The Amazing Bosch Universal Mixer

The Amazing Bosch Universal Mixer March 27, 2009

by Laura


When I was living on the farm we grew almost all of our own food. We planted our own wheat and then harvested it with a pull type combine hooked up to our antique John Deere 70 tractor. We had a hand cranked fanning mill (another antique) to clean the wheat which was quite the operation. One of the bigger kids would crank the giant handle to produce the wind and shaking needed to send that wheat through the fanning mill screens and discard all the impurities. Well almost all. Inevitably there would be little bits of “stuff” that was the same size and shape as the wheat berries that would escape the cleaning process.

With our home grown organic wheat berries in hand, I would get out the wheat grinder that we had borrowed long term from a friend and would commence grinding the flour for the bread I made just about every other day. I would set my two little girls up on the counter and together we would pick out the little balls of mud-turned-dirt, the pieces of chaff and foreign seed matter that escaped the fanning mill. One of the girls would have the job of keeping the grinder fed by pushing the wheat kernels down the dime sized chute with a chopstick. It would stop grinding if someone didn’t do this every 10 seconds or so. It was a huge grinder with stones about 6 inches across. A heavy beastly thing. My one daughter was terrified of it because it was so loud, like an airplane in the kitchen she would say!

After we ground our wheat, I would take a giant stainless steel bowl and mix up our bread by hand. I had to stand on the little stool Dale had made for the children in order to be tall enough. My recipe made 6 loaves at a time and the lump of dough was quite large to knead. It weighed about 6 pounds. When my girls got to be about 4 or 5, I would get them involved in learning how to make the bread, hoping to work myself out of a job! It was such a relief when my oldest daughter, around 8 years old, could do it all by herself. Instead of having to take time out to make the bread every other day, I could just ask her to do it. And sometimes I did! I used to call her my bread machine.

Of course, I was not allowed to have an actual bread machine.

I don’t really remember any reason why other than my husband didn’t like the loaf to have a hole in the middle from the mixing apparatus. Oh yes, and the texture was not uniform when the bread was made in an electric bread machine. I didn’t push it, I just accepted that other people could have that but not me. I was used to being treated like a teenage daughter by my husband. I had no idea what it was like to be an equal partner.

We had been home churching for many years and yet we came into contact with a wonderful group of people in a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in the city about an hour and a half from our home. We started attending there and it was wonderful. During that time, I heard these other mothers-of-many, who made their own bread to feed their families, talk about a machine they all had. It was a Bosch Universal Mixer. I had never heard heard of it. It seemed that the Bosch, as it was affectionately referred to, was a powerful mixer that you could dump all the bread ingredients into and it would mix and knead your dough to perfection while you did something else. I was thrilled to hear about this. Until I found out how much they cost. Way out of our price range. I told myself that this was just another one of those things that I could not have. Oh well….

I became pregnant with my 10th child. At this church, they would have a baby shower for every mom when she was having her first child after becoming a part of the fellowship. Didn’t matter that is wasn’t your first baby period. Just your first one after you came to their church. All the ladies wanted to pitch in and buy me my very own Bosch! I was thrilled and excited and amazed that they cared about me enough to want to do that! They told me about it before the baby shower to make sure that it was something I would want. Did I ever want it! I was really excited when I told my husband about the generous gift the church ladies wanted to give me.

He wasn’t. He said, “You can’t have a Bosch until our youngest daughter knows how to make bread by hand. I don’t want them to be dependent on a machine.” That was it. I was not allowed to have this time saving, work horse until my yet unborn daughter was old enough to make the bread with her little hands.

Now, my husband was a very talented carpenter. He could take a piece of wood and turn it into a thing of beauty with all the tools he had in the shop. He had power saws and hand saws and power drills and brace and bit drills. The man had a very well stocked shop full of the tools required for the jobs he needed to do in the best and easiest way. I tried to point out to him that there was no requirement that he only use a hand saw to cut every board until our boys all knew how to do the same. But that didn’t seem to be the same thing to him. He said that he needed those tools to support our family. I guess what I was doing wasn’t supporting our family? I don’t know. But being the submissive wife, I called the sweet ladies and said no thank you for the Bosch. I said my husband preferred that I not have one until the younger girls can make bread by hand. I was humiliated and dominated once again. I didn’t think I had a choice. I didn’t think I had any voice in the matter. No meant no and that was that. Beaten down, I went to the kitchen and got out the giant silver mixing bowl and added my tears to the family’s daily bread.

Laura’s Story:

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43 responses to “The Amazing Bosch Universal Mixer”

  1. *hug*I am so sorry that your husband intentionally made your life harder and denied you the right to be on the receiving end of a generous community. You worked yourself ridiculously hard for your family, and he should have welcomed a (free! efficient!) way for you to optimize your day.

  2. I really cannot imagine how you’re life has been, I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole story but I’m assuming that this blog means you’ve escaped from it and I couldn’t be happier for you.

