CTNAHM: In Which Michael Confuses Me

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 38—41

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Yes, we are still learning about the ways men need women. I know you’re excited, so let’s jump right in.

I Need Her to Balance Me Emotionally

Again, we guys don’t like to admit that we are emotional beings.  It is quite obvious that the gals are 90% emotion and 10% adulterated reason.  We fellows pride ourselves on being logical and objective.  But keep in mind that anger is an emotion.  Irritability and grouchiness are emotions.  Men are just as emotional as women: we just have a male pride that will not let us publicly express weakness or vulnerability.  I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with us men, for I don’t intend to get publicly vulnerable either.  I build strong walls and protect them against mushy intrusion.  But men can be just as imbalanced emotionally as can women.  It is just that our imbalance must be masculine while the girl’s imbalance is feminine.  So be it.  I don’t want any men friends that act like girls.  I have known a few—very few.  I knew them a short time—not short enough.

90% emotion? Seriously?  By the way, the definition of “adulterated” is to make impure by adding inferior materials or elements.  So female reason is impure because it’s inferior?  Is that what he’s really saying here?! Because I’m about to show him some feminine imbalance!  Ok. Sorry. I’m cooled down now.  Why am I not surprised that the only emotion that Michael is admitting to in men is anger-based?  Also, just because you, Michael, don’t feel comfortable being emotionally in public, there are lots of men that disagree.  President Bush crying about 9/11, for one.  Or was that considered not manly?  And what, really, is masculine imbalance, as compared to feminine imbalance?  I get irritated when he throws words around without properly defining them, and when people assume masculinity means never showing emotion. People have emotions, and it’s very OK (male or female) to let these emotions show.  Nobody wins a prize for stoicism.   Oh, and it was nice of Michael to let us all know that he has met some . . . feminine men, and he didn’t like the experience much.  Because that’s surprising.

Men without women can grow cold, hard, and unyielding.  As we adjust to the presence of a woman in our life, the hard edges of our psyche are rounded off.  We need these female creatures to be just what God made them to be.  The balanced nature of God is expressed in the combination of male and female emotions.

I’ve known some married men to be cold, hard, and unyielding.  The presence of their wives did nothing to change that about them.  Oh joy. It seems women are back to being creatures.  Once again, Michael doesn’t explain what God made these creatures to be, just that men need them to be what God wants them to.  And this might be my former LDS background, but I’ve never seen God as balanced.  He kills most of the world in a flood, created people he knew would have weaknesses, is OK with wars and murders (only on his schedule), and lets infanticide happen twice.  If a government leader did these, balanced is not the word people would use to describe it.  Insane, perhaps, but not balanced.  Since when were emotions male or female?  I was taught that emotions are neutral, and both genders have them; I didn’t realize God went down the list and assigned certain emotions to certain genders.

I Need Her to Encourage Me

I have never in my life admitted to, or even recognized, a state of discouragement—until five years later.  To me it seems weak that a man should be discouraged, but we read of prophets like Elijah and kings like Saul becoming discouraged.  Even John the Baptist grew discouraged after being locked in the dungeons for months.  Peter and the apostles were discouraged after the crucifixion.  A good woman with whom we have intimacy and fellowship can keep us from getting discouraged.  A wife must believe in her man if he is going to maintain courage when he fails.  She can be our “bridge over troubled water” to ease our minds if we cultivate her in the good times.  We need a helper to keep us from losing our vision.  The wife will recognize discouragement long before anyone else does and long before we will admit it, so we need her all the more.

Is anyone else getting the feeling that Michael just sat down and made a list called “All the Manly Things That I Don’t Admit to Feeling”, then went through and described how his wife is supposed to help with them?  His insistence of never admitting faults, discouragement, or really any feeling at all must be really difficult for his wife.  My husband comes from a family that doesn’t admit to emotion, and it bugs the tar out of me that I can see how he’s feeling, but he has no clue.  I imagine it’s even worse with someone that refuses to acknowledge feeling discouraged, but is acting out the textbook definition.  I, personally, don’t think that having a supportive spouse (male or female) staves off discouragement.  The spouse can make it more bearable, but getting rid of it before it even shows up?  Not so much.  And exactly how does a man “cultivate” the wife in good times? What does that even mean?  It sounds like he wants his wife to be his “weak” emotional detector and snap him out of it before anyone else sees.  Shouldn’t he specify that the wife may need someone to encourage her, too, since we’re on this subject?  I guess there are no male cheerleaders in Michael’s world.

