CTBHHM: Smile, Giggle, and Simper

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 28-32

The rest of Debi’s chapter on “a merry heart” is taken up with her response to a letter from a follower. Debi spends four full pages responding. The longer I read, the sadder I got. I apologize in advance.

First, the letter:

Dear Mrs. Pearl,

I am going nuts. My husband has been in an emotional affair with his secretary. He says he is over it now, but I do not trust him. He gave her a small box of chocolates for Valentine’s. He has never remembered me on Valentine’s Day. He often goes out to eat with her and the other men of the office. She has twice confided to my husband about problems in her marriage. I know I am supposed to honor, forgive, and not be bitter, etc. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through, including the death of my mom just 3 months ago. I think it is foolish to place himself in her company when he does not have to, after he has already proven he can’t handle it. We are at an impasse. How do we find stuff to talk about? I am nervous as a cat, can’t sleep, etc. Desperate, but holding on and eagerly waiting to hear from you,

Beth

And now the response:

Dear Beth,

I am sorry for your struggles. Have you communicated with your husband about your concerns? Communication is very important in any marriage. Have you considered seeing a marriage counselor? That would probably be a good person to talk to about your husband’s emotional affair, which it doesn’t sound like either of you have truly worked past yet.

Oh wait, that’s my reply, not Debi’s. Silly me.

Before I delve into Debi’s response, I think it’s time we start categorizing some of what Debi is telling women in her book. So, without further ado:

Debi’s Rule #1: Whatever the problem is, by all means blame the woman. 

Now, Debi would deny this, and she would point to the very first sentence of her response in doing so.

Your husband is, without a doubt, wrong. It would be wonderful if he were wise and godly, but he isn’t.

The problem is with what comes after this.

Yes, he is wrong, but your response, though justified, will certainly lead to the destruction of your marriage.

Who is Debi saying is going to destroy this marriage? Not the cheating husband, oh no. Debi has already stated that the husband is in the wrong, but it’s not him she is blaming for the potential destruction of this marriage. It’s Beth she’s blaming.

We’ll get back to Debi’s pathological need to blame women in a moment, but first I want to point to something else Debi does continually. Any time she addresses a woman in a troubled marriage, especially if the husband is truly at fault, she holds the Horror of Divorce over the woman’s head.

When you have lost your husband and are alone, and the children are at a daycare or public school, and you are trying to pay rent on the dumpy duplex and keep food on the table, you can always know that you stood on principle, you called him to repentance, and you didn’t allow him to humiliate you and play the hypocrite. You called his hand. There he will be, living in sin with that other woman, and you, the righteous one, will be standing for your rights – but sleeping alone. If you get another husband, he will be like your old one, cast off by some other woman. It is a merry-go-round where the scenery gets uglier every time you go around.

Throughout the book Debi threatens women with a horrible and bleak picture of divorce. She insists that women must stay in their marriages or their children will be taught all manner of perversions by godless strangers and they will be alone scraping together a meager existence while their ex-husbands are cheerfully living it up with a newer, younger model. Invoking the Horror of Divorce allows Debi to insist that women should stand by their men no matter how bad their situations are, because if they leave their men, well, things will only be worse. Debi’s not wrong that divorce falls especially heavily on women, and that divorced women not infrequently end up in poverty. But her insistence that even the worst marriage is better than divorce is horrifying, because it encourages women to stay in abusive marriages by telling them that there is nothing better out there for them, and that is a viscous lie.

So, what does Debi suggest Beth do?

Face it: you have a competitor. She is your rival. … Recognize that you are at war for the preservation of God’s most noble institution on earth – the family, your family! Make yourself more attractive than the secretary. You can win if you are willing to lose your pride.

In other words, if you try to assert your rights or sit your man down and give him a talking to, that will backfire. In contrast, the right way to win your man is to engage that “mischievous giggle,” put on some makeup, and simper.

So, without further ado, let me introduce:

Debi’s Rule #2: If you want to fix your marriage, turn into a simpering, smiling airhead. 

We’ll return to Debi’s Rule #2 in a moment, but first I want to point out that Debi buys into another common narrative here: the idea that there are loose women out there just waiting to snatch your husband if you’re not careful.

You can tell him how much he hurts the children, how he destroys his testimony, how he forsakes God and the church, and he will respond by taking his secretary to dinner so he can see a smile that has no strings attached.

And given this narrative, let’s look at how Debi describes this secretary.

Make yourself more attractive than that office wench, and do it now, today!

When [Loretta Lynn] wrote that song, her husband was being tempted away by some cheap slut.

Your very sweetness and thankfulness toward your man will make that cheap office hussy feel you are beneath your class.

This passage also brings in Debi’s Rule #1 again as Debi blames not just the wife – “as you stand by your rights and withhold yourself until he proves his loyalty to you alone, you will come to the normal end – divorce” – but also the secretary.

You can threaten to go down to the office and tell the wench to bug off. Do it if you like; just don’t humiliate your man. A man will appreciate and be attracted to a woman who cares enough to fight for her man.

It’s the secretary who needs to be told off, not the cheating husband. That damn slut/hussy/wench. Here is how Debi describes Beth’s husband:

He is a lonely man seeking identity in a woman’s approval and admiration.

In Debi’s world, Beth’s husband must have cheated on Beth because she did not give him the “approval and admiration” he needed. She made him feel lonely! It’s no wonder, given that, that Beth’s husband ended up in another woman’s snares. And it’s not like that woman wasn’t there waiting.

A man is attracted to vulnerability in a woman – the blush, the needs, the dependence. … If a woman lets a man know he brings her comfort, that she feels safe with him, he will respond. I think the secretary knows this and uses it to her advantage. … I suspect if your husband were not lapping at her feet, some other man in the office would quickly take his place, and she would be using the same line on him.

Damn slut/hussy/wench.

In Debi’s world, if a man cheats on his wife, the wife is always to blame, and so is the other woman. But the man who cheated? Not so much. While Debi may start by saying that he is “without a doubt, wrong,” she spends her entire response portraying him as a victim. Classic Debi’s Rule #1.

Back to Debi’s Rule #2 – her advice to Beth on how to win her husband back from that office slut/hussy/wench.

It is in your best interest to learn to use feminine wiles. A woman holds her man with the fragile threads of adoration, thankfulness, delight, and just plain fun. He needs to hear gladness and appreciation in your voice when you speak to him, even when you are talking of everyday things.

