Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage: Introduction

by Incongruous Circumspection

I will be quoting Bill Gothard’s material in this text style and my response will be in the normal text:Bill Gothard has published a manual on how a wife should meet her husband’s seven basic needs, as well as how a husband should meet his wife’s.  As you’ll see, the latter part, directed at the husband, is highly disingenuous because, according to Bill Gothard, a marriage relationship is skewed completely toward the man.  The wife is only a cheerleading, supposedly willing, party.As Bill is notorious for, he takes anything he can find in the Bible to support any point he dreams up, disregarding the context, the era, even the writer’s style, etc., and sandwiches it in with his unique, sleight-of-hand, wording to numb your mind into believing he knows what he is talking about.

The unsuspecting reader may look at Bill’s words as a sort of optional guidebook that might work for some and not others.  I will prove to you that this is not the case.  Bill makes it very clear that, if a woman does not follow his directions to the letter, she is a fool.  Worse yet, she is a horrible wife.

Finally, why are there not 8 basic needs?  Or 16.5 of them?  We’ll never know how Bill finds his “rhemas” as he calls them.  We can only look at what he gives us and blow his theories out of the water.  You will find that much of my commentary will be decidedly personal, but that’s just fine.  Why?  Because Bill makes the assumption that he is speaking for all men, and last I checked, I am a member of “all men”.Now, let’s begin with a look into Bill’s introduction to the Seven Basics Needs of a Husband and Wife.

Your spouse has many needs. Even if he or she is not consciously aware of all of these needs, when they are unmet, your spouse will exhibit sorrow, confusion, and frustration.

This is a setup.  It is a very effective tactic to come out at the beginning of any “new truth” and state that the receiver of that truth may not even be aware of the need for it.  By saying this, any person who wants to “debunk” the message, as I am doing, can be easily dismissed as ignorant, or even better, accused of willfully denying what is obvious truth – obvious because Bill Gothard says so.  Thus, if I say that I don’t need my wife to meet my basic needs, as laid out by Bill, the author would state that I am simply unaware of my basic needs and, more importantly, the correct process or person to have those needs met.Then Bill polishes off this introduction by proving to the reader that spousal sorrow, confusion, and frustration are symptoms of not following his formulas that will come later.  This isn’t new though.  All “how-to” manuals begin this way.  They sneakily position one or many common human emotions as being negative, and then hit you with the reason for that emotion – the reason being a common trait in society, as well.  Bill is a master at this.

As the Lord shows you how to meet these needs, you can avoid strife and prosper…

No, Bill, as YOU show us how to meet those needs.

Then Bill talks to the woman:

As a wife, you are uniquely qualified to fully meet your husband’s needs and cause him to“rejoice in the wife of his youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

This is a horrible bastardization of a beautiful Solomonic proverb.  It makes me want to go to Bill, who has never been married in his life, and slap him on the back of his head.  The verse is talking to a man and telling him how to enjoy life.  The responsibility for the choosing of the enjoyment is squarely on the man.  Bill, in his finite wisdom, decides to pretend the causation is flipped and the man cannot enjoy his wife unless the wife meets the needs that Bill will later lay out.

There are days in my 10-year-old marriage where I hate the ground my wife walks on.  I can’t stand the mother she came from or the person she is.  The couch is a warm and comfortable pity party for me.  But do I walk out?  Heck no!  I love my wife with every part of my being, even in those dark moments.  In those moments that matter the most, the times when I could throw it all away because I am fleetingly angry, I choose to love her.  She can do nothing at all to bring me back.  It is all up to me.  And I always end up on the other side, happier for it.  I get the sense that this was the real point of that proverb.  Requiring the woman to do all the right things so the husband enjoys her is a prison that is unnecessary and burdensome.

In His Word, God clearly establishes the responsibilities of a husband and a wife.

And there you have it.  Everything that Bill will present is now non-optional.  He used the word “clearly” after all.  A favorite of any fundamentalist guru.  If you disagree, then clearly you don’t “get it”.  Clearly you are not “saved”.  Or clearly you are unaware of real truth.

