Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon
I am out for a bargain; the object should be
desirable from the standpoint of its social
value, and at the same time should want me,
considering my overt and hidden assets and 
potentialities.  Two persons thus fall in love
when they feel they have found the best 
objects available on the market, considering
the limitations of their own exchange values.
Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden
potentialities which can be developed play
a considerable role in this bargain.
from: The Art of Loving
by: Erik Fromm

Many of we  Stephensons have been talking a lot about marriage around here.  We  belong to a spectacular family and extended family.  And we have marriages…as our darling nieces and nephews  find loved ones.  Marriages are joyous occasions and a cause for reflection.  Last weekend dear Mikele and Seth were sealed….for time and all eternity.  It’s a beautiful thing…for I do believe that when we bring God into this ‘contract’ we  broaden our chances to have an enduring marriage…we see that  our purposes are higher than  just outward appearances. 
Do we realize how unique we Mormons are?  Very few  religions teach the truth or even believe that marriages can be eternal.  So few teach that that is what God intends for us….for our families to be eternal.  We aim for the eternities!!  At the risk of sounding over the top…we aim for thrones, principalities and powers in eternal worlds.  I think most folks do believe that we are all made in the image of God who is eternal…so why not us!!??
But I stray from the subject at hand.  Pondering marriage.  Theories abound about what makes a good marriage and what qualities are required for the best mate.    My thoughts are always drawn back to the idea of  arranged marriages.  I realize that this is  a strange platform to begin with  …for it seems such a foreign concept this day and age.  But the ‘ancient’ practice  gets one to thinking about what it is that makes a marriage successful.  What are the elements of a good marriage?  (please note—this post if for ME!!  I have much to improve on)

We all want happiness. 
I have learned that it is NOT my spouses responsibility to bring me happiness.  I am in charge of my own happiness.  And the only way to find real happiness is to serve one another.  Service in marriage should be easy!! There are so many diverse ways!!  When we serve Love grows.  We must always be on guard for our acts of  selfishness.  Arranged or not…we can always serve. ..and love will grow.
Did you know that  one can literally become addicted to the state of unhappiness……..or to happiness. 
Did you know that our thoughts are real, tangible objects, not just fluffy, ethereal stuff?  Here’s what I  have come to understand.  A Dr Pert did some studies, and found that every thought you have has an unique neuropeptide associated with it, and your body, in turn, produces that unique  neuropeptide every time you experience  that particular thought, and the emotion associated with it. A neuropeptide  is a simple, protein based amino acid and is produced by your hypothalamus,  the “control center”  at the base of our brain.  So every time we have a thought, our hypothalamus ‘translates’ that thought into billions of neuropeptides that are uniquely associated with the emotion you are experiencing because of that thought.  And then our bloodstream is flooded with billions of the unique neuropeptides  associated with the emotion you have just been experiencing.  My thought, translated into a neuropeptide, literally becomes a molecular messenger of emotion.  When in my bloodstream, these neuropeptides are physically  assimilated by your body’s cells. The neuropeptides join  with your cells by inserting themselves into a special receptacle on each cell’s membrane- like a key fitting into a keyhole.  Each neuropeptide receptacle on a cell’s membrane is specifically designed to fit just that one particular peptide and no other. So once that peptide finds the right receptacle on the cell membrane, that amino acid is absorbed into the cell. 
Over time, this Dr Pert found that our cells develop more and more unique receptacles on their membranes to capture the neuropeptides to which they are most often exposed.  Dr Pert also found that over time, our cells begin to crave the neuropeptides to which they are most often exposed (and have built the unique receptacles to receive.)  In fact, she found that our cells become so accustomed to the unique peptides to which they are most often exposed that the cells cover their membranes with nothing but those receptacles for those neuropeptides!! Which in turn actually shut down other vital functions, and our cells become  nothing but vessels to ingest the unique peptide they most often experience.   This means that our cells start ‘telling’ our hypothalamus to produce these particular  neuropeptides because they have developed an actual physical need for them.  Many, many times I have become addicted to Pepsi; to the point of breaking the Sabbath to obtain one.  This is how these cells feel towards their neuropeptides!!  Its daunting to think now with this information, that the only way our hypothalamus can produce the peptides that my cells are now physically addicted to is for me to experience the emotions that will create them!! And the only way my brain can experience the emotions necessary to create those neuropeptides is for it to see and experience a physical reality that will create for those emotions.  If I have felt sad these last several years….my cells are now essentially dictating to me what Im experiencing is indeed sad, because they are controlling my emotional state. My body may actually be physically addicted to this emotional state…even though I know these emotions are painful for me.
Here’s to building new peptides and receptacles!! And  Im guessing service builds amazing, new neuropeptides too!!

Next there is loyalty in marriage.
Loyalty means to be faithful and true. It means  fidelity in all we do.  A marriage before God calls us to be both loyal and true.  The world would have us not worry about  such things.  Being virtuous and responsible for our actions is not encouraged. 
We should be the best we can be. To ourselves and to our love. May I quote here: “ We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and it’s never to be undone.  Every small stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar.   The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson’s play, excuses himself for every fresh  misdeed by saying, ‘I won’t count this time.’  “  A psychologist has this to say about  our justifying our actions especially those actions of least resistance, and us believing it doesn’t  really count-  “You may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted nonetheless.  Down among our nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering  and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes.  (our physical bodies are such a wonder!!) Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out.  Of course, this has its good side as well as its bad one.  As we come permanent drunkards-as in Rip's case, by so many separate drinks,(acts of omission in case of marriage)  we become saints(do-gooders) in the moral sphere, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work (good deeds).  Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education (or marriage) whatever it may be.  If he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the day, he may safely leave the final result to itself.  He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. ( a good marriage)  Silently, between all the details of his business (marriage) the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within  him a possession that will never pass away.  Young people should know this truth in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youth embarking on arduous endeavors than all other causes put together. (Psychology  William James Henry Holt 18920
My dumbed down version:  Marriage is work.  Put in the time and  effort…lots of effort…and you will wake up many a morning and be ever so grateful for and more in love with the one you love. It will be worth it.  It will bring much joy and satisfaction.  Send good and positive vibes down to those very molecules that make beautiful you!! Be loyal to thyself and to the one you love.  If your marriage was arranged…you worked at it every day!! There was no other option!! The same applies today!!

Next helpful tip:  Continue the wooing!
Just because there’s a ring and a sealing doesn’t mean the fun can end.  Wooing should never cease.  Have fun together. Keeping dating.   Remember kind words,  and  appreciation expressed often, and  courteous acts mean so much.  It is always about the small things.  Love feeds on kindnesses and courtesy.
 And you ladies remember- Dr Laura is oh so wise when she counsels us to LOVE them, intimately,  feed them and tell them how great they are.  It is that simple!!

Next is practicing self-control.
My mother and your mother taught you  that ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!’  Biting ones tongue becomes a fine art…if practiced!!  If we refrain from saying hurtful words..we gain much happiness in our marriages.

So in the end what is it that this old lady wants you to know? 
-we overthink
-we underthink
-have faith
-we  need to practice the Golden Rule
-we are responsible for our own happiness…even in marriage. 
-when we serve…love grows….and grows…and grows.
-work at it!
-find out what your lovers Love Language is. Then shower it upon them!!
-be true to yourself
-remember, God is there to help 
-take  Hollywood and the world out of marriage mores.  Bring God in.

-Glory in the wonder of it all!!

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