I am still not good at marriage. You'd think that after 35 years of being married to the same man, one would inevitably become an expert on marriage relationships - but I'm not. And with the way things are going, I seriously doubt that I'll reach that level of expertise anytime soon, and certainly not in this life!

My friend, Seth Adam Smith, wrote a post on his blog titled, Marriage Isn't For You, and to date, it's been read over over 25 million times! I imagine that most of you have read it, or at the very least, have noticed it being shared on various social networks.

The latest update for Seth's spike to fame is spotting him with his adorable wife, Kim, in an interview they gave for Good Morning America, which I happened to catch. I thought they did great! You can watch clips from the interview in this video segment that aired on ABC News.

Video: Seth Adam Smith Interview on Good Morning American
Marriage Isn't For You!

For Seth's story to go viral it required a little help from a lot of friends, hence, the power of social media. In this case, friends, are those who after reading his post were instantaneously compelled to then share it! 

Seth's willingness to help others by sharing his humble epiphany, having risen from the ashes of a serious fear of commitment prior to getting married, and then finding himself struggling, again, in his new marriage, is likely the catalyst for why his post is resonating with millions. 

No doubt that many touched by Seth's post, have themselves experienced the fiery furnace of what was supposed to have been a state of wedded bliss, temporarily gone south, and then north, and then south and so on, and  perhaps having silently suffered, until they, too, finally figured it out. Or maybe for some others, having gone through the demise of a former marriage, just really appreciated having exposed the very thing, that was missing-in-action in that marriage and as always, when selfishness is persistent in any relationship things generally don't end so well.

With the ridiculous amount of people who have read Seth's post, you can bet the reasons vary tremendously. Which is why I've enjoyed observing this frenzy-for-truth, and reading the opinions of quite a few, on what they think makes for a happy marriage. Overall, It's a beautiful thing. 

I am inclined to believe, that the fact Seth's post has spiked this kaleidoscope of conversations about happiness in marriage,and how best to achieve it, and happening in nearly every nook and cranny across the country, by those having such a broad interest for wanting to weigh-in, to me, is clearly a powerful indicator that marriage is still of great importance to many in mainstream society! Which means, that we can all stop falling for the perceived cultural trend, supported by liberal media, and the constant barrage of broadcasting the message that traditional marriage is out of date and no longer holds its former value in modern society.  

Rather, it appears that the decline is directly related to the loss of understanding of what is marriage, and what is required to makes it successful. Hmm? Where have we heard that before?  Think about it, discouragement does not translate into an automatic fail. It simply means that a person needs to correct their perception in order to look at what's troubling them and with the right compass. Once the map is reoriented, clarity can return and progress in the right direction is greatly improved.

In his blog post, Seth explained that "a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It's about the person you love--their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, "What's in it for me?" while Love asks, "What can I give?""

Seth actually clarified the above statement during his interview with GMA, which more than a few have been very critical.  In an obvious response to being asked what was the most important lesson he learned in making his discovery, he said "that this marriage wasn't about just me, it was also about the woman that I married and somewhere in that, I had lost sight of who Kim was and what she needed and her hopes and her dreams." 

Looking at both comments from my perspective, the addition to the equation, considered inherent by most who read the post, was that in completely turning attention to Kim's needs, and setting his aside, there is an automatic response, in kind, which returns an increase of contentment and happiness in the total marriage relationship.

For the critics who chose to immediately take offense to Seth's realization about being selfless, by using what he didn't spell out, in order to advocate that which will never produce the kind of marriage the Adam's are suggesting is possible, one can only hope that with this simple clarification a sincere re-consideration of the principle shared, better understood, would produce an understanding of its profound credibility.

I think it's safe to say, that Seth's epiphany about how to have a happy marriage, instantly became millions of others, too! Not that it's a new concept, per se, because it's not. Rather, I think it may very well have to do with the simplicity and sincerity of its presentation, enabling his message to reach deeply into the hearts of millions!

