Mormon Marriage Equality

By: hawkgrrrl
November 26, 2013

Are men and women partners or competitors?  What about in marriage?  Do men feel threatened by wives with successful careers?

I recently finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.  In the book, she talks about several things we can do to help women truly achieve their potential and to help men and women within their personal lives and in the workplace be more equal and personally satisfied.  This list includes things like:

  • As women “lean in” more at work, men must also learn to “lean in” more at home.  (This was very similar to what I heard Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, say, that women are leaving vacant spaces as they join the workforce, and those vacant spaces must be filled.)
  • She advocates more modern marriages in which partners work together rather than relying on assumptions and outdated norms that limit marital communication.  Studies show that men in “traditional” marriages are “nice guy” misogynists in the workplace.  They view women as positive (using words like nurturing, moral, and ethical), but they also view women as disruptive to the workplace and not suited to its rigors.  (This reminded me of a comment one of the elders made in my mission; fortunately, he was an outlier).  Men who hold these views perpetuate policies that discourage women from participating.  They are also at greater risk for being fired if they exhibit discriminatory behaviors and attitudes, which puts their financially dependent wives at risk.
  • Women are unlikely to succeed in the workplace if they are not encouraged or supported.  This can also apply to finishing one’s education.  Sheryl made the analogy of a marathon in which the crowd is shouting to the men, “You can do it!  You’re almost there!  Keep going!” but to the women, the crowd is shouting, “You don’t have anything to prove!  You don’t need to finish! Aren’t you tired? Nobody will think less of you if you give up now!”
  • She also talked about the value of choice and that parents of either sex who choose to stay at home with children are doing valuable work and also deserve support.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that the working spouse should be exempt from any responsibilities in the home.  The home is the responsibility of both parents as partners.  They should decide jointly how to meet those obligations.
  • Women and men both need to push for policies that enable work-life balance for both men and women.  E. Cook said the same in his conference talk.  When workplaces stigmatize balance or value face time in the office over results, it hurts everyone.

In light of the book’s suggestions, I became curious about Mormon marriages.  What are the dynamics within actual Mormon marriages, not the ideals so frequently touted?  Do our marriages follow the norms of society in general or are they different?  Are we women encouraged to follow our dreams?  Are we women given support and partnership to do so?  What are the limits of that support? Do both partners communicate well or rely on assumptions or gender stereotypes to divide labor?  I decided to conduct a brief survey to find out how married Mormon women viewed these factors within their marriages.  There were a total of 135 responses.

How we limit choices through discouragement; only one category is positive:  men with good careers.

Let’s start with a few demographics.  Of the women I polled:

  • 48% are stay-at-home mothers; 4% of all the women polled have husbands who are stay-at-home dads.  These numbers are fairly consistent with current national averages.
  • A total of 52% of the women do some sort of paid work.
    • 31% of those work part time, as a supplement to family income.
    • 69% of women do paid work full time.
    • A total of 12% of women work from home.
    • 24% of women are the primary earner, the exact same percentage as the national average.
    • 17% of women are “high earners,” making greater than 1.5 times what their spouses earn.

Next, I asked these women a series of yes / no questions about their marriage.  The questions are subjective about the quality and nature of communication, division of labor, child care, and job or work satisfaction for both spouses.  Because these statements are subjective, a few caveats are important.  Words like “fair” and equal” are not defined for respondents, so this is based on their perception of what is fair given their own specific set of circumstances.  For example, “fair” certainly doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split.  If one spouse works full time outside the home, the other one may carry more workload within the home, particularly during the working hours. Each couple has to make these decisions within their own partnership.  The questions I asked related to how these women felt, and in some cases, how they felt about their husband’s situation.  Their husbands’ answers may have differed.


First, let’s see how women viewed the equality in their marriages.  94% of women agreed with the statement:  “My husband sees me as an equal partner.”  This percentage holds true across all sub-categories:  SAHMs, women working part-time, women working full-time (slightly wavering to 91% for “high earners”, bot not a statistically significant difference). Similarly, between 90-91% of women agreed that “We make all important decisions together.”  The only group with a significantly lower agreement with this statement (only 80% agreed) was women working full-time who are not primary earners.  Are women taking a hit for spending time outside the home that doesn’t contribute on par financially? Is this a double whammy of the wage gap (pay women less, and then treat them less equally at home also)?  Or is it indicative of women valuing different things in the workplace, deliberately choosing more satisfying work over lucrative work, but men disagreeing with these choices?

Are we encouraging women or telling them to quit the race?

Next, I asked a series of questions about the types of encouragement women feel they get from their spouses. Women in general (85%) agreed that “My husband appreciates my ambition.”  This agreement ran along economic lines, though, with only 78% of SAHMs but 91% of high earners agreeing with the statement.  If ambition pays, women feel more encouraged to be ambitious.  However, breaking into that earning potential can feel insurmountable for some SAHMs, only 68% of whom said “My husband would adjust his schedule to give me more career opportunity.”  Interestingly, the highest percentage of respondents to that question were among low-earning full-time women at 90%.  Unsurprisingly, only 43% of SAHMs said “My husband would relocate for my career,” although 72% of working women agreed with the statement.  Even among high earners, agreement to this statement spiked at 83%.


