CTBHHM: How To Cook To Please Your Husband

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 149—154

Remember that Debi just got through shaming Jill for not being able to balance sick kids and getting dinner ready at time. Well, Debi’s about to explain to Jill just how she could have Done Everything Right. Because women’s true role is in the kitchen, dontcha know.

The Assignment

Learn to use the kitchen’s “wonder tool”—the crock pot. Today, as I write this, it is Sunday. This morning at 8 A.M., I put several frozen chicken breasts and some rice into the electric crock-pot. I added some water, celery, bell peppers, and seasonings, and turned it on low heat. When we came into the house at noon, the house was filled with a delicious aroma, and dinner was ready except for a simple salad, which took a scant few minutes. After we had eaten, I added some seasoning and more water to the crock-pot, which now had only a little rice and a few bits of chicken with broth. This simple soup simmered all afternoon and was the basis of our meal that evening.

How dare Jill not think to start a crock pot! If Jill was just Brilliant Like Debi, her husband wouldn’t be forced to be upset with her for not having supper ready on time!

Of course, there is something to be said for what Debi is doing here. Indeed, this is the sort of thing done on mommy blogs the world over, as each passes on some tricks of the trade to others—and there’s nothing wrong with it in the least. If Debi had simply set out by offering tips to young moms struggling with balancing everything on their plates, I would have no beef with it. But what sets me off is that that’s not how she prefaced this. And titling it “The Assignment”? Really?

While at church, I asked one of the eleven-year-old girls about feeding their family of twelve, “If your mama asked you to put a chicken in a crock-pot (or three chickens in three crock-pots) with rice and seasonings every Sunday morning, could you do it?” Her twelve-year-old sister laughed and said, “No problem.”

I don’t really know how to speak to this, because when my younger sister was 13 my parents put her in charge of cooking all of the meals for our family of the same size. Compared to that, asking an eleven-year-old to start a crock pot looks tame. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Debi is basically telling women like Jill that one solution to having too much to juggle, between meals and children and homeschooling, is to pawn off some of their work on their children. Or is she actually shaming Jill by telling her she’s failing at something even a child should be able to do?

Always offer your children only one choice for breakfast. Several options will only confuse the child’s spirit. Choices always give room for argument or discontentment.

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. 

In Debi’s world, “children” and “choice” don’t ever belong in the same sentence.

Providing the same simple food every morning (except maybe Saturday) causes a child to look forward to getting cereal on that one special morning. It can actually help your children become more thankful and will bring about a more peaceful morning.

Debi must have said this in a previous book or magazine, because this is how my mom did it. Oatmeal, every morning, every day—except for Sunday. And let me tell you, that one day a week we got to have cereal was like Christmas.

I’m not going to type everything Debi says here, because she’s just getting more and more into the details of what food to serve and when. Debi says to mothers should serve their children a monotonous but wholesome and basic lunch every day, such as burritos—but only if the father isn’t home for lunch, because, as we shall see, dad gets special treatment when it comes to food. Debi suggests using paper plates and paper napkins to make cleanup simpler, and I find myself wondering if this is where the Duggars got their antipathy to dishes that can’t just be chucked in a landfill.

Debi lays out an entire week worth of meal planning to serve as an example and guide for women like Jill. Pinto beans are served with steak and sweet potatoes one night, and then recycled into refried beans and combined with ground beef to be served with lettuce and other veggies as a taco salad. Some of the ground beef cooked up for the taco salad is saved for spaghetti the next evening, to be served with salad and a sauce made of tomato paste and assorted veggies. Black beans and rice with sour cream, fried rice with bits of meat and scrambled eggs, a cookout with hamburgers, and a chicken crockpot graced with a can of cream and chicken soup close out the week.

Having proved her meal planning acumen, Debi steers this back to Jill:

It is not a grouchy old husband or bad days that cause the problems of cooking and cleaning for young wives. It is the lack of simple planning.

Sick kids? Ha! Jill should have planned ahead for that! How dare Jill not have supper ready for her husband!

When I was a child, we always had the same food on certain days. Dinner was ready at 5 P.M. . . . The regular dinners each weeknight made it easier for Mom to plan and buy the week’s groceries. My dad would look forward to the meal he knew would be hot and waiting for him when he came home from work. The key is to plan.

Take that Jill! You just need to be perfect like Debi’s mom!

And then there’s the kicker, because see, this is what’s underlying this whole discussion. Why are wives supposed to be always totally on top of meal planning? Why is a late supper inexcusable? Well. This is Debi. It should be obvious.

As wives, our life’s work should be to perfect how we may please our husbands. 

I didn’t add that bold and italics. That’s how Debi wrote it.

Sometimes, maintaining a good relationship with your husband simply requires the performing of simple tasks, like having a good meal ready on time and a clean house, even when it is not easy or convenient to do so.

If the health of your relationship is based on whether you have a meal ready and the house clean, well, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s just weird. What happened to friendship and communication and cooperation and empathy and shared interests?

Your relationship with your husband is the single most important role you will ever play. If you fail here, then you have failed at your life’s work and have missed God’s perfect plan.

Let’s see if I can pull this together. Your life’s work is to please your husband. If you fail at your relationship with your husband, you fail at your life’s work. Sometimes all that’s needed for the health of your relationship is for you to have supper ready and the house clean. So . . . get back in the kitchen. At least, that’s what I’m getting here. Cook for your husband, Debi says, and don’t you dare keep him waiting for supper, because the fate of your marriage depends on it and your marriage is your reason for existing and if you can’t please your husband you’ve failed at life.

In case you’ve missed the messages so far, Debi offers this handy summary:

Traits of a Good Help Meet: 

  • A good help meet provides an oasis for her man.
  • She fixes meals that please him; she does not cook to suit herself.
  • She plans and prepares well ahead of time.
  • She exercises self-discipline.

You think you have the right to cook meals you like rather than simply asking your husband what he likes and cooking that? You terrible selfish woman! You think having sick kids gives you an excuse to not have dinner ready on time? How dare you be so presumptuous! You should have planned ahead and had more self-discipline! You think you have a right to be angry if your husband is insensitive or rude? You didn’t have dinner ready on time! You were clearly asking for it!

Debi next tells us a bit about her grandparents’ marriage:

My grandma honored and obeyed my grandfather. It was their foundation of love and honor that made the family (even the extended family) strong. As you read the next story written by my good friend and first cousin (they were her grandparents, too), you will see how we were conditioned to please our husbands. They taught us to resist taking offense, and that we were never to “give him [our husband] a piece of our mind.” If Grandma did get offended, no one knew it, because it was well understood that a lady had duties, and she must be sober in the execution of them.

I really don’t like the use of the word “conditioned” here. I also don’t like the complete muzzling of women. Sure, simply chewing someone out is usually a bad idea, but since when is the solution silence rather than authentic communication? Also, why does Debi’s grandparents’ relationship have to be laid on the foundation of her grandmother’s obedience to her grandfather rather than on a foundation like mutual respect?

Debi finishes with her cousin’s story, which turns back to food preparation:

Life is  so much different from what it used to be. Several of us ladies were sitting around a dinner table recently, telling about some of our early disastrous cooking experiences. It brought vivid memories of my newlywed days. When I married, I really didn’t know how to cook anything, On top of that, my family ate strictly “country”—peas and cornbread (still my favorite), ham, pork chops, fried chicken, turnip greens, etc., while my husband’s family ate a very different type of diet.

I’ll never forget that hot afternoon. We lived in an apartment in the back of an old Victorian-style house, which consisted of a living room/kitchen combination and a bathroom. We had no air conditioning, and that far down south could get really miserable in the summer. One sultry summer day, I worked hard to prepare a home-cooked meal for my husband, and had it ready when he came home from a hard day of construction work. When he walked in the door, he was so hot and sweaty, he took one look at that hot meal and said in despair, “This is not a day for a hot meal; this is the kind of day you need a cold meal!” My heart was just crushed. Hot and sweaty myself, I had slaved to serve him in the best way I knew how. I had never even heard of a cold meal. What on earth was he talking about? At that point in my life, a tomato stuffed with tuna or chicken salad was totally foreign to me. I must tell you, my story wasn’t very funny thirty years earlier, but as I finished telling it to my friends, we were all laughing about how “crushed” I was that day.

I was surprised to see that one of the younger women at the table didn’t think it was funny, as she huffily retorted, “Did you throw it at him? I would have!” This stopped me in my “memory” tracks. Was I angry? Did I want to throw the meal in his face? I really don’t remember ever having that thought. I do remember being hurt and sad. But my most compelling thought was to figure out how to prepare cold meals. When I married, I became MRS. Lansing. His life, his agenda, and his desires became mine. I considered my marriage to be my career for the rest of my life, and I intended to be successful at it. If he didn’t like the food I cooked, rather than refusing to cook anymore, saying that he was just too hard to please, I learned to cook the food he liked! I just WANTED, and WAS DETERMINED, to please him. And I found that he was really not that hard to please. Most men are not so hard to please; I heard someone recently say that all a man needs is food, sex, and respect, and he’ll be pretty content. That is certainly an oversimplification, but from experience, I know that those things are the basic, rudimentary needs of all husbands. And so, I have worked at it from that perspective for almost 33 years. It is still my GOAL to be pleasing my husband. I am pleased to tell you that he delights in me. I was determined to earn his delight.

Older and wiser and still very much in love,


Seriously, it’s your duty to please your man by cooking tasty meals for him really is the theme of this section. It’s no surprise that the idea that men can cook too never seems to occur to Debi.

I really don’t have anything to finish with but this:

Lesbian Duplex 14: An Open Thread
Sometimes All I Can Say Is UGH
CTBHHM: Why Was Marian’s Husband So Loving?
Monogamy Isn’t Biblical, It’s Roman
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.

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

    “…a chicken crockpot graced with a can of cream and chicken soup…”

    My mom used to make this. It was called chicken Elizabeth. It was actually not very good:-P.

    “I considered my marriage to be my career for the rest of my life, and I intended to be successful at it.”

    Bleah. It doesn’t get much more anti-feminist than that.

    “I was surprised to see that one of the younger women at the table didn’t think it was funny, as she huffily retorted, ‘Did you throw it at him? I would have!’”

    The young woman was right. It wasn’t funny. If he in fact phrased it that way, it was rude. I don’t think it was sufficiently rude to throw food at him, but if it’s part of a greater pattern, I’d be throwing food at him all the time. I honestly can’t imagine letting a man talk to me that way. At the least, these women need to sit down and have a serious discussion with their husbands about treating them like human beings. They don’t need to be told that they are at fault because their husbands are rude, selfish boors.

    By the way, I came across this article of “tips for keeping your husband from the 1950s” the other day, and I keep meaning to post a blog entry about it, because it reminds me so much of the Pearls.


    Note #2 on the list: “A social service meeting, an afternoon tea, a matinee, a whatnot, is no excuse for there being no dinner ready when a husband comes home from a hard day’s work.

    “Housekeeping accomplishments and cooking ability are, of course, positive essentials. In any true home, and every wife should take a reasonable pride in her skill. Happiness does not flourish in an atmosphere of dyspepsia.”

    To me, it looks like Debi isn’t putting forth “biblical principles” as much as she is regurgitating notions of how to be a good wife from the 1950s.

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

      If he in fact phrased it that way, it was rude.

