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President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaks April 2 during the General Priesthood Session of the 186th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Declaring that families are the order of heaven, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf declared in his priesthood session address, “Today I wish to speak in praise of those who save.”

President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said families “are an echo of a celestial pattern and an emulation of God’s eternal family.”

But strong marriage and family relationships do not just happen because one is a member of the Church, he observed. “They require constant, intentional work. The doctrine of eternal families must inspire us to dedicate our best efforts to saving and enriching our marriages and families. I admire and applaud those who have preserved and nourished these critical eternal relationships.”

President Uchtdorf said that of the many temple marriages he has performed over the years, none of the couples thought they would end up divorced or heartbroken.

“Unfortunately, some do,” he lamented. “Somehow, as the days multiply and the color of romantic love changes, there are some who slowly stop thinking of each other’s happiness and start noticing the little faults. In such an environment, some are enticed by the tragic conclusion that their spouse isn’t smart enough, fun enough or young enough. And somehow they get the idea that this gives them justification to start looking elsewhere.”

For any of his listeners whom that comes close to describing, he pleaded with them “to stop now, turn around and come back to the safe path of integrity and loyalty to covenants.”

He gave counsel “to those of our single brethren who follow the deception that they first have to find the ‘perfect woman’ before they can enter into a serious courting or marriage. My beloved brethren, may I remind you, if there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?

“In God’s plan of happiness we are not so much looking for someone perfect but for a person with whom, throughout a lifetime, we can join efforts to create a loving, lasting and more perfect relationship. That is the goal.”

President Uchtdorf said this pursuit takes time, patience and, above all, the Atonement of Christ.

“All this won’t just happen in an instant,” he said. “Great marriages are built brick by brick, day after day, over a lifetime.”

That is good news, he said, “because no matter how flat your relationship may be at present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow.”

President Uchtdorf said those who save their marriages choose happiness.

“If we look for imperfections in our spouse or irritations in our marriage, we will certainly find them, because everyone has some,” he said. “On the other hand, if we look for the good, we will surely find it, because everyone has many good qualities too.”

He added, “Those who save marriages pull out the weeds and water the flowers. They celebrate the small acts of grace that spark tender feelings of charity. Those who save marriages save future generations.”

President Uchtdorf said every family needs saving and that there are no perfect families.

“We may share the same gene pool, but we are not the same,” he observed.

“Rather than attempting to force everyone into a mold of our own making, we can choose to celebrate these differences and appreciate them for adding richness and constant surprises to our lives.”

Acknowledging that sometimes members of families make choices or do things that are thoughtless, hurtful or immoral, President Uchtdorf said, “There is not one solution that covers every situation. Those who save their families are successful because they counsel with their spouse and family, seek the will of the Lord and listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost. They know that what is right for one family may not be right for another.”

One thing is right in every case, however, he said, citing the people told of in 4 Nephi 1:15-16, who were happy because the love of God dwelt in their hearts and they had charity.

He warned that the great enemy of charity is pride.

“Pride may be a common human failing, but it is not part of our spiritual heritage, and it has no place among the holders of the priesthood of God."

rscott@deseretnews.com

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