During the times we can’t be exclusively together, Jad and I still feel close as we talk to each other on the phone or text each other, letting each other know “you are in my thoughts.” When we are spending time with the kids at home or elsewhere, we still try to smile, laugh, and show affection so we feel close to each other.
I wish I could say I was perfect in this aspect of cleaving. I am not. I have had to make a conscious effort to hold hands with my husband, or hug him and kiss him throughout the day, because by nature, I am not super affectionate or clingy.
When we have company over (like my family), or we are at a large gathering, I often flit away to talk to my mom or chat with a friend, leaving Jad behind for sometimes extended periods. My husband has been good at telling me that he feels better if I hold his hand and stay near him on walks, or frequently come around him during large gatherings.
This makes sense, because he should always feel he is the greatest company I could ever ask for. And he is.
Sometimes, though, as a stay-at-home mom, I feel that I really need a break for my sanity. Occasionally I will go to a girl’s night, or book club, or church activity. It rejuvenates me, and lifts my spirits, helping me be a better wife and mother. I think it is healthy for husbands and wives to get some time away. As long as you discuss together your desires and expectations regarding time together and away, you are still cleaving to one another.
Make your own traditions.
It is so important to discuss what works best in your marriage and family for parenting, traditions, finances, etc. Sometimes you have to let go of traditions and ways set forth by your parents and grandparents, for though they may have been good, they may not be best for your family. Some traditions may not have been good, and also need to be left behind.
Jad and I come from very different cultures. He is Jordanian and I am American. Americans are more likely to leave their parents and be independent. Jordanians feel strongly about taking care of their parents, and don’t think twice about living with them, even after they are married.
When Jad and I were dating seriously, we took a walk one day and he seriously asked me if we got married, if I would consider letting his mother live with us. As you can imagine, I was strongly opposed, mostly because I felt we would need to focus on strengthening our new little family. He accepted my answer, and not long after, proposed to me.
There has been quite a bit of tension with Jad’s family because he left behind the Greek Orthodox traditions that his family has followed for so long. He and I have decided together to raise our family in LDS traditions. We are at peace with this decision, but sometimes there can be awkwardness with members of his family who do not understand.
Some other things we haven’t taken directly from our families are the things we do on Sundays, the shows we watch, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, what we put in our bodies, etc. We have different standards for many things.
Jad and I discipline our kids differently than was done in my family and his family. We are harder on them in some ways and easier on them in others. Our kids are different. Our personalities are different. Our dynamics together are different.
We have also gotten degrees and furthered our education, where many people in our families never did.
Sometimes it can be hard to live differently than your parents taught you. It can be difficult to figure out which family traditions you will keep, which you will discard, and which you will combine. What will you make new?
Some traditions we have held on to from our families are our love of eating big meals and socializing with our family and friends.
Jad and I have both learned to love different sweets- for him, brownies, cookies and cakes, and for me, knafeh and baklava.
We are great lovers of music. We help others and give of our time and excess. We are thrifty and work hard. We laugh hard and tell great stories – sometimes over and over again.
We also embrace the Jordanian culture, and love wearing traditional clothing, eating traditional dishes, and listening to and dancing to traditional music.
By counseling as a couple what works best for you, both of you will be satisfied with the changes that come.
Be faithful and true to your spouse.
“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto
her and none else. “And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after
her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents
not he shall be cast out” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22-23).
This applies to me as much as it applies to my husband. Women and men can both be tempted to stray. I have thought a lot about how to prevent this. I don’t think any person wakes up one morning with the intent to commit adultery, nor do I think adultery is the only way to be unfaithful.
I have created rules for myself to help me stay always faithful to my husband:
1. I will not flirt with any other man. I won’t go to places or be a member of sites where there are men and women looking for companionship.
2. I will not dote on how attractive another man is, even celebrities. I will not compare my husband to other men and wish he was more like them.
3. I will not read books or magazines, watch movies or videos, or listen to music that spark sexual feelings from within. To me, it is wrong to be imagining sexual behavior that doesn’t involve me with my spouse.
4. I will not be alone with another man, in a car or elsewhere, with the exception of church interviews.
5. I will not confide in another man (or anybody) any problems I am having in my marriage, for that opens myself up to vulnerability. Those conversations are only meant for my husband and me.
