CTNAHM: In Which Michael Confuses Me

CTNAHM: In Which Michael Confuses Me September 7, 2013

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 38—41

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Yes, we are still learning about the ways men need women. I know you’re excited, so let’s jump right in.

I Need Her to Balance Me Emotionally

Again, we guys don’t like to admit that we are emotional beings.  It is quite obvious that the gals are 90% emotion and 10% adulterated reason.  We fellows pride ourselves on being logical and objective.  But keep in mind that anger is an emotion.  Irritability and grouchiness are emotions.  Men are just as emotional as women: we just have a male pride that will not let us publicly express weakness or vulnerability.  I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with us men, for I don’t intend to get publicly vulnerable either.  I build strong walls and protect them against mushy intrusion.  But men can be just as imbalanced emotionally as can women.  It is just that our imbalance must be masculine while the girl’s imbalance is feminine.  So be it.  I don’t want any men friends that act like girls.  I have known a few—very few.  I knew them a short time—not short enough.

90% emotion? Seriously?  By the way, the definition of “adulterated” is to make impure by adding inferior materials or elements.  So female reason is impure because it’s inferior?  Is that what he’s really saying here?! Because I’m about to show him some feminine imbalance!  Ok. Sorry. I’m cooled down now.  Why am I not surprised that the only emotion that Michael is admitting to in men is anger-based?  Also, just because you, Michael, don’t feel comfortable being emotionally in public, there are lots of men that disagree.  President Bush crying about 9/11, for one.  Or was that considered not manly?  And what, really, is masculine imbalance, as compared to feminine imbalance?  I get irritated when he throws words around without properly defining them, and when people assume masculinity means never showing emotion. People have emotions, and it’s very OK (male or female) to let these emotions show.  Nobody wins a prize for stoicism.   Oh, and it was nice of Michael to let us all know that he has met some . . . feminine men, and he didn’t like the experience much.  Because that’s surprising.

Men without women can grow cold, hard, and unyielding.  As we adjust to the presence of a woman in our life, the hard edges of our psyche are rounded off.  We need these female creatures to be just what God made them to be.  The balanced nature of God is expressed in the combination of male and female emotions.

I’ve known some married men to be cold, hard, and unyielding.  The presence of their wives did nothing to change that about them.  Oh joy. It seems women are back to being creatures.  Once again, Michael doesn’t explain what God made these creatures to be, just that men need them to be what God wants them to.  And this might be my former LDS background, but I’ve never seen God as balanced.  He kills most of the world in a flood, created people he knew would have weaknesses, is OK with wars and murders (only on his schedule), and lets infanticide happen twice.  If a government leader did these, balanced is not the word people would use to describe it.  Insane, perhaps, but not balanced.  Since when were emotions male or female?  I was taught that emotions are neutral, and both genders have them; I didn’t realize God went down the list and assigned certain emotions to certain genders.

I Need Her to Encourage Me

I have never in my life admitted to, or even recognized, a state of discouragement—until five years later.  To me it seems weak that a man should be discouraged, but we read of prophets like Elijah and kings like Saul becoming discouraged.  Even John the Baptist grew discouraged after being locked in the dungeons for months.  Peter and the apostles were discouraged after the crucifixion.  A good woman with whom we have intimacy and fellowship can keep us from getting discouraged.  A wife must believe in her man if he is going to maintain courage when he fails.  She can be our “bridge over troubled water” to ease our minds if we cultivate her in the good times.  We need a helper to keep us from losing our vision.  The wife will recognize discouragement long before anyone else does and long before we will admit it, so we need her all the more.

Is anyone else getting the feeling that Michael just sat down and made a list called “All the Manly Things That I Don’t Admit to Feeling”, then went through and described how his wife is supposed to help with them?  His insistence of never admitting faults, discouragement, or really any feeling at all must be really difficult for his wife.  My husband comes from a family that doesn’t admit to emotion, and it bugs the tar out of me that I can see how he’s feeling, but he has no clue.  I imagine it’s even worse with someone that refuses to acknowledge feeling discouraged, but is acting out the textbook definition.  I, personally, don’t think that having a supportive spouse (male or female) staves off discouragement.  The spouse can make it more bearable, but getting rid of it before it even shows up?  Not so much.  And exactly how does a man “cultivate” the wife in good times? What does that even mean?  It sounds like he wants his wife to be his “weak” emotional detector and snap him out of it before anyone else sees.  Shouldn’t he specify that the wife may need someone to encourage her, too, since we’re on this subject?  I guess there are no male cheerleaders in Michael’s world.