      That’s what gets me. It seems like a grown man should be able to express a preference without turning it into a demand or showing a total disregard for the effort his wife has just made for him. This guy failed to avoid either of those traps.

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

    I heard a sexist joke once about a woman needing a chain that was only as long as the bedroom to the kitchen. Seems like Debi heard that joke and took it as gospel.

    PS. When I cook something my husband doesn’t like, he eats it anyway, because he knows that I will cook things I don’t like to make him happy. But I guess that’s using that anti-Pearl “c-word”. Surely compromise is right up there with homosexuality and Muslims, amirite?

    • Guest

      Well, I’ll have to admit, I wouldn’t eat something I disliked if my husband cooked it (if I had a husband). I’d just fix a frozen meal or sandwich or something. I don’t eat food I don’t like, unless I’m trying to be polite around people I don’t know well. Things I don’t dislike, but don’t like either, I’ll eat occasionally. I live with my sister. We mostly like the same foods, but when one of us likes something the other doesn’t, then we will check with the other so that we each fix our own I-like-and-you-don’t food on the same day and eat different things. I am willing to cook things I dislike, but not eat them.

      • badgerchild

        I tend to be a bit crushed if I accidentally cook something my husband doesn’t like. But we have a plan for that. I sweep the dish into a container and have it myself for lunch at work for a couple days, and he takes over and makes something simple for both of us while I put my feet up. He also appreciates that I cooked something nice for him even if it was wrong for him.

      • Gillianren

        I’m an extremely fussy eater and always have been, and if I try eating foods I don’t like, it makes me gag. My own mother gave up on trying to make me eat things when I was nine. I make food to suit my own tastes, in part because my boyfriend will eat almost anything. If he wants something I don’t like (which he regularly does), he cooks it and I eat a grilled cheese sandwich or something. But yeah, that’s that compromise thing again.

      • Guest

        I’m the same way. I’m not gagging on purpose to be rude – I can’t help it. I’m very picky (and don’t eat healthy things, unfortunately), but I don’t expect others to accommodate that.

        Mind you, I will also tend to throw up (or almost throw up) if someone else does (better now that I used to be, though), and I can’t brush my teeth first thing in the morning because it makes me gag. Don’t really think that’s related to the food-making-me-gag, though.

      • Gillianren

        Yeah, I basically don’t eat fruits or vegetables. It’s awful for me, but so is throwing up all the time.

      • tdd68

        Me too! I almost never hear of someone with the same food issue. People act like I’m doing it on purpose, when it’s really not. Although for me it’s just vegetables…

      • Gillianren

        I generally find it easier to tell people what I will eat instead of what I won’t. And, yes, I get the “you’re doing it on purpose” thing. My aunt tried to prevent me from having dessert until I’d finished my vegetables once. I was eighteen and had graduated from high school the day before.

      • Jayn

        I just had a horrible image of the Pearls trying to deal with a picky eater of the “can’t physically get the food down” variety…

      • Conuly

        This is probably nothing you don’t know, but just in case, it IS possible to get physical therapy for food issues when they severely impact your life like that.

      • ako

        I have the gagging thing. It’s gotten less bad as I got older, but I still sometimes find myself physically struggling to swallow certain foods. It was really rough when I was younger, because some people would think I was doing it deliberately to be difficult.

        I find I can eat a much wider range of food now that I’m more confident in asking restaurants to leave out certain ingredients.

    • Cassiopeia

      Ahhh, but who would get the groceries?

      After all, that’s not a manly thing to do.

      • redlemon

        You’d be surprised. My dad insisted on doing ALL the grocery shopping because my mom would “screw it up” and spend too much on bad food.

      • onamission5

        I ask spouse to get me something from the brocery store when the kids are clamoring for dessert, because I can’t bring myself to buy junk and he’s the king of random food purchases when he’s hungry. This works well for us all.
        (brocery store = hilarious typo that I am leaving as-is)

      • redlemon

        My husband is the same. When I go shopping with him, at checkout, I always look at the list and then look in the cart and wonder where all the other food came from.

      • onamission5

        LOL. Spouse and I are terrible when we shop together, doesn’t matter what it is– furniture, clothing, food, misc, gifts, we will not stay on budget. The curse of pairing up with another last-born, I think, is that both of us know what it’s like to not grow up with shiny new things, and neither of us wants to deny the other that opportunity even if we’re able to deny it to ourselves. If we go grocery shopping together we are going to come home with twice what we went for, plain and simple.

        Thus, I do almost all of the shopping by myself. Unless I want junk food, then I (incredibly transparently and unabashedly) send spouse. It’s a running joke, “Hi, honey? The kids want ice cream, will you stop by the store on your way home and pick up some beans?”

      • TLC

        Yeah, I still remember when my ex went to the store for us right after our son was born. After I looked at what he got, I looked at him and said, “Did you happen to go down any other aisle besides the nitrate aisle?” Almost everything he got was something I couldn’t eat because I was nursing and it was just too full of chemicals. He had to make another trip.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        The only reason I do the majority of the grocery shopping is that the husband shops for whatever meals he fancies while I shop for staples that can be turned into different meal combinations.

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

        Hmmmm. Good call. But then again, aren’t good QF wives supposed have amazing gardens? Surely they can grow/harvest everything they need!
        Or maybe unlock her once a month so she can go with a bunch of other ladies and do bulk shopping.

      • Conuly

        Get them delivered.

  • Jackie

    My husband’s greatest desire when he gets home is to talk with me – tell me stories from his day or week if he’s been gone. While he loves food, he’d rather I have time to just sit with him. Took me years to learn that. And he likes to cook together anyway. I have a friend whose father and mother shower together every evening when they get home. And he grew up a farmer where women generally had meals waiting but he discovered he preferred that time alone (you’d assume it’s about sex but it’s not usually).

    Besides, I think Debi is stretching. Several frozen chicken breasts and they’re done in 4 hours in the crockpot? I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. If you cook the rice in there too long enough to cook the breasts from frozen, it turns to mush. And if her grandma was such a great example, why didn’t Debi know how to cook when she got married? Maybe because in her childhood you didn’t ask your 13-year-old to cook entire meals every day.

    I would have taken that meal I cooked with so much love and dumped it on his head. Or at least not cooked again for a long time.

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

      Seriously. Why is any feeling on the woman’s part a bad thing? She should be able to tell her husband “That was insensitive and you hurt my feelings. I put a lot of time and effort into this meal, and the least you can do is eat it. Or if you’re going to insist on a cold meal, put your plate in the fridge.”

    • Mary C

      Re: the crockpot meal and Debi giving a recipe in her book that definitely will not work the way she describes it (you are very right about frozen chicken breasts and the rice cooking time), and actually doesn’t sound very good (not to mention celery and bell peppers together) – I don’t get it.

      Assuming that Debi really knows how to cook with a crockpot, she could’ve described any one of a dozen meals that WILL cook in 4-5 hrs and yield leftovers that can be turned into dinner.

      So why include a recipe that would set a wife up to fail if she followed it???

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

        Ironic how her recipes mirror her marriage advice. Setting women up for failure and then blaming them for it.

      • Conuly

        What’s wrong with celery and bell peppers together? They form two steps of the classic Cajun trinity!

      • Mary C

        Oh do share! What is the third part of the cajun trinity? I’d imagine that 3rd part plus cajun spices probably makes all the difference. I’ve never cooked cajun anything.

        It was how Debi described it – as chicken, rice, celery and bell peppers cooked in water plus some unidentifed seasonings – maybe she was headed toward something good, but she didn’t get there!

      • Conuly

        Onions. The trinity in nearly every cuisine that has one (three foods cooked together to form the base of most meals) includes onions. They’re the sine qua non of the allium world. If it isn’t onions, it’s garlic.

        And yes, to properly make any dish you first sauté the trinity. I can make a damn good gumbo for a New Yorker, if I do say so myself (and I do, oh do I ever!), and I would never try making it by just chucking the stuff in a crockpot.

        (This is why I hardly ever make gumbo, it’s a bit of a production.)

      • Mary C

        Oh yes, onions! Onions are a staple for me too. Although I tend to revert back to carrots, onions, and something else (like potatoes or celery). Just can’t say I’ve ever combined celery, bell peppers and onions. Although now I am tempted to go try gumbo.

      • Conuly

        It’s a bit of a production, as I said, but I for one find it sooooo worth it when I make it. (And then we eat it for a week, because there is only one serving size in my kitchen and that’s “cook for an army”. I’m not going to make the effort of a special trip to buy andouille, to save up chicken scraps from the last one I roast, to economize so we can have shrimp, to prepare a roux, to do all that just to make a small pot of gumbo! Forget it!)

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

        I don’t do gumbo, but I make a mean Japanese curry rice. It’s got onions, golden potatoes, and carrots as its holy trinity :)

        And yeah, that gets made in giant pot size only too. I freeze half of it- it’s not as good after being frozen, but there’s only two of us and we can’t eat it all before it goes bad.

      • Saraquill

        Ooh, do you use curry bricks, or start from scratch? I had a tasty from scratch recipe, but the 4 hour cooking time was too much for my liking.

      • Conuly

        What are curry bricks?

      • Saraquill

        They’re block of pre-made curry spices bound with flour and oil. They’re of Japanese manufacture and you can find them in grocery stores with a good Asian section. Instead of making your own blend and coaxing out the flavors, you drop the bricks in with your cooking food and stir until it melts into a sauce.

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

        Start from scratch. The curry bricks all have a flavor enhancer I’m allergic to :(

        The recipe itself has to cook for a long time, but it doesn’t require a lot of attention other than making the roux.

        Now I want to make it again!

      • onamission5

        Heh, my holy trinity is celery, onions and garlic. It goes in All The Things from fried potatoes to greens to soup.

      • Conuly

        Learning a few quick bases that can be used for multiple recipes is the trick for ease in the kitchen.

        It can even make rotation cooking like she suggests more bearable. I can use the same base and nearly all the same ingredients to make pasta sauce, chili, chana masala, or doro wat. All those dishes are easy and reasonably priced, so if I planned to use that base on Mondays I could still get a new meal every week for a month.

      • lucifermourning

        damn onions.

        total side note, i just hate them and spend every restaurant trip working out what to eat.

        on the plus side, it’s made me a more creative cook, working out how to modify recipes to avoid them.

        on the post – just, wow. i mean, i do most cooking in the house, because i hate dishes – the deal is, i cook, husband washes. and we do plan ahead – on Saturday or Sunday we plan our weekly meals so we can shop efficiently. it does speed things up and we can plan using leftovers and such. but it’s so very possible to be creative and varied without spending loads of time or money.

      • Mogg

        Yep. Even an Aussie can make pretty decent gumbo, although I make a non-seafood version as I can’t tolerate it. I can even make a crockpot version if I don’t have much time – but the Trinity has to be sauteed before going in the pot.

      • Katherine Hompes

        Although you can substitute spring onions or leeks, depending on cuisine (Chinese and French for example)

      • Conuly
      • Mary C

        seriously, my husband is going to come home to gumbo or jambalaya tonight and wonder where his wife went, and who cooked dinner instead!

      • gimpi1

        And don’t forget the most important member of the trinity, the Holy Onion!

