CTBHHM: Only Ever Think Good

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 128-132

In this section Debi goes into more depth about just what “reverencing” one’s husband actually looks like in practice. Her focus in this section is on thought patterns—basically, she argues that women should brainwash themselves into only ever thinking good of their husbands. Debi starts by outlining what she argues is a common problem for her intended audience:

In our own strength, we women tend to have minds like old LP records that are scratched. We take our husband’s faults and replay them in our thoughts over and over again, “he’s insensitive . . . he’s insensitive . . . he’s insensitive . . . he’s insensitive . . . ” We get worked up over the smallest offense until our agitation sours into bitterness. He will forget to feed the dog three days in a row. We will look at the empty dog bowl and attribute all kinds of evil motives to him. He will leave us waiting in the car for an extra ten minutes, and we convince ourselves that his lack of consideration is just the top of the cold iceberg of his heart. Since we are “Christian” ladies, and the kids are watching, we don’t rant and rave; we just give him the stone-cold, silent treatment. He must know how much he hurts us, and the best way to retaliate is to hurt him back by depriving him of what he wants most—respect, honor, and love. We know that this will get his attention, and he will eventually have to come humbly asking what is wrong. By then, our miserable countenance should have softened him up for a good case of repentance. Boy, will we make him sorry! But we fully expect that he will try to make up for the birthday he forgot by buying the same kind of candy we told him we hate, and then we hate him all the more for not remembering that we hate that kind of candy. Practice. We are always practicing those thoughts.

The interesting thing is, I’ve seen this happen. A woman will be annoyed with her husband about something he is doing or not doing, and will think negative thoughts and expect the worst of him, and it becomes a cycle. The thing is, when I’ve seen it happen in evangelical and fundamentalist circles it’s often fueled by the fact that women don’t feel that they can talk to their husbands about what’s bothering them. Instead of having it out and talking with their husbands, they let these annoyances fester, and it just gets worse. The cure I recommend is straightforward and honest communication, compromise, and cooperation. But that’s not Debi’s cure.

Remember the 40,000 thoughts a day? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. How many thousands of negative thoughts are you thinking in the course of three or four hours? It is your duty before God to think differently. God tells you how to think. When the emotions will not freely allow us to think what we ought, our will can command our muscles to actions and the thoughts will follow. “Commit they works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Prov. 16:3).

And here I think I have to use an example from my own life.

My husband, Sean, enjoys gaming. I, in contrast, had always seen gaming as a complete and total waste of time. After Sally arrived, I would become royally annoyed when he would game in the evening instead of helping me care for her, or when he would game even though the house was a wreck and the dishes needed doing. For a while, I let that build up, and there ended up being quite a mess of negative thoughts. Finally, though, I simply talked with him about it. I told him my frustrations, and he explained his side of things—that gaming was, for him, a way to relax and blow off steam, especially after a trying day at work. I hadn’t realized that. After talking, we came to a compromise. He committed to not gaming until Sally was in bed, and for my part I gave up seeing gaming as only ever a complete and total waste of time. I became more understanding, and he was willing to listen to me if I was frustrated and to take a break from gaming if things needed doing.

If I had followed Debi’s advice, I wouldn’t have said anything to Sean about my frustrations and would have bottled them up and covered them with attempts to force myself to think highly of Sean. Sean would never have known that his gaming was frustrating me, or that he could help the situation by not gaming while Sally was still up, etc.—he would never have known because I would not have told him. For my part, I would never have known that gaming was for him a way of blowing off steam—-I would never have known because he would never have had the opportunity to tell me that. Might I have gotten over my frustration at Sean’s gaming by shear force of will, even without discussing it with him and finding a mutually agreed upon compromise? Perhaps, but I would have done so by essentially brainwashing myself into thinking that something that bothered me didn’t actually bother me.

Debi has a weird way of saying something that is absolutely correct, and then turning around and saying something that is utterly destructive. She does this not just here but throughout this passage.

This part is good:

A good marriage is good because one or both of them have learned to overlook the other’s faults, to love the other as he or she is and to not attempt to change the other or bring him or her to repentance.

It is absolutely true that if you go into a marriage thinking you’re going to “fix” the other partner, you’re in for trouble. Being willing to overlook your partner’s faults and shortcomings—i.e. not expecting your partner to be perfect—is indeed an important part of a good marriage.

This part is problematic:

A bad marriage is not one that contains more faults between the two of them; it is a marriage where one or both of them gets worked up over issues that good marriage partners let slide and cover up with love and forgiveness.

Who decides exactly decides which issues are issues that someone should let slide? In the previous section Debi told the story of Judy, a woman who let her husband’s constant adultery slide because she believed she was ordered by God to reverence her husband. If that is something that “good marriage partners” let slide, well, that Debi has a totally different idea of what constitutes a “good” marriage.

This part is absolutely destructive:

Eve, today, has many sisters. We still doubt the one in authority over us and imagine that he does not intend good for us. Like Eve, we imagine that we can disobey the authority of God’s Word and of our husband’s word . . .”

Do you see the elision there between God and husband? I’m not even sure which she is referring to in her second sentence! We “doubt the one in authority over us” meaning God, or husband? The fact that I’m unsure speaks volumes!

Where men struggle with fleshly imaginations, we women give ourselves over to emotional imaginations and create a world of hurt for ourselves and those around us . . . We have been tricked into believing that our husbands have committed offenses against us . . . . It is time to get yourself under God-ordained authority. Believe God, believe the best of your husband, your neighbors, your church, your family, etc., and get on with the blessings and joy of life and marriage.