If your wife has not been an encouragement to you, don’t blame her; ask yourself why she does not have faith in you.  People whom we encourage tend to reciprocate in kind.  Let me tell you a little secret:  a wife has more faith in a man who includes her in the decision making process.  When she is shut out, she feels at the mercy of a fallible man who doesn’t have her best interest at heart.  It is scary for her as it would be for you if your life were inexorably tied to the fate of another.  But when she is part of the decision making process she will appreciate the complexity of the problem and will be assured that the two of you have explored all the options and are making the best decision considering the circumstances.  She will become encouraging when she can believe in your decisions.  After all, if she has a say in the decision making process, then she shares the blame when things don’t work out so well!  And about half of life doesn’t work out well.  So why take all the responsibility?   You will need encouragement from time to time and God gave you that gift in the person of your wife.  You were created to need an encourager.  She is it.

Here’s where I get confused.  Debi’s book, and patriarchy in general, is very “man is the head of the house, man makes the decisions.”  Yet here, Michael is advocating, nay, insisting, that women share in the decision making process.  In fact, he says that if a wife isn’t encouraging, it’s because she’s shut out.  This may be true.  But if man has the ultimate say, then why does he need his wife to help?  If I remember Debi’s book correctly, she says that a woman shouldn’t contradict her man.  I guess I don’t see a couple practicing from both books actually working together.  It sounds like the man says “Well, this is my idea” and the woman says “Wow. That’s great, honey! You’re so smart!”  Does a man really need a sycophant for everything?  What’s the point of having the woman “help” with decision making at all?  Oh wait . . . there it is. To share the blame if it goes wrong.  It makes sense now.  Though he may say “people whom we encourage reciprocate”, he doesn’t specify anywhere how or when to do that for your wife.  Just that “you should so she’ll do it for you. Because you need it, my good sir.”  Ugh.

I Need Her To Challenge Me

Sometimes we men can drag our butts.  We can get stale and indifferent, or we lose sight of the noble goal.  If left to ourselves, we could just drift into territory that makes us hard to recover.  We can get, as the country mamas say, “wrong-headed,” which is wrong hearted, wrong attitude, wrong battle fought with the wrong people-just plain wrong.  Let’s face it, when we take a survey of the people we know and the population in general, we are forced to admit that most men are a wrong a good portion of the time.  We need an early warning system, and they call it WIFE.

Oh lovely.  Besides being a computer program patch, a Chinese made car, and a female creature, women are also early warning systems designed to keep men from stagnating.  Once again, I’m confused.  Debi’s book advocates never talking about anything negative with your husband.  So how is a wife supposed to broach the topic of her husband being “wrong, just wrong”?  I feel there’s a huge disconnect between what Debi’s book says and what Michael’s book says.

Now, a wife can be just as wrong-headed as her husband.  She can lead him in the wrong direction like Job’s wife, who actually tried to discourage him!  But just because the little woman can be wrong doesn’t change the fact that sometimes she can be right as well, and we still need a helper to challenge us.  The beauty of it is that two very different sources (male and female) provide a broader perspective on the same thing.  So it is quite common for the woman to see more clearly in those areas where the man is limited, the reverse also being true.  Where the woman’s nature prevents her from seeing clearly, the man is more likely to be constitutionally endowed with the mental and emotional tools to make wise decisions.  If a man shuts his wife out in the process, he is denying himself the benefit of her more informed insights in areas where he is deficient. Likewise, if a man leaves the decision making to his domineering wife, it may bring him temporary peace, but he can be certain that she is not innately equipped to make the correct decisions in many cases.

First, I hate the term “little woman”. I think it’s demeaning and rude.  Second, claps for Michael for admitting that women can be right (sometimes).  I’m a bit peeved that he barely touches on where the woman can be right, but makes sure to specify where the woman’s “nature” prevents her from seeing, men are endowed (constitutionally and emotionally!) to figure it out.  Third, I am getting annoyed at Michael because of his insistence that by hurting his wife, he hurts himself a lot more.  Are the men this book is geared to that selfish that they refused to do anything to help their wives without something in it for them?  And finally, of course he had to add “Don’t let your domineering wife rule your house”.  Because of course she’s not equipped to make correct decisions.  Of course. Sigh.

It is terribly counterproductive for the duo to be mistrusting of each other.  The solution is for the man and woman to learn to see things from the other’s perspective before jumping to conclusions.  My wife and I sometimes “argue” (classic point and counterpoint) our perspectives until we have aired our views and understand each other.  It is rare that we do not come to a consensus   When we fail to agree, I—the man, the head of the household—reluctantly do what I think is best.  If I make the wrong decision after hearing her out, she is compassionate with my error, knowing my attitude was not haughty, and it should result in me being more humble.  I am not sure if it has ever worked out this way, but it should.

