CTBHHM: My Mr. Visionary

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 80-85

This is a weird post to write—a very weird post to write. In her section on the Command Man, Debi got essentially everything terribly, horribly wrong. She was literally laying out the profile of an abusive husband, and arguing unabashedly that the wives of Command Men must be doormats, focusing only on serving and obeying. Her section on Mr. Visionary—who is supposed to be a reflection of the Holy Spirit—couldn’t be more different. Rather than laying out a second portrait of an abuser, she lays out a description of a man that sounds uncannily like my husband Sean—Mr. Visionary is a man who dreams big dreams and is fascinated by big ideas, but may be a bit deficient in the practicality department. But perhaps even weirder is the fact that probably 75% of her advice to wives of Visionaries is not only really good advice but actually stuff I really wish I had heard half a decade ago, and stuff I have had to learn myself by trial and error.

I’m still trying to figure out how in the world the same person who wrote the Command Man section also wrote this section. I mean, in addition to everything I said above, Debi actually ascribes agency to the wives of Visionaries and gives them a role to play. While I still very much take issue with part of what Debi says here, she does not argue that the wives of Visionaries are supposed to be doormats—something she does argue of the wives of Command Men.

Okay, so, let’s get going here:

If you are married to one of these fellows, expect to be rich or poor, rarely middle class. He may invest everything in a chance and lose it all or make a fortune, but he will not do well working 8 to 5 in the same place for thirty years, and then retiring to live the good life. If he works a regular job, he may either not show up half the time or he will work like a maniac 80 hours a week and love every minute. He may purchase an alligator farm in Florida or a ski resort in Colorado or he may buy an old house trailer for $150 with hopes of fixing it up and selling it for $10,000, only to find out that it is so deteriorated that it can’t be moved. He will then have his wife and all the kids help him tear the top off and carry the scraps to the dump, (saving the appliances in the already crowded garage), so he can make a farm trailer out of the axles. Now that he has a farm trailer and no animals, expect him to get a deal on three, old, sick cows, and . . . . He may never be rich in money, but he will be rich in experience.

Like I said above, Debi is describing Sean here. The other day we were on a walk with the kids when he suddenly said: “You know what would be fun? Working on the railroad! Let’s move to South Dakota and become railroad engineers!” This happens all the time. For a long time, I simply responded to each of his mad ideas by telling him how crazy they were. It took me a long time to realize what Debi says here:

Some of these guys talk with glowing enthusiasm and animation. Usually, they enjoy hashing over ideas, plans and dreams. If you are married to one, he loves to tell you about his newest idea, and he wants your enthusiastic support, not a criteria of his idea. He will look at his idea more critically later, but for the moment, the idea itself is invigorating to him. He will have a thousand ideas for every project he attempts, and he will try many he will never finish, and he will finish some that are worthless, and you “knew it all along.” Remind him of that the next time he has an idea, and you will destroy your marriage—but you won’t change him. He will share his “dumb ideas” with someone else.

Now obviously, Debi is engaging in her usual Debi scare tactics and hyperbole at the end there, but this paragraph literally gave me shivers. This is the advice I wish I’d had half a decade ago. I wish I’d known that Sean’s hare brained schemes were just his way of dreaming, and that he would never do more than think about most of them, and that he would critically examine them later once the initial buzz of the idea wore off. If I’d known these things, the early years of my marriage would have been smoother. Instead, I had to learn these things through sometimes-painful lived experience. In some weirdly twisted way, Debi comes close to being right about the last bit—if you’re married to a Visionary, continually responding to his (or her) ideas solely with negativity and criticism will poison your relationship.

The wife of a Mr. Visionary should be just a little bit reckless and blind in one eye if she is going to enjoy the ride. If this is your man, you need to learn two very important things (beyond how to make an appeal). Learn how to be flexible, and learn how to always be loyal to your man. You will be amazed at how much happier you will be and how much fun life can be if you learn to just go with the flow—his flow. Life will become an adventure. You will actually begin to feel sorry for the gals married to the stick-in-the-mud, steady type. And once you get into your head that your husband does not have to be “right” for you to follow him, you will FINALLY be able to say “bye-bye” to your overwrought parents, even when they are screaming that you are married to a crazy man. People looking on will marvel that you are able to love and appreciate your husband, but you will know better because you will see his greatness.

