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Your spouse is not your employee

Posted by Devin Miller on

I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire
              - Albert Einstein

When you mention Albert Einstein, the first thing people think of is the theory of relativity. (Ask them what the theory of relativity is and you may get a long awkward silence). Everyone knows who Albert Einstein is and that he was a genius. He was a Nobel Prize winner, accomplished multiple scientific breakthroughs, and made an impact on our modern society. Albert Einstein was also a husband and father. However, for all his genius, he had many failures in the home. When his scientific endeavors demanded his attention, it strained his family to the breaking point. Einstein said, “I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire.”

As a husband, if I were to tell my wife she is my employee, after she would finish laughing in my face I would be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future. In the LDS church, we are taught “Brethren, treat your wives with love and respect and kindness. And, wives, you treat your husbands with love and respect and kindness” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 209).

We all know that we are to love and cherish our spouse, but how many times do we treat our spouse like our employee? Honey, could you take the car in for an oil change? Dear, could you fix the leak in the bathroom? Sweetie, is dinner ready yet? Sugar, it is your turn to change the baby’s diaper. All of us have uttered something like this before and likely will again in the future. There is nothing wrong with working as a spousal team to take care of the house and family. That is what marriage is, teamwork.

If we are not careful, we may start to treat our spouse less like a teammate and more like an employee. This is an easy trap to fall into. For example, a spouse may have a secretary at work that helps them take care of certain tasks (such as emails, schedules, phone calls, etc.) so that your spouse can focus his/her time and attention where his/her talents lie. At works this makes sense. It increases productivity and efficiency. It allows employees to focus on their work and generate an income. It can be easy to take this attitude home from work. A husband or wife may begin to treat their spouse like their secretary so that they can focus their time and attention on what they think is the best use of their time. Even worse, a husband or wife may start to believe that they work so hard during the day that they deserve a break when they get home and it is their spouse's job to take care of matters at home.

If you have fallen into this trap, two words: Stop it. President Henry B. Eyring shared:

If a husband will put his wife’s needs above his own, his love for her will increase… It will take faith and humility to put her interests above your own in the struggles of life,” President Eyring says. “You have the responsibility to provide for and to nurture the family with her while serving others. That can at times consume all the energy and strength you have. Age and illness may increase your wife’s needs. If you choose even then to put her happiness above your own, I promise you that your love for her will increase.
- Prophets and apostles | Today’s family: love your wife

At work, you should focus your time and attention on the tasks you were hired to do, but at home, you should focus your time and attention on your spouse. No matter how amazing your spouse is or how independent they are, your spouse needs you. As you focus your time and efforts on your spouse, “The promises of the Lord are extended to all those who follow the pattern of life that builds happy, holy marriage relationships.” (Elder L. Whitney Clayton, April 2013 General Conference). If you or your spouse is struggling, take some time to refocus your marriage. Spend some time together on your relationship (see our previous post about a DIY marriage retreat).

Image result for lds spouse

When you treat your spouse like the most important person in the world, that is who they will become.

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