Again, I’m completely confused.  Debi’s book specifically says “When you develop an adversarial relationship with your husband, you do so on the premise that you are right and he is wrong.  You also assume that you have the duty to resist, confront, or challenge him.  In thinking he is wrong and you are right, you declare yourself wiser than he, more spiritual, more discerning, more sacrificial, etc.  All this adds up to the obvious conclusion that you have assumed the role of leadership, teacher and judge.  This is sinful and odious, and displeases God greatly.”  Point/counterpoint arguing sounds a lot like adversarial relationship.  Why is it OK in Michael’s book, but not Debi’s?  Also note that the title of this section is “I Need a Wife to Challenge Me” and Debi says that challenging your husband ticks God off.  Again with the disconnect.  I think it’s amusing how Michael “reluctantly” makes the decision (without haughtiness!).  I really just don’t see that being true.  I’m also amused that his errors never make him more humble.

I hear some of you Independent Baptists saying “The man is the head of the home and the woman is supposed to obey.”  How long have you been preaching that?  How is it working out for you?  Yeah, God told her to submit to you, but he never told you to dominate her or disregard her, nor does her obeying you make your decision right.  If you want more than a relationship based on law, it’s time to act as if it is your responsibility to earn the right to lead.  Remember I am talking to men and would never say these things in the presence of a woman.  We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less.  We do have our pride.  Let her read “Created to Be a Help Meet” and she will obey even when she knows you are wrong and your decisions hurt the family.  Thank God for godly women.

This section is seriously starting to hurt my head.  Michael just said a paragraph up that man is the head.  Yet it’s wrong when the Independent Baptists preach it?  And call me crazy, but I don’t really see Michael NOT dominating and disregarding.  I do agree with the point act like you have to earn the right to lead.  Though it shouldn’t be an act. (I’m not even going to start lecturing on how men and women should lead together as equals).  Why are women supposed to OBEY?  Horses obey.  Mechanical objects obey.  Women should have a say and get to chose their behaviour.  “We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less.”  Sounds like he knows what a good husband should do, but to never let on to the wife that this should work is almost criminal.  And his answer to just give her Debi’s book, and she’ll obey no matter what; good for you for having a Godly woman?  Makes me want to pound my head against a wall.

The answer is for you and your wife to grow into maturity together.  If the family is dysfunctional it is time to take her hand and start confiding in one another.  If you plan on driving the old truck on vacation next year, you had better start working on it now.  Likewise, knowing you are going to need to be challenged and kept on the straight and narrow, start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system.

Wow.  If the family is dysfunctional, it’s clearly the wife’s fault.  It can’t be the fault of the man who refuses to show emotion, admit when he’s wrong, humbly accept responsibility for his mistakes, or demands obedience in whatever he says.  Nope. Definitely the wife’s fault.  Speaking of wives, why are Michael’s analogies about women all comparing them to inanimate objects without will or voice?  “Start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system.” Women are not trucks or fire alarms.  They are people with needs and a voice.  His blatant disrespect for women is starting to really bum me out.  Not once in this book, so far, has he said “treat her well, respect her, show her you love her.” It’s always “Do this so she’ll become better for you.”  This is not healthy, and I feel sorry for the poor women that are constantly dehumanised this way!

If I were writing this book, it would be much shorter.  “Women are people.  Treat them as such, love them, treat them with respect, listen to their points of view, let them help you, and don’t expect obedience.  Talk to them as equals, acknowledge when they make good points, and give credit when she’s right.  Do nice things because you love her, not because you want her to serve you better.  In conclusion, tell your wife you love her and that her happiness is important to you.  Then act on that.  Watch your marriage change.”

But I suppose that counts as heresy in the conservative Christian world.

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.

  • ako

    Remember I am talking to men and would never say these things in the
    presence of a woman. We should never let on that we could be wrong and
    ought to listen more and demand less. We do have our pride. Let her
    read “Created to Be a Help Meet” and she will obey even when she knows
    you are wrong and your decisions hurt the family.

    Sadly, I expect he’s more sincere than he’d like to admit, which would explain the confusion. He’s aware that he’s better off communicating with his wife like she’s a fellow human being, but it doesn’t satisfy his pride as much as bullying her into obedience. And of other men join in with the bullying, he’s in a much better position to get away with it.

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

      Or he wants her to be grateful for every time he listens to her, for her to think that HE is doing HER a favour by listening, rather than HIM getting the favour of her counsel.

      In other words, it all comes down to a big power play. Frankly, for all these people obsess about how those of us with non-godly marriages must fight all the time trying to establish dominance, they seem extremely concerned with creating, maintaining, and enforcing their dominance structures.

