I have always been grateful for my patriarchal blessing, the personalized blessing that LDS people can receive once in their lifetime from special servants of God called patriarchs. I received mine long before I was married, but it offered lot advice that would help me throughout marriage. One important part tells me to be “solicitous” of the needs and wants of my wife and to give her adequate time and attention. I think that is valuable advice for anyone, but given my weaknesses and pressures, I think it was extremely important to have that for me to ponder. There are times when I wish I would have heeded it better.
Last Saturday I was feeling pressured with the need to get tax information ready and to prepare for some visitors coming in the afternoon. My wife told me that she was going into town to watch the Appleton Girls Choirs perform since some of the girls in her music classes would be singing. She said she knew I was busy and would go by herself. No pressure at all–it wasn’t like one of our kids was singing and I really needed to go, and I had too much to do as it was. But the words of my patriarchal blessing rang in my head, and I just felt that I should go with her. As she started to leave, I surprised her by going along, giving up some tax prep time for an afternoon date. I could have worried about where I’d get the time to finish the taxes since we were expecting guests later in the afternoon, but I felt I could juggle things somehow.
A challenge was that there might not be tickets that would let us sit together. She had a reserved ticket she was going to pick up, and while there had been an empty seat next to it earlier, it wasn’t likely to still be available when we got to the box office at Lawrence University. In fact, there was a long line at the box office and it looked like we were going to be late to the concert hall (Lawrence Chapel in Appleton). Always the romantic, I had brought along a book just in case and if we couldn’t sit together, I’d wait outside or stroll over to the library and read. But as we were standing there in line, out of the blue a woman approached us and asked if we’d like to but some of her five tickets that she couldn’t use. She had two right next to each other and we snatched them at face value, told the box office that we wouldn’t need the reserved ticket we had anymore, and rushed into the hall with plenty of time. Turns out they were probably the two best seats in the house for that performance. Beautiful view, and plenty of leg room for me. It was a stunningly beautiful concert and a fabulous date.
The people I thought were coming for the afternoon couldn’t make it after all, relieving the pressure and giving me the time that I needed after all.
That evening when we had brief scripture study as a family, I told my wife and son that I was so grateful I was for that time with my wife, Kendra, at the concert. It was such a happy, beautiful time and turned out to be the highlight of my day, yet I came close to missing it in favor of cranking through receipts and depressing numbers. I said I’m so grateful that I paid attention to that counsel in my patriarchal blessing which helped me have one more day of “living joyfully with [my] wife” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
The counsel that is given by the Church does much to bring joy into marriage and family life, as does the eternal perspective that the Gospel brings to marriage. May all of us married folks learn to live joyfully with our spouse.