  3. I loved making homemade bread from scratch when I was a stay at home mom.HOWEVERIf I had to harvest, prepare, and grind the wheat and make 6 loaves every other day, forever, I would have learned to hate it with a passion.My grandparents were wheat farmers. My grandma DID grind her own bread. But she had one big honking mixer to mix it in. And she baked them in coffee cans so she could get more loaves in her oven.But it was not beneath her to get a bread machine when they came out.You know that one little thing Jesus said once. That one thing that some men pretend He didn’t say when it comes to their women and children. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”I’m thinking a good dose of breadmaking would have been in order for that man. And if he was unwilling to do so, then that would have been good enough reason to quit making it and go buy some Wonder Bread from the store.If he didn’t like it, then “Either make the bread yourself or let me have the mixer you aren’t even paying for.”What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It’s an old saying, but there is a reason it exists.So sorry. I know my suggestion isn’t a real option in the Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement. And that’s another reason it needs to be exposed.More stories like this help people understand what all the fuss is about.Mara

  4. Wonderful post, Laura. And really, really, sharp. I mean, basically, it says it all about how little he wanted to recognize that your work, too, was “work” and that your work was as necessary to the family as his. I also think it says a lot about how Dale took ideas of headship to an extreme degree. Its not like those women in your own church community were offering you a tanning bed or a trip to the caribbean. Other religious women were taking a look at your situation and saying “here’s what we’d like for you.” To set himself up in opposition to *that* is really to spit in the face, metaphorically, of all those other women and say that they are not good mothers or neighbors or co-religionists. There’s a kind of egotistical self love there that is disturbing. Thanks for publishing this story.aimai

  5. First time reader and commentor here, but I’ll certainly be back.I’m curious if you would mind sharing the other women’s reaction when you told them you could not accept their gift? Were they supportive of your husband’s position, or did they sympathize with you?

  6. Dear Ayla, Welcome aboard! I remember that the other women made no objection to my husband’s decision. It would be out of place for them. In fact, as I will share about later, I did end up buying a Bosch after I left my husband the first time. I first contacted the woman at the church, who was a Bosch dealer, to see about getting one from her. She immediately asked me if my husband was okay with it. She basically didn’t want to sell it to me if he was against it. I ended up getting it off the internet and for a cheaper price at that!

  7. oh wow! while I fully understand the concept of teaching how to cook from scratch, since cooking is becoming very much a lost art mostly because a lot of modern people’s idea of cooking is microwaving TV dinners, (my boyfriend is thrilled beyond imagination that i know how to cook, and he said he’d lived under the impression that women like that didn’t exist anymore. i guess he didn’t know anything about quiverful daughters! :-p ) it’s not like it’s impossible to learn that even when you DO have little helpers! After all, you learned it, and i get the impression you didn’t do much of that what you were a child?granted, this isn’t even close to making bread, but I make pasta from scratch a lot. does that mean I don’t also have a bag of regular, store-bought pasta in the cupboard? of course not. We also sometimes make pizza from scratch (boyfriend makes the sauce, I make the dough). does that mean we never buy take-out? of course not.I wonder though, if he was thinking in the “slippery slope” way that the Amish apply to TV’s and such: you start with one slight convenience, and another and before you know it, you’re buying frozen bagels at Walmart, i.e. he didn’t think you’d stay disciplined enough to continue doing everything from scratch if he let you have even a single helper?and one last thing… I’m starting to get the impression that your days must have a lot more hours than mine… i can’t even fathom getting as much done in one day as you must have!!! amazing

  8. Dear Jadehawk, I don’ think it had much to do with the slippery slope thing. Rather I believe it was a control issue of which there were many. My husband, for reasons understood only by him, thought that having a Bosch would not be a good idea. Maybe he figured that if I had this time saving, labor saving device, I wouldn’t teach my daughters to do it the old fashioned way at all. I really am not sure what his reasons were. But I do know the outcome of his dictatorial decision. I resented him, was bitter toward him and felt guilty because of it. That was thanks to my understanding of my religion.

  9. Laura,thank you so much for your response… I really wish I could find an explanation for that kind of decision-making. Mild obsession about wanting to get into other people’s heads, you know! :-pIt almost makes me wish there were men who left the QF movement to explain the things that go on in the men’s head sometimes.