      • wanderer

        Agree. It’s a power play. this section to me made the whole thing clear. He’s got Debi trained and conditioned exactly how he wants her. She believes she’s shit. As long as she believes this about herself, his work is done. He does need some things from her, but he’ll never let on that he does. He doles out just enough rope for her to do what he wants and then yanks back the leash.
        Meanwhile he sits back with the other good ole boys and laughs about how conditioned he’s got the little woman now. She’s all calmed down just like a hound dog by a fire place.

      • NeaDods

        I think it’s why they think that egalitarian marriages are one long fight (and why gay couples are bad). When biology determines who is dominant and you’re terrified of losing your place, stepping outside the predetermined paradigm must be terrifying and incomprehensible.

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

        I think you’re spot on. These people are so obsessed with power that they just cannot imagine a relationship in which the partners are actually working together in mutual respect. It’s just too far outside of their experience.

        It comes through in the child-rearing stuff too. They have to “train” their children, which is a top-down relationship in which the adult is master and the children are subordinate. They cannot conceive of a parent-child relationship in which both parties respect each other and work in partnership to find solutions and navigate the various situations that might arise.

  • Saraquill

    I wonder what Michael thinks of J*sus, what with him being recorded as showing unmanly emotions.

    • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

      Clearly, Jesus could have used the moderating influence of a woman.

      As, I’m guessing, could God himself, throughout much of the Old Testament.

    • skyblue

      yeah, it doesn’t sound like he thinks of Jesus very often at all!

      • NeaDods

        This! Redemption? That’s for wusses. We’re all sinners in the hands of a vengeful Michael god.

  • Cassiopeia

    ‘Where the woman’s nature prevents her from seeing clearly, the man is more likely to be constitutionally endowed with the mental and emotional tools to make wise decisions.’

    Where exactly in the constitution does it say that?

    I mean, is there a secret government task force which runs round endowing men with mental and emotional tools? And occasionally they screw up and tell a woman.

    Either way, that’s still absolute bullshit.

    • Brightie

      Not certain if you’re being facetious or not, but I’m pretty sure “constitution” has also been used in the past as a word for the workings of your body. So he’s trying to say that the dudes’ physiology gives them better brains.

      • Cassiopeia

        I’m being facetious.

        Still bullshit though.

  • onamission5

    Well if their relationship is anything like my parents’ then challenging your husband means engaging in a bizarre pattern of emotional manipulation designed to get him to do what you want while making him think it was his idea. And being very, very patient, and never, ever directly correcting him, but rather, letting him come to see the error of his ways in his own time. (see: emotional manipulation)

    And that is how my mom got stuck in Idaho against her will for three years, and how my stepdad still believes A) she wanted to go in the first place even though it meant leaving everything she’d worked for and starting over from scratch in a filthy, isolated, run-down rental cabin and B) it was his idea to come back home.

    It mean that a wife cannot simply say, “No, I do not want to move to rural Idaho and give up the business I’ve been building for eight years, the business which supports us, I do not want to start over again, we need this time to prepare for retirement, moving to a place with no jobs just because you want to go bear hunting is a terrible idea,” and instead she has to say “That sounds great, honey” and then spend the next three years miserable while she keeps an eye out for any doubts which crop up in her husband’s mind and nurtures those doubts while being careful to appear supportive.

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

      Actually, that does kind of sound like an acceptable PearlWorld (TM) dynamic. Sad to say. :(

  • That Other Jean

    “Makes me want to pound my head against a wall.”

    Makes me want to pound Michael’s head against a wall. His whole “real men need women for all sorts of reasons, but we men can’t ever tell them, just manipulate them into doing what we want” almost exactly mirrors Debi’s instructions about women manipulating men. Michael is just a better writer, and his advice is less baldly presented. Their marriage is obviously surviving; but from the outside, it looks like being trapped in Hell.

    • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

      Michael is just a better writer,

      Really? He’s not a better proofreader. (“Men can be just as imbalanced emotionally as can women.”)

      • That Other Jean

        Make that “more plausible writer, then. Now and then he approaches the way actual humans think; Debi never does.

  • Sally

    “Remember I am talking to men and would never say these things in the
    presence of a woman. We should never let on that we could be wrong and
    ought to listen more and demand less. We do have our pride. Let her
    read “Created to Be a Help Meet” and she will obey even when she knows
    you are wrong and your decisions hurt the family.
    Thank God for Godly women.”

    Well, here we have it. Now Michael doesn’t have to make his book make any sense with her book. What a complete ass for “telling the truth” in his book, but sending the women to read Debi’s book instead. How does sending them to this book of lies make them into Godly women when you’re teaching the men how to make these women into good wives?
    I guess it’s the “tear them down so you can
    build them up” model.
    And what makes him think women aren’t going to read the men’s book? Pretending what he’s saying is somehow only reaching men is really stupid. So he is in fact of course reaching women with this too. Is he actually trying to clean up the mess made by Debi’s book but not admit it since he approved every word of her book?

    • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

      what makes him think women aren’t going to read the men’s book?

      He’s probably assuming that a woman who has been properly broken down is appropriately submissive would never read anything without asking permission from her pastor, husband, or father first. Reading is the first step to having ideas, and women (or the good ones, anyway) know how dangerous that can be and will avoid it whenever possible.

      • Sally

        I know what you’re saying regarding a certain mindset. But so far, we haven’t seen anything from Debi that teaches asking for “permission” to do things. It’s been much more, “Keep busy, anticipate your husband’s needs, and don’t talk back to him.” You would think permission would be part of that, but I’ll bet it’s not because that particular thing would drive someone like Michael up the wall. I’ll be he doesn’t want to be bothered with his wife asking him permission to go to the grocery store, read books, or teach this or that lesson in their homeschool.
        I say this partly from watching my in-laws. I’ve never seen her ask him for permission, but they tried setting him up as the head of the household by having the *kids* ask permission of him for everything while he was home. I watched it drive him crazy. They seemed to back off that, for obvious reasons. My guess is that Michael wants a busy wife anticipating his needs and accepting his decisions (apparently after some discussion), but not someone who asks for permission over daily activities (including reading material). Now would such a wife put the book down when she got to this section and *Michael* says the book isn’t for women? Hmmm. That would be interesting to know. Well, when he says that sentence, he’s already actually spilled the beans. So if she does go read Debi’s book, she’ll read it knowing Michael says quite different things about women than Debi does. Oh, it’s crazy-making!

      • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

        Realistically, the reason why he’d prefer that women not read the book for men is that that way, he and Debi can sell two books per household, instead of only one.

        And yeah, asking permission wouldn’t actually make sense in this worldview, you’re correct. Actually asking the husband to make all the decisions would be work; much better to force the woman to read the man’s mind about what his decisions would be. If she gets it right, that’s one less thing he has to think about, and if she gets it wrong, he can make her feel guilty and stupid. Everybody[1] wins!

        -

        [1] (where “everybody” = men)

      • Sally

        “Realistically, the reason why he’d prefer that women not read the book for men is that that way, he and Debi can sell two books per household, instead of only one.”
        And if they Train Up their children, and then have both boys and girls, there’s 5 books per household by the time their kids become teens!

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

        Don’t forget “Preparing to Be a Help Meet” and “The Search for a Help Meet”, aimed at teenage girls and boys, respectively.
        There’s Pearls of Wisdom (hahahaha) for everyone!

      • Sally

        Yes, that’s where I’m getting the 5 (wife, husband, parent, teen boy, teen girl).

      • Sally

        I just noticed your username. Thank you for doing these reviews, btw! Very interesting, especially in comparison to Debi’s book (although interesting in their own right too).

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

        It’s fun. Thanks for reading! :)

      • Alice

        Teenage editions? Ugggh, that makes me want to throw up just thinking about it.

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

        Yeah. I’m waiting for them to come out with “Teaching Your Toddlers About Help Meets: Him and Her Edition”
        I guess it would explain how to incorporate enforcing traditional gender roles in between bouts of obedience training.

      • NeaDods

        Enforcing gender roles is already a part of the obedience training, isn’t it? Can’t let the kids have a single thought outside their assigned roles.

    • elisa

      And what makes him think women aren’t going to read the men’s book?

      I think some of the other points in this thread are really good in re: explaining potential reasoning behind this line, but … I got stuck on this. Like, I’m a woman, and I’ve seen these things he would never say in front of a woman … because that’s how it goes with the printed word. Is the system broken? Is “No Girls Allowed” on the cover of this thing?

      Man, I am can’t tell if I’m surprised I dislike Michael more than Debi, or if that makes complete sense.

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

        Well, it doesn’t say “No Girls Allowed” on the cover, but here’s what’s on the back.
        “After my wife wrote “Created to Be His Help Meet” and we received so many wonderful testimonies of marriages restored, men would approach me and ask when I was going to write a book for them. Tongue in cheek, I have said, “If you are having trouble in your marriage, have your wife tread Created to Be His Help Meet, and everything will work out fine.
        That’s all the world needs, right? That would fix everything. No more failed marriages. Men would all be content if their wives just cheerfully obeyed and stopped judging them.
        On the other hand, if you, Sir, are tired of being a jerk and would like to contribute something to your marriage, this book is for you. It’s written by a man that can whip your butt, and has half-a-mind to, so don’t expect any kum-bah-ya stuff.”

