CTBHHM: Men Are Powder Kegs (so Don’t Provoke Them)

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 237—238

Today we learn that Debi thinks all men are explosive powder kegs who lash out in sudden anger at a moment’s notice. I’m not surprised by this, but I sure am sad.

How to Minister to a MAD Husband

It is common for men to react with sudden anger when things do not go their way. They can get mad over a lawnmower, a faulty appliance, or a child talking too much. It is unregulated testosterone seeking a conflict. It is not usually conflict-induced, and seems totally irrational to us ladies who must have a reason to get mad.

These are the moments where I feel like I understand Debi a little better. If she really thinks that it is common for men to “react with sudden anger when things do not go their way,” she does not know the same men I know. How sad that Debi has spent her life surrounded by men so immature that they fly off the handle when they do not get their way. Then again, it is very likely that the ideology Debi preaches helps create this situation—it would make sense that men who are taught that it is their right, as men, to get their way would be more likely than other men to become angry when they do not get their way.

Come to think of it, men are rather irrational sometimes—something they regularly accuse us of. Women are led by their emotions to be sentimental, and men are led by their emotions to be aggressive, even to the edge of violence.

Once in a while, Debi hits the nail on the head. Of course, I would still disagree with her here. I don’t think men and women are so very different in their emotions, and I don’t see men as perpetually on the edge of violence as Debi seems to.

Men, instead, should be expending their male drives on the challenging hardships of life and on a little evening romp. It is sin for them to have no more self-control than boys in day care, but it is their sin, not yours. There is not a thing we ladies can do to change this tendency—the expression of it, yes, but not the tendency. God can give a man total self-control. The man who walks after the Spirit will be as meek as Christ, but let’s face it, most marriages start off with a man who is not Christ-like. That is the way of Adam’s son.

In other words, men may learn, with God’s help, to keep themselves in control, but they will always have a tendency toward quick anger when things don’t go their way. I’ve said this before, but I really have a lot more respect for men than Debi does.

The question is, how should we wives respond to make our own lives better and to provide a window of opportunity for our husbands to respond to God and improve in this and other areas? Lesson number one, above all else: you cannot become his conscience or his accuser, expecting that pressure is going to push him into repentance. It will work the exact opposite—hardening his resolve, making his fighting instinct kick in, and then, for him, it becomes an issue of him winning in a contest against a challenging female. Furthermore, you would be competing with the Holy Spirit in convicting him of his sin.

I get stuck on the “to make our own lives better” bit. I think what Debi means is, how can women protect themselves from their husbands’ tendency to explosive anger? I really don’t like approaching the issue from this angle. I mean yes, you can’t make someone change if they don’t want to change, but I feel like focusing on building healthy relationship patterns would make more sense then focusing on, well, how to survive.

The wisest way to handle the aggressive husband is by not taking personal offense. Always avoid “provoking” him, except, of course, to provoke him to love and good works.

This . . . is terrible advice. It’s actually pretty much the worst advice possible. The best way to handle an aggressive husband is by removing yourself from the situation. Period. The idea that a man is only violent or abusive if provoked keeps women in abusive situations and keeps women from leaving violent partners. It shifts the blame from the perpetrator to the victim.

Most women know what causes their man to lose his cool. Give him time to cool down; he will feel ashamed soon enough.

From my experience, most people know how to push their partner’s buttons and make them angry. Yes, intentionally pushing your partner’s buttons is a bad idea. It’s a bad idea because it isn’t a healthy way to treat another person and it establishes unhealthy relationship patterns. This isn’t what Debi’s saying, though. Debi’s saying that women shouldn’t push their husbands’ buttons because of their husbands’ explosive anger. Even having your buttons pushed is no excuse for explosive anger.

Although this explosive anger is emotionally upsetting and certainly not pleasant, it is a man-thing that a smart woman can learn to deal with in a wise manner.

No. Explosive anger is not a “man-thing.” That Debi thinks it is shows there’s a problem.

The kind of anger we have been talking about is not directly caused by the relationship of the wife to her husband. Faced with that kind of anger, a wife needs to take care to respond impersonally to it, recognizing that although she can exacerbate the problems by an incorrect response, his anger is not caused by their relationships.

So basically Debi’s advice boils down to: (1) don’t let his explosive anger bother you, and (2) don’t do anything that might provoke his anger. And what, if you remember, did Debi say brings on men’s explosive anger? Oh right, it happens “when things do not go their way.” So basically, always give in to your husband and do whatever he wants because otherwise you risk provoking his explosive anger. Right.

I may have said this before, but if Debi’s world were the real world, I would never marry. Ever. In fact, I’d probably avoid men altogether.

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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