  10. I agree with aimai: this story, so very well-told (and shockingly concise; mine would have been all over the place) is such a perfect little capsule of what I believe the Christian Patriarchy (or “Patriocentric”) movement is.What makes me the maddest about this story is that self-described “soft patriarchalists” (hey, even complementarians) will read it and assert: “Aee? Perfect example of misinterpretation of the Bible. Perfect example of a husband who is not godly and loving who still tries to have all the veto power–and that’s not what the New Testament wanted. This guy’s clearly extra-BIbilical; forget him, he’s the anamoly.”But these statements miss the fact that their own interpretation of the Bible is the root of the problem, not any particular husband.I would argue that Male Headship, even mild versions, is inherently abusive,EVEN when the husband is good, kind, well-meaning, and otherwise Christ-like. It is inherently mental and emotional abuse, in my opinion, that one of two adult partners have so much power and control and deference over the other, and single veto power over the children the other partner has sweated and slaved over to bring into existence. And loved. And it’s inherently abusive and rife for abuse, in my opinion, that this one partner gets all of this power and deference simply because he had the good fortune to be born with one set of genitals. For those from the True Womanhood blog, I’ve posted before (Emmy) on this subject that boggles my mind. Absolutely boggles. My head explodes a little to realize that if not for the genitals and reproductive system I was born with, that the world would treat me like—well, like a human!Not a woman, but a full human. Because even in the mainstream of countries like the U.S., women are still not fully human; men are the default Human and we are the deviations from Man; we are the different sub-flavor of human. (And no, unpalatable as the idea is to some of my “soft complementarian” family, I most certainly do not accept the patriarchy-endorsed interpretation of the Pauline verses suggesting that Jesus approves of this gender apartheid. You can’t convince me that the person who had women followers and disciples who traveled with him, who talked to the Woman at the well as if she was his intelligent equal, who spoke the Beatitudes, would have agreed with the interpretations of male-dominated, self-perpetuating, WORLDLY and carnal patriarchy as it has existed for thousands of years.)YOur story points all of this out perfectly. What was Dale’s reason for not giving you this machine that would bring such relief to your dear, tired arms? His DAUGHTERS. That his DAUGHTERS would not sufficiently absorb that, having been born with Reproductive Organ Set B, they are destined to sweat and labor in homes (homes that can become prisons and hells) as their father or husband wills it. Because of what’s between their legs, women needn’t dream of any other life for themselves; they needn’t even dream that their burdens as homemakers-by-choice be lessened with a machine that would free them to better care for their families.This philosophy–and it is not only amongst European-American Christian patriarchalists, mind you, oh no no, but around the world—would seriously drive me, if I were a mother, to hide my newborn daughter’s genitals and disguise her as a boy. If the alternative is the abject lack of choice and the forced adhesion to a path she despise…I would never permit her to undergo such suffering. Why bring a child into this world if there is a 50/50 chance that she will only be a flavor of human, and not fully Human?Your narrative image of the Bosch machine, and your final image of you crying tears into your bread dough….powerful. It will stay with me for a long time.

  11. Jadehawk,I guess that’s why I went into why I like making bread and that I come by it honestly.I also see the need to know how to do things from scratch. It’s a good thing.What I hate seeing is a good thing being turned into something bad.Like the other thread talking about children. I also see them as a blessing. But what Patriarchy/Quiverfull (P/QF) turn it into is a heavy burden too heavy to carry.As far as Dale is concerned, all I can say is that it is a total lack of empathy for Laura. He understood his own need and met them with his power tools but could not relate to her needs. Hence, in his mind, she didn’t need a “power tool”.That’s why he needed to try making the bread himself. Then he might have gained some empathy. You know, walk a mile in her shows.I had a friend who did her laundry at the laundrymat. It took only one time for her husband to go along with her for him to decide she needed a washer and dryer and he’d make payments for them. He didn’t even do the laundry. He just watched her do it once, saw the trouble she went through and made the choice.He had empathy.Dale either didn’t have it, or worse, he wanted to make things worse for Laura.I’d prefer to think of it as a lack of empathy rather than a desire to hurt and burden. But I don’t know him.What would be your thoughts, Laura, if you don’t mind?Mara

  12. Laura,What a poignant, well written post. And how sad. It amazes me how often (usually patrio) husbands don’t view housework as work. I have no qualms telling dh that I work as hard as he does. While I’ve made do with inappropriate tools to do my work, and he’s kept “investing” into more tools to help him provide for us, he has never (and would never) say no to a gift that would make my life easier.

  13. I would speculate Laura that one of his reason’s for refusing you the machine was because the suggestion came from people other than himself, he may even have felt it made him look bad. Certainly my ex-husband when I was QF refused stuff people offered to do for me ALL the time and would sometimes get very angry with me if he suspected I had solicited these things. He felt threatened by it as though the offer was actually a condemnation of him for not having provided that which was offered. It was all very twisted and weird. Several times after I had a baby the church would call up and say they were delivering the casseroles they always gave to women who had had babies that evening and he would tell them NO WE DON’T WANT ANY CASSEROLES and say he would be cooking all the food while I recovered from the birth. This was of course complete crap as he would not so much as make a cup of tea.btw I recall Mary Pride used to write that women should buy the best tools they could for home making and pointed out that men spent a fortune on power tools and lawn mowers so there was no reason you should have a vacuum that was falling apart.

  14. Arietty ~ you are so right. My ex-husband did the very same thing. He was so defensive whenever someone offered to help ~ he wanted everyone to believe that he was taking care of me and providing all the help I needed. If, for example, my mother wanted to do some house cleaning for me, he’d freak out and demand, “Well did you tell your mother that I do the dishes?” It was usually easier to just go along with his refusal of help than to deal with his defensiveness and insecurities.

  15. Hey EK, I completely agree with everything you’ve written. It boggles my mind too. I do not get all the energy put into finding some scriptural and livable balance to the verses that indicate a gender divide. The gender divide is in scripture because of the culture of the day. Jesus was a shocking contrast to that in many stories. I agree that any kind of headship is abuse, not to mention ridiculous. Sorry if I insult anyone here, but it seems great reams are written and great contortions are gone through to make an inherently abusive idea somehow nice and savory and good for marriage.

