Sunday, February 03, 2013

Tyler and I spoke at a church is what we said.

So Tyler and I were asked to speak at the adult session of stake conference {for my non-LDS friends, it's a large meeting for several adults from different congregations in the area to meet together; there were 6 speakers total at last night's's a great time to be fed spiritually and the subjects of the talks vary} on "Making Your Marriage a Priority".  We were given the choice to give our talks separately or to stand at the pulpit together and we decided to stand up there together and switch on and off.  I got myself a new dress for the occasion and wore my high boots so I wouldn't look like such a shrimp standing next to Ty. :)  We prayed, thought, wrote and re-wrote our talk throughout the week.  I was so, so nervous going into it.  I really do love speaking once I'm up there, but, man, the nerves before.  It's probably because Heavenly Father steps in and helps when I am actually speaking, but beforehand all I think is that maybe I didn't do enough for my part.  Thank goodness for divine help!  I told my mom that I would send her our talk and I just decided to put it on my blog since this is a family record and I'd like to have it for my kids to read someday...I also thought that some of my friends who weren't able to be there might want to read it.  Feel free to read or skip this post, but here it is.  And this is what we had written down, though it wasn't exactly delivered in these words.  The Facebook jokes had them cracking up.  My favorite moment of the night was when I was approached by THE cutest little elderly gentleman {he barely reached my shoulder in height} and he said, "I just signed up for LDS Mingles {online dating site}, so you're telling me it works? {because we said we met on eHarmony}"  I thought he was joking for a split second, but I was wrong.  He told me, "I've been on there for three weeks and have exchanged a few smiles back and forth, but nothing has come of it so far."  I wanted to hug him {so I did}, he was the sweetest man ever.  I hope he finds someone perfect for him.  

Here is the talk {Tyler's parts in blue, mine in red}:


We are Tyler and Danalin Foster.  We are in the Silverdale 2nd Ward and have lived in the area for 7 years.  8 years and 4 months ago we met on a little website you may have heard of – eHarmony. J  I know, it's kind of weird. But it was a divinely guided meeting; I literally heard a voice from heaven tell me to sign up for eHarmony in response to prayers. And a little over 8 years ago we were married for time and all eternity in the Las Vegas Temple. Last month I wrote a very detailed account of our courtship and wedding day on the blog I’ve kept for nearly 7 years…annnd I linked this blog for my friends on Facebook to read…annnd I’m “friends” with President Gorman on Facebook.  I think you can guess why we are standing at the pulpit right now talking on making your marriage a priority.  I need to unfriend President Gorman, obviously.  I am an oversharer in general and often will post on Facebook about how much I love my husband and post pictures of fun things we do.  After President Gorman called to ask us to speak on making your marriage a priority, my husband and I stood and looked at each other for a second and all I could muster was, “Sorry.”  He is not the oversharer.  But this talk has been both a challenge and a blessing for us and we think we might be grateful for this opportunity. J  Oh, and it was President Gorman’s suggestion that we stand up here together…in case you were worried we were bucking the system.

Tonight we are going to talk about three key points that we believe are important in making our marriages a priority:

1       The marriage relationship is the foundation of an eternal family
2.      It takes time to make our marriages a priority
3.      How important it is to keep the courtship thriving

The Foundation of an Eternal Family

One of the most powerful principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that of eternal families.  We talk about it so often in the church I think that sometimes we take for granted what that actually means.  When a couple is sealed together in the temple, they are creating a bond and a legacy which will grow and grow forever as they honor the sacred covenants and commitments they make to each other.  As children are born, this new eternal institution grows in power and promise.  For me, the knowledge and potential that my family can be together forever with Heavenly Father brings hope, courage and inspiration to my soul.

Imagine for a moment that our hopes and dreams for an eternal family are represented by a beautiful house.  It may be old or new, big or small, but ultimately its beauty and condition depend on how well we take care of it.  And like a real house, it takes a lot of maintenance inside and out, like painting and dusting and vacuuming and mowing the lawn.  Maybe every now and then we have to replace the roof or fix a window, or buy a new dishwasher (like I had to recently).

Now, imagine for a moment spending all this time and energy on beautifying the upper part of the structure and yard, and then finding to our horror that the foundation is crumbling.  What would we do?  Go right on painting or mowing? Or would we immediately drop what we are doing and go to work to shore up the foundation.   A house without a sturdy foundation is obviously not going to withstand the test of time, let alone the test of eternity.

If our hopes and dreams for an eternal family are represented by this house, in my little, imperfect analogy, all of the effort and maintenance represent the things we do to strengthen our families as a whole including family prayer, service, kindness, family home evening, having fun together, etc.  But what do you think is represented by the foundation in this analogy?  To me, the foundation is our relationship as husband and wife.  It is made up of the covenants we make to each other and to God that literally seal us together and act as a launching pad for all the goodness and sweetness that Heavenly Father intends for us to enjoy in this life as a couple and as a family.  Our marriage relationships are the foundations of our eternal families.  Ultimately, the greatest gift and strength you can give to your children is to love and treasure each other and to make sure your kids know it.
They may cringe and complain on the outside, kind of like how I heard my 4-year old daughter squeal. “Ewwwwww, siiiickk!” recently when she saw Dana and I enjoy a prolonged kiss in the kitchen.  But on the inside I know she loved it.  It gives kids confidence and strength and courage to take on life’s challenges and our love as a couple acts as the catalyst to bind the whole family together in love and unity.

