Possible Changes to Our Current Model of Presiding

Which is your favorite?

1. Choose a word that is easier to redefine (my suggestions would be “dominion” or “superpower”). Replace “preside” with this word, and redefine this word to mean “equality.”

2. In order to strengthen ties to their family (so they don’t feel out of the loop at home), require husbands and fathers to do a greater share of the housework and childcare.

3. Give the power of presiding to women because we all know they’re more righteous and will do a better job, anyway.

4. Make husbands primarily accountable not only for the decisions they and their wives make mutually in regards to their families, but also for the decisions made by their wives independently.

5. Re-re-define “preside” so that husbands can do whatever they darn well please.

6. Choose another category (rather than gender) in order to decide who gets to preside. Some possibilities could be eye color or whose name comes first in the alphabet. Or alternate by month/week/etc. Or you could consider my finace’s idea: awhile ago he suggested that on days where I wear high heels that make me taller than he is, I will preside.

7. Forbid husbands and wives to disagree (then no one will think the husband gets the “last word”).

8. Instead of having one individual preside, have couples establish themselves as equal partners with different responsibilities. The couple will determine these responsibilities themselves, and they will do their best to set up the responsibilities so that both partners are doing an equal amount of work, feel responsible for things happening in the family, and are happy with the division of labor. All major decisions will be made co-equally, and both partners will accept equal responsibility for the consequences of these decisions.


  1. I’m partial to #6. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your suggestion #3 made me cringe a little. I think that many people, unfortunately, really think that way. Because men were thought of as superior to women for so long, the reaction is to flip it around as if one sex has to be superior. Both views are demeaning. [Stepping off soap box now]

    How about removing the idea of presiding altogether? (I think that’s what you were aiming at with #8).

  2. AmyB, #3 was tongue-in-cheek (as was much of the post), but at the same time, it’s an extreme statement of something that many people actually do believe (i.e. the idea that women are somehow stronger, more spiritual, etc, than men). I purposely put in this as an option in order to draw attention to this attitude. We often say things like this in more subtle ways in the church (and outside of it as well), and you’re right to point out that it’s just as problematic as saying the opposite.

    And you’re right that #8 was my attempt to remove the idea of presiding.

  3. I did catch that your post was tongue-in-cheek (I did have to reread it- at first reading I thought “S would never say that!”) I thought you did a great job. What’s slightly disturbing to me is that what you said tongue-in-cheek is what plenty of people say and mean it.

  4. s, I chuckled my way through this post. Nothing like a little tic review of all those preside discussions!

  5. AmyB, c’mon, it’s my mission in life to make sure that we all adhere to option #5. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tea, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  6. My vote is for #6, and the category I’d like to propose is how early you were born in the year.

    (My birthday, by the way, is 3 January. ;))

  7. What an awesome post. I got the humor from the start. Very funny. My serious answer would be number 8, but I do think #2 is pretty cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. zud, #2 is one of my favorites as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    JKS, I’m glad to know there are people who are able to make the current system work for them practically and intellectually.

  9. I’m partial to #2. If the goal behind asking men to preside is to lasso them into family involvement, why not just ask for that directly and dispense with the problematic term “preside”? ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. S,
    Awesome post. The preside conundrum is one of my all time favorite topics. For me, the whole concept is a relic of a historical, sexist past. Thank goodness that most LDS people I know reject the concept in practice, even if they verbally say they abide by it.

    Mike totally mischaracterized my long standing desire for him to change his hair. It’s not about control, it’s about encouraging him to step out of his hair comfort zone and go for something conservative but more attractive. Change is good. And if he hates it, he could just shave it off again ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Caroline, I agree that most LDS families either redefine it so that it’s more ceremonial than anything else or else dispense with it altogether. And I’m very glad about this too.

    Kiskilili, yes, exactly.

    Ziff, I like your suggestion. My father always tells the joke that he and my mother made the following arrangement when they got married: He got to decide what career he would pursue in order to provide for the family, and he got to decide where the family would live in order for him to pursue his career. My mom got to decide everything else.

  12. Caroline,
    Sorry to overstate. The connection was just too funny not to make. I find it particularly funny because my wife and I have a similar long-standing disagreement. I get my hair cut almost exactly the way it sounds like Mike does, and my wife similarly prods me to try being a little more imaginative. It’s good to know we’re not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tongue-in-cheek though my reference to hair was, I do think that dividing up responsibility for potential issues by who cares more about them isn’t generally a bad idea. For example, my wife is more than happy to let me decide what computer hardward and software to purchase, and she’s bored if I ask her to offer an opinion. Similarly, I have only a passing interest in our kids’ appearance–clothes, hair, etc.–so I am more than happy to have my wife make decisions without me in this area. I suspect that for both of us, there is a point where we would get involved in the area that we’ve currently completely ceded control (when the computer stops working and I don’t get it fixed or when the boys’ fingernails are long enough to skewer a grape), but most of the time each of us is just happy to have the less interesting issue taken care of without any of our input required.

    Kiskilili and S, I agree that it would be best to ditch the whole concept of presiding and just say, “Men, don’t neglect your families.” An interesting book I read on the subject is Wifework, in which Susan Maushart. She pointed out the frequently cited evidence that married women do virtually all of the housework and the child care, regardless of whether they work for pay. It was a good wake-up call to me to take ownership of these chores, rather than even just trying to “help” my wife with them.


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