SAHMs had the highest perception of their marital communication, followed closely by full-time secondary earners (90%); 91% of them stated that “My husband and I talk openly about out daily frustrations; we support each other.”  The lowest reporting group for marital communication was in the primary earner (76%) and high earner category (78%).  Perhaps husbands and wives whose days differ more greatly feel more inclined to discuss their day.  Interestingly, this communication doesn’t seem to result in feelings of empathy.  Only 71% of SAHMs claimed “I understand what my husband’s day is like” compared to all other categories that were in the 80-85% range.  The lowest scoring statement of the entire survey shows women don’t feel understood, perhaps due to self-reporting.  Only 46% of SAHMs believed that “My husband understands what my day is like.”  This statement didn’t divide neatly along working/not working lines as only 45% of secondary earning full-time workers stated that their husbands understood what their day was like.  The highest group was part-time workers, 64% of whom believed their husbands understood their day.

Sharing Workload

Do we encourage women superficially, only to pull away the football later through inflexible policies, lack of support, and lower pay?

A similar percentage of women in all categories agreed with the statement “My husband and I decide how to share responsibility regardless of gender norms,” with the lowest groups being SAHMs (78%), primary earners (79%) and high earners (78%).  The highest reporting group was full-time secondary earners (85%), followed by part-timers (82%).  These results were similar to answers to the statement “My husband and I share child care responsibilities fairly,” but with SAHMs rating it higher (82%) than women who were primary earners (79%) or high earners (78%).  Some comments indicated that women who were high earners felt they did not pull their equal share in child care or domestic chores, so that could explain some of the low results in this group.  Again, the full-time secondary earners felt most in accord with the statement (85% agreed).

The biggest bone of contention centered around division of domestic labor.  Only 49% of SAHMs agreed that “My husband and I share household chores fairly.”  This rose to 70% for high earning wives, but was low across all other working categories (59% for all working women):  part-time workers (55%), full-time secondary earners (60%), and even primary earners (61%).  Perhaps the higher results among high earning women was due to not considering the state of the house as part of their success, high travel schedules, enough money to pay for domestic labor, or some high earning wives that have non-working spouses.

Quality of Work Life

Lastly, I asked women to report on the quality of their own work life and their husband’s as they perceive it.  Interestingly, in nearly every category, women reported higher levels of satisfaction and sense of reward than they attributed to their husbands. One notable exception was that 82% of SAHMs felt that “The work my husband does is challenging and a good use of his talents,” although only 68% of SAHMs agreed that “The work my husband does is often rewarding.”  SAHMs overall painted the rosiest picture of their husband’s work life, either because their husbands truly are more successful and happy at work, or because of lack of understanding between spouses doing very dissimilar work, or because the model depends on a belief in the husband’s satisfaction with it.  Or are men simply rewarded more than women in the workplace because the workplace was designed by men, for men, and men are taught from birth that it’s where their reward is to be found?

I couldn’t help but think of the Upton Sinclair quote:  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”  Contrast these results with how SAHMs reported feeling about their own work.  Only 37% of them agreed that “The work I do challenges me and is a good use of my talents,” and only 46% of them felt that “The work I do is often rewarding.”  That’s a lot of self-reported personal sacrifice; if their husbands are also not loving their jobs, is it really worth it?

Because men are physically stronger, they have an easier time carrying bigger bags of money.

Among all working women, evaluation of the husband’s job satisfaction was much lower.  Only 59% agreed that “The work my husband does is challenging and a good use of his talents.”  This was the highest for part-time workers (64%), but the lowest for secondary earner full-time workers (50%).  Results for “The work my husband does is often rewarding” were low across every category of working woman (46% overall).  The lowest group, again, were the secondary-earner full-time workers (40% agreement), and the highest group were the part-time workers (50%).  Is this indicative that these women are working at least partly because they are not in the position of entitlement that the SAHMs are in, relying on husbands who are satisfied and rewarded well in their jobs?  Or does it simply illustrate that working women have a more realistic perception of their husbands’ job satisfaction?

Turning to how working women view their own job satisfaction, these results were higher, but none were near the rosy view SAHMs portrayed of their husbands’ satisfaction.  67% of working women said “The work I do challenges me and is a good use of my talents.”  This was highest for high earners (70%) by a long shot.  The lowest agreement was among part-time workers (55%).  Interestingly, only 64% of women stated that “The work I do is often rewarding,” and this was actually lowest for primary earners (58%).  65% of secondary earners agreed with the statement and 64% of part-timers did.  Perhaps this indicates that some women are deliberately choosing less challenging or lucrative careers that they feel have intrinsic rewards that merit them working.  Or perhaps expectations are simply lower among these workers than among the higher-paid women, which would follow the percentages of female workers in their category.