  16. These insecurities we describe Vyckie are inherent in the person. I know my ex-husband would have been an abusive controlling infantile person whether we were christians or not, patrio or not. During the divorce I resented that people tried to make out that this kind of stuff was a marriage problem that I owned 50% of. I would tell them, “he was like this before he got married and he would have been like this regardless of who he married so this crap is NOT my issues, it’s his issues.”

  17. I’m afraid that when I read this story, a number of obscenities came to mind. (Of course, none of them involved the author!)Abuse comes in all shapes and forms. This sort of patriarchal attitude, the treatment of one’s spouse as a child of lower intelligence, is one of them. Because of course with ten children, some of them very young indeed, you had nothing better to do than to mix up bread by hand.I was once in a marriage which was abusive in some similar ways. When I got out of it, I found that I’d been so thoroughly dominated that I could literally look at two things, two rugs or pictures or silverware patterns, and not know which I liked better. It has taken years to process the “stuff” from that “marriage”. I guess that I still am, to a certain extent.I hope that talking/writing it out is helping you a bit.

  18. Arietty, YES. And while there are marriage issues that are, indeed, 50/50 issues, abusive spouses are NOT a 50/50 issue. It doesn’t matter what the other spouse does, the abusive spouse can and will find something wrong, some sort of justifiation for the abuse that turns it into it being the other spouse’s fault. (I’m sure you all have already read Lundy Bancrofts, “Why Does He Do That,” but if not…WOW…out of the whole pile of books that have helped me, that one was like reading my husbands BRAIN…and set me free, in so many ways, from any last shreds of thinking that I could have any part in making him better or making it worse… In cases like this, as Warty Mammal mentioned, “our part,” if anything, is just trying to learn how to be a full grown human being again). The thing that drives me nuts now is that the typical marriage books that are there for women in this camp are all essentially manuals for enabling abusive men. I tried everything, read every last one of them, and I mean I tried it full-on. I didn’t just fake being submissive, but I literally BECAME submissive, and cheerful, and totally all about doing whatever it took to make “my man” happy…and self-condemning whenever I was anything but perfect (ie, I agreed with him and wholly believed that it WAS, indeed, all MY fault)… It’s hard to explain outside of actually experiencing it. I always swore I’d never stay with anyone who was abusive. The thing about this camp is that abuse isn’t called abuse–it’s called headship. And as any woman in one of these relationships, secular, religous, whatever, will tell you—abuse is insidious. You don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late and you don’t have the internal resources left to get out of it. It’s SO hard to get out of. But here, as if it isn’t hard enough, one’s own religous beliefs and religous community support the abuse!??? That makes it so much harder. Now it’s not your husband abusing you—it’s GOD, too! (Only, it wasn’t really God…it was just what they said He said…I mean, lying about what God said has been around for a long long time)… In the beginning of my steps into boundary-setting (a new concept for me after years of not being allowed to have any boundaries but the ones that I was allowed to have) I talked to this one church leader I knew, when I was FINALLY seperating from my husband and needing to talk to someone who could help me take these horrible awful frightening steps into freedom…and as I told him a particularly awful thing my husband had demanded of me regularly, he gasped with shock…but then said, “But you *have* to submit to that…” Obviously I didn’t return to him for counseling. Heh. In his super conservative paradigm (and, truly, he meant well), he was horrified at what my husband demanded…but even though he believed my husband was way out of line…if *I* didn’t do what my husband told me to do, *I* was the one who was actually in *sin.* It’s such a warped system, where the abuser ends up being protected (from accountability, from being reprimanded, from being corrected, etc) for his abusive actions and the weak ones, these stay-at-home women with all of their children, get left WITHOUT protection by the very system that promotes that way of life AS God’s best protection for them! I wrote about that once on my old blog, titled, “When God Leaves the Broken Behind: Biblical Patriarchy’s Biggest Problem”…how it proves that there is something terribly terribly wrong with the camp, because the God of the Bible is INTENSELY concerned about the weak and the poor and the unwanted ones of the world. Biblical Patriarchy’s Biggest Problem(hopefully that code works)…Anyways, enough rambling from me. Thanks for a great conversation. I swear, when I came stumbling out of this camp, I thought I was the only one. It felt like it, anyway…so alone. I’ve been shocked to discover that there are more of us than you would think. I know that the years to come will (sadly, but excitedly too) bring many more, and hopefully the voices here will make it that much easier for them to do so. You women are doing such a great thing. ((hugs)) Warmly,Molly

  19. It is stories like this that make me wish there was a purgatory. Someone like Laura’s ex-husband, if he does get to go to heaven, needs to spend a good period of time first making bread by hand while pregnant and with seven young children tugging on his pants.And BTW, I wish I could figure out some way not to be “Anonymous” — I have a Google account, but for some reason this website won’t let me enter my information; sorry!

