When Your Wife Has a Church Calling …


Recently I interviewed an exceptionally stalwart priesthood holder for a temple recommend. I asked him if he sustained his bishop, his stake president, and the president of the Church. Of course his reply to each question was sincere, humble, and strongly affirmative. Then I asked him if he sustained his wife in her calling. He paused to think about it for a minute before answering that he did.

Then he added, “President, this has been very hard for me. In the past I was the one who held important executive positions in the Church, but now our roles are reversed. My wife is an auxiliary president; the phone calls are all for her, she goes to the leadership meetings, she is in the forefront of action. I’m the one now who stays home to take care of the children often while she’s doing Church work. I’m doing my best to support her, but this is a new experience.”

We counseled together about the eternal importance of husbands and wives working together as a team, sustaining and supporting each other in all aspects of their lives, and then concluded the interview.

Church service and activity lead to great personal fulfillment—for both men and women. As a change of pace from daily routine, Church assignments energize and revitalize us, as well as provide a vehicle for spiritual growth. They allow an expansion of our sphere of influence and provide the opportunity for unselfish service outside the home.

The sensitive husband will realize that he must sacrifice both time and effort in order for his wife to enjoy Church service and activity. I was surprised recently to learn that a good friend of mine, who is active in the Church, does not allow his wife to attend the evening Relief Society home-making classes because he would have to tend their young children. It seems incongruous that he would deny her that opportunity—and deny himself and the children that choice time together.

I contrast that to the excitement a young couple shared with me. When they moved to a new ward, the husband, who had served exceptionally well with our youth, was called to an administrative position to work with adults. I was a little sad when he wasn’t still assigned to youth because of the good rapport and respect he engendered with them. But his wife said, “Don’t worry, President, my husband is still working with the youth—I’m teaching the Laurels.”

This young couple had the right idea. They knew that since they were one, they shared, where appropriate, the positions each held. They knew that they needed each other’s help to be successful.

In a recent regional council meeting, a counselor in a stake presidency was sharing moments from his life and his testimony. As he talked about his wife, he said that at that moment she had a major responsibility in an auxiliary leadership meeting and he was praying that she would do well. I appreciated his example of supporting and sustaining his wife in his thoughts and prayers.

President Spencer W. Kimball has counseled the brethren of the Church to support their wives with more than just temporal support: “Peter urged us to give honor unto our wives (see 1 Pet. 3:7). … When Paul said that a man who did not provide for his own and those of his own household was ‘worse than an infidel’ (1 Tim. 5:8), I like to think of providing for our own as including providing them with affectional security as well as economic security. When the Lord told us in this dispensation that ‘women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance’ (D&C 83:2), I like to think of maintenance as including our obligation to maintain loving affection and to provide consideration and thoughtfulness as well as food. …

“Some of us are not as thoughtful and considerate of [our wives] as we should be. Our pantries can be filled with food and yet our sisters can be starved for affection and recognition.”

And then President Kimball spoke directly about Church assignments: “Let us, brethren, support the sisters of our household in their Church callings as they so wonderfully support us. Let us not neglect them simply because they sometimes go on being good even when they are neglected.” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, pp. 43–44.)

On another occasion, President Kimball explained the kind of partnership husbands and wives should have: “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner.” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 106.)

As I understand it, a full partner would be able to serve fully in the Church—and receive support and encouragement from the other partner in the marriage.

Paul explained it this way: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:11–12.)

The husband and wife are to be one, and as such they must progress forward to exaltation as a team, sustaining and supporting each other in all righteous endeavors they each undertake.

Perhaps we husbands could select a quiet time to express our love to our wife, tell her how much we want to be her companion eternally, and ask her what we can do to support and sustain her better—not only in her church calling, but in all aspects of her life. The rewards could be everlasting.

My One-Man Cheering Section

Two months after our wedding I was called as ward Relief Society president. Later I became ward Young Women president, and then stake Young Women president. Seven years into our marriage I was still filling executive Church positions.

So often in the Church it is the other way around, with the husband well known and holding the time-consuming positions. Without complaint, my husband drove the old car so I could drive the more dependable new one; he stayed home evenings when necessary while I made stake visits and conducted leadership meetings; he sat in the audience while I spoke in conferences; he willingly paid for extra supplies for Church activities; and he would listen to any problem or idea or concern I had.

What does my husband do to show he loves me? He sustains me in the callings I receive. I know I couldn’t fill them without him or his love. I hope I support him as well in his present and future callings. Elizabeth Nielsen

[illustration] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch

Gerald R. Schiefer serves as first counselor in the Ridgecrest California Stake presidency.