Who’s Sleeping with Your Bishop?

 By Maria


For a variety of reasons, I haven’t posted lately about my experiences as a bishop’s wife.  Recently, however, I’ve been feeling rather introspective about my husband’s calling, my role as the bishop’s wife, and the different issues (both good and bad) associated with this particular 800 pound gorilla.


Even though I’ve been the bishop’s wife for over five years now, on a regular basis I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.  I mean, should I even be “doing” anything at all?  My husband was presented with the always-interesting-to-read-late-at-night Church Handbook of Instructions, but no canon of procedure was ever provided to me.  


So, is this even considered a calling?  Are there specific expectations connected with my role?  Are there tasks or duties I should be fulfilling?  And, do any of those tasks involve something more meaningful than playing the traditional “hostess,” “bishopric meeting treat-maker,” or “housekeeper while husband is at meetings”?  As the bishop’s wife, are there spiritual duties that I should be seeking to fulfill?  Where should the lines be drawn as to what is or isn’t appropriate?


Thus far, my plan of action as the “Mother of the Ward” has been predominantly determined by:


1) Following personal spiritual promptings (which, frankly, I don’t even know if I’m entitled to have, considering I have no priesthood stewardship over the ward), and


2) Emulating the actions of other bishops’ wives that I have come into contact with, whom I admire.


For example, one of my former bishop’s wives was really wonderful about investing extra time and energy into opening up their family’s home to all the members of the ward.  Every Sunday evening she spearheaded an activity at their home for a particular group of individuals (YW, YM, single adults, young marrieds, etc.).  Together, she and her husband presented a spiritual lesson on a topic they had both been praying about.  True, there was a hostessing element to the evening with standard-fare refreshments after the lesson, but the real value she added was through her insightful spiritual messages and example.  My husband and I have attempted to implement something similar in our ward at different times.  Usually we do pretty well at hosting one activity in our home per month for about four or five months, and then we burn out and don’t hold these small group activities until we’ve regained our energy (or our sanity) two or three months later.


And, speaking of burnout, I’ve been feeling rather burned out lately.  Not at the fiery “you must be released or else” stage, but more along the lines of slow-roasted, slow-burning “I’m too tired to think about it” fatigue.  I’m just worn out.  I’m feeling very little motivation with respect to being a good little bishop’s wife lately.  


I would love to hear about your bishop’s wife, in the hope that maybe something will inspire me or motivate me to try a little harder.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts about the role of a bishop’s wife in general.  


What is the role your current bishop’s wife plays in your ward?


Does your bishop’s wife play any sort of a “spiritual” role in your ward?


If you were a bishop’s wife, how would you approach your role?


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33 Responses

  1. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for this thread. I posted a while ago about my husbands calling as EQP. Our bishop and his wife had us over for dinner and games a few weeks ago and he mentioned that he would probably be released soon. So, I jokingly told the bishop that I would make sure the my husband did a poor job at his new calling to be sure he wouldn’t be called in the new bishopric. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be.
    I don’t think our bishop’s wife plays a big role in the ward, but I am very careful to see how their marriage works. For example, I could tell that she wanted to play games, but excused herself to go to the kitchen to clean up. I was surprised that our bishop didn’t go help her. That is the kind of thing that I look at, the relationship aspect.
    I won’t even venture into being a bishop’s wife, it’s too scary for me. I’m sure I would really struggle.
    Thanks for being a resources. Good luck with your ‘calling’.

  2. stacer says:

    My bishop’s wife has her own important calling in the ward in compassionate service. She does, along with her husband and their children, host the single adults for an FHE every now and then (no set schedule, just whenever they get around to planning it w/ the FHE guy. It’s a great way to get to know their family better for us, to know her as well as the bishop, but I think it’s also just important that we get to interact with her in the ward in her calling and as a sister.

  3. Dora says:

    My current bishop’s wife seems to stay out of the limelight. She seems like a wonderful woman, I just don’t know her very well.

    In my last YSA ward, the bishop’s wife was given an unofficial calling as the ward yenta. She and the bishop would open their home for dinner to a selected group of men and women almost every Sunday. This group changed depending on what “requests” were made, or their own perceptions of who would make an interesting dinner group. The practice was short-lived, but fun for all.