  20. It sounds so familiar. BTDT This is an episode that happened after your 10th child and I’m sure that it was another humiliation and deprivation in a long LONG line of humiliations and deprivations which go back almost to the beginning… The way I look at this theologically is that a husband is to be CHRIST-like to his wife- supportive, loving, respectful, treating her as he would his own body. Your husband’s behavior was arrogant and selfish- no resemblance to Christ. What your husband was doing was poisoning you (his wife-one flesh/own body) instead. Your “one flesh” had a deadly infection. I used to beat myself up because I got so angry, bitter, resentful about the humiliations and deprivations. It must be “my fault”. No. Poison was sowed and sowed and sowed into my spirit. God and His Word is not responsible for my husband’s abusiveness. God understands how much pain the humiliations, deprivations, and disrespect caused me. Jesus said He came to heal the brokenhearted.

  21. Been thinking about this and I wanted to post a bit about my 24 yo daughter. Not sure of the ages of all your children, Laura? But I know some of them read here…My 24 yo daughter told me last year that when she meets a man who is a potential husband, she will not bring him home to visit unless and until I have a finished kitchen (with cupboards). She said she does not want any man to think that she will live that way.She stated this as a boundary and was very firm about it. I’m proud of her for having better boundaries than me. And I do have a kitchen now (after living 5 years with an inadequate one) I hope your children are not making bread without the Bosch. As someone expressed elsewhere on the blog, I really hope that the community is stepping in to fill your (Laura’s) shoes as far as running the household, rather than the eldest daughters being tied down in that role.

  22. Anonymous people, do you have options in the dropdown for whatname you use? I just click Name/URL and fill in this name, it’s not connected to google.Molly you said:”It’s such a warped system, where the abuser ends up being protected (from accountability, from being reprimanded, from being corrected, etc) for his abusive actions and the weak ones, these stay-at-home women with all of their children, get left WITHOUT protection by the very system that promotes that way of life AS God’s best protection for them!”Yes that is exactly it, and I have walked the walk you describe so well. In my case I wasn’t even in a QF church, it was a mainstream protestant church but the same stuff happened ad nauseum. All the pressure is on the woman to basically disappear herself enough so that the man’s behavior is no longer a problem (because when you don’t exist there is no one to complain). That’s how I see all that submission stuff now, disappearing. And yes I did it hardcore too, you can actually brainwash yourself into being cheerfully submissive and not really existing as your real self. One of the things I still feel terrible about is that *I brainwashed myself* with all the books I read about it.Some people, myself included, in this movement are married to men who are terrible providers. My husband lost many jobs, was disliked intensely at the job that he stuck with (because they couldn’t get rid of him), was in charge of all the money but could not manage it at all. Where it all went I still don’t know. He would do things like take out numerous health insurance policies and then refuse to cash them in when we had used medical services. I was not allowed to cash them in either and asking to would prompt a huge rage. When the marriage was finally over I found over 1000 dollars worth of insurance claims sitting in a box (he saved all the receipts, why?!) from the last 10 years. Most could no longer be claimed. Take that logic and infuse it into every financial aspect of the marriage and you have a disaster. Nothing was ever fixed, we lived in what was basically a hut with all the children in one very small room. Yet if I ever said anything about these issues in ladies bible studies etc.. it was always the same, “your husband needs your support”. Support to do what, lol. I write all this because it was such a mockery to read about how submitting was going to inspire your husband to take his role as leader seriously blah blah.. There are many men who are incapable of taking care of themselves much less a huge family. The leaders of this movement do not live in huts, lol.I have not read the Lundy book, but have read excerpts from it on and it is excellent. I am ten years out of that marriage now and I don’t think I could read a whole book about it but I’m thinking I need to buy it to lend to others.Off to read your article Molly 🙂

  23. Arietty ~ this was my story too. My ex-husband is blind but totally in denial about the FACT that there were a lot of things that he just was not capable of doing. He was supposed to be the Head of our home ~ but he really did not have the capacity to fill that role. He was the leader because the bible insists that he MUST be ~ not because he was actually capable of leading our family.

  24. OK…Grandma here again…going to see if I can become non-anonymous.Just thinking again of the plight of so many ‘non humans’ called wives, mothers, etc.and how unlike Jesus this all is.Vyckie and I, (her mother) as well as her second oldest daughter Berea, have hypoglycemia…low blood sugar. There may be, and probably are, others in her family who are like that. I remember hearing ‘Wiggins’ make the remark often that that “WE don’t let our bodies rule us…WE rule our bodies…WE only eat two meals a day, because WE are not going to let low blood sugar rule us or our schedules! I personally have had my own blood sugar get so low (especially if I had been sick and vomiting) that I’ve been picked up off of floors and carried off in an ambulance and not just a few times. I used to just die inside when he made statements like this, wondering how I, a mere woman, could change his thinking before one of his precious family members fainted dead away or went into convulsions…

  25. For some reason Lou Ann my ex-husband would become absolutely enraged if anyone in the family got sick. I remember I badly cut my finger once slicing home made bread (yes I made the family’s bread every day for years) and honestly I thought he was going to smash me into the wall his rage was so great when he saw my finger. Thinking about it I guess anything out of his control and that included cuts or kids with fevers enraged him.In your descriptions I see a similar control, so insane to think one will not be dictated to by one’s own body, as though it were a competition as to who was in charge.

