uring the past several years, I have talked to many people about their concerns in life. Some of the wives in particular were not happy with either their marriage or life in general. We tried to find out why.

I soon realized that many of the women were very talented and genuinely cared about their husbands and children. But some desired experiences in other realms of life that often included employment. Others still wanted to be wives and mothers at home but secretly envied employed women.So for some time I thought the answer for these marital concerns would be for husbands to help wives explore a few mountain peaks beyond the home. And for many couples it meant full- or part-time employment for the wife.

But then I ran into something equally interesting. There were many wives and mothers who were employed outside the home, either full- or part-time, but they too, were unhappy with life. And their marriages were suffering.

I found many of these women silently resenting the fact that they were at work. Some, I might add, were under a great deal of stress and fatigue by having to work and still perform many of the household tasks with little or no help from hubby or children. Many of these women expressed a need to have more help at home. Some wanted to quit work and be home with their children. Others wanted a periodic break from the hectic pace of being a mother, wife and employee. They simply needed a rest.

These trends continued to puzzle me for some time. Many wives were not happy being solely at home. And other women were not content with outside employment. I continued to wonder why. It is still a concern since more than 90 percent of married women are expected to be employed at some time during their married life.

Finally I got an insight about happiness. I realized it was not so much whether wives were employed or stayed at home. The women I have found to be most content with life are those who are able to choose where they want to be and what they want to do. Women who choose to stay at home seem to be the most happy, as are those women who choose to be employed. The real discontentment and dissatisfaction with life seems to come for women who are forced, by one means or another, to do either one.

Not long ago in a church meeting we sang a hymn titled "Know This, That Every Soul is Free." During the service I read it several times. Then, in my mind I rearranged a few words and the first three verses went as follows:

Know this that every woman is (or should be) free,'

To choose her life and what she'll be,

For this eternal truth is given,

That God will force no woman to heaven.

Freedom and reason make us . . . women

Take these away and what are we then?

Mere animals, and just as well

The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

In order for people to be happy, they must have the freedom to make choices in life. Then, and only then, are they in a position to use their reasoning capabilities to choose from the many alternatives.

If you have comments, write to 1230, SFLC, BYU, Provo, UT 84602.