CTBHHM: How to Make an Appeal

CTBHHM: How to Make an Appeal June 27, 2014

Created To Be His Help Meet, p. 253

Since the very beginning of her book, Debi has been promising readers that she will tell them how to “make an appeal” to their husbands. Here, on page 253, she finally does so—and it takes her exactly one page.

Learning to Make an Appeal

There were a few times in our early married life when I had differences with my husband that I felt had to be resolved. I felt I had to speak to him and that he must listen.

Frankly, if you are in a relationship your partner should listen to you. This is kind of, you know, the foundation of relationships. It’s called “communication.”

At first, he had a tendency to brush me off, attributing my “irregularities” to female hormones. If I got upset over something, the first thing he would do was to ask me if I was “on my period.” I usually was, but I resented his attributing everything I did to female hormones. It seemed as though he was not taking my issues seriously.

It seemed like that, Debi, because that’s what it was.

When I did voice my hurt or concerns, I would, of course, be emotional and, according to him, somewhat irrational. My emotions and his cold, male logic couldn’t speak to each other.

Newsflash, Debi—Michael has emotions too. And you know what else? Being emotional does not mean being irrational. You can be emotional and still be completely in the right. It’s okay to be emotional.

It took me a while, but I eventually learned to make an appeal that he would respect, and he learned to stop asking me if I was on my period—he just quietly continued to assume I was.

Lovely. Michael really is an asshole, you know that?

We decided early in our marriage that when something was so important to me that I had to have it resolved, he would take a step back, stop all his ministry and business, and listen with grave concern and consideration.

I know I risk sounding like a broken record here, but being willing to listen to your partner is how relationships work in the normal world. If one party isn’t willing to listen to the other party, something is broken in the relationship. Debi acts like she’s discovering something strange and magical, and offering to let her readers in on some sort of secret. She’s not.

The problem is that in patriarchal relationships, normal healthy relationship skills and patterns go out the window. And guess what? That creates a bit of a disaster! What Debi is doing here is grabbing some of those normal relationship things and finding a way to tack them onto her patriarchal marriage to make that marriage work in the first place. If she hadn’t ditched all of those skills and patterns in the first place to adopt an absolutist female submission framework she wouldn’t have this problem.

I had to be willing to let go of the issue after he considered it, even if his decision did not suit me.

In other words, Debi’s not changing the fundamental patriarchal pattern of the relationship. The husband still has final say, always. What she’s doing in talking about “making an appeal” is creating a process by which a wife may earn a hearing before her husband, so that she can voice her concerns before her husband, acting as a judge, renders a verdict—a verdict she must accept. That Debi has to create such a process in the first place is incredibly sad.

Together, we made a pact that I would never misuse my “liberty” of appealing to him as a ploy to control him, but only use it when he was blind to my needs, and that he would listen when I did appeal. We decided that I would raise my hands and speak in a serious, unemotional way, “This is an issue that I must have resolved.”

Note that the voice must be “unemotional.”

As it turned out, I have used it only 4 or 5 times in our entire marriage.

It would be nice to think that this is because Michael normally listens to Debi without her having to make a formal appeal, but alas, as we go on we find that this is not in fact the reason Debi has made appeals so sparingly.

If you knew my husband, you would be surprised at the few times I have had to fall back on my “appeal.” He was born with an extreme amount of drive and dominance, and what seems to some, a deficit of gentleness.

Debi really doesn’t make Michael sound very appealing at all.

I say that in a complimentary way.

Uh . . . right.

He is a leader. He expects to be served.

If that’s what Debi thinks being a leader is about, she needs to read more about leadership.

When he walks into a crowded room, whether in a church building or at a gas station, people are aware of his presence. Where most men walk miles in their lives, he has walked galaxies. He has expected me to do the same. My life was never my own; every minute of every day, I have been on call.

I’ve seen marriages that work like this, the wife waiting on the husband hand and foot. Generally it’s older couples. It makes me rather sad. Marriage is supposed to be about partnership and working together, not about one party always being on call to serve the other.

What I learned when we decided on this “appeal policy” is that most of the daily issues were not that overwhelming at all. And, once I knew I had a forum that could gain a fair hearing, I discovered that I was now willing to tolerate much more.

Tolerate much more. Just the phrasing of that seems off. Marriage should not be about “tolerating.” Poor Debi. She has no idea what she’s missing out on.

The few times I have needed to use my “appeal” were primarily centered on his ability to see a woman’s side of an issue. Once he heard my appeal, he was willing to take my word about a woman’s perspective. He carefully reviewed the case and came up with a compromise that was satisfactory to us both.

But . . . but . . . that is how marriage is always supposed to be. Well, except that the husband and wife should come up with a compromise that works for both of them together.

Also, maybe it’s just me, but given that Michael continues to assume that Debi is on her period when she makes an appeal even though she finds that dismissive suggests that he is not in fact willing to take Debi’s word about “a woman’s perspective.”

The key was, I never misused my liberty; he therefore respected my voice. 

Ah, I see, so if Debi had made appeals more often, Michael wouldn’t have respected her voice. Because . . . why exactly?

So let’s recap. If you’re really bothered about something and want to bring it up to your husband, you can’t just bring it up to your husband because he won’t listen to you or your concerns. So you have to be all formal and tell him you want to “make an appeal”—but you better only do that for serious things, and not for something frivolous or small. The small things you better just swallow, because if you “make an appeal” too often the whole appeal thing will stop working. Once you make an appeal, your husband listens and then makes a decision, a decision you then must accept.

This sounds like a terrible deal. I mean seriously, Debi writes about it like it’s some kind of special liberty! Heck, she says the very existence of the appeal system felt so freeing that it made her more willing and able to simply endure.

I don’t think Debi realizes the effect her book is likely to have on me and on other women in healthy, egalitarian relationships. Debi promises women a “heavenly marriage,” but what she describes sounds more like a hellish marriage. Indeed, Debi makes me appreciate my own relationship even more, and sometimes after going over another section of Debi I have a sudden urge to find Sean and squeeze him dight. I’ll take my healthy, egalitarian relationship over the bullcrap Debi describes any day of the week.

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