  26. Mara,I liked your point about empathy. That was true in my marriage. He could not empathize. For 8 months, I could not run the hot water heater and the dryer at the same time (inadequate wiring), so doing laundry for a family of 10 took twice as long switching back and forth. His response to my complaining was that I was a contentious nag, I don’t need to use the dryer and he made a “rule” that I had to hang all the laundry on the lines to dry.In hindsight, I feel stupid thinking I was obliged to “obey” his “rules”. [roll-eyes]Molly,I loved Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why does he DO that?” Its not a expressly Christian book but the author struck me as more Christ-like in his respect and protectiveness toward women than most of what passes for “christian”. I was really aware of my husbands woundedness; he was sexually abused pre-school. I was compassionate to the extreme of making it into an excuse for abusiveness. Only after reading Bancroft did I realize that he was afflicted with male entitlement and he was proud and arrogant. His wounds do not give him a pass for abusiveness.Lou Ann and Arietty,We were “punished” when sick too. That goes for the children too.All,There is hope. I know the books don’t give much hope for an abuser to recover. But my husband now has empathy. Took a lot of standing up to him and several years of intense strain in our marriage, but he has changed for the better. I’m still married to the same man but he’s a “new man” in some very important ways.

  27. Charis,The only way your spouse is a new man is because you finally decided that you would not tolerate the old one. And, correct me if I’m wrong, you were able make this decision when you realized that God never asked you to tolerate the old one. Those demanding you to tolerate his worst behavior were people who misrepresented God (most likely unknowingly).This makes sense to me because when my dear one, who I am also still married to, was at his worse I went to talk to my pastor and his wife several times. And one time the pastor told me that his wife told him that she would never put up with the behavior my husband put me through. And my pastor agreed with her and with his words empowered me to stand up and refuse to accept my husband’s bad behavior.The problem with patriarchy, is that it ties the hands of their women so the abusive husband can abuse them more easily as Molly’s post that she links to above spells out so well.Yep, Molly, your link works. ThanksMara

  28. Charis’s story, and Mara’s, and Laura’s really made me think hard about how *infantilizing* the patriarchal family comes to be for both the husband and the wife. It seems odd that that can happen to both husband and wife at the same time but each of these stories seems to say the same thing. A strong woman submits herself to a weak or angry or abusive man and then he lets his inner tyrant run rampant and she suffers it. To fully enjoy himself as a tyrant he tells her what to think, what to wear, what to say, what gifts to accept and he isolates her from other adults. To allow him to fully enjoy his inner tyrant she reduces herself to a childlike state of dependency and self negation. To my mind Laura’s husband didn’t lack “empathy” for her but honor for her, as an equal as a co-worker, as a co-parent. Perhaps that comes from the same place as Charis’s husband’s inner wounds or whatever but when a child is wounded and needs love and care we don’t give it *whatever* it wants but what it needs. The patriarchal family model insists that what the man needs is full dominance. Weren’t all of you told that if you could just submit more, just encourage more leadership, just pretend that you were more weak and teachable and submissive then your husbands would step up and lead in a more appropriate and vigorous manner? The religion and the commmunity seem to think that if women would only submit vigorously and obviously then men would rise to lead vigorously and obviously. I guess I think, reading these stories, that some men aren’t cut out to lead and also that they mistake domination in petty matters for true leadership. That is the infantile part. And in giving in all those years their wives (and their community) gave the men what they wanted but not what they needed. Like an angry or hurt child–perhaps going all the way back to sexual abuse as a child or loss of parental love or financial insecurity–these men decided that they wanted total dominance and control over other human beings. They wanted cake now! They wanted to hold all the toys now! But of course just like a child they didn’t *need* those things. They needed to be held, comforted, fed, loved, respected but firmly told “no, that’s not yours” and “no, you don’t get to tell everyone else what to do.”Despotism is bad for children and for adults. And any theology that makes each man responsible for his own salvation and each woman responsible for her husband’s salvation through her actions and submission is just creating despotism where none needs to exist.aimai

  29. aimai,very perceptive comment. I agree that the paradigm kept my husband and myself functioning as emotionally arrested children. He was an arrested toddler. What happens to a toddler when one gives him everything he wants? He turns into a monster. I didn’t think I was allowed to say “no” and I thought it was GOD who didn’t allow it (based on teachings like this). Which was really a continuation of my childhood victimization- I was not allowed to say “no” then either. After a Catholic childhood, then 25 years as an evangelical protestant, one day I realized that deep down inside I was terrified of God as if he was an abusive Father (like my earthly father had been). He proved to me that HE is not abusive. (long story) That revelation helped me to realize that I should not allow my husband’s abusiveness toward me OR toward our children. God did not like watching us be abused. HE is not like that nor does HE approve of it.

