Man and Woman Working Together

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.

Here is a story from Sister Barbara Smith’s talk during the welfare session of the April 1977 General Conference where she compared the role of the priesthood holders and Relief Society working together in the welfare program to a man and a woman working together in a marriage:

Something of this relationship might be seen if I relate a conversation with a friend of mine. He said, “My wife and I decided to face the front of our home with rocks. So I called around and located a place where I could get them.

“I started to get into my truck when my wife called to me and said, ‘Let me go with you. I want to help you.’

“When we got to the place where the rocks were located, we found them on the top of a hill. I complained, ‘That’s going to be a terrible job to get those rocks down.’

“My wife said, ‘I’ll go up to the top of the hill and roll the rocks down to you and then you’ll just have to carry them over to the truck. How does that sound?’

“I thought that was a good idea,” he said. “I watched her climb to the top of the hill and disappear for a few minutes. Soon she called out, ‘Here comes the first rock. Here comes another one.’ Then she said, ‘Oh, this rock is a beauty. I hope this one won’t be too heavy for you to carry.’

“I said, ‘I’ll carry anything you roll down.’

“Then she said, ‘Look at this rock. It has real character. Here comes my favorite.’”

He said, “She actually had me waiting anxiously for each rock.” And then he said, “In this endeavor, as in many other of our projects together, she had given me not only the help I needed but a perspective that often eludes men.”

I would like to see all sisters, particularly Relief Society presidents, acting as helpmeets to the priesthood in the rendering of welfare assistance.

The relationship between husband and wife is something we’re all still figuring out, I think. To one extend, this is because every marriage is as unique as the people in it, and so even if we had the general pattern figured out (and we don’t), we’d still need to figure out the specifics.

But we don’t even have the general pattern figured out to general satisfaction. We’re figuring out how to reconcile (and to what extent to even try) teachings about the husband as leader of the family (which seems unequal) with the belief that men and women are equal and that marriage is an equal partnership.

I’m not sure exactly how this story relates to that question, but I do like the story and I thought I’d share it.

Check out the other posts from the General Conference Odyssey this week and join our Facebook group to follow along!