Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: love

A: Articulation Makes all the Difference in Marriage

couple-1838940_640In addition to merging traditions, articulation is another important aspect of the transition to marriage. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines articulation as “the action of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type.” Articulation can create some of the most beautiful conversations in a marriage, but it can also create some of the most destructive conversations in a marriage. A husband or wife can form a mixture of words to express their undying love to their spouse; a husband or wife can also form a mixture of words to express their frustration or anger with their spouse’s shortcomings or honest mistakes. A spouse holds the greatest potential to not only lift up their spouse but also to hurt them and put them down.

The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a nice concept but is not true in reality. Sometimes I poorly express an idea or concern to my husband, leading to an argument that is simply a huge misunderstanding. Before relaying a vital message to my husband, I try to remember to think through what I am saying, and what it really means. It is necessary to bring up concerns and have difficult conversations in a marriage, but these things can be done tactfully. Think about what you are going to say and how that will make your spouse feel. Even concerns and requests can be made in an uplifting manner. Build up your spouse with a compliment or praise before trying to make a compromise on a specific subject. For example, I tell my husband how fashionably he dresses before asking him to put his clothes away when he changes instead of throwing his clothes in a corner; I tell him that this will help keep his fashionable clothes in good condition. Take a deep breath before thickly laying down all your personal frustrations that might otherwise come off as frustrations toward your spouse.

There are many ways to develop the art of articulation, but one last piece of advice that I will share is to learn from others and their mistakes and triumphs. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, or any person that you trust how he or she has achieved effective communication in marriage. Different methods work for different people. Keep working until you have found the method of communication that works for you and your spouse.

Language is a beautiful blessing from Heavenly Father. Language is what allows nations and people to learn from each other, to grow, and to thrive. Learn from your spouse, grow with your spouse, and thrive with your spouse. The art of articulation is learned through a lifetime of practice; but don’t give up, because the best things in life come through lots of challenges and lots of practice.

 By Elizabeth Hansen
This is the second 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 just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

Parenting tip #10:  Love Your Kids—No Matter What

Rosen 2013 394

 

 

By Phyllis Rosen

Before writing this last article on parenting, I want to state something for the record:

I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

But I didn’t always know that. There were times during their upbringing when I wasn’t convinced they were all that wonderful. Each one, in his or her own way, caused some anxiety or fear or anger. At different stages of their lives, they were not very lovable.

But you must love them anyway, and of course, deep down you do. So how do you show that love during these difficult periods? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Here’s what my husband and I learned over the years:

1. Find just one positive thing to say each day.

When one of our kids was belligerent and prickly and almost impossible to interact with without getting into an argument, I prayed and prayed to know what to do. The answer was: Read the Book of Mormon.  As I read the Book of Mormon daily, something happened to my heart.   It softened.  And as it softened, I realized I needed to find something positive daily about this child.  As I mentioned positive things to him  (which were not easy to find), I found that the tension in the home decreased.

2. Let go of the things that don’t matter.  

One of our boys decided to pierce his ears. Later he grew his hair long.  Both actions were not what my husband and I wanted. However, neither action was life-threatening or had eternal consequences. We finally learned that the hair and the earrings were outward evidences of inward feelings. We decided to ignore the outward and concentrate on the inner.

3. Make home a refuge.

When one child made choices that were hard for our family to live with, a neighbor came over and gave great advice.   She said,  “No matter what, make your home the very best place to be.  Make it a safe place.  If your child leaves home, you will have less influence and less opportunity to set the example.” My husband and I decided to follow that advice. We did everything we could to make our home a place where our child felt loved, safe, and accepted.

4. Have patience.

We had another child who thought someone else—other than my husband and myself—was more qualified to give guidance and direction. This frustrated me greatly.  But a professional counselor told us to be patient and in time our child would figure out who really loved him or her, and would come back to us, the parents. And that was true.

5. Get professional help as needed.

One of our children got into trouble to the point that I could not live with the fear of what the long-term consequences might be. I finally went to a family counselor.  The result was that he validated my feelings, especially my fears. More importantly, he helped me to figure out what I could do to alleviate the fear and move in a positive direction.  We don’t have to bear every burden by ourselves. Professionals can help us get through tough times by applying their training and perspective.