There is so much gaslighting in this sentence.

After this, Debi turns back to Judy, the letter writer who decided to reverence her cheating husband even though he did not deserve it. She stopped being constantly angry and negative toward her husband and instead began teaching her young son to see his father as the best dad in the world. Here is what Debi adds:

In the letter above, Judy got over her “Mad Wife” disease before her son became infected with it.

Mad wife disease . . . it’s like mad cow disease, get it? Ha! Ha! Nope. Not funny.

The little boy honors his dad because his mother honors him. Someday that little boy will be a man. As he grows up, he will discover that his dad has faults, and he will forgive them as his mother has done. When he is grown and can see the whole picture, he will know that his mom is one of the finest ladies on the earth. He will rise up and call her blessed. Someday her husband may grow out of his foolish, lustful stupidity, and if he does, he too will treasure her. She will have earned his love and devotion, because she reverenced him when there was little in him to honor.

Or maybe her son will grow up to wonder why in the world his mother was such a doormat rather than standing up to his father, and to feel that his mother deceived him in teaching his father was a good man when he wasn’t. And perhaps her husband will grow up and stop cheating and then realize that what he would really like is a wife with a backbone. I’m just pointing out that there is more than one possible outcome here.

No one of us honestly thinks Judy’s husband deserved her reverence, or her love for that matter. He is a first-class worm and deserves to sleep alone in an alley under a cardboard box.

Apparently Debi is allowed to speak evil of men while their own wives are not.

And then there is this absolutely bizarre section:

In my lifetime, I have known of just two husbands who were able to reverse the course of an angry, resentful wife and make their marriage into something blessed. In all of Scripture, there is no promise to men that they can save their wife and marriage by conducting themselves in a certain prescribed manner. In contrast, the Bible holds a wonderful promise to women: they have the power to win their lost husbands both to themselves and to God.

I could have sworn that Debi said something just two pages ago . . . here, this:

A good marriage is good because one or both of them have learned to overlook the other’s faults, to love the other as he or she is and to not attempt to change the other or bring him or her to repentance.

Am I the only one seeing a contradiction here? Debi explains as follows:

The Bible tells us that a woman can win her husband without the Bible. In today’s churches, many women have failed to win their husbands because they have tried to be evangelists instead of wives.

“Likewise ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (I Peter 3:1).

A woman wins her husband, just as Judy is doing it, by the manner of her “conversation” or way of living before him. Later, we will discuss how to win your lost husband.

Sorry Debi, you don’t get a pass just because you’re saying women should convert their husbands with smiles and willing bodies rather than with Scripture. You’re seriously contradicting yourself here.

And then Debi steps back into the 1950s:

Men are not the uncaring creatures they sometimes appear to be. They highly treasure their families and like for their homes to be comfort zones. They want respect and a family that gives them security and purpose. Even though home life may get dull, men greatly value their own women and children.

Men may allow the lust of the flesh to pull theme away form that which they value, but they will try to get back to that comfort zone. It is this natural need for his own family that keeps a man caring for and bearing the responsibility for his wife and children. When a woman does not provide for her husband a comfortable nest and reverent attitude, she has to rely on his goodness to “keep him” faithful. She is a fool to expect him to be a good husband when she is not being the help meet God created her to be. A man coming home to a tense and messy home, lousy meals, and a wife who is critical, might not have the “goodness” to remain faithful if a sweet young woman at work seeks to pull him away with the promise (illusion) of a more fulfilling comfort zone.

You know what? I think I actually think more highly of men than Debi does.

Counselors agree that in almost all marriage conflicts, both husband and wife share the blame almost equally. A man’s guilt is usually easy to see. A woman’s guilt is less obvious but just as destructive and evil. God ordained a woman to be a help meet. She is to provide a haven of rest and satisfaction, and to be a delight to her husband. When she fails to obey God, there is often “hell to pay” at home. When she obeys God, even if she is married to a “lost” man, she will usually reap heavenly results.

Debi’s writing here is making me think of MRA insistence that male-on-female domestic violence is just as much the woman’s fault because why would a man lash out physically against his partner unless she provoked him? Indeed, domestic violence is likely what Debi is referring to when she says that a “man’s guilt” is generally easy to see—right before she plants the blame for it equally on the shoulders of its victims.

So, to sum up this section: Women are to stifle any negative thoughts of their husbands and let all of their husbands’ faults slide; realize that they have been “tricked” into thinking that their husbands have “committed offenses” against them when they haven’t; only ever think good of their husbands; and seek to win their husbands to God through submission and reverence rather than through word or argument. Oh, and men need their homes to be “comfort zones” complete with a delicious dinner on the table and a 1950s foot rub or else they’ll start looking lustily at their secretaries. Lovely. Debi finishes with a teaser for the next section:

The next story is about a young wife who also discovered how to win her man through reverence. 

Tune in next week for Debi’s domestic-violence-and-reverence combo.

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.

  • NeaDods

    Shorter Debi: “Michael thinks he’s god and convinced me our marriage is the pattern for everyone’s and in my lust for him and personal pride, I shall preach that message, for lo; I have contempt for everyone else in the world. Also, misery loves company, and for all my claims of happiness, I am utterly miserable.”

    (I find it telling that not only does Debi pour scorn on other men, but that in the quotes of the faithful on No Longer Quivering the Pearl kids were quoted saying their father thought that only he was truly bound for heaven and Debi was “maybe” saved. Religious mania and narcissism are an ugly, vicious mix.)