    The most memorable bishop’s wife was while I was in a student ward in So Ca. They were recently returned from a mission presidency. The bishop’s wife was very energetic, involved and rallying. Since then I’ve always secretly wanted to marry someone who would serve as a mission president later in our lives.

  4. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Our current bishop’s wife is wonderful. She is nothing like our last bishop’s wife. Let me tell you about her before I tell you about the current BW.

    As soon as the former bishop (FB) was called (not sustaioned, but called) she (the FBW) started running the ward. Telling people what to do and how to do things. After the FB was sustained, she started calling herself “Sister Bishop”. The power really went to her head. After two years of Imelda Marcos, I was put in as HC. I told the SP what was going on; he confirmed it and the FB and FBW were told to cool it. She did not think the an SP had the right to tell her how to act in her “calling” as BW. At one point this FBW dropped in to command my daughter to befriend her daughter. She didn’t request, or say something like “it would be really nice if”. When we moved into this ward, we’d asked if their daughter could befriend our daughter, because she was new in school. We were told that they don’t tell their kids who to be friends with. So, we chose to use that line. My daughter was a cheerleader and ran with a cool, but clean, crowd. The FBW’s daughter wanted to be one of the cool kids too. Her own friends weren’t cool enough.

    The FBW decided that a family in crisis could receive no more than 3 RS provided meals. Thank goodness the charitable sisters in the ward rebelled against that and took meals in off the records.

    The current BW is a Cub Scout den leader. She feels that her duty is to support her husband, not do his job for him. I think that she’s got it right; play it low key.

    Unfortunately, the FBW is now the RS pres. But the bishop is keeping tight rein on her. I hope it works, she doesn’t need to screw up any more lives.

  5. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Oh, BTW, the current bishop and his wife moved into the ward after finishing up as mission president. He didn’t see most of the FBW’s antics.

  6. gladtobeamom says:

    Our ward bishops wife doesn’t do anything. She is just like any other member of the ward but then so is our bishop. They don’t do any extra stuff whatsoever. It is strange to me because there is no involvement whatsoever with the youth or adults. He does make a lot of comments about wanting to be released.

    In other wards the bishops wife did different things based on her husbands support and her abilities. Ones with young families were usually focused only on there family and those whose families were grown or gone were more involved in different activities. Mostly they just seemed to do whatever was needed to support their husbands in their calling.

  7. Janna says:

    The questions rest on the idea that we expect the bishop’s wife to serve as a sort of First Lady. Typically, a Bishop’s wife has a calling – so, that should be her “role.”

  8. Rusty says:

    The woman in our ward who happens to be married to the bishop is pretty amazing. Her husband is in FBI training and will be for the next four months so she and her two kids only get to see him for two days every other week. Of course she still comes every week, fulfills her calling as nursery leader and is one of those annoying people who never complains about anything. She’s a jewel of the ward.

  9. RandomLurker says:

    “So, is this even considered a calling?…” – No
    “Are there specific expectations connected with my role?…” – No
    “Are there tasks or duties I should be fulfilling?… -No

    That being said, I think your approach of fulfilling whatever other calling you may have and following the spirit is exactly what you should be doing.

  10. Julie says:

    ditto to Random Lurker. I think it’s unfair to put extra expectations on a Bishop’s wife, just because of the calling her husband currently holds. That said, when I was in the singles ward, the Bishops wife played a very important role – almost like an extra mom to the women (and it was an older “young” singles ward…avg age low to mid 30s).

  11. I’ve never noticed a bishop’s wife playing any additional ward role, although she often seems to be held up as an example of playing additional family roles while her husband is unavailable too much of the time.

    One additional personality trait, though, that I’ve appreciated in bishop’s wives is the apparent obliviousness to who is meeting with her husband and why. Even when a bishop doesn’t discuss ward members’ business with his wife (or at least even when you assume he doesn’t), you know his wife has to be generally aware of personal problems because of who is calling her home or what messages she is taking over the phone. It’s reassuring to notice that the bishop’s wife isn’t a gossip, doesn’t seem to be a member of any clique, and is anxiously engaged with her own calling and not seeming to hover over anything or anybody that she wasn’t involved with before her husband’s calling.

