CTBHHM: Don’t Take Your Mr. Steady for Granted

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 86-92

God is as steady as an eternal rock, caring, providing, and faithful, like a priest—like Jesus Christ.

Debi says Mr. Command Man is like God the Father, Mr. Visionary is like the Holy Spirit, and Mr. Steady is like Jesus. She does not cite any Bible verses as proof, or discuss how she formulated this idea. She just asserts it.

I wrote last week that my husband Sean fits Debi’s definition of a Visionary Man perfectly. Well, I recognized Debi’s Mr. Steady, too. My father is a Mr. Steady. So, what is a Mr. Steady like? Well, he’s a bit like his name—steady. A Mr. Steady doesn’t expect his wife and children to wait on him hand and foot, and he won’t uproot his family to chase his latest dream. A Mr. Steady plugs away faithfully at the same job year after year, has few demands, and is the last one still there tirelessly cleaning up after church functions. A Mr. Steady is quiet and may sometimes seem slow to make decisions, but he generally gives wise advice and is internally contemplative. Reading about the Visionary Man was a bit uncanny because I saw Sean in almost every paragraph—and reading about Mr. Steady was similarly uncanny, because I saw my father in almost every paragraph.

So, let’s get started.

The Steady Man does not make snap decisions or spend his last dime on a new idea, and he doesn’t tell other people what to do. He avoids controversy. He doesn’t invent the light bulb like Mr. Visionary, but he will be the one to build the factory and manage the assembly line that produces the light bulb an the airplane. He does not jump to the front of the plane to take a razor knife away from a terrorist, unless he is encourage to do so by Mr. Command. He would never lead a revolution against the government or the church. He will quietly ignore the hypocrisy in others. He will selflessly fight the wars that Mr. Visionary starts and Mr. Command leads. He builds the oil tankers, farms the soil, and quietly raises his family.

And just what is it like being married to a Mr. Steady?

As a general rule, he will be faithful till the day he dies in the same bed he has slept in for the last 40 or 50 years. Older women who are divorced and have learned by their mistakes know the value of peace and safety, and they will long for a nice steady man of his stature, but such a man is rarely available—unless his foolish wife has left him. This man is content with the wife of his youth.

And then later on there is also this:

Your husband never puts undue pressure on you to perform miracles. He doesn’t expect you to be his servant. You do not spend your days putting out emotional fires, because he doesn’t create tension in the family. You rarely feel hurried, pushed, pressured, or forced. The women married to Visionary Men look at you in wonder that your husband seems so balanced and stable. The wife of Command Man marvels at the free time you seem to have.

Remember that a Command Man expects his wife to wait on him hand and foot and jump when he says jump  and a Visionary needs a prudent wife because his dedication to doctrinal purity can cause tension and and his forever coming up with grand new ideas and dreams can threaten to bankrupt the family. A Steady Man is different. He doesn’t demand to be waited on and he doesn’t uproot the family at a moment’s notice. Instead, he plugs along faithfully, can take care of himself, and isn’t afraid to selflessly serve others.

Coming from Debi, this all sounds too good to be true. Surely there must be more to the story, right? What does Debi say are the potential pitfalls of being the wife of a Mr. Steady?

When you are married to a man who is steady and cautious, and you have a bit of the impatient romantic in you, you may not see his worth and readily honor him.

You may be discontent because he is slow and cautions to take authority or make decisions. A bossy woman sees her husband’s lack of hasty judgement and calls her Steady husband “wishy-washy.” His steadiness makes him the last to change, so he seems to be a follower because he is seldom out front forming up the troops. There is no exciting rush in him, just a slow, steady climb with no bells or whistles. You wish he would just make up his mind, an that he would take a stand in the church. He seems to just let people use him. There are times you wish he would boldly tell you what to do so you would not have to carry all the burden of decision-making.

Some women equate their husband’s wise caution and lack of open passion with being spirituality  His lack of spontaneity and open boldness may look like indifference to spiritual things. However, he is like deep, deep water. The very depth makes the movement almost imperceptible, but it is, nevertheless, very strong.

In other words, the wife of a Mr. Steady may not appreciate his steadiness and may instead wish he had more “spontaneity” or “open boldness”—she may wish that he was a Visionary or a Command Man. And if she doesn’t appreciate him? What will happen then?

He will be confused with your unhappiness and try to serve you more, which may further diminish your respect for his masculinity.

Well okay then. Because a woman who tries to make her husband happy by serving him makes herself desirable, but a man who tries to make his wife happy by serving her causes his wife to lose her “respect for his masculinity.” A woman serving her spouse is natural and attractive, but a man serving is spouse is unnatural and unattractive. This may be Debi’s world, but it’s sure not mine. I don’t lose my respect for Sean when he does things for me—in fact, my love language is acts of service, so that kind of stuff is the way to my heart. Indeed, there’s nothing sweeter than when he does all sorts of little things to try to help me feel better when he knows I’m stressed out. Diminishing my respect for his masculinity? Um, no. See, I generally file “refuses to lift a finger for loved ones” under “jerk,” not under “masculine.” But then, Debi seems to be working from another definition here. And under Debi’s definition, serving others is a threat to your masculinity.

Just what happens to the discontented wife of a Mr. Steady, the wife who loses respect for her husband’s masculinity and wishes he were more like those Command Men and Visionaries?

Disappointment and unthankfulness can make you wearier than any amount of duties. His very steadiness keeps him on his middle-of-the-road course, and it will drive a controlling woman crazy. This is why many disgruntled ladies married to Mr. Steadys fall victim to hormonal imbalance, physical illness, or emotional problems.

I am actually beginning to think that throwing out threats of what will happen to you if you don’t serve your husband right is something so natural to Debi that she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. It’s hard to go more than a page or two, after all, without another threat. In this case, if you are upset with your husband’s steadiness you may well end up with a hormonal imbalance. Because apparently that’s how biology works. Or not. But just so you’re, you know, warned.