Don’t ride him with suspicion. Don’t play detective and follow him around. But do call his work with a giggle in your voice, and give him fair warning that you expect “some loving” when he gets home, then giggle and ask him if he is blushing.

Be creative and aggressive in your private, intimate times. Keep him drained at home so he won’t have any sexual need at work. If you feed him well, emotionally and sexually, her cooking won’t tempt him.

Okay, so let’s see. Beth should (a) approach her husband with adoration and appreciation, whether he has earned it or not; (b) make extremely awkward and likely out-of-character calls to his work; and (c) have lots of sex with her husband.

You know what’s completely missing from Debi’s suggestions? The idea that maybe she should communicate with her husband about her concerns. The idea that maybe they should work together cooperatively to fix this issue. From Beth’s letter it appears that while her husband has never sexually cheated on her with his secretary, he has engaged in an emotional affair the woman, and has admitted this to his wife and pledged to not repeat his mistake. In other words, it sounds like her husband is open to communicating and working together with his wife for the good of everyone involved. His wife says that she can’t trust him, and that she’s worried that he is starting to repeat his mistake. If this is the case, she should sit down with him and talk about her fears and concerns. If he has admitted that he has made past mistakes, he should be open to listening. What they really should do is go to a marriage counselor about this. From my reading of the letter, they really both could use that. Beth needs help learning to trust her husband again and her husband needs help learning to earn that trust and setting boundaries so that he does not repeat past mistakes.

But Debi does not suggest any of that. She does not even suggest communication. Instead, she suggests that the wife turn into a simpering, smiling airhead. Without warning. Without explaining any reason for the sudden change.

(Also, I hope you didn’t miss the implication that Beth is leaving her husband vulnerable to the secretary’s wiles by not having sex with him often enough, or “aggressively” enough. Classic Debi.)

I’m reminded very much of the movie Fireproof, which I saw several years ago. In it Kirk Cameron plays a firefighter with a troubled marriage and a distant wife. He is ready to give up when his father gives him a book with a challenge for him to do each day in an effort to win back his wife. One day he’s supposed to give her flowers, another day he’s supposed to call her at work just to chat, another day he’s supposed to cook a romantic dinner for her, etc. His poor wife reacts as I think anyone in her situation would: Who are you and what have you done with my husband? Nowhere on this list was actual communication, or actually working to figure out what was pushing the two of them apart and how to fix it. The movie was surreal. If you want to fix your marriage … bring your wife flowers. Seriously, what? Debi is spouting off more of this same idea.

The tools I consider most important for any marriage – communication, cooperation, compromise – are wholly absent from Debi’s book. And what are they replaced with? Flirt. That’s right, flirt with your husband. And not just any kind of flirt, either – mimic the adoring gaze Michelle Duggar gives Jim Bob, send him cutesy notes at work, and warm things up in the bedroom. Because that’s the key to fixing any marriage.

It strikes me that if I tried any of that on Sean, he would be pretty horrified. Except the sex part, I guess – although he wouldn’t like that if I were just putting it on as an act either. But if I started trying to giggle, to simper, to gaze at him adoringly and hang on his every word … yeah, not seeing that going over so very well. Sean loves me for who I am as a person, not for whether I simper and giggle. He likes that I challenge him, and would never want me to replace that with a gaze of adoration. He likes that I approach him as an equal, that I call him out when I believe he is in the wrong, that I help him be a better person. None of this giggling, simpering, and coy flirting.

But it also strikes me that Debi’s audience is not me. Given her popularity in conservative evangelical and fundamentalist circles, I would hazard a guess that her audience is couples who believe in the importance of patriarchal marriage roles. This means she is likely talking to women whose husbands don’t see them as equals in the first place, women whose husbands don’t respect their intellect, women whose husbands only want a pretty face, an adoring smile, a hot supper, and a romp in bead. And to be honest, that sounds suffocating.

Debi finishes this section with this:

God stands with you when you stand by your man, but you will stand alone if you insist on standing by your rights. Always remember that the day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day leading to your divorce proceedings.

Silly woman caring about your rights. Caring about your rights is the path to divorce. And don’t forget, divorce means sending your kids to public school, living in a dumpy duplex, and struggling to put food on the table alone while your ex lives it up in comfort with his newer, younger wife.

Ugh.

The main points here are this: First, Debi has a pathological need to place blame for any problem on a woman, or on several women, and to paint the men involved as the victims. It is Beth who is threatening to destroy her marriage, not her cheating husband, and her poor husband has simply been beguiled by a cheap office wench/slut/hussy looking for a man on whom to work her whiles. Second, Debi’s solution to marriage trouble is not communication, cooperation, compromise, or counseling. Oh no. Her solution is that the wife should put on makeup, simper, smile coyly, gaze adoringly, and flirt with her husband, because that will fix everything. There’s no way that could possibly go wrong.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • jose

    What a disgusting picture or men she paints. She must really hate us.

  • http://www.twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

    I’d be more concerned for the woman who wrote in getting therapy for her anxiety. According to her letter I am having an emotional affair with about everyone in my office. We go out to eat and bring each other baked goods/chocolates/etc pretty regularly.

    The answer should have been, “This is what people who work in an office environment DO! They sometimes hang out at lunch and bring each other small gifts if they’ve done a good job or a nice favor. They even sometimes talk about *gasp* personal issues!!!!”

    • Angela

      First of all it sounds as though her husband has pretty much admitted that there was something between him and the secretary because he claims it’s over. And while I can see giving her a small token on Secretaries Day, Valentines Day is pretty suspect (especially if he doesn’t get anything for his wife). It doesn’t sound to me like she’s making this up.

      • Ibis3

        The whole letter sounds made up to me.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia

        Debbi? Lie?!? SAY IT AIN’T SO!

      • Pauline

        Yeah, I would give someone the benefit of the doubt when they’re talking about an intimate relationship… she’s not going to give, in the letter, a long list of the subtle cues that say this is more than just office cordiality. Unless someone had actually said “prove it.”

    • minuteye

      The letter’s a bit ambiguous, but I interpreted it as describing behaviour that the husband did after claiming to have stopped the emotional affair. So what would under other circumstances be harmless office socialization now takes on a much greater significance for the letter writer.

    • Carys Birch

      I wonder if it’s possible that a woman from the world that thinks Debi Pearl is a reliable authority might not have any idea what people in an office environment do. My mother sure doesn’t.

      That said, I’m not buying anyone gifts on Valentine’s Day unless there’s something going on.