  12. amelia says:

    my current bishop’s wife is our relief society president. the stake president wanted to release her when they called the bishop, but she put her foot down and said it wasn’t necessary. they make a wonderful team leading our ward. i personally really like the idea of a husband/wife team leading a ward as bishop and RS president. but i also realize that it would be really impractical in most circumstances. our bishop happens to be retired (though he still works as a substitute teacher with some regularity) and i think his wife may be in partial retirement. and their children are all adults. i’m sure the situation wouldn’t work as well if they had children at home still.

  13. MoJo says:

    i personally really like the idea of a husband/wife team leading a ward as bishop and RS president. but i also realize that it would be really impractical in most circumstances.

    I can see that that would be very problematic in a great number of cases, especially in light of Floyd the Wonderdog’s anecdote.

    I agree with Random Lurker. I don’t think you have any special calling other than taking up the slack where the husband/bishop is absent in the family. I think you should go on the basis of guidance and your own personality.

  14. Naismith says:

    “Our ward bishops wife doesn’t do anything.”

    Ouch. This might be accurate, or she might do things that aren’t obvious to most ward members.

    Some of the things I did as bishop’s wife…

    -Took lots of phone calls when there was a death, miscarriage, etc. and provided initial comfort and triage to the people.
    -Went to a funeral more than an hour away, of a ward member’s loved one who had committed suicide. We didn’t want the ward member to be alone without ward family, and neither the bishop, home teachers, visiting teachers or any leader could make it. (Also attended lots of other funerals and ordered flowers from the ward, but that one stands out because my attendance made such a difference.)
    – Went to several sealings at a temple 2 hours away, some with but others without my husband.
    – Provided lots of last-minute rides for people, generally an hour round trip (and that meant our own children had to walk to church).
    – Was considered the Ever-ready Substitute to speak at sacrament meeting if people cancelled or he forgot.
    – Provided more meals, groceries, etc. than I can count. I decided after a while that cinnamon rolls, which can be made up very easily with a bread machine, are a great food gift if you are not sure whether others are already bringing meals, etc.
    – I could never afford to miss a shower for fear of offending…if I have to work or something, I have to remember a gift. It takes all the fun out of it, to have such pressure.

    I am glad it is *not* a more defined role–I understand that General Authority wives have to attend formal training in their roles.

    Because it does depend on what your family stage is like and how much time you have and what your own callings are what your particular talents are.

    I wasn’t as obviously activist as some bishop’s wives, but I don’t think “do nothing” would be accurate, either.

  15. Maria says:

    Sorry, all, for my disengagement from the conversation. I was at a funeral today and am just now getting back to the computer. A couple of my initial thoughts:

    -I find it interesting that many of you are saying that your bishop’s wife really doesn’t play any sort of spiritual role in your ward. From the comments here it seems that many bishop’s wives serve as examples, cheerleaders, and extra support (which are all good things), but don’t take on specific spiritual-type roles. Hmmm…I don’t know how I feel about that. I guess maybe I was hoping that at least a few people could chime in and speak of their bishops’ wives as spiritual giants, delivering inspiring messages in sacrament meetings or lessons, etc.

    -I’m also surprised that no one mentioned a bishop’s wife as being a counselor to the bishop. Obviously not on confidential matters such as worthiness, transgression, church discipline, etc. (I have NO desire to know those things about people…just too heavy), but what about with respect to the general running of the ward? Ward activities? Suggestions for callings to pray about with the bishopric? Insights about the women of the ward learned during RS meetings/activities? Spiritual promptings that the wife received regarding a member who needs assistance?

    -Dora: When you say that your bishop’s wife was very “involved” in the ward–do you mean in a social way or in a spiritual way? Or were the two intertwined?

  16. Maria says:

    Naismith: I always love your comments on this topic. I wish you lived nearby so that you could be my mentor. Coming to NYC anytime soon? 🙂

    For me, your comment here highlights many of the unspoken “expectations” that ward members have of bishop’s wives. Although there isn’t a rule that says you have to make an appearance at all the funerals, hospital stays, weddings, baptisms, family crises, baby showers (I swear we’re gonna break the bank this summer on the 8 new babies coming in to the ward), etc., you know that everyone will notice if you don’t. People get offended, and you always fear that it’s somehow going to harm their testimonies. Especially for new converts or people who are already fragile in their lives for some reason.

