CTBHHM: Talk To Your Husband about How You Feel? Ha!

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 147-148

This chapter starts out fairly tame by Debi’s standards . . . and then turns into a train reck before you have a chance to so much as blink. As a reminder, Debi is now going through the various character traits that Titus 2 instructs the older women to teach to the younger women. This installment begins Debi’s chapter titled “To Be Sober.”

A sober wife is one who faces the fact that she is no longer a freewheeling individual, with time to do as she pleases. She knows that marriage is a joyous, but also a grave responsibility. She cannot be flighty and frivolous. She makes a commitment to be the best wife, mother, and manager of the home that anyone could be. She becomes the acting CEO of a great enterprise of which her husband is the owner.

Yes . . . and no. Being married is indeed a serious endeavor, but it doesn’t mean you have to become all serious and matronly. One thing I’ve learned since being married is that in many ways marriage is what you want to make it. I think of the married couples I know, and each one is different. Some are carefree and “flighty” and unwilling to “settle down.” Others are much more serious and circumspect. Marriage is about forging a life with a partner, and just as each individual is different even so each married couple will have its own eccentricities. But then, communication and partnership aren’t things Debi is big on.

I also find Debi’s analogy here odd. It’s not something I haven’t heard before, but I’m still turning it over in my brain. I think the idea is that the CEO makes the day-to-day decisions while the owner sets the direction of the company. Even so, the wife runs the day-to-day workings of the household while the husband sets the vision and direction for the family. What I’m not sure is how the authority bit works in the corporate structure. Does the owner have the authority to micromanage the CEO? Does the CEO have to do whatever the owner says, on any company matter? I guess what I’m saying is that I think the spheres of the owner and the CEO are more carefully demarcated and that the CEO has more genuine authority than does the wife in Debi’s prescribed world. If anyone wants to shed light on how this works, do!

Her most basic responsibility is to make her husband’s home run smoothly.

Since when is it her husband’s home and not their home as a couple and a family?

She assumes the role of coordinator of all affairs. If the home doesn’t run in an orderly fashion, the marriage will not be joyous and fulfilling, and neither will child training. When a woman considers the needs, time schedule, and resources of her home, then she will be a more efficient help meet. This planning will eliminate tension and helps et a peaceful mood. It is the simple things in life that can break down a marriage and bring about a bitter divorce. But on the positive side, it is the simple planning of life’s activities that can bring health, prosperity, peace, and happiness to a sound marriage and produce gratifying family relationships. Men (and children) appreciate good meals, a clean house, and an atmosphere of peace—a refuge from the stress of life.

I’m not completely sure that the connection between an orderly home and a fulfilling marriage is quite as universal as Debi thinks it (if it was, no one on the show Hoarders would ever be married), but in general, I agree that having a schedule, keeping track of things, and planning ahead are good things—for husbands as well as for wives. Honestly, I agree with this section more than I do with just about anything else Debi has written. Do notice, of course, how gendered it is—it is the wife’s job, and not the husband’s job, to cook, clean, and keep track of daily household affairs. Still, this is what we’ve come to expect from Debi.

And now for the train wreck. It starts with a letter. Yay!

Dear Debi,

I was totally exhausted yesterday when my husband came home from work. The children were sick. I have a new baby, and she was coming down with a fever. He came in and never inquired how I felt or how my day was. He started off by asking why the place was such a wreck and “when will dinner be ready,” because it was the night for choir practice, and he wanted to get there early. He was rude, insensitive, and indifferent to my exhaustion, the kids’ sickness, and everything else. He was so selfish, and it hurt so badly. What was I supposed to do? Reward this selfish jerk with loving service?

Jill

I know how I would respond to this letter!

Dear Jill,

Your feelings are completely understandable! I’ve spent many a day caring for sick children myself, and it can be quite time consuming and emotionally exhausting. You are right—your husband’s behavior was insensitive. Have you thought of telling him how you feel? It’s possible that he doesn’t understand just how much work being a stay at home mother can be, especially when children are sick. Let him know how you feel and what you would like him to do differently in the future—and listen to his feelings and perspective too, of course. This way you and he will be on the same wavelength and the two of you will be able to sync your expectations.

Libby

But of course, that’s not how Debi replied.

Dear Jill,

It is your duty, your job, and in your best interest to serve your husband.

Debi

Ow. Harsh much? It gets worse, because Debi goes on to use Jill as a negative example.

No one would dispute that Jill’s husband is insensitive, but two wrongs do not make a good marriage. One “right” can make a BIG difference in a marriage and change that selfish old guy.

No.

Look, I agree that two wrongs don’t make a right. The problem is that Debi sees any alternative to simply smiling sweetly and serving lovingly as a wrong. Whatever happened to communicating about your feelings? How would that be a wrong? I think part of what’s going on here  is that Debi keeps communication off the table entirely. In Debi’s mind, there are only two options: silent loving service or, well, loud hateful harpy. That there might be such a thing as loving and honest communication is simply never even considered. Actually talking with your husband about things? Ha!

I’ve brought this up before, but when Sally was small, Sean would often game in the evenings before she went to bed, leaving me to care for Sally and do some end of the day cleaning alone. This bothered me. A lot. But instead of bottling it up and simply silently caring for Sally and cleaning and doing everything else that needed doing without mentioning how I felt to Sean, I actually talk to him about it. I told him how what he was doing inconvenienced me, and how it made me feel. And Sean listened. He helped explain to me why he enjoys gaming and what he gets out of it, and we came to a compromise—that he would wait to game until Sally went to bed. After that, I was more understandable of his desire to game, but he was more sensitive to my needs at the same time. In other words, my talking to Sean about my frustrations ended up making things better for both of us and strengthening our relationship. But Debi can’t even consider this option.

And it gets worse.

Always keep in mind that your job is to do a good job serving him, so planning ahead is a must. If Jill had done a better job, her husband would not have been such a jerk.

No.

Seriously, victim blaming much?

According to Debi, it is Jill’s fault that her husband was an insensitive jerk. Also, according to Debi, that Jill was so exhausted and all-consumed by caring for her sick children that she couldn’t get supper on the table is a failing on her part, not something that is simply an understandable part of life and parenthood. Jill should have had supper ready. She didn’t (because she was selfishly caring for sick children), and her husband was an insensitive jerk as a result, and because she hadn’t gotten supper on the table like a good wife her husband’s bad reaction was Jill’s fault.

No. Just, no. Jill’s husband’s insensitivity and jerky behavior was his fault and his fault only. I really shouldn’t be having to say this! Gah! Debi! Come on!

Your husband expects you to plan ahead. He plans ahead at his place of work, otherwise he would lose his job. If you plan ahead, conflicts like this can be avoided, and your husband will be proud to know he has a better wife than the other guys at work.

No.

I mean, is this I-have-a-better-wife-than-you thing sort of like the I-have-a-better-car-than-you thing or the I-have-a-better-house-than-you thing? Because to be honest, that’s kind of what it sounds like to me.

I mean, that’s the goal here? Seriously, the goal is for Jill’s husband to be able to boast about what a good little help meet she is? Not, I don’t know, for Jill and her husband to have a strong and fulfilling partnership characterized by honest communication and the bonding of two spirits?

If you pamper your husband, in time he will become sensitive to your burden, but you must soldier and show yourself strong.

No.

This is not how it works. This is like suggesting that if your child doesn’t keep her room clean, you should just clean it yourself and eventually she’ll notice and start cleaning it. It does not work that way. Think about the anecdote about Sean and gaming. Is Debi really suggesting that if I’d just done whatever I could to accommodate Sean’s gaming and care for Sally myself without ever mentioning that it was bothering me, Sean would somehow of realized that it was bothering me, or realized that maybe he shouldn’t be gaming while Sally was still up to be tended? Because I think it far more likely that Sean would have naturally assumed that if I wasn’t mentioning anything there wasn’t a problem. Because in the normal world, people actually communicate about things that are bothering them rather than turning themselves into silent suffering martyrs and waiting around for other people to notice and read their minds.

