Thank You Doesn't Quite Do It

"Building a celestial marriage. The scriptures give an occasional glimpse into societies in which people “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18), where “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (4 Ne. 1:15.)" —Spencer J. Condie, And We Did Liken the Scriptures unto Our Marriage

Thank you doesn't communicate the profound appreciation I have for my wife. It seems too trite. In no way does it express the joy, all accepting love and adoration I feel from my wife and what she has provide for me, or the Christ-like example and courageous endurance with which she not only accepted but full-heartedly committed in supporting me in my Master’s program. To convey even slightly the miracle and blessing this has been, I must share briefly how we got to this point.

When I was thirteen I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I wanted to be a psychotherapist. It’s an unusual story, and what kid knows they want to be a therapist? A firefighter, astronaut, race car driver, a professional skateboarder, surfer, sure. But a therapist? I might have been the only one ever in the history of the world. Although I didn’t know such a career existed or the vocabulary to describe my passion at the time, I was fascinated by human behavior. My stargazing was people watching. I got just as much awe and sense of magnificence from viewing the human experience as looking into a clear star-filled night. It wasn’t until I found a college “Intro to Psychology” textbook a couple years later that I realized it was a career and entire field of study. I took that textbook everywhere and devoured it. When in high school I was reading Jung, Fraud, Maslow and Rodgers. I was bored with fiction and thought it was a waste of time. I wanted more; I wanted to understand why people do what they do, what made them tick, both the emotional and logical.

I couldn't wait to get out of high school; it felt like a wasteful distraction. Finally in college, I took as many classes as possible in the field of psychology. It came naturally and with little effort. I remember Dr. Mark Chamberlain’s (an individual I greatly admire) occasional surprised look when I would respond in class. One such experience came when in the first week of class he was addressing various topics that were going to be covered in the coming months. He began to briefly address the issue with cancer patients and their aversion to food during chemo. I asked if he was referring to the “Garcia Effect.” His look was both of surprise and joy to hear his new freshman’s passion for the topic.

Ironically, my very passion and joy in understanding human relationships was most challenged in my first marriage. My dear bride, my love, my friend, struggled with my decision to become a therapist. Additionally, she had put her education on hold to get married. It wasn't clear to me at the time why there was such an opposition to my career choice. Nonetheless, I desired to be one with her and support her in her education. I made the very difficult decision to postpone indefinitely, my therapist career path.

The next 13 years were filled with great memories and equally difficult memories. In no way do I regret or resent those thirteen years. If anything, I learned more about human relationships than any class would have provided. I learned how to love unconditionally, forgive, be forgiven, courage, trust, how to be an individual in a marriage and how to see the heart of another who is struggling — see them not as their pain or struggle but for who they are as a person, a human, a child of God. The marriage ended, but some time later, I met Julie.

On June 8, 2012, we married in storybook fashion. If anyone tells you there is no such thing, stop them with a dramatic pause and confidently assure them that is not true and show them this video. (I must add, after the events in the video, she climbed up on the roof at 11 p.m. and shouted from the rooftop that she was getting married.) Storybook marriages are real. Period.

It was Julie’s loving prompting that encouraged me back onto the path to becoming a therapist. This was not a rash decision; it was thought about long and hard. You see, it wasn't just a dream come true marriage between to people. This blessing included five children, three daughters from her and two sons from me — in addition to two ex-spouses. Adjusting to a "normal" life would have been difficult enough. But going to school again would require me to be absent from home for long periods of time. With a full-time job, full-time schooling and eventually a full load of clients, it was rare for me to be home. In the last year of the 2.5 years schooling, we were routinely waking up at 4:30 a.m. and retiring at 10 or 11 p.m. at night. We often joked that we saw each other more during our courtship when she lived in Utah and I in California.

Now after almost three years of marriage, I have finished my Master’s in marriage and family therapy. Her love and support wasn't limited to encouraging me to achieve my dreams; she made them her own, our dreams. This was not my goal. It was ours. She will sometimes even say WE are getting our master’s degree. This was not just getting through a difficult time; it was becoming one. Loving the process as Elder Maxwell has said, one is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord “seeth fit to inflict upon [us].” 

We read in Mosiah about how the Lord simultaneously tries the patience of His people even as He tries their faith (Mosiah 23:21). One is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord “seeth fit to inflict upon [us]” (Mosiah 3:19), just as did a group of ancient American saints who were bearing unusual burdens but who submitted “cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15). —Elder Maxwell, Patience

Julie, my love exemplifies the meaning of Elder Maxwell's words.

Additionally, in these three years she has sent two daughters off to college, one on a mission, put two boys through the cub scout program, remodeled our home, started a new career, jumped two feet into a new business venture. She found daily ways to bring us as a family closer to Christ. We valued our 5 a.m. "dates" at the gym, long hours of editing papers, and many insightful heart-to-heart conversations.

In every way, she has been that best friend, complete adoring partner in life. We are deeper and more in love now then ever before. This is my feeble attempt at expressing my deep and ever-grateful love and gratitude for all you have done. Thank you.