CTNAHM: How Do I Need Thee Part 9 (Michael Made Debi’s Book Softer!)

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally Posted on Yllom Mormon

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.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • JP

    If Michael thinks the worst thing he’s going to have to contend with at Judgement are a few minor embarrassments regarding his marriage, I’m afraid he’s going to be unpleasantly surprised.

  • Ms Morlowe

    “She is the sheath in which my knife rests”

    I can’t help it, just…*sniggers*.

    Also, “Then when you get old, you can be humble too” = “Be exactly like me: wonderful, intelligent, holy, and soooooo modest!” With the number of times he exalts himself, it’s a wonder anyone can take him seriously.

    • Brennan

      “I can’t help it, just… *sniggers*.
      Oh, good, I’m not the only one!

      • TLC

        Nope. I sniggered too!

      • http://www.letterboxd.com/gillianren/ Gillianren

        Yeah, in the rituals my Pagan group does, the wording is similar and explicitly intended to evoke sexuality.

      • Hilary

        No, you weren’t

  • Jackie

    It’s like he’s stuck at age 7 sometimes with his mommy issues. Other times he’s a 17-year-old with raging hormones who is only scheming to get a “female creature” into bed. Also doesn’t surprise me that he had to soften the edges of his wife’s book – he’s an arrogant adolescent and she’s an unhappy, bitter woman who has to realize she wasted her life on an immature, selfish man.

    And I have to say the picture of him is now a trigger for me. After the finger licken good post, I watched a link to a couple of their videos. Then I had a dream where my husband and I were walking in the woods and he leaned over to kiss me. Just then he turned into the very hairy Michael Pearl. I had a hard time eating the rest of the day.

    • Saraquill

      You have my deep sympathies.

      • Jackie

        Thank you. My poor husband – might be awhile before I take a walk with him.

  • http://Thechurchproject.me/ Tracey

    I’ve been wondering what are the copyright dates on both heir books? If they are very different it might explain some of the discrepancy in what they both say. Any relationship is going to change over time.

    • Sally

      I went to check them at Amazon and I can’t get either of the “Look inside” features to work. I did look up Debi’s book once that way and I think it was something like 1994, but that could be wrong. I agree, I suspect the original publishing dates would be very telling.

      • Alexis

        CTBHHM was published 1 Dec, 1994. CTNAHM looks to have been published 15 January, 2012. So yes, a pretty big discrepancy between them. (Dates from each book’s respective Amazon page.)

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

        No, CTBHHM was published in 2004. You’re thinking of TTUAC, which was published in 1994.

      • Alexis

        *does double take*

        Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. My bad.

      • Basketcase

        8 years is still a pretty big gap between them. It almost makes me wonder if they read CTBHHM before writing this…

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

        CTBHHM was published in 2004.

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

      While I do agree that the 12 years between books can change a lot, Michael has specifically said many times in his book how little he’s changed. So perhaps these past 12 years, Debi has been more submissive, and that’s what makes the difference?

      • TLC

        It would be nice to think that maybe Michael wrote his book 12 years later because Debi’s book is so harsh and so wrong, and he wanted to soften things a bit. And maybe he gained some insight in what it really takes to make a marriage work.

        Oh, who am I kidding? Neither one of these people has the humility or self-awareness to be capable of that kind of insight. He probably wrote his book just to sell more books.

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

        Especially as they now have kid-girl and teenage-boy editions…

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

        CTBHHM was published in 2004, so the difference isn’t all that huge. CTNAHM was written because the readers of CTBHHM wanted something for their husbands to read.

    • Sally

      OK, here’s a theory. I wonder if the 12 years in between gave Michael new insight as to what Debi was doing and he saw it from a new perspective and somehow began to see what his behavior looked like from the outside. For example, did he start taking out the trash? If he spilled it, did he pick it up himself?
      I’m not trying to excuse anything they’ve written, I’m just thinking that maybe the absurdity of his own behavior and what Debi has had to do to deal with it got through to him in some ways (the ways we’re seeing in his book). And yet, because he is so insecure still, he can’t denounce the first book. He has to tell women to read it, all the while reflecting something more humane in his book.
      My point is not to excuse Michael or say he’s OK now. My point is that maybe her book, even though he approved “every word,” may have gotten to even him because her book is that bad. If that’s the case, he didn’t just get a clue because she was submissive, he got a clue because the very book they promote to women still is so awful. I’m not wording this well, but I’m trying to say it’s all the more heinous that they’re still promoting her book if even he changed his because of it.
      Just a theory.

      • ZeldasCrown

        Michael just doesn’t strike me as being that self-aware. But who knows. If he’s really changed, why all the shameless self-promotion? I guess this would be one way to reconcile the two books.

        But I agree. If he now doesn’t agree with Debi’s book, then it’s terrible that he’s still promoting it. It’s really irresponsible and quite dangerous.

  • Sally

    “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.”

    Debi’s book doesn’t just say a woman can’t be spiritual, it says do not be more spiritual than your husband. So now that Michael no longer resents Debi’s advice, she’s allowed to clue him in on the Holy Spirit? And she’s sanctified in some areas he’s not? She’s editing his life? Debi’s book doesn’t say avoid these things unless and until your husband welcomes them. She says you are going against your nature and the will of God to do these things.

    “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!”
    Oh, help us now.

  • TLC

    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.