Here is where Debi’s advice starts heading in the wrong direction, but even here some of it is good. One thing that I’ve learned about Sean is that it is indeed sometimes best to just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. It’s certainly a lot more pleasant than the negativity that my constant criticism toward his big ideas initially bred. I’ve learned to relax a bit and enjoy flexibility, something that I didn’t appreciate much before I met Sean. And if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with a Visionary (male or female), I think you have to. Otherwise, you’ll both be miserable.

Even as Debi starts veering into submission territory with her rhetoric about being always loyal to your man and being willing to follow him regardless of whether he is right, she does not lower the woman’s role to that of mere servant staff as she does the wife of a Command Man:

Good intentions don’t always keep Visionaries from causing great harm. They can stir up pudding and end up with toxic waste, if they are not wise. An unwise wife can add to the poison with negative words, or she can, with simple words of caution, bring attention to the goodness of the pudding and the wisdom in leaving it alone. Every Mr. Visionary needs a good, wise, prudent, stable wife who has a positive outlook on life.

And later:

Visionary Man will talk and talk and talk to his honey if she approves of him. . . . One of [the Visionary Man's] greatest needs will be for his wife to think objectively (proven truth) and use common sense, which will help keep his feet from flying too far from solid ground. He spends his life looking through a telescope or microscope, and he will be stunned that what he sees (or thinks he sees), others do not seem to notice or care about. Every small issue will become mind-consuming, and he will need his wife to casually talk about the big picture and the possible end results of relationships, finances or health if he continues to totally focus on his present interest. His sweetheart needs to stay in a positive state of mind, yet never jump into his make-believe world, trying to be too much of a cheerleader on dead-end issues. let him burn out on things that are not wise. But don’t throw water on his fire. Let him find his own balance through bumping into hard realities.

I’m fairly certain I disagree with Debi on exactly where the balance lies (she’s not very clear on where she places it), but I totally agree with her (did I just say that?) that a woman married to a Visionary needs to find a balance between letting his feet fly off solid ground taking her with him on the one hand, and continually dousing water on the fire of his ideas through constant criticism on the other hand. This is the balance I’ve had to learn over the years. Now again, let me restate that I’m pretty sure I’d locate that balance differently than Debi. More importantly, I’m completely sure that I locate the need for finding that balance somewhere totally differently from Debi, who almost certainly sees it as stemming from a wife’s need to be submissive and follow her husband. Still, I’m impressed that Debi actually does argue that the wife of a Visionary needs to help keep his feet on the ground rather than just flying off with him.

If you are married to the Visionary Man, learn to enjoy the trip, for if he ever does make a better light bulb, he will want you to be the one who turns it on for the first time in public. It will be your face he looks into to see the marvel of what a great thing he has done. You are his most important fan.

Again, typical Debi, and very much in line with what she said last week about the Command Man wanting a queen to admire him. But I have to say, there’s a little bit of truth here—when Sean has one of his brilliant ideas, he’s always eager to hear what I think of it, excited and hopeful that I’ll like it. That’s what I was talking about when I said I agreed with Debi (ack! I said it again!) that constantly dousing a Visionary with water is going to lead to relationship problems.

You know the problem with Debi, here? The problem is that she’s gendering this. This isn’t something that should be gendered. There are Ms. Visionaries too, and their partners need this same advice. The issue here shouldn’t be how to be a good wife, the issue should be how to carry on a healthy relationship with a Visionary, a person—male or female—who is continually coming up with new ideas and continually moving from one latest project to another. And the first thing to realize in carrying on a relationship with a person like that is that one must strike a balance, not being constantly negative, but at the same time trying to keep their feet on the ground, or at least fairly close to it. But what Debi is doing is gendering this idea—suggesting that men have fixed types while women are fluid—and throwing in a dose of female submission. And that’s why Debi is offering what is genuinely good advice, but then slightly twisting it, adding a bit of poison.

Oh, and by the way, the garbage does show up this week:

Visionary Man will take the trash out if he remembers it. But, he may also end up inventing a way whereby the trash takes itself out or is turned into an energy source, or he may just waste a lot of time building a cart for you to take it out. He will not mind cleaning up if he notices it needs doing, but he may get so deeply involved that he decides to paint while he is sweeping, and then switch projects before he get finished painting. And he will likely be irritated when his wife nags him about it.