    • Elise

      But maybe this woman is stuck at home, while he is at the office. Maybe she has no idea..this is why women should be given a real choice to find their happiness in their own way.

    • Kodie

      After re-reading this subthread and thinking about the simplistic brand of advice, I wonder if the man was in an emotional affair either. My handle on it is he may think it inappropriate to be friends with a woman. He may have lusted after her only because he doesn’t know how to interact with women in a non-sexual way. Others have pointed out that he was seeking something emotional that was missing at home and really felt closer to his secretary than his wife, and that the bad advice to be even more shallow was terrible. I don’t know what really happened, only that someone calls something an “emotional affair” – I don’t know what that really refers to other than I don’t think he had actual sexual intercourse with his secretary (or lied about it using a euphemistic excuse that kept him technically in the clear).

      Just given how simple these people seem to be, it may be “emotional” to him because he doesn’t know how to be friends with a woman other than to lust after them, or it may be that he has deeper thoughts, I don’t know. Guys I know might think a girl “wants” them because they smile and are nice, and they’re not Christians. I’m not saying guys are always so shallow, but some really don’t know how to navigate.

      It also makes me think the “higher calling” of women to (a) need to get married and have children as their priority, and (b) need to stay home and not work outside of the home is a play against feminism in the way that that would keep all these random women out of the offices. Just being in her husband’s office makes this woman a “hussy” trying “lines” on him and all the other good husbands who are similarly immature and can’t help themselves. It’s basically saying not only are working women trying to take down men, they are taking down families – using feminine wiles – and that lowers productivity and destroys America! Lol. Any woman who would rather work for a living than stay home with the babies she’s supposed to want and serve her husband is merely a classless whore who can’t get her own husband so she has to go after someone else’s. That’s all women want. Cheese on crackers, I think I figured it out. I know the secretary in the story already does have her own husband besides. And he lets her work, terrible!

      • sylvia

        Yes, I was wondering that too. The husband did admit impropriety, and certainly recognizing the secretary but not the wife on Valentine’s Day is a problem (although a small box of chocolates doesn’t exactly scream “affair,” either), but going out to lunch with a group that includes the secretary?! That makes it sound like any sort of friendly social interaction with any other woman is considered having an “emotional affair.” Which sounds crazy to me, but seems like it would be totally in line with people in this movement!

  • Anonymouse

    In Debi’s world, women who work are sluts and hussies, and the way for the Godly wife to combat them is to…act like a slut in heat? Seriously?

    • Nea

      In Debi’s world, everything is an act of domination and control. Parents physically dominate their children through vicious beatings (and to be honest – the way both Pearls insist wives should be infantalized, I would not at all be surprised to hear that they — or at least he — thinks women deserve to be smacked around to be brought into line too.) Husbands dominate and control their wives by virtue of their gender-oriented roles.

      BUT – notice that although she never, ever says it this bluntly, Debi is writing a manual on how women control their husbands. They can’t do it through strength, or personality (as they must have only one personality). But Debi is repeating, over and over, how to use that personality to manipulate and thus control the man.

      It would have been a lot more honest if she’d titled the book “Created to be blamed if you can’t top from below.”

      • Nea

        And by “personality” I mean, of course, the only thing that Debi allows women to have. Not intelligence, not opinions, not talents, not brains… just sex. That’s all she thinks women have to work with, so of course sexual attraction and sexual satisfaction are the only lenses through which she views half the human race.

      • Tracey

        Wow, that makes so much sense looked at that way. I think you’re right.

  • Julian

    Great, now I’m going to have this stuck in my head all day.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzNl1jJrqS8

  • Angela

    Actually I do know some marriage counselors (even some secular ones) recommend Fireproof or similar techniques in certain circumstances. Mostly when only one partner wants to put forth the effort. The goal isn’t to replace open communication. It’s to break through the protective barriers so that the couple can start communicating. Debi’s advice on the other hand? I shudder to think that there are women who actually buy into it.

    • Pauline

      Yeah, I would say there is a place for bringing flowers, cooking a special meal, etc. Not as THE way to fix (every) marriage, but these kinds of things are tangible symbols that say “I care, and I’m willing to put forth effort to show you how much I care.” (Which is why in a strong marriage spouses will sometimes do these things “just because”–because they do care and it just occurred to them their spouse could use a little lift or whatever.) It depends on the people and the situation, but it can be a step to more openness sometimes.

    • Pauline

      Of course the difference is, if I cook my husband a special meal tonight, he’ll just say thanks, but if I cooked him one again the next night, and the next day left little notes around the house, and the next day called him at work and started the sexy talk, and the next day etc etc he would go “Is something wrong? Why are you doing this?” It would be me saying something was truly wrong with our marriage & it would be upsetting. But if something was already wrong and acknowledged, it would simply be me saying I still cared and was willing to put in the effort. Still I probably wouldn’t do it. Depends on the person; it’d probably make him feel smothered.

  • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

    And if what the husband really likes is a intelligent, articulate, capable woman (‘cuz srsly: smart *is* sexy), and the secretary is that — while his wife is working overtime being an infantile coquette? Yeah, that’s gonna end well…

    • Niemand

      Well, given that the husband married a woman who looks to Debi Pearl for advice and is flirting with an employee-someone who is dependent on his good will to keep her job and who can sabotage her prospects of getting another job if she leaves-I doubt he’s really yearning for a smart, independent woman. Though he may want a smart, independent woman that he can subjugate.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    Also only the husband is described as lonely and seeking admiration, but it’s likely he’s not the only one. The secretary probably does have genuine feelings for him and thinks that he is the only man she can depend on. Instead she is depicted as someone who seduces men just for fun.

  • MM

    Does Debi realize that the implications of what she’s saying are exactly the opposite of what she claims to be saying? Every bit of advice she gives basically distills down into the woman manipulating the man because he’s too stupid/dense to know what’s going on…yet she claims her message is that women should be lorded over by their king of a husband. For as much as she harps on the “jezebels”, that seems to be exactly what she’s teaching women to be.

    • Kodie

      I think for a certain population who is raised to be this kind of wife, it may not occur to them that it’s ok to be a whore as long as you do it for your husband, after you’re married. They were told that men don’t settle with that kind of woman so they affect a personality who is not that kind of a woman. It’s weird but this manual is the missing puzzle piece to the kind of marriages “purity” girls want. They may not comprehend that marriage doesn’t turn off a man’s libido or eyeballs to other women and magically make him only have eyes for her, so she has to switch gears and learn to work it.