Next comes a passage that I think is very illuminating, as it compares the lots of women married to Debi’s three different kinds of men:

When a woman is married to a bossy, dominant man, people marvel that she is willing to serve him without complaint, so she comes out looking like a wonderful woman of great patience and sacrifice. A woman married to the impulsive Visionary Man, who puts the family through hardships, will stir amazement in everyone. “How can she tolerate his weird ideas with such peace and joy?” She comes out being a real saint, maybe even a martyr. But if you are married to a wonderful, kind, loving, serving man, and you are just a little bit selfish, then you are likely to end up looking like an unthankful shrew. He helps you, adores you, protects you, and is careful to provide for you, and you are still not satisfied. Shame on you!

Debi says that the wife of a Command Man ends up looking like a woman of great sacrifice, the wife of a Visionary ends up looking like a martyr, and the wife of a Mr. Steady risks ending up looking like an unthankful shrew next to her loving, serving, ever kind husband. Thus the wife of the Mr. Steady may have image problems because she, well, doesn’t have enough ways to suffer. Because, you know, your status as a good wife is cemented by what you have to endure and put up with—at least, that’s how it is in Debi’s world. And that’s just five hundred kinds of messed up.

But the biggest problem I have with this paragraph is that it’s unreasonable to think that a person should automatically be satisfied with their life just because they have a kind and loving spouse. There are a myriad of reasons a person might be unhappy with their lot in life, and plenty of them are outside of the control of their spouses. And beyond even that, it would be possible to have a husband who adores you and serves you but with whom you don’t have a deep, internal relationship, and for that is a plenty fair reason to be dissatisfied.

Debi next describes the Steady Man as a “foot-washer” and states that Jesus, after whom Mr. Steady was fashioned, taught his disciples that, in effect, “If you want to be my disciple, then plan on spending your life cleaning up after folks, fixing the old lady’s sink, and driving out of your way to give someone a ride to church.” And that—and more—is what Debi says Mr. Steadys do. “The Steady Man, the quiet man, the man who does not take control, is not a man of little worth, for Jesus exalted the common chores that are so often performed by the Steady Man.” The Mr. Steady, she says, is the man who stays after to clean up after church, volunteers to help out whenever someone has a need, and puts everyone else’s needs in front of his own.

According to Debi, the wife of a Command Man is to wait on her husband hand and foot and the wife of a Visionary is to affirm her husband’s dreams but keep his feet from flying off the ground. So what is the wife of a Mr. Steady to do? What is her role?

If this describes your man, you need to learn how to stand still and listen; then let God move your husband in his own good time. As God for wisdom and patience. Seek always to have a gentle spirit. Look up “shamefacedness” in the Bible, and learn what it means. Pray for your husband to have wisdom. Stop expecting him to perform for you, to pray with the family, to speak out in witnessing, or to take a bold stand in church. Stop trying to stir him up to anger toward the children in order to get him to feel as though he understands how badly you are being treated. Let him be the one God made him to be: a still, quiet, thoughtful presence—for you! Command and Visionary Men understand and appreciate him, and they, too, lean on this type of man for stability. Learn to seek your husband’s advice on what to do, and then give him time to answer, even if it means days or weeks.

The wife of a Mr. Steady, then, is to learn to be patient and modest. I think the biggest idea here is that the wife of a Mr. Steady isn’t supposed to take control. Remember earlier how Debi said that being married to a Mr. Steady will drive a “controlling woman” crazy? Well, Debi is saying here that the wife of a Mr. Steady must be modest and make herself small rather than allowing her personality to dominate over her more mild-mannered husband. Here is where Debi is, again, arguing that women should fit themselves to their husbands. A woman’s personality here, whether it is quiet or bold, spontaneous or steady, doesn’t matter. Rather than finding a way to form a cooperative partnership with her husband that involves making use of each’s strengths and weaknesses, she is to ignore what strengths and weaknesses she might have and instead be a blank slate.

But here is where things get interesting.

Show respect by asking him in what areas he would like you to do some decision making. Many of these “nice” men prefer their wives to show some initiative. A Command Man tells you what to do and how to serve him, and a Visionary Man wants you to do what he is doing.

A Steady Man likes a woman to walk beside him, yet grow in her own right before God and him.

If you are married to a Mr. Steady, you need to get familiar with Proverbs 31 to know how to be an active help meet to your man. Your husband will enjoy and share your triumphs in business. He will be proud of your accomplishments  He will want you to use your natural skills, abilities,and drives. Your achievements will be an honor to him, but lazy slothfulness will greatly discourage him. Your wasting of time and spending money foolishly will weigh heavily on him, robbing him of his pride and pleasure in you. He needs a resourceful, hardworking woman with dignity and honor. It is important to Mr. Steady that his wife be self-sufficient in all the mundane tasks of daily living. You must learn how to pay bills, make appointments, and entertain guests with a competence that brings him satisfaction. Your hobbies should be creative and useful, involving your children so that all of you are busy and productive every day. Your home should be clean and orderly so that his friends and business contacts will be impressed and at ease. Your skills and achievements are your husband’s resume. If you are wise and competent, then he must be even more so, the onlooker will think. At the end of the day, Mr. Steady will enjoy weighing what he has accomplished with what you have accomplished and will rejoice int he value of having a worthy partner in the grace of life.

So close . . . and yet so far. Debi finally admits that some men might actually want their wives to make their own decisions, have their own accomplishments, and use their natural skills, abilities, and drives. And yet she still manages to make allowing the wife to have her own achievements and self-sufficiency simply about what it can do for her husband. “Your skills and achievements are your husband’s resume.” It’s not about allowing a wife autonomy and achievements as her own person but rather merely as the ambassador of her husband. And given that Debi literally thinks women exist solely to serve as helpers to their husbands, this makes sense.

Their children will grow up to highly respect their gentle-speaking dad. If mother has been negative toward Dad, the adult children will strongly resent her to the point of disliking her.