Once again, this is Sean. Including the nagging part. We try to have an equal division of the housework, Sean and I, but the trouble is that he often ends up so engrossed in his work or other projects that he forgets, or he simply doesn’t notice that the trash needs taking out or that the carpet needs vacuuming. If I nag, it just leads to tension in our relationship. So instead we talk about our division of the housework, and possibly reshuffle some things, and then it happens again—it’s not that Sean is against doing his part, it’s just that he doesn’t notice when it needs doing. And then, when he actually does get going at doing it, he does it incredibly thoroughly, almost unnecessarily and obsessively so, often turning a simple cleaning job into a drawn-out project.

There is one area, though, where Debi’s description of the Visionary doesn’t seem to describe Sean at all, and that’s this part:

Some of you are married to men who are shakers, changers, and dreamers. These men get the entire family upset about peripheral issues, such as: do we believe in Christmas? Should we use state marriage licenses Should a Christian opt out of the Social Security system? The issues may be serious and worthy of one’s commitment, but, in varying degrees, these men have tunnel vision, tenaciously focusing on single issues. . . . They are often the church splitters and the ones who demand doctrinal purity and proper dress and conduct.

If nothing else, this paragraph lets you know what Debi views as “peripheral issues.”

I do want to make it clear that I’m not endorsing Debi’s argument that there are three types of men, fitting her descriptions. I think there are lots of problems with creating “types” and then trying to shoehorn everyone into them—especially if you’re creating such a very small number. And besides, people are individuals, not “types.” This is part of why I was so surprised that nearly everything Debi said about her made-up type, Mr. Visionary, fit Sean so perfectly. In the end, I don’t think we should be surprised when we find that some of the men we know do fit Debi’s descriptions of the Command Man, Mr. Visionary, or Mr. Steady—but that doesn’t mean that everyone will.

Next week we’ll learn about Mr. Steady. Hopefully by then I will have gotten over my shock at the vast, vast differences between Debi’s treatment of the Command Man and Mr. Visionary—and at the fact that I actually said I agreed with Debi about something.

CTBHHM: Blessings and Vessels
CTBHHM: What "Companionship" Means in Pearl World
CTBHHM: A Young Wife Should Be "Bored and Lonely"
CTBHHM: "I Am His Water"
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.

  • Tracy

    It’s like that saying: “A stopped clock is right twice a day”. She has a whole book, she was bound to get something right(well, partially, somewhat). Then she’s also bound to go back to “women should just obey” and all the other bad to horrible “advise” that seems to be her hallmark so far.

  • Christine

    I found this very creepy as well – it’s my husband (career goal: become a professor). One of our favourite games is to discuss what we’re “going” to do “when” we buy a house we pass for sale. (“Back yard is better for the garden that’s where the sun is.” “But we need to put a tree in the back to shade the house, that will shade out the garden.” “Some of those columnar oaks are a better option then.”)

    I’m hoping that she’s off the mark like usual in her description of what to do – I’ve always been under the impression that his plans for tax protest were just pie-in-the-sky, like everything else. (We’ve been in school for as long as we’ve been together, so we’ve never paid taxes, so it’s never come up.)

  • Ken L.

    I’ve really been wondering if this project is worth the pain it must be to read this book. I’m glad you found this part a little less painful.

  • Chrissy

    Ha, my husband has a bit of this! He came to me all excited yesterday about making his own still….as in alcohol distillery…in our kitchen. All he needed was a pressure cooker! And we could probably find one at a garage sale! For cheap! And wouldn’t that be awesome?!! Moonshine is totally legal in our state! … (exclamation points were all him, trust me) I shut him down, because it sounded like way more work and mess than he was planning for (and can’t you, like, buy alcohol already made somewhere?) but now I’m wondering if I should let him do his project and see what happens.

    • Kate Monster

      I have a cousin who homebrews his own beer and loves it–brings his beers to all the family events and talks shop with the aunts and uncles (the Monster family is a Beer family). He registered the “brewery” name and everything–heck, he even grows his own hops! It’s fun for him and he turns out some pretty good beer and more or less keeps him out of trouble (the Monster family is also a reckless, impulse-control-challenged family).

    • Nea

      Don’t get a used pressure cooker; they’re dangerous. On the other hand, I know a couple of guys who do home brewing. One of them does a chocolate mead that is the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. It doesn’t actually have to take a lot of money or time… as long as you don’t skimp and buy something that might blow up on you like an old secondhand pressure cooker!