If your wife has not been an encouragement to you, don’t blame her; ask yourself why she does not have faith in you.  People whom we encourage tend to reciprocate in kind.  Let me tell you a little secret:  a wife has more faith in a man who includes her in the decision making process.  When she is shut out, she feels at the mercy of a fallible man who doesn’t have her best interest at heart.  It is scary for her as it would be for you if your life were inexorably tied to the fate of another.  But when she is part of the decision making process she will appreciate the complexity of the problem and will be assured that the two of you have explored all the options and are making the best decision considering the circumstances.  She will become encouraging when she can believe in your decisions.  After all, if she has a say in the decision making process, then she shares the blame when things don’t work out so well!  And about half of life doesn’t work out well.  So why take all the responsibility?   You will need encouragement from time to time and God gave you that gift in the person of your wife.  You were created to need an encourager.  She is it.

Here’s where I get confused.  Debi’s book, and patriarchy in general, is very “man is the head of the house, man makes the decisions.”  Yet here, Michael is advocating, nay, insisting, that women share in the decision making process.  In fact, he says that if a wife isn’t encouraging, it’s because she’s shut out.  This may be true.  But if man has the ultimate say, then why does he need his wife to help?  If I remember Debi’s book correctly, she says that a woman shouldn’t contradict her man.  I guess I don’t see a couple practicing from both books actually working together.  It sounds like the man says “Well, this is my idea” and the woman says “Wow. That’s great, honey! You’re so smart!”  Does a man really need a sycophant for everything?  What’s the point of having the woman “help” with decision making at all?  Oh wait . . . there it is. To share the blame if it goes wrong.  It makes sense now.  Though he may say “people whom we encourage reciprocate”, he doesn’t specify anywhere how or when to do that for your wife.  Just that “you should so she’ll do it for you. Because you need it, my good sir.”  Ugh.

I Need Her To Challenge Me

Sometimes we men can drag our butts.  We can get stale and indifferent, or we lose sight of the noble goal.  If left to ourselves, we could just drift into territory that makes us hard to recover.  We can get, as the country mamas say, “wrong-headed,” which is wrong hearted, wrong attitude, wrong battle fought with the wrong people-just plain wrong.  Let’s face it, when we take a survey of the people we know and the population in general, we are forced to admit that most men are a wrong a good portion of the time.  We need an early warning system, and they call it WIFE.

Oh lovely.  Besides being a computer program patch, a Chinese made car, and a female creature, women are also early warning systems designed to keep men from stagnating.  Once again, I’m confused.  Debi’s book advocates never talking about anything negative with your husband.  So how is a wife supposed to broach the topic of her husband being “wrong, just wrong”?  I feel there’s a huge disconnect between what Debi’s book says and what Michael’s book says.

Now, a wife can be just as wrong-headed as her husband.  She can lead him in the wrong direction like Job’s wife, who actually tried to discourage him!  But just because the little woman can be wrong doesn’t change the fact that sometimes she can be right as well, and we still need a helper to challenge us.  The beauty of it is that two very different sources (male and female) provide a broader perspective on the same thing.  So it is quite common for the woman to see more clearly in those areas where the man is limited, the reverse also being true.  Where the woman’s nature prevents her from seeing clearly, the man is more likely to be constitutionally endowed with the mental and emotional tools to make wise decisions.  If a man shuts his wife out in the process, he is denying himself the benefit of her more informed insights in areas where he is deficient. Likewise, if a man leaves the decision making to his domineering wife, it may bring him temporary peace, but he can be certain that she is not innately equipped to make the correct decisions in many cases.

First, I hate the term “little woman”. I think it’s demeaning and rude.  Second, claps for Michael for admitting that women can be right (sometimes).  I’m a bit peeved that he barely touches on where the woman can be right, but makes sure to specify where the woman’s “nature” prevents her from seeing, men are endowed (constitutionally and emotionally!) to figure it out.  Third, I am getting annoyed at Michael because of his insistence that by hurting his wife, he hurts himself a lot more.  Are the men this book is geared to that selfish that they refused to do anything to help their wives without something in it for them?  And finally, of course he had to add “Don’t let your domineering wife rule your house”.  Because of course she’s not equipped to make correct decisions.  Of course. Sigh.

