CTNAHM: The Proper Way for Wives to Challenge

CTNAHM: The Proper Way for Wives to Challenge September 11, 2013

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 41—43

Alright. We are still going through Chapter 4. So far it’s been reasons why husbands need wives, and the reasons why wives need to be needed.  It’s been a blast, and we’ve still got 20 pages to go.  Last section we ended with how men need to be challenged by their wives.  Today we’re starting with a story in that vein.

“Let’s Go” She Said

[Michael contracted encephalitis and was hospitalized for 11 days. They didn’t know if he’d survive and Michael fell into a depression afterwards, mostly due to the loss of his short-term memory.  He would often re-buy things because he forgot he bought them already.]

At the time I was making kitchen cabinets for a living.  I would head out to install a set and forget where I was going.  I got scared to leave the house. I felt confused and uncertain and lost my confidence.  I felt normal until I got into a stressful situation or someone called my attention to something I had forgotten. I began to fall behind in my business and was unable to get out and do the necessary sales.

I’m impressed that Michael actually admits to feeling scared and less confident.  It must have been really scary for his family.

One day my wife said “let’s go.”  She rode with me through new subdivisions and we stopped at houses under construction.  She sent me inside to talk to the homeowners or builders.  Our first trip out netted two jobs.  She had to continue challenging me to keep me going, but after several years I seemed to return to normal.  She tells me I was grouchy during that time and seemed to resent anyone thinking that there was anything wrong with me.  I still have trouble remembering names. If she hadn’t challenged me with an offer to help, I might have shrunk into depression (but I doubt it).

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting things, but telling Michael to get in the car and taking him to a job spot seems a bit more than challenging.  Saying “let’s go” really doesn’t seem like an offer to help, does it?  I’m not sure if it’s in line with Debi’s book.  Though congrats to Debi for snapping Michael out of this depression—even though he won’t admit that part.

I am a minster of the gospel and often speak publicly.  In my earlier ministry there were times Deb challenged me in regard to the appropriateness of something I said in a sermon, or in a public setting—still does every once in awhile.  At first I resented her challenging me for it felt like rejection, criticism, condemnation. I will admit—but just this once—there were times her challenges just made me more stubborn.  I didn’t care about the issue; I just wanted her to think I was the best, number one, Mr. Infallible.  I would have been happier if she had been just an ignoramus who had no discernment and couldn’t see my errors.  So what if I hurt someone else through lack of sensitivity or over-zealousness, my wife should be loyal to me regardless! Why did she have to be so smart?

OK. I’m not a preacher, but have given talks in church.  It’s kind of a given when you preach from the pulpit, you try your best not to insult people.  It’s just a common courtesy. Especially if you are prone to speaking publicly often. It doesn’t make sense to insult the people that pay you.

think it’s very telling that Michael admits it didn’t matter what the issue was, he just wanted to be right. Also, what’s up with the backhanded compliments?  He wished his wife were an “ignoramus”, just so he can appear to be infallible.  I can understand that when he was challenged, he felt threatened.  I react the same way, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  But I’ve never, ever wished my spouse was too stupid to catch my errors!

When husbands and wives don’t have goodwill towards one another, a wife’s challenges will be met with resistance, for he thinks she is judging him or “trying to be the boss.”  You must bring your wife to the place where she has the wisdom and grace to challenge you without pushing.  And you must garner enough humility to recognize that you do indeed need a help meet to challenge you to greater things.

He makes a good point here. When spouses don’t have goodwill towards each other, challenges (from either) will be taken badly.  Though I don’t see anything wrong with a woman trying to be the boss.  Honestly, it’s whatever works for a couple’s dynamic.  How exactly does a man bring his wife to the “place where she has the wisdom and grace to challenge without pushing”?  I remember last section there was talk about “cultivating” the wife. I still am unclear how that happens.  Or why a man needs to “bring his wife” to the place where he thinks she needs to be. Constructive observations, yes.  Telling her “you should be here because I’m the man and this is my need”, no.  It is true, though, that everyone (not just husbands) need enough humility to say “you’re right” to someone else.

When a husband has a bad attitude that may cause him to lose his job or make a fool of himself at church, his wife is his first line of defense.  He needs her to be wise and sensitive.  If she runs in too fast with too much, he might just bite her like a dog being pulled out of a fight.  If he is already in a fighting mood, she shouldn’t appear to be taking the side of the enemy.  Diplomacy is called for and a carefully crafted question is in order. “Honey, if you do confront the preacher, how do you think everyone else will respond?”  “Honey, I know your boss is sometimes rude, but if you say something to him and lose your job, where can you find employment in this economy?”

