Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fairy Tale Endings

Thank you thank you thank you dear friends for your loving, deeply insightful comments and emails on "Angel Talkin". Ashley and I will treasure every single one and hope you will all take the time to read those comments. Though I appreciate your looking forward to Mona's Musings each week - more than I can say - I appreciate even more what you teach me...

“Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together – just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time alone together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling.” Elder Joe J Christensen

I was committed. Boy, was I committed. And as it turned out one Friday night, I should have been committed.

If you are familiar with musical theater, then you know that the scenes where the whole town is on stage singing, “Ooooooklahoma!” or "One day more!" or “Oh-oh-the "Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin’ down the street!” are called “production numbers.” Though I was a professional mother from 1980 on - I also had a bit of fun directing live theater. The similarities are uncanny. For instance, staging a scene with lots of people and action in it is not unlike feeding yourself and four kids breakfast at the same time: one on a booster, one in a high chair, one in an infant seat and one in your arms nursing. Just getting out the door for our first morning errand was no less than a major “production number”.

After five days of taking-half-the-day-to-start-the-day, I was ready for a DATE NIGHT. No, let’s say I was half-crazy for a date night. And to me, at that stage of my life, “date night” meant “all-about-ME-night”. I expected to be wined-and-dined (you know what I mean), oooed-and-ahhhed over, and listened to with rapt attention, which, to his great credit, my honey managed to pull off nearly every Friday night. (His cue was the entrance of the babysitter.) However, if my prince, on rare occasion, slipped off his steed in the slightest -- if he was anything less than perrrrrfectly chaarrrming (due to worldly worries which I could not and did not try to comprehend) -- his Cinderella, who had miraculously gone from apron-and-hair-scarf to ball-gown-and-crown, would turn into a cold pumpkin come midnight.

One such night had started out alright. We had a nice dinner out, even a movie. When we got home, the kids were already tucked in fast asleep. Things were going so well for Prince that he let his guard down. While I disappeared into the bathroom to get ready for bed, he paused at the computer for a quick check-up on some business. Baaaaaaaaad idea. For some reason that I can’t really explain all these years later, I had got it into my head that getting on the computer was violating the Date Night Prime Directive:

Ye shall not take your eyes or ears
off your woman - even after returning to your native environment.

As soon as I realized that I was talking to myself in the bathroom (because of course I was jabbering incessantly) Cinderella morphed into the Wicked Queen.

We went to sleep fairly miserable that night. If I remember right, it was one of those nights they tell you NEVER to have: hurt husband, sulky wife, back to back, on opposite sides of the bed.

But hold on -- this is where the magic comes in.

Early the next morning, the phone woke us up. Our stake executive secretary issued a summons for Dale and I to be at the stake president’s office within an hour. Ooooookaaaaay. We by-passed our usual morning kisses and cuddles and got ready saying as little as possible. The moody cloud dampened our spirits all the way to the church and followed us right into the stake office.

President called me in first.

“Sister Z,” he said, “we would like you to speak in our upcoming adult session of stake conference.”

I nodded numbly. Speaking was all right with me and even though I didn’t feel too brilliant at the moment, I had no doubt I could come up with an impressive topic that would wow the congregation.

“What we would like you to speak on is – “

Oh no! An assigned topic?!

He cleared his throat, adding a second to my suspense, then pronounced:

“- strengthening marriage through patience and understanding.”

I went ashen.

I exited. Dale entered. I could not even look him in the eye as we passed.

Four minutes later, he emerged. The door closed behind him.

His head was hanging - so much so that I became concerned. I rose from the couch where I had been waiting.

“What is it honey?”

He lifted his chin to look at me, a tear about to wiggle down his cheek.

“I’m speaking in stake conference.”

“I am too. Did he say what he wants you to talk about?”


We just stood there. I wanted to hold him, and he hold me, but humiliation held us both.

With more than a little awe in his voice, he finally said:

“The importance of romance in marriage.”


“The marriage that is based upon selfishness is almost certain to fail….The one who marries to satisfy vanity and pride…is fooling only himself. But the one who marries to give happiness as well as receive it, to give service as well as to receive it, and who looks after the interests of the two…will have a good chance that the marriage will be a happy one...

“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.” President Spencer W. Kimball

I testify that Father in Heaven is concerned about your marriage. He knows the intimate details; every conversation, every thought, every act. Your success as a couple is his ultimate desire. Becoming one in marriage is a prerequisite to becoming one with Him and the other way around (John 17:11).

...the real “happily-ever-after”.


Click on this picture for a WONDERFUL music video of
"The Story of Cinderella" by Jim Brickman.
(Especially wonderful with your spouse beside you.)

CHECK THIS OUT: Little girls have ALWAYS been enamored with my son, Grant. A friend finally figured out why: he looks and behaves like a DISNEY PRINCE (lucky Bri)! In addition to singing a beautiful Young Nephi in With Mine Own Hand, Grant performs with BYU's hugely popular VOCAL POINT, performing on BYUTV Feb. 13th: An Uplifting Evening with Bronco Mendenhall.


Kym said...

beautifully said, mona. thanks for the great reminders.

Sara Lyn said...