  30. Dear Warty Mammal, Great username BTW!!, Thank you so much for putting into words the vague feelings I had over the years and something I struggle with every day now.I was once in a marriage which was abusive in some similar ways. When I got out of it, I found that I’d been so thoroughly dominated that I could literally look at two things, two rugs or pictures or silverware patterns, and not know which I liked better.I thought my problem was that I just couldn’t make decisions after all those years of having most everything decided for me. But you described me to a T in your description of your reaction to being dominated for so long. Thank you for helping me to see myself a little more clearly. Coming out of this lifestyle is like trying to raise your self out of the darkest mud hole. Often you make a few feet worth of progress toward freedom only to have someone bash you on the head with a bat and try to force you back into the hole. I call it being forced back into “the box”. I fight against it but sometimes (not so often these days) it frightens me that I might just do it (get back in the box)to stop the anger and hurt that others have toward me because of the decisions I made regarding my situation

  31. Hi, this is Linnea. I actually wrote this up a couple of days ago but couldn’t post it. I finally figured out that it was a browser issue. The conversation has moved on some since then, but I’m going to post anyway.I came here from the Salon article. Your stories are very compelling to me, although on the surface, I’m about as different from you as possible: atheist, college educated, married at age 36, had children at ages 37 and 39 (and won’t have any more – husband had a vasectomy, and menopause is creeping up on me).But, I struggle in my marriage with a husband who is bipolar and has other insecurities and personality issues that make him very hard to get along with. He can be critical, impatient and volatile, and he would like to control and isolate me from other people (the comments above about husbands getting defensive and not wanting to accept outside help when a wife needs it really rang a bell with me).There have been times when I thought my marriage should end. Like Charis, I wonder if I’m letting myself be abused out of compassion for his woundedness. But I eventually decide not. We struggle, and have both made changes and accommodations over the years and learned to get along better. That he owns his problems and takes steps to deal with them helps a lot. Now, if we had a worldview that said that he was supposed to be in charge and I was supposed to follow his lead, it would be a disaster. But our philosophy is that we make major decisions jointly. We don’t always start out agreeing, but we manage (through time and talking and yes, sometimes yelling and tears) to compromise. And we each have areas of life where we are autonomous. I am able to get along with him because when he pushes me, I can push back. I can insist on having my own friends and control over my time. I don’t have to go along when he is making a bad decision.It was said above that some men would be abusive and controlling whether they were in a patriarchal setting or not. There are also men in patriarchal marriages who are not abusive (although as Molly says, they may in practice be more egalitarian than they think). My husband, I think, is somewhere in between. In our egalitarian marriage, he is okay. In a different system, he wouldn’t be.It also makes a difference, I think, that I was older and had years of earning my own living and running my own life under my belt when we met. I am NOT NOT NOT trying to blame the victim here, but it is dangerous for women to marry before they have become their own persons. The idea of daughters staying at home until their fathers hand them over to a husband . . . ::shudder::Anyway, thank you again, Laura, Vyckie, and all the other commenters, fo sharing your stories. You ladies are talking about very important stuff. I wish you much peace and happiness in your future paths.

  32. Welcome, Linnea! As I read your comment I say out loud, “You are SO right!!!!!”My ex-husband is blind, poorly educated, and extremely insecure ~ so trying to follow a patriarchal family structure with him as the “head of the home” was truly a recipe for disaster.As I continue my writing my story, I want to make the point that at the beginning of our marriage we recognized that we weren’t really cut out for the traditional “man-as-breadwinner-woman-as-housekeeper” roles ~ and we were both okay with that. It was only after we started learning about the “biblical” way of doing things that we really ran into trouble.I have to quit for now and get to sleep. I was just really jazzed by your post and wanted to say, “Hi!” and “You are right on.”

  33. Linnea,As it happens, my husband ended up being diagnosed as bipolar along with a few other things that are currently “possible” diagnoses. And, yes, marriage would be hard in any paradigm given the mental illness (bipolars have, what, a 90% divorce rate, I think?). Obviously we had NO CLUE there was any sort of mental illness during any of that time—and neither did the church he was a minister at. I was probably the brunt of all of it…sort of the place of “release” as it were, for all those feelings swirling around and that lack of control he felt. So the patriarchal paradigm, holy smokes…it took what he already “felt” was “right” (that need to control, to isolate me, etc) and baptised it. It’s no small surprise that it was nightmarish, as I look back on it. Though inside of it, it was more akin to a frog being slow boiled. I had no clue, honestly, that there was something horribly wrong until I started smelling the meat and realized it was ME. Btw, I’m currently trying to figure out if I can “do” this marriage now that I am firmly outside of the paradigm, now that I have knowledge about his mental state (for so long I thought *I* must be the crazy one, life with him was so confusing) and now that he is on medication and going through the various appropriate counseling, etc, and claiming that he will do anything…I don’t know. I’m not sure, but I lean intellectually towards giving it a try (my kids love their father dearly)…though from a, heh, PTSD perspective, I can hardly stomach that thought at this time and am still fully appreciating the space between us right now via seperation. I need it. It has been life-giving. It has been like rediscovering myself, in this weird way… I have been surprised, because I thought single parenting five kids would be so hard, but turns out, it’s a WHOLE lot easier than it was living with my husband. So strange. Anyways, all that to ramble that, yes, Vyckie and Linnea, yes a thousand times, there are couples for whom the traditional model will fit because it just fits, and there are couples for whom the traditional model is POISON. Linnea, you bring out such a good point when you mention women not marrying until they’ve become their own full person. I have thought that so many times, just how unaware I was of where I started and stopped, so that when he began violating my personal boundaries (about an hour after we married, actually), I didn’t really know what was happening.