Also, is Debi not aware that some people will simply take advantage of others around them, most especially of those who make easy targets? Ugh.

I have had many sick babies, and I know sometimes it was not easy, but you can get the house in order and meals cooked and keep everything running smoothly all the same. As mothers, we will often be stressed over a sick child, but that is no reason to neglect our other duties. A sober wife makes herself the match of every circumstance.

No.

Seriously, way to make Jill feel terrible.

Look, I’m in a facebook group for local mothers of young children, and one thing I’ve noticed is that hardly a day goes by without a mother taking to the list to vent about an overwhelming day gone wrong. Being the mother of young children is hard work, and being a stay at home mother of young children can be especially exasperating. Sure, there are lots and lots of good times and meaningful moments, but there is also lots that can be overwhelming, dispiriting, and just plain hard. Debi’s “you just didn’t try hard enough” and “you didn’t plan ahead well enough” crap doesn’t help anything.

Also? Spending time nursing a sick child is about the best excuse for neglecting other duties I can think of. Supper can wait. Cleaning the house can wait. Just snuggle that sick child close and give her some love and attention. Seriously.

Jill: Please, if you’re out there somewhere, just talk to your husband. I’m begging you. Also, don’t listen to Debi. Her advice is absolutely dreadful.

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.

  • David S.

    I was wondering if you were going to mention “I have a new baby”. It sort of goes along with “her husband’s home”. Maybe if it were “we have a new baby”, she’d be a lot quicker to ask her husband to take some responsibility.

    • Whirlwitch

      That struck me too. JILL has a baby, apparently her husband doesn’t. But according to the script Jill is being encouraged to follow, when that baby starts growing up, she’ll be encouraged to give her heart to Mr Jill (Jack?) and consider him her head, and he will get the input in her life, possibly without ever having changed her diaper or made her lunch. And she’ll be raised to be another unthanked, unappreciated automaton like her mother, pandering to another jerk like her father.

      Responsibility – Mom
      Authority and subsidiary benefits – Dad

    • CarysBirch

      Of *course* it’s HIS house.

      She’s also HIS wife.

      /falls into the “sar-chasm”

  • http://volunteer11.blogspot.com/ VollyfromtheBlog

    So very sad. Debi has a crap marriage. She’s so abused, so beaten down by the knucklehead (and best-selling author and crap-pusher) she’s married to, she has totally drunk the Kool-Aid and is now trying to pour it down the throats of every other woman out there. This is the classic abuse scenario. Unless their kids find a way out, they’ll be out there writing books that tell their peers the same thing.

    • Mel

      They already are – It’s a magazine called “Above Rubies”.

    • Sally

      They’re also on the internet (Youtube videos) and they look extremely well-adjusted and happy. I’m not saying that’s proof of anything good, but the fact that that’s how they look I’m guessing can only serve to reinforce the Pearls’ marriage and parenting books.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5AExZTseZ4

      • sunnyside

        Watched the beginning of a few – there’s one with a little boy and he interrupts her to correct the way she phrased something. They didn’t edit it, she laughs and says what he wants.

        Do boys get a lot more leeway? or maybe, hopefully, she’s stepped back from what her parents teach?

      • Sally

        I don’t think little boys get more leeway in To Train Up a Child. In fact, I think there’s a huge disconnect between they way they treat both boys and girls and the way boys are supposed to become leaders as adults.
        I also suspect that in all their books, the Pearls have taken basic ideas that they did use and made them into inflexible rules that when followed religiously (pun intended) become absurd, harmful, and in some cases deadly. In other words, I believe the Pearl’s are too harsh in real life, but I also believe that even they didn’t follow their own books the way they are written. If I’m right, then on the one hand, that’s good for their kids and grandkids. On the other hand, it is truly evil because they’re showing the results of one harsh method as if it were even harsher. That’s dishonest and cruel to those children whose parents stick with the harshest version. I even suspect this is true for Debi. I don’t believe that she stuck to this harsh wife role to the level she conveys. She may think she did, and I’m sure it was pretty harsh. But my theory is as harsh as it must have been/be, I suspect her book is even harsher. I think this because I think the Pearls don’t understand how to convey their ideas with flexibility.

      • sunnyside

        There may also be a bit of the younger-children-get-it-easier phenom going on – if I remember correctly, the oldest daughter is living in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of kids and a husband who thinks he’s a prophet or something. Clearly she didn’t turn out as seemingly adjusted.

      • Sally

        Interesting. In their “Defense of To Train up a Child” (my name for it) video, they have three of the adult children there but mention that two of them couldn’t be there. I wondered if one or both of them actually “wouldn’t” be there. But that one or both is living too far away and is buried under the lifestyle certainly is a possibility.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Yes, that’s my theory, too — that they weren’t nearly as hard-assed with their own kids as they recommend others be with theirs. They are obviously past masters of compartmentalized thinking; they probably genuinely believe they followed all their own advice.

      • Brennan

        I only watched the linked video, but in it, the baby girl commits plenty of Pearl “sins” without being punished for them. She points at things she wants, reaches for things (including, at one point, reaching across a hot stove) and tries to grab her mom’s ingredients. The mom indulges her and gives her some things to fiddle with as they’re filming, which suggests to me that either she doesn’t follow her dad’s methods religiously or they just toned everything way down for the cameras.

      • Rosa

        is this the one who had the house full of smoke from the wood stove that didn’t work and made the children run outside in the winter to stay warm without coughing from smoke? Or is that someone else’s grown daughter?

      • Sally

        I don’t know. I’ve never heard that story.

      • Cathy W

        The people behind Above Rubies are related to that story – but it happened to Nancy Campbell’s grown daughter Serene. I don’t think the Pearls are officially connected to Above Rubies.

      • sam

        the bulk herb store! I creeped that website for an hour or so one day when I went down the Pearl rabbit hole. I left a window open, came back hours later and said to myself “ohh I wanna buy this! and this! and this!”, then remembered how I arrived there, and command + w’d my way out of there superfast.

      • KristinC

        But…she seems so warm and maternal! How did this happen?

      • Sally

        I agree. I think the reality just doesn’t match the books.

      • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

        I wonder if the Pearls are like Stephen Colbert. Like when he’s on TV, or talking to Congress, he’s in the character of Stephen Colbert, not really Stephen. Kind of like an actor playing an exaggerated version of themselves.
        Maybe the Pearl’s aren’t the jerkwads they seem, and write to be provocative so they will sell more books? Because, clearly, they don’t follow their own formula for marriage.

      • Sally

        Hmm. Interesting theory. My guess is that they’re more like their books than not. I think they really did switch their kids and that Michael really was/is the jerk both books portray. I think if I were a Christian family who was friends with them and my kid misbehaved in front of them, I’d be mortified because I’d rightly assume they were judging me based on my kid. My own grandpa was an awfully harsh man as a husband and dad. He softened a lot as a grandpa. If he’d written books on the topics the Pearls write, I think there’d be some similar stuff. So I don’t doubt that the Pearls see the world in their minds the way they describe. I just think when you put it on paper, and *thereby turn it into a formula* you create something that even they couldn’t live up to… and wouldn’t. I think they used more judgment in their own parenting. And it’s that judgment (flexibility) that they can’t seem to translate on paper.
        They’ve got quite a business going at this point with staff and “shindigs” they hold and so on. I doubt they could pull off such a fake persona through all of that. So I doubt they’re actually the opposite of what they portray. But it’s an interesting theory.

      • BobaFuct
      • Sally

        Yes, I see all the women in their various videos in dresses and skirts, but they’re rather stylish, in their own way. And what I mean is it’s not the “prairie dresses” look or frumpy men’s t-shirts, long skirts, and tennis shoes look that one sometimes sees in fundie groups. Their website is advertising a shindig they’re holding, and that says the dress code is “no tummies, cleavage, or thighs, please.” Isn’t it funny how each group has their own rules? (Which of course is a reflection of making it all up in the first place.) Their activities do not include swimming. Can you imagine the challenges there? I guess everyone would have to dress like surfers or deep sea divers.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Notice also that 2 of their 3 daughters run their own businesses. Now, maybe it “doesn’t count” if it’s a home-based business, or if your husband is nominally in charge and you just do all the work, but …

      • Cathy W

        Home-based businesses are allowed, or possibly required, on the basis of Proverbs 31. Possibly subject to the caveat that your home-based business not challenge your husband’s position as breadwinner.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Ah. I see.

