Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage: Part 1a

Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage: Part 1a March 11, 2012

by Incongruous Circumspection

In the Introduction, we looked into the general idea that Bill Gothard is trying to get across in this series. He attempts to list seven basic needs of a husband and seven, also, of the wife. We discuss the flaw in this logic, which is, Bill treats life as if all men and women are exactly the same. Worse yet, Bill positions this series, as well as all of his “truth” in all of his materials, as the non-optional, unquestioned, standard for finding favor with God.

Let’s look at Bill’s first “Basic Need” of a husband.

Basic Need One: A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive.

At face value, this looks lame enough. What man wouldn’t want a woman that is loyal and supportive? For that matter, what woman wouldn’t want a man that does the same for her? This second question is key. In the “Seven Basic Needs of a Woman”, Bill does not list a woman as desiring loyalty and support.

My wife, Kristine, is going to school full time while she raises six children. She is always tired and sore at the end of the day. According to Bill’s one-sided need here, I should come home, be allowed to throw my feet up, and demand a beer. She should oblige.

I’d rather rub her feet. And guys, if you follow my advice, you will have a VERY loyal and supportive wife. Notice her. Buy her flowers (or a can of WD-40 and a hammer drill, if she’s into that). Listen to her until you drop dead. Talk her ear off so she calls you a woman but secretly loves you for it. But, most importantly, do nothing I tell you to do. Figure out what your wife’s needs and desires are and meet the heck out of them.

Then, Bill expounds on his first basic need:

Helping her husband fulfill his goals and dreams is a wife’s main responsibility.

Really? Not Kristine’s. She’s nearing the ripe old age of 30 and has no college degree. She knows it and wants it – bad! She is now concurrently finishing up two Bachelor degrees and moving right on to her Masters. Her main responsibility is to finish that baby up as fast as she can. But, unlike Bill’s clueless idea here, that is specifically her goal, and I am right there to back her up. My goals and dreams are wrapped up in everything I want to do in life, everything she desires, the desires of my kids, and how it all comes together in a chaotic ball of wax. No one person is obligated by anyone to prop up the other. It sure is nice when we both have each other’s back, though.

Remember that you are to support his vision—he establishes the goals and priorities for your family.

Um…what? A nice pipe dream. A family is made up of a bunch of individuals. Those individuals are not necessarily striving for the same unified goal. I want my kids out of my house the second they turn twelve years old – I mean eighteen. I want my wife to be so bloody successful, she makes me look like a little pipsqueak in comparison. My vision for my family is to get through today and hopefully tomorrow. That is not to say that I don’t have long-term visions and goals for us, but so does she. We bring them all together and figure out what will work, what is too risky (or, in my case, what is too safe…blecht!), and what costs too much. Then we don’t do any of it, go to bed, wake up, eat, do the day thing, and start all over.

Until Kristine went back to school almost two years ago, she was a stay-at-home mom. She had six children, and did all the daily duties of a woman that has six children and stays at home. She had no life outside of our family and craved adult contact. On the other hand, I went to work every day. This meant that she knew our children a thousand times better than I did, and still does. I love my kids, but I don’t know how all of them tick but rely on her knowledge and wisdom in raising them to be wildly successful individuals.

Bill does not speak to the man and tell him to stand behind his wife and her vision. She is not allowed to have one.

A foolish wife will crush her husband’s spirit by resisting his decisions, and God will hold her accountable for disobedience to His instructions. If your husband’s goals are not in harmony with Scripture, you should make a wise appeal.

Bill references Ephesians 5:22 – 24 here. Now, many may disagree with what Paul is actually saying here, but I am going to simply take his words at face value. Paul writes:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Let us disregard the cultural and 2000 year old idea of submission here and focus on what is NOT in the passage. Is there anything about disobedience? Is there anything about God holding a “foolish” woman accountable? Is their anything in this passage that calls a woman a fool if she does not obey Bill Gothard’s foolish words? Is there anything in this passage that reveals the “crushing of the husband’s spirit” when the wife “resists his decisions”? Is there anything in that passage about making a wise appeal (As opposed to a stupid appeal? I bet Gothard has a large manual on the 43 steps to a wise appeal too.)? Is there anything in that passage that talks about a husband’s decisions needing to be in harmony with scripture (which didn’t exist at the writing of that passage)?

