Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have a need to get up on my soap box today. Bear with me. If you are offended, it's not that I don't like you. I just feel a need to clarify my stand on this particular issue.

We had our annual Ward Conference at church on Sunday. Being the Bishop, Greg had the opportunity to speak during Sacrament Meeting. He gave a great talk and I enjoyed listening to him. After the meeting was over, a friend, who happened to be male, stopped me on the way to Sunday School and said, "You did a great job training him."

"Training who to do what?" I asked.

"Training your husband to give such good talks in church."

"No", I responded, "he's that good all on his own. In fact, he's taught me a good chunk of what I know about teaching and speaking in church."

My friend replied something to the effect of, "We all know that good men are only as good as they are because they've been trained by their wives."

While I appreciate what I think was meant to be a compliment, I have real issues with the prevailing attitude that women are some sort of unfallible being who consent to spend their existence on earth with hopeless men who should spend their every waking minute singing praises to the women in their lives for saving them from themselves. Why would I want to spend eternity with an "inferior" someone? Why would that someone want to spend eternity always feeling inferior? It doesn't sound very pleasant for either person.

Contrary to some popular beliefs, men are very capable people. Yes, most of them have mothers who love them and do their best to teach them while they are growing up. Once they leave home, though, they are on their own, or should be. When they are married, those skills are used to manage their own families. Yes, they then have a wife, who shares in the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a marriage, but it's both parties working together that makes things work.

I met Greg after he'd served a two-year mission for the church on the other side of the country and been home for over a year. On his mission he was three time zones away from his mother. He did have a mission president's wife whom he loved and we still keep in contact with, but she did not get him up, manage his time, shop, cook, clean, budget, wash clothes, or choose outfits for him. He did all of those things on his own. Several of them all on one day a week- his Preparation Day. On top of basic living responsibilities, he made and kept teaching appointments, studied the gospel, knew and obeyed mission rules, served in any way he could, strengthened his relationship with his Heavenly Father, and added to the very solid foundation of his testimony. He came home giving good talks, so that was a skill he'd developed well before he even knew me.

After his mision, Greg came to BYU where we met. He lived in an apartment with 3 other guys. And, once again, he and his roommates cooked, cleaned, decorated, went to school, shopped, dated, worked, attended church, and all of the other things that people do to survive and have fun at school. I met him when he'd been home almost 18 months and we were married 18 months later. Was he perfect? No. Was I perfect? Heavens no. I didn't expect perfection, but neither was I looking for a "fixer-upper". I was looking for, and found, a capable person who loved the Lord, wanted to be a good husband and father, was willing to work hard, and loved me for who I was. He was my best friend well before we were married. He helped me to see how be a better me and I just plain liked being around him. I could see the kind of person he could become and I wanted to be part of that process. I know we have both played a role in shaping each other into the people we are today- not because he or I "trained" each other but because we loved and encouraged the good while helping to remove and replace the bad.

Now we've been married for nearly 2o years. That means I've known Greg now about the same amount of time than I didn't know him. Looking back, neither if us is the same person in many respects that we were when we got married. We have tried, experimented, cheered each other on, talked, cried, failed, succeeded, learned, and tried again TOGETHER on so many different things that there isn't room enough in my available computer memory to list them all. Our kids have managed to survive us so far and the working together has strengthened the team that we are.

Do we do everything the same way? No. On the really important things we are very united and the same. We both love our family and God, have similar views on the raising children, the importance of education, budgeting money, etc. On others, not so much. Do I shop, cook, and clean house "better" than he does? Maybe. I certainly do those things more often and am thus more familiar and maybe more efficient than he is. However, he steps in just fine when I am gone or not feeling well. Being more removed from those situations sometimes allows him to see more clearly a way things could be done better. Do I provide for our family better than he does? No. Could I? Maybe, but I couldn't be as good a mom if I also had to be the dad at the same time. That's where the team work comes in. There are so many "jobs" that need to be done in a family that it's nearly impossible for one person to do them all. Ask any single parent. There are things that just have to go when there aren't two of you. Heaven knows there are enough things that have to go when there ARE two of you. Neither of you will be as good as the other at everything. I shop and make dinner a little more efficiently. So what. Throw me into a molecular biology lab or a teaching room at the library and see how "efficient" and "productive" I am all of a sudden. It's not that I can't do those things. It's not that Greg can't do what I do. It's that we work together to meet the needs of our family by taking on different responsibilities and hoping our combined efforts cover everything.

With time, experience, and communication we've even become better and more efficient at helping and supporting each other in our different responsibilities. We learn skills the other has, what it takes to keep everything ticking, then help it to get done. Greg has bent over backwards in this department. In fact, most of the time I feel like he picks up more of my slack than I pick up of his. The best part is, I just still plain like being around him and he's still helping me to be a better me.

So, it all comes down to this. I need him and he needs me. Neither of us can get to the Celestial kingdom without the other. I learn from him every day. I'm grateful that he has skills and abilities where I don't and vice versa. We compliment and learn from each other creating better halves of a more and more complete whole. Maybe it's training after all. We're just working out together under the watchful eye of the same Coach.


Terri said...

I like this and agree wholeheartedly! You should submit this to the Ensign! Seriously!

Keith and Nicci said...

Well said! I sometimes wonder if the often patronizing "men need women to make them be good" comments are to take some responsibility off the shoulders of the man who does not want that responsibility himself....

Mom O said...

Hope you feel better.

Julie said...

So well said, Shannon. I agree with Terri--the Ensign or at least Mormon Mommy Blogs. :)

NatureGirl said...

I too married a man who is capable and in so many ways better than me at so many things. Nice soap box. I remember that young recently returned missionary, and he was pretty good when you found him!

Deborah Finch said...

Very well said! I agree with Terri too!!!

Lisa W said...

Very well said! I married my husband because he was smart and talented, not because I wanted a training project!

Baby Oven said...

Amen Sister! If you gotta choose a soapbox that's a good one. Tell Greg I think he's a pretty great guy but I think your a pretty awesome gal yourself.

Joy For Your Journey said...

Okay, Shannon, I hope you don't take this wrong, but I laughed all the way through this post. It isn't because I thought what you wrote was necessarily funny--I totally agree with you and think you expressed your feelings very well--but I have been there too many times.

And in fact just the other day my husband forwarded me a letter he received from a general authority who will be visiting our stake. It was a nice letter, but included in it was the comment that he looked forward to meeting me as I must be a great woman to have produced him.

Say what?

In the beginning I too would get offended and feel I had to defend my husband, his manhood and his many abilities, Now I just find it more humorous. Besides my husband and I both know he is too stubborn to listen to what I have to say anyway. :-)

So, I am sorry to say it won't be the last time someone says that to you.

Best of luck!

Shumway Family said...

I loved your soapbox!! Not because I have ever had anyone say that to me, but because we joke in our family about Phil training me!! I totally agree that husband and wife both have to work together to get the best of the family working together!!