President Monson Praised His Wife from the Pulpit
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Sister Frances J. Monson was a quiet, unassuming woman who, in general, lived her life and raised and supported her family away from the public spotlight.
Still, Church members worldwide came to know and love this dutiful woman through her husband, President Thomas S. Monson. The Church’s 16th President often spoke of Sister Monson at the pulpit during general conference and in personal conversations with friends and interviews with members of the media. His words of affection and admiration for his companion allowed Church members to feel a connection to Sister Monson.
In the April 2008 general conference, President Monson spoke of his gratitude for his wife, the mother of his three children:
“I thank my Father in Heaven for my sweet companion, Frances. This October she and I will celebrate 60 wonderful years of marriage. Although my Church service began at an early age, she has never once complained when I’ve left home to attend meetings or to fulfill an assignment. For many years my assignments as a member of the Twelve took me away from Salt Lake City often—sometimes for five weeks at a time—leaving her alone to care for our small children and our home. Beginning when I was called as a bishop at the age of 22, we have seldom had the luxury of sitting together during a Church service. I could not have asked for a more loyal, loving, and understanding companion” (“Looking Back and Moving Forward”).
The Monsons invoked the companionship and counsel of the Lord throughout their marriage. Daily prayer strengthened their marital bond. They learned the importance of praying together on the first day of their union. In the October 1988 general conference, President Monson said:
“On October 7, my wife, Frances, and I will have been married forty years. Our marriage took place just to the east of us in the holy temple. He who performed the ceremony, Benjamin Bowring, counseled us: ‘May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another’” (“Hallmarks of a Happy Home”).
President Monson’s public words of affection and admiration for his companion allowed members to feel a connection to Sister Monson. Photo by Gerry Avant.
During the April 2008 general conference, President Monson used humor and tenderness as he shared counsel on how spouses should treat one another:
“The first day I saw Frances, I knew I’d found the right one. The Lord brought us together later, and I asked her to go out with me. …
“My sweet Frances had a terrible fall a few years ago. She went to the hospital. She lay in a coma for about 18 days. I sat by her side. She never moved a muscle. The children cried, the grandchildren cried, and I wept. Not a movement.
“And then one day, she opened her eyes. I set a speed record in getting to her side. I gave her a kiss and a hug, and I said, ‘You’re back. I love you.’ And she said, ‘I love you, too, Tom, but we’re in serious trouble.’ I thought, ‘What do you know about trouble, Frances?’ She said, ‘I forgot to mail in our fourth-quarter income tax payment.’
“I said to her, ‘Frances, if you had said that before you extended a kiss to me and told me you love me, I might have left you here.’
“Brethren, let’s treat our wives with dignity and with respect. They’re our eternal companions. Sisters, honor your husbands. They need to hear a good word. They need a friendly smile. They need a warm expression of true love.”
With a twinkle in his eye, President Monson spoke of his wife’s patience with her husband:
“Several years ago my dear wife went to the hospital. She left a note behind for the children: ‘Dear children, do not let Daddy touch the microwave’—followed by a comma, ‘or the stove, or the dishwasher, or the dryer.’ I’m embarrassed to add any more to that list” (“Looking Back and Moving Forward”).
On the occasion of President and Sister Monson’s 60th anniversary, he commented about some of the things he felt had contributed to the success of their marriage. He discouraged the practice of “put downs.”
“[I tell men,] don’t embarrass your wife in front of someone else. If you can’t say something complimentary, don’t say it. Bite your tongue and don’t say it. The old divine law should apply in marriage, as everywhere else: ‘Treat others as you like to be treated.’ Don’t make fun of anyone. They may laugh, but deep down it hurts” (Gerry Avant, unpublished Church News interview notes, Sept. 17, 2008).