      I’m not saying it’s right, mind you. Just that marriage exists in a mythical place with expectations they are brought up believing, including why their husbands would choose them over a loose woman, for example, and how to be chaste and modest. If nobody tells you how to keep it going, it’s obviously a big throw when your husband gets “tempted”, that you have to put yourself in a different gear. I think that’s weird too. She is basically admitting marriage takes a lot of work, it’s not as magical and sacred as you may have been led to believe. I think the advice is garbage, but the idea that marriage isn’t magical and sacred after all? That the magical bond of sexual union isn’t enough to keep a man from looking, talking, flirting, or having sex with another woman, that one has to go to unnatural lengths in that department oneself – to have more sex than you might want, at times you don’t really want to, and to actually have to flirt with your own husband to get him to be interested in you is bizarre in a world where they claim a sacred covenant from god and the blessings of an uninhibited, procreational, and abiding by the laws of heterosexuality and the laws of the marriage vow, sex. You’re exchanging souls, that’s supposed to have meant something and Debi Pearl is saying it’s economic. It’s not magic. If you want to have a roof over your head, you can’t depend on the sacred covenant, you have to outplay some office “hussy” and steal back your own husband. ????

  • Niemand

    I liked your advice, but here’s mine:

    Dear Beth,

    DTMFA. Neither of you are ready for a marriage at this time. You both need time to grow and learn about yourselves before you can have a working marriage. Get some counseling for your anxiety, get some relationship counseling if you like-but make sure it is geared towards learning how to form healthy relationships and NOT just towards “saving” this marriage, which, as mentioned, probably needs to dissolve, at least temporarily. Get a job. Live independently of husband, parents, and anyone else for a while, just to prove to yourself that you can. Then you can approach a relationship from the point of view of wanting to be with a man, not needing to be with him.

    And stop turning to man-hating anti-feminists for advice. Pearl’s advice will ruin your life, your husband’s life, and the lives of your children, if you have any. Do some growing up and then go back to marriage, with him or with a new guy, if you want to.

  • http://puddinsilovemylife.blogspot.com/ Tonya Richard

    IMO, Debbie Pearl is an angry woman. I don’t think she really wants to live this way, she seems like an intelligent woman, but she has to to keep her misogynistic idiot of a husband happy. Well, if she has to live this way, then dammit, all women should have to!

  • Niemand

    It strikes me that if I tried any of that on Sean, he would be pretty horrified.

    I think if I started doing that to my partner, he’d take me to the hospital assuming I’d had a psychotic break or a stroke or something or possibly start looking for the alien mind control device I must have had implanted somehow…And if I told him that I was acting this way because I thought he was flirting with his secretary and “wanted him back” he’d be pretty angry that I hadn’t discussed my feelings with him but just went off in this vomit inducing manner instead.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Amelia

      See, every now and then I do some of those things for Mark – call him to chat during the day, treat him to some extra “fun” time straight after work etc. But, I do it for fun, not to try and save our marriage! We talk perfectly well TYVM!

  • smrnda

    Did it ever occur to Debi that there might be men a woman is better off without? Sometimes people marry someone who isn’t good for them, often when they haven’t been allowed to mature and grow on their own so their conception of how a relationship works is still at the flirt/giggle stage, and when they’ve been pressured to get married before they’re really ready. If that’s the case, no amount of work is going to ‘fix’ the marriage.

    Another issue is that this just shows how the stay at home wife and working husband don’t work as a relationship that well sometimes because the people are pretty much on different planets. If a man’s working at the office or whatever some 60 hours a week so his wife can stay home with their double digit ‘godly seed’ offspring, how on earth is he going to actually have a relationship with his wife? How is his wife not going to be isolated?

    I’ve kind of notice, from my brief exposure, that conservative Christian culture encourages kind of juvenile behaviors in relationships, but I think this is probably because the basic thought is that ‘men and women might as well be from different planets” and advice is built on the silliest gender stereotypes around.

    • Kodie

      Another thing that reminded me – wives aren’t supposed to work. Their husbands need them and their children need them at home and that is a good and noble job, right? So he’s tempted to cheat on you, don’t pout, because remember you don’t have your own job. Don’t drive him away, don’t stand on your principles, so by any means necessary, keep yourself employed by this man. You are in his debt and he only lets you live there because you’re nice… so be nice.

      Honestly, I’ve been treated this way about an actual job, and I think most employees know how to fake they like their job and do all the buttering the right people up so they don’t get canned. I don’t, and I also hear a lot of blame on my part for not knowing how to pull that for more than a few months. Bosses don’t like trouble-makers with their own inner world of problems or concerns about the job becoming exposed, and pay you not to think about it too much, or know how easily they can replace you. I’ve not found myself in a position of power or such that I can express myself without negative consequences, and bosses aren’t so much like a spouse that you try out a while and then commit. They are who they are, and if you want any favor, you have to be a good sport and not actually a human being.

      I knew marriage was traditionally an economic transaction, and women had few opportunities to work outside the home, and divorce was absolutely the worst, mostly because it’s rough out there when you’re unemployable, and everyone knows at least one thing about you – you can’t keep a man happy – and that’s really bad. I really think more and more that the lovely sacred marriage thing Christians hold as the standard to which all other marriages should strive is, as Debi Pearl describes, simplified so much because complicating people, mixing up gender roles, and actually communicating can make the marriage too complicated. People can split up amicably, women can have careers, couples can be gay. I have often thought an objection to gay marriage was seriously about gender roles. “Perverse” sex acts too, but men aren’t supposed to be women – ever, and women aren’t supposed to be men, and one of you has to take the subordinate role or it won’t work!

      It just makes me think a huge huge objection to anything non-Christian is that it’s too messy and unmanageable and God has made it so simple. Be simple, stay simple. Principles and rights and options and opinions are for people who make complications, stir the pot, destroy marriages.

      People are simple like paper dolls, and talking about your issues means you have issues, so don’t burden yourself with that. The most important thing for humanity is that a man gets a woman to do his chores and because he doesn’t have his own womb, create a new generation of humans, and never do anything to jeopardize this arrangement. If you are unlucky enough to be born a human, glorify the wedding day as the day you are no longer left to fend for yourself in this cold cruel world. You are set for life, so don’t blow it. Don’t engage your brain because that’s not what is important. Don’t de-purity yourself before you get married because (a) you’ll never get chosen and (b) your husband will be jealous, even if he’s the one you’re having sex with, the only one, and not trust your kids to be his kids. He may not think it bothers him in his lust and still marry you, but he will remember how you couldn’t wait (or alternately, prevent him from charming you into doing it) when you tell him you are now pregnant.