6. Do all you can, then turn the rest over to Jesus Christ.

Only by turning our burdens to Jesus Christ can we get through the fear and the sorrow and the pain.   When we turn our worries over to Christ, we literally feel the burden being lifted from our shoulders.  This doesn’t mean that all the pain or sorrow or fear is gone.  But it means we know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our situation and will guide us through it.  Turning our burden over to the Savior enables us to find joy along a difficult journey.

7. Remember that time is measured to us differently than it is measured to God.

We do not have the benefit of seeing the end from the beginning.  We can’t know whether our child will change tomorrow or in ten years.  We need to put our trust in God and know that His timing is perfect.

8. Last of all, when your child seems unlovable, remember that this is your opportunity to develop Christ-like love.

I discovered that after I had gone through trials with less-than-lovable kids, I was much more tolerant and forgiving of others. I am a better person for having gone through the hard times. Looking back, I can see Heavenly Father’s hand, not only in my children’s lives, but in my life as well.

And now I know without a doubt, I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

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

Dating Stinks

How much does science play into your love life? According to recent studies, it may be much more influential than you think. An important part of the human immune system involves Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules, which are antigens that coat the cells in the human body. The diversity of these MHC molecules in the body determines the effectiveness of the immune system, but it seems to have other implications as well. Would you believe that it could influence who you crush on, or even more, who you marry?

Picture from here.

Picture from here.

There is evidence that the diversity of MHC molecules in individuals influences mating choice in animals and humans. Natural sexual selection occurs so that humans are attracted to those with dissimilar MHC molecules, which allows them to produce offspring with greater biological diversity, and therefore, a greater chance of survival. So how does this natural law of attraction work? You may be surprised to know that body odor—yes, that rank stank that you always try to cover up—is the key.

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Feel the Savior’s Love

Did you have a good weekend? I did. I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoys Valentine’s Day. Weird, right? It’s because of my mom.

Growing up, my mom made sure that we knew that she loved us on Valentine’s Day. Every February 14th we ran down the stairs to the kitchen table almost as excitedly as we did on Christmas morning. Without fail a candy bar or tiny heart-shaped box of chocolates was a personalized gift sitting atop a bright red tablecloth at each of our places at the table. It wasn’t big, but we knew we could count on Mom being our valentine. I understand that not everyone feels loved all the time, and during holidays, it is hard to feel happy when you don’t have someone special to share it with. For us, Valentine’s Day wasn’t a romantic holiday, but just a time for my mom to reaffirm how much she cared about us.

One of my favorite Primary songs has been running through my head for the last week. “I Feel My Savior’s Love” gives me a chance to remember why Valentine’s Day has survived as a holiday.

Jesus comforting

  1. I feel my Savior’s love

In all the world around me.

His Spirit warms my soul

Through ev’rything I see.

 

Chorus

He knows I will follow him,

Give all my life to him.

I feel my Savior’s love,

The love he freely gives me.

 

  1. I feel my Savior’s love;

Its gentleness enfolds me,

And when I kneel to pray,

My heart is filled with peace.

  1. I feel my Savior’s love

And know that he will bless me.

I offer him my heart;

My shepherd he will be.

 

  1. I’ll share my Savior’s love

By serving others freely.

In serving I am blessed.

In giving I receive.

 

I know I’m crazy, but do you see what I’m getting at? Even when there aren’t any chocolates sitting on a brightly-colored tablecloth, when kind valentines expressing affection or gratitude do not await you, and when no one is physically present to say “I love you,” you can still feel our Savior’s love. It will warm your soul, enfold you in gentleness, fill your heart with peace. No matter what holiday it is, whether Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day, the important thing is knowing that the Savior loves you. And like my mom, His love is freely given.

—Ariel Peterson, Stance

I Feel My Savior’s Love

Words: Ralph Rodgers Jr., 1936-1996; K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939; and Laurie Huffman, b. 1948

Music: K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939

(c) 1978, 1979 by K. Newell Dayley. Used by permission.

Valentines Day is For Lovers…Or Not

Today is the day—St. Valentine’s Day, that is!