If you answer “No” to all of my questions, you would be correct. Let me sum up that passage in one sentence (sort of):

Hey wives! Submit to your husbands! is the head of the church and marriage is like that.

Go ahead and argue what submission means. Read the next part of the Ephesians chapter and prove the tit-for-tat nature of mutual submission. Or ignore it altogether because it was simply Paul making his own conclusions. Whatever you do, don’t believe the lie that Bill is telling women. A woman is not foolish for resisting her husband’s decisions and will not be struck with a lightning bolt if she disagrees. As I stated in the opening paragraph, Gothard does not see his words as optional. If he did, he wouldn’t call women that don’t follow them “foolish”.

In Part 1b, we will look into Bill’s crazy notion that men and women ALWAYS think differently and, as you may suspect, due to the way a man thinks, he is the natural, meta-physically wired choice for leadership in a marriage.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection

Read all posts by Incongruous Circumspection!

Snipped! by Incongruous Circumspection

The Intro.

(1) Mama

(2) My Little Years

(3) Marital Problems

(4) The Freedom of Divorce

Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage:


Part 1aPart 1bPart 1cPart 1dPart 2a |

More by Incongruous Circumspection:

The Formula Problem: Why Duggarizing Your Marriage is Not Recommended

Should a Wife Submit to Her Husband?

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

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  • Whenever I read these Patriarchy columns about building a good marriage, it just makes me so incredibly sad. It’s so scripted. Wives are to be this, this, and that, and husbands are this, that, and the other thing. There is no room for deviation. Men must remember anniversaries and buy chocolate and flowers. Nothing else.

    It sets people up for unhappiness. A system like this will invariably fail to meet both individual’s needs because it doesn’t take them into account. And because both parties are playing completely scripted roles, there’s no opportunity to get to know each other as individuals, which precludes the development of mutual respect and trust.

    I was “debating” (I responded to a post, she deleted my response) with a Christian patriarchy blogger who seemed unable to tell the difference between acting respectful and respecting. For her, it was the same thing. As long as she went through the motions of acting respectful (her image of which practically reduced her to child status beside a parental husband), she felt that she was doing right. But in that, there was no real respect. Respect is talking back when your partner is about to make a mistake, respect is trusting your partner to be capable of handling constructive criticism, respect is treating your partner like an adult rather than a fragile child who must always get his “participation trophy” lest he freak out and cheat on his family or leave them altogether.

  • Bravo! Astute.

  • I think a very important thing to remember in marriage is that the couple is ‘on the same team.’ If both spouses wake up in the morning, trying to make the other happy in life- the family will thrive. So yes, I happened to fry him an egg and pack his lunch as he woke up at 6 to go to work all day. And I’ll be with the kids (I’m ‘just’ part time teaching college)- it works for us right now. To the outside world, our roles might seem very traditional, but we have both mutually chosen this right now.

  • madame

    Great post, IC.
    I lived in fear of “disobeying” and allowed a lot of crap. Now I’m saying no to crap, and while it’s not much better, at least dh knows I won’t take it any more.

  • awkwardly anon

    Um, this isn’t a criticism of the message of the post, which I agree with (and it’s a wonderful thing to see people speaking out about Gothard), but the word “lame” used in this context is ablist language, and offensive to many people with disabilities, who see it as the equivalent of the phrase “that’s so gay”.

  • madame

    And I feel no obligation to support him if we haven’t agreed upon what he has decided to do next.

  • Hmm… Maybe I used the wrong word. I meant “tame”. This looks “tame” enough, as in, not really that bad.

    I was chewed out once for calling certain people rats. I have made a point to never do that again. Thanks for the heads up, awkardly anon.