      But after you get married, it’s not only ok to be a whore, it’s necessary. Men are simple, so you have to keep it simple. Or stand on principle, and you remember you still don’t have a job? Your job was to be charming and delightful. His job is to go to work and come home and feed you.

      • Kodie

        If you are unlucky enough to be born a human

        If you are unlucky enough to be born a woman. Lol. Women are humans. Weird typo. If you are unlucky enough to be born a human, there’s this rigid set of rules that exemplify the species above all animals, and here is another instruction book that goes really far out of its way to pretend it’s not a sex guide for mere animals who can also read.

      • Carys Birch

        “but men aren’t supposed to be women – ever, and women aren’t supposed to be men, and one of you has to take the subordinate role or it won’t work!”

        I think this is SO right on. I currently live with my fundie parents, and so I hear a lot of their internal thought processes that I never realized were there when I was younger. One of the things that NEVER fails to surprise me is that every time they meet (or talk about, or remember the existence of) a gay couple, they have to decide amongst themselves who is “the husband” and who is “the wife.” Because obviously, when a man and a woman get married, she’s the doormat and he’s the boot. But when it’s two men or two women… how do you know who’s running the show?! This USUALLY leads right into the argument that gay men “want to be women” and lesbians “Want to be men.” I’ve learned not to say anything. But I think you’re COMPLETELY on to something when you point out that understanding egalitarian marriage between men and women might go a long way toward helping them understand same-sex marriages. And also explains why they can’t even consider egalitarian marriages.

  • Kittens

    I wonder what she would have said if the writer were a husband in the same position, except of course the wife was having an emotional affair with someone from church, not work, because please everyone knows women shouldn’t work.

  • http://www.texannewyorker.com jwall915

    Wow, what horrible advice. But, let’s say the LW woman takes the advice, implements it, and it works. Her marriage is rejuvenated and her husband is genuinely no longer pursuing the secretary. What then? They haven’t solved ANY of their underlying problems. Their communication is still nonexistent and she still doesn’t trust him. Nor does she understand why he had this emotional affair in the first place. It’s like this will simply keep things peaceful in the short-term until the problems crop up again – which they will because they were never solved. The putting on an act, which is basically what Debi tells the woman to do, is only going to keep things afloat for so long. The husband will stray again because none of the underlying problems are resolved, or more likely, the wife will begin to resent him, and she still won’t trust him!

    I guess that’s really what bothers me about Debi’s advice. It’s advice to just put on an act; but I think men want a real person. I know my husband does. He values my intellect, my compassion, my ambition, and my sense of humor, which at times can be a bit crass. He finds it amusing and endearing.

    I’ve been mulling over the flirting part, both from the perspective of Debi’s advice and Libby Anne’s response to that advice. Because the thing is, my husband and I do flirt with each other. For us, it’s a form of foreplay, and it just seems to come naturally. So I guess I can’t say that flirting is wholesale a bad thing in a marriage or a long-term relationship. But I can definitely understand Libby Anne’s revulsion to Debi’s advice. Because Debi is saying that women should flirt in a child-like simpering kind of way, which is just icky, and I don’t want to be with any man who is turned on or charmed by that. And also, I don’t think that flirting comes naturally to every person or every couple, and turning on this fake thing is what Debi advocates – and that’s just going to blow up in a couple’s face later on. I mean, how long can a woman keep up an act? I think the superficiality of it all bugs me.

    • Tracey

      Flirting as part of a healthy relationship that includes communication is perfectly fine.

  • Niemand

    But do call his work with a giggle in your voice, and give him fair warning that you expect “some loving” when he gets home, then giggle and ask him if he is blushing.

    Be creative and aggressive in your private, intimate times. Keep him drained at home so he won’t have any sexual need at work.

    Does anyone else get a really creepy vibe off this one? The first bit sounds like stalking, the second suggests something close to rape. “Keep him drained”? Not even “make sure he’s always happy sexually” (regardless of your feelings) but simply keep him drained-too “drained” to consider sex with someone else. What a dreary, scary view of sexuality!

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      It sounds super creepy. I mean, there’s a reason horror movies use childlike giggles. I think if I got a phone call like that, I’d be very concerned. And the suggestion to be aggressive only makes sense if you think men want sex all the time with anyone available, which I guess is what Debi thinks, but it’s also strange that she’s suggesting it, since it seems like distinctly unsubmissive behavior.

    • Saraquill

      I guess she wants the wife to be a succubus or vampire.

  • Ray

    Wow, Debi has a low appreciation of people in general. Women should be childlike. Men should be raging sex monsters. I do wonder about the situation because I read the letter assuming the only reason the husband told the wife was because the secretary rejected him. Either rejected because the secretary wanted to work on her marriage and/or thought the husband as a friend.

  • Kristen inDallas

    The funny thing about this is that it sounds like the man didn’t cheat physically, but emotionally. And Debi suggests maybe the wife isn’t putting out enough to keep thee man’s interest. Given that he isn’t looking for sex outside the marriage that isn’t really an issue. He IS looking for an emotional connection outside the relationsip. If she had applied the same logic there (well maybe this guy is not getting enough of an emotional/communicative connection from the wife) her response would have looked a lot more like your first one… :)

    • MM

      Surveys of male cheaters have indicated that most men do not cheat because they are sexually unfulfilled in their marriages, nor do they find the “other” woman more attractive than their wife. This suggests that men cheat primarily for emotional needs/ego and not sex, so yeah, Debi’s advice isn’t grounded in reality.

      Source: http://men.webmd.com/features/why-men-cheat

    • ERB

      Excellent point!

    • NeuroNerd

      This was my first thought exactly!

    • Pauline

      Really good point. Apparently Debi didn’t notice–just filtered it through her “men want all sex, all the time” lens.

  • Teri Anne

    After my husband died ten years ago, a friend recommended a home church which I attended. I had never heard of Vision Forum, and I did not realize that the men of this so-called church were Vision Forum devotees. I found the wives intelligent with opinions of their own, but they were very reluctant to say what they were really thinking. The women mostly avoided talking with me but the teenage girls were fascinated with mem and I spent most of my time talking with them.

