At our fingertips, we have access to epic tales of romance, songs of passionate affection, and chick-flicks-galore. But while these compositions captivate our imagination, they leave us wondering what ‘true love’ really looks like when it isn’t scripted or airbrushed.
Brittney and I are convinced that Elder Richard G. Scott and his sweet wife, Jeanene, share one of the truly great love stories of all time.
When Elder Scott visited Mozambique, my mission president mentioned how striking it was that, even as a widower, Elder Scott spoke of his wife as though she were still with him. He would say things like, “I don’t think Jeanene would want me to have another piece of cake.” Even though she had passed away 15 years prior, he kept her ever present in his thoughts and conversation.
There’s just no way you can listen to Elder Scott speak of marriage and his “beloved Jeanene” without feeling incredibly touched. Throughout his apostleship, he revealed details of their marriage that help us understand everything true love was meant to be.
The following are 7 traits of true love that we learn from the Scotts.
1. They inspired each other to be better
Elder Scott has often remarked that he had no plans of serving a mission until one day in conversation with Jeanene, she mentioned that she planned on marrying a faithful returned missionary in the temple.
Elder Scott said, “I hadn’t thought much about a mission before then. That night my motivation to consider missionary service changed dramatically. I went home, and I could think of nothing else. I was awake all night long. I was completely distracted from my studies the next day. After many prayers I made the decision to meet with my bishop and begin my missionary application.
“Jeanene never asked me to serve a mission for her. She loved me enough to share her conviction and then gave me the opportunity to work out the direction of my own life. We both served missions and later were sealed in the temple. Jeanene’s courage and commitment to her faith have made all the difference in our lives together…She is a wonderful, righteous example!
“The influence of my…wife, Jeanene, would have been negligible had I not first known that [she] loved me and wanted me to have the best in life…I was so immature, and she was so disciplined and so spiritual. Marriage provides an ideal setting for overcoming any tendency to be selfish or self-centered.”
2. They thoughtfully served one another
“I learned from my wife the importance of expressions of love. Early in our marriage, often I would open my scriptures to give a message in a meeting, and I would find an affectionate, supportive note Jeanene had slipped into the pages. Sometimes they were so tender that I could hardly talk. Those precious notes from a loving wife were and continue to be a priceless treasure of comfort and inspiration.
“I began to do the same thing with her, not realizing how much it truly meant to her. I remember one year we didn’t have the resources for me to give her a valentine, so I decided to paint a watercolor on the front of the refrigerator. I did the best I could; only I made one mistake. It was enamel paint, not watercolor. She never let me try to remove that permanent paint from the refrigerator.
“I remember one day I took some of those little round paper circles that form when you punch holes in paper, and I wrote on them the numbers 1 to 100. I turned each over and wrote her a message, one word on each circle. Then I scooped them up and put them in an envelope. I thought she would get a good laugh.
“When she passed away, I found in her private things how much she appreciated the simple messages that we shared with each other. I noted that she had carefully pasted every one of those circles on a piece of paper. She not only kept my notes to her, but she protected them with plastic coverings as if they were a valuable treasure. There is only one that she didn’t put with the others. It is still behind the glass in our kitchen clock. It reads, “Jeanene, it is time to tell you I love you.” It remains there and reminds me of that exceptional daughter of Father in Heaven.”
3. They were a team
When Elder Scott was called to work in the Church’s Family History department as a Seventy, they both dove into the work together. This pattern was so characteristic of the Scotts that a Church article later remarked: “It’s no surprise to see Sister Scott immersed so completely in an area where her husband is heavily involved.”
And it wasn’t just in their Church service, but in their home as well. One of their daughters commented, “When I think of Dad, I think of Mother too. I see my parents functioning as a team.”
4. They supported each other’s roles
Elder Scott makes clear how sacred he considered his wife’s role as a woman and mother. He said, “I know what it is to love a daughter of God who with grace and devotion served with the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood.”
“I testify that as each woman seeks [a confirmation of her immense individual worth] in faith and obedience, the Savior will continually prompt her through the Holy Ghost. That guidance will lead her to fulfillment, peace, and a consuming joy through magnifying her divinely appointed, sacred womanhood. I know the Savior will do that.”
But not only did Elder Scott value and support Jeneane in her role as a woman, she did the same for him. Elder Scott shared the following story in support of this:
“Once I learned an important lesson from my wife. I traveled extensively in my profession. I had been gone almost two weeks and returned home one Saturday morning. I had four hours before I needed to attend another meeting. I noticed that our little washing machine had broken down and my wife was washing the clothes by hand. I began to fix the machine.
Jeanene came by and said, “Rich, what are you doing?”
I said, “I’m repairing the washing machine so you don’t have to do this by hand.”
She said, “No. Go play with the children.”
I said, “I can play with the children anytime. I want to help you.”
Then she said, “Richard, please go play with the children.”
When she spoke to me that authoritatively, I obeyed.
I had a marvelous time with our children. We chased each other around and rolled in the fall leaves. Later I went to my meeting. I probably would have forgotten that experience were it not for the lesson that she wanted me to learn.
The next morning about 4:00 a.m., I was awakened as I felt two little arms around my neck, a kiss on the cheek, and these words whispered in my ear, which I will never forget: “Dad, I love you. You are my best friend.”
5. They thought the world of each other
Elder Scott always spoke highly and tenderly of his wife, Jeanene.
Once in general conference, he quoted a “choice mother” who, as we discover in the footnotes of his talk, was his wife Jeanene. Elder Scott has also remarked that his wife “excels me in every worthwhile quality” and that “she is a tower of strength to me.” And throughout all of his addresses, including long after her death, he ever refers to Jeanene as his “cherished companion”, “my precious wife”, and “beloved Jeanene.”
6. They put the Lord first
Throughout their lives the Scotts made many sacrifices in their service to the Lord. They both made a point of doing all that was asked of them without complaint. And while their marriage was of the utmost importance to each of them, their first priority was always the Lord.
Elder Scott commented, “I am certain we would not have found the happiness we enjoy without [Jeanene’s] strong faith in the principle of serving the Lord first.” And one of their children remarked that it was because of Jeanene’s love for the Lord and her loyalty to His work that she was able to be such a strong support to Elder Scott in the callings he held later in life.
7. They struggled and laughed together
The Scotts faced numerous trials, but they faced them together and trusted in the Lord. Elder Scott remarked, “At times my wife, Jeanene, and I have had challenges that seemed more difficult than we could possibly face alone. Once she lost a baby girl and nearly her life. Within six weeks, another beloved son was taken home. We pled for help, and it came.”
But amid the challenges that life brought them, they also learned to have fun together. Someone said of the Scotts’ relationship that “humor and laughter are friendly companions in their marriage. They tease one another, but it’s a gentle teasing. Their affection for each other and their sensitivity to one another’s needs are lasting memories for their children.”
Elder Scott said of their marriage: “we have an awful lot of fun together!” To which Jeanene responded, “We really do. He’s my best friend.”
While we were dating, Dustin and I were so touched by the love that Elder and Sister Scott had for each other that we decided to get married on the day of their 50th Wedding Anniversary: July 16, 2013—in honor of true love.
Hopefully we will all strive to live up to the words used to describe the Scotts’ marriage at Jeanene’s funeral: “their marriage is a love affair that will never end.”
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By Dustin and Brittney Phelps
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