        I’m trying to decide if he sarcastically says “have your wife read Debi’s book”, or if he’s being serious. I really can’t decide if he’s being snarky or serious in paragraph 2. Because to me, it almost sounds like he’s saying “Despite Debi’s claims, it takes 2 to fix a marriage.” But that kind of goes against what I think the Pearls stand for.
        So I guess even more confusion. :S

      • Hilary

        I’m not sure how someone who claims to follow a guy who said the greatest thing to do is love your neighbor as yourself can boast ‘don’t expect any kumbayah stuff.’ It seriously makes me wonder if they’ve even read the Gospels.

      • NeaDods

        It’s written by a man that can whip your butt, and has half-a-mind to,

        OMG, does it really say that? Michael is THAT insecure about his dominance and control that he has to threaten any man who glances at the back of the book? And people are impressed by that pathetic posturing?

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

        Yeah. It really says it. If I were to write a caricature of an insecure man, he still wouldn’t look as bad as Michael makes himself look.

      • Hilary

        Oy. Vey. Ist. Meir. That’s horrible.

      • NeaDods

        Seriously!

      • Sally

        I think this theme runs deep. In their YouTube video where they defend To Train Up a Child and talk about how great they all turned out and how each Pearl child has their own personality and such, it’s very clear, imo, that the youngest boy feels put down about his masculinity *during the video*. He repeatedly mentions that he’s a manly-man in response to comments about his being a sensitive person.

      • Sally

        “Men would all be content if their wives just cheerfully obeyed and stopped judging them.
        On the other hand, if you, Sir, are tired of being a jerk and would like to contribute something to your marriage, this book is for you.”

        So Debi’s book is required for a good marriage, but Michael’s book is optional, only for men who are tired of being jerks. The guys who are not tired of being jerks that have obedient wives need not read. That really doesn’t even match what he says inside his own book.
        They just can’t get this to make any sense. I think they’re trying to clean up Debi’s book with Michael’s book but in no way acknowledge that’s what they’re doing so they keep finding ways to reinforce Debi’s book … making the whole thing crazy.

  • Sally

    “My wife and I sometimes “argue” (classic point and counterpoint) our perspectives until we have aired our views and understand each other. It is rare that we do not come to a consensus When we fail to agree, I—the man, the head of the household—reluctantly do what I think is best. ”
    This is absolutely not what Debi has presented in her book so far. Michael says, “Let her read ‘Created to be a Help Meet,” and she will obey you. Well, which is it? In Debi’s book, you don’t contradict your husband in any way. There has been example after example of situations where the solution would have been for the husband and wife to have a point/counterpoint discussion and try to reach a consensus. But Debi doesn’t even suggest this is possible. She just responds to the examples (the “letters”) with harsh words like, “Do you want your husband to leave you? Do you want to go insane? Do you want to live in a van down by the river (I mean dumpy duplex, of course)? It is your nature not to question your husband; quit acting unnatural.
    So if a man asks for the woman’s opinion, and she has read “Created to Be a Help Meet,” she will have to say, “whatever you think is best dear.” How is he going to have this point/counterpoint discussion and reach a real consensus if she’s following Debi’s book?
    Well, he can’t. And that just shows us once again that Debi’s book is fiction. Does it reflect something about Michael, their relationship, and how she’s come to cope? I believe so. But does it show us how Debi functions as a wife now? Clearly not, according to Michael. After all, who is Michael having point/counterpoint/consensus with? Surely not the Debi of Debi’s book!

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

      If I were to be super charitable, I would guess that the behind-the-scenes strategy is to get women who aren’t submissive to BE submissive. Once they are properly submissive, and wouldn’t ever comes off as nagging (in Debi’s view), it then becomes safe for them to enter the “point and counterpoint” phase of their relationship. In other words, I think that they see CTBHHM as Phase #1, intended for newlyweds and people in unhappy marriages.

      I’m not agreeing with any of it, obviously, but I think that if they think this way, it helps to explain the apparent inconsistency.

      • Sally

        That could bring some sense to it. Strange how neither book says just that so far. If they never do, then I’d say this has worked out to be “dumb luck” on their part that you could use them in phases like this. And it’s still sick because the whole time they’re in phase one, the guy is being a total ass. Then in phase 2 (year 11 for the Pearls?), he starts to think of ways to be considerate, if only to improve his own lot. Yet he includes advice for the guy whose wife is not submissive but kind of hurt and withdrawn…. so it comes off more like phase 1 for the guy whose wife hasn’t/won’t read Debi’s book, but phase 2 for the guy whose wife has been doing all that Debi recommends and now “deserves” to graduate to phase 2. I don’t know, I’m not sure I’m buying it. But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they’d claim the same
        thing if pressed.
        Maybe these books are like books in the Bible- they don’t jive and they contradict each other. Then we’ll need other non-canonical books (you know, not part of the “Help Meet” canon that is developing … 4 books now, I think) like “How to Be a Person: Making sense of the Help Meet and Train Up books for Married Couples and Young Adults.” This book will pull passages from the Pearls’ books and create a “doctrine” that has some kind of consistent message that compensates for the messy messages in the Pearls’ books.