Some of you may think these rules are a little too strict, and some of the things I mentioned are harmless. I think that is up to the individual to determine, but for me, all of the rules above will help me avoid lustful temptation of any kind. That makes it worth it to me.
Learn to love your differences.
Differences can at first glance seem to be an annoyance. “Why can’t he be more like this?” “Why can’t she do that?” “It is so obvious to me that..” “It would be so much easier if he would just…”
When differences start to annoy, it would be wise to look within. “Am I perfect? Do I do everything excellently? Am I the best parent and spouse in the world? Am I better than my spouse?”
The answer will always be no, won’t it?
If you look at differences in a positive way, you excitedly see that where you lack, he excels, and vice versa. You complete each other. You help each other grow. You give each other perspective.
Jad can throw a fantastic meal together without a recipe. I need a recipe, so I am the better baker.
He is the fun, silly, energetic, let them stay up dad. I am the organized, kiss their booboos, read them an endless amount of books, sing them songs, help them with their homework mom. We both have ideas on how best to teach and correct.
He creates, builds, fixes, beautifies. I sing, write, speak publicly with ease.
He would rather clean bathrooms and sweep and mop the floor. I prefer to put the toys away, wash the dishes, and do laundry.
I help him with his grammar. He helps me remember to smile.
Our differences are things to appreciate, to admire, and sometimes even to laugh at.
There are some things that aren’t easy with being different, like maybe how we communicate or show affection or handle conflict. That is okay! It is a challenge, but if you talk together about your desires and needs, and go to the Lord for help, you will be blessed.
Only speak kindly of your spouse to others.
When you first get married, you feel blissful and complete. You see yourself as the luckiest person on earth, with the best spouse you could ever ask for.
Then reality sets in.
You get comfortable with each other, and faults and idiosyncrasies start to emerge. Witnessing a bad habit day after day, week after week, year after year, can be maddening.
You start to expect more and see less as life gets busier. You start to take things for granted that you used to appreciate.
You get less patient and less forgiving.
Then you really want to tell your friends and family about it, so they can tell you how right you are and how wrong he is.
This reaction is natural, but is it right? Does it help? Does it help us cleave to our spouse?
I really try hard not to ever speak ill of my husband. It feels wrong. It fills me with feelings like bitterness, anger, and irritation. It fills me with thoughts that I am better than him, he isn’t good enough for me, I do more than he does for the family, and I don’t deserve what he does to me. It blinds me from my own faults.
When I hear other people talk badly about their spouses, I cringe. I wonder if the spouse knows any of this. I am someone who likes to hear all perspectives, and even then I try hard not to make a judgment. Many people, though, will hear one side of the story, and turn against someone, without knowing all the facts.
I asked if speaking badly of your spouse helps you cleave to him. The answer is no; rather it helps you want to leave him. What is the other option, then?
Speak kindly of him, even when it is hardest to do so.
This isn’t lying and this isn’t bragging, but rather it is helping you refocus and remember all the wonderful things you love about your spouse.
You shouldn’t ignore your concerns, though. Absolutely talk about them, but only to the one person who needs to hear them. Make sure those words are kind too.
Communicate in a way to uplift, not degrade.
To cleave to my husband, I need to speak well of him not only to others, but to him. I feel so happy and loved when my husband compliments me, shows an interest in my interests, rejoices in my accomplishments, and appreciates my hard labors on behalf of our family. He will often, in family prayer, ask Heavenly Father to bless me for all I do for the family and kids. I know he feels much closer to me when I do the same for him.
words ring so true: “Our communications reflect in our countenance. Therefore, we must be careful not only what
we communicate, but also how
we do so. Souls can be strengthened or shattered by the message and the manner in which we communicate.”
Speaking well of your spouse is a way to strengthen his soul. What about when disagreements and irritations come?
Jad and I don’t have that many arguments or fights. When we do, though, it can be hurtful for the both of us.
Our problems mostly lie with wanting to be right, wanting to win, not wanting to admit fault, but rather finding fault in the other (why do you do this to me?), and not wanting to be the first to apologize.
I call this cleaving to myself. This is selfishness. That is the opposite of unity.
Sometimes our spouses do things that are hurtful. In my relationship, my husband is a good husband. He isn’t abusive. However, sometimes the way we say things can hurt. I can choose to get offended and explode and fume out every issue I have ever had with him, or I can breathe, tell him how I feel, and tell him I know he didn’t mean to hurt me.