Whether you love it, despise it, are indifferent to it—it is here and we might as well live it.

Many people think of Valentine’s Day in the romantic sense. I think that’s why so many people are bitter about the hearts and the chocolate. I remember sitting in my dorm room my freshman year of college. My roommates and friends had boyfriends and were out, it was my first year away from home, and I was sitting all alone thinking, “This. Stinks.”

Planning to mope the rest of the night, I heard a knock at my door around 8pm. When I opened the door, something amazing happened. Prince Charming on his horse came riding by! Well… no. When I opened the door, there was a girl who Helping hands, helping heartslived next door in standing there in her pjs.

“Any plans tonight?” she asked. “No… I feel like everyone’s gone,” I replied. “Well let’s do something,” she said. “I’m tired of waiting around.” I hardly knew her, but we decided we should watch a fun movie. We knocked on the other apartment next to mine. Then the one next to theirs. Then the next one. Pretty soon, there was a whole group of us who had been thinking everyone else was out but us! We had an awesome, fun-filled night with movies, popcorn, chocolate and more. All because one person decided to look outside of themselves. She was the reason that we all had a great Valentine’s Day. And we all became great friends after that!

I have reflected back on this experience many times. It wasn’t so much that that girl was looking for some fun and needed me. It was that I was moping around and needed her. And I am so grateful that she decided to do that!

So what is Valentine’s Day really celebrating? It’s celebrating LOVE! And in my opinion, that’s worth the celebration. Whether it’s getting your friends together for a fun night out (or in), meeting your family for brunch, heart attacking your friends with nice notes, giving a stranger a nice treat—that is what it’s all about. Connecting with one another, being there for each other, and spreading the love.

So what are you going to do this Valentine’s Day to show your love? It’s not too late! After all, my entire day was made on a lonely night at 8pm.

Happy Valentines Day!!

-Emmaline Frost, Blog Editor

4 Steps For Preserving Family History

chelsea1Every so often an event happens that puts everything into perspective. All those stressors—education, family, careers, and hundreds of other things—become hushed and fade into the background. Just a couple weeks ago, my family found out that my great aunt, who we love and adore, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a couple of precious months to live. I spent the last week with very little sleep and no breaks editing my great-grandfather’s autobiography in-between classes and work, so that my Aunt Audrey could read her dad’s story before her sight is taken and eventually her life.  This experience taught me the joy and love we can feel as we learn about our families and preserve our history.

Here are four ways to preserve our family history:

1. Keep your own history

President Spencer W. Kimball, a man who had 33 black binders of journals when he was called to be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had an incredible testimony of writing a journal.  He said, “get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, you impressions and your testimonies.  Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”*

Start today and write for one minute. Include as many events and feelings as you can. Do not try and play catch up with the last five years of your life. It will stress you out and you’ll quit. Make a goal to write once a week or however often you can that will stretch you but not set you up for failure.

2. Take pictures

There is nothing like looking at family photos and reliving memories. Most of us have phones with decent picture-taking abilities. Remember to use them and backup those pictures. It is also fun to make a photo album. There are lots of ways to create them online or slip photos into an already-prepared photo albuSummer 09 654m.

3. Visit with the sages

Take the time to talk to your grandparents and other aged people in your family (and the younger ones too). Record your conversations with them as they describe what life was like for them. This weekend I spent two days recording conversations between some of my aunt’s thirteen siblings. They were sharing stories, laughing, and singing together. The stories I captured on my phone (thanks to smart phones, we have no excuses!) are so special, and I hope to add them to my great-grandfather’s autobiography so other members of my family can read them and pass them on.

4. Share with others 

Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to share our family history. We can create a family website, blog our experiences, or email stories and pictures. Online sharing is also a wonderful way to share family recipes and keep up traditions. The Internet is an incredible blessing to photothose who fill it with good things and use it for good purposes.  

Now that you’ve taken the time to read this post, go take the time to do its tips. Happy doing!

 

By Chelsea Jamison

*See more of President Kimball’s words here and here.

