CTNAHM: What Command Wives Want

By Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, p. 125

Today we finish up the chapter on Command Men. Like the previous 2 chapters, Michael ends this chapter with a wish list from the wives of Mr. C’s. It’s a short little section,

Ladies’ Wish List

Julie writes: “You ask for a wish list. Here’s mine:

  • I wish my husband would be more patient, less irritable, and more gentle with me and the children.
This is a logical wish. Honestly, I’m sure sometimes my husband wishes that I were more patient and gentle, and less irritable with everyone. In fact, he’s told me that on many occasions. How do we deal with that? By coming up with plans to de-escalate me when I’m overreacting. Or encouraging me to tell the foster kids when I am close to blowing up-kind of giving them warning before I go off. Or learning to count to 10 before I answer…what I’m saying is there are tons of ways for a person to learn to be less temperamental, and Michael doesn’t go into a one of them. Just “Julie” wishes husbands would do that. But you know what? I doubt very many men would believe that Julie is their wife.
  • I really wish he would not speak to me in a tone that makes me feel like I’m an idiot.
Julie, you really need to talk to your husband; tell him how you’re feeling. Because Michael sure isn’t going to give him (or you) any good advice. In fact, Michael has said previously that men should “pretend” to listen to their wife because they are emotional creatures that don’t make good decisions. Honestly, Julie? This book is probably part of the reason your husband treats you like you’re brainless.
  • I wish he would give me as many compliments as he does criticisms, or thank me for what I have done instead of telling me what I should be doing.
This one is one I can imagine working both ways. Especially because Michael likes to talk about “hen pecked” husbands whose bitter wives nag non-stop. I’m sure anyone in any relationship could use a reminder about this. Because it’s easy to point out the things you don’t like, while taking for granted the things you do.
  • I wish he would not treat me like I am on the same level as the children.
I’m sure this is a BIG one in this culture. In fact, the husband of the woman who first gave me Debi’s book often talked to her like she was a child. “Now Tabitha, you know that when you bring me cookies that I like 3 with a glass of milk. How many did you bring me?” “Two.” “What should you do to fix it?”  (Tabitha’s not her real name). But this is how I deal with my foster kids sometimes. I ask them questions about what they should be doing, instead of just telling them what I want. I use this tactic because, hopefully, it stays in their minds longer. It would be terrible, though, to be an adult on the receiving end of this treatment.
  • I wish he would not fuss at me in front of the children, and that he would treat me with respect.
Again, I’m sure this goes both ways. Still a good reminder, though.
  • I wish I could hold my head up and tell him I am finished with his mistreatment. Maybe someday I will be, but most likely I will sneak out while he is at work and just be gone. I often think about it.
And then Julie is struck by the realization that she has no marketable skills, no work experience outside the home, no money, and no prospects for living on her own with her children. So she sighs sadly, hangs her head, and takes what Mr. Julie dishes out, each time believing a little more that she deserves it. That’s the real tragedy in this culture-is that women are left with little resources outside of their husband, so they have no recourse but staying if things go bad.
—Julie

I feel kind of bad, because I’m gulity of many of these towards my husband. I really need to change a lot of how I deal with him.

My heart is breaking. Because all it sounds like Julie wants is to be treated like an equal. Seriously. It sounds like Mr. Julie is condescending, insulting, belittling, and disrespectful.  He treats Julie like a child, and disrespects her in front of their children. What is horribly sad, is that Julie can’t tell her husband how she feels. I mean, this is an adult woman who is being horribly mistreated by her husband, and can tell literally no one about her pain except for a letter to the Michael Pearl.

Although I am glad to see that Julie knows what she wants. I’m glad Julie is honest with herself to be able to say “This is what I wish were different.” It would be really disturbing if Mr. Julie treated his wife in the aforementioned way, and she felt like she deserved that treatment. So I have to say, I’m glad that Michael allows women to have opinions-it’s more than Debi ever does.

As I’ve been saying every time this section comes around, I’m annoyed by the way Michael handles women’s requests. He just types ‘em up and washes his hands of the situation. Instead of explaining what mistreating a wife looks like, he just leaves it up to the man’s discretion. The awful part is that a man who treats his wife like a child isn’t really the type of man to say “Oh…This is me. I need to change something.” Michael has spent the last 30 pages telling us that Command Men don’t like criticism, doesn’t listen to other opinions, and can arrogantly rely on only his judgment. And yet Michael doesn’t fell the need to caution Command men again to be humble.

Plus, how many men will read this list and think “Well, my wife doesn’t feel that way. I’d know!”, not knowing Debi’s book teaches 100% submission all of the time or blasphemy against God. For some people, self-regulation or being self-aware is difficult, if not impossible. Breaking habits is tricky, too. These are all reasons why just throwing out “Your wife probably wants this!” is a horrid tactic to attempt to change a man’s behaviour.

So, the chapter on Command Men is over. What have we learned? That Mr. C is a selfish, tyrannical jerk that expects his wife to always be on call. According to Michael, those qualities are A-Okay as long as the man isn’t abusing his wife. And by abusing, he means physically hitting. Not, like, you know, treating one’s wife like a non-human. 

Please excuse me. I feel icky now and want a shower.

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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