For those who don’t know, Michael Pearl is the (self-taught) founder of No Greater Joy ministries, which specializes in marriage, family, and parenting support and advise. He is extremely popular in Christian Patriarchy circles.
Michael Pearl can read minds. Skeptical? Read on! In the latest edition of No Greater Joy magazine (July-August 2011), Michael and Debi Pearl respond to a letter they received in an article titled “Go Love Yourself?” This advise column format is very typical for the Pearls, including both NGJ magazine and their books. I will reprint here both the letter and excerpts from the Pearls’ responses:
My Wife and I are on different pages. The only thing that is keeping us together is the common goal of wanting the best for our fantastic daughter. When she leaves for university I intend to leave my wife. Am I wrong? Here is the situation:
1) I save; she squanders thousands.
2) I have been faithful. Yet for most of our 20 years of marriage she has pushed me away sexually and tells me repeatedly to go to the bathroom for release.
3) She claims I cannot be trusted and have to earn her respect.
4) She does not work. I make a six figure income. We are comfortable, but cannot afford the lifestyle she expects.
5) After work I am expected to help with housework, meals, and laundry, which I do. But the house is always a mess. She is a hoarder. There is a room of junk you cannot even get into.
6) Once she said she was going to report me as being abusive. I told her I would be glad to call the police on myself or report myself to the church. She said to call the church. I did. The church leaders knew the charge was bogus and said they wanted to stay out of the matter.
When my daughter goes to university I intend to give my wife 75 percent of the assets, walk away, and put my daughter through university. Is that reasonable?
Are you ready? Michael Pearl is about to use this one short letter to read this man’s mind.
Since I am hearing only one side of the story, it is impossible to judge the whole matter, but you have given me enough information to ask some pertinent questions of you and to make a factual observation concerning your wife.
First, hats off to Michael Pearl for realizing there is probably another side to this story! But what is this factual observation he can make about John’s wife?
Your wife is deeply pained, broken as a human being, unfulfilled as a woman and very lonely.
OH. That makes sense. No wait. Just where did the letter indicate that? This must be where Michael Pearl is reading John’s mind. And his wife’s mind, apparently. Impressive.
Her hoarding suggests she is insecure in her future, although that could be leftovers from an impoverished youth.
Wow! I never would have thought of that! I wonder which it is?
Your characterization of her is typical of a woman that has lived with the shame of being rejected for another woman, or of a woman whose husband has molested his child, or is into pornography. If none of these are true, the next thing I would consider is, did you create guilt in her by engaging in premarital sex? It is often the case that a highly principled virgin who surrenders to her passions and engages in shameful sex before marriage takes that guilt into the marriage and comes to identify all sex with shame and guilt.
I find it highly disturbing that Michael Pearl can learn everything about a person’s sex life by reading a short letter. I am resolving to never write a letter to Michael Pearl, because that’s just plain embarrassing.
So far your entire approach, as expressed in your letter, is to be concerned with your own needs and how you can meet them. You are self-centered, and insensitive.
Wow, he can even read your entire character from a simple letter! That’s amazing! Again, though, I am resolving not to ever write to Michael Pearl, because really, who wants their innermost thoughts and feelings broadcast to the world, or at least the readership of NGJ?
Debi gets in on the action next, and it appears that she can read minds too! Wow, what a team! No wonder their ministry has been so successful! So let’s take a look at what Debi has to say:
Your wife doesn’t respect you because you don’t respect yourself. She says you ‘cannot be trusted and have to earn her respect.’ I couldn’t respect a man that made love to himself in the bathroom either.
Scary that she can learn so much from one letter. I’m glad, though, that her response is cluing John in on the reality that he does not respect himself. It’s better he learn that now than that he spend the rest of his life miserable because he doesn’t respect himself. Now let’s see what Debi says about John’s wife:
Furthermore, she doesn’t like herself any better. … For twenty years, your wife has felt that she is a loser. … I suspect she has good-will toward you, but she appears to be a little lazy and self-centered.
Wow. Debi can read John’s wife’s mind without even having heard her side of the story at all! Let’s finish by looking at what Debi says is wrong with John and his wife’s marriage:
You neglected to lead!
Oh, I get it! If he’d taken the lead from the beginning and expected her to act as his devoted, submissive helpmeet, everything would have been all better! Debi goes on to tell John how to take charge of his marriage and fix it, which includes taking charge of the financial situation, closing all of his and his wife’s credit cards (without telling her), and putting his wife on an allowance. Debi explains that his wife will find these changes “disturbing yet stimulating.”
And see, if John had written his letter to me, I never would have been able to figure out any of that! My response would probably have been something like this:
Have you ever thought of going to a professional marriage counselor? I hear they’re very good at pinpointing the problems in troubled marriages like yours. I can give you the numbers for some good ones if you like.
Sincerely, Libby Anne
Fortunately, John has the Pearls to ask, because it’s obvious that compared to their advice – based on their amazing ability to read minds – my advice would have been crap!
[Because of Poe’s Law, I will state here that this is what is called satire]