    • persephone

      As with the Botkin girls, what will Debi do when her god dies?

      • NeaDods

        Unlike the Botkin girls, though, Debi has actual life experience. She’ll roll right along, preening herself for having been the perfect wife and telling everyone how hard it was but it was totes worth it. She’ll still have the gospel of her one true savior Michael to spread.

      • persephone

        Ick ick ick

    • Melody Jones

      wait wait wait WAIT–WHAT did the Pearl Kids say!?!

      • NeaDods

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2013/06/quoting-quiverfull-influencing-free-choice/

        Check the first reply to the letter from Shoshanna (Pearl) Easling: “My parents NEVER gave me assurance of salvation. I remember when I
        “finally” knew I was saved. I came home and told Dad, “I got saved
        today.” He replied, “Well, we’ll know in about 6 months.” He always said
        that the only person he knew for sure that was saved was himself,
        although he thought Mom was too.”

      • Melody Jones

        That article made me cry. What the hell? No? None of that was okay? Pearls, what are you doing? Stop? Please? Before more people get hurt? Internalize misogyny isn’t cool? Preaching condemnation of those who do not follow your rules isn’t okay? Just.

        …..

        what?

      • NeaDods

        I just find it so incredibly telling that Michael actually preaches – to his own family yet! – that he and only he is assured of salvation.

        The sick part is that they don’t point and laugh.

      • Melody Jones

        They probably took it as “well only you can know if you are actually saved–no one else can make that distinction for you”, and shelved all of the comments about how the kind of life someone lives has a direct correlation to the state of their soul. They’re the Champions of Doublethink, after all….

      • Sally

        As much as I don’t like what the Pearl’s teach, I agree that he’s just saying each person is the only one who knows for sure if they’ve truly given their heart to God but that his wife is the one person he knows so well he’s pretty sure she really has. Not quite the same thing is that he’s the only one who has assurance he’s saved. He (Michael) just personally doesn’t give out that assurance. He wants it to come from God to the individual directly.

        Still, what a harsh guy.

  • persephone

    I think Debi could keep a squad of mental health professionals employed fulltime trying to help her work through her issues. She is the embodiment of cognitive dissonance.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wow. I guess I owe Debi a favour now.

    I’ve been having some jealousy issues RE some things that have been happening in Dear Boyfriend’s life, and I’d been telling myself to just try and forget it and focus on the good stuff, et cetera.

    And then I started reading this, where Debi was advocating exactly what I was doing.

    Thought-train smacking into a wall, much?

    Nope, there’s gotta be a better way to handle this than what SHE’S suggesting. Going to go think on that now.

  • Claire

    Every time I read one of these I can’t help but think if I believed this was way a marriage was meant to work – staying single like the botkin’s would sound like a good idea.

  • wanderer

    I know Michael insists vehemently that he’s never seen porn let alone touched another woman. But this section seems to open the door for the idea that Debi is giving a pass if a man is unfaithful (but he’ll feel bad later and want to come back to the comfort of his good food and adoring wife).
    Usually when Debi does something like that, it reads like there’s a personal experience she’s cryptically trying to talk about but can’t.

    • NeaDods

      I don’t think Michael has been unfaithful; he makes such an idol of touching No Woman Ever Except His Wife. However, I have zero doubt that he spends his time telling Debi that he *might* if she doesn’t toe the line. On the other hand, remember that Debi’s advice is also for a woman to not just re-seduce her husband but to confront the hussy who’s breaking up the happy home. Debi’s more than possessive enough to go ballistic on any woman she thinks is a threat. In fact, $5 says she has in real life.

  • Hilary

    As much as this is obviously bad for women, I feel sorry for the man in this marriage scenario too. If he starts out a more or less decent human being who wants to do right by his wife and family, he’s going to end up with a woman who is seethingly angry at him but won’t tell him why. Of course he’ll make mistakes, or do things that frustrate his wife, that’ just part of two humans living together. (I’m talking mistakes and misunderstanding; abuse is not a mistake.) but with no communication about what he did, odds are good that trying to guess and do something differently will still be wrong and frustrating to a wife who is constrained not to give honest feedback. How quickly will this lead to feeling angry that nothing he tries to do will be right, so why bother trying at all? I’ve been in this relationship feedback loop, it sucks and is hard to get out of, impossible without honest communication.

    • gimpi1

      This! Perhaps the cycle you describe is why Evangelical Christians tend to have higher divorce rates than other groups.

  • grindstone

    Another likely alternative outcome for family with cheating husband: son grows up to be a cheating husband. We relive our patterns, sometimes even when we don’t like them.

    I agree that marriage means sometimes you overlook faults, or come to see some faults as endearing quirks to work around when they’re small enough, but you have to communicate these things. Otherwise, one partner never grows and the other partner only grows old. Or you become so rutted into smiling and whistling and loving and revering that you just flat lose your cotton-picking mind. Anecdotal citation: grindstone, marriage #1.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    “Counselors agree that in almost all marriage conflicts, both husband and wife share the blame almost equally.”

    Ugh. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If my husband is sleeping around, it’s not my fault. If my husband is beating me or abusing me, it’s not my fault. It seems to be a common theme amongst evangelicals that if a man is abusive or unfaithful, it’s because the wife isn’t doing enough to make their home a happy one. And that’s not just unfeminist thinking, but outright creepy thinking. Women have the right to expect men to behave like civilized beings even if there are dustbunnies under the couch.

