Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spiritual Thought: Talk on Contention

So today Chris and I gave talks in sacrament* about avoiding contention in marriage. I'm just going to paste my talk below so you can read it if you'd like. I'm one of those people that just reads from a paper, so it's all there below. I apologize for any errors, but it's a talk, not a school assignment and I knew what I meant. If you want to know where I got any of the quotes, just let me know and I'll find them for you. Let me know what you think!

Good morning everyone! My name is Kaylee Farnes. And that’s my husband Chris. We’ve been in this ward for three months, but we’ve been visiting home and been on vacations and stuff, so if you don’t recognize us, that’s because we really haven’t been here very much yet. But we’ve loved every time we have come and we’re excited to start coming to this ward more regularly.

A little background on us, we actually have very similar histories. We were both born in California and our families both moved to Utah when we were around two. He grew up in Kaysville and I grew up in Sandy and we met up here in Logan through my roommate. Chris was on my roommate’s soccer team and she helped get us together. And after only a month of dating we both knew we wanted to get married to each other but we didn’t get engaged for a year and then we didn’t get married till six months after that. So we’ve known each other for almost two years now. We are both going to school right now at Utah State, Chris is majoring in journalism and I am currently majoring in English so if my talk sounds like an essay that’s because it is. And while I’m very confident in writing, I am not confident in speaking, so I apologize that I’m a fairly awkward public speaker.

When my parents first learned that Chris and I wanted to get married, my dad asked me a very important question. He asked me, “Do you and Chris fight?” He asked this partly because he never wanted me to grow up and get married and he was thinking of ways to prevent it, but he also had good intentions behind the question. My dad always told me that fights will happen in relationships and in marriage but to be a successful couple, you have to learn together how to handle any arguments or contention, which is what the topic of our talks are about today.

I feel very intimidated that I’ve only been married for three months but I was asked to lecture you about how to avoid contention in marriage. I was also very humbled to receive this talk because while we haven’t had any major fights or anything, I feel that avoiding contention in marriage is something that I needed to learn and something that I needed to read about and focus on. And I learned a lot while putting this talk together.

Proverbs chapter 18:6-7 reads “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” And then Proverbs 13:10 “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

So in Proverbs we learn that only a fool enters into contention and contention is brought on by pride. When my sister and I were younger we used to always listen to this song called “I’m No Fool” and it was sung by Jiminy Cricket and he taught us not to be fools because apparently fools don’t live as long according to the Disney song. So apparently if we want to live longer, we cannot be fools, and to not be fools we have to avoid pride and contention.

I do agree that contention is brought on by pride. In the scriptures, the Lord continually warns us about being prideful, and there are so many scriptures that tell us to avoid pride. In Preach My Gospel it tells us “To be prideful means to put greater trust in oneself than in God or in His servants. It also means to put the things of the world above the things of God.”

We cannot be prideful in marriage. President Spencer W. Kimball suggests that “There is a never-failing formula which will guarantee to every couple a happy and eternal marriage.” There are four ingredients to this formula. First, is getting married in the temple. Second is unselfishness. Third is continual courting, affection, kindness, and keeping love alive and growing. And the last is living the commandments.”

Marriage, especially temple marriage is about selflessness and pride is about selfishness. When we begin to become prideful and we put ourselves or the things of the world above our marriage, or more importantly, above God, that’s when contention arises. Contention is brought on by the devil, never by God.

The Lord warns us in 3rd Nephi chapter 11: 28-30, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger one with another. But behold, this is not my doctrine…; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

The Lord urges that contention should be done away. So especially in marriage, we must avoid pride and contention in order to keep a happy, and Christ centered home. If you want a home free of contention you have to work for it, and work together, like my dad said, to figure out how to avoid any conflicts that may occur, because small conflict will most likely occur.

Brigham Young urged the members of the church to “Build faith in one another and avoid contention.” “If we lack confidence in each other, and be jealous of each other, our peace will be destroyed.”

We have to trust in our spouse and have confidence in each other’s decisions in order to keep the peace and avoid contention in the home. Sometimes having faith in each other is hard or it’s hard to have confidence in each other’s decisions. Sometimes we think our spouse is making silly decisions and we wonder what on earth they are doing, but in marriage you have to put trust in your spouse.

Contention does arise in marriage though. We all have our conflicts and it’s up to us to keep those conflicts small and learn how to handle them, as well as how to avoid them in the future.                                                                                                                                                                    
To resolve conflicts in marriage, we must concentrate on our own weaknesses. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “If the choice is between reforming other Church members or ourselves, is there really any question about where we should begin? The key is to have our eyes wide open to our own faults and partially closed to the faults of others, not the other way around! The imperfections of others never release us from the need to work on our own shortcomings.” (Conference Report April 1982)

I love this quote! Let me repeat the first part again, “If the choice is between reforming other church members or ourselves, is there really any question about where we should begin?” We have to begin resolving conflicts and contention with ourselves, not with our spouse. I think that we always find things we wish our spouse did differently, but we cannot expect them to change, we have to change ourselves first. We have to learn how to deal with the situation and forgive our spouses for the flaws we “think” they may have.

Spencer W. Kimball says, “Marriage partners must be quick to forgive. If we sue for peace, taking the initiative in settling differences –if we forgive and forget with all our hearts … if we forgive all real or fancied offences before we ask forgiveness of our own sins –if we pay our own debts, large or small,  before we press our debtors –if we manage to clear our own eyes of the blinding beams before we magnify the motes in the eyes of others –what a glorious world this would be! Divorce would be reduced to a minimum; courts would be freed from disgusting routines; family life would be heavenly; the building of the kingdom would go forward at an accelerated pace; and the peace which passeth understanding would bring to us all a joy and happiness which has hardly ‘entered into the heart of man.’”

If we can forgive our spouses, there will be peace in the home. To prevent any further contention in marriage we have to continually forgive our spouses as well as do all we can to live the gospel and make it a gospel and Christ centered home.

President Marion G. Romney says “I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the cousel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity –the pure love of Christ –will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (Ensign, May 1980)

By living the gospel we can avoid contention in the home and in marriage. I’ve learned the truth of this in my own life when I was struggling with my testimony. When my testimony was wavering, I was much quicker to anger and contention, but as I began to learn more and focused more on church and helped my testimony grow again, I felt more at peace.

I love that we received this topic because it’s basically all about love. If you love your spouse, trust them, care for them, and live unselfishly with them, you can easily avoid contention. I love the quote by Gordon B. Hinckley that says, “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion.”

If we stay concerned about our companion and always care for them, we will always have true love in the home and will easily be able to avoid contention. We have to keep the gospel strong in our homes and always make the spirit welcome. We have to forgive our spouse and live selflessly. We cannot expect to change our partner, but must think about changing ourselves first. Don’t be a fool and give into contention, and you’ll supposedly live longer. If we each follow all these guidelines, we can have a long and happy marriage.

 I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to research this topic and learn so many wonderful things about it. I am so grateful for my husband and for his constant love and concern for me. And I am so grateful for my Father in Heaven who constantly watches over us and keeps us safe and helps us in every way. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

*So my husband and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS. If you have any questions about our faith, please feel free to leave a comment or email me! You can also learn more about our church HERE

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