  • Parisienne

    Ok. Sez Debi and Michael, women were created to take care of men.
    Surely I can’t be the only woman around in a relationship with a man who enjoys taking care of me*? FWIW our relationship works something like this – “I know you’re an independent adult and you don’t NEED me to take care of you, but I enjoy taking care of you so will you let me do it anyway?”
    No doubt the Pearls would describe our relationship as some sort of perversion of nature, but I just don’t believe we’re that anomalous.
    (*For values of “take care”, read carrying heavy stuff for me, cooking me dinner, paying extra to fly because it’s more comfortable than doing the cheaper journey on the train, and plying me with Mozart and/or champagne. I let him do all this stuff because it’s quite enjoyable for me and it makes him happy.)

    • NeaDods

      That, I think, comes under “being treated like a queen,” which we all know is earned solely by abject submission… In Debi’s experience.

      • sam

        When does Saint Debi’s queen treatment arrive? It seems Michael is perpetually being willfully obtuse and self-serving.

      • NeaDods

        I think that’s how not being actively blocked and ignored feels to Debi. In other words – whenever he’s not actively abusive, he’s treating her well.

      • sam

        Ouf that makes me sad.

      • Mary C

        Yes exactly…I think there is a quote from Debi in Michael’s book about Debi’s opinion of the best thing Michael ever did for her, or what made him so fabulous or something, and it was basically that he let her be by his side and participate in his life.

        To me, that is not a “thing my husband does for me,” that is part of the status quo of being married.

    • Mary C

      No you are not an anomaly at all. My husband and I serve each other, take care of each other, and I know many friends who have similarly functioning relationships.

      However, I’m sure the thought of your experiences, or of mine – me, the woman, coming home from work to a bathed child and dinner on the table, followed by a foot rub while I sit in front of the TV, would make Debi’s head explode. Right after she threatened us with dumpy duplexes!

      • Parisienne

        I think I have mentioned before that in my location anyone living in a duplex is pretty much guaranteed to be a millionaire. Getting taken care of AND a duplex? Bring it on!

    • Tonya Richard

      My husband is a caretaker as well. He does most of the cooking, because he enjoys it, and almost always serves my plate for me. I don’t expect him to do it, he just does. Also, I never make the coffee in the morning, he makes it and brings me my first cup in bed. I am sure Debi would shit a brick over this LOL We joke that he would probably be a better stay at home mom than I am. Of course, he never was good with helping with babies in the middle of the night, when he is asleep, he’s asleep. I guess Debi doesn’t understand that everyone is different and most couples can communicate in a healthy manner to find what works best in their relationship. To me, it sounds like she is REALLY pissed off at her lot in life as Michael’s wife, and she wants every other woman out there to suffer right along with her. I want to feel sorry for her, but she is so mean it is really hard.

    • Baby_Raptor

      You’re not. My boyfriend is much the same way. Very focused on my emotional needs during stressful periods (we’re long distance, so no cooking for me and making me awesome smelling bubble baths yet.)

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      I have a friend who is terrified of planes, seriously phobic. And her wonderful husband will take the car across the US with her so she doesn’t have to fly, even if they have booked flights because she thinks this time she might be able to handle it. I think he is pretty awesome.

  • NeaDods

    The last time Debi tried communicating with her husband was the second day of her honeymoon, and he’s still bitching about it in his books. I’m sure that the first part of his two year training program to get her to STFU and obey lay in not just telling her to suck it up, but in making her life miserable whenever she spoke out. This whole chapter smacks of an unspoken “Debi, look what you made me do” whenever she communicated… while (since he did know what she wanted, after all; she had told him) she only got her needs met when she showed off her obedience.

    Debi, in essence, has assumed that all men are just like her man — a narcissistic abuser who only gives what the woman wants when the woman grovels sufficiently to flatter him.

    There is not enough “ew” in the world.

    • Jackie

      Really that’s how we train animals – when they behave correctly, they recieve a reward. So again women are not people.

      • Conuly

        Except that you generally don’t beat your animals when they misbehave, and we know certain parties have no compunction about beating helpless babies. Who the hell knows about their marital relationship?

      • Helix Luco

        i’ve been reading a little about animal training lately, especially an article linked to in an earlier post’s comment section, and i seriously wouldn’t mind being treated the way professional animal trainers treat their animals, a system of positive reinforcement based interactions sound a whole hell of a lot nicer that what goes on in my household of origin, at least. this is very different in that the women here have serious needs going unmet unless they behave “correctly”, that’s punishment, not a reward

    • Karen

      I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall in Debi’s house. I simply cannot believe that she lives the things she writes. How can it be possible? How could a woman even have the self-esteem to write a book (even a book that teaches other women how to submit to abuse) when she’s so submissive and subjugated herself?

      • Sally

        Right. And we also don’t know if she had more support. Did she have a friend she could call if all her kids were sick and she couldn’t get dinner on the table? Or maybe when she says plan ahead, she means always have a lasagna in the freezer you can toss in the oven if you need it. But why not be kinder in her letter? “I’m so sorry you had such a bad day. I would have been frazzled too. Here’s a great book title that teaches you how to prepare meals you can freeze so next time you have something easy to toss in the oven. I hope your kids are all well.” That would still fit into the lifestyle she’s promoting, but it’s supportive, not mean the way her letter back and her entire book comes off. Michael may have been the abusive one in her marriage, but she’s the abusive one to her readers.

  • http://Yamikuronue.wordpress.com/ Yamikuronue

    I’m guessing when Debi’s kids are sick, she plops them on a blanket where they quietly vomit in place without disturbing her precious routine, because having dinner on the table is The Most Important Thing. So of course she never has trouble getting it all done. Snuggling creates rebellious teenagers!

    • ZeldasCrown

      She probably trained them to not get sick.

      But, in all honesty, the Pearl’s children were most likely not allowed to speak out of turn, or complain about anything, so I’m not entirely sure how one of their children would communicate that they didn’t feel well in instances where their illness wasn’t visually obvious.

    • victoria

      “Vomit training.” Awesome.

    • Cathy W

      Or she passed them on to one of the older kids to take care of – I don’t know if the Pearls’ child-rearing philosophy expressly advocates this, but it’s pretty traditional in large families.

  • AnonaMiss

    You’ve brought up the gaming example a number of times as a situation in which communicating solved a problem (which it is), and you always frame it as though you didn’t realize that gaming was a relaxing activity that helped Sean unwind. I’m curious: why did you think he was doing it before?

    I ask because when I was growing up my mother was particularly intolerant of video games compared to other leisure activities, and I never could quite figure out why.

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

      Same. Growing up I heard talk of being “addicted” to video games, etc. video games = bad. Books, board games, card games, Legos = good.

      • Alice

        It was especially ridiculous in my family, because computer games = good, video games = bad.

      • skyblue

        Come to think of it, my family was the same! No Nintendo, that’s a waste of time, but computer games that were clearly just-for-fun with little or no educational value were just fine. It just now hit me how silly that was!

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

        My computer games were limited to Carmen Sandiego games, and this one really awesome Sherlock Holmes mystery game that had you investigate the Ripper murders, that I played when I was all of 9(WHAT WERE YOU THINKING MOM!), that I was never able to finish because our PC ran out of memory.

        So the computer games vs video games argument at least made some sense in my house, as my mom’s argument against video games wasn’t the violence(again, investigate the Ripper murders???) but the frivolity.

        We didn’t actually get a video game system until I was in high school, and I started dating an avid gamer who loaned me his old Sega Genesis. Of course, it was full of games my stepdad had played years before, so we became a gaming household after that.