    PRETEND. LOOK. In other words, put on good show for your wife that you’re “trying” to be a “good husband.” But since you’re a manly “Christian man”, you don’t really have to listen to a word she says. You just have to show a little change “in some measure” so that the show looks real. Be as phony as you want! Because, after all, you’re just dealing with a female, and we all know they’re supposed to submit to us and never challenge us. That’s why I had my wife write that in HER book.

    Well, Michael, in my book, being this phony is equivalent to lying. Isn’t that a sin? And you and Debi aren’t capable of sanctifying each other on this one, because you’re both putting on a show to make it look like you have a happy, successful marriage.

    Quite frankly, if I had to choose between marriage “Pearl style” and the duplex, I’d rather live alone in the duplex. At least it would be an honest life.

    • http://www.letterboxd.com/gillianren/ Gillianren

      I’m really beginning to think that the only reason they’re still married is the horror they have of divorce. I mean, they’re compatible in the sense that they’re both kind of evil (okay, really evil), but how do they know if they’re compatible in any other sense?

      • TLC

        I think what keeps her “submissive” is the fact that he’s a world-champion knife thrower and tomahawk thrower. She knows that if she gets out of line, he can take her out in two seconds, and have perfect alibi for it.

        I fully expect to see a story about his family on Discovery ID someday.

  • http://www.letterboxd.com/gillianren/ Gillianren

    I have this theory about grown-up love and little-kid love. When you’re a little kid, you believe that the people you love are perfect. (This can cause some real problems for abused children, because that means they believe they are the flawed ones in the relationship, not the abusers.) The idea that maybe Mommy has a bit of a short temper or Daddy doesn’t always listen when he should is not one that crosses your mind. When it does, that’s a sign that you’re starting to grow up.

    So you do grow up, and you love people differently. You’re aware of their flaws. When you’re a teenager, you may try to “fix” them whether they want to be fixed or not. And some people get stuck in that stage, just as some people never grow up enough to see that anyone/anything they love is flawed in the first place. When you’re a grown-up, you only try to fix them either with their consent or because whatever-it-is is so harmful that you can’t stand to see them broken that way. (Interventions for drug addicts, for example, or pushing a mentally ill loved one into therapy.) You know they’ll never be your perfect vision, and you know that’s okay. You aren’t theirs, either.

    I get the feeling the Pearls are stuck in either little-kid love or teenager love, depending on what they love. Michael is perfect and shouldn’t be fixed, right? Debi is the one who’s broken. (Well, Debi is broken. But Michael’s no prize.) Jesus is perfect, too, or at least the image they have of Him, which isn’t the image I have of Jesus at all. That whole “he who is without sin,” “judge not” thing is really not in their perception of the man. But I don’t think they’re ever going to reach grown-up love about anyone.

  • jjramsey

    I thought Christ sanctified. Not husbands.

    FYI, in Ephesians 5:25-27 (or at least the King James translation of it, which is what Michael Pearl thinks is authoritative anyway), it reads,

    Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot,
    or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without
    blemish.

    I would gather that the Pearls’ ideas about husbands sanctifying wives would come from there.

  • ZeldasCrown

    Michael says “Am I saying all this? I hope my wife doesn’t read it.” and then proceeds to say “When I write an article or a book, I submit it to my wife for editing.” So has Debi read the book or not?

  • wanderer

    Between these 2 books I’m getting the distinct impression that deep down they both think they are better than the other person. They are both playing this incredibly complicated game of deceit (of themselves and the other person), power-plays, manipulation and outright lies. They tell themselves it’s normal and wonderful and godly.
    In reality it’s incredibly convoluted and complicated.
    Debi seems to act like she’s submissive but deep down knows she has found a couple keys to controlling Michael and letting him think he has the power.
    Michael seems to act like he wants her input and advice but really he tells himself he’s better than her and she is nothing without him.
    What a mess and how very exhausting.

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

      I can’t imagine living like this. Or how hard it would be to keep smilin’ if I really did. You have to hand it to the people who take this as gospel-it’s not for the faint of heart!

  • Nea

    We all want to be praised and approved, and we get so little of it from friends or work

    Other people are pointing out his utter lack of humility and rotten marriage advice, so I’ll just mention that the above statement isn’t a universal truth, but merely a HIGE sign that one needs to get new friends and a different job.

    • mary

      Or….. that one is an asshole who no one can stand being around. The first time it happens? New friends, folks. For sure. If it happens repeatedly- this getting no props from buddies or colleagues- then, Michael, you might be an unmitigated ass.

  • Te

    “I like that he calls Debi his best friend”

    Its Evil Love!!!!

    Dr.D:Love was once a crazy dream.
    Girl: Now it’s my new evil scheme, and I’m as happy as can be.

    Both: It’s the age-old story how an evil boy, meets an evil girl. We’ve got a love strong enough to rule the whole wide world. We both maniacally laugh, at all the same stuff. I got my other half yes, I got an evil love.

    Dr.D: When our robot armies march,
    Girl: To the beating of our hearts. And I’m as happy as can be.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK-6Td9INxM

  • Ymfon

    Like any woman, she can get her feathers up and claw the blood out of a timid soul that still needs a little understanding.

    So… the she here is the same Debi Michael described two pages ago as sharing shoes with every suffering and insecure person, able to feel their pain because “God put his sensitiveness in the female gender” and made women “full of mercy and pleasant goodwill towards the failing of others”.
    Glad we straightened that out.