    The substitute teacher/ride-giver thing is another point on which I understand you completely–for some reason people think that because it’s the bishop’s wife, she just can’t say no–it’s her job to make herself available to everyone at only a moment’s notice. For a while there on Sunday mornings I was getting so many calls to substitute that I made it a policy to just never pick up my phone.

  17. Maria says:

    Last comment for the night: I’m nonplussed by the unkind/judgmental things that several here have expressed about their bishop or bishop’s wife. Honestly, I remember back to before my husband was called, and I think that I, too, was perhaps a little judgmental of a few of my former leaders and/or their wives. But now, after being on the “inside,” woah…do I wish I could go back and unthink those thoughts. The calling of bishop is wholly, totally, utterly all-encompassing in the life of both the bishop and the bishop’s wife. It might seem to you like your bishop isn’t working hard enough, or isn’t doing things the way you would do them—but I swear to you that you have NO freaking idea what is going on behind the scenes. No clue. Not even the bishopric knows. All bishops (and their wives) feel to some extent overwhelmed, because all of them wish that they could do more than what they’re doing. But the truth is that whether you’re the lamest bishop ever, or you’re the Thomas S. Monson type of bishop, you just can’t do it all. At the end of the day, there is still more to be done. It’s inherently impossible, given that it’s the bishop’s job to lead, nurture, comfort, judge, etc. a group of hundreds of unique, wonderful, challenging, amazing people. The work is exponential in nature.

  18. Starfoxy says:

    Maria, For what it is worth I’ve always understood the Bishop’s wife to be sort of ‘off limits’ for things like substituting, or being available at a moments notice. I would never think of calling the bishop’s wife to substitute for me, and am kind of surprised to hear that people would not only ask, but *expect* her to be available (especially if she has small children). I suppose this reflects my feelings about the more general ‘role’ of the bishop’s wife- I think that she has no duties to the ward, but rather that the ward has duties to her. Those duties would include respecting her time with her spouse, her house as a private space, her life as an individual and not a ward ambassador (ie, I would only invite the bishop’s wife to a baby shower if I felt I was actually her personal friend) and just generally giving her a break whenever possible.

  19. gladtobeamom says:

    I wanted to chime back in because I am one of those who was rather hard on our bishop and his wife. I do appreciate the fact that I dont have any understanding whatsoever about what they do. I am sure that they do more then I know. Considering the fact that I live in the most difficult ward ever, I dont blame them for being burned out. When I said his wife does nothing I meant any of the extra things that were mentioned. To be fair to her she does work full time in NYC which is a big commute and at times has had two callings in our ward. She is quiet and reserved and never speaks in sacrament meeting in fact when I mean nothing I mean she doesnt have any special role whatsoever in the ward outside of her regular calling. She doesnt go to every funeral or shower or even ever RS meeting. She is just like the rest of us. That is ok I actually dont expect any more from any bishops wife. I just think it is curious that her husband is well just the same. But from reading above I guess that is what I have to get over. You think at least the bishop would play a spiritual role in your ward. But then again if my husband were bishop of our ward he might run screaming from the church and never come back again.

  20. Sarah says:

    I agree with whoever it was that was surprised at people calling for the bishop’s wife to substitute — at the moment almost one third of my CTR class is composed of the children of bishopric/executive secretary types, and the only reason the bishop’s wife was called in to sub when I got sick was because she signed herself up on the sub list. The other wives in question have callings to fulfill in my class hour.

    Except in a YSA type of ward, I’d say that the bishop’s wife has the same responsibilities as any other member of the ward: support her spouse, take care of her children, and do her own calling well. YSA wards are unusual only because the bishopric and their wives are generally the only six “grown-ups” in the entire ward. Anyhow, I don’t expect the bishop’s wife to be the kinder/gentler/utterly selfless/omniscient version of the RS President: she’s got enough to manage in her own life, and certainly doesn’t need my expectations to add to the burden of having her husband gone all the time and the rest of it.

