Among the many prophetic words that have been preserved from Adam to Moroni that inspire uplift and strengthen ones life, I have asked myself from time to time that it seems that some of the most challenging experiences in one’s life can be had in working through marital discord. Yet there is little in the scriptures where the prophets speak to their inspiration, difficulties, councils and interaction’s with their spouses and the Lord’s direct council to them there etc. Any observation’s?
I agree that it is rare that marital issues are addressed in the scriptures, at least directly. One example I know of is between Lehi and his wife Sariah, when she despairs of the fate of her sons during their trek to obtain the brass plates. Another interesting example would be between Abram and his wife Sarai, later to become Abraham and Sarah.
There could be any number of reasons for the situation. However I feel it could be due to one rather simple truth regarding marriage in general. That truth is this: the relationship between a husband and wife are among the most sacred relationships we can have in this life, even more so with couples sealed to each other for eternity. When the Lord is actively and consistently included in a marriage and all things pertaining to it, the sacred nature of it only increases. The dynamics within a marriage, both in good times and bad, are thus very deeply personal and private to those whom they directly involve.
You are very correct in stating that some of the biggest challenges we face deal with what happens within a marriage. Just imagine the situation in Abraham’s tent when he was commanded to offer up Isaac. But then, this very example highlights another aspect of why Sarah’s reaction wasn’t dwelt upon greatly in the scriptural record. The lesson to be learned in the example of Abraham and Isaac had very little, if anything, to do with how Sarah felt about it, or what she might have said when she learned of the command from the LORD. The lesson to be learned was about the similitude of Heavenly Father offering up his own son Jesus Christ in order to secure the redemption of all mankind from the fall of Adam, and to open the door to exaltation for those obedient to the will of the LORD.
The challenges we face within marriages can be great. However the scriptures do not need to provide straight examples of how to handle them in order for us to apply them to ourselves. Oftentimes, simply the example of the love that Jesus Christ displayed for all those around Him can be enough to soften a hardened heart within a marriage. Sometimes a remembrance of the pitfalls of selfishness, arrogance, or pride as displayed in the Book of Mormon can deter harmful decisions and thus reinforce a marriage before the problem even arises.
I don’t suppose there’s any specific prohibition against sharing such experiences on the part of the Lord. The General Authorities even share such events from time to time in their own talks and writings. I feel, though, that it is a case of only doing so as directed by the Holy Ghost. And that, really, is the key to all of this.
The Holy Ghost has a primary responsibility to testify of truth whenever it is revealed, however it is revealed. In hand with that duty, I believe, is an awareness of the best methods to use in that process, including what examples would best explain or reveal eternal truths to as many people as possible. In many ways personal and oftentimes intimate experiences are poorly suited for such use. There is a constant risk of exposing personal things to public scrutiny that have no business in the public forum. A quick look through the internet will display numberless examples of what I mean. This is one of the many ways in which the institution of marriage that God established is under attack.
I think the scriptures guide us in this respect. While the trials and difficulties that couples face are by no means off limits for spiritual examples to benefit us, they are most often too personal and too sacred to address publicly. Here and there the lessons to be learned can be shared with direct examples. However, most often the already direct examples found in the scriptures that don’t deal with marriage can be applied to marital challenges just as easily and successfully as they can be to challenges we face as individuals.