It is terribly counterproductive for the duo to be mistrusting of each other.  The solution is for the man and woman to learn to see things from the other’s perspective before jumping to conclusions.  My wife and I sometimes “argue” (classic point and counterpoint) our perspectives until we have aired our views and understand each other.  It is rare that we do not come to a consensus   When we fail to agree, I—the man, the head of the household—reluctantly do what I think is best.  If I make the wrong decision after hearing her out, she is compassionate with my error, knowing my attitude was not haughty, and it should result in me being more humble.  I am not sure if it has ever worked out this way, but it should.

Again, I’m completely confused.  Debi’s book specifically says “When you develop an adversarial relationship with your husband, you do so on the premise that you are right and he is wrong.  You also assume that you have the duty to resist, confront, or challenge him.  In thinking he is wrong and you are right, you declare yourself wiser than he, more spiritual, more discerning, more sacrificial, etc.  All this adds up to the obvious conclusion that you have assumed the role of leadership, teacher and judge.  This is sinful and odious, and displeases God greatly.”  Point/counterpoint arguing sounds a lot like adversarial relationship.  Why is it OK in Michael’s book, but not Debi’s?  Also note that the title of this section is “I Need a Wife to Challenge Me” and Debi says that challenging your husband ticks God off.  Again with the disconnect.  I think it’s amusing how Michael “reluctantly” makes the decision (without haughtiness!).  I really just don’t see that being true.  I’m also amused that his errors never make him more humble.

I hear some of you Independent Baptists saying “The man is the head of the home and the woman is supposed to obey.”  How long have you been preaching that?  How is it working out for you?  Yeah, God told her to submit to you, but he never told you to dominate her or disregard her, nor does her obeying you make your decision right.  If you want more than a relationship based on law, it’s time to act as if it is your responsibility to earn the right to lead.  Remember I am talking to men and would never say these things in the presence of a woman.  We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less.  We do have our pride.  Let her read “Created to Be a Help Meet” and she will obey even when she knows you are wrong and your decisions hurt the family.  Thank God for godly women.

This section is seriously starting to hurt my head.  Michael just said a paragraph up that man is the head.  Yet it’s wrong when the Independent Baptists preach it?  And call me crazy, but I don’t really see Michael NOT dominating and disregarding.  I do agree with the point act like you have to earn the right to lead.  Though it shouldn’t be an act. (I’m not even going to start lecturing on how men and women should lead together as equals).  Why are women supposed to OBEY?  Horses obey.  Mechanical objects obey.  Women should have a say and get to chose their behaviour.  “We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less.”  Sounds like he knows what a good husband should do, but to never let on to the wife that this should work is almost criminal.  And his answer to just give her Debi’s book, and she’ll obey no matter what; good for you for having a Godly woman?  Makes me want to pound my head against a wall.

The answer is for you and your wife to grow into maturity together.  If the family is dysfunctional it is time to take her hand and start confiding in one another.  If you plan on driving the old truck on vacation next year, you had better start working on it now.  Likewise, knowing you are going to need to be challenged and kept on the straight and narrow, start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system.

Wow.  If the family is dysfunctional, it’s clearly the wife’s fault.  It can’t be the fault of the man who refuses to show emotion, admit when he’s wrong, humbly accept responsibility for his mistakes, or demands obedience in whatever he says.  Nope. Definitely the wife’s fault.  Speaking of wives, why are Michael’s analogies about women all comparing them to inanimate objects without will or voice?  “Start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system.” Women are not trucks or fire alarms.  They are people with needs and a voice.  His blatant disrespect for women is starting to really bum me out.  Not once in this book, so far, has he said “treat her well, respect her, show her you love her.” It’s always “Do this so she’ll become better for you.”  This is not healthy, and I feel sorry for the poor women that are constantly dehumanised this way!

If I were writing this book, it would be much shorter.  “Women are people.  Treat them as such, love them, treat them with respect, listen to their points of view, let them help you, and don’t expect obedience.  Talk to them as equals, acknowledge when they make good points, and give credit when she’s right.  Do nice things because you love her, not because you want her to serve you better.  In conclusion, tell your wife you love her and that her happiness is important to you.  Then act on that.  Watch your marriage change.”

But I suppose that counts as heresy in the conservative Christian world.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment