Guest post by oxymormon
In the first months of my marriage, when spouseman and I were new to our Married Student Ward, I was very aware of the assumptions people were making about us as a couple and more blatantly about me as individual. There were concerned/alarmed looks and urgent whispers as it was revealed spouseman and I had different last names. Double takes and stares as I wore dress pants to church on particularly cold days. Word spread fast that there was something different about me and about us.
Fast forward a month or so to our first visit from hometeachers. Spouseman and I were excited to begin making friends in the ward. We made some cupcakes together that morning to share with our brand new hometeachers. I began to worry as I saw them walk up the drive way to our apartment, and stop for 5 or 10 minutes discussing something serious. I saw one companion put his copy of the Ensign away and realized we were not getting the normal “First Presidency Message” that Sunday; we were getting a special message tailored for us.
The lesson taught to us was all about the approved and “divine” set up of the family–with presiding husband and nurturing wife. They made a point to explain that the “head of household” should tell the hometeachers what kind of lessons he wants for his family. They warned of the new “fad” of family where these important lines between husband and wife were being blurred. They insisted he call on people to pray, since it is his house. His household. His opinion for the lessons. His. His. His. I sat stunned and silent–conveniently fitting right into the model of perfect wife taught and praised by these two men who I had never met before.
As I was overcome with hopelessness and hurt as the well-intentioned home teachers left with their praise of patriarchy ringing in my ears and the million thoughts of what-I-should-have-said or what-I-should-have-done running through my mind, I once again found myself sobbing into spouseman’s shoulder, mentally begging my Heavenly Parents to never let this happen again.
I think the hurt is worse, when someone enters OUR home– the home spouseman and I have have built together, and tells us that only one of us is the leader. Only one of us “presides.” Only one of us can decide who should pray.
That is not what we have worked toward. That is not how our little family works.
After they left spouseman held me for a long time, apologizing for not saying anything. Thinking of a game plan of showing those hometeachers next time that “our family is different.” Seeing the defeat in my eyes and validating what I was already thinking–”We can feel the spirit much stronger here at home together than in Stake Conference. Let’s not worry about going.”
So we stayed home. We spent the day learning and caring for one another. Reminding ourselves that this is our home, we are equal presiders and equal “guardians of the hearth.” We decide how things are, and we will not let someone else tell us how things should be.
I am still wounded though. I am hurt when I see and hear this kind of thing in church, or in a devotional or read it in the Ensign or in something for a religion class. But I have never felt so stripped of my power and my equality with my husband as I did today when someone came into my safe haven, my home with my husband–and contradicted me.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit something. I wanted to demand they stop talking. I wanted to throw the front door open and insist they leave right this moment and never come back.
But instead I held in my tears and suppressed my anger. I shook their hands and even smiled as they left.
And then I cried, and began to nurse my spirit back to health and happiness for the hundredth time, slowly beginning to realize that 100 times is only the beginning.