These results surprised me in a few ways.  The biggest surprise was that the percentages followed U.S. national averages.  Despite the church’s advocacy for traditional marriage and women staying home, in reality, we seem to be both in and of the world.  The factors driving these trends are stronger than rhetoric; this also probably means that for believing members it just amps up the guilt factor.  A few other observations I had about this data:

  • Most women are OK with how child care is divided, regardless of their working status.  Because I didn’t ask men this question, I wonder if they would be equally satisfied or would like to spend more time with their children.
  • All women are dissatisfied with how domestic chores are shared.  The answer seems fairly straightforward:  men need to lean in a bit more when it comes to routine chores like house cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, and doing the dishes.  These chores are not viewed as fun, challenging or rewarding by anyone, so it’s not fair that one sex bears the burden disproportionately.  Again, open discussion about division of labor is the best course, not assuming who is responsible to do what.
  • What exactly does the data about quality of work life mean?  I can think of several possible interpretations, and perhaps all of them hold some piece of the puzzle:
    • Do men in traditional marriages have a happier work life or do their wives just believe they do?  Is it happier because of the support of a non-working spouse or is the non-working spouse a privilege of the husband’s career success?
    • Are working women able to see through the myth of the happy worker or are their husbands actually less happy in their work life?  Is that because their wives are working and in some cases out-earning them, or are their wives working because their husbands’ careers haven’t been as rewarding and a second income is needed?

What conclusions do you draw from this data?  What new questions does it raise about Mormon marriages?  What other surveys would you like to see?  How does your marriage compare to these results?  Do these results imply that traditional marriages have key advantages over modern marriages or that those stereotypes have harmful, unintended consequences?


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42 Responses to Mormon Marriage Equality

  1. Sandy Liscom Emmons on November 23, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    This doesn’t surprise me. It seems to be fairly accurate. Perception in the church seems to be that most families in the church have the traditional set up where the woman stays home and takes care of the children while the men are the main provider. This perception is completely outdated and does not reflect reality. I have observed that the majority of women ages 50 and younger contribute financially in some way, whether it is in an out of the home job or out of their home. Because of the push for staying at home by the church there is a lot of guilt when they do go outside the home to work. Guilt for not spending enough time at home with the children, cleaning or housework. When women work some of their household responsibilities should shift to the spouse but more often than not she is expected to do the same amount of household jobs and provide income. The perception in the church perpetuates to the young women’s program where the girls are groomed to be perfect stay at home Mothers. They are not told they will most likely work a full time job, as is the trend. We do our girls a disservice by grooming them for a life of guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I always felt guilty for having to work outside the home. Reality is most women will in the future. By perpetuating the push to be stay at home Moms the church is causing the women of the church to have major guilt when they can’t financially swing it without working.

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  2. Will on November 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM


    I found your post interesting, but not surprising.

    As a business leader, especially one who works in the financial services industry, you better than anyone understand the risk/reward model – the greater the risk; the greater the reward. The traditional roles (man at work, woman at home raising kids) are harder. Much harder. They involve more risk. Your financial eggs are put in one proverbial basket. It is really hard in this economy to provide for a family on one income. It requires sacrifice in either time or in where and how much home, car and vacation you will have. It is the more difficult path.

    Likewise, the easy approach to child rearing is to drop the kids off at daycare and skirt off to a 9-5 job. It is less lonely and allows one to keep occupied on planned tasks. It allows you to be around peers who share similar interests. Mostly, it allows for adult conversations. In contrast, raising kids is hard. Keeping their minds occupied on productive tasks, away from the pitfalls that current media offers and ensuring they are hanging with the right crowd. Most importantly, it requires intense effort to be there at the crossroads of life and to understand what and how to say the right thing at these crossroads.

    This is why I am not surprised at the polling data as most of the SAHM’s understood what they were getting into. What would be interesting, and I think convincing to those advocating traditional roles, would be a poll 20 or 30 years from now. I firmly believe the harder path has the greater rewards. It can also have enormous risk and will have some pitfalls. In the poll, find those that have successfully implemented the categories you defined and I am convinced the ones that took the harder path will communicate the greater rewards – both personally and has a family.

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  3. Will on November 23, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I did appreciate the comments about women in the work force. I firmly believe you should be able to hire or fire any one you want for whatever reason you want – gay, straight, Mormon, Jew, male, female, black or white. The reason I believe this, is that I think it will work itself out. Employers that base decisions on stupidity will eventually be put out of business. The ones that succeed will realize peoples talents, regardless of sex, race or religion and will be able to use it for the betterment of the company. With such laws we are just enabling stupid employers.

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  4. ji on November 26, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    As a matter of public policy, I firmly believe in equal opportunity for men and women in the workplace.

    But I also appreciate the following thought from April 2013s general conference:

    A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right. We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage. There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family. Whatever else a woman may accomplish, her moral influence is no more optimally employed than here.

    For all the women[and men who find happiness in the workplace, we need to be careful — we need to remember our children. If it becomes our social expectation to put the kids in a daycare center while they’re young, not because we need to but because we don’t want to raise them, well, they will discern that motivation and I suppose they’ll put us somewhere when we’re old. And the whole world will be much poorer for that.