Um . . . speaking as the daughter of a Mr. Steady father and a mother who didn’t always follow Debi’s advice in this section, I’m going to have to disagree. But also—I’m going to take this opportunity to point out how natural making threats is for Debi. It’s almost like they just fall out, or spontaneously generate.

Debi goes on to say that Mr. Steadys are not loud or demanding, they don’t stand out and they’re not irritating. They’re often taken for granted and don’t brag on themselves or their skills. They become pillars in the church not because they step out or  seek to aggrandize themselves but rather because they’re the ones who are always there, doing what needs to be done without demanding anything in return.

And then she says this:

The vast majority of my letters are from women criticizing their laid-back, quiet, slow, unassuming, undemanding, hardworking husbands for their “carnal” habits. These wives have forgotten to have a life of their own, so they spend their time trying to remake their husbands into dominant types because they admire leadership, authority, and clout. They don’t have a clue about the demands that come from being married to a dominant, bossy man.

Now this is really interesting. And it kind of makes sense. In the fundamentalist Christian churches where ideas like Debi’s spread and take hold, women generally gain clout primarily through their husbands’ status—and secondarily through the bearing of children. If a woman has a husband who is not saved, or a husband who does not step out and take leadership in the local church, her own status will always be limited. But then there is Debi’s statement that “these wives have forgotten to have a life of their own.” I mean, Debi has basically spent the entire book telling women not to have lives of their own, and now this, and with no explanation. It’s just hanging there. And then there is the last bit—the part about “the demands that come from being married to a dominant, bossy man.” After Debi’s description of the Command Man, and her identification of her husband Michael as a Command Man, it’s obvious that she’s speaking from personal experience here.

Next, Debi directly addresses what will happen if the wife of a Command Man does take control.

If a wife dishonors her steady husband and takes control, he will most likely stay with her; they probably will not divorce. But her dishonor will cause him to lack the confidence to further his business opportunities. He will become satisfied with the mediocre, because it involves no risk. He will know that he pulls the load alone, that he has no helper. Yet if that same man is married to a thankful, creative woman who delighted in him and thought he was the smartest, wisest, most important fellow around then he would have risen to the occasion in every area of his life. Many women believe Mr. Steady is mediocre and lacks strength and authority, when in actuality, Mr. Steady is a manly, steady fellow that lacks a good wife.

In other words, if the wife of a Mr. Steady takes control, her husband will withdraw into his shell and become mediocre when he otherwise would have had the motivation to rise to the occasion. It’s funny, I remember hearing my parents talking about another family that we knew, and they described the problem very much like Debi does here. They said that rather than serving as her husband’s helpmeet, the wife had simply taken control of the family’s decision making, and that in response her husband had retreated and stopped really trying, leading to a lopsided and unbiblical relationship that was tension-filled and unpleasant for both of them. Their diagnosis was that if the wife would just step down and stop dominating the family’s decisions, her husband would rise to the occasion and actually lead.

The trouble here is that Debi seems to assume—and my parents assumed as well—that this all happens without discussion or negotiation between the husband and wife. The reality is that if a couple’s temperament is such that it makes sense for the wife to make more of the daily decisions while the husband would prefer to be more laid back and go with the flow, there’s nothing wrong with that—so long as this arrangement is cooperative and was arrived at through communication. But in Debi’s world, that’s never okay. In Debi’s world, the wife of a laid back man must become laid back like her husband in order to avoid overwhelming his personality and becoming the leader in the relationship. The idea that relationships can be truly cooperative or be healthy outside of a male dominance/female submission framework is foreign to Debi.

Oh, but we get the trash once again!

Mr. Steady may take the trash out and keep the area clean, yet his wife will be prone to take his goodness for granted.

You remember when I said that taking out the trash must have been a seminal battle between Debi and Michael? Yeah, I’m sticking to that theory.

I found this next part interesting mostly because of how well it describes my dad:

He will be in quiet contemplation much of the time. It will drive his wife crazy, because she will long for him to share his deepest feelings and thoughts with her so she can “feel” loved. He cannot. He might even cry during times of stress or intimacy. He is very, very slow to come to trust and open up to the woman he loves, because he does not understand her. He will enjoy the company of others and be most comfortable spending time in small talk with whoever is around. Of the three types, he is the one who will be most liked by everyone.

This part too:

Mr. Steady is always in demand. People everywhere need him to fix a car, build a house, set up their computer, figure out what’s wrong with their phone, heal them of cancer, an the list goes on and on. You begin to wonder if you will ever have him all to yourself. The answer is, no. He belongs to people. When it is time or past time for some special time alone, take a vacation, and leave the cell phone at home.

So now to pull some of these strings together. According to Debi, the Command Man is dominant and dictatorial and Mr. Visionary is a dreamer, but Mr. Steady is the hard working every helpful man that everyone loves—and often takes for granted. Debi’s main advice to the wives of Mr. Steadys is to not take them for granted and wish they would be something they aren’t—which is generally good advice—and to avoid doing anything that might overwhelm or dominate their husbands—which is the bad advice part.

Is it just me or is it really that complicated to envision two individuals with their own strengths, skills, and abilities coming together and working out a partnership through communication and based on cooperation rather than trying to force themselves into prescribed gender roles? I mean maybe this is just me, but it just seems like that would be so much simpler than what Debi is so painstakingly describing here.

Next week we’ll look at Debi’s summary of the three types and offer some concluding discussion of this entire section.

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.

  • saramaimon

    my dad is a mr steady too; bit not in such a stereotypical way; he can and has taken initiative and ladership sometims…. people are not monolithic

  • ako

    I had one of those “Wait, is Debi giving useful advice? When is it going to go wrong? …ah, there it is!” moments with this one. Because I could easily see myself struggling in a close relationship with someone who was a total Steady-type* (leaving aside the incessant gendering), because it’s so different from my personality and approach to life. And it’s really helpful to recognize that we’re not talking about a lack of passion or a lack of care, but of someone who expresses it in different ways. A Visionary-type’s efforts to create special gourmet meals, and a Steady-type’s persistence in putting healthy and pleasant food on the table can express the same degree of love, but in different ways. (Unfortunately, it’s hard to see the Command-type Debi described doing anything more considerate than “Where’s my dinner?”)