I don’t think my husband ever hurts me on purpose. I don’t ever want to hurt him either. However, my temper sometimes gets the better of me. I may yell, I may call names, I may curse, I may roll my eyes, I may be sarcastic…there are many other worse things one can do too.
Does any of that help? No, it adds fuel to the fire and a simple argument can turn into a war.
When you start to feel like steam is going to come out of your ears, it is time to take a step back, and remember that you love your spouse and you are on the same team. It can help in that moment, and help repair your marriage.
When you do something wrong, apologize as soon as you recognize it. Don’t justify it, for “shattering a soul” through your choice of communication is never justified.
Make the important decisions together.
There are many ways to make decisions, and some decisions to be made are more crucial than others. However, when a decision to be made, whether big or small, affects your family’s lives and well-being, you and your spouse should discuss and make those decisions together.
Obviously both of you will have an opinion. You could get argumentative, and push until you get your way. Or, you could come up with a compromise, which would leave each of you partly satisfied.
There is an even better way, and that is to seek out God’s will for your family, for what seems right to you may not actually be right. Study your scriptures together. Pray, even fast, together. Leave it up to God’s will. When you receive an answer, you will both be completely satisfied because you will know it is what God wants for you, even if it wasn’t what you originally thought.
Jad and I have had to make many important decisions in our marriage. One of the first was what we were going to do when we had our first child together, Rigel. I had been working full time for four years at a company I loved. I was making good money, with excellent benefits, great coworkers, and definite potential to move up in the company. Jad had been the co-owner and manager of a convenience store in Kinston for many years, travelling several days a week. He made less money with no benefits, and his store wasn’t in the safest area.
Looking at it in my perspective, I kind of wanted to keep working. I felt my job would have been better for our family in the long run. I didn’t like the idea of being away from Casey and Rigel (I had absolutely hated putting Casey in
daycare a few years before), but I would have been okay with it if Jad stayed home with them. Jad was such a fun dad, it would be great.
Jad didn’t agree with me at all. He felt because he was the man, it was his responsibility to take care of the family. He had also put so much work into his business, he didn’t want to give it up and leave his uncle hanging.
It was tough. We couldn’t very well compromise on that one. I had looked into working part time, but was told that wasn’t an option.
So, we decided to fast and pray about it. It didn’t take long for us to feel very peaceful about me quitting my job and staying home to raise my sweet boys. My decision surprised some who thought of my success, but didn’t surprise others who knew of my values. It was hard to leave, very hard, but I have never once regretted the decision.
Because Jad and I chose to take the road God wanted for us, we were happy with the difficult decision we made. And we are still so happy.
This decision-making method has blessed our lives so many times. We also feel more spiritually united, and come closer to God each time we earnestly reach out to him.
Live by “What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours.”
If we really live by this, than we know we will cleave to each other rather than our material possessions. This also brings equality to the marriage.
I am a stay at home mom. I don’t work outside the home anymore. My husband is the breadwinner. However, the money he brings home is OUR money. He never tells me I can’t spend it. He trusts me to use it as I see fit for the family.
The only things we really consider “mine” would be our toothbrushes and clothes. We share just about everything else.
Because we share our financial and other temporal resources, we are respectful of each other’s opinions on how best to use them. We stay on the same page on how to budget money, what we need and what we can wait on, and what we choose to keep or discard as we consolidate.
We don’t worry so much about small purchases or purges, but we definitely discuss the bigger things together.
This saying of what is yours is mine can apply to anything, even heartaches, accomplishments, and joys. When my husband is discouraged or sad, I am too. When I am excited about something, he is too. We won’t always feel the same way, but when we do, we still help and support each other.
|Jad getting his citizenship was as much of a joy to me as it was to him.
Put each other first.
When you are married, your spouse’s needs, wants, and happiness should be as important to you as your own.
One way to do this is to learn about and support your spouse’s interests and hobbies.
I love acting and performing. My husband always supports me when I want to be in a show or sing in the choir. He never complains either.
Jad loves to come up with ways to landscape our yard. I give him free artistic license to create our garden, move things around, paint, and plant.
