Area Presidency Message: Husbands, Love Your Wives. 

Elder Jörg Klebingat

Second Counselor, Africa West Area Presidency


In 1995, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles published “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The opening paragraph of this inspired document declares:

“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”1

The adversary, knowing of the importance of the family in God’s plan, has been relentlessly attacking both the institution and the sacred nature of the family. He knows he will never experience the love of a woman or the joy of having and raising children. He is forever banned from giving or receiving words of love, and he will never know what it is like to be called “daddy.” In his eternal disappointment and anger he therefore seeks to prevent or destroy marriages, especially those solemnized in the sacred houses of the Lord.


In contrast, the Lord and His prophets have always placed the highest regard on the sanctity of marriage, the shared partnership between husband and wife. While the Lord’s teachings on marriage have been constant and clear, the world is offering alternative approaches and cultural nuances that can detract from the divine standard. In matriarchal cultures women dominate family life, whereas men dominate in patriarchal cultures. In the Lord’s house, in the homes of righteous and converted Latter-day Saints, husbands and wives form an equal partnership although their specific roles may differ.

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. . . .

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (emphasis added).2

Regardless of their own cultures or the example set by their own parents or grandparents, righteous husbands must never misinterpret what it means to preside over their families. Those lacking doctrinal understanding use Paul’s admonition to the wives to “submit yourselves unto your own husbands” or the declaration that “the husband is the head of the wife” to suggest that it is a man’s inherent right to rule over a submissive wife.

A careful reading of these verses suggests the opposite, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church . . .

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”3

The Lord’s expectations of His sons, especially those holding the priesthood, are clear: we must strive to love our wives in the same way Christ loves the Church. And just as Christ gave Himself for us, we husbands should give ourselves to service in behalf of our wives.

In 2006, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Russell M. Nelson taught:

“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully. . . .

“When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union—when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other—your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced.”4

Brothers and sisters, there are no perfect marriages. Building and maintaining strong marriages takes daily effort. It is hard work. And yes, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”5 It is the most important work we can do as it relates to our individual and marital exaltation. Perhaps this is why President Harold B. Lee said that “the most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.6 And President David O. McKay declared, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”7

I invite you, individually and as a couple, but also all of you who are still single, to study and ponder the doctrines underlying eternal marriages and to make necessary adjustments to come closer to the Lord’s divine standard. Eternal marriages are built on earth every hour and every day as both partners choose to follow the covenant path. In addition to the scriptures and words of the living prophets and apostles, I encourage you to study the books and lessons regarding eternal marriage found in the Gospel Library under family resources.

A concluding word to you, husbands, from one husband to another:

It’s perfectly okay for you to sweep and clean the house. You are a good man if you help take care of the laundry or go shopping. Helping in the kitchen and cleaning up after a meal is how you show the Lord and your spouse that you understand true doctrine. Frequently saying “thank you” and “I love you” to your wife and children qualifies you to affectionately be called husband and father. Spending quality time with your spouse and children can help turn you into a Saint. Participating in the creation of offspring earned you the privilege and duty to help with the consequences, including the changing of diapers!

Brethren, let God prevail in your life. Be the kind of husband who can one day stand before the Lord and confidently declare, “I did my best to love, cherish, and respect thy daughter whom thou gavest me.”