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LESSON ONE - Spending Quality Time as a Couple

"The man [is not] without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:11.
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
 

Purpose

To increase couples' relationships by spending quality time together.

Doctrine

  • "... While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person... if both are willing to pay the price." (Bruce C. Hafen, "How We Lost the Plot," Covenant Hearts. Salt Lake City. 2005)
  • Unfortunately, too many individuals enter into marriage believing that after the ceremony is performed they will either live happily ever after or in misery, depending upon how accurate their choice was. They do not see that "happy ever-aftering" depends upon daily loving and concern as much after marriage as during courtship. (Gawain and Gayle Wells, "Courtship: Labor of Love",  Dec 1979)
  • President Kimball has warned: "Love cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestations of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness." ("Marriage and Divorce", Deseret Book, 1976, p. 14.)

SECTION ONE

Building a Strong Relationship, Not Just Supporting a Marriage

Knowing how to overcome conflicts in marriage

Scenario
 
Laura and Justin are married students attending BYU-Idaho. They have been married for almost two years now and still feel just as in love as they did when they first got married. They try very hard to attend the temple regularly, read and study their scriptures together and individually, and have a date night every Friday night. However, recently the pressures of school, work, and the idea of "wifely duties" have started to overwhelm Laura. She has tried to balance her school, work schedule, laundry, and cleaning but this semester is so hard on her and she is starting to feel very alone. She never wanted to ask for Justin to help with cleaning, but she appreciates it when he offers and lately she feels as though he doesn't care enough to ask if she would like some help around the house. Instead of talking to Justin about her frustrations Laura has started to hold in more and more frustrations and no longer looks forward to doing things as a couple, such as going to the temple, praying, reading scriptures, or having a date. She has also found herself getting angry at Justin and has begun to yell at him for every little thing that he does. Justin does not know what to do or why Laura is so upset.

Questions for discussion
  1. What are some ways in which Laura can feel comfortable enough to share her anguish with Justin?
  2. What can they do as a couple so that these types of issues can be dealt with before ever becoming a problem?
  3. How can couples who have already set a pattern for their marriage still feel as though their relationship has meaning and significance?
  4. How can each spouse develop that sense of meaning for their role in the marriage?
  5. If nothing changes now, what could be the result of a constant lack of communication?
 
Additional Resources
 

SECTION TWO

Importance of Time together
 
Mormon Message -an Expression of Love
If we want our marriages to become celestial, we must be willing to devote time to our partners. Much of that time must be away from the children and must involve more than being in the same room together. Culprits like television can destroy the value of time spent together. Both quantity and quality of time are essential to successful, thriving marriages. If you feel pressed for more time, put your imagination to work and try some new ideas. Whatever you and your spouse do to share more time together, your marriage depends on it. (Dee W. Hadley, "It Takes Time", Dec 1987).

"Love is like a flower, and, like the body, it needs constant feeding. The mortal body would soon be emaciated and die if there were not frequent feedings. The tender flower would wither and die without food and water. And so love, also, cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness." (Spencer W. Kimball, "Marriage and Divorce", Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976, pp. 22-23).

"Surely the same qualities and traits in you that first attracted him are just as important in married life in keeping alive the flame of his affection and romantic desire." (Harold B. Lee, "Decisions for Successful Living", Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 173-74).
 
 
Questions for discussion

  • How often do you talk and laugh together?
  • What activities did you enjoy as a couple when you were dating? Do you still participate in these activities? Why/Why not?
  • How often do you go on dates or spend time alone together? What can you do to make more time for one another? 
  • What are some things you enjoy doing now that you could participate in together?
Additional Resources
 

SECTION THREE

 
Scenario #1
Bill and Liz are both students and are on different track systems. Liz has maintained good employment throughout her college experience and is able to work a flexible schedule during her on-track and works full-time in her off track at a local business. Bill has worked early morning janitorial, but has a hard time getting up that early in the morning due to staying up late at night gaming. Bill has worked sporadically, both on and off campus. This is Bill's off-track and again, he is seeking meaningful employment. Because he isn't working and doesn't have homework, Bill spends much of his time playing video games and watching movies. Liz goes to bed earlier than Bill because she has early classes and a full day of work. She gets home around seven each night and then studies a few hours and goes to bed. She knows that Bill is a hard-working man and that he feels bad about not having employment. He spends time everyday checking job postings and turning in resumes. He is trying, and he does help out at home with laundry and shopping. However, Liz lays in bed each night listening to Bill playing games and cannot help but feel resentful that she is working so hard at her job while maintaining her studies, and that Bill seems to be on vacation. They seldom talk, except to greet one another or to relay information.

