CTNAHM: More About Women’s Nature

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally post on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 35—38

Last time, I started on Chapter 4, which begins a huge list of the reasons men need their wives.  Sometimes the text makes good points, yet the theme of every section seems to be something along the lines of “your wife needs you to need her.  Your wife’s womanly nature (from God) makes her want to meet your (as a man) needs.  Let her. If you don’t let your wife meet your needs, bad things will happen to you both.  Plus emotional imbalance for you wife.”  I’m not even kidding.  Go read last section.  I’ll wait.  Back? Alright. Let’s begin.

I Need Her Comfort

We tough guys don’t like to admit that we need comforting.  And I can admit it only as a matter of principle.  Now, understand, if tomorrow my wife says, “Do you need some comfort?” I will say, “Who, me? Why should I need comfort?” A wife can soothe the troubled soul of a man like good news.  Her touch, quiet smile, reassuring words, and positive outlook can give rest to the weary.  A man without the fellowship of his wife will have no place to dump his burdens.  There would be more war and personal duels if we didn’t have our women to comfort us.

Once again, Michael is asserting what a manly man he is.  Also, once again, there is nothing to say that men should comfort their wives, or that their wives may ever need comfort.  I would contend that a man’s touch, smile, and reassuring words can give rest to the weary wife.  But maybe that’s not manly enough?  Oh, and when was the last time someone had a duel?

I realize that many of my readers are thinking, “Yeah, my wife just makes me angry.  She doesn’t comfort me at all.”  That’s  my point.  You have failed to bring your wife to the place where she can provide the comfort that your spirit needs.  You would see a tremendous change in her if you could communicate that you desire her fellowship.  Where there is distrust and hurt, one act or word on your part is not going to purge her of so many negative feelings, but many acts of patience and kindness will eventually open her soul to you.  It is your responsibility to sanctify and cleanse your wife with your words. (Ephesians 5:26)

I think what Michael means when he says “. . . to a place where she can provide the comfort your spirit needs” is “. . . to a place where she WANTS TO provide the comfort . . .”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if there are marital issues, and one’s wife makes one angry, then saying “I need you to comfort me” probably isn’t going to get very far.  One thing that consistently doesn’t make sense to me is that it seems Michael is saying “Just let her know you need her, and she’ll jump right in to fill your needs; it’s what she was born to do.”  I don’t know how often that perfect scenario will happen.  I guess if used in tandem with Debi’s “Serve your husband or hellfire” book, maybe . . . Though I do agree that if there’s distrust and hurt, it will take a lot of patience and kindness.  That’s a great point.  Throw in an apology, and it’s starting to sound even better.

A woman by nature needs to be the source of comfort to her children and her husband.  If she is denied this role she will be significantly unfulfilled as a woman.  She is comforted in comforting.  Let her be the woman God created her to be.

Ah.  Lovely.

I Need Her as a Confidant

There are private things all of us need to discuss from time to time.  I know that when I am confused or uncertain, I need to air my thoughts in the presence of someone who will not jump to a conclusion for me and will not immediately judge the right or wrong of my preliminary conclusions.  A wife that is a good listener is invaluable because she is so handy, always there when thoughts run through our head.  Most of what we say or propose never goes beyond words.  Plans and ideas die with the speaking of them.  To vocalize an idea is to build an imaginary model of it.  Sometimes it doesn’t look as good spoken as it did in the imagination.   All creative people need a confidant, someone who will not laugh or ridicule or run to the press or the neighbors.  Wives are hungry to share their husband’s personal thoughts about work, worship, goals for the future, and all manner or wandering thoughts.

Cripes.  Where is the reciprocity?  Where is his admonition to men to listen to their wives? Why doesn’t this matter to Michael?

If your wife has proven to be an untrustworthy confidant, it indicates that she is hurt and crying out for respect and recognition.  If she is quick to ridicule or judge or makes you feel foolish, it is because she is in attack mode, retaliating for previous hurts and her belief that you do not have goodwill toward her.  If you have not depended on her has your help meet, and she has futilely knocked on your door a thousand times, saying “Here I am; let me help,” and you have turned her away, it indicates that she is deeply unfulfilled and feels that the hurt you caused her is intentional.  So she hurts back.  It is time to absorb the blows and embrace her when she is exhausted.  Begin confiding in her “here a little and there a little,” and she will mellow out like a hound dog by the fireplace.