If you're anything like me, subject to the "natural man" appearing in my marriage, on more occasions than I care to admit, then perhaps you might benefit by answering the same questions I put to myself, about how I initially responded to what Seth wrote, and particularly if you happen to be among the many 'friends' compelled to share it - thinking the advice excellent!

First, answer yes or no to each of these five questions. Be honest, and no cheating.

  1. Did you share the post with your spouse?
  2. Were you thinking about your spouse, or former spouse, when you read the post - before sharing it with your friends and family?
  3. Did you have the same epiphany as Seth finally did, and are now ready to make your spouse the sun, moon, and stars of your life's work: their happiness? (Or future spouse.)
  4. Is your spouse already the sun, the moon and the stars in your world, because you already apply the principle of self-sacrifice in your marriage?
  5. Are you skeptical that total selflessness in a marriage is the key to a fulfilling life - because your needs are equally important and that perhaps in doing so, you would end up having to forgo your needs - not gonna happen?
Good. Now, go back and re-read the questions, but this time, ask yourself why you answered each with a yes or no?

Hopefully you found this little exercise, as I did, insightful - about where you might be on the 'unselfish' scale in your own marriage.

What prompted me to ponder more seriously the responses to Seth's post , came when reading some of the comments left when the link was shared, and checking out a number of blog posts written in response. The comments have ranged the entire spectrum from 'awesome', to completely 'unrealistic'.

The 'awesome' group tended to be those already identified in this post as 'friends' - shared the post. The 'unrealistic' group were those who were/are sounding off with various levels of opposition to what Seth wrote -  a handful deciding to write their own thoughts in response, as a rebuttal and/or alternative view.

It would be impossible to try and list all of the reasons why Seth's story has generally resonated, positively, with the masses - although I've attempted to identify a few. The two groups that I've suggested, and what they represent, I think, are responsible for making Seth's post go viral. It might be worth noting that the *25 million views already mentioned, only take into account the actual number of times the post, Marriage Is Not For You, has been read on Seth's blog - alone! Again, people are clearly, still, engaged with the idea of marriage.

In asking myself the above questions and pondering my own reasons for how I answered them, I realized that those who fall into the 'awesome' group were very likely, regardless of whether they lack such dynamics in their own marriage, or are experiencing it currently, recognized the profound truth taught in Seth's post that, "charity never faileth", which was, in my opinion, clearly the principle taught and heard by the majority, in some way.

In contrast, those who tended to respond with the feeling that selflessness is an 'unrealistic' expectation - a commonly shared ideology in today's mainstream society - from what I could tell, had little understanding of what true charity looks like. (And not the kind that accepts monetary donations.)

It's usually under the guise of gender equality that feminist advocates send the message to other women, that in order to be emotionally and physically independent you must make 'you' the number one priority in your life. The convincing reason goes something like this: take care of your needs before you even think about taking on someone else's baggage in order to avoid bondage, such as a spouse and/or having children, which inevitably leads to a complete loss of who you are . 

In general, I found that responses to the idea of selflessness in marriage, viewed negatively and which are based on a distorted definition, were intended to minimize the power of charity, when suggesting acts of selflessness are weak, unhealthy and should be considered undesirable to strong, capable women (in particular), in today's modern culture. And some, going so far as to suggest the practice a common dysfunction in abusive relationships, advising the dynamic be avoided at all cost. I've lost count of how many times people have described Seth's commitment to selflessness, as "co-dependence".

Logically speaking, it is fairly easy to understand how such an ideology can make sense to the "natural man" (or woman), because that state-of-mind, naturally, thinks selfishly. However, it is interesting to observe that with such logic also comes an acquired attitude that independence from needing the opposite sex is not only preferred, but a choice to be desired and sought.

Who needs a man, when I can take care of myself - a.k.a. my own needs? The same goes for more and more men, who don't feel needed any longer, for many reasons, this being one of the major messages coming from more and more women in recent years. 

Hence, an often heard inference in correlating reasons for the decrease of men willing to take on the burden of marriage and family, while at the same time an increase of pornography and video gaming addictions, including the popularity of enthralling sports related games, that are basically gambling - all, likely distractions of avoidance.

