#hearLDSwomen: I Am the Head of My Household Just as Much as My Husband

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When I was married, the software program/ward clerks deleted my “household” (with contact info and my photo) and added me as a member of my husband’s household, with him as head of household. So there was no contact info or photo of me. They also changed my name without my permission, even though I had explicitly requested ahead of time that they not change my name.
– Emily Belanger

When I was growing up, I had a mentally disabled father who wasn’t active in the church at all. My mother was clearly the head of the household in every way – my father was more of a fifth child than a spouse. But he was listed as head of household in the directory. It drove me mad.
– Mary

My husband is not even Christian, and he is listed as head of household in the ward directory. (I kept my name.) My home teacher is the ward clerk and he says he can’t change it.
– Sylvia Cabus

When I remarried, they put me under my husband with him listed as “head of household.” When I asked to have it changed, they said something about the software not being set up that way. So now people can’t easily find me because I didn’t take my husband’s name.
– Cherie Pedersen

I’m sick of my house being called “Stephen Christiansen’s house.”
It’s my house, too.
– Amelia Christiansen

Pro Tip: Respect women’s wishes and call them by the name they prefer. Don’t assume they’re going to change their last name after getting married. Don’t assume the husband is the head of household or that the home only belongs to him. Since marriage is an equal partnership, the woman owns the home and is head of household just as much as the man is.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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8 Responses

  1. Em says:

    It also is just annoying from a practical standpoint. My husband gets calls all the time for me because we don’t have a house phone, only cell phones. Since he is “head of house” his phone number is listed as the primary phone number, you have to scroll to find mine. Many people in our ward, particularly of an older generation, assume (fairly reasonably) that the phone number listed as our “household” number should be able to reach everyone in the household but of course it doesn’t and it ends up being inconvenient for everyone. Also, lets be real. The person you’re mostly likely trying to reach is the person cooking dinner for the missionaries, bringing cookies to Relief Society, driving the kids to activities, decorating for the dance etc. etc. It’s possible you’re trying to reach dad, but given our patriarchal gender norms the odds are, unless it is a specific priesthood function, most people are trying to reach the lady of the household, and not the man.

  2. Left Field says:

    The church membership system used to list the husband as “head of household” and the wife as “spouse.” There was no way to change that listing. But that changed quite a few years ago, and the directory now lists both husband and wife under “head of household.”

  3. Emma says:

    I didn’t change my last name when I married, and soon after I separated, I moved to a new ward. It was a while before I was able to get divorced, and during that time I was still listed under my husband’s last name, even though his records weren’t in the ward. Either people were unable to find me in the directory or they were suddenly privy to relationship status, which wasn’t really something I wanted to be public knowledge. Left Field is right that both spouses are listed as “head of household,” but it’s still the case that husbands are always listed first and that their surnames are the “family” name in the directory, even in Latin America where most wives (and children) have a different set of surnames.

  4. Dana says:

    I opted to not to take my husband’s last name when I got married 5 months ago. But,
    I asked to have my name listed as Dana-last name-husband’s last name so that people would still still be able to find me since I will always be listed under my husband’s household. When I moved into a new ward after I got married I would introduce myself as Dana-last name-husband’s last name but that caused confusion as people thought I was including my middle name in my introduction. I finally gave up and now allow people to call me by my husband’s last name at church. I kind of wish that I would have stood my ground and asked to use be called by my last name.

  5. Mary says:

    My children’s school’s online tracking listed my ex as head of household. Even if I was paying the fees and was getting reimbursed, the checks would be made out to my ex-husband and our child. I had to get my child to sign the check over to me just to get my reimbursement. Talk about infantalizing. The makers of this program are out of Iowa. I tried many times to get myself listed as the primary parent, I was the one actually running the household, the school correspondence should have been addressed to me. After I divorced, I finally had to go into the school with supporting documentation, sit down with a district employee for forty-five minutes and get everything set up. Even after that, the system defaulted to my ex-husband’s name on something and I had to call that employee to get it straightened out.

    This type of stuff goes on in the church. I’ve experienced it myself. However, it’s not just the church. It’s wider society. I’ve noticed the church doesn’t change until most of the rest of the civilized world has. Personally, I think it’s easier to change the wider culture and the laws than the church. I think those changes need to be in place, before the church will change.

  6. Patty Johnson says:

    I insisted on keeping my middle name rather than replacing it
    with my maiden name. I was very insistent, this was back in pre-computer days, and it’s always been listed the way I wantnit.

  7. SC says:

    Even worse is the way our preteen young sons have more “authority” in the Home than we do in the eyes of the church because of their priesthood ordinations. More authority than their older sisters too. And we wonder why Mormon boys don’t respect women/girls?

    Sorry, church leaders, but letting sister missionaries wear pants during the week only doesn’t even come close to equality. It only brought us out of the 1950’s. Still so, so much catching up we need to do here!

  1. January 13, 2019

    […] of their families. It’s the same reason the directory software still lists my husband as the head of the household and the reason that home teachers and missionaries visit us for the first time and make the mistake […]

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