    • Angela

      I was thinking the same thing. Funny how Debi never backs these facts up with references to actual surveys or quotes.

    • Olive Markus

      Not just evangelicals. Every other form of Christianity promotes this type of thinking in various degrees, and I know that our society in general tends to see the woman as somehow at fault for anything that goes wrong in a relationship.

  • Mel

    “Counselors agree that in almost all marriage conflicts, both husband and wife share the blame almost equally. ”

    I believe that, but only because most marriage conflicts don’t involve infidelity or abuse. They are much more like what Libby Anne described: differing ideas or priorities.
    Another nearly universal truth is it takes two people to make a marriage work. Well, except in the Pearl universe. There, it takes one person working really hard and the other person being a sociopath/psychopath.

  • Jayn

    “How many thousands of negative thoughts are you thinking in the course of three or four hours?”

    I’m having a few negative thoughts right now, but not about my husband. Fortunately Deb–erm, God says nothing about reverencing random know-it-alls ;)

    Also, I think gaming is highly underrated by some people. It’s mainly a pastime, of course, but it can also teach skills that are helpful in the real world. Situational awareness, reading comprehension, puzzle solving, even teamwork and leadership skills are all things I’ve had to use in games. Compare that to say, reading…(don’t get me wrong, I love a good book, but I learned more about teamwork from WoW raiding than I have from books.)

    • Mira

      Gaming can be insanely stressful–and I still think I should be able to put “WoW raid leader” on my resume. Dealing with 24 internet crazies and getting them to show up at the same time and work together? I should be awarded a form of Peace Prize!
      Seriously though gaming is awesome. I met my boyfriend via WoW, actually…haha.

      • Jayn

        I met my husband that way :D Gaming couples FTW!

        And yeah, that should totally be resume material.

      • Hilary

        Then what should I put on my resume? The last time I played a game that required electricity and a screen was tetris, somewhere back in the mid nineties.

      • David Kopp

        It seems you’re proud of that for some reason? Gaming is a hobby, with some skills transferable to the professional or real world sometimes. Just as constructing models teaches you fabrication techniques, coordinating 25-person teams in a game can teach you important management techniques, FPS games can impart important situational awareness, reaction and organizational skills. I’m not saying gaming should be a substitute for real life, but it does provide experiences no other media or pastime can.

      • Hilary

        Sorry, I should have ended with: /friendly self-directed snark.

        I just can’t get into that world, or mindset. I don’t deny that it’s a positive thing for others, provided of course that it doesn’t take over to the point of seriously neglecting real life duties. But the same can be said of any hobby. Then again, I don’t like flashing lights and a lot of flickering motion on screens, or having the TV on for background noise. If I was single I probably wouldn’t have any TV service, just a screen to occasionally watch movies.

        I’ve never tried complex computer based gaming because I could never get past the first board of Super Mario back in the 80′s, and every time I’ve watched other people play it, I get visually over stimulated pretty fast and have to look away. Oh well, each to their own.

      • Jayn

        I don’t deny that it’s a positive thing for others, provided of course that it doesn’t take over to the point of seriously neglecting real life duties. But the same can be said of any hobby.

        Which was more or less my point. Some hobbies tend to get singled out as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for, what seems to me like, fairly arbitrary reasons, but any of them have something to potentially teach us that’s useful outside of the context of the hobby. Reading has helped me with spelling and grammar, knitting can use math skills (and sometimes reading and spatial skills to figure out a pattern that’s not well written), and I’ve been over gaming. But depending on who you talk to, one or more of those might be dismissed as being ‘worthless’ and seen as having nothing of value to offer.

        I have nothing against people who don’t game, I’m just tired of seeing it maligned when, as an interactive medium, it can actually be quite valuable.

      • Hilary

        Fair enough.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Gaming has been therapeutic in many ways.

        It’s improved my manual dexterity and my hand-eye coordination. It took me a long time to be able to use the controller without a) looking to see what I’m pushing (and thus completely mucking up gameplay); and b) moving the whole thing around (jerking hands up when pushing buttons).

        Skyrim is my current go-to game, mostly for the “scenery porn“. (Nothing dirty, just… holy crap, that is some beautifully detailed scenery.)

      • Lucreza Borgia

        On my second game and playing a level 52 Khajit, FTW

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        I can’t bring myself to play any other race.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        I’m thinking of starting over again and doing a Khajit with light armor and archery skills on top of using a warhammer. My husband started a game with a Khajit and named it “Puss’eh Gah’lore”

      • Alexis

        My preference is High Elf. I love the +50 magicka bonus. Skyrim is a beautiful game, indeed.

      • ako

        The whole “better” or “worse” thing is really annoying and makes it hard to talk honestly and reasonably at all. If the hobby is seen as good, people tend to feel bad for not being interested, and have irrational “I am wrong for not wanting to do that!” feelings. (I’ve taken up painting, and I hear that a lot.) If the hobby is seen as bad, it gets turned into a horrible unjustifiable time-suck. Then defend the hobby, and it can easily turn into many people thinking they’re now obligated to like it, because something that builds useful skills must be obligatory. Which is ridiculous, because no one can do all of the useful and interesting hobbies, so may as well do the stuff that’s actually fun and not worry about it.

        (That’s my long-winded way of expressing agreement.)