      • Rosa

        i assume for distilling you dont’ bring the cooker up to pressure, you use it to boil alcohol in something you can collect the steam from. For that a used pressure cooker would be fine.

    • Rae

      Homebrewing is becoming a very popular activity now. So maybe you can just find someone who already does it and is willing to let your husband help out to see if it’s for him?

    • syfr

      You need to be careful – stills can be dangerous, and you may have to register them with the federal government.

      I’d try winemaking or beermaking instead.

  • Jasmyn

    My husband just identified me as the visionary.

  • Renee

    LOL I find it funny that on this Debi actually got something I would agree with. This it totally my dad and my mom reacts pretty much the same way that Debi describes.

    However, I have read the sections about command, visionary and steady men and My boyfriend does not fit into any of these categories. I don’t understand how she feels she can lump ALL men into three types.

    Lightning can strike in the same place twice; I agree with a fellow commentator that she was bound to get something right EVENTUALLY. But you know what I see really lacking here? And maybe she gets to it later…But how are husbands supposed to treat their wives? Are women placed into types in her sick world as well? You know aside from divorced hags, goodly wives and whores?

    • Cathy W

      She’s explicitly said that women don’t have fixed “types” like men do, and it’s a woman’s job to be the wife her husband needs, whatever his type is.

      She’s also never explicitly said what obligations a husband might have towards a wife – but she makes pretty clear that all the husband’s obligations are contingent on the wife’s behavior; he’s not even obligated to refrain from hitting her unless she’s been the perfect helpmeet.

  • wanderer

    I think what this section proves is that this book truly is just her attempt to give outlet to her personal trauma. Once she moves to a topic that she doesn’t have personal experience with (being married to a visionary man) she doesn’t have personal, deep, trauma to draw from. She can be a little more objective and normal about what the relationship might look like.

    • Caramello

      Yes indeed. This section is sad, really; it sounds as if Debi might have been quite a nice person if she’d married a visionary, or indeed more or less anyone except Mr Narcissistic Personality Disorder himself. Here she sounds like a sane, even perceptive person with a few weird and unpleasant ideas that she could maybe be talked out of. When she talks about the Command Man she sounds both messed up and fanatical.

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

    Wow, that is really wacky. My DH doesn’t really fit this description, but I still found myself nodding along, though like you I think I was mentally substituting gender-neutral terminology the whole time.

    I will say that I’ve occasionally had this experience with the Pearls’ materials before: they’ll publish something about how important it is for kids to feel like valued and useful members of the family rather than helpless appendages, for example, or they’ll explain that yes, little kids “helping” with the housework does make more work for you initially but they become genuinely helpful as they get older, and I’ll find myself thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense.” But then I remember the anecdote about how they had to repeatedly whack one of their kids to train her not to crawl up the stairs *when she was four months old*, or the admonition that it’s not enough to make your kid sit in her carseat, you have to make her sit in it *cheerfully*, or the “cute” story about the three-year-old spanking her dolls for having a “bad attitude”, and I start feeling all nauseated again…

  • ako

    You know the problem with Debi, here? The problem is that she’s gendering this. This isn’t something that should be gendered. There are Ms. Visionaries too, and their partners need this same advice.

    Yeah. I was reading the whole thing, and going “That is so me.” I am a Visionary Type! I get big ideas, I want to try everything, being sensible and steady are not my strong suit, I tend to like periods of intense work followed by periods of comparative ease instead of a steady manageable pace…I’m far more what she’s describing than anyone I know. And I’ve had struggled working or planning things with people who are naturally systematic and sensible, because they keep pointing out everything that’s wrong and impractical about my ideas without helping or joining in with the enthusiasm in any way, and it feels like rejection. I’m trying to learn how to keep in mind the differences in how other people think, but having someone just not want to share or participate is hard.

    But I’m a woman, so it’s not allowable for me to have a personality of my own. I must be a convenient little lump of silly putty to be molded and remolded into whatever shape a man wants. (Never mind that I’m a lesbian – that’s just another inconveniently distinctive and individual quality to be prayed away so I can be a good little helpmeet.)

    If you are married to the Visionary Man, learn to enjoy the trip, for if he ever does make a better light bulb, he will want you to be the one who turns it on for the first time in public. It will be your face he looks into to see the marvel of what a great thing he has done. You are his most important fan.

