Saturday, May 20, 2017

To My Wonderful Companion

In front of the Fulda Dom, 20 May 2017
Here is the greatest blessing of a full-time mission for a mature couple like us, and this is not something I expected. I have grown to appreciate and know my sweet wife in a way that would have been impossible in any other setting. We have been married almost 42 years, and I have loved her and admired her. I have felt her great strength as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a church leader. But here we are together almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - for close to two years now. I have seen her do things that I had no idea she could do. She had never worked in an office in her life, but she has learned to pay the rent and utilities on 115 apartments, pay countless reimbursements, handle numerous other things that she had never once done in her life. And she has done well (in spite of my tendency to micromanage her work from across the room).

I have watched her teach the gospel and extend herself in love to others. People we meet and serve are drawn to her because she clearly loves and cares about them. She hugs everyone. She is bolder than I am and happy to talk to anyone. When we were first married, she was painfully shy. That has all changed.

I had a strange dream night before last, and I woke up in the night troubled and thinking about her, our marriage, and our future. I hope we have another 30 years together, but I know now that I don't think that I could ever love anyone else. I am happy for those who lose a spouse and then find someone else to love and care about and for. But I can't possibly imagine ever being with anyone else.

I love the following excerpts from talks given by President Gordon B. Hinckley. This is the true definition of marriage. It is not some arrangement of convenience that ends when it no longer gives us something we want. We are bound together by commitment to each other, to God, to children and grandchildren, and to sacred covenants.

"In His grand design, when God first created man, He created a duality of the sexes. The ennobling expression of that duality is found in marriage. One individual is complementary to the other.

"In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.

"Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have."

Janet has been by my side through good times and through trials. We have held hands and wept together for the plight of a struggling child. She was there for me through years of education, church service, and career. I rejoiced to see her graduate from the university at 60. We have testified and taught and loved together. I can't wait for the next 30 years.

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