Arm in arm, President and Sister Gordon B. Hinckley entered the west board room in the Church Administration Building, facing the glare of camera lights, negotiating their way around cords to power video and audio equipment. They came into the room smiling, perhaps more out of politeness than pleasure at the prospect of what they were about to face: a volley of questions on the occasion of their 66th wedding anniversary. The questions were to come from two Church magazines, the Ensign and Liahona, and the Church News.
The room in which the interview took place is less than a block east of the Salt Lake Temple from which they emerged as husband and wife on April 29, 1937.
The day Gordon B. Hinckley took Marjorie Pay as his bride remains more than a faint memory, although neither could recall what the day itself was like, whether the sun was shining brightly or rain puddled in the streets. Sister Hinckley conceded that she had other things on her mind.
The careful observer can see that the years have done more than age President and Sister Hinckley. Time, if truth be known, has been their friend and ally, bringing an increase of togetherness and abundance of love. Years have slowed their steps but quickened their devotion to each other. Each day, it seems, brings something better than the day before.
"Did you understand love in 1937?" the Church News asked, angling for a perspective that young Gordon Hinckley might have had 66 years ago compared with the one he has today.
"Oh, sure, I think so," he replied. But, he added, he has a better understanding of love now.
"It takes on a different color, a different hue," he said. "As you grow older, your point of view changes on some things, your interests change. When you are young you are anxious to earn sufficient money to provide for your family and take care of them and see that they have music lessons, if they want them, or dance lessons. . . .
"You think of different things [as you age]. Sometimes you reflect on your aches and pains. They rob your attention, but you just go along and live your lives decently and quietly and respectfully. I can't overemphasize that. I deal so much with people who have had marital problems. I'm constantly working on that. That is a matter of great concern. When I see the behavior of some people, I just cannot understand it. It is so evil, so gross, so selfish. There is so much of unkindness, so much of bitterness and meanness. It is totally foreign to me in the life that I've had with my wife over these years. It is just difficult to understand."
Much has been written about the "give and take" required for a happy and successful marriage. It seems that President and Sister Hinckley's marriage philosophy has been based on the principle of "give and give," with the interests and well-being of the other taking precedence. In the end, it all evens out: with each giving, neither has to take.
President Hinckley spoke of their early years, saying that he "recognized she was extraordinary before I married her."
"I saw in her qualities that I admired and wanted. . . . I think I can honestly say that she was one of the most unselfish people I've ever known. She was totally unselfish in all of her activities and ways of doing things. Even before we were married, that was plainly evident."
And even as a young woman, Marjorie Pay recognized Gordon Hinckley was an extraordinary man, the kind of man she wanted to marry, one who, she said, "would put the Lord first."
Preparing to observe their 66th wedding anniversary, President and Sister Hinckley are well schooled in what's required for a happy and successful marriage. He summed up:
"You respect one another. Don't try to make over your companion. You respect her qualities, her ambitions, her desires, her talents, her capacities. Don't try to make her in your image. You let her fly her own kite, and you assist her in doing it. You'll be happier together."
What about the coming years? What do they look forward to?
"We just keep living. We just count each day a blessing," he said.
To that, Sister Hinckley added, "We do."
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