I tend to be kind of a gossip.  Sometimes when my  husband tells me something, I have a deep seated need to tell someone else. Usually my mum or best friend.  It doesn’t at all mean I need respect or recognition.  It means I have terrible impulse control.  But that’s just me.  Is anyone else getting the idea that Michael’s idea of making a woman into a “proper” help meet is simply to let the wives know all the ways they need to serve their husband, and then letting her “God given nature” do the rest?  I do like the line “It is time to absorb the blows and embrace her when she is exhausted.”  I think it was needed far before here.  But comparing a woman to a hound dog?  Seriously? Grrrr.

I Need Her Intimacy

Even the toughest, most independent man needs intimacy.  I know, for I have never met a man more independent and self-sufficient in deportment than I.  We were created to love and be loved and to care deeply.  We began life cradled in Mother’s belly and then spent our first year cradled in her arms.  Several more years passed with us continually fleeing back to the lap of Mother and Father and anybody else that would give us a hug and word of approval.

OK, Michael.  We get it. You are a big, strong, independent manly man.  You really don’t have to remind us quite so often.

I can still remember when I was a child taking an afternoon nap with my mother.  We lived in a one-room house and had no air conditioner or fan.  The bed was next to the window and my mother would lie down beside me and tickle my ear or twirl my hair.  It never failed to put me to sleep.  For a long time, I thought she was sleeping as well, but I eventually learned that she got up and went back to work while I slept, happy and secure.  Men do not grow out of the need for intimacy.

Oh!  This explains his honeymoon so much!  His mother would put him down for a nap and then get back to work. Of course his wife should do the same!  It’s all starting to make sense now.  Though I have to admit, when I think of intimacy, I don’t automatically think about my parents.

Mister, you need something more than sex, and your wife needs you to seek intimacy that is not initially sexual in nature.  Many men are irritable because they do not experience enough intimacy with their wives.  When opportunity arises, lie down on the couch and put your head in her lap.  Let her twirl your hair or tickle your ear.  Lie on the bed and scratch her back and she yours.  Talk quietly and fellowship.  Some of you guys that think you married a cold turkey will stoke the fire and awaken the beast with a half hour of intimacy.  Women who are cherished will give until they pass out.  You need her just as she needs you.

While I agree with Michael that wives need intimacy that is not sexual, I disagree at his reasoning. It seems he’s saying here “give her a bit of what she wants and she’ll put out”.  Also, I was a wee creeped out by Michael’s use of the same “intimate” tactics his mother used to put him to sleep as a precursor to sex in marriage.  And while some women (or men) enjoy being scratched and close contact, some don’t.  Or some do depending on the circumstance.  It depends on the person.  It would probably be better to know your spouse’s physical contact needs.  The end is just . . . insanely out there.  A half hour of touching will “awaken the beast” who will give (and we all know what they’re giving) until they pass out?  Is passing out during sex normal? I just don’t know what to think here.

If getting close results in getting hurt, start ministering to her needs.  When you meet her needs, she will meet yours, but you must first be willing for it to be a one-sided relationship.  At first you will do all the sacrificing and make her the beneficiary of your blessing.  In time it will balance out until you are both trying to outdo the other in giving and blessing.  That’s when it gets real good.

Interesting.  Debi’s book talks about how women can, unilaterally, change their marriage.  Now Michael is preaching the same thing, but with men.  Why do relationships have to be one sided? What’s wrong with sitting down as a couple and saying  something like “Something isn’t working.  Neither of our needs are being met and we are both miserable.  Perhaps we should talk about this.”  Instead, it’s like the movie Fireproof.  A man wins back his wife with service.  Don’t get me wrong. Service is great.  But it isn’t a patch for communication and honesty.  Since when is a “good” marriage a contest to see who can serve the other more?  Yes, my husband and I serve each other, but we don’t keep score, and it’s certainly not a contest!  A lazy or not as well-meaning spouse will, invariably, take advantage of the one doing the serving.  And let me point out: serving your spouse to manipulate them into “blessing” you is selfish and wrong.  You should want to serve your spouse because making them happy is important to you.  Not so they put out more.