      • Jackie

        She calls it an “electric” crockpot. Seriously? It’s like saying I have an electric hairdryer. This was published in 2004 and the woman is probably 60. There’s something wrong here and I’ll bet it starts with she doesn’t use the crockpot. Maybe they sneak through the McDonald’s drive thru every Sunday after church.

        And yes, it is so like her to throw out a recipe that won’t work.

      • Carol Lynn

        Maybe she tried a treadle crock pot once? /sarcasm

      • smrnda

        Perhaps she’s making anecdotes from her own life up, not just the letters she gets?

      • Mary C

        It seems like this happens so often in evangelical circles – they have this idea of how everything should be (according to what god wants) and will put up every appearance that they are living exactly that way, when it is all a huge charade. I am starting to feel like Debi does this so often that she can’t even tell the difference between her charades and reality.

  • Mel

    When I married, I became a MRS. too. My husband and I have a great relationship, but I’m sure it’s not based solely on my cooking ability. If I cooked exactly how my husband liked food, I’d never be able to eat since he likes food spiced much, much hotter than I do. Our solution was that whoever was cooking would spice the food to a low enough level that I could eat and my husband gets out the hot sauce of his choosing and drowns his food in it.

    Also, my husband cooks well. He knows how to feed himself and make awesome dishes.

  • Sally

    Once again Debi takes some good ideas and makes them feel like drudgery.

  • Niemand

    I considered my marriage to be my career for the rest of my life, and I intended to be successful at it.

    My response to this: How nice for you. I hope it works out well for you. However, I’m a more cautious sort and would never undertake such a high risk career personally. What if your husband dies? Or leaves you? Or you are unable to continue to perform your “career duties” for any reason? What if you decide you hate being a full time housewife and want to do something else? Marriage has no disability insurance, provides no unemployment, doesn’t give you anything to put on your cv if you want to change jobs. So, I won’t say you’re wrong, but if you’re recommending marriage as a career to others, please make sure you point out to them that you’re advocating a high risk career. To fail to do so would be unethical.

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

      Well, with “switching” babies and conditioning grown women to obey their men, I don’t think ethics is high on the priority list…

  • badgerchild

    Maybe I’m a bit of a snob, but my mother would have considered me a failure as a housekeeper if I cooked like that. I know not everyone’s Julia Child, but once you actually learn how to cook, decent, simple meals worth eating can be made cheaply and quickly. I always wanted to write a basic cooking book with tips and techniques for making food taste better on a low income, something I did well when I was in my 20s and poor.

    • Christine

      I totally agree with you about the food. It’s not necessarily wrong to cook like that, but being proud of it is rather odd.

    • victoria

      I’m right with you on that one. Nothing she mentioned doing in that excerpt sounded at all appetizing.

      • victoria

        Oh, and the whole “just make the exact same food every week!” Geez, if someone wants to do that, great, but I would personally not be happy with that. (I realize not everyone shares my biases there, granted. My husband probably WOULD be OK with it.)

      • Stephanie

        This is what gets me about this section – she’s hell bent on women providing “good” meals but yet she wants them to serve the SAME thing every week. I would be choking on those burritos after week 3 – not “good” in my opinion at all.

      • badgerchild

        I know, right. Even my modified menu would be hell if I tried making it three weeks in a row. It’s poverty of choice, poverty of imagination, poverty of culture, even if there’s no actual poverty of money. I wonder if it isn’t just an effort to be “unworldly”. Are “unworldly” people really just overstimulated and made uncomfortable by modern life and its myriad choices?

      • NeaDods

        That’s… actually a really good theory. The more I think about it, the more I think you may have hit on a major truth.

      • Mary C

        Yeah, I’m a little bit stopped in my tracks by the thought actually.

      • Saraquill

        I was a bit surprised Debi suggested making “worldly” quasi-Mexican food.

      • KarenJo12

        I’m too picky an eater and too proud of my skill in the kitchen to serve the same thing over and over. I get my sons to help and we make some really amazing things.

        Also, my husband is a severe diabetic. If I only cooked what he can eat it would be call-CPS-level child neglect for my kids. I always make something he can ea, but it’s never the only thing.

      • Gillianren

        My boyfriend would be okay with the same food every day. According to his mother, his (father? grandfather?) ate the same lunch every day for something like forty years without complaining. I’d go crazy by the end of a week.

      • victoria

        I was taking a really demanding class last year, and my husband suggested that we just cook one thing on Sunday and eat that for the rest of the week. Problem solved!

        I think I responded to that by just staring at him quizzically for an unnervingly long time.

      • Alix

        …I’m one of those weird people who likes eating the same food over and over. I mean, eventually I’ll swap out, but we’re talking after a few weeks here. If ever – I’ve eaten the same breakfast for years now, quite happily.

        I love to cook, though, and I cook meals for my mother, which keeps my diet more varied than it otherwise would be.

        Seriously, though, I have this epic dream of one day hitting on the perfect combination of stuff I can make ahead of time and that takes no prep to eat, because I have a distressing tendency to forget that I need to do so. Eating the same thing all the time? If it’s good, why wouldn’t you want to? It’s damn stressful coming up with new things for each meal!

      • Whirlwitch

        I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with that, actually. This is how the week went at my house during my latter growing-up years:

        On Saturday. my mom would make a pot of pasta sauce (unless we still had a good supply in the freezer, left over from other Saturdays, in which case she put a tub of the frozen sauce in the fridge to defrost). She rotated through tomato, lentil and meat sauce, because she, my sister and I all had different favourites.

        On Sunday, she would roast a chicken. That was, of course, Sunday dinner, with roast potatoes, veggies and pie.

        On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we would have pasta with the sauce she had made on Saturday.

        On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we would have leftover chicken and gravy heated and served over rice or possibly mashed potatoes, with salad or steamed veggies.

        There were nights of deviation, especially if she had time off work, but that was the basic scheme. Of course, my mom worked full-time, got home no earlier than 6:00 on weekdays, and was a single parent after I was 10. She needed to come home to something she could whip up fast as soon as she walked in the door.

        My wife was raised with much the same. Leftovers need to be eaten up, and working mothers (and fathers where applicable) have time constraints. The meals I ate were made from scratch, no processed convenience foods, and were balanced. I really didn’t know this was unusual or somehow inferior.

      • badgerchild

        Actually it sounds horrible. I grew up eating meat-and-two-veg for every dinner, but at least there was some variation, and my brother and I cooked for the family starting with simple dishes from the age of 8 or so.

      • Katherine Hompes

        I’m with you- growing up, my parents had a rule- we never eat the same meal twice within a month. Being that both of my parents are fabulous cooks (my dad is an ex-chef), who are very adventurous with cuisine, it would usually be more like 2 months without the same meal, although there were a few favourites that made their way onto the menu more often than others. I had it good! Of course, I now try to implement the same rule in my house, with varying degrees of success

    • badgerchild

      Try this. I switched up the order a bit but tried to get some passing similarity to Debi’s menu.

      Day 1: Something like http://karistaskitchen.com/2013/01/11/roasted-sweet-potato-and-black-bean-salad/ with a pork chop.

      Day 2: Leftover black beans in tortillas as healthy tacos, without the ground beef, but with tilapia or another mild white fish seasoned with lime and chile.

      Day 6: Chicken cacciatore in the crock pot (chicken, onions, bell pepper, garlic, canned tomatoes, Italian herbs), served with pasta and with broccoli tossed in garlic butter.

      Day 4: Hopping John (red beans and rice with onion/celery/bell pepper, Cajun seasoning, and andouille or regular smoked sausage) with lightly cooked kale or collards, and cornbread. Make extra rice for tomorrow.

      Day 3: Chicken fried rice (always better with day-old rice) made with onions, peas, carrots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, eggs, and ginger, and soy sauce. Skin and bone some cheap chicken thighs for it. Serve with lightly stir-fried green beans and simple egg drop soup (slowly pour beaten egg into boiling chicken broth while stirring briskly). Also good for any leftover roast, ham, pork chop, or shrimp.

      Day 5: A hamburger cookout actually sounds fine to me if the hamburgers aren’t pre-made frozen patties from a box.

      Day 7: A chuck roast or roasting chicken as an oven pot roast surrounded by potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions, served with garlic bread and a simple salad.

      • badgerchild

        The order of the meals are right, but I forgot to switch the days. Oh me. Back to work :)

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

      Yeah, her stuff just didn’t sound that good.

      Also, I’m allergic to MSG (it’s a flavor enhancer that goes by many names: monosodium glutamate, hydrolized vegetable oil, autolyzed yeast or soy extract, etc). Do you have any idea how much MSG is in a lot of the stuff she suggested? I could make similar meals from higher-quality foodstuffs, but not her specific recipes.

      • CarysBirch

        Ugh, isn’t it awful to be allergic to food additives that get hidden? I’m extremely sensitive to aspartame and it’s amazing what that gets hidden in. Half the time I KNOW I’ve eaten it, but I haven’t got the faintest clue where.

      • trinity91

        I have PKU so I totally get where you’re coming from. My recommendation would be to check the stuff you are using for sandwiches carefully for the next couple of years. The ADA has now decided to go after sandwiches as the reason for childhood cavities, so just like the gum has all been changed their goal is to get sugar out of peanut butter, jam, lunch meat, and bread.

      • CarysBirch

        [expletive redacted].

        I love sandwiches. :(

        It’s a migraine trigger for me. If I so much as lick the wrong breath mint, I’m down for 1-2 days like clockwork. Other sweeteners are not as bad as aspartame but I try to avoid them all. Sucralose usually doesn’t trigger anything for me, acesulfame potassium almost always does. Stevia is the only one that’s never triggered a migraine, and so I do use that for coffee etc.

      • trinity91

        I’m so sorry. I don’t want to audit your food choices so if you don’t want advice you may skip the rest of the comment.
        The problem is that the ADA says that sucralose and stevia do the same thing that table sugar does so the only one that the food companies can use and get the ADA approval is aspartame. I would recommend staying away from any sandwich product that specifically mentions a sweetener in the name, such as honey ham or honey wheat bread. I’ve already found aspartame in many of the prepackaged deli meats so tread REALLY carefully there. Another option is to buy the roasted meat at the deli instead of slices from the chubs and just ask them what they put on it, they can normally still slice it incredibly thin for you if you ask. I use frozen garlic toast for sandwiches (who is going to add sweetener to garlic toast?), or plain tortillas as tortillas don’t have sweeteners added to them.

      • Guest

        On a unrelated note: last year (I think), my favorite taco seasoning was reformulated to remove MSG. Unfortunately, it tastes awful now. I’m still a little annoyed – I’m a creature of habit and have been eating that taco seasoning at least since I was ten.

      • Conuly

        You can purchase your own MSG and add it in, if you like.

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


    • Katherine Hompes

      It’s something I do rather well- although now I’m disabled I don’t do so well with the actual cooking part, I still plan all of the meals, and write the recipes. And like my dad (who is the best cook I know) I have the knack for being able to create really good recipes from the few ingredients that are available. It’s a service I extend to friends as well. Both of my parents would be horrified at the description of debi’s “soup”- particularly my father, who has elevated delicately flavoured Japanese soups into an art form.

  • Christine

    Oh, look. False dichotomy strikes again. Either you want to throw the meal at your husband’s head, or else you have completely subsumed your being in his.