  21. Suzie says:

    Our Bishop’s wife is very involved in the life of the Ward. She can be somewhat “over the top” but that is her personality, not becuase she if the Bishop’s wife. It may be because I purposely keep myself removed from the “politics” of the ward, but I think that she does a pretty good job at balancing her role of her calling and her position. One thing that puzzles me, though, is that she always refers to her husband as The Bishop, as in the Bishop put the childen to bed last night, The Bishop commented at dinner last night…” I find that very bizarre. Is that normal? As a fairly new convert I just don’t know what to think about that In fact, it makes me just a little bit uncomfortable. Does the man have to give up his name to be the Bishop? I still think of him by his first name, which is how I was introduced to him several years ago. Yes, I call him Bishop, but when I talk to her can I use his first name?

  22. Janna says:

    I dislike the idea that a bishop’s wife needs to act like a “mother” to members of a YSA ward. This perpetuates the infantilization of singles in the church.

  23. Molly Bennion says:

    Of course you’re worn out. How could you be anything else?
    My husband was a bishop as a young man, father of 4 young children and trying to build a a career that took 50-70 hours a week. He served the ward an average of 30 hours a week. That left little for our kids and me and virtually no time for his personal life. He slept way too little. I just slept too little. I saw my primary role as facilitating whatever time he could give our children and then making up the slack myself when he couldn’t. I also tried to squeeze in time for him to protect his own health. That of course meant doing virtually all of the homechores he did before and after being bishop, emotionally very difficult for this feminist. Suddenly we had just the kind of marriage we agreed we would never have. We tried, but often failed, to protect 1 night a week as a date night. I really don’t think many ward members are aware of the personal sacrifice a bishop’s entire family makes; asking more of them is too much. They should give additionally or not as they see fit.
    My secondary role was as a counselor. We discussed issues without names, especially as pertained to women. I had been a RS President in that ward and I did not want to return to knowing who had what problems. That is a burden to be borne only when you are in a position to try to help. The only entertaining we did at home was with the gay members of the ward who sometimes came for dinner on Sundays. The children needed the little time he had at home more than did the ward.
    A bishop’s wife is first a woman and only very lastly a roleplayer. I just went on trying to live my life with integrity, serving my family and others as best I could; to protect my husband, children and self in a trying, though in many ways blessed, situation; and to worry not a moment about the ward’s definitions of a role. After all, we simultaneously play many important roles at a time and we must constantly balance the conflicts.
    My very best wishes to you, Maria. Take care of yourself and your family.

  24. Are we there yet? says:

    Thanks for posting this Maria. It’s good to have a chance to reflect.

    My husband’s also been bishop for over 5 years. I was in the middle of a major clinical depression when he was called and it lasted for another 2-3 years after his call. We didn’t know the problem was depression; we thought I was just going thru some personal and career difficulties. Needless to say, the timing was terrible.

    I first patterned myself after two bishops’ wives I’d admired who, although smart and independent women, were both very discreet– nearly invisible– in their roles. It suited me very well at the time and still does.

    Since I’ve come out of my depression, I’ve become more involved but I don’t consider that I have an official role. I know far less about what goes on with ward members than many members think and I’m fine with that. I used to be–still am about other things–very curious, but I’m absolutely fine not knowing what goes on in people’s lives. My husband sometimes bounces ideas off me and will occasionaly share confidential info if he thinks I can be helpful or reach someone he has a hard time with. This is a rare occurence but it has happened.

    i occasionally give my opinion even when not asked :). When one of his counselors was moving out of the ward, I suggested he had him released a month before the move–dh wanted to wait until the family actually moved–so the father could devote the time needed to get the new house ready w/o having to still fullfil obligations to the ward. DH saw the wisdom in that and the wife appreciated being able to concentrate on the move w/o having her husband gone to meetings.

    Our ward had three divorces in the first 18 months of dh’s service. I never saw any of them coming. With the first, DH and i were heading out of town one Friday and he said, “I’d better tell you that so-and-so is going to be served with divorce papers today.” I was stunned but pleased; it was an abusive situation and the whole ward was very supportive of the wife. I asked him why he was telling me. He said, “because more than half the ward alreay knows, so I thought you should too.” Since then we have an agreement that anytime a critical mass in the ward knows about something, he’ll tell me.