    But then we get to stuff about diminished respect for masculinity, gendered control issues, incessant threats of a dire fate for not obeying, made-up biology, and women needing to make themselves small so their man can look bigger, and we’re back in classic Debi Pearl territory.

    *I think a relationship with someone steadier than me could be positive, but if they were all determination and quiet consistency and no spark and dazzle, it wouldn’t go well. Basically, I think that, unlike Debi’s little gender-based caste system, everyone should be willing to bend and stretch themselves to some extent, and no one should be expected to completely mold their personality to someone else’s needs.

    • wanderer

      Yes, I agree. My thought was that often Steady Men are attracted to women who like to be Front & Center because….opposites attract. So to tell that woman she needs to be MORE laid back than her husband sounds like it would take away all the spark of the relationship. What a boring way to live!

      • ako

        Yeah, a lot of people are happy to meet someone whose strengths and weaknesses balance theirs, and wouldn’t be thrilled if that person was all “Oh, I will stop using my strengths so I don’t outshine you!”

  • Christine

    Life with Mr. Steady sounds really difficult. It’s a constant struggle against egalitarianism, and being treated as a person. Clearly Mr. Command is a much better choice. (Were you so foolish as to choose who you married based on anything other than “does he pray often”, of course).

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Life with Mr. Steady sounds really difficult. It’s a constant struggle against egalitarianism, and being treated as a person.

      THIS.

  • Karen

    You know who I thought of when reading this? Dwight Eisenhauer, who was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in WWII. He hasn’t been anything special at West Point, and most of his experience was in supply, and he had a genial personality, which contrasted sharply with the other generals, most notably Mr. Command Patton. I find it very interesting that Pearl never mentioned Ike as a type example.

  • Nea

    It occurs to me that Debi could be just as well using the Hogwarts Houses to describe men – after all, they are loosely based on general personality traits too. So we’ve got the commanding, rude Slytherins, the Gryffindors dreaming of greatness, and the hardworking Hufflepuffs. Isn’t it telling that there’s no room in Debi’s and Michael’s world for the curious, intelligent Ravenclaws? NONE of these personality types is an actual scientist – Mr Visionary is too off chasing dreams, and Mr. Steady apparently doesn’t run the risk, as all science requires, of going down blind alleys and making mistakes.

    Like most of the commentors so far, I’m seeing my (scientist!) father in Mr. Steady. But then, of course, Debi’s predictions fall all to hell. My mother was and is a very romantic soul, and my parents’ favorite story of when they were dating was the time they were at an outdoor restaurant after dark. My mother the romantic looked up and sighed “What a pretty star!” My father the scientist looked up and grunted “That’s not a star, that’s a planet.”

    My mother is also a very bossy woman. So according to Debi, this is a recipe for disaster, right? Mother’s supposed to have a hormonal imbalance and mental illness; Dad’s supposed to be miserable, mediocre, and unloving, right?

    WRONG! Funny how well two mismatched people can get along when they TALK to each other. No need for shamefacedness and prayers when a steady, intelligent, caring person is willing to hear “I need to tell you my side of the story and then I want to understand your side of the story, and then we will work out a compromise.” 50+ years of marriage and I still walk in on them necking now and then. 50+ years of marriage and they’re still laughing about the planet comment.

    But Debi’s unhappiness keeps showing through, can you see it? “Your husband never puts undue pressure on you to perform miracles. He doesn’t expect you to be his servant.” … “They don’t have a clue about the demands that come from being married to a dominant, bossy man” … and, of course, the trash! Sure, Debi pats herself on the back – she isn’t “burdened” with all the decisions, people see her as a sad, cruel woman who’s been beaten into a narcisist’s moutpiece “a wonderful woman of great patience and sacrifice.”

    But methinks someone wishes she could wake up next to Mr. Steady someday.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Yes, so much yes. Everything from the Hogwarts to the wonders of communication.

    • Leigha7

      It’s kind of funny that she includes Hufflepuff but not Ravenclaw, since most people ignore Hufflepuff. Of course, it fits perfectly with evangelical views to value the quite, hardworking sort but not the intellectual type.

      What’s funny is, Rowling comes a lot closer to summing everyone up (and not just because there are 4 categories instead of 3, or even because women get to have personalities too), because it’s openly acknowledged that people don’t have to fit neatly into just one category, and that you can choose to downplay certain traits you naturally possess in favor of others you find more appealing, whereas Debi insists that no one should ever even DREAM of thinking a man could alter or adjust anything about himself.

  • Rosie

    “When a woman is married to a bossy, dominant man, people marvel that she is willing to serve him without complaint, so she comes out looking like a wonderful woman of great patience and sacrifice. A woman married to the impulsive Visionary Man, who puts the family through hardships, will stir amazement in everyone. “How can she tolerate his weird ideas with such peace and joy?” She comes out being a real saint, maybe even a martyr. But if you are married to a wonderful, kind, loving, serving man, and you are just a little bit selfish, then you are likely to end up looking like an unthankful shrew. He helps you, adores you, protects you, and is careful to provide for you, and you are still not satisfied. Shame on you!”

    Translation: “if your husband won’t make you a proper victim, you’ll just have to do it yourself!”

    • Nea

      Alternate translation: “YOU don’t have anything to complain about; you should see what my husband puts me through!”

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    “He is very, very slow to come to trust and open up to the woman he loves, because he does not understand her.”

    I feel sad.

