My story continued…….
We were free from the world of Patriarchal religion. On a personal level, I began to blossom. I was working outside the home, not only paying the bills, but able to save a little money here and there. Gradually, the trappings of the Patriarchal movement fell away. I stopped wearing the Prairie wear, in fact I stopped wearing dresses and skirts altogether. I started listening to Rock music and even started listening to Heavy Metal again.
My husband was headed down another path. He was adrift, like a rudderless ship he had no direction. We had a few Sundays where we did some Scripture readings in an attempt to have a “home Church” but they fizzled out.
Eventually my husband retreated into his own little world. It was not as if his beliefs had changed, but rather that he had gone into a passive state. Prone to laziness, it was all to easy for him to spend his time in the house. He would stay up all night in front of the computer. Going to bed at 3 or 4 in the morning he would often sleep in until the early afternoon. Then he would turn on the TV, lack of interesting programming did not force him get out and do something. Instead, my husband learn to adapt his tastes; watching soap operas until he got into the story line. In time, he got got a satellite dish and then he had plenty to watch day and night.
I called this time the “Couch Man years”. Given another year or two, my husband could have easily turned into a shut in.
However, a small spark of life remained. On day, my husband mentioned to me that he was considering Bariatric surgery. I was stunned. I had long since given trying to talk to my husband up about his weight. In the aftermath of the Patriarchy years I was relieved to be out from under my husband’s thumb. Also, my husband’s weight had been affecting his health for most of our marriage and I knew that it was only going to change when he made a choice.
It seemed that the moment had arrived! After the first conversation, I was careful not to get my hopes up, but my husband ended up being serious about it enough. Serious enough that he went through the whole screening process and had the surgery.
The next year saw a lot of joy. To make a long story short, my husband lost a lot of weight. As the pounds shed his depression lifted. He jumped into hobbies with a vengeance. When the weather turned warm, my husband put out a garden.
I was thrilled, my husband had finally conquered his weight. His health which had being going down hill, rebounded. He had gotten his life back.
I noticed that my husband started reading the Bible again. He said that he had been lazy, spending too much time in front of the computer. Since, he didn’t try to “teach” or “preach”, I was happy to see him with his Bible open, it meant that he wasn’t vegging out in front of the TV or playing yet another computer game.
One day, my husband mentioned a certain pastor was going to be having a conference in our state. We had heard this Pastor before and was on his tape ministry. Sure, he was into the Patriarchy crap (they all were), but it was not the whole extent of his ministry.
I saw little threat in this. My husband’s renewed interest in the Bible did not come along with an attempt to revive his old role as family Patriarch. In fact it seemed to be on a very personal level. The first time around, when we both started going to churches and religious conferences, where my husband would be convicted of something and then implement it as law for our household. This time around,although my husband was reading the same materials and listening to the same preachers, it was as though he was on a personal journey. It was about keeping his spirit up so that he would not fall into the temptation of the habits which had caused him to fall into the “Couch Man” trap.
I was happy for him, it was the approach to Faith which saved so many alcoholics and drug abusers. Scripture studies were now a vehicle for keeping my husband away from his own personal temptations and not about making new rules for me. At no time during this period did my husband suggest that I start wearing dresses or submitting to him. In fact he didn’t even try to get me to join him in his study time.
We went to the conference and had a great time. It turned out that the conference was being hosted at the building that our ex pastor had dreamed of buying. Another pastor, a man that we had heard of, but had not personally known, had bought the building. He had been part of a church with more mainstream teaching. Then he and some of the congregants had started studying certain issues and decided to start their own church.
He was having a hard go of it, in debt for the building with a few followers. The Preacher whose tape ministry we were on asked my husband if there was any way that he could attend church even if it was from time to time. The preacher, an old friend knew that we were broke, in fact when my husband had first lost his job, he had sent us money many a time to help us out. However, he knew that the presence of more people in the pews would provide encouragement for the struggling pastor.
On the way home, my husband said that if it were possible, that he might attend a few services a month. Nothing set in stone, it was a long distance and we were broke, but if it would help the guy out, why not. He also made it clear that there was no pressure for me to attend services with him.
I thought back to the “Couch Man” years; soap operas days and computer nights. The great re awakening as my husband lost weight His embrace of life, getting out of the house, having a life again. My husband’s re embrace of religion which this time around did not include his being my Patriarch or even insist that I join him in it.
This time around, religion was part of a personal healing process. Attending church was obviously part of this process. Surely there was no harm in this I thought…..
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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