What the Ruff, the Spotted Hyena, and the Cuttlefish Taught Me about Gender and Sexuality
If We Can’t Come to Grips with the Past, How Are We to Grapple with the Present?
Anonymous Tip: Meet the Lawyer
The unBiblical Tea Party Christian
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.

  • Hilary

    Reading these two books side by side now, the cognitive dissonance is staggering. Debi tells women to lie to men and to themselves to pretend everything is ok when it’s not, yet Michael is telling men they need their wife as a confidant. Question for them both: how do you trust and confide in some who is lying to you, or someone that you are lying to?

    • Cathy W

      I was thinking about the….utter sickness of the sum total of the Pearls’ two formulas. Debi: “Wives, you must serve your husbands’ every need, physical, emotional, sexual, with a smile on your face, a girlish giggle, and a sway in your hips. He has to believe you want nothing more.” Michael: “Men, she wants nothing more than to serve your every need, physical, emotional, sexual. It’ll put a smile on her face like you’ve never seen. She’ll giggle like the girl you fell in love with.”

      …I think the system breaks down if the men read Debi’s book and think about it a little bit. But why would they do that? That’s women’s stuff, not fit to trouble our manly brains with. So: If he knows you’re lying to him, that means your smile, giggle, and sway were not adequately convincing, so of course you’re going to have an unhappy marriage.

  • NeaDods

    OK, Michael. We get it. You are a big, strong, independent manly man. You really don’t have to remind us quite so often.

    The more Michael and Debi talk about how manly Michael is, the more insecure he sounds. I’m starting to wonder how he can function without a binkie, he’s so patently insecure in his masculinity! No wonder he emotionally abuses his wife and beats children to feel in control!

    • ako

      I keep getting struck by how deeply sad it is that he can’t admit to a vulnerability or need without jumping up and going “But I am the least vulnerable and needy man in the world! I have barely any vulnerabilities at all! Did I mention all the sex I’m having? THAT’S HOW MANLY I AM! Please don’t question my masculinity!”

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

        I’ve noticed that, too. Plus with his ginormous anti-gay schtick, it really makes one wonder.

      • NeaDods

        The saddest part is that he thinks his he-man act is convincing.

      • wanderer

        seriously. vomit.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Sometimes a man wants intimacy without the expectation of sex. What would Mike think about that?

  • Jenesis

    The phrase “dump his burdens” is telling. Why treat her like a human being with her own needs and desires when you can just treat her like an emotional tampon?

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

    ” Talk quietly and fellowship”

    Fellowship is a noun!!!!

    • Gillianren

      I’m also a little confused at the claim that you might have married a cold turkey. Isn’t the term “cold fish”? Isn’t cold turkey just something you go?

    • TLC

      No, in these fundagelical churches, “fellowship” is definitely a verb. As in: “We go to church 15 minutes early so we can spend some time fellowshipping before worship starts.” Those who say this think they’re connecting with people and building relationships. What it really means is that they said “Hi!” to six people on the way to getting their coffee from the coffee bar before going into the sanctuary. Quick, easy and shallow — which is how most relationships work in these churches.

      The other misuse of word in this book that’s driving me crazy is “sanctify.” I very much disagree with Michael’s interpretation of Ephesians 5:26. It is CHRIST’S job to sanctify wives and other members of the church. IMHO, it is NOT a husband’s job to purify her or make her free from sin. But then again, throughout both books it sounds like Michael has set himself up as a god to be worshipped. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

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

        Thank you! I’ve been so irked that he keeps telling men to SANCTIFY their wives. It’s not their freaking job, Michael! Ugh.
        Also, I agree with you that he think he’s a god (or possibly a prophet). I’ve read some of the articles on his website, and a good chunk of them are “living is sure great in my area. There’s a great church with a bunch of happy families.” As a former Mormon, it seems to me kind of a “Come populate Zion” call. :S

      • Hilary

        Fellowship as a verb: so, fundagelical schmoozing? Like Jews do after the service, schmoozing with your friends, chatting and enjoying some coffee and brownies, cookies, or cake from the oneg aka dessert buffet.

      • wanderer

        I would also wager there’s a decent amount of judging each other that goes on in this fellowshipping, (ie it’s Debi’s opportunity to see which little tart is disrespecting her husband by rearranging her hair instead of leaving his arm around her).