    We live in a smaller home so I don’t feel comfortable having lots of people over but I have done it, or had smaller groups– not alot though. I do a backyard ice cream party every summer (small backyard,it’s a zoo).

    I used to cringe when I heard bishop’s wives referring to their husband’s as “The bishop” and vowed I’d never do it but I have occasionally heard those words come out of my mouth. I believe I do it when dh has done something the bishop has done that dh wouldn’t do. For me,its the equivalent of calling a child by their full given name. I don’t mean that I call him “bishop” but if i tell a ward member he has done something as “the bishop” I will say “the bishop said this is what will happen in the ward…” rather than “Sweetie Pie said..” because this is a bishop action rather than something my sweetie pie would do.

    The women I patterned myself after didn’t think their husbands had been called because thier wives should have all the answers in RS or SS. I’ve seen alot of bishops’ wives do that over the years,although more so in the mission field during the 20 years we lived away from the Wasatch Front. I never feel that others are waiting to hear from me and I sure hope they don’t. I’ve been told I’m a fiesty RS teacher but I’m very careful to teach only official doctrine.

    Having lived out of the US and away from Utah, I’d say more is expected of a bishop’s wife in terms of entertaining and being mother of the ward in the mission field than in “Zion.”

    I should add we’ve had a mostly child-free home these past 5 plus years so I still get plenty of one-on-one with dh.

    I’d call our ward an easy one. It’s got its problems but I’ve seen much worse.

  25. Are we there yet? says:

    Sorry this is sooooo long. hard to tell in these little boxes.

  26. Lizzy says:

    My experience as “bishop’s wife” was a little more unusual. I was 29 in a rural non mormon part of the country. I had two bed rest pregnancies in five years and felt my husband put his family second after his church responsibilities. It was my ward who took care of me and the kids. Those people rallied around me and got me through those long years of the bishopric. I always wonder, now that I am in my 40’s, if I would do a better job of it now. I hope I don’t get to find out!

  27. Well, well, my googling paid off again….I am a bishop’s wife of almost 1 year….as well as my husband’s wife of almost 38 yrs. He is actually Branch Pres. of out tiny little YSA branch (yes, we are in the mission field). Our own youngest two kids are 18 and 16, still both at home – that presents many dilemmas…but on the whole, I try to just “be who I am” – which is the opposite of my husband, which probably works well….It’s tough here, Mormons are often hated, investigators drop off suddenly and unexpectedly when family/friends get to them w/ anti-LDS material…it can be very discouraging. But the church is true; so we slog along and carry on…I will try harder NOT to influence wrongly, after reading the posts above…LOL. Thanks for your thoughts – it made me feel more supported…

  28. Emilee Cleaver says:

    What about delegation??? Sounds like some of these Bishops don’t delegate as they should:(

  29. Lisa says:

    My Bishop’s wife rarely attends Church, and when she does she is wearing the same brown jumper and white turtle neck sweater. He has completely lost interest in her and I became the object of my Bishop’s attention. Arm rubbing, winks, comments about my hair and clothing, and any reason under the sun to call me.
    I began screening all calls and attend Sacrament meeting in a different ward.
    I do have empathy for this Bishop, however, because being married to a woman who cannot spend 1 hour in Sacrament meeting but can stay up all night “quilting” must get old and lonely.

  30. CacheValleyMan says:

    I resent the offhanded comment about bishops not delegating enough. I am currently a counselor in a bishopric, and I often hear people talk about delegation, as if the bishop could easily offload numerous responsibilities if he would just delegate as he is supposed to. I always think that such comments reflect a lack of understanding about what actually goes into being a bishop, and I assume the commenter above has never been the spouse of a bishop (or even a bishopric counselor for that matter).