    Yeah, she’s definitely taking a real phenomenon (wanting people to care about to share your joy and enthusiasm) and describing it in the most female-subordinate way possible. She doesn’t talk about participating and refining the ideas to make them better (sometimes, a strategic touch of common sense can make the difference between an interesting-but-impractical idea and a brilliant one, and plenty of people who aren’t that extreme about it have a powerful creative spark). She doesn’t talk about how a Visionary-type person might treat their inspiration like gifts, and lay them at their beloved’s feet in tribute. Because she’s only talking about Visionary men, they must be the great inventor with their wives as mere fans.

    So instead we talk about our division of the housework, and possibly reshuffle some things, and then it happens again—it’s not that Sean is against doing his part, it’s just that he doesn’t notice when it needs doing. And then, when he actually does get going at doing it, he does it incredibly thoroughly, almost unnecessarily and obsessively so, often turning a simple cleaning job into a drawn-out project.

    Once again, that’s rather like my approach to housework. Unless I really make an effort, I tend to only notice the most simple and obvious stuff, and even then, I don’t always see the point. (Like making beds, for instance.) And if I do notice something and feel it needs doing, my tendency is to overdo it, making it time-consuming and tiring.

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

      Unless I really make an effort, I tend to only notice the most simple and obvious stuff, and even then, I don’t always see the point. (Like making beds, for instance.) And if I do notice something and feel it needs doing, my tendency is to overdo it, making it time-consuming and tiring.

      OK, *that* is my DH in a nutshell. I cannot get him interested in routine daily tidying; it has to be a Big Project. (Mind you, I’m not good at the routine daily tidying myself, but that’s because I work a lot and am tired. Oh, and lazy.)

      • ako

        Yeah, I think the fact that I find stuff like cleaning really boring probably makes it worse.

    • Christine

      She also doesn’t mention the effect of being married to a visionary types on the spouse – it’s all one-way. Presumably because she thinks that women just adapt to their husband. Stuff like the fact that they’re such enablers. (“Garage sale leftovers! I got a mini slowcooker for free, I was thinking of opening it up & adjusting the pot to get a youghurt maker”. His response: “Hey that would be cool.”) Or that if you do manage to show restraint they understand, but they’re too busy being disappointed at the missed opportunity to be proud of you. (“So the consignment store had a train set for $15, but I figured that since we already have one we couldn’t justify the space to store it”. “Oh”)

      • ako

        Yeah, that’s a whole lot of mess she left out. (And I could totally see myself having the same problem if I didn’t make the effort.)

        I actually think everyone who has a strong “This is my personality type” tendency should put some energy into moderating their tendencies, because that’s just considerate of other people. That’s part of what bothers me so much about “Men are fixed, women are malleable” – women shouldn’t feel obligated to completely fight their personality type, and men shouldn’t feel entitled to trample on the needs and desires of other people in the name of “That’s just how I am!”

      • Mogg

        Haha – that sounds like me and my boyfriend! We have to be a bit careful of that :-)

    • Kellen

      @ako I was going to say all of that. No, ALL of that. Visionary Lesbians FTW. :D

      • ako

        Visionary Lesbian high five!

    • Liberated Liberal

      Me. This is SO MUCH me. And my partner is SO MUCH NOT this. It creates a lot of problems. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to be a “visionary”. Life feels so overwhelming and I accomplish nothing.

      • ako

        It can definitely cause problems. (I find the best approach for me is to try to find a sweet spot of self-discipline where I make myself moderate my tendencies when it comes to the practical stuff, but not totally fight them. Like enjoy the dream in my head, then start thinking about whether it’s practical and what the consequences could be, and if it’s useful or harmless, go to it and enjoy. And I’m single and living alone, so for a lot of the practical household stuff it’s “What do I want in terms of practical minimum standards, and what effort am I willing to put in?”, which leads to stretches of extreme cooking enthusiasm and a lot of fairly healthy instant soups and things for when I don’t want to bother with making an effort.) I’ve gotten some awesome stuff done and had great life experiences with big dreams and enthusiasm, so while I’d like to moderate my tendencies, I wouldn’t want to get rid of them entirely.