In short, a quality marriage is the sure foundation on which an eternal family is built.

Elaine S. Dalton recently taught in general conference that “the most important thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother.”  I think that sentiment embodies exactly what I have been trying to say.  I would generalize it a little by saying:  “the best thing a husband and wife can do for their kids is to love each other.”  I would also add that the best way to get eye-rolls and disgusted sighs from your kids is to dip your wife in front of them kiss her passionately.

It Takes Time to Make Marriage a Priority

I’ve kind of always hated when people say “marriage is WORK!” or “marriage is HARD WORK”; probably because the word “work” conjures up somewhat negative feelings.  Does it for you?  I am no stranger to hard work, in fact I pride myself on being a hard worker because I was raised by two of the hardest working people I know, but the word “work” does not conjure up the same feelings that I want to have about my marriage.  So instead let’s call the time, thoughtfulness, and effort that we put into our marriages an investment, which reaps rewards.

Investing in our marriages isn’t always going to be fun or easy; forgiveness for big and little things is sometimes really difficult to work through.  Working together in and on the home, paying bills and managing finances, providing an answer to “why?” for the five hundredth time in a single day for your two-year-old and changing blowout diapers…these are necessary things to manage a home and family.  Though they aren’t super fun, they are necessary.

Making our marriages a priority, however, is NOT drudgery kind of work.  This is the fun part of life, the fun part of every day.  And, yes, I think we should be working on our marriages every day.
There are some of you who may be thinking, “I just don’t have the time or the energy to give to my marriage every day after all that I do.”  I am not as busy as some of you, but I totally get that feeling.  I’ve had that thought.  Some nights I feel like I have been sucked dry and don’t have an ounce left to give and I completely expect Tyler to understand (which he generally does.)

But, as this understanding husband standing next to me said a few minutes ago, “A quality marriage is the sure foundation on which an eternal family can be built.”  And I submit that making our marriages a priority does not have to be draining or overly time consuming.

Making our marriages a priority might mean stopping to listen to our spouse when he or she first walks in the door, and talking about the day.  In my case, I am competing with four little humans who are equally as excited to see the man of our dreams walk through the door…but I try to stop what I am doing and greet him with a kiss.

Making our marriages a priority might mean making that hello kiss just a little bit longer to let them know that you missed them, that you love them, and that the reason there are four children clinging at your legs trying to break the kiss up, is because of the love you have for one another.

In our home, making our marriage a priority has meant going to bed at the same time.  I am a big fan of pillow talk.  Sometimes it can be funny, sometimes serious, sometimes we just laugh about the amusing things the kids have said or done that day, sometimes we schedule, sometimes he falls asleep while I prattle on and on…and the past several nights we’ve been sitting in bed with our laptops writing this talk because that’s the only time of day we have had to do it. J  But that bed time is important to me and to our marriage.

Making our marriages a priority might mean a short slow dance in the kitchen while dinner is cooking; just that time to connect amidst the chaos of family life and communicate, “I love you.”  Tyler has done this since we were newlyweds and it’s one of my favorite things.

Making our marriages a priority might simply mean keeping our mouths shut.  It might mean not saying anything when your spouse has loaded the dishwasher differently than you would have, or when your spouse dresses your child in the absolute ugliest outfit in their closet (I need to work on this!); it might mean not responding with anger or frustration to a spouse who has just snapped at you.  I think it means making your marriage a higher priority than being right or having the last word.  I am a work in progress where this is concerned.

Making our marriages a priority means that, just after our relationship with God, our spouse comes first – work, hobbies, development of talents, Facebook, friendships…none of those should receive more devotion than our marriages.

Timing for this talk is perfect because I am taking an online Marriage course through BYU-Idaho.  I asked some of my classmates what they might want to hear from this talk and I received this from one of my classmates: “I have been thinking a lot lately about my marriage and I have come to the conclusion that my husband and I need to spend more one on one time together.  We used to have some friends who would go out every weekend for a date.  I thought they were just using the excuse that the prophets have said to date your spouse as a reason to spend money eating out all the time.  I saw this as a waste of money and thought that they should be home with their kids.  But now I have changed my mind about this and see it more as an investment in their marriage than a selfish waste of money. We are so busy going in all different directions, that it has become necessary to actually plan when we are going to talk.  I believe it was Pres. Uchtdorf who said that Love is spelled T-i-m-e.  I feel more connected and loved by my husband when we take the time to talk or discuss life.  Too often we don't plan ahead and so we can go several days without even having a real conversation.  So, I guess what I would want to know is what other couples do to make time for each other and make each other a priority when it is so much easier to focus on the kids or work.”  