    I am a scientist, and at the time of my husband’s death I was working as a chemist for a government agency. I worked in a male-dominated field and knew how to converse with men. The reaction of the men to me was very strange and disturbing. As a working woman, I was the Jezebel, hussy and feminist they were supposed to guard against, yet they were fascinated with me and frequently spoke with me even though I think they did not like the fact that I was intelligent, articulate and not afraid to disagree with them. It seemed they were flirting with me even though they were contempous of me. But because I was a recent widow, they were afraid of being too mean. This was very confusing to me and I left after 3 months, but the experience was devastating.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      What a difficult experience, and also very revealing. I wonder if part of the problem here is that people raised in these beliefs don’t know how to interact with members of the opposite sex in a professional or friendly manner, so they’re lacking a barometer of what’s appropriate.

      • Twist

        I guess if you’re taught from birth to think of the opposite sex as a different species, that’s how you’ll treat them. I don’t think it’s unique to the uber-religious, as lots of people seem to believe that “men are this” and “women are that”. It leads to treating all members of the opposite sex like one big homogeneous group who are all after the thing and think the same way, which obviously leads to communication problems.

      • Christine

        I’m fairly sure that they don’t know how to interact with members of the opposite sex. Unfortunately small amounts of that sort of thing show up everywhere . A classmate was looking for someone to go with him to the bar because he’d just gotten a major project in, and I was considering out loud (I’m not much of a beer drinker, so I wanted to make sure they’d carry something I drink). His response was “aren’t you engaged?” (He shut up, and presumably thought about it , when I responded with “So? If one of the guys had gone would that make it a date?”). Oh, and this was in engineering, so if I wanted to go out for a drink with a classmate odds are it would be with a guy.

    • smrnda

      This kind of reminds me of a time when I decided I’d check out a local church for a few months, just to figure out what was going on. Socialization was heavily gendered and I felt out of place everywhere since I didn’t have the smiles, sunshine and giggles personality most of the women did, and I found mixed-gender conversations were just times when different men took turns dominating the conversation (obviously to impress the ladies.)

    • Pauline

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually attracted to your intelligence but didn’t know how to deal with that because of their ideology.

      Being flirted with by people who are also contemptuous of you does sound like an awful experience. Ugh.

  • http://www.justalittlerae.blogspot.com Rachel

    I’m pretty sure she believes the same thing as her husband: that Michael Pearl is pretty much the only real, true, godly man in the world.

    Love that “God stands with you when you stand by your man” but you don’t get God unless you are a simpering, doormat of a wife who doesn’t communicate or have an actual relationship with her husband. Relationship with husband, the thought to ask for something you need = loss of God. Honestly.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I’m so confused by her inconsistency–you’d think that wouldn’t be a problem considering how incredibly simple her message is (smile a lot and put out). But she speaks very derisively of the secretary but comes right out and says that that “cheap slut” understands what Beth does not–that men are attracted to neediness and vulnerability–and is using it to her advantage. Except when the secretary employs this method, Debi refers to it as “trying this line,” which is a term you usually use when you fully acknowledge that the behavior in question is manipulative, insincere BS. Except it’s exactly that behavior that Debi is telling Beth to emulate in order to keep her husband, right down to instructing her exactly what to say and when to giggle! She’s basically saying, “You’re having problems in your marriage because you don’t know how to manipulate your man properly and his secretary does.”

    When the secretary does it it’s “a line” and she’s a slut. When a wife does it, it’s for “the preservation of God’s most noble institution.” Maybe manipulation and insincerity are like sex–evil and disgusting when engaged in by people who aren’t married but some how right and virtuous when engaged in by people who are. Wow, marriage certainly is magical in more ways than one!

  • Sarah

    Gag. When I was married, I attended a church that was pretty mainstream, maybe just a pinch of submission and patriarchy. There were certainly some large families with SAH mothers, but my “church parents” were a pretty normal older couple who seemed to totally respect each other and treat one another as equals. During the months I went to them and the church for marriage advice, I was given Stormie OMartin books to work on alone, but the one thing they kept saying was, “You can’t fix the marriage all by yourself. We really wish your husband would come to this class/watch these DVDs/allow us into your home to speak with him and pray with him.”

    When the conflicts escalated to the point that my life was in danger, I didn’t get any grief about how divorce would be the WORST THING EVAR. I wasn’t told to up my game, or smile and pander more so my husband would stop choking me. My church parents came over with a van and 3 teenage boys and helped me pack. I think they would be pretty horrified by Debi’s advice.

  • Illuminata

    I have always been somewhat “anti-marriage” in the sense that I, personally, am not all that interested. After reading this, I am absolutely not interested in marriage. Debi has made it clear its a horrible, miserable institution that has nothing to offer women but suffering.

    Which, I kinda doubt is the message she wanted to send.

    • Red

      Then again, why on earth are we letting Debi Pearl own the definition of what marriage is? I can think of no one LESS qualified.

      I have a feeling Debi would really hate my equality-based, feminism-friendly marriage.

      • Pauline

        Thank you.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      It’s almost funny how people like Debi lament the state of marriage in our country and then teach people the most dysfunctional relationships dynamics ever. Though I’m somewhat hesitant to call we she advocates a ‘relationsip’, because relationships are defined by communication and as Libby points out she seems to suggest avoiding any actual communication at all costs in favour of being a manipulative ‘wife’.

    • mary

      It’s the complementarianism, patriarchy, and submission (also selfishness and manipulation instead of communication) that make marriage untenable. I started my marriage trying to conform to ridiculous gender roles, and it almost ruined a good thing. My marriage is great now, after tossing the garbage. =) I don’t find a marriage that is basically two best friends and equals who like to have sex to be a negative thing at all- though I would say that marriage certainly isn’t for everyone. My husband hates the word “marriage” because of its history of treating women as property, so sometimes we say “domestic partnership”, but we are, in fact, legally married and loving every minute. =)

    • thalwen

      The Pearl’s view is bizarre. Men are emotional cripples, driven by base instincts and unable to control their urges. Yet the #1 goal of any woman is to marry one and keep him for life and serve all his whims. Communication is out of the question as they portray men and women to be not just different species, but different species who are unable to learn each other’s language and must resort to tricks and manipulations to get what they want (which also has to be completely different) from each other. It makes absolutely no sense and it isn’t Biblical and yet it must be obeyed with no question.