      • TurelieTelcontar

        I found a great book trying to help with this exact problem: “Refuse to choose!” by Barbara Sher. I’m just finished, so I haven’t tried all the advice yet, but it is trying to adress this problem: Dealing with having a great many ideas, and giving you the tools to process them, and even do some of them.

        Acccording to this advice, I started carrying a notebook with me, and write down any new ideas I’m getting: Depending on what I’m doing just a sentence or two, or a really accurate description. Later, if it sounds still interesting, I’ll transfer it to a binder, and plan a bit more, all together. If it’s harmless/I have time, I might start immediately, otherwise I can still concentrate on other things, because I kept the information, and now I can come back at a later time and do it, if it sounds sensible. And if not – well, I practiced planning and had fun doing it. Everything feels much less overwhelming now.

  • Patrick

    Debi’s core thesis is that women should never try to change their husband, and should instead mold themselves to satisfy their husband’s every need. When he doesn’t need changing and his needs are reasonable, this doesn’t yield horrific results. When he’s a horrible person, it does.

    • Kellen

      Hell, even when his needs are reasonable, who’s to say hers aren’t *just* as reasonable? Being in a relationship should entail a certain amount of mutual malleability, if you ask me.

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

        This is a good point, and something I could have emphasized more in my post. Not only have I had to get used to being married to a man with a different temperament than me, but he’s also had to get used to being married to *me.* I’ve had to make adjustments, and so has he. I’ve had to learn to humor certain things about him, and vice versa. So yeah, it’s very much mutual!

      • Patrick

        Debbi seems to have a very clear thought process:

        1. Never give up on a relationship (marriage is the only relationship she acknowledges in this context).
        2. Women should never try to get a man to change his behavior.
        3. Women should always change their behavior to the please their man.
        4. Failure to abide by this plan leads to DOOOOOOOM.

        Then she inputs various stereotypes of male behavior.

      • ako

        Hell, even when his needs are reasonable, who’s to say hers aren’t *just* as reasonable?

        Good point. It’s not like two people can only have contradictory needs if one of them is being unfair. If one person is really social and outgoing and gets stressed and unhappy if they can’t go out with friends much or have people over often, and one person is more introverted and gets stressed and unhappy if they don’t get a lot of crowd-free downtime, no one’s being unfair by wanting what they want, but it’ll take compromise and communication if they’re both going to manage to be reasonably happy.

      • Sean

        he’s also had to get used to being married to *me.*


  • smrnda

    Wow, this kind of applies to me so another Ms. Visionary. I’m a software engineer with a mess of ambitious projects on the table, and I tend to let a lot of more mundane things slide, but it’s a matter of priority. I’ve actually had to put cleaning on a schedule just to make sure I did it, mostly since I can get very absorbed in work and then I let things slide.

    Understanding ‘types’ of people can be useful, but only if you realize that both men and women can be types. I’d do very poorly with someone who was too domestic-minded since I don’t prioritize things like making beds and someone into domestic order might get rubbed the wrong way. Types can tell you who you might be compatible with and what sort of conflicts are likely. But believing that all women can adapt to every type is a bad idea, since it forgets that women are not all the same, and that they do have strong tendencies of their own.

  • http://pushthepulldoor.blogspot.com Don Gwinn

    Maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that you found a type that fits your husband. That’s the same effect that cold readers, astrologers, and “personality profile consultants” rely on; if your categories include enough traits, people will see themselves in them.

    I think my wife would say I fit the Visionary part, too. But I’m waiting to see what the Steady guy is like. From the hints she’s dropped, it sounds like that’s where she dumped all the sad sacks–in her brief mentions of the Steady man, she so far seems to imply that there’s not much joy in being married to him. My prediction?
    Steady Man turns out to be the stereotypical “salary man” in a cubicle from 9 to 5. He’s not very ambitious (or if he is, then he’s frustrated.) He’s not very exciting. The wife should not expect excitement or an interesting life out of this guy; she should adapt herself to him, either by making it her job to be the sparkling, exciting thing in his life, or by resigning herself to her fate and teaching herself to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for her boring, gray, but relatively comfortable and secure lifestyle. Like the Command the Visionary, the Steady Man will expect his wife to admire him and show proper gratitude for his worth as a provider of moderate middle-class comforts.