      • Alice

        Sherlock Holmes games are great. I’ve played several, including the awesome M-rated Lovecraft one that I sneaked past the parental sensors (I was in my late teens BTW). Ripper got a lower rating by having cartoon corpses, but like you said, it is definitely not kid-friendly.

        My parents are also really anti-frivolity. I grew up thinking “fun-loving” was one of the worst insults in the book. And ironically, the people they looked down on for this reason were usually successful people, maybe partially because they knew how to decompress!

      • AnonaMiss

        Oh, so it was just a matter of you still believing that at the time?

    • Baby_Raptor

      In my family, it was because video games are violent and don’t teach good morals. I was, however, allowed things like Mario, Tetris and Duck Hunt.

      The rule relaxed as I got older…My grandfather started allowing actual violent games like Twisted Metal. I eventually found out that he stopped caring because he was having an affair with the woman whose kids always brought the games over, and playing the games kept us busy and out of their hair!

      • Sally

        Oh my!

    • CarysBirch

      My family thinks that video games are kids’ toys and that I, as an adult, should have grown out of it.

      I have not yet been able to convince my mother that her civil war reenacting is no more or less a leisure activity than my gaming, but I don’t mock her for playing dress up.

  • Mel

    Dear Jill,

    When you have sick children, a sick new baby – which is doubly trying since they are so young and need extra attention in case the illness gets bad quickly and your husband asks why the house is such a wreck, my answer would be “Because I was trying to keep your children alive.” To the question, “When will dinner be ready because I want to go to choir practice early tonight?” my answer would be “Call the damn choir director and tell them you are staying home with your sick children tonight. Dinner will be ready when you get it done.”

    I’ve never had to use these answers because my husband is an adult and not a total ass.

    Love,
    Melinda

    • That Other Jean

      “When will dinner be ready because I want to go to choir practice early tonight?”

      If I were feeling particularly polite, I would have handed my husband the menu for the Chinese takeout down the road and answered, “When you bring it home. Phone them and order something, then go get it. I need to take care of the kids. All of them are sick, including the baby.”

  • Mary C

    Reading this, I thought back to Michael saying that it took him 10 years to figure out how to make Debbie happy (or something to that effect) – and I realized that THIS is exactly why! If Debbie has followed her own advice, she spent that 10 years with a stiff upper lip not giving Michael a clue what she really needed to be happy.

    Its not that I can’t believe how dysfunctional these people are, its that I can’t believe they’ve turned their dysfunction into books that many people actually buy, believing them to be good advice!

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      And that people actually buy them and recommend them!

  • Cassiopeia

    As I’ve said before, Debi Pearl’s ideal world is my ninth circle of hell. Seriously, being stuck at home + small children + oppressive patriarchy would have me go mad within a matter of hours. The thought of it sends a shiver down my spine.

    And although this is utterly pointless.

    No. A woman’s role is not limited to wife, mother and keeper-of-the-home. No, her most basic responsibility is not to manage ‘her husbands’ home. No, women are not responsible for anybody else’s actions, feelings or emotions. No, women do not always have to be fucking Superwoman just because the culture says men get to be lazy entitled bastards at home.

    The last time I came home and asked ‘what’s for dinner’ when my mum was clearly unwell I was too young to be allowed to make it myself. As I got older I learnt how to make dinner for myself and my mum if she couldn’t do it. Because that is what people with an ounce of empathy do when their parent/housemate/significant other is (for whatever reason) unable to make dinner by themselves.

    And Jill – Please take one voucher entitling you to dumping the entire responsibility for the house on your husband for one whole evening. Sick kids, early choir practice and all. You get to sit back and ask ‘when’s dinner’.

    • wanderer

      Seriously! What’s so wrong with Jill and her husband being on the same team instead of her needing to PERFORM for her husband? Common sense would say he should come home, see that her day has been a nightmare, and pitch in for godssake!

    • Gillianren

      My mother got pneumonia three winters in a row starting the winter after Dad died. This is when my older sister and I (we would have been seven and nine the first year) learned how to cook. I still remember Mom’s getting up off her sickbed to teach my sister how to cook pot roast. The only one who didn’t learn to cook then was my younger sister, who would have been three that first winter. If Dad had been alive, he would have been doing the cooking; I found out recently that he did most of the housework anyway, in addition to working outside the home.

  • Sally

    “…in your best interest …”

    “…your husband will be proud to know he has a better wife than the other guys at work.”
    Again, we’re to be persuaded by arguments that are to appeal to our selfish natures as if we were middle school children being talked into doing something nice that we really don’t want to do. No sign of Christ here anywhere. I have a middle-schooler; yep, this is how some of them think.

    “Because in the normal world, people actually communicate about things that are bothering them rather than turning themselves into silent suffering martyrs and waiting around for other people to notice and read their minds.”
    Ahh, that’s it, Libby Anne! Passive-aggressive topped off with mind-reading. What’s the Bible verse for that, Debi?

    • skyblue

      The “…in your best interest …” part sounded to me like a subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) threat.
      i.e. “Serve your husband, you won’t like what happens if you don’t…”

      • Sally

        I agree. In fact in Debi’s book, “in your best interest” is a veiled threat, but it Michael’s book it’s an appeal to get the guy to do something which will get the wife to do everything he wants. In both cases, you’re supposed to do the “right” thing not because you are Christ-like but in order to get the consequences you prefer.

      • skyblue

        Ugh, yeah, as you said above “No sign of Christ here anywhere”

      • Leigha7

        I felt the same way. I was trying to think if that phrase is normally used as a threat, but I couldn’t really think of any particular examples.

  • KarenJo12

    I couldn’t get past how Jill’s husband ignored the sick baby. Fevers in kids under nine months or so are very, very bad things, yet he’s only concerned about choir practice. My husband has been a deeply insensitive jerk to me — long story, bad family of origin, diabetes — but not once has he ever ignored our sons health. When our older son had to have ear tubes he took me to the hospital at 5:30 am, went to work, worked all day, and brought home take-out for a couple days so that I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning with a baby who had just had surgery. My super Catholic MIL, who once flatly told me that what men do is more important than anything women do wouldn’t have allowed my husband to treat me like Jill’s husband treated her and the baby. GAG!

    • j.lup

      Yeah, letter-writer Jill’s husband not inquiring about the health of their children the minute he got home really ticked me off. The husband should have cancelled choir, brought food and medicine home with him, walked in the door, said hi to Jill and told her that he’d need five minutes to change out of his work clothes into something that the kids could be sick all over, and then he’d be taking the baby so that she could have a nap before dinner.

  • wanderer

    Somehow I get the feeling that when Debi was making sure the house was clean and there was supper on the table, what got put on the back burner was the sick kid. I have this mental image of her telling them to “sleep it off” and not bother her.

    • Alice

      With mild illnesses, she probably thought they were just being manipulative attention-seekers, since she thinks children are demonic masterminds in disguise.

      • WordSpinner

        You are probably right. Do you remember that story where she praised a mother whose children didn’t alert her when one fell off a toy and hit their head hard enough to bruise?

        Yeah.

      • Alice

        Yikes! I hadn’t heard that one, but it fits with all the ones I have.

  • wanderer

    Throughout this letter to Jill, I found myself feeling like Debi delights in walking up behind women who are teetering on the edge of despair and pushing them over.

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      Then blaming the woman for falling.

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

    I think the idea is that the CEO makes the day-to-day decisions while the owner sets the direction of the company.

    In my experience at least, if a company is small enough to have a single owner, the owner and CEO is usually the same person.

    • wanderer

      yeah and what she describes is actually more of a COO job than a CEO job. It doesn’t sound like she actually knows the functions of the roles she’s throwing around.

      • Sally

        I agree. Much better match. I also agree she doesn’t know the functions of these roles. Everyone has heard of the term CEO, but many people wouldn’t know that a COO is a thing.