    • Niemand

      This is why I think marriage equality (i.e. letting GLBT* people marry those they love) would only be good for straight marriages. With the positive example of a marriage that is not based on gender and power, more people might find good things in marriage and be less inclined to think of it as the grim power struggle that Pearl presents it as. (Of course, I say that as someone who has been in a relationship with, but not married to, the same person for 15+ years. Being not married to one specific person that you like works too.)

      • Rosie

        I agree, and I think it’s also a large part of why marriage equality scares them so much. It would show up the flaws in living by their–oops, “God’s”–rules.

  • Squire Bramble

    Two things:

    First, I agree with everyone who pointed out the inconsistency and illogic of Debi’s advice, where the “weaker vessel” is supposed to control the behavior of her authority figure through manipulation and subterfuge. Nice Christian ethics there.

    Second, it is abundantly clear that Debi has never been married to, or had much contact with anyone with a job outside the home – which speaks a lot about Michael’s employment record. Seriously, most employers take a pretty dim view of spouses who ring up at inconvenient moments; now, imagine that Beth actually takes the advice to confront the secretary at the office, to “impress” the husband with her willingness to fight for her man! In any business he’d be a laughingstock with his co-workers, his secretary would be distressed ( might even threaten an harassment claim) and his superiors would at the very least reprimand him for not keeping the crazy spouse under lock and key. Making a similar amount of fuss at the secretary’s home would probably have the poor woman contacting the police and would get back to the office anyway. Debi doesn’t understand that in the real world, such actions that she recommends would humiliate the husband and possibly threaten his career, rather than drive the guy back into Beth’s arms.

    • Karen

      I thought about that angle. The secretary could sue the business for “hostile work environment” sexual harassment based on Wifey’s confrontation, which would do sooooo much good for Hubby’s career. Even the stuff like the surprise phone calls can create a huge mess.

  • Red

    So the moral of Debi’s story is that God doesn’t stand by what’s right in marriage…..he only stands by a marriage if the woman is willing to trick/manipulate the husband into staying? He doesn’t care if both spouses are following his will in relation for marriage, he only cares if the wife has figured out the underhanded formula to bamboozle her husband into staying with her?

    At some point Debi needs to stop pretending that this book is about God’s will and just admit that it’s about what she wants all women to look like.

  • Red

    Oh, and also, Debi would rather a woman care about her material comfort (i.e. being married to a paycheck) than stand up for what’s right.

    Because the Bible she claims to be getting this from is simply LOADED with instances where God instructs people to choose wealth over principles…..

    • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha

      Touche! Too brilliant!

  • SteveF

    I really like how you called Debi out on her BS, Libby Anne. I can’t remember any of your posts that have the justified indignation this one does. I think it’s great stuff.

    I cannot understand this mentality. Debi seems so full of hate towards the women and condescension towards the man. In Debi’s world, women have to play petty, superficial games to get the guy. They can’t be themselves, and they have to lie to themselves constantly about how happy they are. I certainly do not think Debi is happy. I believe she is a troubled lady.

    But, in the real world, most men appreciate a woman who can stand up for herself. We don’t want an airhead who thinks it’s all about putting out, all the time. I think most men crave an emotional connection with their partner, and don’t just see them as a living, breathing sex doll. I certainly want an assertive, intelligent, classy, and kind person for my future partner. If I encountered the Debis of this world, I would encourage them to get help, but if that didn’t work, I’d run far away.

    • Red

      You said it, Steve! Most of the men I know very much desire to have an equal partner at home.

      Interestingly, the “dumb guy wants blond giggly bimbo sex toy” stereotype is something you see on TV much more frequently than in real life. At least in my experience. But who knows? If Debi grew up in religious circles where women were treated this way, then perhaps the men in her world ARE like this.

  • Chrissy

    I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I call my husband unexpectedly at work and say something racy (and giggle) just because his response is frickin HILARIOUS. We enjoy equality in our marriage and I consider myself a feminist, but I will ask him to open a jar, fix a pipe, or change the oil in my car when I genuinely need him to. I enjoy letting him take care of the icky stuff, and he enjoys doing it. Win/win! Debi’s problem is that she tells women to FAKE sexual attraction, ACT childlike, PRETEND to be helpless. That’s make-believe, not real life. No one can keep a facade like that up forever.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia

      Heck, when I have to call a friend back when she’s at work, I say in my worst creep impression voice: “show me your panties!”

  • Rilian

    I did the emotional cheating thing once, because my personfriend was being distant, and we really should have just broken up.

  • Christine

    Question for the men here: either Debi or I are missing something here. I see constant giggling as being the sort of thing that would turn men off, and drive them away quite quickly. She sees the opposite. Where do you stand on this?

    This advice seems to me like it would make the problem worse. An “emotional affair” is generally a way to connect in a non-sexual intimate manner. I’m not going to claim that a lack of intimacy is a valid excuse for behaving inappropriately, but continuing to avoid emotional intimacy (and going even further in that direction) isn’t really a good way to deal with him having an emotional affair.
    And does anyone else see “feminine wiles” as being a very negative term? i.e. using them is just a bad thing to do/have to do. It sounds like the sort of thing that Debi would say that secretary was doing (because of course she lured him into this).

    • Julian

      Exactly. Debi’s advice is completely off-base in general; but her suggestion to respond to an ‘emotional affair’ with *more sex* is especially irresponsible. I’m certainly not defending the husband; he has a responsibility to work towards healing the relationship too (though he’s likely equally ill-equipped to do so). But Christine, you’re absolutely right when you talk about emotional unfaithfulness as a way for someone to connect in a non-sexual manner. Breaking a relationship contract in that way means there’s something terribly amiss with communication, trust, and intimacy; trying to gloss over that and fix it with sex misses the point entirely. And that’s why breaking a relationship contract emotionally can hurt more than breaking it physically, even for people who aren’t monogamous: it means communication and trust have degenerated to the point where secrets are deliberately being kept and cultivated, and where contempt for one’s partner becomes a real possibility if not yet an active reality. The realization that things have gotten to that level is the moment at which everything should come to a grinding halt and all parties involved should radically reconsider their priorities, or at least assess whether they’re still invested enough to want to do so. Advising someone in such a position that More Sex will somehow magically restore a healthy relationship is as blithe, dismissive, and even destructive a response as I can imagine.

      Thanks for this series, Libby Anne, and best wishes for continued strength in the challenges of confronting this sort of garbage. I’m grateful you’re willing to slog through it on our behalf.

