There I am sitting in a Marriage and Family Class during Sunday School.
The instructor with enthusiasm instructed the class “Your number one priority in life is your spouse.” He followed this by methodically inviting several couples in attendance to share examples of why that statement was “True.” Of course the class members shared stories supporting the believe that their spouse was the number one priority even more important than themselves. The class wanted me to believe A HAPPY LIFE was dependent on me being “Selfless“ in my marriage and “always placing my wife, Karla’s needs and wants, – above my own.”
I’m guessing most in the class HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD THE MESSAGE to say something like:
There are many activities that require attention in our lives including work, church calling, children, marriage etc. If you are going to be HAPPY – from ALL these demands – you need to select your spouse FIRST!
In addition, this message carries with it the assumption that it is true for EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, and is to be followed NOW!!! (If you want to be happy.)
people who are single or divorced feel guilty because they don’t have a spouse and therefore can’t achieve the number one priority it takes to be happy;
married people who have always placed their spouse first despite personal needs and inadequate self-care are often depressed and discouraged; and
those married to someone with special circumstances (e.g. mental illness, addiction, narcissistic etc.) have placed their spouse first and they’re not happy and the marriage is getting worse plus they become depressed and discouraged. The “special needs spouse” is “leading the family.”
THE MESSAGE CLARIFIED
I get it. Give-and-take in a relationship usually builds healthy successful relationships (with my wife, with my kids, with my boss etc) and as a result I will likely be happier. Marriage is incredibly important “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.” (The Family A Proclamation To The World).
“But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God (not spouse) with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the FIRST and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36–39).
Direction from PROPHETS
“When we put God FIRST, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988)
“Now, the most important principle I can share: Anchor your life in Jesus Christ your redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and his Beloved Son the most important priority in your life, more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth. Make their will your central desire. Then ALL that you need for happiness will come to you.” (Richard G. Scott “The Power of Correct Principles” Ensign, May 1993)
ETERNAL PRINCIPLE There can only be one “FIRST” priority.
Whenever you or I become so preoccupied with another person (including our spouse) or activity that we neglect our personal relationship with Our Heavenly Father we have failed in our eternal pursuit.
“… if we do not choose the kingdom of God first, it will make little difference in the long run what we have chosen instead of it.” (Focus and Priorities, Dallin H. Oaks April 2001)
The message of placing Your personal relationship with God FIRST is directed at EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, and it should be worked on NOW!!
Eternal principles work that way.
Ponder what your life has been like this past week.
Do something this week that reflects God is First in your life.
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