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

        Well they wouldn’t. In their minds, the women have to learn submission first, for its own sake, not because they will then get the privilege of something that is quite different (at least superficially) from the submission that is preached.

        It’s like in art. I had a teacher who believed that you have to learn how to accurately paint what you see, using photo-realistic style, before you can start experimenting and find your own “voice.” I suspect that, in Debi’s mind, that’s what she’s going for – learn the capital-R Right way, then you can negotiate the individual dynamic that works for you as a couple.

        Michael is playing into this by encouraging his readership to keep the line open for Phase #2.

      • Sally

        OK, but you’re making my point about “doctrine.” So far the Pearls’ books don’t say this (these are phases). You, as a 3rd party, have to read both books to figure that out. That’s what makes it suspect to me
        in the first place.
        Biblical doctrine is part of what makes the Bible suspect to me. If someone were putting together a real religion (someone such as a God), the holy book itself would be internally comprehensible. You wouldn’t need doctrine. As soon as doctrine is required, that’s a red flag that someone’s makin’ some “stuff” up, imo. And there’s always someone willing to do so, and to credit the original source with the insight the doctrine provides. It’s like smoke and mirrors. Someone explains something that makes some sense, then they point to scraps in the original here and there that back it up, and then they say, see, that’s what the original authors meant in the first place. But they didn’t. The original authors provided a mess someone else had to clean up.

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

        I’m not arguing. I don’t think that the Pearls have a deliberate plan (or even that they would think in such ways, given their demonstrated lack of regard for follow-up re: proof reading). I just think that it’s the mind space they were in while composing each book, the audience they had in mind while they word-dumped.

      • Sally

        “I just think that it’s the mind space they were in while composing each book, the audience they had in mind while they word-dumped.”
        Agreed.

  • persephone

    Honesty just never occurs in these fundagelicals’ minds as a possible basis for any relationship. Their entire lives are built on lies and illusion and manipulation.

  • TLC

    “Let me tell you a little secret: a wife has more faith in a man who includes
    her in the decision making process. When she is shut out, she feels at
    the mercy of a fallible man who doesn’t have her best interest at heart. “

    Wait! What?? Is Michael becoming human?
    Suggesting a woman be treated with respect, and like she has a brain?

    “After all, if she has a say in the decision making process, then she shares the blame when things don’t work out so well! And about half of life doesn’t work
    out well. So why take all the responsibility? “

    Nope. Guess not. I’m wrong. Because it’s not about treating her as a partner in the marriage, getting her opinions, letting her propose new solutions. It’s about having a scapegoat in case your manliness fails you. And even though you enjoy the privileges of being head of the household and having sole authority over everything and suppressing everyone else in your family so they don’t dare question your authority, don’t worry — you don’t have to take responsibility for it. That’s what a wife is for! To clean up the messes you’ve made. Without complaining, of course.

    Ugh. I need some brain bleach after that. 0.0

  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    I’ve always been intensely put off by men who expect women (both their partners and, often, women in general) to manage their emotional lives for them, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on why it bugs me so much. Now Michael has helpfully explained. It’s because the underlying thought process goes something like this:

    1. Kindness is disgusting and degrading and weak.
    2. But somebody needs to do it.
    3. Oh, I know! Women!

    I’d never seen anyone come right out and say, “I know my Big Strong Stoic Guy act is fake and obnoxious and hurtful, but I think it makes me look awesome and nice people are gay, so I’ll go right on doing it.” What a baby.

    • Mariana

      +1000 points

    • Hilary

      ” . . . expecting women to manage their emotional lives for them . . .” Lazy. Scared of being perceived as weak, feminine, and lazy. Too lazy to deal with children as people with legitimate emotional lives, and too lazy to deal with their own emotional lives.

      Or to be more compassionate, perhaps some of these men are so badly emotionally disconnected and broken from a lifetime of being given a severely limited emotional template with dangerous and violent consequences of deviating from it even a little. If boys are never allowed to feel their own emotions but are told to toughen up, real boys don’t cry stop being a sissy or I’ll give you something to cry about, how can they later as men have any idea how to relate to anybody’s emotions? Especially weaker feminine creatures when from toddlerhood being too emotional was a girly thing and not allowed for boys.