  • L

    I find it annoying (stronger words could be used but at the moment I feel annoyed) that every trait of each man is something to be glorified and appreciated. she paints it as proper that the command man is overbearing and will quickly divorce an unsubmissive wife, that a mr. Visionary will uproot his family with no consideration to them, and a mr steady ignore his family’s needs for other people. He is the head and can literally do no wrong against his family (even adultery or abuse is the wife’s fault).
    But any of a woman’s personality must be squashed to somehow submit to her husbands.
    In debi’s world, men are both perfect leaders and easily manipulated by what their women do. So if they get nasty because she’s disrespectful, it isn’t their fault.
    Now I feel less annoyed and more nauseous.
    I was parented this way, as though my parents would have been perfect if we were submissive enough children. As though my brother wouldn’t molest me or steal my things or deliberately walk in on me in the bathroom if I told him no sweetly but firmly and calmly enough. (The bathroom had a little hook lock but it broke around the time my parents added on a new bathroom, to be used only by mom and dad, so we never got a new lock).
    I went into marriage expecting to be treated this way. Felt like I had the sole guilt for anything that went wrong. It’s horrible. I’m sick that people still listen to the pearls and recommend their books to all their friends.

  • Kit

    Wow, I came out of this thinking: “My boyfriend is a little like this. Oh wait. No he isn’t, not at all.” Because while he’s mild-mannered and all that, he has a sort of quiet confidence and he’s not afraid to stand up for himself if he needs to (which he does – it’s a core requirement of dating me because I hate feeling like I’m walking all over people with my strong personality!), and he’s actually not afraid to rock the boat.

    Anyway – I find Debi’s “kinds of men” degrading because people can’t be put in boxes – men OR women.

  • L

    Nea! ‘It occurs to me that Debi could be just as well using the Hogwarts Houses to describe men – after all, they are loosely based on general personality traits too. So we’ve got the commanding, rude Slytherins, the Gryffindors dreaming of greatness, and the hardworking Hufflepuffs. Isn’t it telling that there’s no room in Debi’s and Michael’s world for the curious, intelligent Ravenclaws? NONE of these personality types is an actual scientist – Mr Visionary is too off chasing dreams, and Mr. Steady apparently doesn’t run the risk, as all science requires, of going down blind alleys and making mistakes.’
    My husband is a ravenclaw :) (not that even hog warts houses could be put into such narrow boxes as I feel debi puts them in). He’s not a scientist ravenclaw but more a writer one :)
    I could never fit him in debi’s categories. He’s a pinch of all three.
    But hogwarts makes sense.
    A gryffindor (me) and a ravenclaw, it can get interesting but it is much easier when we fit together as US, than try to squeeze us both into a master-leader dichotomy.
    The passionate, brave, emotional but smart gryffindor teaming up with the intelligent, creative, thoughtful, dreaming but rational ravenclaw. It’s a beautiful thing, ya’ll. for us, egalitarianism is our natural bent, we fought it for a little while but sheesh this is much better :) besides I really am very smart and have very strong feelings (is that too prideful to say). My husband would have to be an idiot to want to squash all that.

    • http://omorka.blogspot.com/ Omorka

      I was thinking of the Boltons’ PeopleStyles rather than the Hogwarts houses, but I noticed the same thing – Debi’s described three of them (Command = Driver, Visionary = Expressive, Steady = Amiable) fairly closely, and left one of them out completely. Then again, I suspect the Analytical wouldn’t be caught dead in her church circles, anyway; if they were going to go down the complementarian rabbit-hole, they’d probably go with a conservative Catholic or fundamentalist Lutheran sect.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        So, is it because she’s never met an analytical type, or is it because she had to axe one to fit the whole Trinity bit?

  • http://passingpinwheels.com Mrs. C

    Oh, wow. My husband is totally Mr. Steady (I’m the visionary!) and everything she says about women being domineering and turning their husbands into shadows is everything I was terrified of for the first 5 years of our marriage. I’m of Asian descent as well as a recovering Southern Baptist and my parents drilled it into me that if I was too smart, to talkative, too energetic, too ME I’d never get married and if I did I’d emasculate my husband. My husband doesn’t care about gender roles but I ended up in counseling because I was so conflicted and stressed out about not being all meek and sweet so he wouldn’t leave me because I’m too much like a man! It took me a long time to just be me and for our roles to fall out wherever they are. But I tell you what…ever since I decided I’m going to be passionate about my job (I’m a martial arts instructor–sooo not a genteel career, lol) and my life and not care about emasculating Mike, he’s become more outgoing, more social, and is killing it at his job! It’s almooooost liiiike, my parents and Debi are COMPLETELY WRONG!!

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      My husband is also totally a Mr Steady…
      “Mr. Steady is always in demand. People everywhere need him to fix a car, build a house, set up their computer, figure out what’s wrong with their phone” is so totally him.
      And yet, me being more outgoing, and my family being so as well, have made him substantially more outgoing as well, which has helped him make massive jumps in his career too. And I’m sure he is happier now than when we were first dating to boot now that he has all that working for him. So, being pushy in the right ways? Actually has been most excellent for him.
      My Dad on the other hand is much more a Mr Command, yet my mother is still the dominant force in their relationship. He defers most decisions to her, but will step up and take control of any difficult situation that arises, and is a leader in his job where he is highly respected for those skills.

      • http://passingpinwheels.com Mrs. C

        Pushy in the right ways is great. :D His parents love me because if I hadn’t come into his life, he might have drifted off into hermitdom. He’s good for me, too, because I don’t float off into my stratosphere with all my ideas and ideals. It’s nice to be a pair of people who make each other better by being us and not having to fit a formula. Also, your parents sound like my inlaws. They are super conservative but they don’t seem to realize how egalitarian they are in practice, ha.

  • Lori

    I noticed that Debi’s “results” almost all seem to be about how the man and woman look to other people. It’s as if it’s all about putting on a show and being validated by how one appears to others. How about your private, inner relationship with each other and how the way you treat each other affects that?

