Mormons are Christians, and so we love learning from the iconic experiences related in the Old Testament. The experience with perhaps the highest instructive yield is the story of Adam and Eve. In the Garden of Eden, Adam received four commandments (which we know about, anyway). These four commandments are the formula for a perfectly happy marriage.
Adam was put into three main relationships – with God the Father, with his wife, Eve, and as a steward over the whole earth. Although two of the four commandments relate to Eve directly, all four teach lessons about how a marriage can be a happy one.
1. The woman should remain with you. Moses 4:18. A man and woman should be equally and continually yoked in doing good works together. Their hearts, time, efforts, testimonies, interests, and dedication should be closely intertwined with each other. May a husband love baseball, but despise baking, while the woman loves baking, and despises baseball? Of course they may. They only need to be sure that those interests never supplant or distract from their dedication to the other. In commanding that we remain together, the Lord is telling us to do whatever is necessary to make sure that you are together forever, in accordance with the covenants you made in the temple. You need to serve each other constantly, so that your love remains strong. Ask yourself, “Will doing this make my wife happy? Will she be proud? Will it help us to grow into what our Heavenly Father knows is our potential?” Spend time together courting and dating regularly. Be intimate. Never let your spouse have to wonder what your intentions are in any action you take.
2. Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Moses 2:28. Yes, we are commanded to have families. Intimacy within a righteous marriage can be a beautiful, selfless expression of intense love and devotion. It serves two purposes: first, it allows the couple to express love to each other; second, it allows them to fulfill God’s commandment to bear children and raise a family. Of course, some are unable to have children. While there are many reasons this may be, remember that the Father judges us by our righteous intentions and actions, and we know that we will all be allowed to enjoy all of the blessings Father has promised us in His time. Heavenly Father will not deny a righteous couple the blessings of raising a family. For some, this will not be possible during their mortal existence, but they may be allowed that privilege during the Millenium.
3. Dress and keep the Garden of Eden, and all the plants and animals. Moses 3:15; Moses 2:28-30. As Adam was given stewardship over the whole earth and every living thing, we are given stewardship over our own families. We are to raise our children in righteousness and love. Parents have a limited ability to see children for what they may become, just as our Heavenly Father can. We need to guide them as the Lord does – respecting their agency, helping them when they fall, and providing never-ending guidance to them. Focusing on raising a family together is part of having your spouse remain with you.
4. Do not eat of the forbidden fruit. Moses 3:16-17. It is difficult to have your spouse remain with you if your heart is set on another. Christ teaches us that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28.
Never come close to that line. If your thoughts are wandering to what it would be like to be with another, then you can be assured that you are not serving your spouse sufficiently. If your actions have you finding out what it would be like to be with another, then you are committing a serious sin, and need to speak to both your spouse and bishop immediately. When my wife and I were engaged, we spent hours discussing what our life together would be like. To ensure that trust and fidelity would be paramount, we made two rules: First, never be alone with a member of the opposite sex. That means no meetings, no offered rides, no friendly phone calls, no unmonitored online chats, no private emails or texts, etc. Secondly, if we had to make any exception to the first rule, we would call and report ourselves to the other beforehand or as soon as practicable thereafter. That way, we would be assured that our thoughts were with each other, and we would never have to worry unless we heard about such contact from someone else. By social and professional norms, this is not always easy for us to follow. Still, following this rule keeps us far away from the edge of the cliff. Every time I hear of a friend who is unfaithful to their spouse, it is because they have not been adhering to this rule.
Discuss these four commandments with your significant other. Where do you need improvement? In which area do you excel? Is there someone you know who might benefit from reading these commandments?