      • j.lup

        You’ll notice too that Debi says that the wife is the Acting CEO. (Though this may just be a function of her not knowing what acting means within a workplace setting.)

      • Sally

        Oh, you’re right. That’s too funny. She probably has no idea, but ironically it does sort of fit in with the “temporary” status the woman is supposed to always feel to keep her motivated.

    • Sally

      My husband is working for a company with a CEO, and there’s a board over him that is the “owner.” He reports to them, and they give him feedback. They give the feedback respectfully, as if speaking with a colleague. They expect actual reports, not groveling passive/aggressive I-hope-you-can-read-my-mind “reports.”

  • wanderer

    I find it odd and humorous that Debi assumes Jill’s husband plans ahead at work. She has no idea what his job is. Maybe he is a telemarketer and just phones the next person in the queue all day. Maybe he does mindless data-entry. I work with people all day who actually are pretty high level that apparently have no ability to self-regulate or plan at all, which causes crisis-mode for everyone around them. They still have a job.
    She thinks she’s making a point but in reality she’s just displaying her incessant need to beat women to a bloody pulp at every possible opportunity.

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

      I find it odd and humorous that Debi assumes Jill’s husband plans ahead at work.

      Even if he does plan, the idea that he can plan so well that he never has a bad day (never has someone else’s lack of planning cause problems, discovers that he forgot to account for something because he’s human, etc) is ridiculously laughable.

      And you’re right. I’ve known several people — including a number of managers, in fact — who manage to keep their jobs despite consistently working under the “management by firefighting” model.

    • Sally

      Absolutely. I thought the same thing about the husband’s job.

    • Trollface McGee

      I also love how planning ahead doesn’t involve delegating stuff so you aren’t overburdened and can take care of your things. In my office, if someone has too much to do, or have something come up (like a sick child) then the responsible thing is to ask for help so things get done.
      It really is about beating up on women, or just a really fundamental lack of understanding that there’s more than one way to do something.

      • Cathy W

        And there is also this thing called “setting priorities”. If I find myself in “firefighting mode” at work, the first thing I do is look at the to-do list and figure out what I can let go until tomorrow!

    • J-Rex

      Yep. Very recently my manager failed to plan ahead in a way that could have resulted in hundreds of angry customers. Any of us lowly employees would have been fired if we had made a mistake that big.
      Just because someone has a job, keeps a job, and is maybe even promoted doesn’t guarantee that they are good at their job.

  • grindstone

    silent suffering martyrs

    Well, hello, mom! After twenty-some years of marriage, my folks had a blowup over her doing all the household finances. She was sick to death of it being “her job”. My dad was gobsmacked, and I remember him saying that since it was going so smoothly and she had never complained before, he didn’t have any idea it was bothering her. And she apparently let it fester for a very, very long time before she said anything.

    Eventually, she turned herself into the House Martyr, and made all our lives miserable, until they divorced. She got the less-stressful single life and he married a woman who never, at any time, hides her feelings, about anything. I think they both wound up better off.

    • luckyducky

      My husband has had to work very long hours the past month, including almost every weekend day, and finally got to take a day off. Normally, he is very active in contributing to house work and childcare but he’s been gone so much, he hasn’t been able to lately. So, within the 1st 12hrs of being home, being tired and out of the swing of things, he made a couple of unintentionally antagonistic comments and did a few things failing to appreciate how the kids and I have been managing without him around.

      Because I don’t have any problem telling him when he’s said or done something hurtful, he doesn’t have any problem saying “I’m sorry, that’s not what I intended,” and I know that he genuinely dislikes not being around to help with homework, cook dinner, etc. these were mostly amusing — as in, “hello, earth to husband, I KNOW didn’t you really mean that.” And we spent most of the time laughing.

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

    What I’m getting from this is that when I married, what I should have done is just kill everything that makes me me and become instead an automaton Wife(TM). Yeah, that sounds ten thousand kinds of fulfilling.

    Or, I can keep being me, the me my husband fell in love with, the me my kid finds fun. Sure, sometimes the dishes don’t get done and I won’t tell you what our living room looks like, but we have fun together as a family. And when the kid is sick and I’ve spent all day taking care of him, my husband either steps up and makes dinner or we order takeout. Because that’s how a loving, fulfilling family acts.

  • redlemon

    After I had my baby, I got overwhelmed very easily. A lot was postpartum psychosis (which we didn’t know about at the time), but my husband just didn’t seem to help out. I blew up at him one evening for his lack of help. I was surprised to find out that the reason he didn’t help was….because he thought I didn’t want him to help out. He thought that I *wanted* total control over our infant because I was micromanaging nearly everything. He had never been asked, so he just assumed that he should back off. After that, he came home from work and gladly took over some of the care to give me breaks. Just doing the nighttime routine for me gave me enough time to de-stress and at least shower. But all it took was a simple talk. It’s hard enough to communicate sometimes *without* some so-called expert telling you not to talk about your feelings.

    And thank the heavens for awesome in-laws. When my daughter was sick, crying non-stop and driving me bonkers (literally. Like I said, postpartum psychosis), they immediately came over to help and let me just get away from the crying. My patriarchal parents flaked out when I asked them for help after my gallbladder surgery (they didn’t think abdominal surgery could prevent me from taking care of my infant and, even when they agreed, my mom didn’t come because she got mad at me the day before) while his parents discussed scheduling and overnights to help me.

    • Sally

      Good point. Where is the community? Why doesn’t Debi at least recommend that she reach out to a sister in Christ when she’s overwhelmed?

      • redlemon

        In my experience, there are many Christian families that encourage
        self-support to an almost exclusion of community help*. They absolutely abhor the “it takes a village” train of thought and that seems to extend, to some degree, to any sort of help. At least that is how my ownparents operated. Now, after complete burnout of taking care of two/three kids, they are offended that I would consider relying on them for any sort of help because they’re “tired” and I should be caring for them.

        *My family experience, and Christian experience, is strange so I cannot claim to speak for any one thing in particular. We floated in and out of Christian groups and churches and, while my homelife was extremely male-dominated, my parents were also very lazy, beyond hypocritical, and all end-of-world-ish.

      • Jayn

        In too much of our culture, there’s this idea of asking for/needing help being a sign of weakness, rather than a sign of being human. At the extreme end it takes the form of “deal with your own damn problems”, but even away from that extreme there’s pressure to be as self-sufficient as possible. We’re discouraged from seeking help so that often things have to get desperate to overcome that cultural programming.

      • Gillianren

        Which is funny, because part of the way I’ve asked for help with my son was by asking a group of carefully selected people to keep an eye on me for symptoms of–you guessed it–post-partum psychosis. I guess that’s a double stigma; I asked for help, and I have mental health problems.

      • Jayn

        In some ways I’m glad I’ve already been diagnosed with depression, because I’ve gotten over the “pull yourself out of it” mindset already, and I’m seeing a psychiatrist regularly. Asking for help is something I struggle with, so if PPD or PPP popped up, I’m not sure I’d be able to haul myself to a doctor. I’m a bit worried about how my mental health will hold up after birth, but my pre-existing issues means I’m already past the hardest part of dealing with it if things do go south.

        Also, I think there’s a third aspect to that stigma–admitting that being a mother isn’t all sunshine and roses. I’ve heard of women who’ve had to shut down communicating with people because they were catching crap whenever they said anything negative about parenthood. I feel like a mother with PPD or PPP lands in the worst combination of influences to not ask for help when she needs it most.

      • sylvia_rachel

        So true.

        OTOH, I have actually given (only when asked!!) the advice “Don’t say anything negative about {your baby / your parenting experience / your parenting choices} in front of {person who will seize on any excuse to tell you you’re doing it wrong}.” I do this because when my daughter was younger, it was the only technique that allowed me to be in the same room with my three SILs without wanting to whack them in the head with a chair. They firmly believed we were doing everything wrong with DD, and so if, say, DH mentioned that he was tired because DD hadn’t slept well the night before, they would immediately go “Aha! Didn’t I TELL you that you should have sleep-trained her when she was 4 months old? Didn’t I TELL you you’d regret letting her sleep with you? Didn’t I TELL you she should have been weaned months ago?” The reality was that she kept us up very little, we didn’t mind bed-sharing, we had nowhere else to put her anyway (1-bedroom flat), and the poor sleep was an anomaly, but they wouldn’t hear any of that.