Imagine bringing these types of mind-sets and habits into an eventual marriage, where losing the self in order to become'one' is vital to its success. Young people are marrying later in life and having less children. While others are choosing not to marry at all - some opting instead to live together - avoiding any long-term commitment with the risk of being needed, or becoming needy. And in many of these situations, which seldom evolve into permanency, is an astounding number of out-of-wedlock births, which result in the exponential effects brought upon the whole of society - most devastating, how those children are affected for life.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivered a hard-hitting address titled, No Other Gods, during the 2013 October General Conference. He said, "Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many Western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish."

While many who reject the simple truth that charity, or appropriate selflessness (the state of focusing on the needs of others, over self, and acting accordingly), and do so with clever reasoning quickly embraced by the 'natural man', the Lord, and His prophets, teach what charity is - the "pure love of Christ", the mandatory reasons why this spiritual gift is 'the greatest of all". 

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." (Moroni 7:45-45)

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explains how charity is manifested in the Christlike attributes made evident in its application.

"Charity  suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
 (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Although my marriage can be found lacking the "pure love of Christ" on many occasions, I feel confident in the knowledge that through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, as I consistently pray for the gift of charity, I will be enabled to develop the strength of character and increase of love, necessary, to rise above the natural inclinations of the self - over time having become increasingly offensive to me.

Even now, though it may at times feel that marriage is still not for me, indeed, marriage is required of every child of God, as He has ordained, in order for re-entry into His Presence. The eternal marriage covenant then, is ordered to bind the union of a man and woman, unified, to God through His Son, Jesus Christ - "that they may be one, even as we are one." 

The Law requires that "there must needs be an opposition in all things" (an equal and opposing force), including in the creation of man; the male and female sex, evident in each inherent life-force, which is male or female. 

2 Nephi 2:11
"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility."

Thus, as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the world, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose". The differences between men and women are intended to bring about the very opposition, necessary in a marriage, that cause us to apply gospel principles in order to find reconciliation - and in that process, we become Christlike. What other condition in life provides such personal growth? 

“The love of which the Lord speaks is not only physical attraction, but also faith, confidence, understanding, and partnership. It is devotion and companionship, parenthood, common ideals and standards. It is cleanliness of life and sacrifice and unselfishness” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 248).

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of living a selflessness life and in the midst of relentless opposition, even unto death. In similitude, we are commanded to emulate Him, without exception. 

There's simply no way that a husband and wife can achieve the kind of marriage considered acceptable to God, and required in order to qualify that sacred relationship to be eternal, without both actively seeking the influence of Christ in how they act within that marriage - consistently.

With an understanding of what it takes to create an eternal marriage, deemed 'successful' by those outside of the Christian faith, it's not unreasonable that when advocating the principle of love for God, over self, it would initially be rejected  - thinking the possibility a childhood fairytale, or something that only happens in a cheesy movie.

The truth is, that without God there is much that is impossible!

Marriage is hard work. Creating a loving and joyful marriage is only possible when both husband and wife are committed to offering their best efforts to overcoming the natural tendency, in all of us, to be selfish, and choose instead to make each other their number one priority, acting in necessary harmony by which a secure and loving environment is created and experienced, equally. 

Every marriage, between a man and a woman, only, who embrace true principles by which to build, in order to overcome the many stumbling blocks inevitable in all marriages, is on the path to eventually becoming eternal. 

"Marriage is the foundry for social order, the fountain of virtue, and the foundation for eternal exaltation. Marriage has been divinely designated as an eternal and everlasting covenant. Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God. “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other.”* Children born of that marital union are “an heritage of the Lord.” Marriage is but the beginning bud of family life..." Elder Russell M. Nelson

Kathryn Skaggs 

Thomas S. Monson: Charity Never Faileth

*In following a recent discussion, which included some pretty good sources at figuring out viral numbers, it was speculated that the total number of people who have come in contact with Seth's story, online, when taking into consideration the mass media attention it's garnered, all combined, could very well be around 100 million! 

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