Monday, February 6, 2012

Kindness in Marriage

"At Newport-Bains" by Isidor Verheyden

This morning, my husband and I read a cute and funny post called "Things Your Husband Does Not Want to Hear" over at Middle-Aged Mormon Man. 

Unfortunately, we also read the comments together, and by the time we were finished, we both felt really uncomfortable, and-- well, SAD. Some of the comments were cute and harmless, but some of them were downright disturbing.

We were both shocked at the mean things that some of the wives were saying to-- and about-- their husbands. In general, the tone of many of the women was pretty condescending toward their spouses.

I have written on this subject before, but in this day and age it bears saying again. Kindness in marriage should not go only in one direction: from the husband to the wife. 

Of course, we know that worthy Priesthood holders need to practice righteous dominion in the home, as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 121:39-44:
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men [and women], as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--
Reproaching betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; 
That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
BUT, does the scripture above only refer to the men of the Church? Does it apply only to husbands, fathers, and Church leaders?

I submit that the scripture above is for ALL of us. In fact, it reminds me of a similar scripture in the New Testament:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 
Sadly, I have found that the prevailing attitude of the women in the world today is that "husbands are stupid/brutes/incompetent/insensitive." And it's not just among "worldly" women. Here is a sampling of titles from Deseret Book when I did a search using the words "Husband":
 Ladies, what kind of uproar would there be if we changed one word in the titles above? What if we took out the word "husband" and inserted the word "wife?"

Let's see:
  • "Strangling Your Wife is NOT an Option"
  • "How Do I Change My Wife?"
  • "Have a New Wife by Friday: How to Change Her Attitude, Behavior, and Communication in 5 Days"
  •  "I Almost Divorced My Wife, but Went on Strike Instead"
I don't know about you, but that made me squirm-- a LOT.

Why is it perfectly fine and normal for women to talk about their husbands this way, but it's horrifying to have husbands talk about their wives in the exact same way?

Today, it is accepted and expected that women will complain about their husbands. Women talk about their husband's faults and weaknesses to their mother, sisters, friends, and complete strangers.


Let's apply the Golden Rule, here. Does ANY wife like the idea of her husband complaining about her to his father, brothers, buddies, and co-workers? I don't.

Can you imagine your husband confiding in his friend how messy his wife leaves his house? Or how incompetent his wife is about the laundry? Or how much his wife complains about and avoids marital intimacy?

Yet wives frequently joke about how their husbands won't ask for directions or won't share the remote. Or that their husbands just don't "get" how hard motherhood and housework is, and that GOOD husbands should come home and take over the household duties when they get home from work. Or that men are selfish and always harping about their sexual "needs," when they just want to sleep. (Oh, yes-- I went there, ladies...)

President Gordon B. Hinkley once said:
"I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one's companion." 
This message is not for the men only. It is true for husbands AND wives. 

Too often in marriage, we feel like we have to "keep score."
He gets to go off and do something, so I should get to go out with my girlfriends.
He spent all that money on [frivolous item], so I should be able to go out and spend the same amount. It's only fair!
He gets to go out and socialize at work all day, so it's only fair that he puts the kids to bed/does the dishes/makes dinner when he gets home.
I have been there-- I have done these things! But I know that not only is it not the way the Lord wants us to treat our spouses, it is also VERY damaging to the marriage relationship.

I challenge every wife to take a good, long look at how she treats her husband, and how she talks about him to others.

Do we have "anxious concern for the comfort and well-being" of our companion?

Let's reexamine ourselves and our attitudes toward our devoted, hard-working husbands. I know our homes, families, and marriages will be happier if we do so-- today.


  1. Very well put. I get furious when I hear women complaining about their husband gone a lot because of their church callings. My husband was inactive for years, gone pursuing unrighteousness and I would have given ANYTHING to have had him gone doing the Lord's work. And don't get me started on women who complain that their husband want to be intimate. I have shed many tears of loneliness because of neglect. Thank you for a good reminder of our responsibility to build our husbands through praise and encouragement.

  2. So glad to know that you read my blog! I, too, was a bit taken aback by how aggressive some of the comments were. My intention was to just be silly - but apparently I struck a nerve. There were even several that I deleted because they were just to mean or personal.

    Thanks for your commentary - it is very wise.


  3. What a beautiful reminder, Rozy. Thank you for your touching comment!


  4. Thanks for your great comment, MMM. My husband and I enjoy your blog and your great sense of humor!

    I'm glad to know you read my blog, too. :-)

    (And thank you for moderating your comments. I thought you handled the subject very well!)