    • Ymfon

      The Pearls should publish an omnibus of the Helpmeet books: “Fellowshipping and Reverencing: How To Marriage the Way God Wants You To”.

      • Sally

        Love it!

    • Sally

      Ya gotta see this video. It’s so on the money. “Shoot Christians Say”


      • TLC

        So true! And so many more things I could add to this.

  • TLC

    “Cripes. Where is the reciprocity?”

    Exactly. Neither book is about meeting women’s needs in a marriage. It’s all about the men, and THEIR needs and desires. These women must learn how to deny, suppress and shut off their emotions from a very early age. How else can they survive such a terrible lifestyle?

    And I thought things were squicky enough with the Botkins and their father/daughter relationships. But Michael’s description of his mom playing with his hair and then he thought he was sleeping with her . . . . (shudder).

    • Sally

      As much as I don’t like any of these books, and while Michael seems to use the word “intimacy” for mother/child and husband/wife and doesn’t do a good job of differentiating the two, I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about the way she laid down with him or touched his hair or that he thought she was taking a nap too. (Or am I misunderstanding your last point?)

      • wanderer

        I guess I just never think about what my mom used to do to my hair or my ear now that I’m an adult. I think she was a great mom, but I don’t think about that. And certainly it does not ever come to mind when I’m thinking about a man I’m dating/marrying.

  • Bobo

    I find this book, along with most of what the Pearls write, contains some sound psychological principles. These principles are twisted into dangerous BS through the application of rigid gender roles, fear of hell fire and the promise that they bound to work for you, no matter who you are.
    For example, my husband and I went to marriage counseling a few months ago. Our counselor helped us figure out what we each needed in order to feel loved and supported by the other. He then asked that between that meeting and the next we practice these things, he added that if one partner failed to hold up his or her end the other should try to continue anyway.
    He gave this advice based on the principle that meeting a person’s emotional needs often makes a huge difference in their behavior, very much as MP suggests.
    BUT, there were key differences. First, we obviously communicated about it. Second, our counselor didn’t assume he knew our needs based on gender. Third he was clear that this was a suggestion that might be of help to us, not a magic bullet to save our marriage.

    • ako

      Yeah, they latch onto useful ideas and take out things like reciprocity and logical stopping points, which creates something really dangerous. Asking a guy who’s feeling emotionally unfulfilled to consider his own behavior and ask if he’s being there for his wife and giving her opportunities to connect can be good advice, but they twist it into “Just try hard enough and you’ll be able to magically make your spouse be good!”

    • Christine

      The sound ideas that they take as their bases are the dangerous thing about these books. Because having some good advice in there means that people will believe these books, because there will be good results, at least some of the time. And then it looks like the books are right.

      • Bobo

        Yeah I think you are right. I think it is the absolutist (is that a word?) approach that is especially bad. If they were just saying that this worked for them and might be helpful, I wouldn’t have such an issue with it. But they are saying in no uncertain terms that this is the only way to have a good marriage or happy manageable children. Unfortunately a lot of people believe them, probably at least in part because some of the things they say work well. Other things they say have contributed to the death of children and heaven knows how many miserable marriages, but they deny all responsibility for those.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        I’ve gotten into a few massive arguments with people who think that the Pearl’s books are not that bad at all, especially their child abuse manuals. They argue for discernment and that anyone who doesn’t realize that the Pearl’s don’t mean for it to condone abuse is an idiot.

      • Sally

        Sure, anyone can use discernment to take the good and leave the bad. The problem is what they discern as good and bad will vary. The people you argued with have their heads in the sand. At least you tried, and maybe you made them at least think they can’t be sure who’s an “idiot” and who’s not and will give recommending the books a second thought. That won’t stop them from switching their kids and all the other issues, but at least it (fear of the “idiots”) might help stop the spread of the books.

      • Jayn

        If it was that easy to discern what was good and what was bad, would there even be a market for books like theirs to begin with?

      • Semipermeable

        Haha, true.

  • http://mandassassin.blogspot.com mandassassin

    “If your wife has proven to be an untrustworthy confidant, it indicates that she is hurt and crying out for respect and recognition. If she is quick to ridicule or judge or makes you feel foolish, it is because she is in attack mode, retaliating for previous hurts and her belief that you do not have goodwill toward her.”