    I find it more depressing than I would think reasonable than Debi’s idea of making pleasing your husband through food is so boring. You don’t need to cook good food. You don’t need to have variety or worry particularly about nutrition. Just cook lots of it, and have it on the table on time. And this is all it takes to make your marriage your career? What about traditional housewife stuff like managing the budget, or running a small business on the side?

  • kisarita

    most of this post was pretty on target except for one thing- i think you overreacted to the part on whether a 13 year old can cook chicken in a crock pot. In my opinion that’s an age appropriate task and I see no fault with it at all. Children should certainly have some household responsibilities, both boys and girls. I imagine you approach the suggestion differently because of the cultural context of teenage girls being expected to be full fledged housewives.

    • Jackie

      Actually what Libby Anne said was that it was tame for a 12-year-old to be able to do it because her sister at 13 was responsible for ALL the household meals. That’s a bit much I think. Certainly 2 of my children learned to cook at a young age because they loved it. The other 2 hated it so I found different chores. Now those are the 2 who enjoy cooking the most.

  • Cassiopeia

    I enjoy cooking and baking. I’m fairly good at it as well. I will happily spend a goodly amount of time in the kitchen making something. I will happily make enough for more than one and invite people over.

    But there are days when I get home and the idea of cooking anything more labour intensive than turning the oven on and sticking food in makes me cringe.

    I cook for my own enjoyment, feeding other people is secondary. And the first person to make jokes regarding my gender and the fact I enjoy cooking doesn’t get fed.

    If I marry I fully expect my partner to do their share in the kitchen. With clearing up if not cooking. Call me a snob but paper plates are for children’s parties, barbeques and other occasions where actual plates might be damaged.

    As for cooking to please him rather than yourself. Unless he has allergies, if he doesn’t like what I make then he’s free to make things for himself.

    Nobody, but nobody, gets between me and a steak.

    If your relationship depends on cleaning the house and cooking him meals then your relationship is incredibly shallow.

    Then again I’m an evil feminist who works outside the home, so all cleaning and cooking is done in addition to work which pays the bills. So yes, my house is a little scruffy and I probably should hoover more often but it’s dangerous or unsanitary so it’s not a problem.

  • BobaFuct

    ” They taught us to resist taking offense, and that we were never to “give him [our husband] a piece of our mind.”

    She is such a freaking liar. Michael’s book (thanks to Aletha for reviewing) is full of stories of Debi giving him a piece of her mind. The way he tells it, she has on numerous occasions set him straight and given him advice and told him when she thought he was being a jackass…based on his book, their marriage is actually fairly normal-looking.

    • Sally

      OK, I gotta ask. Is this based on the parts Aletha has posted about or something coming up in the book the rest of us don’t know about? Because I’m getting a different read from Aletha’s posts than I think you are. You’re right, Debi does tell him off (sort of) on their honeymoon. But I think the whole point in both books is that they made mistakes when they were first married and had to learn along the way- most of the learning being on Debi learning to die to herself. I think older Debi would tell younger Debi she was not being a proper help meet yet when she gave him a piece of her mind on the honeymoon, even though she did it proclaiming she was the weaker vessel, and in tears. I don’t get the sense from Aletha’s posts so far that Michael wouldn’t agree with that.

      • BobaFuct

        Quotes like:

        “”Let’s Go” She Said [Michael contracted encephalitis and was hospitalized for 11 days. They didn't know if he'd survive and Michael fell into a depression afterwards, mostly due to the loss of his short-term memory. He would often re-buy things because he forgot he bought them already.] At the time I was making kitchen cabinets for a living. I would head out to install a set and forget where I was going. I got scared to leave the house. I felt confused and uncertain and lost my confidence. I felt normal until I got into a stressful situation or someone called my attention to something I had forgotten. I began to fall behind in my business and was unable to get out and do the necessary sales.
        I’m impressed that Michael actually admits to feeling scared and less confident. It must have been really scary for his family.

        One day my wife said “let’s go.” She rode with me through new subdivisions and we stopped at houses under construction. She sent me inside to talk to the homeowners or builders. Our first trip out netted two jobs. She had to continue challenging me to keep me going, but after several years I seemed to return to normal. She tells me I was grouchy during that time and seemed to resent anyone thinking that there was anything wrong with me. I still have trouble remembering names. If she hadn’t challenged me with an offer to help, I might have shrunk into depression (but I doubt it).”

      • Sally

        Is this coming up in the book or did I miss a post by Aletha?
        Well, I have to kinda back track because I think I agree with you that she’s a liar, and I’ve actually posted about this in a few other threads. What Debi describes in her book and what they both say in their Train Up book, I simply don’t believe they lived out to the degree that they convey. I think they’re somewhat like their books, but even they couldn’t live like they describe. And that’s what’s so criminal about all this. People read this stuff and think it’s desirable and possible to be like this. It’s not either.

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


        (not to plug my blog. just for clarification)

        And I agree with you, Sally. They can’t be as bad as their books. I’m beginning to think their books are extreme because that’s what makes the $$, and I flat out pity the people that think they’re gospel truth.
        Though reading articles on the NGJ website, it sounds like Michael thinks he’s a prophet, so it’s all kinds of messed up.

      • Katherine Hompes

        Yeah, I’m thinking that they couldn’t have been *that* extreme. Shoshanna seems to have turned out okay, if a bit too perky for my tastes

      • BobaFuct

        Libby Anne’s reposts lag a bit behind Aletha’s own blog, so if you’re just reading the posts here, that may explain it. I pulled this from:


      • Sally

        OK, yes, I’m in the lagging group.

      • BobaFuct

        All that said, I think your point is valid and really, both answers are right…it’s just that the Pearls are so schizophrenic and hypocritical that their arguments are neither coherent nor consistent. Well, Debi is consistently terrible in what she preaches, but in practice she seems to be much closer to “normal”, and Michael seems to have some self awareness about being an abusive asshole and he tries to make his wife sound good, but in doing so completely contradicts the picture Debi paints. It makes my brain hurt, and yet I can’t stop reading about it!

  • redlemon

    Regarding giving children choices: My husband and his parents have always thought that giving a child a choice between two things is good. It gives them a sense of power in their world (they *chose* something!) and only two items doesn’t overwhelm them. I’ve found this to work rather well. For breakfast, I offer cereal or toast. She chooses cereal or toast. For snack, typically, it’s either some crackers and cheese or yogurt. She gets a little boost of self and we avoid bunches of tantrums. Of course, in an environment where choice is seen as disobedience, I suppose this is terrible.

    And she would cringe and cry if she ever saw how my grandparents interacted with each other. Loving, long marriages, with the occasional putting funny hats on my sleeping grandpa and then taking pictures specifically for the photo album. I’m sure that’s seen as a lack of respect to Debi. (Or my grandpa placing a picture of a monkey in the photo album and then giving it my grandma’s name. The albums are a hoot to look through.)

    • guest

      That sounds absolutely hilarious and charming.

    • Sally

      See, that’s the thing. I think they do tease each other. We get a tiny hint of that when she hoots at Michael when he’s taking out the trash. And here’s a strange little photo and headline at the website.
      So, again, I’m not saying, “See, all is well.” I’m saying, “I don’t get this. What Debi conveys in her books doesn’t match other things we see from the family.”

      • redlemon

        Do as I say and not as I do?

        If something goes wrong it must be because of xyz (which is the woman’s fault) but if I do xyz and nothing goes wrong, obviously I was in the right?

      • Sally

        Yeah, pretty much.

      • redlemon

        I still can’t imagine her approving of funny women’s hat pictures on sleeping husbands, but that might be because my grandma isn’t exactly a woman who submits. At one point, she had 3 little ones and my grandpa was back in school for a second degree. He would hit the German beer gardens on the way home, which of course kept him out late. After a month or so of this, he got an earful and suddenly came home to be a “family man like his mother taught him to be”. And this was the mid 1960s.

      • Sally

        Well, I think lack of teasing and submitting can be different things. Now, when Debi talks about being sober, she seems to mean a bunch of things (anything she wants, really), but she doesn’t seem to mean, no humor (although she certainly doesn’t show any humor in the way she talks or the advice she gives in her book so far). I think humor and submitting can also be very interrelated. As we all know, jokes and teasing tend to have truth behind them. If the person they’re directed at can take a joke, then you can give a lot of indirect feedback to someone wrapped up in humor. I think this is often actually a good thing. We all need feedback, and getting it through certain kinds of humor I think can be a gentle way to get that feedback.
        But once again, if Debi uses humor to give Michael feedback (she sure seems to in that link I posted), then she’s not being very honest with her readers about the degree to which they must ignore their own needs.
        All of that to say, I’m sure the Debi presented in her book and your grandmother had very little in common. The real Debi and your grandmother may have shared a little bit in the humor department … maybe … a little bit.

  • Mary C

    I can’t even read the quotes within this post without feeling completely suffocated. What a miserable way to live!

    As a non-believer, it is so striking to me that Debi, and the women who follow her, spend their entire lives stuck in this tiny little box, missing all the wonderful opportunities in the world to stretch and grow and explore, all because they think this is what they must do to please a god that doesn’t even exist.

    • Sally

      “all because they think this is what they must do to please a god that doesn’t even exist.”
      I know, it’s so sad. And they’ll never know the difference.

  • Conuly

    Her marriage is her career? If you’re a stay-at-home spouse I guess I can see that.

    What I can’t see is why she’s okay letting her husband walk all over her career. If his coworkers treated him like that, she’d encourage him to get a new job. Heck, even if his boss did, that’d be a sign to leave, and I suppose she sees him as her boss (blech). This marriage is her career, shouldn’t it at least be his hobby?

    • Sally

      “This marriage is her career, shouldn’t it at least be his hobby?”
      LOL, good point!

  • AAAtheist

    Debi’s cousin Frieda says this:

    “… When I married, I became MRS. Lansing. His life, his agenda, and his desires became mine. I considered my marriage to be my career for the rest of my life, and I intended to be successful at it. …”

    Oh, the ice cold shivers down my spine! If this was my only career option I’d be doing everything in my power to get my ass fired.

    “… If he didn’t like the food I cooked, rather than refusing to cook anymore, saying that he was just too hard to please, I learned to cook the food he liked! I just WANTED, and WAS DETERMINED, to please him. …”

    Oh, silly men! It’s not like we could cook our own meals and prepare dishes we like. Also, would it be a crime against nature for us to (gasp!) prepare meals for our wives and our children that they like?

    “… And I found that he was really not that hard to please. Most men are not so hard to please; I heard someone recently say that all a man needs is food, sex, and respect, and he’ll be pretty content. That is certainly an oversimplification, but from experience, I know that those things are the basic, rudimentary needs of all husbands. …”

    Well, thanks at least for that backhanded compliment, Frieda. Seriously, one of my top needs as a man is self-respect, and I can provide those three things for myself on my own. If a woman thinks I need those things from her, chances are I won’t respect her very much.

    • Parisienne

      Yep, I think this time round Debi is actually being as insulting to men as she is to women. Men want nothing but food, sex, and respect?

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

        I think “respect” is code word for “reverence”…

      • onamission5

        Which is code for unquestioning obedience!

  • Jayn

    The paper plates thing is ridiculous. In other words, she KNOWS it’s a ridiculous amount of housework–if she was really such a maven at planning wouldn’t she be able to juggle washing reusable dishware along with everything else? And I can’t get over the wastefulness of it…though I suppose the ‘God will provide’ mindset would make that less of a concern for her.

