Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 51—53
I Need Her Counsel and Judgement
Headstrong, independent men sometimes forget that in the “multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 24:6)” “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. (Romans 14:7)”
Mister, you need counsel. Having done many stupid things, I don’t trust Michael Pearl like I did when I was young and knew everything. I have gotten dumber over the years.
But I will still admit that early in our marriage, I didn’t want my wife’s advice. At the time I felt that she was minimizing me in her criticism, so it angered Boss Hogg when she “got out of place” and took the lead. At least, that is the way I interpreted her suggestions. I will tell you the truth: I don’t know what happened first. Maybe she gained wisdom in the way she offered input or maybe I became less sensitive to suggestions. But the end result is that we grew and matured to the point where I trust her judgments and she trusts mine, and we both know we can be wrong and therefore are open to considering other possibilities.
Wow. For once, Michael seems genuinely humbled and almost apologetic. I reread the honeymoon section. Yup. It does seem like Michael would get his hackles up when his woman steps out of line. But I think we all know why that changed. If you read Debi’s book, she talks about the wise ways women can “suggest” things without offending their husbands. So Michael, let me answer that question for you. Your wife learned how to appease your ego to get her way. You didn’t change that much. At least from where I’m standing. Though it’s very good for both parties to realize they can be wrong and should consider other possibilities.
We can challenge one another without feeling put down. It is a fact of human nature that all of us listen with concern and introspection to those whom we respect, and we dismiss with derision those whom we think are unworthy to challenge us. Poor wives.
Wait. What? Yes, I agree that we listen better to those who we respect, and that we dismiss those we don’t. But where does the “poor wives” comment come in? Is he saying that most men don’t respect their wives? I don’t know what he’s trying to say here. And it’s bugging me!
The bottom line is that insecurity and fear make us angry with perceived criticism. The smallest man has the biggest anger.
Though you, Michael, know nothing about insecurity, right?
Wives can irritate us more than anyone else because it is so important to a man to look good in his wife’s eyes. We are still little kids trying to impress that one girl, and it’s disturbing if she thinks we are less than perfect. We all want to be praised and approved, and we get so little of it from friends or work, so we expect the little wife to provide all the positive affirmation necessary to keep up our self image.
Um . . . If you expect one person to provide all the positive affirmation you need, then you are going to be hurt a lot of the time. Because people are jerks, people screw up, and people get mad. If your entire life revolves around ALL your needs met by one person, then it’s going to be that much more painful if that person dies, leaves, or is just having a bad day and can’t see to your needs. That’s why everyone (even the most independent and manly of men) needs approval from many places.
Am I saying all this? I hope my wife doesn’t read it. I feel vulnerable being this honest. Now don’t expect me to get in a circle, hold hands, say I’m sorry, and sing kum-bah-yah. A man still has his dignity, you know. I don’t mind making changes, but I am not going to admit that I was wrong until five years have passed. It is much easier to say “I was wrong” than “I AM wrong.” My suggestion is that you hurry and make some changes before you have to admit that you ARE an immature, selfish, and insecure jerk. It worked for me. Then when you get old, you can be humble too.
He is just out there sometimes, isn’t he? I don’t know how you define dignity, but to me, it’s not pretending like you have no faults. In my mind, dignity is saying “I’m a jerk, and I’m sorry for hurting you.” Not changing things on the sly before you have to apologize. And excuse me for being snarky, but Michael doesn’t seem very humble to me. In fact, many times so far in this book, he makes little remarks about how he’s not really humble at all. Grrr.
I will set you on the road to recovery with one good suggestion. Ask your wife for advice and counsel. Welcome her judgement even if you feel she is attacking you. Pretend to be humble and thoughtful. Be patient and ask her to expound further on her concerns. Pause and look enlightened. Nod in appreciation for her wisdom and then modify your behavior in some measure based on her suggestions.
Yes, because pretending to care what your wife thinks is a great way to make her feel wanted. Though considering Debi preaches “pretend everything (especially your man) is perfect”, it doesn’t sound like this conversation will happen often. But how weird is that? Instead of encouraging honest communication, both books shout “FAKE IT AND MAYBE YOU’LL MAKE IT! It works! See how happy we are!”
If unfolding events prove her wrong, be kind and gentle, not gloating or mentioning what is obvious. On the other hand, if her counsel and judgement prove true, praise her for it and thank her for saving you from error.
This is good advice. If you listen to someone, you should either thank them for being right, or be nice about them being wrong. This is something I need to work on. I have a tendency to say “I told you so!” But here’s the real reason Michael gives for doing things this way:
You will make a new woman out of her. She will get ten years younger and smile like a kid opening a birthday present. But I warn you, she will get addicted to being happy. She will want to have sex more often and initiate contact. If you are not up to it, you should continue with your “know it all” attitude so she can maintain her coldness as she continues to be your unhappy critic.