    ….or she’s a jerk. Someone who spreads your business around town or is hypercritical/nasty may be crying out for attention, sure. Or you may have married a garden variety a-hole. Note that this isn’t raised as a possibility – are women constitutionally incapable of having a genuinely self-centered/rude/judgmental personality? No, I suppose that would be giving us too much credit as individuals; if you pat us on the head and let us wait on you hand and foot, we’ll turn into God’s perfect wives! /all the sarcasm

    • ako

      This. Women are people, and part of what that means is some women are not nice people, and won’t magically turn nice if you press the right buttons enough times. A relationship where your spouse mistreats you, you constantly blame yourself for not trying hard enough, and you make endless futile efforts to control them with niceness isn’t healthy for a man, either.

      • wanderer

        yes. when he was talking about how “if this, then do this to fix it” I had images of a cooking show where they talk about why your merengue isn’t peaking and how to make it do what you want. A wife is a mother-effing PERSON, not your bowl of egg-whites, dude.

  • Mira

    The lack of reciprocity sickens me. Dunno if Michael knows this, but his “ideal wife” and “ideal home life” sounds a lot like Muslim home life is “supposed” to be too. I’m in the middle of all that crap right now and getting a lot of flack from my boyfriend’s mom (we’re in a “haram” relationship: we live together and we’re not married!) because we’re 1 not married 2 I don’t think my job is to cook and clean and 3. I expect him to pick up his own damn dirty laundry and rinse off his own dishes and help out. Gasp!
    Sounds like the same thing to ME.

  • persephone

    I know fanboys that could kick Michael’s manly ass. I could probably kick Michael’s manly ass. The thread of all these books and writings by fundagelical men is how manly they are. I’ve never seen so much insecurity.

  • Randomosity

    He doesn’t think men need partners, he thinks men need unpaid support staff.

  • wanderer

    I am appalled at the references Michael makes to his wife/women in general:

    -she’s “handy” (in reference to why she should be your confidant)
    -hound dog (I got this image of Michael saying “whoa! down girl” and talking to his WIFE!)
    -dumping ground (he literally says she’s where he DUMPS)
    -unholy and dirty (he uses some scripture to say it’s his responsibility to correct these things in her)
    -his mother-substitute
    -a cold turkey
    -a beast

    That’s just for starters. What an ass.

  • sylvia_rachel

    It is really, really fascinating to read these 2 books side by side.

    I just read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, which someone here recommended in a comment on a previous post (I forget who it was, but thank you! It was really fascinating!), and one of the things that struck me about his exploration of the characteristics of “right-wing authoritarian followers” was that they tend to strongly compartmentalize. That is, they are able to hold a variety of conflicting, even mutually contradictory, ideas/arguments that they get from authority figures and trot them out as appropriate, genuinely without realizing that if X is true, Y cannot also be true simultaneously.

    I feel like some of that is happening here. Actually, scratch that: not just some, but quite a lot.

    • Hilary

      That probably explains what I’d observed, about confiding in someone you were not allowed to truly confide in. I remember meeting my uncles girlfriend/SO who loved Penny and I, was so welcoming, gave us hugs, food, truly happy to see us . . . then later talked at length about how much she admired Sarah Palin. This was just after the first Obama election. I tried to point out that Palin would do everything in her political power to destroy us, and it didn’t make one bit of difference, the woman still thought Penny and I were the cutest couple ever, and Palin was the greatest politician ever. Ugghhh.

    • TLC

      Great minds think alike — I just finished that book last week!

      In addition to compartmentalizing, it also astounded me that these people believe something just because someone in authority says it. No questioning. No research. No verifying. Just accept!

      Ironically, the Bible says you are supposed to question and verify:

      Acts 17:11: “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”

      And yes, you’re right: this IS happening a lot in these books. Unfortunately, most readers aren’t doing the research to figure that out.

  • Jackie

    Have to love how Michael’s mother soothed him to sleep yet he claims it’s wrong for parents to do that. Isn’t your child supposed to lie down and shut up and not need someone twirling his hair?

  • j.lup

    A man without the fellowship of his wife will have no place to dump his burdens.

    I see…so a wife if a place to dump your burdens. Not someone to share your burdens with and someone who can offer support and solutions…just a burden-dumpster.

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