Recently, I have been giving serious thought to the role that my wife plays in my life. This contemplation was started by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve who asked me: “What would you have been without your wife, Ruth?” I could have answered immediately, “Not much,” but he already knew that.
His question penetrated my very soul and I spent the next twenty-four hours thinking about what I would have been without the loving, sweet support and the discipline of my wife. It shocked me a little to even contemplate on what my life would have been without her.
But now, in response to Elder Packer’s question. I would have to honestly answer that without my wife I would have been pretty much a failure. I do not claim to be an expert on marriage; I have only been married once, but thanks to my good wife, it was successful. I do not claim to have a better marriage than anyone else, but I do claim to be married to a great companion.
One of the great blessings of having a good wife is that she can be the source of the most basic of all human needs—love. The greatest unreserved love that I have received in my life has been from the good women in my family: my wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my daughters, and my sweet granddaughters.
The greatest sustaining influence in my mature years has been the constant, unqualified, unreserved love I have felt for my wife. The sacred relationship with my companion has been the supreme blessing of my life. I just can’t imagine what my life would have been without having had that blessing.
I am still affected by something that President Marion G. Romney said a few days after his companion, Sister Ida Romney, died in 1979. Addressing a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve in the temple, he said, “When Ida died, something went out of me. The holding force was gone.” At the graveside, he said to me, “Be good to your wife. Take her with you everywhere you can. The time will come when you will not be able to be together.”
I am ever grateful to many of the Brethren for their examples of kindness and thoughtfulness to their wives. I well remember, when I was a stake president, the example set by the late Elder S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy. At that time, his first wife, Gladys, was an invalid, having suffered a cruel stroke. She remained that way for many years before her death in 1964. Brother Young made the extra effort to dress her, feed her, and care for her. In all my life I have not seen a greater example of gentleness and solicitude than Brother Young showed to Gladys. He once told me, “It was the worst thing in the world that could have happened to Gladys and the best thing for me. It made me decent. I learned what love really should be.”
Most men worry about being successful in their work, and they spend a great deal of time and effort at it. But I’ve learned through the example of such loving, considerate husbands such as Brother Young, that to be successful in our work, we have first to be successful in our homes as husbands and fathers.
And yet, too often we give more of our time and attention to our work associates outside the home than we do to our loved ones inside the home. I have come to realize that the work my wife did in our home was more important to me than any work I did outside our home.
I have also come to realize how much our wives are in constant need of our love, appreciation, companionship, and recognition. If we will meet these needs, we will enjoy a place of honor, dignity, and respect in our homes. We will receive a boundless sustaining love that will challenge us to reach down inside ourselves and bring forth the best that is within us.
We need to remind ourselves as husbands that our wives have been blessed with the divine gifts of intuition, faith, and love. They enjoy priesthood blessings even though they do not hold any priesthood office.
They can use these blessings to our great advantage as they gently provide discipline within our lives. They can keep us closer to what we ought to be in our holy callings. Their loving discipline is part of the polishing of our lives, the smoothing of the rough edges of our characters.
President N. Eldon Tanner’s daughter, Isabel, says about her father, “When Mother married Daddy he was just a farm boy.” But she goes on to say that when Sister Tanner would give him a loving suggestion, he would simply say, “If you think that’s what I should do, I’ll do it.” Listening to a good wife, and listening to the Lord has made a very great man out of President Tanner.
The simple fact is that few of us could function nearly as well as we do without the support of our gracious and loving wives. Perhaps all too often, we fail to express our appreciation to them; we accept or become used to them without really noticing them. But how can I expect the Lord to honor me and be pleased with my service if I do not honor and cherish my very own companion?
It is an unrighteous exercise of priesthood authority for a man to withhold or limit blessings that should flow through his priesthood to his wife and family. Priesthood blessings are not just male- or husband-oriented, but reach their potential flowering in the eternal relationship of the husband and wife sharing and administering these great blessings to our families. These blessings are the keys to eternal life, salvation, and exaltation through obedience.
We must strive for greater spirituality in our relationship with our wives and families. Literally taking the Lord into partnership with us will bring us a full measure of peace, happiness, unity, and contentment.
I know the gospel is true, and I know that a substantial part of that gospel is how I treat my wife on an hour-to-hour, day-to-day, on-going basis. I believe that none of us can come into full possession of all our powers without an eternal companion. I suggest that the ultimate judgement will come to us in terms of what kind of person we have been, what kind of husband we have been, what kind of father we have been, and what kind of family we have raised.
Brethren, we need to live by the Lords commandment, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22.)
Let’s Talk about It
After reading “Brethren, Love Your Wives” you may wish to discuss some of the following questions during a husband/wife study period:
1. How important is it for you to receive love, confidence, appreciation, and support from your spouse? In what ways do you freely share these things with each other?
2. The article says that “to be successful in our work, we have first to be successful in our homes.” Why is it important to establish this priority?
3. “Taking the Lord into partnership with us,” says the article, “will bring us a full measure of peace, happiness, unity, and contentment.” How can a husband and wife include the Lord as a partner in their marriage?
4. Individually make lists of the things you appreciate about each other. Discuss what you have written.