        The corollary to this advice, though, is that when there are people like this in your life, it’s very important to find safe people / safe spaces where you CAN talk about the bad stuff and let your feelings out when you need to. A supportive community is hugely important for new parents (and even not-so-new parents, of course), and feeling safe to admit that some parts of parenting just suck is key.

      • redlemon

        One thing I’ve managed to do is to be realistic to my friends about being a parent. We were the first to have a baby, so none of them had any preconceived ideas on parenthood. My husband certainly never sugar coated any of it. As it turned out, a lot of my friends who went on to get pregnant and have babies then came to us to vent and spew, because they knew we wouldn’t judge, unlike their parents/siblings/etc.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Yup. I’ve played this role for several of my friends who have judgy (or just nosy) families and non-textbook children.

        For some people, you can almost see the burden of guilt lift from their shoulders when you casually mention that, yeah, your child — that one over there, swinging upside-down from the monkey bars — was also the clingiest baby on the planet at one time ;)

      • Gillianren

        I was diagnosed as bipolar over twenty years ago. That gave me a ten-percent risk of PPP, and I knew it. I know I can’t ask for help when my brain is acting up, so I asked for it when I was feeling relatively normal. I couldn’t be sure I’d notice a psychotic episode, and I definitely couldn’t be sure I’d do anything about it. It’s worth noting, though, that I’m doing really well. None of the people I’ve asked to keep an eye on me have noticed anything wrong. If you have people you trust, people who understand what depression looks like, you might want to talk to them about the signs in advance. It feels good to touch base with them and hear that they aren’t worried, though of course it’s still early enough so that issues can arise. They probably won’t, though.

        And, yeah, motherhood is hard. It’s why I won’t let people refer to me as my daughter’s “real” mom. Her real mom is the one who is doing all the work. I gave birth to her, but in many ways, that was the easy part. Her mom has taken care of her for nearly sixteen years, and that’s the real part.

      • redlemon

        I am lucky to have a caring husband who has seen me during the absolute worst moment of my life and both my psychiatric hospitalizations. Even he didn’t recognize PPP in me until nearly 8 months after the birth. But when he did, he called my regular psychologist and hauled my butt into the ER. Five days in hospital, two weeks in intense out-patient, and a daycare plan and I was a new person.

        I did ask for help early on, but I was in no shape to recognize the psychosis portion, only the depression. Thanks to my parents, I can “hide” psychosis quite well. (I’m rapid cycling bipolar) I saw a psychologist who specialized in PPD and PPP. She was a Christian-based psychologist, something I didn’t know at the time when her name was passed on to me. She listened, told me that I wasn’t cut out to be a mother, that I should just stick my kid in daycare because I obviously couldn’t parent, and to take some parenting classes. That’s it. She practically insulted me as a new mom and talked about how I just wasn’t bonding correctly and didn’t have a mothering instinct like I should. Of course I stopped seeing her, but those three sessions had done damage. I stopped seeking help because I internalized it. Then, 4 months later, as my husband came to realize how bad I really was, I finally got the help I needed.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Wow. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to pretend to be therapists :(

      • Sally

        Absolutely!

      • Gillianren

        That is evil. And unprofessional. And of course, you were down, so reporting her wasn’t going to happen. (Rapid-cycling here, too.) Who has the concentration to follow through even enough to find out who to report her to?

      • Cathy W

        I recall someone on No Longer Quivering relating that her husband required her to not accept the gift of an electric bread mixer, allegedly because her then-unborn daughter needed to learn to make bread by hand – but she theorized that his real motive was “it’s calling my status as your provider into question, so you can’t get one from anyone but me.” The Christian Patriarchy lifestyle can be rough on the patriarchs from time to time, too.

      • onamission5

        It’s not just Christian culture, but US culture too.
        This mindset was so successfully established in my own circle that eventually, I just stopped asking for help, because none was going to be forthcoming. Not from the biodad, not from my family, not from my friends who resented that I wasn’t fun any more. It was less crushingly difficult to try not to need any help than it was to be floundering, reach out, and get slapped back, over and over again. The exhaustion and loneliness of parenting solo when you’re drowning but no one will help you or even listen and validate you cannot be overstated.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      “I blew up at him one evening for his lack of help. I was surprised to
      find out that the reason he didn’t help was….because he thought I
      didn’t want him to help out. He thought that I *wanted* total control
      over our infant because I was micromanaging nearly everything. He had
      never been asked, so he just assumed that he should back off.”

      In my limited experience, I’ve found that a lot of mothers who complain about the fathers not participating were doing the above. On the few occasions that the father does help, he’s lambasted for not doing it to the mother’s overly exacting standards and no one wants to put up with someone harping at them when they are trying to parent.

      • redlemon

        For us, it was a combo of my insane amount of perfectionism and emotions. I never lambasted him when he did help, or at least I never meant to do so if I did (lord knows, my standards were far from exacting. I just made sure we were all alive, fed, and washed by the end of the day and that was a victory). I micromanaged, but I thought that was because he didn’t know what to do. It was a simple, yet combustible, time of miscommunication.

        Of course, the lack of sleep didn’t help us either.

  • Brennan

    And now I have this mental image of Jill’s husband trying to brag to the guys at work about what a good little submissive helpmeet his wife is becoming. He can’t figure out why they all seem to be laughing at him until one guy pipes up with “Ha! My wife’s a doctor. I put her through medical school, and now she keeps me in the Mercedes Benz.”

    • TLC

      And my guess is that if this guy is “bragging” about his wife this way at work because she always has dinner ready on time and never talks back, his co-workers think he’s a sexist pig, and his supervisors are on alert to watch for harassment behaviors. And they all think he’s an idiot.

  • M.S.

    Wow, fortunately I was in the dark about Debi Pearl and her family’s “views”. I am sad that I am now aware.
    You know what frustrates me most about these opinions? The guilt it creates. I am a working mom – and the breadwinner – in our family… does that make me a “worse” mom than Debi? Am I the only one who feels that way? Maybe this is my issue!
    But I find it frustrating. Also, I have a daughter and she is sharp as a tack… WAYYY smarter than her two brothers. I couldn’t imagine not allowing her to dream as big as her brothers… is that wrong of me? Uggh so frustrating!
    Like I said, all these opinions do is create guilt and feelings of inferiority. Even this poor stay-at-home mom Jill wasn’t good enough. And I find the whole concept of “competing” so your husband is “proud” of you very sick and pathetic.

  • Cathy W

    It just hit me – Debi has, in this chapter, declared caring for your sick newborn to be “frivolous”.
    I suspect the sick newborn would disagree, if she could express that disagreement in any terms that wouldn’t get her whacked on the leg with plumbing pipe.

  • Gillianren

    My boyfriend, Gods love him, isn’t exactly Mr. Considerate to me. However, our son comes first. If dinner isn’t ready when he gets home because the baby has been fussing at just the wrong time (wanting to be fed forty-five minutes before Daddy gets home, for example), he gets two choices. He can take care of the baby while I cook, or he can cook dinner for both of us himself. Yes, he’s tired after a long day of school, but I’m tired, too. For one thing, I get less sleep than he does.

    • Sally

      The less sleep thing is huge! When our youngest was about 4 months old, I stayed up really late one night with old friends, and then my family and I left for a trip the next day. The few hours that I had stayed up late put me into such a state later in the day that I became nutzo-cooko at about 2:00 in the afternoon. I was nauseous and completely dysfunctional. When we got to the hotel room, I went straight to bed after nursing the baby, and my husband took care of the kids, getting food, etc. while I slept like a log. This was because I was already so sleep deprived in general, that those few hours staying up talking to friends put me over into crazy-miserable zone. I tell this story to illustrate how barely functional a nursing mom can be with a young baby and toddlers around. I of course don’t mean to suggest that the Pearls would have let me stay up talking to friends in the first place!