  • M.S.

    I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was younger (LOVED those books) and when she married Almanzo (what a dream boat) she told him she wouldn’t promise to obey him in their ceremony. He said that was fine, he wouldn’t expect her to. That was 1885. 1885!!!!! So here we are almost 130 years later, and people are still saying wives should obey their husbands? Sigh. Face palm. Head bang. Eyeball poke out.

    • victoria

      Am I remembering wrong, or isn’t the Little House one of those series that’s looked on pretty favorably within this subculture?

      • M.S.

        I recall the television series being somewhat religious, but I don’t know that the books made the family seem any more religious than any other family in that era, you know? But I wouldn’t think it would be a series that this subculture would strongly oppose! She didn’t even let Almanzo get in a kiss until he put a ring on it! ;-)

      • victoria

        Sure, but Almanzo got to court her a.) unchaperoned b.) when she was living out of town with another family and b.) teaching for income. Laura even helped her dad with hard physical labor!

        (BTW, if you haven’t read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, you’d probably enjoy it. Her Twitter feed as Laura Ingalls Wilder is amusing too :).)

      • M.S.

        I will definitely look that up! Thanks for sharing! I just adore LHOTP. And you are right, put in that context the Ingalls family was quite progressive. But I always thought Laura was somewhat of a feminist in disguise. ;-)
        Almanzo and Laura drove all over the place “un chaperoned” but perhaps Laura’s parents just trusted her. I think that’s a big part of what is missing in some of these other subcultures… trusting your kids!

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Teenage girls and boys spending time together unchaperoned was apparently pretty common throughout the 19th century. I think in the later part of the century, the upper classes (which the Ingalls family was definitely not among) made an effort to bring back the organized debut and highly supervised courtship for young women, but these things never had the same currency in America as they did in, say, England. Once again, the past does not actually fit with fundamentalists’ fantasy.

      • M.S.

        Libby, if you’re reading this… perhaps a good topic for a blog post would be the hidden feminism of the Ingalls family. ;-)

      • Rosa

        it was common in most eras, I think – definitely I’ve read about courting/dating culture in colonial New England, and again in the 1890s and 1920s.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well, the 1890s-1920s is kind of when the model shifted from courtship to dating, beginning among working-class young people who had migrated from the countryside to the cities for work, who would obviously have not had families around for chaperoning their every move. Before that, courtship would have been the official standard but historic Americans were not nearly as obsessive or doctrinaire about following all the rules as contemporary American fundamentalists imagine them to have been or are themselves.

      • Leigha7

        I always got the impression that Laura was a bit of a daddy’s girl (not in a bad way), and that Pa understood her pretty well (presumably because she was a lot like him, but oddly only the girls in that family ever get discussed–they all have books–so I’d have no idea about his personality beyond what Laura wrote). So it may well be that part of why they were allowed to be unchaperoned is because he trusted her.

        Moreover, I believe a lot of the idea of not allowing unchaperoned courtship was for fear of the man taking advantage. Even with Almanzo being, what, 10 years older than Laura, I don’t think there was much risk of that. It seems unlikely she’d have liked the sort of man who would do that (though obviously that’s usually something you find out later), and it also seems highly unlikely she’d put up with it. So I’m guessing Pa figured she could hold her own.

      • Bobo

        Also ma insisted the family settle down and stop moving West so that the girls could go to school (notably pa conceded to her wishes even though he wanted to keep traveling to new frontiers). Laura later taught school a long way from home where she was unhappy so that they would have enough money for Mary to go to college for the blind and gain some independence.

        In some ways the Ingles family fit into this subculture, but really only because they lived in the 1800s, I think that is rather telling. It seems that many of these people want to turn the clock back 150 years. The thing is, even back then, some people (like the Ingles) probably would have found them excessively controlling and sexist.

      • Alice

        Ha-ha, the children-must-go-to-school plot point drove me NUTS as a home-school kid. Especially since Ma was a retired schoolteacher, so it’s not like she couldn’t do it.

      • M.S.

        Ma was tired Alice. Ma was tired.

      • tatortotcassie

        I thought it wasn’t just the children-must-go-to-school so much as it was “if there’s a school, there’s enough people to have a town which means Civilization” mentality. Ma didn’t like moving around and definitely didn’t seem to like being far from other people.
        I’ve heard it said that Laura Ingalls Wilder is too liberal, because she was a little spitfire and refused to promise to obey her husband.

      • victoria

        Agreed, and I think there was an element of her wanting the girls to have some options (within the context of their time) too — to be at least somewhat “cultivated.” Ma was from “back East” and was educated. At home she could (and did) teach them the basics, but she didn’t have the resources to do much more than that.

      • Alice

        Probably, also I now think that one of Ma’s concerns was that uncivilized places wouldn’t have many eligible young bachelors for her daughters when they got older.

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

        Apparently socialization with non-family is important, or some other heresy like that!

      • Monala

        Plus, IIRC, wasn’t there a big age difference between them? Wasn’t Laura about 15 and Almanzo about 22 when they started courting?

      • M.S.

        I’m thinking the age gap was at LEAST that much, but I’m not sure the exact ages…

      • Sally

        He was 10 years older. (Almanzo b 1857, Laura b 1867)

      • Niemand

        In some ways, but I can’t help feeling that Laura would have slapped the crap out of Michael and Debi if she’d met them. Plus, they (Michael and Debi) would have died in the long winter because they’re stupid and inflexible.

      • anon

        Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder, is definitely worth researching. Phew, so not fundie-approved!

      • M.S.

        Her books are definitely worth reading too!

  • Ahab

    Perhaps I should tell Debi that my father taught me how to cook, and it was my father who did the cooking for the family. :P

    Did it occur to Jill and Debi that the husband could have HELPED OUT with dinner and the sick kids? Like, you know, a normal husband and father?

    • Gillianren

      I found out a couple of years ago that my dad didn’t think Mom was very good at housework (Lord, he was right), so he’d come home from work and do it himself. I’ve often wondered how much better our lives might have been if Dad had been a stay-at-home parent and Mom had gone out to work. We probably wouldn’t have ended up so poor after Dad died, for one thing.

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

    Does she explain in this chapter how “self-discipline” comes in?

  • gimpi1

    Speaking for myself, I handle virtually all the cooking, since I’m a much better cook, and I genuinely enjoy it. However, he takes me out to dinner at least once a week, never fails to appreciate the meals I prepare, and after over 20 years living together, still does not take a hot, home-cooked dinner for granted.

    I also do most of the housework. My husband qualifies under Dave Barry’s disabled definition, the Cleaning Impaired. He thinks clean laundry and dishes replicate themselves. He literally can’t see dirt. However, he can appreciate being able to sit on the couch without an excavation-project, and being able to invite people over without having to advise them to get a Tetanus-shot. He never fails to thank me for keeping things in order, and still does not take clean underwear or sheets for granted.

    This sounds very traditional, but it really isn’t. The “typically female” stuff is stuff I do well, and don’t mind doing. He does many things for me that I have a strong dislike of. Our chore-breakdown is really about our strengths and weaknesses. Also, my husband has a much more physical job, and often comes home physically exhausted, whereas I have an office-job and feel better for doing something not involving a computer for a little while.

    We try to work together as a team, and like most teams, there is real give-and-take. The very idea of him pulling some of Michael Pearl’s crap, demanding special meals or being put out if dinner was late because I was taking care of a sick child (or on deadline for a project) is beyond my comprehension. If he had taken on these affectations, I wouldn’t have thrown food, I would have thrown him out. Love is wonderful, but self-respect is vital.

    • ako

      I think people like Debi like to imagine (and threaten other people with) some straw-feminist nightmare where women are banned from doing all tasks traditionally considered women’s work, and men are forced into the kitchen in frilly aprons.

      Real feminism? What you’re describing. You personally consider yourself well-suited to cooking and cleaning, you do it, and your work is recognized and appreciated.

      Feminism is also men staying home and providing a clean house and hot dinner every night, both parties doing equal shares, same-sex couples where the work is divided evenly or unevenly, and single men and women doing their own chores. It’s everything but forcing people into rigid gender-defined roles.

  • NeaDods

    I… I… I… I’ve got so many conflicting impulses about this post that I’m going into mental gridlock and losing the ability to articulate. A large part of my problem is that I love to cook. I have two entire bookshelves of cookbooks covering 5 nations and 400 years of cuisine! And for years I have tried to reach the goal of having healthy, planned meals waiting in my fridge or freezer so that I can just come home from work and pop them into the crock pot (best way of poaching fish, y’all!), or the oven or the steamer or the… I’ve got a lot of kitchen toys.

    This is a goal because it’s a good idea for anyone. But then, Debi takes a big, steaming contradictory dump all over common sense.

    First, setting all of that up still takes a lot of time, especially if you’re cooking to freeze.

    Second, if you’re supposed to cook for hubby’s preferences, what if he doesn’t like crock pot food? What if he resents eating meals titled “Must be Tuesday, this is meatloaf”?

    Third, what if Jill doesn’t have a child old enough to be conscripted for kitchen help? Is hubby’s manhood going to drop off if he turns an oven knob? (And wouldn’t it be best if he wises up, says “You’ve had a stressful day. Let’s order in Chinese with extra rice, so we can make a quickie rice dish tomorrow, no fuss?” in the first place?)

    Fourth: It can actually help your children become more thankful and will bring about a more peaceful morning Honestly? I lump this in with saying that you can whip kids into “gushing love and contentment.” Bore them at table eternally and they’ll magically become thankful! Your peace is more important than what the kid wants anyway! (My parents, in my opinion, had a more proactive healthy approach. “Don’t like this breakfast? Make it yourself and clean up after.”)

    Fifth: I cannot begin to reconcile people who talk about how frugal their lifestyle is and how they’re good household managers and yet waste who knows how much money buying disposable plates! Not to mention how irreconcilable I find it to put a table set for McDonald’s and “oasis of pleasure” in the same sentence.

    Sixth: I AM a careeer woman, Debi’s Cousin, and I’m perfectly allowed to tell my boss to his or her face that I’m sorry that I haven’t delivered what was expected, but that they need to respect the obvious effort I have expended into trying to accomplish the task as I understood it. (And also, Debi’s Cousin, hot meals often can be frozen, so it’s not like you wasted that effort, really.)

    And finally, because I am a cook (and frankly, not always a nice person) I can’t resist adding that the leftover soup she discusses making out of the crockpot scrapings sounds watery and nasty. Debi, darlin’, if you want a tasty and inexpensive soup, stop wasting your money on frozen chicken breasts and throw a whole bird in there in the first place. Or better yet, roast that sucker; it doesn’t take more fuss to roast a chicken and potatoes than it does to crock a chicken with rice – only when you roast a whole one, you’ve got the leftovers to make into salad, the innards and the bones to make into stock, the drippings to make into gravy, and if you planned ahead and threw them in with, carmelized veggies to add to the soup later — all of for the same price as stewing pre-frozen chicken breasts and rice and dishing it up on a disposable plate. But what do I know, I’m a godforsaken single woman who has the bad planning and money management to eat meals I like off of china.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      haha, I had exactly the same thought about the “just dump a bunch of water into crock pot chicken breasts leftovers” soup. Ew. I feel like any rookie cook/meal-planner knows that buying chicken breasts is a waste of money and that you get so much more mileage out of a whole chicken roasted. I mean, how can she not talk about making stock out of a chicken carcass? That is so basic. Her home ec lessons suck. And that stuff about just using paper plates makes me cry. You are not an effective home manager if the environment is picking up your slack that much.

