For background and context, read Lee's Blog first.
The most important thing to remember whenever this situation arises is that righteous unity in a marriage or companionship involves three parties, not two. I recognize three possible scenarios concerning the unity of the three involved parties and unity with the spirit is directly related to unity between spouses.
1: Spouses not united. Result: no unity with the spirit
2: Spouses united in an unrighteous cause. Result: no unity with the spirit
3: Spouses united in a righteous cause. Result: unity with the spirit
Of the three scenarios, only one will allow the spirit into a marriage. The odds are against us. From my experience in the mission, there were two contributing factors to the threat of unity.
1) Culture/background: affecting our individual perspective on ideals such as work, obedience, study, etc.
2) Language: affecting our ability to have clear communication
In a marriage, these two components apply. We have all been brought up in a unique family culture and may differ from that of our spouse. Anything from how to load the dishwasher to Sabbath activities has potential to cause discordance in a relationship. The only way to overcome these differences is through communication. This, however, can also be a barrier. I have found that even though we both speak English, misunderstandings still exist. We must patiently, prayerfully, and with the spirit strive to overcome these road blocks. We must take their hand and follow them to their viewing point.
On my mission there were times when I just could not see what my companions saw. I had little to no knowledge of their background and culture and I just couldn’t make the leap to their side of the mountain to see what they saw. Through various experiences, I learned that I needed to love them and trust them, knowing that they had the same righteous goals that I did and if their actions were best for them to accomplish our righteous goals, I needed to be willing to accept that and support them. When they felt that trust, they were much more careful about the decisions they made, sorting between what was necessary and what wasn’t. I too did the same. When I felt strongly about something, influenced by the power of the spirit, I was able to effectively explain my feelings with the help of the spirit and prayer. Because it was done with the spirit, it touched my companion and testified to her what was right. Because they had the same righteous goals, the righteous path was always accepted and unity resulted.
Lee mentioned something about assuming the best in your spouse. To me this means assume that they are also looking toward a righteous end. For whatever reason, what they are doing is their way to meet that goal. We need to trust them and support them. If we truly feel that what they are doing is not taking them to the righteous end, it is important to communicate. We cannot support them in an unrighteous cause or else the spirit will not be with us. But first, we must assume that it is a righteous cause and try to understand how their actions are leading to the righteous end. If it isn’t, the spirit will testify of the right path and since both are seeking righteousness, both will feel and accept the teachings of the spirit. We will know we are doing right because the three-fold unity will result.
As President Hinckley has counseled: Be grateful. Be smart. Be involved. Be clean. Be true. Be positive. Be humble. Be still. Be prayerful. I add: Be united in righteous causes.