Scenario #2
Bob and Amy met playing on a Recreational Basketball League two years ago, which began a fairy-tale romance and soon after, a wedding. For the first year of marriage, Bob and Amy continued to play basketball with Rec. Sports. It was time spent doing what they love, time spent together, and time spend in physical exercise. This year is different, however. With a new baby, Amy is trying to exercise and get back in shape. Bob and Amy signed up for basketball once again and took the baby in a baby carrier with them to practice. With three times a week practices occurring at 9:00pm, Amy realized that keeping the baby up until 11:00 a few times a week was affecting sleep for the whole family, as the baby woke throughout the night crying due to an inconsistent schedule. Amy dropped the team and began staying home with their new baby. Amy still attended Bob's games to cheer him on. She felt sad to not be playing and missed the good exercise it provided. Amy feels as if she has given up something she loves just to stay home and be sedentary. Amy realizes that the baby will grow, but then she wonders how to entertain a toddler on the sidelines, and then comes more children. It might be several years before Amy can play again if the present situation is any indication of what life will be like with children.

Questions for discussion
  1. Why is keeping similar schedules important to protecting and strengthening a relationship?
  2. How do couples maintain common interests?
  3. What could Bob and Amy do to allow both some exercise and enjoyment in physical activity?
  4. What needs to change in order for these couples to spend quality time together?
  5. In what ways could each person be showing prideful or selfish thoughts or actions?

SECTION FOUR


"As husbands and wives, how well do we know each other? Most of us knew enough about our spouse at one time to agree to marriage. But what have we learned about each other since then? People-and consequently marriages-change as the years go by.
Some husbands and wives are surprised to find that there are still things to learn about each other, even after several years of marriage. Some mistakenly believe that because they live together in the same house, they'll automatically know each other. Others assume that they each share the same perspective of their marriage-that since they are "one," they think exactly alike, enjoy exactly the same things, and derive exactly the same satisfaction from their relationship. And some even erroneously assume that because they love each other, each will always know what the other is thinking or feeling, so there's no need to express thoughts and sentiments.
Whatever the reasons, dialogue is infrequent or missing in too many marriages."

To assist in marital communication, try the following exercise together. Allow yourselves sufficient time when there will be no interruptions. You might wish to divide the exercise into several sessions, considering two or three statements at each session.
First, respond individually in writing to the statements. Then exchange papers and talk about what you've written. Don't try to review your responses simultaneously. While one of you is reading or speaking, the other should listen or ask clarifying questions. Then switch roles.

Marriage Quiz:

Complete the following statements:
1. In our marriage, I feel loved when you ...
2. In our marriage, I feel appreciated when you ...
3. In our marriage, I am happiest when ...
4. In our marriage, I am saddest when ...
5. In our marriage, I am angriest when ...
6. In our marriage, I would like more ...
7. In our marriage, I would like less ...
8. In our marriage, I feel awkward when ...
9. In our marriage, I feel uneasy when ...
10. In our marriage, I feel excited when ...
11. In our marriage, I feel close to you when ...
12. In our marriage, I feel distant from you when ...
13. In our marriage, I feel most afraid when ...
14. My greatest concern/fear about our marriage is ...
15. What I like most about myself is ...
16. What I dislike most about myself is ...
17. The feelings that I have the most difficulty sharing with you are ...
18. The feelings that I can share most easily with you are ...
19. Our marriage could be greatly improved with just a little effort if we ...
20. The one thing in our marriage that needs the most immediate attention is ...
21. The best thing about our marriage is ...
 
(Brent A. Barlow "Getting to know you better: A Marriage Quiz" Sept 1981)
 
Elder Hugh B. Brown has written: "Where there is deep and mature love, which is being nurtured and jealously guarded, the couple will confide in each other and discuss all matters of joint interest-and in marriage everything should be of interest to both-they will stand together in adversity, will lean on, support, and give strength to each other. They will find that their combined strength is more than double the strength of either one of them alone." ("You and Your Marriage", Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960, p. 30).
 
"When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union-when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other-your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced." (Rusell M. Nelson, "Nurturing Marriage", Ensign, May 2006).