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  5. John Mansfield on November 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    How were survey participants recruited?

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  6. Will on November 26, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    I wondered where this post went, I thought I was going crazy(er)

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  7. Howard on November 26, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    The factors driving these trends are stronger than rhetoric (opposing them). I think this is the main issue and it either points to those preaching against as being out of touch or those following the trends as being in some kind of great jeopardy. In my view this is the result of codifying the gospel which tends to solidify culture rather than focusing on gospel principals which are far more flexible and able to grow with the evolution of culture. Today’s church romanticizes a 1950s lifestyle which is odd because an 1850′s LDS lifestyle was quite different than the 1950s. What are we to conclude from this that the LDS lifestyle evolved from the less than perfect 1850s to eventually reach the ideal 1950s where we are to remain forever frozen in time in some Quaker like fashon? Why is the 1950s lifestyle God’s sweet-spot? And why can’t it evolve to something more or better?

    Those who came of age around WWII or a little after are rapidly dying off but I knew many of them and they exhibited a similar romanization of the 50s which was a time of unprecedented prosperity coming on the heels of the “war to end all wars” leaving everyone feeling quite victorious, a situation not likely to be repeated soon. As they aged they struggled to understand the changes going on around them generally choosing to label those changes negatively as being wrong or bad, only a few seemed to embrace them as positive progress, they longed to return to the 50s. But the days of a single earner family with a fat retirement pension are largely over and the economic realities of that change intrude on today’s lifestyles.

    The male traits of superior physical strength and fear control are no longer in economic demand and flatter business organizations favor communication, team building and motivating skills the subtily of which is often lost on more Neanderthal controlling males. Is it headed in some spiritually wrong direction? No, I don’t believe it is, but males generally need to evolve (oddly by becoming more Christlike) in order to remain relevant and that is an introspective path aimed at removing blocks to emotion in order to facilitate connection and interaction. Can anyone imagine Christ as one of today’s red-necked sports obsessed checked out males?

    Christ was male but he exhibited many admirable female traits and he is our example, he didn’t treat women as less than and he interacted with them with great respect. The current LDS model is one male plus one female = one complete unit but Christ was a complete unit unto himself and he is our example. The traditional model is he or she completes me, the math for this is 1/2 person + 1/2 person = 1 complete person. But much more is possible as she becomes a more capable earner and he becomes more capable at relationships synergistic marriages become possible where 1 + 1 = 3.

    Male traits form a bell curve of distribution, so do female traits. These curves overlap creating areas of overlap and areas of non-overlap. The areas of overlap encourage reverse traditional roles something the church isn’t good at accommodating because it doesn’t fit the typical simplistic one simple black and white rule fits all!

    LDS gender essentialism ignores this inconvenient truth just as it ignores the inconvenient truth of hermaphroditism. The overlap of the male and female bell curves logically predicts homosexuality as well as it logically predicts reverse role marriages. The majority is not right and the minority wrong, this inequity occurs because the majority makes the rules.

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  8. The Other Clark on November 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    This post has so much in it that it should be broken into several. Perhaps a bigger challenge for the Church ™ is how the changing marital dynamic (from presider to equal partner) is reflected in church service.

    The older generation (now senior missionaries) have no cultural issues with the call coming to the husband based on his skills (mission president, agricultural, medical, etc.) and the wife supporting where she’s able. When my generation reach this age–about 20 years–I wonder if wives will be so willing to take a “supporting role” when their entire married life is “equal partners.”

    Similarly, what happens when a stay-at-home dad is called as bishop? Or in a marriage where the wife is the dominant personality and the husband is called as ward mission leader?

    I think the concept of male presider is so embedded in our culture that the full implication of what happens when the reality changes to match the changed rhetoric, has not been fully considered.

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  9. Will on November 26, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    “what happens when a stay-at-home dad is called as bishop”

    Yea right. Like that would ever happen.

    They call real men, who have real world experience so they can help real people with real problems.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on November 26, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    “They call real men, who have real world experience so they can help real people with real problems.” Obviously Jesus wouldn’t have been qualified as bishop based on this. Neither would Joseph Smith.

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  11. The Other Clark on November 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    As Will is prone to citing apostolic quotes to rebut his arguments, I’ll refer him to ji’s comment #4 above.

    Specifically, “there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood… There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family.”

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  12. Will on November 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM


    A) Jesua worked construction and Joseph in farming; both about at sweat of thy brow as you can get. (They also did other things both from a young age) B) neither made it their life long ambition to be a stay at home dad. C) neither of them were a Bishop — one was the Savior of the world and the other the Prophet of the Restoration.

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  13. Will on November 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Other Clark,

    What does being a Father have to do with be a stay at home dad?

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  14. hawkgrrrl on November 26, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Will, my point is that we expect bishops to be successful in the world, and neither Jesus nor Joseph were by any stretch. You said a stay-at-home-dad doesn’t have “real world experience” and therefore can’t give any valuable advice. If so, then you are also revealing your true feelings toward those women who stay at home. They are apparently likewise valueless advisors. No wonder you don’t see them as equals.