      • Gillianren

        Because I’m exclusively pumping, the balance of sleep is a lot more even than it could be. However, my boyfriend is able to go back to sleep after the ~7 AM feeding, and I am generally not. Sometimes, I am asleep and having to be woken up for the ~2 AM one, but usually not. I THINK the baby is starting to sleep longer, so I might get a little more sleep; if we keep that one feeding at ~2 AM, having the next one at ~5 instead of ~4:30 will push my having to wake up a little longer–~8 will be better. And, yes, my boyfriend made me look up how long it takes the average baby to start sleeping through the night, because he’s losing some sleep, too.

  • Rilian Sharp

    I don’t agree with your analogy to a parent and child and cleaning the child’s room. For one thing, parents actually ARE supposed to care for their children, whereas spouses are in an equal relationship. I think it’s better to lead by example, clean up messes, explain why, and don’t try to force your child to help. I wouldn’t even ask them to clean. The most I would do is say “let’s clean this up,” and if they help, good, and if they don’t it’s fine. Based on personal experience, I think they’ll take over cleaning without being told to if they see it modeled well. And I mean they will take over when they reach teenage or so. And that’s acceptable to me.

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

      Parents are ALSO supposed to prepare their children for adulthood, and learning how to be neat and clean at a young age is part of that.

      My mother eventually threw her hands up in the air over the battles forcing me to keep clean as a child, and NO it didn’t “take over when I reached teenage”. I didn’t start being a cleanly person until my nesting instincts kicked in during my final month of pregnancy(while on bedrest, that’s a spectacular hell right there).

      • Rilian Sharp

        “Parents are ALSO supposed to prepare their children for adulthood”. I didn’t say anything counter to that. I think forcing or coercing a person into doing something is counterproductive to the goal of them attaining independence.

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

        “I think forcing or coercing a person into doing something is counterproductive to the goal of them attaining independence. ”

        Think all you want, but as I pointed out IME, NOT forcing me to do it inhibited by ability to grow into independence.

        I’m not going to force my daughter to attend events(now that she’s old enough to be left alone without supervision) she doesn’t want, I’ve NEVER forced her to show affection if she did not desire to, but I’ll not allow her to live in filth, and I think doing it for her is counterproductive to helping her gain independence.

        In any event, I don’t force her to do anything, I restrict her from privileges until she fulfills her responsibilities. There’s a big difference.

      • CarysBirch

        I’m pretty sure I don’t have any kind of cleanliness gene. At all.

        Boyfriend and I are both in an agony of working opposite schedules, so he gets up too early to spend time with me before work, and I stay up too late to spend time with him after work, and neither of us are sleeping properly, and we’re both in some kind of fuzzy haze of exhaustion. As a result, the dishes haven’t been done in two weeks.

        I’m pretty sure I prefer a mountain dirty dishes to adequate sleep and the sacrifice of companionship that would go along with it.

    • Hilary

      Depends on the kid, but you are right to notice that parents care for children, but spouses are (supposed to be) equal adults. Comparing the relationships is a false equivalency.

    • Rilian Sharp

      I wish people would say why they dislike a comment. seeing as my comment isn’t trolling, there’s no obvious reason to dislike it. What, are you against parents caring for children they chose to have? are you against compassion? are you against leading by example? If you don’t say what you disagree with, voting a comment down does no good, it’s not productive at all.

      • Brennan

        Yes, we’re against compassion. We’re also against freedom. And puppies. And truth, justice, and the American Way. /sarcasm
        Cleaning up messes that your child created without teaching your child that it’s their responsibility to pick up after themselves does not fit my definition of “caring for your child,” and it’s certainly not caring for the other people who have to be in contact with your child. It’ll cause problems for everyone from their kindergarten teacher to their college roommates and eventual spouse. Your strategy might work for the occasional kid whose compassion and observational skills are well above par, but in my experience, most kids will just grow into entitled adults who don’t realize how much work goes into living unobnoxiously. And, what happens if it doesn’t work? If you don’t expect anything of them until they’re teenagers, then you won’t realize that the modeling isn’t working until the behaviors are very ingrained. There’s not much you can do at that point; you’ve raised a child who forevermore will expect someone to clean up after hir. That’s why I downvoted your comment.
        And I downvoted this one because the snark just comes too easily.

      • Gillianren

        I know how to keep a room tidy; I just don’t care. I keep my living space sanitary, and of course tidiness is about to happen whether I want to or not. (He’s seven weeks today, and he’s already managing to move himself a couple of inches at a go during tummy time!) Both of those are about safety, and I can appreciate that. But if my mother had just expected me to take over cleaning from her, she would have gone on expecting for a long time.

        Will I expect my kid to help clean when he’s old enough to do so? You better believe it. He’s going to be living on his own someday, and I want him to be prepared for it. Odds are quite good that he won’t be able to afford a maid.

      • Rilian Sharp

        “the snark just comes too easily”
        ?

      • Lucreza Borgia

        A close friend of the family practically did just that with her kids. They don’t have chores and the mom always feels that they are just kids…but they don’t know how to wash laundry, don’t know how to cook, and are always leaving disasters for their mother to clean up and they are in their mid-teens. She usually rants on FB about it and then gives up at trying to get them to do anything for her with the excuse of “their just kids and I should take care of them as their mother!” Well, guess who had knee surgery this past week? Her children have not lifted a finger for her and they even ran off to go hang out with their friends. FFS, their mother cannot walk and is in extreme pain and still they won’t help her. That’s what learned helplessness does to children. I’m hoping she will see this as a lesson and start requiring those brats to actually do things around the house before they end up as the roommate from hell in college.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Maybe I need to tweek my plan then!
        I don’t want to force anything, because golden rule, and also because I think people resist what is forced upon them, so it’s counter-productive. But I don’t want them to be always depending on someone else. Ideally, they’d be able to independently care for themselves by puberty age, or sooner if they want.

      • Lyric

        Well, I didn’t downvote (I don’t have a disqus account) but I bet it’s because we’ve seen examples of your approach not working. My cousins have been raised with their mother doing everything. The elder of them is quiet, responsible, and seems a little depressed. The younger is a nasty little tin tyrant. Now, there are other dynamics; the mother is a relentless noncomplainer of a sort that Debi might approve of if she weren’t a pagan, the father is slightly narcissistic and has a way of sort of sliding around needs that don’t align with his own without ever actually saying, “No, I don’t intend to do this,” and the only kind of discipline he has ever allowed is talking to the children until they “understand” and agree with him—which means, in practice, that a woman trying to run a household does not have the bloody time to “reason with” a boy for upwards of two hours (which is what the younger boy generally takes). But, what with one thing and another, my youngest cousin seems to have absorbed the idea that work is something other people do for him, and (I’m afraid) that housework is specifically something that women do for men.

        With different home dynamics, or different gender dynamics, it might work out differently. Who knows? But none of us want our adult child to be the asshole who comes home, sees a sick child and a frazzled parent, and says, “Why is it such a mess in here?”

        And I think that’s why your post got downvoted. My two cents.

    • Conuly

      Parents have rights too, including the right not to be a slave to their children. It isn’t unreasonable to expect your children to tidy up their own messes in your shared living space.

      • Rilian Sharp

        You choose to have children, so you ARE somewhat indebted to them.

      • Conuly

        Not to be their slave, or to refuse to teach them how to conduct themselves in society.

        But you know, Rilian, when your kids are grown we will do the comparison then – your childrearing techniques up against everybody else’s.

    • Mary C

      I’m glad it has worked for you, but I will say that I shared living space with several women in college, and dated at least one man, who had no responsibilities at home – not for cleaning, laundry, or anything else. Mom took care of all of that, for everyone. But their children had definitely not picked it up on their own when they left for college! And it caused quite a bit of tension and fights – because those people really just expected, without even thinking about it, that someone else would clean up their mess.