Keep the courtship thriving

I’ve heard prophets and apostles teach about keeping that feeling of courtship alive in our marriages.  I think it is so sad to hear about couples who think they have “fallen out of love” with each other, as if the evaporation of the love and sweetness they once enjoyed together was just a random event which unfortunately occurred to them, completely out of their control.  That is just not true.  The destiny of our relationships is completely within our own capable hands, and the pathway to happiness is not without obstacles at times, but ultimately it is really quite simple.

If we constantly look for ways to serve, appreciate, admire, strengthen, compliment, forgive, learn from and just love our spouse, I am convinced we will find a renewal of the excitement and passion that we felt for each other when we decided to get married, or the day that we actually did tie the knot.  To be sure, we cannot control or make decisions for our spouse, but if we focus on what we can control, namely treating our spouse with love, concern and compassion, the law of reciprocity which tends to be very active in marriages will start to work its magic.

Danalin has been a great example of what I am talking about in our marriage.  She is so thoughtful and kind by nature that is has happened before that some little, piddly offense that I may have been nurturing in my heart just melted away in the bright warm sunshine of her affection.  She knows how to pick me up out of the dumps when needed.

Not too long ago, I had had a long, hard week and I was feeling kind of blue when I walked in the door after work.  To my surprise, I had walked into “King Dad Day”, which Dana had helped the kids to organize.  In the entry way there were three little servants on one knee saying in unison, “Welcome home your majesty, how may we serve you?”  There were little cards all over the walls of the things the kids and Dana love about me. I got to just relax on the beanbag with the newspaper and my iPhone, while they prepared a delicious meal.  Then we played the Wii together as a family and had a glow-in-the-dark dance party to end the night.  The fun factor of the evening did go a long way to cheering me up, but more than that, it was the thoughtful love and affection directed at me that changed my heart and made me love my sweet wife even more.

Tyler is a really, really great husband.  I fall more in love with him all the time. One of the things he does to keep our courtship thriving is wear cologne on our dates.  I know it sounds silly, but he’s not a daily cologne wearer.  He knows I like the cologne I bought for him (for Christmas, three days before we were married…he still has the same bottle) and so he’ll put some on before we go out on a date.  It’s not a big thing, but it’s a gesture I love.  And so the smell of his cologne is always associated with good, happy things – our honeymoon and our dates over the years specifically.


Finding time to go on regular fun dates has been a real blessing for our marriage.  I know it is hard to find the time, but being alone and having time to reconnect with just each other can be so rejuvenating.  Dating does not have to be expensive, in fact cheap dating can be really fun!   Costco food court or getting a $5 hot-n-ready pizza from Little Caesar’s are some favorites cheap options for us.  The Val-Pak that comes in the mail always has some restaurant coupons or has some pretty good deals sometimes.  If babysitting is a concern, arrange to trade off with another couple on successive weekend nights.

A recent cheap date that we went on was really memorable for both of us.  We went to the Global Bean, got some hot chocolate and discussed some personal, deep-probing questions we found on a website.  It was a lot of fun to just delve into each others’ thoughts and dreams and past history and I think both of us learned some new things about each other.  Total cost:  $5.

Another cheap date was going to the YMCA, exercising together and then ending up in the hot-tub, which we usually walk by longingly because we have 4 little kids in tow.  Total cost:  $0.
Another thing Tyler is really good at is being mysterious.  It started with the marriage proposal and hasn’t stopped.  He loves to plan surprise trips for anniversaries, surprise dates, surprise gifts, an incredibly well-planned 30th birthday party…I love it! It really does keep a level of excitement in our marriage that has been awesome.  We made a promise to each other that the only time in our marriage that we can lie or withhold information is if it’s for a good surprise for the other person. I have joined the mysteriousness over the years and have tried to match him for thoughtfulness in the surprise department.  I think it is just as much – or even more - fun to plan the surprises as it is to be the recipient.  If your spouse doesn’t like surprises, I think you can still secretly plan some thoughtful gifts, write them a sweet letter or a poem…just the unexpected gesture of love will keep your courtship thriving.


{Ty said a bunch of stuff here that wasn't written down...}
1.      The marriage relationship is the foundation of an eternal family
2.      Our marriages must be a priority
3.      How important it is to keep the courtship thriving

As we close, I would like to share one more thing.  Last night we were able to do sealings at the temple.  As I looked across the altar into the eyes of my eternal companion, I was taken back to the day that we were sealed as husband and wife.  I don’t think we have ever done sealings without me crying.  As you do, I love my eternal companion so very much. On that day we made covenants with each other AND with our Father in Heaven, inviting Him into our marriage relationship.  I know that as we strive to be closer to Him, we grow closer to one another.  And although tonight we have shared our experiences and thoughts, I know that the Spirit is the teacher here and I hope that thoughts and feelings have come to your mind and heart of what will work within your marriage and what you can do to make it a little better every day.  No matter how strong our marriages are, each of us can do something a little better.  And if our marriages are struggling, the best thing we can do is kneel together in prayer and ask the Lord to help us to know how to help our marriage.  I know that He will answer that prayer and wants so much for our marriages to be fulfilling and joyful in this life and ETERNAL in nature.


Auntie Elaine said...

YOU two are awesome!!!! love you!

Sandee said...

Fabuloso Talk guys! I wish we could have been there, but I sure loved and appreciated reading it.