      But hey, just another single lady here…

      • NeaDods

        I was reading that whole soup thing with my mouth open, thinking “Michael said she was a good cook?” Drowned ovecooked leftovers sound like a threat, not a decent meal!

        As for home economy, she’s as holier-than-thou with as little reason there as she is n psychology. So much pride, so little to show for it…

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

        I don’t know…they must be raking in millions from their books, paid appearances, and other merchandise. It seems she has quite a lot to show for her pride…she’s still mean, though.

      • NeaDods


      • luckyducky

        So, I am NOT a children-are-small-units-of-labor kind and my housekeeping is pretty basic and sporadic (bathroom excepted) but we cook most of our meals and manage not to need disposables (I don’t like eating off of paper or with plastic) probably because we adults take turns cooking, we all help with clean up, and we adults cut each other slack when work is crazy, its hot and no one feels like cooking, or someone sick and not in the rotation.

        With all the focus on girls-as-homemakers-in-training, I am surprised that part of putting a good meal in the table doesn’t include “on the family’s best china that has to be hand washed” by the daughters of the home because I have my children (girl & boy) help with cleanup as part of raising them to be functional adults.

      • TLC

        As someone who has spent many, many hours perfecting the art of cooking soup stock, the “dump a bunch of water” recipe made me laugh out loud. Not that my soup stock is perfect (yet). But I’m a good enough cook and food writer to know that would never make a decent meal.

      • Saraquill

        I was wondering how warm water with bits of rice could possibly be filling. Now if she added miso and more chopped veg, that would be a whole other story.

      • NeaDods

        Even the, some of that rice has been in there, what, 8 hours? Ugh!

      • Saraquill

        That’s when you add more water and turn it from inedible glop into a savory porridge. It also has the bonus of stretching the rice further.

      • NeaDods

        Isn’t there a point when rice gets cooked too far? Not to the point where it breaks down into porridge, I get that part, but to where it just tastes burned?

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Yep, I’m a homemade stock kind of girl too–got 3 different kinds in my freezer now, one batch made from some bones that one of the meat venders at my local farmers’ market gave me for free. You can often get windfalls like that. I can’t imagine being a stay-at-home-wife and not knowing the basics of stock.

        Also, if you’re referring to clarity when it comes to “perfect” stock, I find that it doesn’t make that much of a difference in flavor. :-)

      • NeaDods

        I have gotten stock down to a science, but it helps that I have a huge freezer and a local grocery store that sells soup greens packages (a pound of stuff, including a small onion, turnip or two, carrot or three, leek, small parsnip or two, and sprigs of dill and parsley.)

        I start with two carcasses and innards minus liver, soup greens package, and added parsley & dill & heavy glug of white wine. Cover with water, simmer until water has gone down at least an inch, cool, skim.

        The trick is – this isn’t the stock yet. It’s stock starter, and will take the place of 1/3 to 1/2 the water when you do it all again. By the second or third batch, it’s divine. I like to simmer 1/3 cup tortellini and a small-diced uncooked chicken thigh and a palmful of peas in that and it’s soup for one in about 15 minutes.

      • TLC

        That sounds heavenly! I will have to try this.

      • NeaDods

        I hope you enjoy it! The real trick, I think, is not the specific recipe as much as treating stock like sourdough – part of this batch has to go into the next batch. (This is why the freezer’s so handy. When I have the time & $, I’ll make the stock, and then the next day, after it’s skimmed, and then freeze it with the *next* batch’s greens so I can throw the whole thing in with the next carcass.

      • NeaDods

        Oh! And I’ve grated and roasted a couple packages of those greens and tossed a handful in with pot roast. It does magnificent things to the gravy!

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Eh, I buy frozen bone-in chicken breasts with the rib meat for 99cents a pound though I buy enough to tide me over until the next sale. Buying a whole chicken is annoying because we don’t like to eat left-overs and my husband isn’t a huge fan of chicken in the first place.

      • Leigha7

        “I feel like any rookie cook/meal-planner knows that buying chicken breasts is a waste of money and that you get so much more mileage out of a whole chicken roasted”

        As someone who really only likes white meat chicken (and my boyfriend doesn’t really like chicken on the bone, though he does like both white and dark meat), I would far rather just buy chicken breasts. Plus, it’s way easier to just cook already cut chicken than to have to deal with a whole one. In my opinion, whole chickens are for special occasions, certainly not every day.

        Then again, we’ve been using the same 5 lb bag of chicken breasts (from Sam’s Club) for several months now, making it way cheaper than whole chicken ever could be, seeing as it cost about the same as maybe 2 whole chickens, possibly slightly less.

    • Olive Markus

      My thought was the same – my husband HATES crockpot food. He HATES frozen food. He hates leftovers, as well.. And he doesn’t eat meat. (He’s super picky :)). He likes his meals fresh and light. Therefore, he cooks what he wants :D. It actually isn’t uncommon that I cook meals for myself and he cooks meals for himself. We’re both happy that way. Oh, the horror!!

      • NeaDods


        Has anyone taught him skillet pasta yet? That tuned my life around, and it’s perfect for fresh greens.

      • Olive Markus

        Ooh! Not yet. Any ideas for me?

      • NeaDods

        It’s a technique. Instead of boiling the pasta and then adding sauce, you put the pasta, 2x the water as the pasta by weight, and all the sauce fixings in a skillet. (I like the juice of a lemon and a dollop of butter or oil, and a huge amount of baby spinach. Then you hard simmer the whole thing, stirring, until the water evaporates. The starch makes the sauce creamy and the flavorings condense as the water reduces, so go easy if you put in any alcohol. (And the spinach wilts nicely.) Then I top it with sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles. Also a catfish fillet, but that’s just me.

        It works for all kinds of quickie sauces and ought to be fab for a primavera kind of sauce. Just start with dry pasta, twice the water as pasta, and a dash of oil/fat.

        And not only is there only one pot to clean, dinner goes from fridge to table in about 10 minutes!

      • Olive Markus

        Oh my goodness! That is genius! We use up every pot in the house to make pasta, so this suggest was incredibly welcome. Thank you! I’m copying it to my recipes folder right now.

      • NeaDods

        It really changed my life to learn that trick. (From a Martha Stewart magazine, to be honest.). That recipe I listed used to take 5 pots. Now it takes two skillets – one for the catfish, one for the pasta. Easy and quick cleanup!

      • NeaDods

        Olive! I looked up my recipe and I’d misremembered – it’s THREE times the water as pasta, not two. Other than that – enjoy!

    • Saraquill

      I was thinking “How is eating meat twice a day, every day frugal? That’s what dried beans are for.”

      • NeaDods

        Or eggs and cheese if they can’t bear to give up the animal products. Meat twice a day isn’t just expensive, it’s healthy!

        Er… Edited to say UNhealthy!

      • realinterrobang

        My trainer would beg to disagree with you. Also, my chronic B12 deficiency. I’ll eat meat five times a day if I can get it. (On the other hand, I can eat neither eggs nor dairy, plus certain grains like quinoa.)
        It’s not cheap, but I make enough money now that I don’t *have* to live on frickin’ lentils and rice anymore, and thank g-d for that. Not everybody has to be a (quasi-)vegetarian to be healthy, and for some of us, it’s not even possible.

    • stacey

      She just said put in chicken breasts, she didn’t reference how she got those chicken breasts. I am sure they have their own chickens, and she uses the whole bird. They are total back to the land types.

      The rest of it though, yuck. Cooking in just water and rice? I am sure she knows how to cook, this has got to be a simplification. I mean, if she couldn’t cook…..

  • centaurie

    Debi suggests using paper plates and paper napkins to make cleanup simpler, and I find myself wondering if this is where the Duggars got their antipathy to dishes that can’t just be chucked in a landfill.

    Paper dishes, really?????
    Between this, the copious use of those “tater-tots” and having their oldest daughters doing most of the work, my opinion of Michelle-styled-as-kitchen-princess has sunk fairly low, now.
    Shortcuts to make your cooking easier/faster/less complicated are used by cooks all over the world all the time, especially when you’re feeding 20+ people almost everyday, but this is ridiculous!

  • Sarah Jones

    I start crock pots and eat the contents all by myself. Take that, Debi Pearl.

  • ako

    If Debi had simply set out by offering tips to young moms struggling
    with balancing everything on their plates, I would have no beef with it.

    This is the same thing that happens with a lot of “How to eat healthy while poor” tips. You get people going “Here is some potentially useful tips, I hope you find something helpful” and then the complete jackasses going “If you don’t do all of these, you’re a ball of suck! And if you say you can’t do this, or it doesn’t fit your circumstances, you’re a whiny excuse-making ball of suck!”

    Life is complicated. People vary. Assuming you’ve found the magic strategy secret for absolutely everyone is rarely a good idea.

    While at church, I asked one of the eleven-year-old girls about feeding
    their family of twelve, “If your mama asked you to put a chicken in a
    crock-pot (or three chickens in three crock-pots) with rice and
    seasonings every Sunday morning, could you do it?” Her twelve-year-old
    sister laughed and said, “No problem.”

    When I was eleven, I made chocolate cake from scratch, for fun, and whipped up my own frosting, and my extremely feminist mom never pushed cooking skills any harder than “If you don’t like what’s on the table, and you’re old enough to work the stove safely, you’re on your own for dinner.” (Both my brothers grew up to be brilliant cooks, by the way.) So yeah, I’m not sure who she’s trying to impress here.

    (Around twelve or thirteen, I worked out that baking homemade bread was a great way to help with holiday meals that was seen as doing enormous amounts of work, but let me spend most of the day reading books or watching the X-Files marathon on TV. It was pretty much a vegetarian version of the stereotypical “Man roasting giant hunks of meat” behavior where I’d have to do ten minutes of work every couple hours, and everyone was hugely impressed with my magic touch.)

    Always offer your children only one choice for breakfast. Several
    options will only confuse the child’s spirit. Choices always give room
    for argument or discontentment.

    She really doesn’t get the whole ‘limited options’ thing, does she? A kid shouldn’t feel entitled to absolutely anything they want for every meal, but saying “Here are two healthy things I have in the house and can fix easily. Which one do you want?” isn’t going to provoke endless temper tantrums. It may actually head a few off, as the kid with a weird dislike of cereal happily munches down a slice of peanut butter toast. But she’s all about weird false dichotomies, where it’s either perfect obedience or a crappy duplex, and beating kids into instant perfect obedience or having them turn delinquent.

    Most men are not so hard to please; I heard someone recently say that
    all a man needs is food, sex, and respect, and he’ll be pretty content.
    That is certainly an oversimplification, but from experience, I know
    that those things are the basic, rudimentary needs of all husbands.

    Funny, I know a lot of men who are perfectly happy to get their own dinner together, but would be absolutely miserable married to a woman who refuses to provide intelligent companionship because it’s not “respectful” to disagree, or who needlessly martyrs herself rather than accepting help with “women’s work”, or defers instead of giving them useful advice.