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  15. Will on November 26, 2013 at 1:59 PM


    Now hold on, from previous discussions you know how I feel about my wife and mother and the role they have played in my life. In my judgment, there is nothing more sacred or important.

    Now, let’s assume women will one day hold the Priesthood (I don’t see it, but I’ll never say never), from what I have seen on this blog you would be the perfect candidate for a Bishop. You can relate to others well and you have been an executive dealing with adult conflicts on a daily basis. Along these lines, you have made judgments on who would best fill an open spot in the organization. In other words, you deal with real world experiences. In short, that is what is involved in being a modern day Bishop. On the other hand, as much as l love and respect my wife and the role she has played in our family, I just couldn’t see her in this role. For the same reason, I couldn’t see a stay at home dad in this role.

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  16. Will on November 26, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Let me also add some clarification on stay at home dads.

    If this is what they grow up wanting to be, my first question would be are they gay? Seriously, it is a feminine role – a sensitive and nurturing role.

    This is way different than someone that is thrown into the role by circumstances. A situation where a man loses his job, his wife is the primary bread winner and circumstances warrant him being at home for a while with the kids. For a while, this is totally understandable.

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  17. The Other Clark on November 26, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Um… Jesus was sensitive and nurturing.

    Go chew on a hunk of raw meat, beat on your chest, and feel manly about yourself.

    I’m secure enough in my manhood that if I were a stay-at-home dad, I wouldn’t feel threatened or devalued by that choice.

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  18. Frank Pellett on November 26, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Will, I’d be a stay-at-home dad in a hot minute. Right now I’m just waiting for my wife to finish her best-selling novel. If my wife ever decided she needed to work full time (with or without the novel), we’d work out what that meant for us as a family, both knowing that I’d prefer working the two full time jobs of taking care of kids and taking care of a home as opposed to the one I have outside the home.

    No, I am not gay. My manhood is mine to define, not anyone else’s. If I were called as Bishop in that time, my wife would continue to support our family, just as we both would if she were called to be RS president or if she’s suddenly whisked away on that international book tour (with a stop to see how the movie is doing).

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  19. Howard on November 26, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    …are they gay? Seriously, it is a feminine role – a sensitive and nurturing role. Lol! I think this attitude has a lot to do with the church’s position on egalitarian marriage!

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  20. hawkgrrrl on November 26, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    I’ll only add that most stay at home dads had a career first then left it. Also John Lennon was an early stay at home dad and he was definitely the Beatle most likely to punch you in the face in a bar fight.

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  21. Geoff - A on November 26, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Do you think any of these numbers would change in a more family friendly country. For example one with 8 weeks annual leave and a 35hour week. This kind of country is more likely to be more female friendly, have more females in top leadership in business and government and treat people more equally.

    This could describe Germany, for example, with a female leader and the other benefits described. Certainly you would expect less people with Will’s view, but also less people willing to accept the church when it is made up of the Gospel plus Utah culture.

    Running through the post is the notion that the Gospel (Jesus or Joseph S) would contribute to a better environment than the current one with the conservative culture wrapped round it.

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  22. Will on November 26, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    “I’ll only add that most stay at home dads had a career first then left it. ”

    Certainly a defensive tone. If you are so behind “equality”, would you support your sons decision to put-off any career expectations and plan to be a stay at home dad? I would laugh out loud and tell him nice try, now get your ass in gear and get back to your studies. I think most parents would.

    This begs the question is that awkward thought cultural? Or is instinctual? I would suggest it is the later. I never entertained that thought even for a second. Such a thought seems unnatural.

    On the other hand, if one of my daughters had that thought I would be totally supportive. It seems natural. It feels right.

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  23. hawkgrrrl on November 26, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Will, I wouldn’t encourage either my son or daughter to do that as Plan A. When that’s your plan you have no backup.

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  24. Moss on November 27, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Wow. I have no doubt about how much we value women in the church when being a stay at home parent when it is the highest thing a woman can do, but something no man ever should.

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  25. Nona on November 27, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    Please tell me Will is a troll.

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  26. Will on November 27, 2013 at 7:23 AM


    Aw, so your true feelings come out about those mothers that make the right choice to stay at home with the kids. As JI mentioned and quoted in the last conference this thinking “is not right or fair” and as I said above those of thus that make the conscience decision (together in prayer knowing all the risks) to keep the mother at home do so because we feel it is the right thing do to.

    Along these lines, I would take back my earlier suggestion you would be the perfect candidate given your contempt for mothers that make that choice and the 12 and 1st presidency who encourage such activity, These men that lead this church and encourage such an arrangement via a proclaimation are either: stuffy old men stuck in a fifties mentality and due it purely for cultural reasons as has been suggested; or, they are special witnesses of Jesus Christ who have thoughtfully and prayerfully with the mantle of prophetic authority made such a proclaimation to the world.

