As I listened to a woman talk about her struggles in her relationship with her husband, I recognized that there were several gestures on his part to be conciliatory, to reach out to her but she rejected each one and he finally gave up. It’s so important to “receive” in marriage. I see this so often where one spouse complains about the other not doing certain things but when they make the efforts, they’re ignored, discounted or blatantly rejected. As the cliché goes, marriage is about “give and take". Maybe a better way to describe it is “give and receive”. Receiving in this context is often not a passive thing. Rather, it often takes a lot of “self work” (self-control/self-discipline) to accept efforts from another who has previously withheld them or even done hurtful things. It takes letting go of anger, resentment, disappointment and really humbling oneself to receive the efforts one has requested. If this is not done, the vicious cycle, which both spouses are caught up in, can not be reversed.
“Receiving” is an essential act not just in marriage but in being able to access the gifts the Lord wishes to bless us with. He cannot and will not force these gifts on us. That would go counter to our very purpose of existence – to have agency, to be free to choose so that we can grow and progress, fulfilling our purpose on earth. If we’re not able to willingly and humbly receive gestures from another, how can we receive the greatest gift of all, even the Atonement? It was freely given and must be freely received.