Love at Home: A New Perspective on Valentine’s Day

by Caroline Bliss Larsen

Valentine’s Day is a great time to teach your children that real, healthy relationships don’t require a box of chocolates. Grocery stores and shopping malls alike are great at enticing people to load up on chocolate, candy, and gifts for that special someone (or yourself) on Valentine’s Day—as a chocoholic, I should know. But what’s better than taping chocolates to paper hearts is teaching your kids what real love looks like—starting in the family. And real love is a lot healthier than all that candy.

Continue reading

The Way Things Are

by Jenna Hoffman

I was ready to move out of my parents’ house long before I actually did. By the time I was eighteen, my family was practically begging me to leave. My mom and I argued more often than not, my dad and I barely spoke, and my siblings were just nuisances to be tolerated.

When my mom dropped me off at my dorm the first day of freshman year, there was nothing in my heart but joy for my new found freedom. Although my parents only lived twenty minutes away, I can count on one hand the number of times I went home that year. I was having too much fun pulling pranks on the boys across the way and hosting spontaneous game nights with my new friends.

For the most part, this attitude continued through my sophomore year and into my junior year as well. As I had opportunities to live with and learn from a variety of people, I realized that everyone else seemed to have been raised much differently than I had. I started to make dangerous comparisons, comparisons which led to confusing thoughts and subsequent unfair accusations.

I was frustrated with the way I’d been raised. In my limited scope of life, I felt that I might have turned out better had my parents practiced “the right” parenting techniques. I might have been a better communicator and friend, a more competitive student and athlete. I might have had a stronger testimony of the gospel and a better grasp on the complexities of life.

According to my young and selfish self, everything I wasn’t and everything I didn’t have was my parents’ fault.

In the following months, I put my brain through a metaphorical meat processor in an attempt to figure myself out. I wanted to dig into the vaults of my upbringing and unearth the causes and effects of the person I had become. It was a long and emotionally painful process, punctuated by intense arguments with my parents and teary conversations with friends.

During one such conversation, a friend, who was a parent herself wisely told me, “I’ve learned that part of becoming an adult is accepting that your parents made mistakes, and forgiving them for it.” This piece of advice revealed two things to me: that everyone else had imperfect parents, just like I did; and that my parents were not just parents, they were people. I could not claim perfection, so why did I expect them to be able to?

This realization was the first step in accepting my parents for who they were rather than trying to change them into who I wanted them to be. Instead of blaming them for what I felt they’d done wrong, I took a deeper look into their own ideas and experiences, and I began to appreciate them for what they’d done right. And when I really took that time to evaluate my family in a fair and honest way, I discovered that although there were flaws, and grievances, and mistakes, at the core there was only pure and unadulterated love. And that is the way things are.

Realizing Love’s Loss

by Laura Nava

The cultural ideals set for love relationships between men and women appear beautiful and enticing. Thousands of books and movies portray the most exquisite romantic situations. Holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the pinnacle of all romantic holidays—Valentine’s Day—suggest the absolute importance of romantic love expressions in modern American society. While celebrating love for each other is wonderful in itself, false expectations and affectation of genuine love are a byproduct of the over-romancing tendencies within the culture. Obsession with these idealized romantic expectations, or romance addiction, and lack of consciousness deteriorate the ability to maintain authentic relationships. Solutions are available to those who choose to change—the addiction can be cured.

In her book Escape from Intimacy, Anne Shaef identifies the dangers of romance addiction. In short, romance addiction is a condition that compels the addict to crave romance and its accoutrements to unhealthy levels. A few of the symptoms found commonly in society include being in love with the idea of romance and moving from one “cause” to another. A cause according to Shaef means going above and beyond what is necessary in romantic scenarios. Moving from one cause to another leads directly into the final symptom of romance addiction—feeling disappointed simply because the setting is not romantic and dreamlike.1 In the end, the romance addict goes from one cause to the next in search of pity and praise but never feels satisfied. Normal life begins to lose its luster.

 In the classic film, A Brief Encounter by Noel Coward, the main character Laura exemplifies these manifestations of romance addiction at various points within the story.2 Laura allows herself to slide into an affair due to her lack-luster marriage and the romantic settings of her extramarital escapades. Near the end of the movie, she appears to break the spell that romance addiction has cast. This movie demonstrates a typical affair showing that romance addiction gradually leads to detrimental characteristics that may have lasting effects.