    I am confident it is the later.

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  27. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    I’ve seen a statistic that says today’s working moms spend an equal amount of time with their children to SAHMs of the 70s. I was a free range kid of the 70s and spent very little individual time with my SAHM. Today’s working moms come home and excessively dote upon their kids to assuage the guilt society has inflicted upon them. There are no more latch key kids today. Kids are over-scheduled, and given extraordinary attention by adults compared with past generations.

    Expectations about raising children have changed. The church is still living in the paradigm of the 70s or 80s, when working moms abandoned their children and saw them as inconveniences. Children are no longer inconveniences. Rather, they are carefully planned investments in vicarious self-fulfillment. This is also bad. But we should at least understand the decade in which we live, and not rail against a 1980s working mom paradigm that no longer exists.

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  28. Will on November 27, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    “and not rail against a 1980s working mom paradigm that no longer exists’

    Why then to they continually bring it up in conference (see JI comment #4) in the paradigm “no longer exists’.

    With all the crap in the media and the poor excuse we call public education, Mothers are MORE necessary in the home that at any time in history. They are a formidable barrier against Satan and his destructive influence.

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  29. hawkgrrrl on November 27, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Will: But all that Satan fighting still doesn’t qualify them to be a bishop. So it’s not real world experience. Is it make believe?

    I don’t disrespect women and men who choose to stay at home. As Frank said (paraphrasing) I’m sure it’s a sweet gig. But I would advise my children of both sexes to be in the strongest position they can to meet their financial obligations their whole life. Financial independence with current transferable skills and relevant work experience is a stronger position. I know lots of very capable men and women who choose to stay home with kids, but it’s seldom necessary (sometimes it is due to the spouse’s travel schedule or children with special needs) and has ramifications to their future marketability. Even when cost of day care is greater than wages for a time, i agree with Sheryl Sandberg’s point that we should consider that an investment the way college is.

    People get divorced. Spouses die. A working spouse is disabled or laid off. Plan A is great until it’s not. Many of these folks don’t have a viable Plan B. I still respect them. They may be very smart and even excellent Christian people. I may look up to them. But I will tell my kids to prepare and have a Plan B because I won’t always be there to help bail them out. I believe we owe our offspring the best advice we can give them, and that’s mine. Not all the Q15 are beating this same drum about women staying home and being financially dependent. Lived experience is informing what they are advocating. How many of them had wives with successful careers? How many of them navigated today’s economy? How many of them had a hard time getting hired after graduating college?

    The economy is changing significantly. In 30 years I’m sure it will look even more different. People will have to become more flexible and jobs will probably continue to be shorter term. Some jobs will cease to exist. Others will be created. Stay relevant is good advice. Bury your head in the sand is not.

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  30. Will on November 27, 2013 at 9:49 AM


    Sorry got distracted. I was going to add:

    We see what we see, but we also don’t see a lot and think all is well. My wife’s role is so critical in seeing things that I can’t because of my jackassedness or don’t have time to see. My life is one big distraction; and, that’s all work is – a distraction from what is important. So is house work, but that is why God gave us cleaning companies and dry cleaners. When the dust settles on this earthly experience and we are able to see things as they really are and as they really were, in my opinion we will see how vital the role stay at home moms played.

    I speak from personal experience. There were key times in my life when my mom was there at a major crossroads. She seemed to always know what I was up to and HOW to handle that key moment. I believe she was able to do this because she paid the price. Can a working mom see through all the distractions and pay this price? I don’t know, nor am I going to judge the situation, but I do know my mother was there at those key moments because she made the choice to be at home with the eight of us. Likewise, my wife (who has a graduate degree by the way) has paid the same price. Honestly, with the challenge my gay son went through I don’t know if he would still be around if it weren’t for her and her influence. More importantly, I don’t know if she would have picked up on the clues she needed to if she were otherwise distracted. In fact, I’m pretty certain he would be dead if it weren’t for her. We also have a disabled daughter who requires significant attention. The work these stay at home moms play is critical and should not be discredited, ridiculed or dismissed.

    Andrew, per your email, I do take these posts personally and come out swinging.

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  31. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    “Why then to they continually bring it up in conference (see JI comment #4) in the paradigm “no longer exists’.”

    Will, this is precisely the question I am asking. The “mommy track” is something today’s working mothers pursue alongside their work track with extreme zeal. No one in the media is suggesting mothers abandon their children. On the contrary, media commonly guilts women into excessive hovering and fosters “tiger-mom” ambitions. The media screams, “give your children every possible advantage!”

    On top of that, today’s SAHMs have also succumbed to our culture’s emphasis on over-parenting, becoming 24/7 entertainers of their kids, taking them on an endless succession of enriching classes, trips to museums, play dates.

    This is abnormal homo-Saipan behavior. A mother in a traditional family culture adds financial value to her home, churning butter, spinning wool, sewing crafts to sell at market, while her children play in the dirt, or help out with work.

    The seeming dichotomy between work and motherhood is a product of a society that has taken work away from the home, and stuck the home out in some distant suburb.