    • Jayn

      “”Here are two healthy things I have in the house and can fix easily.
      Which one do you want?” isn’t going to provoke endless temper tantrums.”

      I imagine that in a larger family it might be more of an issue to offer choices–the more people there are, the harder it’s going to be to get a consensus on meal plans, and if you’re already finding the amount of work daunting adding more recipes to the menu is probably far from appealing. But she’s also not teaching the kids anything about compromise. “We made something Jimmy likes a lot last night, we’re having something Todd likes tonight.” Instead their desires are totally being squashed. We all need to be listened to, even catered to, from time to time–it’s not healthy to learn that your desires never matter.

  • Niemand

    If I tried to be the housekeeper, cook, nanny, and sex worker (and nothing else) for my partner, one of two things would happen. Either I’d take up housekeeping as a blood sport and no one would DARE enter my house with so much as a particle of dust on them, everyone in the family would weigh 300 pounds because I’d be feeding them gourmet food every night, I’d be the helicopter/tiger mother from hell to the kid, and would spend any spare time I had surfing the net for new…um…ideas in the bedroom (and probably exhausting and annoying my partner in the process). Or, more likely, I’d curl up in a corner and become too depressed to move. Neither option seems to me to be the way to a harmonious and pleasant home life.

    • Niemand

      Hmm…OTOH, writing that comment gave me a sudden urge to go home and prepare a five course meal for two and then surf the internet. It’s an amusing thing to do periodically, but as a lifetime’s work…no. Just no.

    • CarysBirch

      I love the way you think. :D

    • redlemon

      Well, I know what I’m doing tonight.

  • krisya0507

    She missed her vocation as a cookbook writer. So far this has been the only thing she has ever written that has actually had some meaningful value. In my opinion, PEOPLE (not just women) need to be taught more basic cookery as children. With real wages lowering, cooking more from scratch is so much cheaper for most people, and it can be much healthier. (Disclaimer–for people in real poverty, that’s not always true. The very cheapest way to get calories is inexpensive processed food, and many people don’t have access to fresh groceries or kitchens with various working appliances or even time, if they’re working two jobs to support a family. I’m talking mostly about middle class households on tight but not impossible budgets). Those tricks from above, like the meals that can be repurposed into different leftovers, are actually really helpful. For a person who has never been taught, making refried beans or chicken stew can seem daunting.

    It’s one of those things that is really easy to learn if it happens throughout childhood. What does meat look like when it’s done? How long do different foods need to cook? What basic kitchen staples do I need to keep around? How do I season different foods? I learned that from my mother; my husband never did–but my son (and my next child, gender unknown) will at least be taught the basics.

    Now I feel kind of dirty for saying that I agree with anything that miserable woman says.

    • krisya0507

      Ok, another disclaimer. I think she is TOTALLY wrong about serving the same meals every week, not offering choices, etc. I read more of the comments below and don’t want to come off like I think her whole plan is great! It’s not! I just think basic cooking techniques are important and I think a lot of people today didn’t ever learn them, to their detriment.

      • NeaDods

        Oh, I agree about learning to cook if you can. It’s the only way to be sure your food doesn’t have sugar or excess salt or high fructose corn syrup or additives lurking in it.

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

        It’s just depressing when a pound of potato chips is cheaper than a pound of potatoes. :(

      • NeaDods

        I know! It’s so wrong.

  • Jackie

    Saw this article today and it explains the Pearls’ philosophy completely. Michael has just found a way to avoid any insecurity. And Debi is helping him do it. They’re scary. http://www.care2.com/causes/successful-women-make-their-male-partners-insecure-researchers-say.html

  • katiehippie

    One time my ex watched me make a pretty involved meal for a couple hours, then when I told him it was ready, he says, ‘oh, I’m not really hungry’.

    • centaurie

      I guess that’s one of the reasons he’s your *ex* right?

      • katiehippie

        Yeah, that’s one of the milder reasons.

    • Penguin

      My sister’s soon-to-be ex-husband was the same way. She was temporarily a
      stay at home wife and she’d ask, regularly, what food he liked to eat,
      what he’d like for dinner, etc. He’d say “whatever you want to cook”. So
      she’d cook food she grew up eating and knew how to cook well. He’d then
      turn up his nose at it and say it was ok, but he was done, and then go
      on to eat a huge bowl of Coco Puffs or 5 cups of yogurt. Or he’d say it
      was fantastic and she’d save leftovers and make it again, but he’d say
      he never really liked it, just said so to be polite. I saw it happen on a few occasions, while visiting for a couple weeks, and I have no idea how she dealt with it. One of the reasons I’m very glad she’s divorcing him.

      • katiehippie

        It was just that why why why didn’t you stop me at an earlier point to tell me you weren’t hungry?

      • Penguin

        I seriously don’t think “Communication is the key” is emphasized enough in relationship advice (especially advice given to men).

    • Alix

      My mom does that. (I keep house for her.) I try to cut her some slack, because she’s overworked and usually very tired when she gets home, and lord knows I know how being tired effs with your appetite, plus she’s one of those people whose appetite takes a nosedive when stressed. Which, dealing with middle-schoolers and a stupid school administration, she often is.

      I’m at the point now where I just accept it as part of her and pack the meal away for her to reheat when ready. But I still can’t help feeling really … wistful, I guess, because I consider presentation half of cooking and half the reward of cooking is watching people enjoy your food, y’know? Cooking, to me, is an art. And on my down-swings packing everything away can make me cry. But I’d have to make food for later anyway, so.

      …Not saying your ex wasn’t an asshole, not at all. >.> My dad and brother both pulled the entitled “watch you slave then go out for pizza/whatever” bullshit, and I hated that.

      It’s just so hard, sometimes, to juggle two different approaches to meals. I feel underappreciated, she feels like I’m forcing food on her. It’s a balancing act.

      …I still wish we had more pretty, sit-down meals, though. :/

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

        Stick some in a Tupperware and mail it to me! I can eat it via Skype…

  • Gillianren

    First, my grandparents were married for nearly sixty years, if I’m not mistaken. Happily. Grandma was a stay-at-home mother. And Grandma never felt the slightest compunction about putting anyone in their place. Obviously, I don’t know the private side of their marriage (I still can’t quite figure out why a woman as funny as she would have married a man with literally no sense of humour), but I can’t imagine her staying silent if Grandpa did something she thought was wrong.

    Second, how hard is it to get an actual cookbook out of the library and learn how to make simple food that doesn’t sound totally disgusting?

    Third, is it just me, or does more get done in relationships with more equality? Last night, my boyfriend was looking for his dress shoes. (He’s been a full-time student for a year and a half and hasn’t needed them.) He cleaned the corner of the closet where I thought they might be while I watched the baby. I could have done both without doing either well, and cleaning would have taken twice as long, or we could both get things done that needed done.

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

    That meal plan Debi has is going to give her family colon cancer, it contains WAY too much red meat*.

    Now this isn’t meant to ridicule people who eat a lot of red meat. I understand there are many reasons why people do such things, and it’s not my place to judge.

    But for a woman who claims that serving her husband(family comes a distant second in Debi’s world I noticed), is a woman’s “life’s work” providing them with such an unhealthy diet doesn’t seem to be the way to go about it.

    *The way my mother’s oncologist explained this to me, was that while other things may be cancer CAUSING, red meat is difficult to digest and doesn’t pass completely through your system. This residue in your colon creates the fertile ground for the cancer to grow.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      Supposedly, Debi fed the family for a year with animal grade feed corn.

      • Panda Rosa


  • tulips

    As we go through these snippets I find myself thinking that it was written in snippets for a reason. The lack of internal consistency would be glaringly obvious if you looked at it as a whole. For example, how would this little bit of advice for domestic prowess and oasis building line up with poverty so crushing you (and your children) are living on donated hog feed? Are we still pretending that people in those circumstances are miraculously still living in a clean environment? Are we pretending that when you don’t have ~food~ you are still singing cheerfully while hand washing laundry in magic self reproducing laundry detergent? Are we pretending that everyone was warm in the winter? That there was regular waste disposal and clean running warm water? Are we pretending a duplex and a welfare check doesn’t look pretty good at that point?

    • badgerchild

      I know what you mean about a duplex and a welfare check looking like comparative riches. I’ve been there too. Fortunately I have not lived on donated feed grain, but I have gone days without eating anything but a slice of pizza that my friends weren’t going to eat (they said), or pot luck at church to which I was too destitute to bring something. No, there is no way you can focus on anything but your next meal, let alone a clean house, presentable clothing, or the minutiae of your spirituality.

    • Sally

      I keep thinking about this too. This is all written to a certain segment of the population- generally middle class. I was thinking poor families have to have two parents working. And what are wealthy wives to do? If they have a cook and housekeeping staff, how exactly are they to be help meets? I suppose Debi would say they serve as hostesses and charity organizers, but her whole book doesn’t even acknowledge that this “biblical help meet” isn’t going to look like a middle class American in many cases. Which gets us back to the fact that she’s really just writing about herself and how she’s survived as Michael’s wife (or some “idealized” version of herself).

      • tulips

        I was referencing an example she used from back in ‘nam when Michael evidently flaked out and decided they were homesteaders despite having no money/plan/experience/”insert resource here” and the whole family almost starved to death until a neighbor took pity on them and gave them either unused or expired animal feed corn which they lived on until it either ran out or they found another source of food. She references grinding poverty in one snippet and describes clearly middle class or at least lower middle class privilege in others. She’s all over the board and frankly…not for the first time or the last…I call BS. On the contrary I read the book as being written to people who are extremely close to marginalization at best…with the intent of encouraging them to prioritize the formula/model they sell over survival with anecdotal and obviously whitewashed portrayals of poverty as a slightly inconvenient net asset.

  • alwr

    I cook for my husband. Not because I am supposed to or because I think it is my duty. I do it because I love to cook. Before I met him, I cooked for whoever would come eat the food. I’ve been known to go to other people’s houses and cook meals for them. I love it. And, unlike the narrow implication of your illustration, I do have dreams, goals, an education and ambitions. You can do all of that and cook dinner.

    • Conuly

      Yes, you can, but Debi Pearl would rather you didn’t. The illustration isn’t mocking people who like to cook – lots of us like to cook! Somebody has to do it, after all. It is mocking (and fairly accurately) the attitudes of the Pearls.

    • Olive Markus

      This is my husband. He loves to cook. Actually, when he was so poor he couldn’t afford food, he’d offer to go to his friends’ families homes to cook meals for everyone just so that he could eat! His dream would be to cook meals for families for a living :).

      I cook when he doesn’t have time, which is much more often lately, but I am a terrible cook. The harder I try, the worse the meal ends up :). I tend to stick to salads and steamed greens :P. He appreciates the effort, but doesn’t particularly enjoy the food.

      • Susie M

        Salad, yes! I can make salad and vegetables, just like my mom.

      • Olive Markus

        We can just claim we’re overly concerned about our husbands’ health! I mean, isn’t that more important than taste? :p

      • Susie M

        After all, a good wifey keeps her man alive for a longggg time so he can keep making her money. ;)

        My husband actually didn’t even vegetables before me, so I feel validated. ;p

      • Olive Markus

        Take that, Debi!!!!