    It’s as if Debi has taken solice in the fact that she looks good to others even if she can’t feel good herself. Why spread that view to others?

    • ScottInOH

      I noticed that Debi’s “results” almost all seem to be about how the man and woman look to other people.

      I was thinking the same thing. And it fits with her overall argument that a “successful” marriage is one that doesn’t end in divorce.

      • Leigha7

        That might also be why she says, or at least implies, that struggling through poverty because of your husband’s decisions is good but getting divorced and being in poverty is one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. Because, at least in this sort of environment, a wife who’s husband has put them into poverty will be pitied for her hardships and admired for her strength, but a woman who *gasp* gets divorced and has to raise her children alone and in poverty might well be seen as having failed her family.

        It has nothing to do with poverty being bad in and of itself, it’s simply what other people will think of you for it.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      Should you ever have the misfortune to read any of the Pearls’ child-rearing advice, you might notice the same thing phenomenon. It’s all about how if you don’t whack your kids in the approved manner, they’ll end up embarrassing you in public and making your life miserable.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Well we know that the man has to be the spiritual leader, even when you have a guy like Mr Steady who doesn’t naturally step up and take leadership. So the wife has to tone down her own assertiveness and leadership to make sure her husband is THE leader.

    Umm… right.

  • http://wideopenground.com Lana

    But I fit the visionary to the T. So where does that leave me? When I read the book, I remember thinking just that.

  • Tess

    “Now this is really interesting. And it kind of makes sense. In the fundamentalist Christian churches where ideas like Debi’s spread and take hold, women generally gain clout primarily through their husbands’ status—and secondarily through the bearing of children. If a woman has a husband who is not saved, or a husband who does not step out and take leadership in the local church, her own status will always be limited.”

    And, at least in my personal experience, a similar phenomenon occurs for the children in these sorts of smaller communities. My sister and I were always on the outside, never the popular ones in our group, because it was all about whose parents had the most connections. We were a small family and my parents in the group of adults were like the analogs of the quiet, “invisible kids” in middle school. (though everyone was remarkably adept at remembering my mom when they needed a sewing project completed for free) My sister and I were friends with the other homeschoolers, and we had fun with them, but we always knew we were the expendable ones. On the other hand, my aunt and uncle were the outgoing homeschooling pioneers with the large family. Everybody in our homeschool community wanted to be friends with their kids and they and their close friends always were chosen for the good parts in our church musicals and choir productions. My sister and I were often vaguely known as “their cousins,” and I basically have no lasting friendships from high school.

  • ScottInOH

    So I see one tiny way in which this book could be subversive within conservative Christian teachings on dating and marriage. That is, by acknowledging that not all men are of the same “type,” it raises the possibility that women should date different types (and there may be more than 3) and see which one they fit better with (or, if you prefer, which one God is telling them to fit with).

    I’m sure that’s not her intent, though–presumably God will guide the right man to her and, if she prays hard enough, she’ll be able to mold herself to him–and in any case, the main messages of the book are nothing short of horrendous.

  • BabyRaptor

    Wait, not liking someone’s personality causes your body to make the wrong amount of hormones? Wat.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      I believe Debi is talking about “hysteria”. Being a fundamentalist, her understanding of biology is a bit behind the times.

      • Nea

        To be fair, Debi has the glimmering of a point… but being Debi, she’s twisted it all around and pounded it into the tiny box of her reality so it fits only what she wants it to fit. I think what she’s talking about here is long-term stress, which does affect hormones and makes a person literally sick.

  • Don Gwinn

    Wait. . . JESUS was not a visionary or a commander by nature? If I believed in Biblical JESUS, how could I possibly take that seriously?

  • Anna

    The funny thing is that Debi Pearl lists the same three types in another book (Preparing to be a Helpmeet) for women, but she gives new names to her categories and does not compare them to the Trinity. Because only men were made in the image of God, apparently.

    • ako

      What are the categories for women?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Whatever the man needs, because women have no personalities and must mold themselves to be whatever their husband wants them to be. *gag*

  • Mars

    I’m a visionary and my husband is Mr. Steady. I call him the weight on the end of my balloon. He’s quiet for the most part and I am all over the place a lot of the time. If we were both the same personality, I think we would drive each other crazy. The idea of changing yourself so dramatically to suit your husband’s personality is wrong in so many ways. If you change who you are so completely after marriage, are you still having the same relationship that brought you together?

    • Amtep

      Perhaps she simply has no concept of “the same relationship that brought you together”? For her, there was none. She had a crush on her pastor and he proposed to her on the spot.

      • Nea

        And seven days later, he started laying down the law on her an hour after the wedding. You’re right. Debi has no idea what a relationship actually is; she only knows her fantasies about Mike and then the reality he’s abused into her.

  • http://dropbearexterminator.wordpress.com Judith

    My father is Mr Steady, and my stepmother is exactly the controlling woman that Debi describes. They match up so perfectly that she might as well have been describing them – and their relationship has exactly the problems she predicts. It’s scary to think that she can actually get it so right, and that to a degree her advice would actually help – even though it’s not good advice. But then,if it wasn’t for the promise he made before God all those years ago, I think he would have left her, because she’s also an abuser. Things like that make me hate religion so much more – according to Debi they have a ‘successful’ marriage, they’re still together – but it meant so many terrible things for us kids.

  • Barbur

    There Debi goes, harping on those old, divorced women again, which you women who read her book will be if you don’t straighten up and fly right. And they’ve learned from their stupid, womanly mistakes and are now all out trolling for Mr. Steady. I think Debi must actually only personally know, like, five people. And they’re all a “type.”

    • John Small Berries

      I guess the fact that she writes that such men are “rarely available” indicates that she’s at least capable of admitting, albeit only by implication, that it’s not completely impossible for a divorced woman to find a better spouse.

      The cynic in me suspects that she certainly didn’t mean to make that implication, though.

      • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

        She also seems to suggest that Mr Steady is the best kind of man, since thats what the divorced women who are out there looking again have decided to look for… They’ve learnt their lessons! (Not at all what she meant, but the alternative is that Mr Steady is useless and only wanted by these women because they are so broken themselves?)

      • John Small Berries

        Considering that the only other alternatives in her worldview are a micromanaging tyrant or a wholly impractical dreamer whose folly must be borne without any attempt to mitigate, “Mr Steady” does seem to be the best of the three.

        (This should be a reply to Basketcase, not to myself, but for some reason there’s no “Reply” button on Basketcase’s post.)

  • Bobby

    I don’t know exactly what she meant about the wife taking control, and I’m not going to read anything into her statement that might be untrue. But I know that in my house, my dad was Mr. Steady. If he even accidentally let someone down, he was upset for a long time afterward. He loved being able to help people. He also preferred to just keep his head down, and not be too commanding in the house. In fact, I never saw him once tell my mom to do something, he always asked. He preferred to let my mom make most of the decisions, he just wanted her to take his view on situations into account.
    My mom was one of those people who takes someone like that for granted. Eventually, she just stopped asking for his input, and made every decision herself. After that, he just kind of slowly collapsed inward. He would never correct me or my siblings, because my mom told him that it was her job. She managed all the finances, only letting him have an allowance. Which is weird considering that he earned the money, my mom having never, had a job. She would buy things, expensive things without asking. And he just stood there and took it until she divorced him and screwed him in and out of court. Even today, after all of the pain she’s caused him, he would still take her back, as long as she was sorry for what she has done.

    • Yazikus

      Never having a job… Beyond raising you and managing all of the decisions and finances? It’s telling that you don’t consider those things work. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for your parents, but that comment was a pretty clear indication that ther may be more to their story than her ‘screwing him in court’

      • Hedgehog

        I think what Bobby meant that she never erned her own money not that she did do enything that contriputed. As having your own money that you work for often gives a person different view about it. It isn’t just 20 dollars but two hours of cleaning taples. I had to once when I was in my late teens took care most of family grosery shoping about half year becouse my mom was in a hospital far away and my dads work had lots of late meetings and travel. While I was carefull with money and budject it still was money that came regless what I did. At that point of my life I hadn’t worked very mutch so all the work I had to do around there money was budjet and geting everything that was nesery and wanted. That was all work I did. Sure I knew that it had money making part of it but knowing in theory ang knowing in practice are two diffrent things. Now that I have done not only my own budject but the earning part too I don’t see just money, I see the work, gind of work it was and sacrificed free time. I have knowledge

      • Bobby

        She didn’t marry until she was 27, and she was a trust fund baby. She had a nursing degree, but chose not to use it. After her parents cut her off, she got on welfare, and met my dad soon after. She coasted through life on welfare, even though she could have worked, especially after she divorced.
        Hedgehog understood what I meant. I do consider being a house parent work, and I was not attempting to denigrate those who choose to do so. My problem was that she chose to not work at all, but still would only let my dad have a small amount of his own money and never let him weigh in whenever she wanted to make a major purchase. She would tell him to shut up about it and that her mind was made up, with no discussion between them.

      • Anat

        Bobby, while your parents were married it wasn’t your father’s own money, it belonged to both of them regardless of how it was earned.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        As Anat says, household income is household income. Unless explicitly decided so by both parties, it’s not separate incomes. This is especially true when one person is earning an income while the other is tending to the household and children – since that second person would have no freedom/recourse at all if assets aren’t shared.

        Now, my household does actually use allowances. We’re very poor – especially since we decided that it was worth more to us to have me at home with our son than for us to have a bit extra spending money. As a result, we have to budget very tightly. But we learned early on in our marriage that budgets don’t work for us if they’re too restrictive, we need an allowance or else we binge. Also, I’ve always been better with money and I enjoy doing our finances, so managing the family’s money (and other stuff, like our pantry) has always been my job (what can I say? I love counting things!)

        But I do understand what you are saying. The difference between my household and, say, a household like your parents’ is that I am following the same rules I impose on my husband. He gets an allowance, but so do I. When I contribute to our retirement funds, I split it 50/50 between us. And even though I’m the one who manages all our purchases and makes sure that we can afford a luxury item, say, the actual decision for whether or not we buy it is shared. We talk it out and we come to a decision together.

        So the problem, I think, isn’t so much that your mother never worked, that she only gave your father an allowance, or that she managed money. But rather, that she bought things for herself without the same oversight that she allowed your father, and that her lack of having to work seems (from your perception, anyway) to have come more from a predatory sense of entitlement than from simply a lifestyle choice made in conjunction with her partner.

    • Hedgehog

      Sorry I accidently hit the post comment button while I has editing my onw text. Please delete the above coment.

      I think what Bobby meant that she never erned her own money not that she did do enything that contriputed. As having your own money that you work for often gives a person different view about it. It isn’t just 20 dollars but two hours of cleaning taples.

      When I was in my late teens took care most of family grosery shoping about six months becouse my mom was in a hospital and my dads work had lots of late meetings and travel. While I was carefull with money and budject it still was money that came regless what I did. At that point of my life I hadn’t worked very mutch so all the work I had to do around the money was budjet and geting everything that was nesery and wanted. Sure I knew that was the money making part of it but knowing in theory and knowing in practice are two diffrent things.

      Now that I have done not only my own budject but the earning part too I don’t see just money, I see the work, gind of work it was and sacrificed free time. Now I have knowledge how I fully affect the money situation my fursrations around it are very diffrent.

