Preparing for an Eternal Marriage and Family (David O. McKay Lesson 14)

Responsibilities of Husbands and Wives

As husbands and wives, practice kindness and understanding. Will you in your families, you husbands, be kinder to your wives? You wives, will you try to understand your husbands, stubborn and thoughtless though they might be? Even love them and have faith in them when they don't have faith in themselves. Be mindful of your children. Be sure that the home is made the strong place to which children can come for the anchor they need in this day of trouble and turmoil.

Counsel with the bishop regarding marital problems. I performed a marriage some ten or fifteen years ago for a couple. I received a letter not long ago from this mother. As the letter began I thought, "Well, here goes another one of the temple marriages that has failed." But then the tone of the letter began to change. She said, "When we thought that the end was here and that there was only one thing to do and that was to get a divorce, we had been told that we should counsel with our bishop. At first thought we hesitated, because he was just a young man. He was younger than we are. But he was our bishop so we went to see him. We poured out our souls to our young bishop. He sat and listened silently, and when we ran out of conversation he said, simply, 'Well, my wife and I, we had problems, too, and we learned how to solve our problems.' That is all in the world he said. But you know there was something that happened as a result of that young bishop's statement. We walked out of there and we said, 'Well, if they can solve their problems, what is the matter with us?' "

Teach those who are having [marriage] problems to go to the father of the ward, their bishop, for counsel. No psychiatrist in the world, no marriage counselor, can give to those who are faithful members of the Church the counsel from one any better than the bishop of the ward. Now, you bishops don't hesitate to say, marriage is the law of God, and is ordained by him, and man and wife are not without each other in the Lord.

Lay a foundation of love and trust in your marriage. And you wives, may I plead with you to try to understand us, stubborn, strong-willed, sometimes careless, thoughtless men that we are. Will you sometimes try to reach under that gruffness and that outside veneer and keep on saying to us that you understand us, you want to help, and you want to be a part of our lives? Do not let your man say, and say it honestly, "My wife doesn't appreciate what I do. She doesn't care." And likewise, husbands, don't let your companion say that she gets no expressions of commendation for all her sacrifice and service. Such a feeling of resentment in your hearts could one day explode. So I beg of you to lay the foundations of the home on a solid, firm foundation of love, trust, and faith. Start the day with family prayer. Kneel together before you retire. There may have been some rough edges through the day and a good way to smooth them out is by kneeling together in prayer.

Husband and wife must feel equal responsibility. Remember that great love is built on great sacrifice and that a daily determination in each other to please in things that are right will build a sure foundation for a happy home. That determination for the welfare of each other must be mutual and not one-sided or selfish. Husband and wife must feel equal responsibilities and obligations to teach each other. Two of the things that today strike at the security of modern homes is that young husbands have never sensed their full obligation in supporting a family, and young wives have sidestepped the responsibility of settling down to the serious business of raising a family and of making a home.

Parents who are loving and kind to each other set a good example for their children. Someone has said that "a woman happy with her husband is better for her children than a hundred books on child welfare." If a woman can achieve this in her wifehood and motherhood and can say always that she linked arms with her husband in loving embrace, she can set the example for her children to follow after. They will see Mother and Father saying little endearments to each other in the home, instead of having to witness bickerings and quarrelings that will stay with them and will be a detriment as they grow up and have homes of their own.

A wife should sustain her husband. Several years ago when Sister David O. McKay, the wife of our President, was in the hospital, I called to see her just after the President had been there, and she said in her sweet way, "You know, I think he misses me." And I replied, "I am sure he does." Then she said with a smile, "I have always tried to be where I thought he needed me the most." There you are, you sisters, try to be where you feel your husbands need you the most.

Wives, have your family prayers, even when you must take the lead. See that your husband takes the lead in that, if you can. See that he attends his priesthood meetings, that he responds to the call to do home teaching, and then do everything you can, lovingly and patiently, to help him to perform and magnify his duties.

Remember your marriage covenants. [At a telelecture at the Harvard Institute I was asked,] "I'm holding in my arms our second little baby child. My wife and I have been seeing all the degradation in the ghettos here, and we were wondering whether now we should quit having any more babies, and we should go out and adopt four or five of these little waifs from the ghettos instead. What do you think about it?"

I simply answered, "Were you married in the temple?" He said, "Yes." And I said, "Have you forgotten your covenants?" And there was a long wait. And I said, "I suppose you are remembering your covenants; need I say anything more to answer your question?"

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