    • Sally

      I wish I loved to cook like you. And thank goodness people can cook and have ambition like you point out. It does take planning, though. I think the fast food industry has taken off like it has because it can be quite a challenge to work and have a good dinner.

      • Olive Markus

        Me, too. I wish desperately that I were a good cook and a good planner. I’m not either.

      • trinity91

        You mention planning meals so I want to mention this for anyone who might be interested. There is an app for the smart phone and computer called Food Planner. It’s incredibly comprehensive and really makes the process of planning meals a lot less daunting.

      • Olive Markus

        Thank you so much! Getting it now. I really need help in this department.

    • guest

      Please come to my house! I hate to cook but love to eat….

  • Penguin

    Based on what I’ve read of the Pearls, and Debi in particular, I have NO DOUBT that SOMEWHERE, whether it’s a newsletter, elsewhere in the book, on their website, in personal advice, etc. Debi has reprimanded a woman who made cold sandwiches and a salad for dinner on one of those muggy, hot, miserable days, because she “only thought of herself and her own comfort” and made her husband “forgo the comfort of a hot cooked meal at the end of a tiring day” or some such nonsense. Because in Debi’s world, NOTHING a woman does is right.

  • fiona64

    My husband is the better cook between the two of us, so he does the majority of the cooking. I, OTOH, am the better baker (baking is chemistry; cooking things on the stovetop may as well be voodoo …). So, I do the majority of the baking. We help each other with prep.

    What on earth is wrong with each party playing to his or her strengths, instead of playing to rigid gender roles?

    The Pearls need to get their heads out of the 19th Century.

  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

    “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, which is absolutely correct of you. Mary, get your butt in the kitchen and help your sister with her terrible crock pot soup.”

    • TLC

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Shaneon, you can twist my Scripture anytime! :-D

  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    “Choices always give room for argument or discontentment.” Sums up this entire approach to life, doesn’t it?

    • tulips

      Well put.

  • Hat Stealer

    As someone who’s male and quite a good cook, I would like to point out that this view not only doesn’t take the wife’s desires into account, but it also assumes that every single husband in a relationship will want the exact same thing – for the woman to cook ALL THE TIME. The idea that the husband might have interests or aspirations that fall outside of what is considered acceptable in the Pearls’ subculture is completely ignored, providing another example of how poorly this sort of fundamentalism looks upon men as well.

    Women are to be subservient slaves to boorish, uncouth men who never want anything more than sex and food. Christians make everyone look terrible.

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

      That’s the Pearl Method. All men are like Michael and all women should want to be like Debi.
      Because doesn’t that sound awesome?

  • TLC

    You know, if a woman wants to make a career out of being a wife and mother, more power to her. If keeping a home and raising kids, etc. is what she WANTS to do with her life, so be it.

    I have a big problem, however, when women are raised to believe that being a homemaker/wife/mother is all they are allowed to do, and all they are capable of doing. Especially if that entails “submitting” by shutting down their brains and suppressing all emotions except all-encompassing awe and wonder at their husbands. Like Debi and Michael Pearl recommend.

  • Kit

    Just going to put this out there, but Debi doesn’t KNOW that her grandparents’ marriage was successful because of obedience. Parents and grandparents hide things from children, particularly things like conflict. If someone met my parents, they would think that it was a marriage based on obedience too, just because my parents never fight in public or in front of others, and my Dad is more outspoken and stubborn than my mom (who’s really easygoing). Even I didn’t realize how much of their relationship was really founded on mutual respect until I was an adult and saw the quiet way in which they DID have discussions (which with other couples might be called arguments). In short – I don’t actually think Debi KNOWS why her grandparents marriage was successful, I think she’s just reading something in that she wants to hear.

    Also, being eager to please isn’t necessarily something someone has to be conditioned for – it’s just a personality trait. I admit, if I cooked something nice for a boyfriend and he didn’t like it, I’d be upset rather than angry too. I don’t think that’s magic proof that they were particularly conditioned or anything, just that they may be reading things in that aren’t there.

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

      In the beginning of the book, she claimed the “proof” that her book works is because her grandma, mom, self, and daughters all follow these rules and are happily married.
      I’m glad I’m not happily married by her definition!

  • Grotoff

    So this lady is like an even creepier version of Paula Deen?

  • Barbara

    Some thoughts while reading, however disjointed:

    What strikes me about the bit concerning choice is that it applies to animals. When we gave our cats a variety of meals, one of them somehow took this to mean that she could angle to get human food. She started refusing to eat catfood, and started begging for anything and everything that we were eating. We solved the problem by eliminating the variety in her diet. I am disturbed that this experience was brought to mind. We are good to our pets; we approach them on their terms and we avoid negative reinforcement. But they do not possess the same mental faculties as children, and we would never work with our children in the same way that we do with them.

    I am struck also by the recommendation of paper goods. You say that you wonder whether Debi’s thoughts are related to the Duggars’ preference for the disposable. I wonder whether fundamentalist Christianity’s disdain for environmentalism isn’t borne of the same basic inclination. It’s a very human thing to lean toward the convenient. It works, if you take us out of civilization: you want to conserve energy, and you want to reach your ends via the least risky path. So, you seek out the path of least resistance. Trouble is that once you plop us /into/ civilization, hurdles become inventions, and the path of least resistance narrows and becomes more insular and more selfish. Fundamentalist Christianity (or anything, really) gives people the means to both feel like they’re doing something and to indulge the desire for the convenient without it actually meaning anything. Objectively, it’s not a good idea to ignore the impact that your behavior has on the environment; but in the context of a religion that rewards certain responsibilities with certain conveniences, it makes perfect sense.

    And, hell, I’m not gonna lie: the idea that “being a good wife” revolves around cooking is completely ridiculous to me. My husband /loves/ to cook. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited he gets when he comes across a recipe for something that he can both eat and that sounds delicious. He will tear the kitchen apart in his enthusiasm. Additionally, he has Crohn’s, and he knows what he can and cannot eat better than I ever will. I have a baseline, and when I’m cooking, I can work off of that. But his diet is almost always in flux, and there are no resources off which anyone can truly work; it’s an autoimmune disease, so it presents slightly differently in each person. I don’t think that he should change or that I should risk him flaring up just so that we can fit into some bizarre pre-determined mold of what it supposedly means to be husband and wife.

  • j.lup

    When he walked in the door, he was so hot and sweaty, he took one look at that hot meal and said in despair, “This is not a day for a hot meal; this is the kind of day you need a cold meal!”

    Young Frieda’s response should have been, “You’re all hot and sweaty. Go take a shower. I’ll put the plate in the fridge and by the time you’re ready for dinner it’ll be nice and cold for you.”

    You really do get the impression that Debi and her female relatives married virtual strangers, men they knew almost nothing about and had to get to know through a process of trial and error rather than communication and consensus. What a horrible way to live.

  • Rilian Sharp

    My dad’s unemployed and my mom has 1 full-time job and 2 part-time jobs currently, so forget this bullshit about making food for the man and everything being about the man.

  • Susie M

    Debi makes me laugh. My family was weird. My parents had eight kids, which they homeschooled, but that was because my dad was super independent and hated school as a kid. (And we turned out bright, balanced, and productive, never fear.) My dad did the grocery shopping–and planning–in our family because buying groceries for ten people is a production and my mom wasn’t (still isn’t) a foodie.
    Some people just don’t like to cook. I don’t think it’s a gender thing–just a personality thing.

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

    Even IF Debi is right and it’s women’s role to keep the house clean and have dinner on the table, even if we accept that premise, the situation described in Jill’s letter is still ridiculous.

    Taking it to the workplace, if I was supervising someone and they didn’t do the tasks that I’d set them, I wouldn’t burst in with a “why is this place a wreck, and when will that get done?” ESPECIALLY if I know that they’re dealing with a lot (whether other tasks or with problems at home), but even if not.

    I’ve been in this exact situation. I’m not tooting my own horn because I don’t think that this made me a GOOD manager, it’s just basic human decency. When I’ve had an employee who usually does good work but, one day, just left everything a wreck, I’ve approached them and said “Hey, I noticed that X didn’t get done. Is something going on? Do you need extra help?” Maybe I’d be the one to provide that help, or maybe I’d go to another department and try to find someone to help, or maybe – if it was an ongoing issue – we’d come up with a plan to get a new volunteer or intern in to take over some of the duties.

    But I would NOT burst in, call the place a “wreck,” and make my employee feel bad about themselves. In my experience, managers who do this are BAD managers. They kill morale. Fine, Debi wants to tell Jill to shape up and do her work no matter what’s going on, great. But this situation warrants an acknowledgement that Jill’s husband is a BAD husband, he’s a bad husband because he just expects all the work of his subordinates to be done, and he doesn’t seem to care about them as people, nor try to empower them to actually get their work done.

    He could have shown some sensitivity, even if he really believed that it wasn’t his place to do any cooking or cleaning. He could have said “yikes! Dinner’s not ready yet? You must have had a really rough day, huh?” If he wanted to support his wife without, you know, compromising his precious masculinity, he could have picked up the damn phone and ordered food. He could have said, “listen, dear, I know it’s really hard on you when the kids are sick. How about while I’m at choir practice tonight, I ask around and see if any of the other wives/daughters in our church might be willing to come over and help you out a bit tomorrow?”

    You can work within the CP paradigm and still be a decent human being. Jill’s husband is not.

  • Jurgan

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention how classist (is that a word?) this is. As though every married couple can afford the wife to stay at home and keep things clean and cooked, rather than taking a job. Not to mention ableist- my wife, at the end of a long day, is often physically unable to cook, and I’m happy to pick up the slack.

  • Christine Vezina

    Once again wondering what the heck Debbie would say about my current situation…

    My boyfriend (well there’s half my problem there, obviously!) and I both just came through a lot of medical issues, and we need to gain weight. He needs a lot of protein, fruits and veggies. Carbs make him feel sluggish and sick. I need a lot of fibrous carbs. The fat in meat and the acids in many fruits and veggies make me ill.

    I suppose I’m probably supposed to just suck it up and cook him carb-free meals every day. Even though I work all day while he stays home, because he was way, way sicker than me.

  • Rebecca Horne

    I just keep thinking how much emotion is being *wasted* here! My girlfriend and I have been having a rough few years, job-wise, and we’ve been through a couple of periods where I was the only one working, and some where neither of us was.

    If I’m the only one working, then she does tend to cook for me. And I *appreciate* it. If she can’t one day, then fine–I wasn’t expecting it. And when she does, I get all wuvy, because it’s sweet and I feel cared for, and she feels loved and loving and everybody’s happy. If I ever came home to something I really could tolerate, I’d probably say something like, “I really appreciate you making this, but it’s just not appealing to me right now. How about I have it for lunch tomorrow.”

    In contrast, when Debi doesn’t cook well enough to suit her husband, there are hard feelings all around; and when she does, it’s just, “that’s life.”

    Given really similar activities, I think I’ll choose the approach where emotions run from neutral to overwhelmed with love, rather than from crushed to satisfied.

  • aim2misbehave

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible at cooking and tend to set lots of things on fire, but is it just me, or isn’t leaving a crock pot on for 4 hours in an UNATTENDED house one of the more avoidable cooking-related fire hazards?!?

    • Conuly

      No, crockpots are designed for this sort of thing. It’s like leaving your furnace on.