benefit. I can’t stress how much that helped us with expenses. Praying is always a good thing too. And one last thing . . . stay positive.”

Now, ten years later, Heather is a healthy survivor and an active patient advocate in the mesothelioma community. Her voice reaches out to those looking for answers and encouragement. Mesothelioma brings uncertainty and fear, but Heather’s message offers hope to patients and their families. “If one person is inspired and gets hope and help from my story, I’m happy.”

To learn more about Heather’s story with mesothelioma, please visit her blog at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

—Sarah Perkins, Senior Editor, Stance