  • ecolt

    I’d be interested to know what Debi would make of, say, my partner. Here’s a guy who has a very quick temper and occasionally tries to micromanage everything in the house, which would certainly make him a Command Man. But he has more than once packed up or even given away all his belongings to go hitchhiking and play music on the street, totally a Visionary type. Then again, he gets up early to make me breakfast in bed almost every day that I have to work and is more comfortable with me handling the finances and bills just because it makes things run more smoothly, which sounds more like a steady man. He likes things done his way, always comes up with crazy ideas for the future, but is content to have a steady and comfortable home while his children are growing up. Debi makes all men fit into one of three little molds, so I’d love to see how she would classify my partner. He is bipolar, which of course makes any attempt to pinpoint his personality traits even harder, but beyond that he’s just more of a complex human being than Debi’s worldview seems to allow for. So what would she think of a man who gets loudly frustrated when his kids don’t listen to him, but ten minutes later is making sure they all get a bedtime snack? Or someone who gets pushy over me doing housework, but only when he’s in the mood to do things himself and just wants some help? Or someone who wants to set up some crazy project in the basement, but just so he’s more content and less restless with his cozy little three-bedroom house? I almost feel bad for Debi since she’s obviously had such limited life experiences that she can’t imagine men as multi-dimensional humans.

  • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

    This is kind of interesting. Mr Steady is a lot like my dad in some ways, and quite unlike my dad in others. In fact, Mr Steady is basically how people who don’t know my dad well tend to view him. Makes me think Debi has met the odd Mr Steady but not actually got to know them. The main thing I think she’s missed is that Mr Steady doesn’t say a lot because he thinks a lot, and this makes him a far more effective leader than Mr Command. It also means that Mr Steady is much less of a pushover than Debi seems to think, he’s just a lot more subtle about influencing people. All those favours Mr Steady does for his friends? Mr Steady understands the concept of reciprocity. I know for a fact dad has never once paid for firewood in the last 20 years, for example… The other thing is that Mr Steady often does have ambition, but it shows up in different ways to Mr Command’s ambition. Mr Command is only interested in dominating others, but Mr Steady wants to get things done. I find it very telling (and also very sad) that Debi seems to view Mr Command’s style of “leadership” as the right way to lead, and does not recognise Mr Steady’s leadership skills.

    Another thought I had here is that Mr Steady is a lot like Odysseus. I also like to think of Mr Visionary and Mr Command as being like Achilles and Agamemnon, respectively. That’s just a random thought; make of it what you will.

  • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    It’s funny, I see so much of myself in the Visionary Man (you know, except for the penis) and my husband in Mr Steady. It works really well for us because he keeps me grounded and I keep moss from sprouting on his back. With regards to leadership, that’s actually an area where we’ve had to be very careful. Since he’s quite content with just going with the flow and I’m quite happy to lead, it would have been very easy for us to fall into a restrictive pattern in which those roles become enforced through repetition. But that’s not the kind of relationship either of us wanted.

    For him, never getting to make decisions would wear at his self-esteem (I think that Debi is absolutely right on that point – though I would argue that it applies to women as well!). For me, I would lose the benefit of his “grounding” influence. Thankfully, we learned very early on to communicate, and I’m careful to make sure that I ask his opinion before making decisions and to seek out a compromise when we disagree even though his instinct would be to just roll over and do whatever I want. And it is true that being respected and having his opinion sought out at home has made my husband much more confident in offering his opinions in other social/professional situations.

    But what really strikes me as we finish up this section of CTBHHM is that Debi seems to understand some psychology of visionaries and of steady types, but that her leadership personality is so way off base. A good leader is pretty much exactly the opposite of her Command Man. A good leader is going to support his/her team, make them feel appreciated, seek out their opinions and insights before reaching a decision. All of the best managers I’ve encountered in my professional life have been quick to delegate and to give employees freedom and support to innovate. These have been not only the most well liked managers, but also the ones delivering the best results.

    Her Command Man is, quite simply, an abuser. Abusers like to lead, they like to boss people around, but they aren’t good at it. The micromanagement aspect usually leaves everyone (themselves included) feeling stressed and burned out. I had the “pleasure” of working for someone who fit her Command Man model once and I transferred to another department – as did many others. The company we worked for had lots of people who’d been there 10-20 years, but no one lasted more than a year in his department simply because that Command type is such hell to work with/for.

    So why does she seem to understand the visionary and steady types, but falls so short on the command type? My guess is Michael. He’s convinced her that he’s a leader, so she thinks that leaders are like him. Combine this with an idea that women don’t matter (so who cares about their morale?) and you get Debi’s Command Man.

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  • zhnjg

    A relative gave me this book when I got married. I read it with an open mind but it didn’t even come close to being a possibility for me because I couldn’t get past what kind of world this woman must live in. Does she really live in a world where men cheat all the time? Where women have to connive, needle, and wile the means to their ends? I went on to read other publications, e.g. NGJ ministries magazine, and they would receive letters from ppl asking about catching their husbands/sons in acts of bestiality or prostitution….What. On. Earth. These texts are written with this super isolated, rural mentality that assumes an awful lot about the outside world. I grew up in an urban area and my standards for marriage/behaviour are much higher. I’ve been married 8 years now, completely monogamous on both parts, and either of us practice this archaic foolishness. No bestiality problems either!

  • zhnjg

    *neither*

  • Lori

    I am very curious now about Michael Pearl’s counterpart to Debi’s book. The descriptions suggests that the husband has some responsibility to meet her complex needs before she will desire to meet the his. One reviewer says the book challenges men to become worth husbands. But what that will look like will make all the difference.

    http://www.amazon.com/Created-Need-Help-Meet-Marriage/dp/1616440368

    Now I’m not suggesting the reviewers were anyone but his own followers. I’m just saying that I’m very curious how this book will fit with Debi’s. I honestly am hopeful that as Debi’s book asks women to do impossible and even icky things, that at least Michael’s book to men tells men to behave them selves. Maybe he even suggests they take out the trash! (One can hope.)

    Sadly, Debi has written a book for girls/young women to read before they get married. From the reviews, it sounds like it’s as bad as the first Help Meet book. Yuck. http://www.amazon.com/Preparing-Help-Meet-Debi-Pearl/dp/1616440090/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365434975&sr=1-2&keywords=Debbie+Pearl+helpmeet

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