    Tune in next week to see how wrong I am! ;)

  • Cherí

    Wow, I’m totally Mr. Visionary…except, well, I’m not Mr., but anyway…I would get so hurt and irritated when I was a teenager and I wanted to tell my mom every time I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer, a nurse, an archaeologist, etc.—because she never seemed the least bit excited for me and would only point out what was wrong with the idea. It still bothered me even once I became an adult and would tell her about little things. So yes, the negativity and the nagging don’t help at all. Lol.

  • http://www.defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com Samantha

    What about the women who are with “visionary” men who are actually not capable of being leaders? I was engaged to a “visionary man” (oddly enough, I’m also married to a different “visionary” man… hmm)– and I did exactly what Debi describes. I didn’t critique him constantly, I supported him in all his wild schemes… until, one day, his wild scheme was with my trust fund, and it was completely irresponsible, so guess what– I said no. And he broke our engagement two months later. Best thing that’s ever happened to me, but still.

  • kisekileia

    It sounds to me like there’s a lot of overlap between Visionaries and people with ADHD. I’m in both those categories.

    • Lori

      I had the same thought.

  • Cristi

    I’m married to someone with lots of these attributes and even after 10+ years I don’t always have a good handle on interacting. I’m getting better at drawing my own boundaries though. Starting out in this submissive framework, I saw myself as the go-to person who should be supporting my husband by getting these things done – fulfilling all his dreams. It’s taken me a long time to come out of that and accept the dreams but leave them to him if he actually does anything about them. I do put my foot down sometimes after one too many time of me thinking “he’s only sharing dreams” turning out to be “oh no, now we have this thing half way done that he’s already lost interest in”. It’s been a fine balance being open to the sharing but also knowing when to say “I’m not ok with this being more than a dream”. And he’s had to get used to me being specific sometimes “you need to clarify now if you’re serious so we can talk about this or if this is just dreaming” because I’m not always good at guessing the difference.

  • http://shinybutter.com Coco

    I’ve been enjoying this series of posts and yes, I too am surprised that this one comes close to home. And yes, her advice can be kind, though of course she’s overlooking the fact that her advice on how to relate to Mr. Visionary can be useful in many scenarios involving visionary types, not just marriage. Bless her heart that she just refuses to recognize a marriage as an equal partnership and women as full people, rather than second-tier.

    My dad was this type of man, which, combined with other issues, did not make for a lasting relationship with my mom. Now, lo these years later, I realize that both I and my 20 year-old son are the visionary type; so much like my dad. My marriage of 17 years was indeed affected by it and my now-partnership of 10 years has also been mightily affected. My partner has such a hard time with how “impractical” and “all over the place” that I am. It’s been stressful, but our devotion to one another continues to weather the stress. Thankfully. Of course, she doesn’t understand when I try to explain that her practicality can be such a drag for me.

    I appreciate the exploration of this Mr. Visionary as I help my son prepare for his future. He’s always been a different one and I’ve been mindful of his uniqueness all along. I tend to nurture his visionary side, where as his dad tends to battle it, partly because it frustrates him and partly because it reminds him of what frustrated him about me. I try pretty hard to ensure that my son is confident and positive. I’ve seen many visionaries finally cave in to mental stress and/or anger from so much rejection and pressure to conform.

    I suppose that one day when my son brings home a mate that he intends to keep, I may want to give that person a bit of a heads up on attitude and strategy. Indeed, as you point out, it would be helpful to know early on instead of having to figure it out the long and hard way.

  • beguine

    This actually makes me really sad. Despite the tendency to obsessively box things, there’s some insight here. The last section did a lot to explain where the bitter, seething poison that drips from most of the text comes from. Once you realized that she’s married to an incredibly controlling, manipulative, and, frankly, evil abusive man it becomes easier to see the ridiculous focus on ritualistic subservience is a survival mechanism, and to understand how all the sublimated anger and pain that she won’t allow herself to acknowledge her husband causes her gets re-directed towards the overweight hardware clerk and pretty much every other man or woman that has the misfortune to cross Debbi’s path. But this section gives you a glimpse of the rather insightful woman that might have been if she hadn’t been systematically destroyed by an abuser she didn’t think she had any way to leave.

  • alr

    Don’t rule out railroad work like it is silly or nonexistent, Libby. My brother works for the railroad. He is, in fact, sometimes an engineer having completed that training. He makes over $60 an hour when he does that job and good money on every other job as well. And the retirement and health care benefits are really good. He makes more than I ever will and I have twice as much education.