    To whom should the bishop delegate confessions? How about extending callings? Or temple recommend interviews? Or BYC? Or conducting baptisms? Or disbursing fast offerings? Or preparing the ward budget? Or reviewing the financial audit with the finance clerk? Or selecting sacrament meeting topics? Or finding sacrament meeting speakers? Or conducting PEC and ward council? Whom should he ask to take his place for PPIs with the stake presidency? Who will attend stake bishopric counsel meeting for him? Or stake welfare council? Not to mention the numerous mutual activities, Scout camps, youth conferences, priests and laurels retreats, overnight campouts, and ward activities at which he is exptected to, at a minimum, make an appearance and share spiritual guidance, and, more often than not, play a much larger role.

    With the exception of delegating a portion of these responsibilities to his counselors–who are typically overworked in their own right–to whom else can he offload these tasks? In the overwhelming majority of situations, the answer is: no one. That is the burden of being a bishop. When those who know from experience describe the calling as all-consuming, it’s not an exaggeration. Honestly, I often think it’s too much to ask of anyone who still has kids at home. And there is no doubt in my mind that a bishop’s wife and children often bear the biggest brunt of the sacrifice that his calling requires. Again, I am only a counselor, but even my three oldest kids (8, 6 and 4) complain constantly that I’m always at the church and never spend any time with them. And my poor wife, alone at home multiple nights a week, more often than not holding a baby in one arm while trying to cook dinner or help a child with his homework or do the dishes, etc. with the other arm, just needs a break. Sadly, she gets almost zero sympathy or support from anyone in the ward. And the very few times I’ve heard her express even a modicum of frustration publicly, she has received almost immediate backlash from women who seem to think the position of being a bishopric member’s wife is something to be sought after. (“At least you have a husband” was the latest refrain from one of the ward’s recently divorced sisters, in the middle of a Sunday School lesson, no less.)

    This post is not meant to sound bitter. I have received numerous blessings since being called to serve in the bishopric. And I know the Lord has helped pick up the slack for me at home with both my wife and kids when I couldn’t be there as much as I would have liked. But believe me, more delegation does not even begin to resemble a meaningful response to the very real and nearly incomprehensible challenge of serving as a bishop of an LDS ward.

  31. SLCBishop'sWife says:

    Amen to the above. “Why don’t they just delegate?”–ha! Why don’t you just take dinner to your bishop’s family or offer to mow the lawn or babysit so the bishop and his wife could catch their breath for once? Easy to criticize, harder to help and try to lighten the load.

  32. Tawnya says:

    Well, I’ve been a Bishop’s wife for four years now and I have never considered it a role or calling in anyway. What I do think about is how I promised to support him. What that means might be different for everyone, but to me, it means sacrifice and carrying more of the load at home with a positive attitude. It doesn’t come with titles, roles, or attention. Although it can often come with unneeded and negative attention. It means very little back up with the kids and their activities. It means patiently holding dinner for hours. It means holding your tongue and forgiving others for misunderstandings and criticism. It means feeling alone most of the time. It means your best friend has a million things he doesn’t share with you anymore. It means sharing your husband’s heart and loyalty with everyone else when you desperately wish it was still just yours. It means that friends don’t open up and invite you anymore and it means you avoid all kinds of people, because you never want to meddle or unknowingly do damage with things you know nothing about. It means you avoid the people that want to complain about their callings or ward activities and others avoid you, because they want to gossip about those very things. It means you take extra fast offering routes with your boys every time or bring an extra loaf of bread for the sacrament every week. I could list a hundred ways, but it just means sacrifice in so many, many unglamorous and unnoticed ways. One day, I thanked my pediatrician’s wife for taking care of her brand new baby all alone for her first days home from the hospital while her husband saved my son’s life. She told me that she appreciated someone saying her sacrifice made a difference. She too had her medical degree, but when her husband was called as Bishop, she gave up her practice to take care of the kids. She was home cleaning up after sick kids and doing background research for his difficult patients. No one knew what she did or ever knew what a difference it made. But without her selfless sacrifices, he could not do all he did. For me, my role is to sacrifice with a peaceful heart, and to pray for strength to carry more than I am capable of.

    • Violadiva says:

      Your description makes me so sad because it reminds me of how the plural wives of polygamous men might have felt. #polygamyculture

      It also makes me wonder how many men who live secular lives have something equivalent that takes their time like this. (because lots of men from any faith or no faith can be workaholics)

      I suppose I don’t love that the church organization makes these demands of time and treasure for men, women and families.

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