      • Leigha7

        For what it’s worth, modern video games are easier than classic ones. Older games had limited lives, no saves, and could often be quite challenging. Most games now have infinite lives and allow you to save whenever you like (though a few still use save points, which is usually a deliberate choice by the designers to make it more difficult or to keep players from saving at times that would actually be detrimental).

        Also, I know it’s a reasonable sentiment from a non-gamer, but saying “I just can’t get into that world” makes as little sense for games as it does as a reason to not read. There is no “that world,” there’s hundreds of totally different ones.

        But getting visually overstimulated and/or not being comfortable with screen flickering is a very good reason not to play video games (not that simply not wanting to isn’t, but I’ve gotten so tired of hearing “I don’t read because reading is boring” that I’m generally uncomfortable with broad rejections of an entire medium). It’s not a very good hobby for you if it makes you physically uncomfortable.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        In some ways, they are easier, but damn — it’s still nerve-wracking to have a dragon just swoop down and land almost on top of you. (Skyrim)

      • Mogg

        Tetris is very good for increasing spatial reasoning, and according to the wiki page playing Tetris for half an hour a day over three months can give your general cognitive ability a boost and stimulate thickening of the cerebral cortex. Plus, there are experiments which indicate it can be used to reduce PTSD, by blocking the formation of potentially traumatic memories. Tetris is nothing to be ashamed of ;-)

      • Monimonika

        Mogg: “playing Tetris for half an hour a day over three months can give your
        general cognitive ability a boost and stimulate thickening of the
        cerebral cortex.”

        *looks at Candy Crush Saga on tablet* Hmmm… I think I can now justify my recent obsession…

      • Trollface McGee

        I play an MMO and there are a lot of couples that play. Some met outside the game and some met in the game. Either way it’s pretty nice.

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

        That should definitely be resume material!

        Though I also did it back in the days of 40 people *shudder*. Herding cats would have been easier. So many egos!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        And that’s why I game solo, forming temporary alliances as needed.

      • Stev84

        It can be crazy enough with just 10 people spread over 3 or 4 different time zones. I tried to set it up somewhat democratically with everyone having a say. But at the end of the day someone still has to decide and organize things.

    • Alice

      There are also online games where couples, families, or roommates can compete with each other to complete household chores in the real world. Jane McGonigal’s book discusses how games have the potential to make a positive difference in a variety of real-world problems. http://www.amazon.com/Reality-Is-Broken-Better-Change/dp/0143120611/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2

  • ZeldasCrown

    Every now and then Debi stumbles onto a truth and then tells her readers to handle it all wrong. Yes, people do get worked up in their thoughts, bottle things up rather than talking about them, and can get sucked into a repeating loop where they get angrier and angrier at the other person, who consequently has no idea what’s going on. However, this isn’t just a wife about her husband thing-it’s something that occurs between people in various different types of relationships-romantic ones, friendly ones, ones between family members, coworkers, etc, and isn’t limited to a specific gender. It’s a pretty natural thing to do, and is something that many people could work on.

    Personally, I think it’s a matter of picking your battles. The gaming is a perfect example of this-clearly there was plenty of middle ground, and a solution that worked for everyone could be found. As a counter example, if there’s a person whose laugh is very annoying, and has gotten someone into the sort of thinking loop described here-I’m not sure that there’s that much they can do about it. “You can only laugh at half of the jokes that come up while we’re together” isn’t really a viable compromise. It’s being able to tell the difference between a personality fault that is overlook-able, and a behavior for which a middle ground can be reached.

    • Composer 99

      As a counter example, if there’s a person whose laugh is very annoying, and has gotten someone into the sort of thinking loop described here-I’m not sure that there’s that much they can do about it.

      Indeed, I would go further and note that the way someone laughs, however annoying I might find it, isn’t a personality fault at all, so I darn well better “overlook” it (so to speak).

      • grindstone

        From my experience, this is where you find the counter-balance. We had a coworker who had a very annoying, loud laugh. She was good at what she did, the customer liked her and she was very quick at tasks. We dubbed her the departmental “amenity”, as she could always cheer you up. We turned that laugh into a strength, after weeks of gritting our teeth and complaining about it. How we perceived her changed. It can be done, but this is a tiny personality quirk, and NOT a husband wanting to start a dairy farm. (No, I haven’t gotten over that story yet.)

      • ZeldasCrown

        Perhaps “personality fault” wasn’t the best wording (and I also wouldn’t classify somebody’s laugh exactly in that way), but I was essentially thinking of things that aren’t changeable or aren’t behaviorally based. Behaviors are something that can be addressed; as one moves farther and farther away from behaviors, the requests one can make in the name of compromise get less and less reasonable.

        Part of all of this is being able to recognize when there is something about a person that is so toxic (such as someone who is abusive, or manipulative, or just plain mean) that there isn’t even a point to “choosing your battles” with them-it’s better to find a way to limit or cut out completely your contact with this person. This can be quite difficult-particularly if the other person is a spouse or family member.

      • Composer 99

        I concur.

    • Semipermeable

      It also bothers me that she seems to think that only women do this. From what I can tell people in general do this, especially when they feel like they don’t have the power or ability to communicate their real frustrations.

      Man can give the silent treatment just as well as women can, tust me. >_>

      • Christine

        Ah, but as far as Debi is concerned it’s only a problem if women do it. Men have every right to be disappointed in their wives, if their wives aren’t catering to their every whim, and it’s not their job to say what’s wrong, she should have known in the first place.

      • Semipermeable

        Very true. All of this makes me very thankful for my very moderate and egalitarian upbringing.