Like everyone, I got a lot of advice right before getting married. Some of it was even good. :) One of the best pieces of advice (and hardest to remember when I'm feeling selfish) is that my husband is a good man and will never intentionally hurt my feelings, so if he says something I feel is hurtful, I need to remember that. I have found that to be absolutely true. I'm trying to be as unselfish as he is.

Michaela Stephens said...

Great story! I laughed out loud when I got to the end.

While I was growing up, my parents had a number of books around the house about improving marriage and being the curious person I was, I had to read them. I figured I might as well read up on the institution as much as I could so that I'd know what I was getting into.

Parent magazine used to have a column that would examine a marriage problem and I would read those with a lot of interest too. (Too bad they don't carry that feature any more.) From reading about many other couples' problems I learned how destructive selfishness is.

It's a whole lot more fun to be married when you have a good foundation of knowledge of problem-solving skills and communication techniques.

Grant said...

BriAnne and I couldn't stop hugging each other after we read this. Thank you mommy! We love you and your example to us!

John and Laura said...

Thanks for your candor and experiences. I need these types of reminders often.

I especially loved your description of a "production number" and it taking half the day to get out the door. :)

Mallory said...

This is something that all married couples need to remember!!! Thanks again for another wonderful post!

McAuliffe Bunch said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful reminder. I am always so amazed that the Lord knows exactly what we need. I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I especially need to be reminded to not be so selfish.

Sue said...

Mona - thanks for loving and watching our boys so much! You've made so many date nights possible for us, but the boys don't know we're making OUR time together a priority - they think we're making them a priority by rewarding them with "Mona Time."

Bri... only she said...

Thank you for this post mom! and for being a wonderful example to Grant and I of patience and understanding in marriage.

It's so true that when we use our own reasoning (like "If he loves me, he'll help with the dishes tonight" or "he wont take that phone call") we fail to attain the same happiness as we do when we practice the understanding and patience exampled for us by the Savior. Sacrificing for one another, building each other up in every situation, supporting one another and fulfilling each other's hopes and dreams... this is the true "fairy tale ending." It's a lesson I feel I learn over and over again.

So much of what I try to practice in my marriage, I learned from you and the knowledge you've imparted or directed me to. I've gained a fascination with studying about and bettering my marriage and family relationships. Thank you for being an example and for nurturing us and our relationship with all you do.

Thank you also for teaching my wonderful husband all about the importance of romance in marriage. For teaching him that makeup, nylons, and feeling pretty are important parts of being a woman and that appreciating them as a husband will nurture that special need in your wife. For teaching him to continue the courtship and cherish his wife. I feel very blessed by my charming, romantic, handsome, Disney Prince.

All my love,

Bri Z.

Mama Smith said...

I have to admit...this is the first time...I have read your BLOG, and I want you to know, I will be making it one of my regulars...(smile)

Garvin and I took the advice quite seriously...of "DATE NIGHT once a week..."Over 30 years, we RARELY missed a week...Having a 7th child when our oldest was "8"...made things in our home... on the "intense" side at times (smile)...DATE NIGHT...was RELEASE simply focus on OUR RELATIONSHIP and "relax alittle"...Our 8th child didn't come until 4 years after our 7th...

One of my FAVORITE articles on the art of "marriage" was this little clip I read years ago from the Readers' Digest...GREAT "WISDOM":
“On her golden wedding anniversary, my grandmother revealed the secret of her long and happy marriage. ‘On my wedding day, I decided to choose ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,’ she explained.

A guest asked her to name some of the faults. ‘To tell the truth,’ she replied, ‘I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten.’”

(Roderick McFarland, December 1992 Reader’s Digest, Page 104)

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Date night... date night... what's that??
For the last 5.5 years I have tried to get my husband to take me out for weekly date nights. It has yet to happen. I think we manage a date once every two months or so.
Romance is definitely not his forte'. But we are working on it. He has gotten better over the years and while we don't usually get a chance to "go out" we still try and make Friday nights fun and special.
Maybe one of these days, i'll convince him to at least THINK about date night.
"Lucky for him, that's one of the ten." =)

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Oh, P.S., did you see that someone nominated your blog for the February spotlight on Mormon Mommy Blogs?

Hannah Banana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah Banana said...

This is all so very true and important! Every word! And you were the PERFECT example of this! Thank you for preparing me for that "some day" when my prince will come. :)

P.S. And thanks for going out for OUR sake! We got to play with our friends every Friday night!! And you thought YOU were the only one having fun on those date nights!.... You never knew what went on at home....! :)

Danyelle said...

Hi Mona - Thank you for your email with your blog link! I absolutely loved your post on marriage. Having young kids with special needs, I too am absolutely adamant about having weekly date nights. Just me and the hubby with absolutely no talk about kids, house, or work. It's funny how some weeks our dinners are so quiet. :) Thank you for the quotes. My hubby and I really enjoyed reading your post.

Women Afire said...

I always enjoy your posts, Mona. Great personal stories and all that wisdom. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I want u to know. Even tho we don't know each other. And this was years ago. It has truly helped me this morning as I sit alone sulking in my back yard. :)