    But the natural order is for mothers to work. It is only because of our current socioeconomic structure that women are faced with a choice between two seemingly exclusive choices. Scandinavian countries recognize the natural order, and have day cares in office buildings, mimicking cave-man life, where a woman can work with a child close by.

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  32. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Will, just read your last comment after I had posted mine. Sounds like you have a great wife and mother. Your own circumstances may very well have dictated an exclusive choice between work and motherhood.

    But I don’t think that is the ideal.

    Awhile back I toured the facilities of Austin Ballet, which had hired a full time babysitter and built a playroom, so that their ballerinas didn’t have to cut short their careers to have kids. As soon as this happened, a number of other ballerinas in the company decided to have kids, which is extremely rare in the ballet world. Something similar happened at Houston Ballet. As soon as management started giving pro-motherhood advantages and conveniences, the babies started popping out, and they became regular fixtures at the studios. It was really beautiful.

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  33. hawkgrrrl on November 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I agree with Nate’s excellent point. The SAHM model that was based on hunting and gathering was one in which both spouses worked, one near the home and children, often without “pay” but offsetting domestic expenses, the other one gone for periods of time. Several things have changed just in the last few decades: domestic work takes less time than ever or can be affordably outsourced (precooked meals are readily available and can be stored indefinitely), the majority of jobs are information based, family sizes are much smaller (mine had 7, I have 3). Children were contributors when people lived on farms. Home wasn’t removed from work. And work done from the home paid. With virtual work coming into vogue this is bringing the information rich work we now do back to the home. Most SAHPs today don’t have ready opportunities to contribute financially and somehow we’ve decided they shouldn’t. That makes very little sense.

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  34. Howard on November 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    These men that lead this church…are either:…old men stuck in a fifties mentality…or, they are special witnesses of Jesus Christ… Actually I see considerable evidence of both.

    SAHM is an admirable role but is isn’t the only solution to raising healthy happy kids and is isn’t necessarily even the best way today. My now 10 year old daughter started Montessori as an infant in pampers. I felt very guilty about this at first but my guilt quickly melted when I began to see the advantages she accrued from this. No SAHM can provide what a Montessori environment can even if she happens to be a certified Montessori teacher! Why? Because she cannot duplicate the rich social environment and diversity of peer personalities without starting her own school. My daughter enjoyed the best of both worlds, two loving evolved parents and the wonderful world of Montessori which she loved very much. The church has codified the problem of raising healthy children by specifying SAHM as the only approved solution, but the church is behind the times there are other solutions Montessori being but one of them.

    I’m somewhat evolved with a tutoring program for elementary and middle school children and strongly agree with Will’s comment: poor excuse we call public education so my daughter now attends a Lutheran private school because guess what? there are not LDS private school choices.

    This SAHM mother advice is simply a hold over from the past way of doing things.

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  35. New Iconoclast on November 27, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    “Homo-Saipan” ? All I can think of is those Japanese mothers who threw their children into the ocean, then jumped in after them, as American troops approached in 1944.

    Anyway, what is it in us that seems to lead us to try to take any preferred or ideal situation and jam everyone into it as a must-be, end-all condition of righteousness? And more importantly, where do we get the impulse to insult, belittle, and guilt-trip those who don’t fall in line with those assumptions? Might that latter be because we realize that we have no righteous leg to stand on in our absolutism, and so we have to resort to ad hominem attacks and diversions like “They call real men, who have real world experience [as bishops]“ or “my first question would be are they gay?” For shame, if you use such things as excuses to avoid real issues. My pity if you really believe them.

    We all tend to argue from our own experience, and it’s sometimes hard to break out of our own cultural shell – and even harder to break out of our own personal shell. My view on this may well be colored by the fact that I’m married to a woman with more education and a higher income than me, but who also stayed at home for many years and homeschooled our kids. I also, thank a merciful God, don’t live in Utah. However, I’m also capable of seeing that every human being in the world, regardless of gender, has a unique potential and personality and will be led by Heavenly Father to do and become the best person possible, if they allow themselves to be led by the Spirit. I don’t believe, and watching people over the course of years seems to bear this observation out, that they achieve their best potential by squeezing themselves into the Peter/Molly Mold.

    Some of the businesspeople currently advocating a sort of “church by MBA” approach in which we deal with everyone by the manual fail, I think, to realize how much more we can do for people and how much more people can get from the Church when we seek to understand them. Conformity comes with a horribly high price.

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  36. Will on November 27, 2013 at 10:39 AM


    Want to say so much more to both of you, but speaking of distractions have to get a proposal more later.

    Briefly, Hawkgirl, perhaps the problem is that you are only looking at it through financial lenses.

    Anyone that sees this as a sugar daddy or sugar momma issue is an idiot and is spiritually short sighted

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  37. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    For LDS precedents on working mothers, there is polygamy, which actually fits surprisingly well in modern life (if you accept the reality show version of it.)