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

    At the risk of repeating what’s already been said: It sure seems odd that Debbie Pearl believes the men are the powerful leaders, and at the same time believes that they are completely at the mercy of the wiles of any woman– whether it’s a co-worker or their wives.

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    She is writing to a patriarchal group, but other good point are getting sucked into the drain along with the patriarchal people. In our homeschool group, they were starting the teen created to be his helpmeet study. I about passed out and wanted to write a letter onto the homeschool group warning the innocent parents not to send their teens to the study. But I didn’t want to hear what my mom would say since she’s on the email list. My mom is pretty much over it, but she’s not wanting to confront others about it. I hate the crap hard enough I will speak up.

  • Hedgehog

    What I want to know is what does “emotinal affair” meens here. I have seen it used form everything-but-sex-relationships to crushes. If the husband has a crush it doesn’t need meen enything. Crushes happen all the time even in happy and fullfilling relationships. But a crush or worse the wive is feeling horrible and that is a proplem. Heck it might be that her feelings are not so much about the husband. Her mom just died and she can’t sleep ect. She is very likely depressed. So I’m with libby here: more communicaton and therapy.

  • Christine

    Something I missed: Debi really seems to have a worldview of women all being out to get each other. (That horrible conniving secretary needs to be countered by the poor wife pulling out the stops on her “feminine wiles”.) Does she believe in women being friends? I’m sure she doesn’t believe in women being friends with men, and the way she’s talking about women acting, I can’t see her being able to have any close women friends. What a lonely life.

  • ScottInOH

    Great thread; thanks, everyone.

    Debi Pearl’s writing (which I had not read before Libby Anne took it on) seems like an excellent window into the twisted world of patriarchy. Through the contortions of her argument we can see the whole system is created and sustained for men:

    The idea that men are driven by base instincts and can’t change is justification for men doing whatever they want.
    The idea that the best way to tame such a beast is to do whatever he asks takes female agency and gives it over to the man.
    The best a woman can hope for is to be a conniving manipulator, and that behavior is ALSO used as justification for male dominance.

    The thing is, as Libby Anne points out in passing, Debi Pearl is writing precisely for an audience that has been brought up to believe this is true.

  • wren7

    “… call his work with a giggle in your voice, and give him fair warning that you expect “some loving” when he gets home, then giggle and ask him if he is blushing.”

    Oh, that part nearly made me gag. It’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that there are actually women who act this way with their husbands, and that there are really men who want this kind of sappy, airhead, Stepford wife-type of woman. Do these types of couples ever have an intellectual discussion about anything? And how can a woman live like that — never confronting her husband when he does something wrong, just burying her resentment. And these women must feel resentment, because they’re human and this is not normal, or healthy, behavior! The part about enticing him with “creative” and “aggressive” sex even when the woman is angry at her husband — blech. How manipulative. But at the core of it, Debi is telling women to be manipulative.

    Her telling women to constantly smile and giggle reminds me of what Warren Jeff’s, the polygamist jailed leader of the FLDS church, constantly told girls and women in that ultra-patriarchal religion/cult: “keep sweet.” Double blech.

    • Red

      Re: enticing him with aggressive sex when you’re secretly angry at him……My husband would be upset/hurt/disappointed if I faked emotional intimacy during sex on a regular basis (or even just once). A lot of men will be the first to tell you that they don’t want sex if it’s not coming from real emotion. Regardless of what Debi and her ilk think, this seems to be the mentality amongst loving, responsible, mature guys.

  • TheSeravy

    First, I’d like to say I recently started following your blog, Libby, and it has been a real brain treat. Your posts are always thoughtful, articulate and well-reasoned with sound evidence to back it up. I especially admire the calm tone of your wonderful writing; anger and insults will only bring more anger and misunderstanding between all sides. You really are promoting equality, critical thinking and sharing very important information in your blog; a healthy and sane voice within a world of hatred and extremism, a true tribute to our freedom of expression (too many of us abuse this freedom like trolling around the internet anonymously). Your positive attitude towards these important issues has also helped to foster a healthy environment for people to share their viewpoints regardless of where one stands.

    Secondly, in response to some of the comments being made, I think this ties in with your posts regarding the purity culture; you mentioned how the purity culture characterized men as sex maniacs, fueling suspicions of cheating and distrust among women. Then there are people like Debi who are actively encouraging stereotypical female behaviour that is DESTRUCTIVE towards any relationship; who knows how many women took that advice or hold similar attitudes. Many people blame feminism for gender inequality and the hostility between the two genders but your posts have really shown how the very ones who support “traditional” families and gender roles are the ones destroying the lines of communication and fueling hostility between men and women. There is no magic cure but honest communication is definitely a good start to navigate all the mixed messages. It’s also good to know that those Debi-esque attitudes and behaviours are learned and therefore, could be unlearned (with a lot of work).

    Anyways, thanks for doing what you do and keep up with the good work Libby!

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  • AngelaM

    I totally agree with you about Debi Pearl and her “advice”. As a woman who was beaten down emotionally by her husband, it was the last thing I needed to read – and yet two well-meaning friends each gave me a copy. It’s the most poisonous stuff I’ve ever read!

    But, I would like to speak up about Fireproof. Although the acting was sub par, the idea of sometimes getting back to the basics can be a good one. I think this is assuming that somehow you’ve started taking each other for granted and just slipped apart a little. Getting back to the little things can sometimes lead to communicating and figuring out how to get back to where you need to be. I’ve seen that work (unlike the poison stuff the Pearls write).

    Thanks for your blog.

  • Katherine H

    And now I have that awful Tammy Wynette song stuck in my head. Thanks for that :/

    sometimes, it’s hard to be a woman….

  • damianarose

    Aside from the fact that Debi is full of shit… This line made me laugh for like ten minutes

    “If you feed him well, emotionally and sexually, her cooking won’t tempt him.”

  • Richter_DL

    I wonder how much of this is Debbie writing, and how much of it is Mike.

    • Kagi Soracia

      My thoughts also, though having been raised in a house where my father believes pretty much all of this stuff about women, I don’t doubt that she believes it. In sheer self-defense, probably. Living with Mike, I doubt she has any other choice; based on what the book tells of their early marriage, it sounds like he pretty thoroughly ‘re-educated’ her on any points she might have disagreed about. You learn to tell yourself that they are right, because the only other option is to believe that they are abusing you, and either you love them and don’t want that to be true, or you feel safer and like you have some control of the situation if you know/believe and follow the ‘rules’, or a combination of both.

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