      I wonder who Michael Pearl would be if from the day of his birth he’d been raised with non-violent gentle parenting, lovingly supported to understand and feel his own emotions, and empathize with other people’s emotions and feelings. Who would he be if he’d been raised singing “Free to be You and Me” ?

  • j.lup

    Again, the Pearl’s writing makes it obvious that they are coming from a culture where marriage happens first and then relationship-building comes after. I get that it’s the way things work for a lot of young Christians, especially the ‘no dating, just courting-to-be-married’ folks who choose a mate they feel physical attraction to and chemistry with and then marry quickly so they can actually kiss and have sex. But it’s almost as bad as arranged marriage.

    I’ve never been married, but I can’t imagine marrying someone I hadn’t known and loved and lived with for at least several years. I really do believe that a couple should get to know each other first, live together and do all the things together that they will when they make a marriage commitment, and then marriage becomes the extension and maintenance of an already-functioning relationship.

    • sam

      exactly!

    • smrnda

      The Pearls come across as cases of arrested development who somehow got thrown into marriage before they grew up – I mean, they both seem totally shocked that *not everybody eats the same type of food* – they have the perspectives of sheltered 10 year old kids.

      I agree that people should live together or at least get to know each other really well before getting married. A friend of mine told me that, growing up, her father talked about how it was probably a *good idea* for young people to have sex, get it out of the way, since getting married *in order to have sex* is not a good idea, but getting married because you love someone and think it will work is a better idea. (I cite this story a lot since it means that there exist men who accept their teenage daughters will have sex.)

      Some people argue that it’s all about commitment, but it seems like many of these marriages, when described, don’t sound all that good. Lasting a long time isn’t really the only measure of marital success.

  • j.lup

    Note to men: If your marriage manual tells you to not share the contents of the manual with your wife, throw the manual into the paper-recycling box.

    • NeaDods

      To be fair, The Rules is for secular women and it says not to discuss it with anyone. Not just to a man, but not even to the woman’s own therapist!

      ETA: with is as good a reason for shredding it as these books.

      • j.lup

        Yeah, any ‘program’ that tells you not to let your friends in on it (unless they’re paying members too, like Scientology and the Mormons) is warning sign #1 that you’re heading into brainwashing territory.

  • kisarita

    both are nuts but of the two marriage books, michaels is definitely the less toxic.

    • Kellen Connor

      Only because it would be impossible for him to encourage a man to stay in an abusive relationship with his views. Michael puts himself in a position where he can’t turn his readers into victims. That’s the only improvement over CTBHHM.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    It is scary for her as it would be for you if your life were inexorably tied to the fate of another.

    If you’re married to someone, your life is tied to the fate of another. EVEN IF YOU’RE MALE. That’s kinda what “marriage” means!

  • Kellen Connor

    This guy… *headshake* You know, I may have to rethink the theory that Michael ghost-wrote Debi’s book for her.

    Women are people. Treat them as such, love them, treat them with respect, listen to their points of view, let them help you, and don’t expect obedience. Talk to them as equals, acknowledge when they make good points, and give credit when she’s right. Do nice things because you love her, not because you want her to serve you better. In conclusion, tell your wife you love her and that her happiness is important to you. Then act on that.

    Yes. That is good advice. I will take it.

  • Hilary

    I’m still laughing at “women are 90% emotion”. I’m an INTJ on the Myers Briggs. Every time I take that test for the last 15 years I’m an INTJ, which is one of the least emotional and most practical and logical of the 16 types. I was talking with Penny and a friend about empathy and helping people and they were both quick to point out I’d make a terrible councilor or rabbi because I tend to be very logical about emotions, seeing them as a variable in a algebraic equation which doesn’t always work with real people. That doesn’t do me much good when I can analyze a person’s emotional state, but not care why they got upset over something unimportant like fashionable clothes or being popular. That got me in a lot of trouble as a kid although I’m better at empathy now that I’m older.

    But basically, for Michael it’s just one more way to ‘other’ women, and dismiss their concerns as ‘emotional’ and thus unworthy of true masculine consideration. But he’s coming from a long history of men doing that; IIRC from what I read about ancient Greece The Greek philosophers stress pure logic and intellect to escape the physical limitations of the body, which included emotional weakness.

  • NeaDods

    Shorter Michael: men have problems sometimes, but girls are defective always. And guys who act like girls creep me out so everyone should shun them.

    • Hilary

      That pretty much sums it up. Oh, and real manly men (TM) aren’t supposed to have feelings or weakness – that’s girly stuff and contaminated with cooties.

  • Kate Monster

    Someone who can win every argument just by saying, “Because I’m the MAN!” is not going to argue in good faith.

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