  • Composer 99

    And of course, Debi has to turn the knife by adding in “When she obeys God, even if she is married to a “lost” man, she will usually reap heavenly results.”

    Yes, of course, what a marvelous idea getting people to try to stick it out with abusive, or manipulative, or serially adulterous husbands. (*)

    (*) I say serially as I have seen marriages survive single episodes of infidelity, even prolonged ones, and indeed apparently come out stronger than ever. (Of course, whether or not sticking it out with a spouse is a good idea in such a case depends on the circumstances.)

    • Leigha7

      I’ve seen the same as well, in my own family (not my immediate family). I also saw firsthand how remorseful he was, because he stayed at our house for a couple months while she was deciding whether to stay with him or not. He had always been upbeat and joked around a lot, but during that time he looked like he had lost everything, he was quiet and subdued, and there was so much sadness in his eyes.

      It shook my view of the situation quite a bit. If someone says they’ll never stay with a partner who cheats, that’s perfectly fine, but I’m a bit uncomfortable with people saying no one should ever do it and that anyone who does is an idiot (which I’ve heard a lot). And I also don’t agree with the idea that no one who cheats could ever truly feel remorse for it and will always, inevitably, cheat again (though I disagreed with that before, based on the fact that not everyone is the same and of course people can regret things).

  • BobaFuct

    “Or maybe her son will grow up to wonder why in the world his mother was such a doormat rather than standing up to his father”

    This pretty much sums up how my sister and I think of our mom now that we’ve grown up. It probably could’ve been worse though…my mom is pretty independent, so you could tell there was always this internal conflict between the part of her that wanted to assert her independence and the part that thought she needed to be the submissive wife. Ultimately, the doormat part of her brain was the strongest, and my mom caved most of the time. It kinda makes me angry, since she could’ve done a lot more with her life, but she never really stood up to my dad, who basically expected her to have the kids taken care of and dinner on the table when he walked in the door, even though she would’ve liked to have gotten a degree and other things.

    • onamission5

      It pretty much sums up how my spouse feels about his own mom, too. The proudest day of his life was the day his mom finally threw his dad’s belongings into the driveway. That was a couple decades ago and he still talks about how different his life could have been if his dad (and his dad’s issues) had not always been the dominant household presence that they were.

      • Gillianren

        A couple of months ago, a friend posted with great delight about how his mom had finally kicked out his dad; he hadn’t spoken to his father in years, in part because of how his dad treated his mom.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    “Or maybe her son will grow up to wonder why in the world his mother was
    such a doormat rather than standing up to his father, and to feel that
    his mother deceived him in teaching his father was a good man when he
    wasn’t.”

    Or worse, maybe her son will internalize the idea that he too can be a lousy husband and still feel entitled to a devoted and loving wife who never criticizes him.

    • Trollface McGee

      Yes. This so much. Our adult relationships are very strongly affected by the relationships we grow up with. These kinds of relationships are horrible examples to their sons and their daughters. (Not that the rest of their parenting advice is any better, unfortunately)

  • ArachneS

    Ha! Its funny that gaming caused pretty much the same conflict between my husband and I, although we worked it out a bit differently.
    Basically, we are both gamers now, and he has an evening to play the games that just he plays and I have an evening to play games that just I play, and other evenings we play games together or watch movies together. That’s after the kids go to bed of course.

    • NeaDods

      What a wonderful, healthy solution!

  • eamonknight

    The cure I recommend is straightforward and honest communication, compromise, and cooperation. But that’s not Debi’s cure.

    Debi’s advice is regularly the opposite of that given in every marriage and general “How To Be A Grownup And Get Along With Other Grownups” book, seminar and video I’ve ever seen.

    Including all the Christian ones, back in the day.

    • NeaDods

      Ah, but the money won’t keep rolling in if the Pearls and Botkins and Gothard actually *help* people instead of convince them that they’ll reach an impossible standard after paying for one more book, one more conference…

      I’m reminded of scientology. Nobody really can go “clear” to heaven, just go further into debt trying to reach an ideal.

  • Mira

    Look up “MRA” in the urban dictionary. Even the internet thinks that those guys are complete losers! It’s hysterical to read.

    I do hate this kind of stuff, though. Struggling with massive insecurities given to me by our wonderful series of religions that I have since abandoned ruined most of my relationships. It still provides a lot of tension in the long-term (permanent) relationship I have now. I find that religion does nothing to help marriages or committment–if anything, it poisons them, especially if the woman is remotely independent-minded.
    Blech.

  • Semipermeable

    “Debi has a weird way of saying something that is absolutely correct, and then turning around and saying something that is utterly destructive. She does this not just here but throughout this passage.”

    Yes, it seems like Debi is capable of observing problems shared in many marriages, but she does not come up with healthy answers. I don’t think it takes a great about of genius to observe marital problems shared by many couples, and it takes even less to blame them all on the wife.

    In the example with the cheating spouse, the dream of the son coming up to appreciate his mother and forgive his father with the father changing his behavior to become loyal and give her love because she has ‘deserved it’ seems to be pure fantasy. I was just waiting for the description of the magical unicorn that arrives to bask in her wifely devotion.

    At best the son may wish his mother had stood up for herself and forgive both of them if he feels that it was earned, at worst he may grow up with the expectation that he too can cheat on his wife/girlfriends and they will passively take it, love him anyway and still have dinner in the oven when he gets home.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    So many things to say. Where to start?

