Written about 15 years ago.
We left the Oakland Temple, two converts filled with optimism and determination to make a celestial family. A few years later, I was in tears. Where was the loving, unified couple we had hoped to be? Our two fussy children hardly made us a happy family. What were we doing wrong?
As I saw us repeating old family traditions, I felt trapped. Neither of us had any idea how to do better. It was then that we began to realize that we couldn’t change by ourselves. No matter how hard we tried, we would simply go in circles and never be free from the mistakes of the past.
We began to see that the power to change came through the atonement. This thought brought us comfort and hope, but we still didn’t know what to do. I know I prayed for my husband and children to change, everyone but myself, and suspect that my husband had similar prayers. I asked for help and nothing happened. I was discouraged.
As I continued to pray for help, the Lord gave me understanding. I came to see that I had been expecting Heavenly Father to instantly make our lives happy without much effort on our part. It was a new idea for me to rely on revelation to guide my life. Slowly, ideas came. I studied articles from the Ensign and books on marriage and child raising. I watched families at church and listened to the older sisters share their insights in Relief Society (woman's organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
My husband and I discussed goals. Now we came to the Lord united, and asked for help to do some of the things we had decided on. We thought about the family traditions we grew up with and compared them with Gospel standards. We wanted to make our holidays center on the Savior. We changed Christmas gift getting to gift giving and did an Easter egg hunt on a day other than Easter. We discussed finances and roles. We read scriptures together, prayed, and did family activities. I made job charts to help our children learn responsibility, and we tried to include our children as we served others.
Slowly, our lives changed as we listened and tried to live the commandments. It wasn’t magical. It took years, patience, effort, and lots of help from Heavenly Father, but it came. Now we see our children marrying in the temple and raising their families with Gospel principles and know that the cycle of family pain has been broken at last.