The highly problematic nature of romance addiction presents itself in low self-esteem, vagueness (i.e. playing games or being hot and cold), and the ability to create a sense of instant intimacy. These characteristics portray an elegant romantic relationship in movies or books, yet they are undesirable in a real and tangible relationship.3 Low self-esteem can create a person who fishes for compliments. The labels witty and coy mask undesirable vagueness. And let us not forget the love-at-first-sight encounters that are highly celebrated but rarely turn into lasting relationships.

As romance addiction progresses the ugliness of the disease shows itself in the destructive effect it has on a person’s love-relationships. Romance addicts are left with little or no moral substance for them to give in a real love relationship. This leads to the destruction of love relationships between the couple, friends, and family.4 Devaluing the opinions of loved ones and purposefully acting in opposition to them are both signs that an individual is losing touch with reality. The fruit of love includes the gift of yourself—or more specifically your self. Self is the innermost genuine portion of an individual. The cankering of the self, which occurs throughout the stages of love addiction disease, leads to the root of the issue—the inability to give deeply to the love relationship.

Love addiction can be cured through consciousness—being aware of how we affect one another. The gift of real love is manifest in day-to-day caring and sacrifice, not in a box of chocolates or a vase on holidays. The book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert Johnson delves into the details of how men and women have come to a state of ignorance to self. The book shows that such ignorance creates significant personal and cultural dilemmas. In order to give of one’s self, a person must have the ability to understand and share what they have to offer.

Johnson also exposes the common practice of blaming other people in relationships and the unhealthy emotional environment it creates. “Usually, we blame other people for failing us; it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps it is we who need to change our own unconscious attitudes—the expectations and demands we impose on our relationships and on other people.”5 These unrealistic expectations justify unhappiness, oftentimes leading to the dissolution of a love relationship. Gaining an awareness of and taking responsibility for one’s self creates a more successful love pattern to follow than the romantic ideal of being saved from reality by one’s true love. Remember—every individual has a valid and valuable self to offer. As we come to know our own limitations we won’t set expectations of others that they can’t meet.

Romantic expectations tend to push out rational thinking, which undermines the process of recognizing self and relating to others as equals to our self. Consciousness of self becomes integral to finding and maintaining genuinely loving relationships. “Ultimately, the only enduring relationships will be between couples who consent to see each other as ordinary, imperfect people and who love each other without illusion and without inflated expectations.”6 As individuals, we set realistic expectations for ourselves and recognize our personal limitations. If this is acceptable for the individual self, the question to answer is: why would the same practice not suffice for someone who we profess to love? Deeply caring relationships cannot exist if we continually place divine expectations on regular human beings. As we reject the hero and love goddess fantasies, reality allows a practical version of love to exist.

Placing ourselves in the mindset of reality can result in change. As with any other addictions, the addiction of divine expectations must be identified, accepted, and proactively eradicated from daily life. This process is, and always will be, a hard thing to accomplish, yet it is where solutions flourish. One of the first steps to eradication is acknowledging that you have a problem. Awareness is the key to finding help. Sometimes help comes in the form of self-education and goal setting. In other cases, helping yourself means seeking professional, psychological intervention. Whether you choose the former, the latter, or somewhere in between—the outcome of a healthier outlook on love will be worth the work.

Love is an integral part of everyone’s lives. Actively partaking of its happy effects is contingent on the ability to take responsibility for self and allow others the same opportunity. The unrealistic expectations of romanticism reject the self and thereby create a negative environment where love will not survive. The skills to engage in genuine love do not come easily in our romantically charged society, but learning how to find the appropriate balance of romance is achievable. The first steps to the process of giving and receiving genuine love are recognizing and then rejecting the pervasive nature of romance and its demands. As a culture we love love. Let’s keep it alive by keeping it real.

Endnotes
1. Anne Wilson Schaef, Escape from Intimacy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 47.
2. Noel Coward, A Brief Encounter (Universal, 1946).
3. Schaef, Escape from Intimacy, 48.
4. Ibid., 49.
5. Robert A. Johnson, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983), xii.
6. Ibid, 110.