    First, I don’t recall any scripture verses anywhere that would even remotely “promise” what Debi is suggesting…that a wife who fails to “be a helpmeet” will automatically result in her husband’s eye wandering. Sorry, men, the Bible does not give you a pass on that one.

    Second, I don’t think Debi has actually met any children from families where the mother tolerated chronic unfaithfulness. I have. These children either grew up to cheat on their own spouses, or they grew up hating their dad.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      All the focus on winning back a philandering husband by creating a “comfort zone” makes me wonder if Michael was ever unfaithful to her.

  • Trollface McGee

    I remember a very squicky televangelist saying basically if a woman doesn’t submit, she shouldn’t expect her husband to love her or her kids to be well behaved (what made it really horrible was it that it was a “Mother’s Day” message). It’s convenient. As long as there’s the spectre of feminism and women aren’t being submissive enough you never have to confront the problems with an ideology that has to explain to men that they have to love their wives (seriously?) and makes it look easier for a snake and mouse to communicate than a man and a woman.

    And no, ignoring faults is terrible advice.

    For me, at least, when I start focusing too much on a partner’s faults – it’s a big red flag that the relationship is in trouble and it’s either time to work on the larger problems or break up. Pretending to smile and be thankful that I’m not living in a duplex would make me resentful as hell and the whole thing would explode in a completely preventable mess.

    And of course, there are some faults that we shouldn’t ignore. Even if the fault-bearer has a penis. Things like abuse, adultery, criminal activity should definitely not be ignored. I just think about those cases of monstrous men who kept women as prisoners or were serial killers and how they were married to wives who didn’t want to know anything or just ignored it – basically taking Debi’s advice.

  • busterggi

    Godfrey Daniels! Debbie must think all men are like Anthony from ‘Its a Good Life’ – life must be pure hell for her.

  • Monala

    About what the son would think of the mother who puts up with an adulterous husband: I recall the 1990s movie, Something to Talk About, starring Julia Roberts as a young Southern belle who had spent her life watching her mother submissively put up with her adulterous father, played by Robert Duvall. When Roberts discovers that her own husband, played by Dennis Quaid, is cheating, she decides she won’t put up with it, which, in their small town, makes their marriage problems very public very quickly.

    Her mother pulls her aside and tells her that her behavior is shameful, that she should be more like her (the mother), graciously accepting that men run around. “I set an example that you and your sister could be proud of,” she tells her.

    “But we weren’t proud of you, Mom,” Roberts protests. “We hated the fact that he was hurting you and you just took it.”

    That conversation is a wake-up call for her mother, who realizes that following the mores of her patriarchal culture had harmed her children. She puts her own husband out that night, making both Quaid and Duvall’s characters realize that they’re going to have to change to save their marriages.

    • Sally

      Monala said: “… making both Quaid and Duvall’s characters realize that they’re going to have to change to save their marriages.”

      I agree. Men are human, and humans sometimes need consequences to get their attention and change their behavior.
      As a human myself, I don’t want to be protected from the consequences of my behavior. I’m not perfect, so I need honest feedback.

  • Ryan Hite

    That is a great outlook on life. You have to look past the faults to see what really matters

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Boring troll is boring.

      • Ryan Hite

        That was not called for. Maybe if you read what I wrote, then you’ll understand that this is exactly what I support also.

      • NeaDods

        As what you wrote has no rebuttal, facts, or even discussion, it’s hard to understand what it is you’re supporting even after we’ve read it.

      • Ryan Hite

        All I was doing was telling the author that it was a good article and I was showing my support. I have plenty of discussions on other blogs and through other channels with sometimes prominent figures. I do however see some flaws in the way this blog is approached. While I agree with the general premise of it, there are some relationships that just do not work that way. Every pairing of person is unique and the synthesis between them is unique among the couple. I do agree with a broader understanding that you have to know who your partner is before committing to it.

    • Rilian Sharp

      What’s great? What debi pearl says?

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    Judy’s son may not be oblivious to his dad’s unfaithfulness. He may grow up thinking you can get away with cheating without consequences, maybe even thinking it doesn’t bother the woman all that much.

    How the hell does Debi think turning into a perfect Stepford smiler will make a bad man regret the wrongs he’s done??? He won’t think “She’s so wonderful now, she really deserves better”. She deserved better right from the start. He’ll instead think “Wow! When I hurt her, she treats me even better! I can have my mistress and my wife giving me foot rubs too! Sweet!”

  • Mary

    Oh my gosh. Maybe Debbie ripped that verse out, but my bible explicitly says that a husband can win his wife by conversation, as well as the reverse. It’s frickin’ mutual. Debbie- if you’re going to quote scripture, ge it right.

    • Mary

      er…. get it right…..

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Two links for you relating to stuff you said here, but not exactly stuff abotu Debbi:

    I used to be a gamer widow as well. About a year ago, I decided to try to get into console gaming and now our fights are about who gets to game when. This blog illustrates much of what I used to go through: http://www.mypenwritesred.com/notawowwidow/

    As to MRE’s feeling that some women take the blame for violence, I present Patrick Stewart:http://www.avclub.com/articles/sir-patrick-stewart-speaks-out-against-domestic-vi,98476/

    • Olive Markus

      That made me cry! So amazing.

  • wanderer

    I feel insulted by the assumption Debi makes that women sit around and think negative thoughts all the time. How many negative thoughts have I had in the last 3-4 hours? Well, none about myself or anyone I love. A few about Debi. That’s it.

