"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
July 17, 2014
My Husband Doesn't Home Teach
by Cyndie Swindlehurst

Editor's note: Cyndie Swindlehurst is so sick that if she wrote a new column today you would catch what she has from the contagion. Please accept this rerun from December 12, 2013. We hope she'll be here with a fresh column next week.

Question:

My husband doesn’t do his home teaching. He thinks he’s an 80% kind of guy, but he really never goes.

Not to brag, but I’ve been a 100% visiting teacher for years. I’ve tried reminding him to go, but it bugs him.

He is completely active in church other than home teaching. He attends his meetings, fulfils his callings, reads his scriptures, holds Family Home Evening, and does everything else you’d expect.

I think home teaching is really important. Any ideas on what I can do to encourage him?

Answer:

Yes. You can let it go.

I will give you five reasons you should drop this issue and not mention it again.

One, home teaching is his responsibility, not yours. Unless you have been assigned to be his companion, your job, vis a vis home teaching, is to support your husband when he visits or helps people, even when those visits are inconvenient. Unless he specifically asks for your help, you are not responsible for anything else.

Similarly, you are not the home teaching police. Your husband is not accountable to you for his home teaching. He does not report to you. It is not your job to persuade him to go, to pressure him to go, or to try and convert him to the principle of home teaching.

Two, you cannot make your husband home teach. You just can’t. It’s impossible. Acting as if you can somehow make him do what he does not want to do will leave you both feeling frustrated and disappointed.

Three, it’s not worth it. It is absolutely possible to be happily married to a man who doesn’t home teach.

Being a poor home teacher does not erase a person’s other good qualities. A man can be patient, hard working, and a good neighbor, and still be a lousy home teacher. You need to accept this and flat out decide that home teaching will not be a rift in your marriage, no matter how much you wish he would go.

Four, nagging is not effective. It causes irritation and contention.

You may think of your “reminders” and “encouragement” as sincere efforts to help your husband, but in fact, you are nagging. You want him to do something he doesn’t want to do, and you keep bugging him about it. Your husband does not like this nagging, and his feelings alone are a sufficient reason to stop.

The irony of nagging is that the person being nagged often becomes less likely to do what the nagger wants because (1) he doesn’t want the nagger to think that nagging is effective and (2) he doesn’t want to give in. The actual merits of whatever the nagger thinks he should do tend to become less important than the battle of wills.

And you don’t want home teaching to become a battle of wills between you. If your husband ever decides to be a more diligent home teacher, you don’t want him to even consider not doing it because you will have won, thus vindicating nagging as an effective strategy.

Five, and most importantly, the Golden Rule. You are not treating your husband as you would wish to be treated.

Every person has things he is good at, and things he is not so good at. You are good at visiting teaching. Your husband is not good at home teaching. When you nag your husband about home teaching, you are calling attention to something he is not good at. Worse, you are comparing his weakness with your strength.

Imagine for a moment that your husband nagged you about something you are not good at. For example, let’s say you never attend Relief Society, even though you know you should. Instead, you prefer to sit in the hall.

How would you feel if, every Sunday before church, your husband said, very sincerely, “Honey, I really hope you’ll go to Relief Society today. I know the sisters miss you — Sister Bengal told me she wishes you’d come. And you’re missing out on spiritual nourishment by sitting in the hall — how can the Lord bless us when you won’t do your part to participate and sustain the teacher? I know if you’ll go, it will be a good example and a help to our family. Maybe I could help you get there — would you like me to walk you to class? I could even sit with you.”

You would probably respond, “Excuse me? You are not the boss of me. If I want to sit in the hall, I will sit in the hall. And where do you get off saying that our family is losing blessings because I don’t go to Relief Society?” You would probably say that even if you secretly believed he was right about everything he said.

Do you have a quandary, conundrum, or sticky situation in your life? Click this button to drop Cyndie a line, and she’ll be happy to answer your question in a future column. Any topic is welcome!


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About Cyndie Swindlehurst

Cynthia Munk Swindlehurst spent her childhood in New Hampshire and her adolescence in San Diego. She served a mission in Manaus Brazil. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and from Duke University with a law degree.

She practiced law until her first child was born. She enjoys reading, tap dancing, and discussing current events. She and her husband live in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two sons.

Cyndie serves as the Sunbeams teacher in her ward.

Visit Cyndie at Dear Cyndie
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