  5. Well said! Very well said indeed.

  6. Rachel

    How come Rozy got hugs for her comment, but I didn't?

  7. I agree with all your comments (and appreciate the reminder - as a young wife it is hard to find friends who don't want to sit around "husband bashing")

    I have to defend the book "strangling your husband is not an option" because I have actually read it, and Maybe the title is misleading. It's been a while, but one of the things I remember about the book was the first chapter went something like this "how do I change my husband?" and the authors answer was "you don't". He second chapter was "no, really, how do I change my husband?" to which the answer was given "you REALLLY don't." the book went on to discuss how our differences are what make our marriages so rich and that learning how to appreciate and accommodate each others' differences is part of making a good marriage. Basically, I got the impression that the author was calling out women who talk badly about their husbands and teaching them to love and appreciate their husbands.

    But I really did enjoy this post. Thanks for speaking so boldly. It needs to be done.

  8. Dear MMM,

    I'm afraid I'll have to simply offer you a warm, sisterly handshake.

    *offers hand*

    There. :-)

    Your friend,
    Sister Rachel

  9. Hi Becca,

    I appreciate your review of the "Strangling" book. It sounds like it has some good things to say. I assumed that the author was being humorous, but the title really does say a lot about what's acceptable to say in our society, and what is not.

    Thanks again for your clarification!


  10. Amen. I totally agree that there is some sort of awful double standard. Men and boys get bashed from many sides. It is so dishonoring. Even young girls t-shirts spread this message of how little value males have and they definitely have no feelings that matter.

    Thank you for saying this so well and defending the men and boys of our life. I am so grateful for a good husband and 4 sons. I pray that my sons will find wives who appreciate them and that they can cherish.

  11. I agree with you 100%. I am getting tired of men being ridiculed in pop culture. It's bleeding into people's everyday lives, and I don't like how acceptable it is. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

  12. I love these thoughts. I went to a girl party a few years ago when the subject turned to husbands and I was sad to hear all that women say in jest about the ones they should love the most and be the most loyal to. It isn't attractive. I think sometimes womenr say things like that so that they can relate to and bond with other women, but they are weakening the bond that could be the most fulfilling if they would cherish it more carefully. Thank you for this post!

  13. Great post! I think the title of Sister Boyack's book and the cover were in bad taste and really not in line with what she wrote in the book. Rather unfortunate. I actually enjoyed her book and felt like she had some good thoughts on the subject and would be in total agreement with you!

  14. Excellent post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree 100%, and thank you for mentioning that the scriptures and quotes go both ways. We should always try to be the spouse that we're wanting to have. Everything about marriage goes much smoother when both parties realize that their partner loves and cares for them very deeply.

  15. Sorry, I agree with Becca. The book is fantastic and helped keep me married during my newlywed adjustment period :)

  16. Hi Kestrel,

    I'm sure the book has a good message. My point is that the acceptability of the title says a lot about what's going on in our society.

    I'm glad to hear the book helped you. :-)

  17. Very well said and I agree with all. I have an awesome husband and I know that neither one of us has ever talked about each other in a bad way. He is such a good man as I am sure lots of good men out there that deserve to be treated with respect.
    I enjoyed reading your post and hope others will take your thoughts and work on their marriage. You always need to work on your marriage to make it a good one.
    Blessings to you for a great post on a timely subject.

  18. Thank you for writing this post! This is something I used to be very not good at, but have become "reformed" over the years and now work hard at it. In fact, I love to brag to other women about how amazing my hubby is (he really is), especially if he can hear me (but I do it even when he can't)!

    As a mother of 3 boys, I have really been concerned about this problem, but it wasn't until I read your post that it occurred to me that I need to verbally express to my sons that they should be looking for a future spouse who does not disparage them in these ways (duh!). I will be doing that.

    My favorite marriage advice has always been that if you will put your spouse's happiness ahead of your own, and your spouse will put your happiness above their own, then you will both always be happy!

  19. JUST read this one...and I love it. I can second each and every word and say "amen" at the end. Thanks for the reminder. I've made it a goal to always be anxious and attentive to my husband's comfort, happiness, and his goals. I'm blessed in finding someone like-minded, who does the same thing for me.

    And DOWN with husband bashing!!!


Old Fashioned Motherhood will not approve any comments that are rude, negative, or disrespectful. Thanks for being civil! :-)

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