It is the wife’s responsibility to honor and reverence her husband.

Bill gets this little idea from Genesis 3:16, as well as a few sprinklings of New Testament verses where writers, 2000 years ago, wrote their ideas of how women are supposed to act toward their husband.  With progressive understanding (namely, 2000 years of wisdom and knowledge), we can move away from archaic and backwards ideas and look ahead to the realities of how things really are in light of the complexities of life.

But, it’s the Genesis 3:16 reference that really floors me.  The verse is where God is saying to Eve that he will “multiply her sorrow in childbirth” and “thy desire will be to your husband” (which I don’t have a problem with at all, if you catch my drift), and finally, the part that Bill loves, “your husband will rule over you”.

God was telling Eve this because she sinned.  It was her punishment for sinning.  I emphasize that twice for a very simple reason:  Why is Bill Gothard requiring honor and reverence from a wife in order to gain God’s favor (as well as her husband’s) by telling the woman that she is required to, because God told Eve she was required to, due to her sin? Obviously, I find this text to be somewhat humorous.  On one hand, God punished Eve with some physical punishments that she couldn’t get out of; childbearing, pain in conception (huh?), and then punishes her by saying she would be ruled over by her husband – something that is clearly (there goes that word) a choice on the husband’s and wife’s part.  Bill sees it as a metaphysical re-wiring of the male and female psyche.

I disagree.  And I am perfectly happy to do so.  And so is my wife.

*****
In Part 1, we will discuss the first of the seven basic needs of the husband, according to Bill Gothard: A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection

Read all posts by Incongruous Circumspection!

Snipped! by Incongruous Circumspection

The Intro.

(1) Mama

(2) My Little Years

(3) Marital Problems

(4) The Freedom of Divorce

Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage:

Introduction

Part 1aPart 1bPart 1cPart 1dPart 2a |

More by Incongruous Circumspection:

The Formula Problem: Why Duggarizing Your Marriage is Not Recommended

Should a Wife Submit to Her Husband?

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incongruous Circumspection

    For those who are confused after reading my last paragraph of the post, here is how I tried to explain it to another blogger:

    I look at the Bible as less of a rule book than the fundamentalist that uses it to direct their whole life. I look at it differently than even the free-er Christian that takes everything in the Bible as inerrant and works to try to iron out inconsistencies and uncomfortable passages.

    I see the Bible as an awesome book. One that has a lot of wisdom and insight. I don’t view it as inspired by God (to be fair, this is a recent development).

    The problem is, that I am writing for everyone. From the person who so desires to love God by obeying every command in the Bible, to those who reject it entirely and look for common sense in directing their lives.

    What I REALLY wanted to say was, “Why is a man (Bill Gothard) trying to force us into a world where we MUST live the way that sin cursed us to live (man ruling wife), rather than realizing that our sins have been forgiven and we CAN live any way we so desire with no consequences?” If you want to live in a co-equal relationship, have at it! You will not be forced into what God cursed Adam and Eve with.

    Does that help to clarify at all?

  • Anna

    An excellant post. One thought on the new testament verses that talk about submission of wives to husbands. The main set of those verses were written to newly converted wives of UNBELIEVING husbands. They were told to submit and be gracious so that their husbands would want know Christ also. So that they would not anger their husbands. Women did not have many rights in the time that those verses were written this was done to keep them safer. Can we have a Bill Gotherd slapping party I think it would be awesome.

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incongruous Circumspection

    “Women did not have many rights in the time that those verses were written this was done to keep them safer.”

    I think that sentence, disregarding any possibility that Paul had the best interest of women, as equals to men, at hand, is key. With our progressive understanding of all of life, we can easily disregard any chauvinistic male writer of any ancient book – Paul potentially included.

  • Lilah

    What mystifies me more than anything is why any person would take marital advice from someone who has never been married!!!

  • Karen

    As for the “pain in conception”, I always figured this was a delicate reference to the fact that when women lose their virginity, it typically causes some level of pain – after all, very sensitive (if internal) body parts are being handled in rather new ways! I could be wrong, that’s just what I figured the author in Genesis was referencing.

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