I have tried to immerse myself in Arabic culture as much as possible, with the food, clothes, music and dancing. It is important to me because it is a part of him.
He reads all of my blog posts and comments on them because he wants me to know he is proud of me and is uplifted by my words.
Another way to put each other first is to do nice things for each other, like write love notes, plan a surprise, do something without being asked, show affection often, give a massage, be the one to get up and do something when you are both tired.
If you give what you want to receive, your spouse will feel your love and want to do likewise.
To put your spouse first, it is important to be sensitive to moods, desires, energy levels, and work load. That way, you can discern each other’s needs better.
For example, perhaps you had planned for you and your spouse to do a particular activity that evening, but you see your spouse is really tired or overwhelmed. You willingly and graciously discuss a new plan with your spouse, without being resentful.
Jad is really good at giving me breaks when I am really tired after a long day with the kids. Sometimes he will suggest I get out of the house for a while. If I decline the offer, he will just invite me to relax on the couch while he cleans
up the dishes and plays with the kids.
Sometimes, even if I haven’t seen Jad all day, I will give up time with him if he feels like he really needs to study. This way he will feel more prepared for his upcoming exam, and feel less anxiety.
It is also important as spouses to stop what we are doing and just listen. Be interested in how your spouse’s day was. Talk about it. Offer comfort and support. Give needed hugs and kisses.
There may be days when your spouse comes home from work or another activity, where it is really tempting to vent about how awful your day was, and how you are so upset. Instead of doing that, which can provoke guilt in your spouse, try to keep a positive attitude so that he can keep a positive outlook on the he had.
Help each other with responsibilities. It could be tempting to say that it is his job, so I shouldn’t have to help. By getting up and helping wash dishes, or fold laundry, or organize the closet, your spouse can feel that you enjoy being
with him regardless of what you are doing.
If you see a need, do it rather than wait for your spouse to do it. This will be a load off of him, which will make you happy.
By putting your spouse first, you grow together in love, and you both stay humble, and as President Spencer W.
promised: “. . . If one is forever seeking the interests, comforts, and happiness of the other, the love found in courtship and cemented in marriage will grow into mighty proportions.”
Love God above all else.
This may seem contradictory to the concept of cleaving to your spouse. It isn’t!
I looked up all the verses in the scriptures that use the word “cleave.” Not only does God command that we cleave to our spouse, He also commands:
“Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).
Jacob, a prophet in the Book of Mormon adds a beautiful truth to the command to cleave unto God. He says: “…cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you.”
Moroni, another prophet in the Book of Mormon, counsels us to “cleave unto charity,”
which is the “pure love of Christ,”
because “charity never faileth”
Elder John A. Widtsoe said, “True love of man for woman always includes love of God from whom all good things issue.”
All good things come from God. For a marriage to be strong, it needs the Lord’s blessings.
If I love God, I want to keep His commandments. More importantly, I want to be like Him. If I am like Him, I will be a kind, compassionate, forgiving, humble, gentle, righteous, giving, understanding, patient, loving spouse.
Isn’t that what we all need to be happy? There are many desirable qualities in a spouse, but the ones that matter most are the ones that mirror the Savior.
Loving God above all else is the journey of a lifetime. Jad and I are working hard to cleave to God. We pray to Him sincerely night and day. We study our scriptures and the words of the prophets daily. We do our best to keep Jesus’ commandments. We attend church every Sunday, and willingly do our church responsibilities. We serve others every chance we get. We love our friends and family. We teach our children to love God and keep His commandments. We attend the temple as often as we can, and we strive to keep the covenants we have made with our Father in Heaven. We share the gospel of Christ with others. When we fall short, we repent and seek forgiveness from God and each other.
We can always do more, and as we are spiritually united, we can help each other in the pathway to perfection
. Jad and I want to live with God eternally, and we want to be together forever as husband and wife.
President Spencer W. Kimball
promised: “If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure, they are sure to have . . . great happiness.”
I know that Jad and I are most happy with each other when we are spiritually in tune, and living righteously.
The Lord has commanded that husbands and wives to cleave to each other. This commandment is meant to help us be united in righteousness, providing us with the greatest joy we could ever imagine. I love my husband, and I promise to always do my best to cleave to him, from now and through all eternity. As the Lord said
, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Jad is one of my greatest treasures, and I thank God for him every day.