Dango. Do it my way, and you’ll have a happy wife that will give you sex. Don’t do it my way and you’ll get none while she’s still a nag. See how great pretending can be? Dontcha?
Instead of wanting to modify your attitude to make living with you easier on your spouse (because you love and care about them), it is so much more manly to want to do it to make your life better. I’ve noticed this is quite the theme of his book. It makes me angry.
When I write an article or a book, I submit it to my wife for editing. If she thinks there is a part that is not appropriate, or could be said in a different way, or a point that needs a little different slant, we discuss it until I see her point of view. There are times when she catches a skewed perspective, or bad attitude coming through my writings. (For my reader, I would like to soften that “bad attitude” thing, for it might lead you to have a lower estimation of me, but today I will admit it just to make a point. Consider it rhetorical.)
It’s good that his wife and he have a good professional relationship. I know that when I’m writing, I like to bounce ideas off my husband. For example, I’m writing a murder mystery for a dinner show at a local B&B. My husband reads my character analysis, plot points, and is hinting that he can’t wait for the whole thing. As someone who enjoys writing, it’s gratifying that people care enough to want to make it better. (Thank you to my commentators, btw.)
But what is that whole nonsense about “bad attitude”? Why even make that point? I can guarantee, if he hadn’t emphasized the bad attitude, I would have snickered, and promptly forgotten about it. But now? I can make a whole blog post on the level of insecurity it takes to write the words in those parenthesis. Criminey.
I have come to trust her goodwill toward me and accept the fact that she likes me when I’m bad—sort of like a mother. She doesn’t expect me to be perfect. She does like to see me honest and open to her wisdom. I would be stupid not to take advantage of her sanctified perspective. I would never have developed my ministry to where it is today without my wife. She is the sheath in which my knife rests and the stone that keeps it sharp.
I’m beginning to suspect Michael has mommy issues. A lot of the time when he mentions a wife, he talks about mothers. And not in a “good wife=good mother” way, either. I think it’s funny that he claims Debi doesn’t expect him to be perfect, and her book practically says “Brainwash yourself into thinking he’s perfect”. I just can’t get over how different their books are. Also, I would like a definition that Michael thinks sanctified means. He uses the word often, and in contexts that don’t’ make sense to me. I thought Christ sanctified. Not husbands.
Think about it. One day, maybe soon, I’m going to appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ to be rewarded or to lose reward. At that day, I am sure I will wish I could go back and have a do-over in regard to many things. Right now, before I stand before Christ embarrassed my wife is enabling me to have that do-over, to correct areas where I am ignorant or insensitive to the Holy Spirit. She is sanctified in some areas that I am not and can see things I cannot see. She is not just editing my writing, she is editing my life so that the end product is better than I. I was created to need her counsel and judgement.
How lovely that, once again, the purpose of a wife is to save a husband from embarrassment. Personally, I would think that if my job as a wife was to be in charge of my husbands emotions and save him from humiliation, I would ask for a raise. Because that’s a lot of crap that I shouldn’t have to deal with. (Plus everyone gets embarrassed. It’s called being human.) Gah. There’s that sanctified word again! How can people be sanctified in some things, but not others? Why can’t he just say “talented” “strong” “positive characteristic”? What about her needs? Why is this not often an issue? Oh wait. Wives need to be needed and need to be help meets. I forgot.
In my defense, it works both ways. I edit her writings and her life as well. Like any woman, she can get her feathers up and claw the blood out of a timid soul that still needs a little understanding. You should have seen her book “Created to be His Help Meet” before I softened the edges! She has an occasional blind spot. Because I trust her judgement and censorship, she trusts mine, and we are heirs together of the grace of life, sanctifying one another so as to reduce our embarrassment at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Heaven will be much sweeter with my best friend by my side.
From what I’ve read about Debi’s letters, yes she can tear the heck out of people with legitimate concerns. I’m in shock that her book could get any . . . rougher, frankly. It tears women down, berates them for having sick children, and blames them for their husbands faults. To think that it used to be worse is really making me sad inside. It’s good when a couple can trust each other’s judgement.
Why does he keep using the word “embarrassed” when talking about the judgement seat? As a former Mormon, we were taught that we will be in agony over our sins. Not just a little red-faced, squirming embarrassment, but full-on painful shame. I know there are some things that I’ve done that, if Judgement is true, I will be in total agony over. Not just “oh, that was awkward”. I think most people feel that way. Frankly, if when looking at a book of your sins, the worst you feel is embarrassed, then I’m a little concerned.
I like that he calls Debi his best friend, and I like that he ended this section with a compliment instead of a “Do this so your woman will do that for you.” But overall, this section made me mad and gave me the creeps.