Marriage is one of the most important steps your children will ever take. Don't let them begin this journey without your seasoned counsel. Take the time to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion. Many problems can be avoided if parents will take this responsibility seriously and lovingly counsel their soon-to-be-married child.

Seven things they need to hear from you:

1. Be absolutely, 100 percent true and faithful to your spouse. Once you've tied the knot, looking at others with romantic interest is over. Do not flirt with others, do not engage in intimate conversations with friends or associates of the opposite sex, and do not entertain any thought that someone else would be a better mate than the one you have. Keep remembering the things that attracted you to your spouse in the beginning and be satisfied with your choice. Don't ever forget that you are married!

2. Focus on the good qualities of your mate. Religious leader, David O. McKay, taught couples to "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterward." Your spouse is not going to be perfect, and neither will you. Pay attention to his or her endearing qualities and ignore the rest. We're all on a journey of becoming who we want to be. Be patient with your spouse in that journey. Compliment your sweetheart on his or her goodness and watch that good grow.

3. Be responsible for your own happiness. It's not your spouse's job to make you happy. He or she can contribute to it, but your happiness is not your spouse's responsibility. It's yours. When you focus on helping your husband or wife feel loved and cared for and stop thinking about what you want, your happiness will automatically follow. Selfishness sabotages marriage. Generosity, forgiveness and compassion fosters a strong marriage. If you have concerns, talk to your spouse about them in a kind and respectful way. Your happiness depends upon you.

4. Stay out of debt. Too many young couples jump into debt in order to have the things they want. Credit cards make this too easy, and can lead you into bondage with interest growing daily. Save up for the things you want, then pay cash. Debt leads to despair and often causes friction in marriage.

5. Any kind of spouse abuse is unacceptable. If you are being abused, let us know. We will help you. Abuse must never be allowed. Be sure that you are never the instigator of any kind of abuse. Never.

6. Create a loving relationship with your in-laws. It's OK to call them "mom" and "dad" if that's what you and they choose. We won't be offended or feel hurt by that. It's one way to show respect and to honor them. Care about them and include them. It will bless your marriage.

7. Be committed to your marriage. Do everything in your power to make your marriage last forever. Don't ever consider the idea that ending your marriage will solve your problems. It will only create bigger ones. Be determined to make your marriage work. There will be hard times. You will have differing opinions. Respect the differences and work together through the struggles that will come. Too often when difficulties arise people think it will be rosier if they get out of the marriage. Work through those times and hold on to each other. Don't let the word divorce enter your vocabulary regarding your own marriage.

As children come along, let them see and feel the security that their parents aren't going to split up their family. They need to know that your marriage is solid, no matter what. Of course, there are a few legitimate reasons for divorce, abuse being one of them, but these reasons are rare. Do everything in your power to stay married. In the long run you will be glad you did. Pray together for God's help in doing this. He is your partner in marriage and will help you succeed.

In conclusion

Help your children realize that friends and family are counting on their marriage to be lasting. They won't be coming to celebrate a temporary marriage. They expect you to stay married and be a blessing to your family and community. They will be watching and expecting good things of you. Marriage is not just about you, it's about making the world a better place for everyone.

There are many other bits of counsel you may want to give your children. Carefully consider the things that are important to you and share these thoughts with them. Let your children know you have confidence in their ability to have a successful marriage.

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