    • Sally

      Right. Whose thoughts could Debi know about other than her own? She probably knows women who speak negatively often, but to know the kind of internal scenario she describes, she either has to be talking about her own thoughts or be a mind-reader. And yet she can’t see that she has created the negative thinking environment by never being able to speak her mind honestly- ever. It’s been said before- maybe she had to create this way of being in order to survive her own marriage, but why pass it on to others?!

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        I really feel sometime Debi’s giving us a (not very flattering) look inside of her marriage.

        Won’t take out the trash, won’t feed the dogs, thinks negative thoughts about him all the time….

  • TLC

    Since I just discovered this blog a couple of weeks ago, I spent last weekend catching up on this series. I am overwhelmed with creepiness — Scripture isn’t just twisted, it’s mangled into an unrecognizable heap of scrap metal! The “perfect marriage” Debi writes about is perfect only in Hell!

    At one point I stopped to find a photo of the Pearls, expecting to find a perfectly coiffed Ken-and-Barbie set beaming at me. Instead, I discovered that Michael Pearl is the 2012 world champion tomahawk thrower, and is also a champion knife thrower: http://nogreaterjoy.org/2012/11/04/michael-pearl-2012-world-champion-tomahawk-thrower/

    No wonder she obeys him so perfectly!

    Libby Anne, I commend your courage for speaking out and pointing out how very wrong this couple is, and your persistence for being able to get through this book.

    As for today’s entry: Teaching your children to ignore adultery, addiction, abuse or any other major problem is NOT the way to raise a family! Your children will have NO respect for either parent, and they won’t have any kind of healthy example to follow for their own marriages.

    • Mogg

      Yes, the tomahawk and knife throwing certainly creeped me out when I found out about it.

      I would have thought that teaching a little boy that his philandering, wife-disrespecting father is, like, totally the best dad EVAR! is likely to produce another philandering man who disrespects his future partner. That’s just me, though.

  • ako

    This is incredibly Debi. Some women feel that being Good Christian Wives means they can’t talk honestly about what’s bothering them, and that leads to brooding, passive-aggressive silent treatments, and unhappiness.

    Debi’s solution? Tell them that being Good Christian Wives means they can’t even think honestly about what’s bothering them! After all, if not being able to say “I don’t like it when you keep forgetting to do a chore you agreed to do” backfires into festering resentment, surely nothing can possibly go wrong if you tell someone they’re morally obligated to stifle the mere thought!

  • Hat Stealer

    The thing that struck me about this the most was the remark about the dog. Really? Debbi thinks that the wife is out of hand if she notices that the husband hasn’t fed the dog for three fucking days?? What if the husband wasn’t feeding the children? Or hadn’t been to work in three days? Is the wife out of hand if she notices that?

    Jesus Christ these people are messed up.

    • Sally

      I know. The wife is really the mother. She has to monitor her husband’s responsibilities and do anything he doesn’t do. So she’s not the kind of mother who teachers (or nags); she’s the kind of mother who cleans her children’s rooms and feeds their pets if they forget to do it. My grandma was that kind of *mother*. She just didn’t want any conflict.
      How many men really want a mother like that for a wife?

  • smrnda

    Does she realize that some people out there are not so insecure that they can’t handle criticism, or even just an honest statement that something they do bothers their partner?

    • Sally

      Exactly!

  • C11

    What’s really sad is that you say “even I am unsure!”, (as we all are) when Debi twists Scripture, and you are coming at this with a healthy marriage, a wise perspective, and an awareness of how crazy this book actually is. How dangerous then are Debi’s words to a young woman who is maybe not in a healthy marriage, seeking to be molded by this book’s “advice” and told by her peers that the Pearls should be trusted? Most of us don’t know what the heck Debi means half the time and it just illustrates how much we distrust her. But there have got to be numerous confusedwives out there trying to make sense of this nonsense and apply it to their marriages. My heart hurts for them!

  • Levedi

    I notice also that Debi can’t prove her point without SERIOUSLY twisting the words of Scripture from 1 Peter. For one thing, she’s emphasizing the use of the body to win a man’s soul – the old be a whore for Christ idea. Except that this passage is where the letter writer explicitly directs the women NOT to rely on outer beauty/enticement (braiding of hair, pearls, etc) to win converts. The “reverent and chaste behavior” referred to in the passage is arguably the reverence a woman directs toward God. (I don’t read Greek – can any one correct me on this?) Furthermore, there’s a vagueness in the English language that Debi is exploiting (or doesn’t get) – historically the church has carefully distinguished between the honor/glory/reverence that can be given to a human and the kind that can be given only to God. In English we don’t have a clear terminology distinction for this and so it’s easy to misread the passage in 1 Peter as teaching women to worship their husbands as if they were God.

  • Leigha7

    “Or maybe her son will grow up to wonder why in the world his mother was such a doormat rather than standing up to his father”

    My boyfriend’s first vivid memory is of coming home from school to find his mother throwing his father’s things out of the house (because of infidelity, though he’s not sure exactly when he learned about that part, and alcoholism). He’s said on more than one occasion that he has a tremendous amount of respect for her for this, and it’s probably a large part of why he is the decent, successful adult he is. The same goes for his siblings. I’d guess it’s part of why they’re so close-knit, as well.

    It’s also the reason I have zero fear of him ever cheating on me, because he is extremely, passionately against cheating after seeing how it affected his mother (and, of course, him and his siblings). On the off chance he ever did cheat on me, I’d be far more concerned about what that betrayal of his values would say than about the cheating itself.


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