Why must women be emotional regulators of their husbands?  I’m not saying don’t talk him down if he’s going to do something tremendously stupid. Definitely do that.  But Michael kind of makes it sound like if he’s angry, cool him down.  Just don’t be too harsh or take someone else’s side.  Adults should be able to regulate their emotions.  I realise the irony in a bipolar person saying that, but at least I’m on meds that help.  Also, why is the only allowable way to get a husband to think about his actions (which he should be doing internally anyway!) one carefully worded question?  My husband is laid back and patient, so when he gets riled up, it’s been building for a good long time.  I’m quite the opposite.  But we have a mature enough relationship where either of us can say something to the effect of “You’re being unreasonable.  Calm down.” without having to tiptoe on eggshells.  Maybe that’s the rub.  It doesn’t sound like Michael and Debi have a mature relationship.  It sounds like he gets what he wants when he wants it and she makes it happen.  Not mutual giving and taking.  Moving on.

You may tell me your wife is more likely to say, “Don’t be so stupid.  You have no marketable skills, and if you lose this job, I am going to take the kids and live with my mother until you find another one.”  If that is your situation, then you have a bigger job cut out for you at home than you do at work.  You need to bond with your wife, let her know that she is cherished, fellowship with her; walk in the light, and then be ready to allow her to second-guess your attitudes.  It is amazing that when a wife knows her husband is going to consider her critique, she grows more tactful in her approach.  But if he has proven to be a stubborn fool, she will treat him with scorn.

Hmmm.  Guess I’m more like that wife.  I’m not above making threats to get what I want.  And it’s not for lack of bonding or fellowship.  It’s because I came from a very neglectful childhood, and the threat of my husband losing his job and me not having what I need is a huge trigger for me.  So maybe the wife responds badly because she’s scared and doesn’t respond well to fear.  Maybe it’s the 100th time they’ve had this conversation.  I don’t know the situation.  It just seems silly to completely ignore the WHY of the wife’s outburst and focus on the “give her more attention and she’ll treat you better”.  I would think the right advice for this situation (and yes, I have been in this situation) is: “Wow.  You seem really upset.  Why does this situation cause such a reaction?  Are you scared?  I see.  Why are you scared? Oh. That’s a good point.” etc.  It just seems like Michael treats women like vending machines.  Pop in a few kind words and quality time, pop out the desired results.  People don’t work like that!  Though he does have a point that if someone is going to be a stubborn fool, they will probably be met with scorn.

When a woman finds her soul refreshed by her husband, she will not speak to him in a way that might cause her to lose the blessedness of that fellowship.  When he values her and she values him, they stop hurting one another and treat each other with respect and tolerance. You need someone on the front line to challenge you.  Wives are real handy.  They just need to know that they are valued for their perspective.

I don’t know what soul refreshed-ness is, but I’m assuming it’s something to the effect of warm fuzzies.  Michael’s point sorta kinda makes sense.  If you make your spouse happy, they are less inclined to make you unhappy.  Though I think there’s an implied threat hidden in that line.  If the woman speaks in a condescending manner, she’ll lose the “blessing” of her husband’s fellowship.  I guess it’s a “Play nice and I’ll be nice” type of thing.  Which really seems to be the way marriage relationships (at least according to the Pearls) are cast.  Wives must submit to their husbands in order to make the husbands into godly men. Ick.

However, Michael does have a winner in the next line.  “When he values her and she values him, they stop hurting one another and treat each other with respect and tolerance.”  I think this should have been his main point.  He could have talked about the ways to show the wife that she is valued (that don’t  point out how she was created to help a man out), or ways to stop hurting each other if that’s the case.  I don’t think there would be many people that could find fault with that kind of philosophy.  It’s very Golden Rule and simple.  I appreciate that.  “Value each other and treat each other kindly.” The end.

Nope. Not the end.  Michael has to get his twist in there a bit.  “Women are handy.”  No, Swiss Army Knives are handy.  Spatulas by the oven are handy.  Women are people that deserve respect.  Not merely because they can provide things that men need.  But because they are equal partners in their marriage and have needs themselves.  Besides the “God-given” need women have to want to be help meets, Michael ignores any other needs women might have.  Even though he preaches respect, it doesn’t seem to me like he really offers it to women.  I could be wrong, though.

*Also, I’m debating skipping the rest of this chapter. It’s a lot more of the same, though we do get gems like “I Need to Be Her Protector” and “I Need My Wife to Meet My Erotic Desires”.  Let me know if you want me to slog ahead and finish out the chapter, or just compile a list of the highlights.*

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