CTNAHM: How to Mold Your Wife to Bless Your Need

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 75—77

We are still talking about Mr. Visionary. Today, though, we get to talk about Mrs. Visionary.  No, not a woman visionary, but the wife of Mr. Visionary.  These sections are all about getting the most help meet out of one’s wife. I know you’re as excited as I am.

The Visionary’s Help Meet

A radical visionary can be saved from dead ends and useless eruptions by his wise help meet’s simple words of caution-that is, if he hasn’t converted her to his radical worldview.  Visionaries are prone to see the world in black and white and can become critical of everyone around them. Some wives are influenced by their negative attitude and lose the ability to see clearly. He cultivates her into an amen corner for his attitude and actions when what he really needs is a smoke detector that sounds an alarm is likely to start a conflagration that will burn the entire family.

Oh lovely.  Once again, we see that wives are supposed to save the husband from themselves.  I will admit that sometimes it’s good to have spouse that can diffuse a volatile situation.  But to such little self-restraint that you are obligated to use another person as a “smoke detector” is not healthy.  As a person that deals with bipolar, my husband is sometimes invaluable when he helps talk me down from something.  However, I can’t imagine the toll it would take on him if he was always on-duty, as it were, to de-escalate me.

I’m not 100% sure what an “amen corner” is, but to me, it sounds like a wife who is a sycophant.  Or, as I like to call them “Yes, dears”.  If I remember Debi’s book correctly, she says to never challenge or confront one’s husband. I’m having difficulty picturing a person that never challenges or confronts as anything but a sycophant.  Unless it’s a passive-aggressive person.

I’m wondering what fabulous advice Michael is going to give us on how to change one’s wife from the amen corner to being a smoke alarm.

If a man gripes about his pastor, his boss, politics, the church, the Illuminati, or the Bilderberger long enough, he may encourage his wife to join him in his pessimism. Instead of controlling his fire, she fans it. An immature Visionary that believes in his own infallibility likes to smother his doubts with the blind affirmation of his wife.  He wants his help meet to do all the meeting; he already knows what he must do, come hell or high water.

It is true that a pessimistic partner can affect the attitude of the other.  I think the point should have been “stop griping about everything”, not “you may drag your woman down and she’ll stop controlling your fire.”  Which, I feel compelled to say again, is not the wife’s responsibility.  So often in this book, it seems that Michael feels a woman’s place is to either diffuse or be otherwise responsible for her husband’s emotions, feelings, and actions.  If you are in a relationship, you are old enough and mature enough to manage your own emotions.

I’m giggling about the rest of the paragraph.  An immature Visionary that believes in his own infallibility?  I can’t seem to think of any good example here. Maybe a Visionary that never admits to being wrong, or humble would consider himself infallible?  One other thing I can’t get past.  Debi’s book pretty blatantly says to always agree, smile, pretend, and brainwash yourself into believing your husband is always right. After all, he speaks for God.  Michael says he agrees with every word she wrote. How does he not get that Debi is pretending for him? From what I have read of theirs, Debi does all the meeting. She admits it in her section on Command men.  I just don’t get it.

The loose cannon Visionary may chastise his wife if she shows any indication of thinking on her own especially if her conclusions differ from his predisposed position.  He is like a man awakened by a screaming smoke detector who gets up and turns it off so he can go back to sleep and continue his dream.

Aaaaand this would be a great place to say “It’s OK if women think for themselves! They are people, too.  People with their own thoughts, hopes and dreams!”  Does he say that?  Let’s see!

If you have identified yourself as a Visionary, you need a wife that feels free to express her concerns.  And you should listen carefully.  You can argue your point, but never diminish the value of her opinion or demean her for speaking up.  If you break off fellowship when she expresses concern, you will intimidate her into blind acquiescence, leaving you with no early warning system.

Oh, so close!  It’s nice that he agrees a wife shouldn’t be demeaned for speaking up.  I like that he encourages his readers to value their wife’s opinion.  But, as usual, the reason for doing this is to benefit the man.  Not once in this book has he said anything about woman’s needs (except her need to be needed).  He doesn’t encourage men to take the advice of their wives because wives have additional knowledge, or need affirmation.  Nope. Men should listen to their wives because it makes their wives better help meets. Basically scratch her back so she scratches yours.  That’s just selfish.

Also, didn’t Michael say a few sections back that men should basically pretend to take their wife’s advice? “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 actions in some way based on her suggestion (page 52).”  Is that what Michael thinks is “valuing” a woman’s opinion? Head/wall.

A wife who sits beside you in the front seat and hollers, “Cop!—Radar!” is an asset, but if you are so insecure as to speed up just because she warned you, you deserve the wreck that is coming, but she doesn’t and neither do the kids.

First, if a wife can sense police radar, I would love to see that.  How useful would that be? No illegal radar detector or scrambler (at least illegal here in Kansas).  Just someone that sits up front and hollers “Slow down or they’ll getcha!”  Second, what about posted speed limit signs?  Wouldn’t a person who has his family in the car be more likely to obey traffic rules?  Third, if your partner speeds up when you tell them to slow down, it’s time for a long chat. Because there are issues in that relationship that need fixed.  Finally, telling someone they deserve what’s coming to them isn’t supportive.  If I had gone to my Mormon bishop and said that I was going to have premarital sex, and he said “Well, I hope you get knocked up! That’ll teach you!”, I think there would be a whole host of people upset by that. But that attitude is what Michael is advocating.  “Take my advice or I will hope for your downfall” is petty and a bit creepy.

Helping a Visionary

Not all Visionaries are given to wild judgements of people, but many are. If you happen to be one of those and if your wife has been converted to your negative point of view, and now is given to trashing people with her words, then, brother, you are a scuba diver with no depth meter or oxygen indicator.  Don’t despair. That is why we wrote the book—to help you help her help you.

Good gravy.  That last sentence is the most honest point of this book as of yet. They wrote this book to help men bring their women to the point where they are helping the man.  It’s like he’s saying that this whole book is about changing wives, not supporting wives. And that just makes me sad.

The first step to recovery is to exercise wisdom in what you say and how you react. Express you’re sorry at having been so negative and judgmental.  Tell her that you know you have allowed your image type to lead you in an unhealthy direction.  Then show compassion and tolerance of others.  You need to model the attitude you want your wife to assume. She became what she is to please you. In time she will, at your example, turn loose of the pessimism that is now rooted in her soul.

O.o  First he tells men that their wives are their emotional alarm. Then he says “Just change how you act!” How is a man with no experience taking responsibility for his actions/emotions supposed to model this “good behavior”?  And the idea of “telling her your image type led you in an unhealthy direction” is more scapegoating!  How many different ways can Michael tell men “It’s not your fault, good sir!”?

I do agree that it is important to model good behavior.  Hopefully all that modeling will be kind of a “fake it til you make it”, and your attitude will change. But that’s not really what Michael’s advocating here. It seems to me, that he’s saying “Just act how you want her to. And she’ll change. Because it’s what makes you happy.”  What if a man has a wife who is negative by nature?  What’s to be done if no amount of modeling tolerance will change the wife? What then, Michael?  I know this is heresy, but women actually have personalities before and outside of their husbands.  Sometimes being negative is what they know.

And while I’m at it, what about the pessimism that’s rooted in the man’s soul? Or is that OK, because he’s a Visionary?  If someone feels they have to pretend to be something they’re not to “fix” someone else, who really has the negativity of soul??

When you express concern for the inadequacies of your image type, letting her know that you have a blind spot that needs a sharp eye and sensitive heart to guard your flank, she will want to be your helper in that area and will rise to the occasion, no longer railing her criticisms but tactfully cautioning you instead.

Michael is half right here. While I don’t disagree with this paragraph, I think he should have emphasized that this mutual sharp-eyeing goes both ways. Maybe sit down, talk with your wife about what she feels her inadequacies are.  Offer to help guard her flank. I think it’s a true statement that when someone explains a need they have, their significant other usually will help them.  But to gender it in such a way, that the only needs are of the man makes me want to break something.  And another thing. A few chapters back, women weren’t clear-headed (since they’re sooo emotional with those crazy ladyhormonez).  Why would a man who honestly believes that, think he would need a woman’s advice? It’s like Michael’s logic walks in circles and he just writes whatever is in his head at the time, regardless of whether it lines up with previous statements.

In the recesses of her conscience she has her doubts about your outlandish side; it is unpleasant and ugly, so she will be relieved that you have “seen the light”.  The first time she expresses caution and you heed her admonition she will be transformed with the pleasure of being a true help meet and not just a “Yes Ma’am”.  She will learn to exercise restraint in her conversation concerning other people. She will become happier in the marriage, and you will be saved from grief. You need to continue by teaching, reminding, encouraging, and thanking your wife for being the kind of helper you need.

OK. Call me crazy, but I’m seeing a connection between how Michael says to train one’s wife, and positive parenting techniques.  Modeling good behaviour, teaching, encouraging, and thanking for said good behaviour are all tactics used.  It’s a bit disturbing that Michael sees women as children that need trained. Though I must say, considering how the Pearl’s advocate training children, I’m glad he is going with this technique. Which makes me wonder. If training one’s wife this way works, why not try this approach with children? Surely they have less baggage and habits to overcome.

Also, it will take more than one time to change a person’s personality or habits. Most people regard the first instance change occurs in others as either a fluke or a trap. So saying simply “one time will make her a better help meet” is misleading.

When your honey understands that what she says will readily affect you, she will mold to your needs. It is in a woman’s makeup to want to bless her man. Ask her to pray for you. She needs to know that when you start raving about something or somebody that she has a right, even an obligation, to suggest that you might not be seeing the whole picture.

I fail to believe there are adults that have no clue that “words hurt”.  I will admit, I’m a negative, complaining woman.  I know that what I say affects my spouse, and other people. I gripe because I like it, and because I have a need to make people understand my point of view.  I’m sure even a Visionary’s wife knows that words carry weight.  And again, I’m wondering why a man needs a woman to mold to his needs, but no admonition to mold to hers. What kind of marriages are these?

Oh, and I’m a bit confused as to the whole sequence of events. First, a husband must realize his negativity is hurting his wife’s soul. Then he needs to model good behavoiur and help her be a better person. Finally, it’s up to her to stop her husband from being negative?  If a man can change long enough to “train” his spouse to be more of what he needs, then surely he’s capable of maintaining that change.  It really saddens me that Michael thinks women should be treated like children, but men are supposed to act that way.

Any woman who sees her man in earnest will make an effort to curb her tongue and will work to develop discretion. Ask your wife for your sake to make Phillipians 4:8 her life verse: “Finally, bretheren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Ah, yes. The old “Honey this means a lot to me so do it” trick. I say trick because it seems that’s what Michael’s doing here. You want your wife to behave X way, so you play mindgame Z.  And it might be just me, but if my husband told me he thinks a specific verse of scripture should be my “life verse”, I would be pretty upset.

I will grant that the verse is a lovely ideal of perfection.  However, sometimes it’s OK not to see the rose-coloured glass half full.  It’s OK to stress and be sad. It’s called being human. This fascination fundamentalists (Mormons included) seem to have with pasting a fake smile over everything remotely negative is a bit disturbing.

Don’t wait on your wife to respond perfectly before counting your marriage a success. Most likely, neither of you will ever be 100% perfect spouses. She will continue to have some faults and will occasionally say things in a way that could cause you offense. That is where grace and wisdom bridge the gap. Learn to be generous of spirit and patient in your reaction.

Stop the cows. Did Michael just say neither man nor woman will every be a perfect spouse?  That’s a really good point. NOBODY IS PERFECT. It’s a fact of life. If you believe Christians, there was only one perfect person ever on this planet, and people killed him for it.

And then Michael takes a valid point and murders it.  Apparently it’s only the woman who will still have faults and say stupid things. And you, mighty man, only have to be wise and generous of spirit, so you can forgive the little woman her many, many faults.

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.


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