    In a polygamous household, only one full time mom is needed for the kids, and the others work full-time or part-time, providing pleanty of income for a large family, and fulfilling the career aspirations of wives and giving them a certain independence. Brigham Young’s wives had their own businesses. He sent his girls back east to be educated.

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  38. Will on November 27, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    “But all that Satan fighting still doesn’t qualify them to be a bishop. So it’s not real world experience. Is it make believe”

    We have elevated the Bishop to something that it is not. Quite frankly, it is a pain in the ass job. Like any other calling in the ward, it is part of the Body of Christ and has no more importance than any other meaningful calling (assistant to the assistant choir director is not meaningful, sorry). With this said, a Bishop in the modern church is an executive position and requires executive experience in order to be successfully implemented. That is the point I was making.

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  39. hawkgrrrl on November 27, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    I think your point about the financial lens is important. I believe two things about money: 1) money doesn’t solve everything, but it sure helps your money problems, and 2) I prefer financial freedom to wealth. But if you are an adult, and you are 100% financially dependent on others, you’d better make sure you have sufficient insurance to live the remainder of your life if something goes wrong. Most women who don’t work simply don’t plan for the future in this way. I know plenty of people who’ve been caught unawares by poor planning and no Plan B.

    The other thing is that life is long, and people need mental stimulation and challenge. The survey showed that there is a huge brain drain for women. They don’t feel their roles challenge them or are a good use of their talents. That’s a problem. It’s a problem for society at large, and it’s a problem for those specific individuals.

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  40. Douglas on November 27, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    #20 – Maybe Lennon was a hell-raiser in his “yute”-hood, but Yoko Ono made him into a poof.

    #38 – Will, though certainly “executive” skills are a part of any bishop’s job, it’s a shame that only the temporally “executive” types are considered. I’ve known many a plumber or millwright that pulled down serious dough and were very successful, but were looked down upon because they got their hands dirty. One of the best bishops that I ever had had a chimney sweep business. It’s a shame he died suddenly at only 61.

    Folks, the whole issue of women engaged in gainful employment outside the home (I detest designating them as “working” since many SAHM work their lovely posteriors off to keep up the home, rear the kids (often with one in the “oven”) and do Church work) versus family concerns all boil down to PRIORITIES. I don’t look down upon those that work as being ‘neglectful’, I don’t consider the SAHM to be ‘lazy’ or ‘pampered’, indeed, with mine own grown daughters I do what I can to be supportive. All are employed, the oldest has the perfect “Mommy Track” job (as a Mechanical Engineer, like “Dod”, she an HVAC plans checker and has extreme flexibility with her work schedule). I have another that has two kids in elementary school and has just learned that she’s expecting again. Her I worry about since they really can’t do without her income and bennies but she’d be better off to do the SAHM for at least a few years. The other is expecting her first but her job is normally part-time, right now she’s getting more than full-time work and is socking it away. All at least have husbands that work and are good Dads.
    For men, it’s really not much different, save that in LDS culture the SAHD is unusual (typically when “between careers” or “freelancing” from home like the cartoon’s “Adam”). All along when the crew were all crumb-crunchers, it was that “Cat’s in the Cradle” stuff. You had to bring home the bacon, AND cook it, and be “Super-Dad”…and if called into the EQ presidency or on a Stake Mission, do great wonders. Now that I’m on the cusp of old fogeydom, it’s nice to get some sleep! At least from that era, when either the kids were finally in bed and I could relax, there was “Married with Children”…in particular, it had a great “Show within a show”(Psycho Dad)…”who’s that riding in the sun? Who’s the one with the itchy gun?”.”

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  41. ji on November 29, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    I think the North Koreans have it about right — here is an extract from the North Korean constitution:

    Article 77. Women shall be entitled to the same social status and rights as men. The state shall provide special protection to mothers and children by guaranteeing maternity leave before and after childbirth, reducing working hours for mothers with many children, and expanding the network of maternity hospitals, nurseries, and kindergartens, and by implementing other measures. The state shall provide every possible condition for women to participate in society.

    No one needs to feel any guilt!


    I think most people in society and in the Church accept women in the workplace. To me, that’s not the real issue. The issue seems to be that too many who make one decision condemn others who make a differing decision. And yes, we do see among Latter-day Saints some unkind belittling of women who make the SAHM decision — I think this is what is driving Elder Christofferson’s remarks–

    A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right.

    Unlike the North Korean example, I would prefer to let each family make its own choice.

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  42. Justin on December 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Hawkgrrrl #33:

    Most SAHPs today don’t have ready opportunities to contribute financially and somehow we’ve decided they shouldn’t. That makes very little sense.

    I think this is true. Obviously the SAHP saves money for the family in terms of child-care costs — but unless he/she produces some things as a household contribution in addition to doing that [e.g., sews clothes, makes soap, sells farmed food at a market], they are being underutilized.

    I think the SAHP needs to do something — or else they become a net cost to the family. And I think current church doctrine encourages families to just eat that cost for theological reasons — rather than focusing on teaching families how to maximize the utility that we free-up by keeping an adult at home full-time.

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