  • Anna

    Why not just order in? Oh no, not in Debi and Michael’s world. Wanting one day off from cooking because the kids are all sick and you’re exhausted? Outrageous!

  • Trollface McGee

    This is a great book to discourage heterosexual marriage. If the only model of being married to a guy was this – having a guy berate you for not having “his” house clean and his dinner ready when you’ve been taking care of “his” sick kid all day. He puts in a few hours of work while I have to keep up a menial job 24 hours a day that includes pampering the jerk…yeah that’s really appealing..

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      I was totally getting ready to say this! Great minds and all…:)

    • Whirlwitch

      Every time I read about Debi’s view of marriage and men, I thank Goddess I’m a lesbian.

  • TLC

    What do these families do if they have a child with disabilities who demands constant attention to survive? Does Daddy still get dinner on time?

    My 20-year-old niece has cerebral palsy. They were told when she was born that she would never walk, and probably wouldn’t live past the age of 15. My sister literally lived in offices and waiting rooms the first five years of my niece’s life for “ists”: neurologist, orthopedist, speech therapist, physical therapist, etc.

    Because of that, their family life was stressed, and no, dinner wasn’t always on the table. So what? Because of my sister’s dedication and determination, my niece has graduated from high school and his learning independent living skills. I get to photograph her and her firends each year in Special Olympics, where she swims, plays basketball, runs races, and throws the javelin. And every time I do, I nearly burst with pride and wish those doctors could see her now!

    If my niece had had the extreme misfortune of being born into one of Debi’s “help meet” families, she may not have survived, let alone thrived and succeeded. Because after all, it is SO much more important to make dinner for Daddy that to make sure your child can walk, talk, read, write and REMAIN ALIVE, isn’t it?

    • Alice

      Slightly off-topic, but I also wonder in regard to TTUAC, what if the parents have a kid who has a medical condition that makes his body fragile, where even “mild” physical abuse would be extremely dangerous (As if kids aren’t physically fragile enough when they are completely healthy). What would the Pearls say then? I know, I know, the answer is that I don’t want to know.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Libby will eventually finish that book but lemme just say that the Pearl’s never address what constitutes abuse or even basic safety talk.

      • Ruana

        TTUAC: More dangerous than BDSM.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        I’ve made that comparison many times.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    My realtime thoughts on this chapter:

    So Debi wants women (as per instructions in an earlier chapter) to stay youthful and fun for their husbands, but above all, to realize that marriage means they can’t be youthful and fun anymore. WHAT?

    On cleaning the house and other logistics: Debi’s putting an awful lot of stock in the “logistics” of a marriage guaranteeing a good relationship between spouses. You could be married to the most efficient spouse in the world but not be in love with them, not have things in common, and/or feel neglected in your emotional life. But sure, I’ll give her credit that managing a household well (no matter which partner does it) lends an air of peace and enjoyment to a home.

    The letter from Jill: Yet another letter that seems utterly fake. If “Jill” was a real person whose husband was really that insensitive on a regular basis, I doubt she’d be limiting her letter to one incident that happened and is already over. And, if he’s normally a good guy and this is the only time he’s ever been insensitive, I doubt she’d pause to write Debi a letter about it. Anyway, the Fake Alarm is going off.

    “In Debi’s mind, there are only two options: silent loving service or, well, loud hateful harpy.” Probably because any time she has tried to communicate with Michael, he has gaslighted her and told her that she’s being a harpy.

    • Sally

      I think each of her letters has a tell. I think you nailed this one.

  • David Simon

    Thanks for your detailed fisking of this book, Libby; it’s important work, and I don’t think I or many other people would be able to stand it as well and as long as you do.

    (Quick typo heads-up: You spelled “wreck” as “reck” in the first paragraph.)

  • realinterrobang

    I generally love your writing, Libby Anne, but even as a kid, I would have been *very* resistant to the idea of parental snuggles when I wasn’t feeling well. Like, “Jesus, Ma, I already feel bad enough normally, and now everything hurts and you want to cuddle? Go read one of your romance books already.” :D
    Of course, the Pearls’ one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t give any leeway, either…

    • Brennan

      I was the exact opposite. My mother tells me that I never wanted to be held, even as an infant, but when I got sick I magically turned into a needy cuddle-machine. Different strokes for different folks. ;)

    • Lucreza Borgia

      I wanted people to go away and leave me alone with the TV. Parents job was to fetch me food and drink. :D

    • Leigha7

      When I was sick, I wanted to be cuddled or, at the very least, have someone in the same room as me the whole time. I would pretty much only tolerate them leaving to make me soup, because being sick and alone made me feel scared. I’m not really sure why, I just remember feeling extremely anxious.

      I was a pretty needy child when I was sick. I should probably call my family and thank them for putting up with that…

  • sylvia_rachel

    I feel like Debi is really using Underpants Gnomes logic here.

    How to Stop Your Husband Acting Like a Jerk

    Step 1. Act as if nothing’s wrong.
    Step 2. ?
    Step 3. Happiness!

    The thing is, the Underpants Gnomes are a joke.

    • Ruana

      And this from the woman whose husband’s demands drove her to physical collapse within 48 hours of their marriage. Pretending nothing was wrong really helped her in that situation!

  • Saraquill

    Dear Mr. Jill,

    If you want dinner, make a sandwich. While you’re at it, make some sandwiches for your wife and and ask if the children are well enough to eat solid foods. If the answer is no, heat up some soup.

  • shuttergirl46q

    Poor Jill. The stomach flu hit our house pretty hard in February, and we (my fella, the toddler and I) all were sicker than dogs. But my fella didn’t complain about choir practice or dinner. He scrubbed the carpet when I puked in the hall and fed our son crackers and juice when I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow, let alone make dinner. I’ll take him over a “godly” man any day.

  • Guest

    I think somebody should recommend that Debi read up on Catherine of Aragon. There’s a woman who smiled sweetly and did everything she could to keep her husband’s love. Didn’t do her a lick of good. Being a martyred doormat just makes men disrespect you even more.

    • Nancy Shrew

      There’s a discussion to be had: Which wife got the least shitty deal?

  • Eve Fisher

    You don’t have to go back to Catherine of Aragon. Catharine Dickens (Charles Dickens’ wife) married him when she was 21, had 10 children, was the perfect Victorian “angel in the house” – and was dumped 22 years later when Charles decided SHE had been to blame for getting old, overweight, and he was very resentful over her having ten children which he had to support. Of course, he’d had nothing to do with having those children. And, of course, he’d fallen in love with a young actress named Ellen Ternan. Anyway, he moved Catherine out of their house into a smaller house, with a pension. He allowed the oldest son to see her, but made sure the rest of the kids avoided her. He never saw or spoke to her again. On her deathbed, she asked one daughter, Kate, to give his love-letters to her to the British Museum “that the world may know he loved me once”. So hang in there, girls – you, too can be the perfect wife. Until you’re not.

  • Lyric

    *seethe*

    A FEVERISH NEWBORN IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, YOU FUCKING UNWASHED ANAL BEAD.
    I wonder, does Debi remember enough about parenting to realize that Jill might have been stuck putting a measured amount of pedialyte into the kid every fifteen minutes, or something else that would physically interfere with making her asshole husband’s supper? Or that the foremost question on her mind was probably when she should call the hospital? This is not a problem of prioritizing. Jill’s priorities are fine. Her husband’s priorities are broken.

    (Perhaps it’s just my past talking, but I strongly suspect that if her husband had come home to a warm supper, a spotless house, and a baby making that awful thin sick-baby wail in the back room, his first words would have been, “My god, why can’t you make that brat shut up?” If the husband is truly like this, rather than just having a horribly insensitive day, then trying to please him is an exercise in futility. The only way to win that game is to burn it down.)

    As a cheering counterpoint, I feel perfectly happy telling my husband to do things like fetch pedialyte, take temperatures when he does the early morning feeding, etc. And that’s the way a family works.


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