    • Sean


  • ecolt

    In addition to how gendered her views are my biggest problem with Debi’s ideas here is that the whole point is telling the wife how she should be. This isn’t for an as-yet unmarried woman who might want to find out which type of man would be the best fit for her personality and interests; this is for a woman who is already married and, now that she knows her husband beyond what courtship culture allows for, is expected to change her own personality to compliment his (or, more accurately, is expected to not have a personality to begin with). She is expected to be a blank slate at marriage, able to fit herself into whatever role her husband needs her to be. A wife is allowed no personality of her own, just a mirror of what suits her husband’s needs.

    The kind of marriage Debi expects from people would never work for my partner and I (and not only because we’re atheists). First of all, I’m way too opinionated and stubborn to bend so easily to his will. But also, my partner is bipolar – over the course of a week he could probably span all three of Debi’s neat little labels and still find ways of going outside her boxes. To even attempt to be the perfect wife to compliment him all the time would probably make me have a nervous breakdown. We don’t compliment each other perfectly – we have arguments, we compromise and on some things we just agree to disagree. But neither of us would ever expect the other to force their whole personality into some complimentary traits just to make life smoother. My partner met an occasionally high-strung, opinionated, over-emotional, PMS-prone mess of a woman, and I fell in love with a changeable, hot-tempered, equally opinionated, hard-headed man. For either one of us to completely change our personalities to compliment the other would doom our relationship because we wouldn’t be the same people we fell for in the first place. That’s what Debi is missing – that marriage should be based on love for one another as is, not just expediency in finding someone of similar beliefs to procreate with.

  • Monika

    I really wonder what would have happened to Debi if she had married a man like Sean. Not meaning a visionary man but any decent kind person. I think that path would have been better for the whole world and I doubt she would have written this twisted advice.

  • Judy L.

    Libby: Does she ever mention in her book how a wife is supposed to determine which type her husband is? Is there a checklist survey in the appendices? Is it the husband’s job to read one of Michael Pearl’s books to determine what type he is and inform his wife so she can make the appropriate adjustments to her personality and comportment? And does Debi ever say why she believes (other than the convenient analogy to the Trinity) that there are indeed 3 types of men, given that she’s only ever been involved with one? How can she possibly know how different husbands behave when she’s been married to the same abusive, tyrannical sociopath her entire adult life?

  • Generally Speaking

    “it’s not that Sean is against doing his part, it’s just that he doesn’t notice when it needs doing.”

    I’ve been having this argument for a long time about my partner. Messes aren’t meaningful to him. He’s okay if the bed is unmade, if his clothes are strewn everywhere, if there is a sink full of dirty dishes. I’m convinced he doesn’t see it as I do. It bothers me when other women express shock that I happily take on all the housework, despite both of us having full-time jobs (he works vastly longer hours). I do it because it’s a big deal to *me.* *I* care about it. Not to mention I actually find it a little relaxing and meditative, and feel good with little accomplishments like washing the dishes or taking out the trash. Whether I am living with him or were I alone, I would be doing the same chores, minus an extra load of laundry or a second cereal bowl and spoon. If I ask him to do something, he will do it without hesitation and without it ever escalating to nagging.

    Are we any less partners than those couples who divvy up housework evenly? Am I really violating some sacred tenet of feminism that says I shouldn’t do all the housework?

    (We don’t have children, but I realize that changes things dramatically, particularly for a dual-income family.)

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

    This post made me smile; I have a Mr Visionary too. Although, the more I think about it, the more I realise I’m a bit of a Visionary myself. But of course with Debi Pearl you’re never smiling for long…

    She really does seem to think only men have personalities, and the job of a wife is to figure out how to deal with her husband’s personality. The constant harping on about how the husband will leave if the wife fails to be a perfect slave is pretty telling, too. I think this is how Debi’s husband blackmails her into doing whatever he wants, and I think she is desperately afraid he will leave her. I almost feel sorry for her.

  • Whit Johnstone

    I think Debbie would call me a Mr. Visionary. I think that part of why she gets “Mr. Visionary” generally right is that “Mr. Visionary” is a pretty good portrait of an adult with ADHD. So we’re genuinely biologically hard-wired to act in a certain way, not because all men can be shoehorned into a “type” but because Debbie has mistaken a mental disorder that forces some people to act in a certain way for a “type” of person.