  34. Linnea,Good post! :)In my case, I don’t think being older would have made any difference (I married at 23). I think I was destined to choose someone with “issues” because of being raised in an abusive alcoholic home. My two sisters married alcoholic/drug addicts and have had serious marriage difficulties- though we are all still married except my brother (who was abusive to his wife).That said, I really see that I enabled my husband. If I had been firmer with him about unacceptable behaviors, control issues, and boundary violations (as you are firm with your husband), they wouldn’t have continued for decades. At that point, they are so habitual that changing involves enormous upheaval. It has taken the past 4-5 years of our 27 year marriage to cleanse from old bad way of doing marriage and develop a consistently healthier dynamic.You said: Now, if we had a worldview that said that he was supposed to be in charge and I was supposed to follow his lead, it would be a disaster. ENDQUOTEI totally agree. Nor do I think this worldview/doctrine can be blamed on God. Its a human twisting of God’s intentions. It robs a wife of power to be the strong help (ezer/help meet in Gen 2:18) God intends. It really short-changes not just the wife and children, but the husband who needs a strong wife who will stand up to him when he has these “issues”.

  35. Molly (adventuresinmercy) writes:I’m currently trying to figure out if I can “do” this marriage now that I am firmly outside of the paradigm, now that I have knowledge about his mental state (for so long I thought *I* must be the crazy one, life with him was so confusing) and now that he is on medication and going through the various appropriate counseling, etc, and claiming that he will do anything…I think an important question to ask is, is *he* outside the paradigm, or does he think that if he just gets rid of the craziness, it’s still his place to be the top dog? If he still believes in patriarchy and you don’t, it’s going to be very hard to work things out.Much more to say, but little time – hugs to all.

  36. Wow,What a great “volley” of comments on this topic. I don’t see one of my more recent posts here on this topic but thanks to Charis (I think) and others posting about the book “Why Does He do That?” by Lundy something or other I went over to Amazon to have a look at the reviews. I think now that although these issues don’t apply in my marriage (thank the not g-d in whom I don’t believe!) that this book might be a very important one for every woman to have on her shelf to share with her daughters. I would also recommend “the gift of fear.” Because from reading the 209 positive reviews of the book its pretty clear that a lot of women, of every faith and age and background, have found themselves slowly moving down a garden path with a guy who is attractive, wounded, fun to be with, loving and, in the end, abusive. And that can take many forms–from within a patriarchal/quiverful model that insists on lots of kids to a small family or couples only model where the guy isolates you from family and children. I have two daughters and I think this book might be good to have around for when they start dating. Several of the commenters over at Amazon talked about the importance of seeing a written version of the life they’d been secretly leading before they could acknowledge how painful and crazy it was.aimai

  37. There is a book which warrants mention on this thread because it describes just such micromanagement and control. This is not an expressly “christian book” though the author has a Christ-like respect for women and recognition of the plight of those of us trapped in such a spirit killing paradigm.If one translates the technical jargon in this description of abuse into biblical language, it sounds very much like a real life description of “your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you” Genesis 3:16As a fundamentalist Christian woman in recovery from a fatal marriage killing MIS-understanding of biblical submission, I identify very much with the lifestyle described here:Coercive control: the entrapment of women in personal life by Evan Stark

  38. Laura, This story broke my heart. I could picture you crying in your kitchen and tears falling into that big silver bowl. It is so hard to comprehend why your husband would do that. So many times I’ve heard about a “woman’s place” and being “submissive” taken to the extreme. It is really funny that many of these same men who are talking about it, never talk that much about the verse that tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. He should have been willing to give his life for you; letting you receive a mixer would have been a small thing.You are in my heart,Elizabeth C

  39. Laura, I think your ex wanted your youngest daughter to learn something, all right–but not how to make bread. What a powerful message it was for your daughters to see you toil day after day.BTW, if I had lived a lifestyle with such unhealthy boundaries, I imagine I would struggle to find balance in freedom. I think you guys are doing great.

  40. Laura, I think your ex wanted your youngest daughter to learn something, all right–but not how to make bread. What a powerful message it was for your daughters to see you toil day after day.BTW, if I had lived a lifestyle with such unhealthy boundaries, I imagine I would struggle to find balance in freedom. I think you guys are doing great.

  41. Note to “youngest chick” and “SD in Oregon” ~ please follow the link in the above post where this thread is being continued. We have closed comments to this thread here on the blog ~ but would love to hear from you over at the NLQ forums. Thanks!