Marriage and family are the most rewarding work one will ever do, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley declared during a governor's conference on marriage in Salt Lake City Sept. 18.
Sister Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, was the main speaker at a dinner at the conclusion of an evening of marriage and family workshops for some 1,000 people at the Salt Palace, a convention center in downtown Salt Lake City. Accompanying her to the dinner was President Hinckley, who spoke briefly after his wife did.Also present on the stand with President and Sister Hinckley were Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt and his wife, Jacalyn, who co-chair the Governor's Initiative on Families Today, which sponsored the marriage conference.
After Gov. Leavitt introduced Sister Hinckley and as she approached the microphone, those attending arose and gave her a standing ovation. She seemed a bit taken aback and drew chuckles from the audience by saying, "This is the first time any audience has stood up and clapped for me. It's a great experience."
She then spoke of her 61 years of marriage to President Hinckley. "Together, we have raised five children and we now enjoy the association of 25 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. We are very blessed."
Speaking of their marriage on April 29, 1937, in the Salt Lake Temple, she related: "Money was very scarce, but we were full of hope and optimism."
She added that they desired a happy home. "We loved each other; there was no doubt about that, but we also had to get used to each other. I think every couple has to get used to each other. Early on I realized it would be better if we worked harder to get used to each other than constantly try to change each other."
Then, after expressing her gratitude for marriage and family, Sister Hinckley suggested to her listeners three things that she surmises helped "as we walked this road for 61 years."
- "Develop mutual respect. Husbands, wives and children rise higher when they are treated with respect. Use courteous and respectful language when talking to one another."
Speaking of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers "standing on higher ground," Sister Hinckley added, "There can be weariness and frustration in their activities, but there is also great joy."
Sister Hinckley counseled couples not to be too demanding of each other. Speaking of her husband, she recalled, "From the beginning, he gave me space to let me fly. I really hope that I have been equally undemanding of him."
- Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done - with a cheerful heart. To illustrate her point, she told the story of "Francie," who graduated from BYU with honors in three years and was the first woman to graduate in youth leadership with an outdoor emphasis. She also had retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding eye disease. After being diagnosed, she went on to graduate school at Michigan State University, married and had four children.
- Laugh a lot. "We either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me somewhat of a headache," Sister Hinckley said, bringing laughter from the audience.
Then, after speaking of the importance of kind words and smiles of approval, she concluded, "After six decades of marriage, I can tell you it's worth it."
As Sister Hinckley took her seat, Gov. Leavitt invited President Hinckley to say a few words. The Church president stood at the microphone and quipped, speaking of his wife, "She's a clever woman. I'm glad I married her," bringing laughter from those attending.
He then counseled: "The key to happiness in marriage lies not in any romantic kind of pattern but in the simple procedure of wanting always to see to the comfort and the well-being of my companion.
"If you will make the major concern of your association the well-being and the happiness of your companion, your lives will be rich and full and you'll have cause to rejoice for as long as you live."