What the Prophet and Apostles Say About Their Wives

Barbara Bowen Ballard,

in the words of her husband, M. Russell Ballard

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The Ballards on their wedding day in 1951. Photo from LDS.org.

“Getting her to agree to marry me was the greatest sales job I ever did.”


-Barbara Bowen met Russell Ballard at a University of Utah dance (they were both “well-known” students, according to a newspaper at the time). A mutual friend thought they should meet, and they danced for about 30 seconds. Thereafter they began dating.

From “M. Russell Ballard: True to the Faith”:

“I married the right woman. Without the help and direction of Barbara, our family relationships would not have happened as well as they did. It was hard to be the bishop, the owner of my own business, and at the same time father of these children that came along, but somehow it worked out. I give credit to Barbara and her good judgment.”

From “M. Russell Ballard”:

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to marry her, but she didn’t share the same feelings. It was a little hard convincing her. I kid her now that getting her to agree to marry me was the greatest sales job I ever did.”

From “Daughters of God”:

As a young father, I learned the demanding role of motherhood. I served as a counselor and then as bishop for a period of 10 years. During that time we were blessed with six of our seven children. Barbara was often worn-out by the time I got home Sunday evening. She tried to explain what it was like to sit on the back row in sacrament meeting with our young family. Then the day came that I was released. After sitting on the stand for 10 years, I was now sitting with my family on the back row.

The ward’s singing mothers’ chorus was providing the music, and I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.

As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling. I learned for myself to more fully appreciate what all of you dear mothers do so well and so faithfully!

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Photo from LDS.org

Mary Crandall Hales,

in the words of her husband, Robert D. Hales

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Elder and Sister Hales laugh together at conference. Photo from LDS Living

“Mary has never held me back. We follow the Quaker proverb ‘Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we will ascend together.’”


-Elder and Sister Hales met at a church in Queens, New York, just after Mary had moved there from California with her family and when Elder Hales was visiting home for the summer.

-The Hales family moved all over the world as part of Elder Hales’s work. Each time, Mary “always made it work,” he says. One time he dropped her and two boys off in Frankfurt, Germany, and left them for a temporary assignment. She got the boys in school, figured out her way around, and eventually learned to speak German.

-In his addresses, Elder Hales frequently refers to Mary as “my dear companion, Mary.”

From “Robert D. Hales”:

After I met her, I never went out with anyone else. We were together every evening after work for the first two months sharing family activities. She’d help me wash my car, and I’d help her babysit her brothers; it was as though we were never going to be apart.

From “Return with Honor”:

Mary and Robert’s teamwork has been an example to many, including their daughter-in-law Susan. “They are a total partnership,” she says. “Any couple could pattern their marriage after them. Their relationship is 100 percent equal; one does not dominate the other. Each opinion is valued.”

This willingness to serve the Lord as a team, which Robert and Mary committed to early in their marriage, is one of the things that has made it possible for them to maintain a balance throughout their lives between important positions in the international business world and their desire to live the principles of the gospel.

“Once, when I received a promotion, my boss told me that I wouldn’t be where I was without my wife,” says Elder Hales. “He said, ‘Mary is your greatest asset, and don’t you forget it.’ And I never have.

“Mary has never held me back. We follow the Quaker proverb ‘Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we will ascend together.’ A lot of what we have done would not have happened without a team relationship. We always have been a team and always will be. I think listening to my wife, next to listening to the Holy Ghost, has been the most important influence in my life.”

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Photo from LDS.org.

From “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually”:

I was in the air force, and we had missed Christmas together. I was on assignment overseas. When I got home, I saw a beautiful dress in a store window and suggested to my wife that if she liked it, we would buy it. Mary went into the dressing room of the store. After a moment the salesclerk came out, brushed by me, and returned the dress to its place in the store window. As we left the store, I asked, “What happened?” She replied, “It was a beautiful dress, but we can’t afford it!” Those words went straight to my heart. I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.”

The second lesson was learned several years later when we were more financially secure. Our wedding anniversary was approaching, and I wanted to buy Mary a fancy coat to show my love and appreciation for our many happy years together. When I asked what she thought of the coat I had in mind, she replied with words that again penetrated my heart and mind. “Where would I wear it?” she asked. (At the time she was a ward Relief Society president helping to minister to needy families.)

Then she taught me an unforgettable lesson. She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” In other words, she was asking, “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?” I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.

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