Preparing To Be A Help Meet: Part 6 Cinderella

Preparing To Be A Help Meet: Part 6 Cinderella January 21, 2015

Helpmeetby Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

We are at the last section of the Leah/David courtship where Leah shares her post-marital advice.

Post-marriage thoughts:
No Regrets
Do you know how nice it is when we look through family photo albums at Christmas to never see David with another girl?

No. I assume Leah means with another girlfriend, but either way, seeing a photo of your husband with an ex shouldn’t be traumatic.

 Do you know how wonderful it is that David doesn’t have to hear about my past boyfriends?

Nope.

 Do you know how many times I have thanked the Lord while falling asleep that he helped me wait for a guy like my David?

No.

 When you are single, sometimes it is hard to picture yourself married. But if you can, try.

What does “If you can, try” mean? Are some people that lacking in imagination?

 Try to think about the way you will feel when your spouse is proposing, looking into your eyes, and understand it’s not worth messing around with other guys.

But what if a promising relationship falls apart? What if David hadn’t proposed after telling Leah he loved her? Would that be “messing around”?

 Try to think of how happy you will be on your wedding night, when you are giving the ultimate gift with no hint of regret.

Eww. Just…eww.

*waves hands in front of face*

Plus, this idolization of the wedding night sex is creepy. It’s not like you never have sex with your spouse after the first night. Maybe they don’t know that….

 Try to remember that you are building habits of faithfulness or distrust that will affect your marriage. What will you tell your children someday? What you are doing now will affect your future!

I’ve heard lots of stories about other people my parents and other relatives dated before marrying their spouse. Again – not a traumatic moment.

Actually, hearing Opa talking about how he met Oma was awesome – and wonderfully AntiPearl! He got a ride to a dance about 4 miles away in Holland. He saw a lovely young woman going down a canal in a boat. He asked the guy who gave him a ride who the “amply endowed” (except a bit less polished…and a bit more graphic…. term) woman was in the boat. Turns out the woman in the boat – Oma – was his ride’s younger sister and Opa was walking home. He said knowing who Oma was well-worth the walk. They’ve been married over 60 years now.

So, yeah. You can be attracted to someone because they have nice breasts and still have a satisfying and long lasting marriage.

 Learning to be a help meet before and after marriage:

I never appreciated my mother’s example of a biblical help meet until I got married. Shortly after getting married, I remember meeting with about ten other young wives. We were discussing respecting our husbands. The question was, “Is this something you were taught growing up?” Every single woman said it was the first time they heard these concepts. Most said they were brought up the opposite. “I was taught I was a princess and to be independent. I didn’t need a man.” They agreed with the truth and the principles, but they struggled to tear away from years of wrong training and examples.

“The Truth and The Principles” makes the cult-like nature of the Pearls’ clear.

It was then that I started to realize the power of my mother’s example. Of all the areas of conflict in our marriage, unconditional submission, respect and honor was never in question. Of course, the first year of marriage, I was learning by trial and error what came across as respectful. But I never struggled with should I respect him, should I honor him, should I submit to him?

I am more curious about the nature of their early conflicts.

If Leah was submitting unconditionally, there shouldn’t have been any external conflicts.

Leah may have been dying inside while David flails around trying to figure things out without any advice from his wife, but their marriage should be externally conflict free.

Sounds horrible, really, but the Pearls are clear that happiness means crushing your heart and soul every day.

I knew the answer from my mother’s example and years of my parents training me in the way I should go with a husband. Now that we are expecting a baby, I am so excited about modeling these same truths and principles because it not only affects your child’s marriage, but so many other marriages by example! Marriage is an exponential ministry; what your example teaches now will multiply across generations.

 

When I started dating David, I asked my mother to give me her top three books on how to be a good wife. One of them was Debi Pearl’s Created To Be His Help Meet. I read all three, but I read Created four times during our courtship and engagement. I then read one chapter a day through the first several months of our marriage. The concepts changed my life so dramatically that a friend and I are planning to start a group of young wives to go through the book.

Oh, great. Buy the book; read it until you stop questioning the craziness.

If her mother was such a great example, what about “Created” changed Leah’s life? I put bets on new ways to insult other women.

Find a marriage mentor:
David and I purposed never to seek marital advice from our parents or friends after marriage. We wanted to honor and respect each other publicly.

There is a huge gulf from asking for advice about your marriage from people you trust and disrespecting your spouse publicly.

 We do, however, believe in mentoring and accountability. I started meeting for marriage mentoring with a older, godly woman once a month after we got married.

I bet the woman is Debi Pearl.

I had never met her before, but a friend I trust recommended her to me.

How on Earth is talking to a random stranger about your marriage more respectful than talking to friends or family members?

Every month, I keep a list detailing areas where David and I had conflict or just general marriage questions. Usually the first Thursday of each month I drive to her house. We pray then I ask her the questions on my list. Each session lasts two to three hours. We always end in prayer.

That sounds absolutely hideous. THREE HOURS on marital problems once a month…ouch….

She is the only one I open up to about conflict in our marriage.

How about David? Does David honestly know about your conflict or are you just stuffing all your feelings inside?

I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to have an older, godly woman telling me, “Good job – that was hard, but you did the right thing.” or “That is very normal – welcome to the club.” or “I understand how your are feeling; however….” I praise God for the priceless hours of biblical counsel.

Net outcome: Older woman keeping Leah toeing the party line.

If we invest time and energy in other areas of life, shouldn’t we be devoting time to our coming marriage?
-David and Leah

Leah wrote 90% of the chapter. She deserves first billing.

AntiPearl:Love withers under constraints: its very essence is liberty: it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear: it is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited where its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | 

Part 7 |  Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13

Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19Part 20

Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 |Part 26 | Part 27

Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 | Part 33 |Part 34

Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37 | Part 38 | Part 39 | Part 40 | Part 41

Part 42 | Part 43 | Part 44 | Part 45 | Part 46 | Part 47 |Part 48

Part 49 | Part 50 | Part 51 | Part 52 | Part 53 | Part 54 |Part 55

Part 56 | Part 57 | Part 58 | Part 59 | Part 60

Read everything by Mel!

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She’s a wise fount of knowledge about things involving living with a farmer and farming. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide

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  • Nicole

    I have to say the only part I somewhat agree with is not discussing any serious conflicts with family. How my family views my husband is important to me- and I want their view to be positive. I seek out counseling or a more neutral party (ie, close friend) to help me through.

    I’ve known too many people who complain to their parents about every little thing their spouse does- and then wonder why mom or dad isn’t so inclined to like said spouse.

  • BlueVibe

    This is one of my mother’s biggest pieces of advice: Don’t go running to your (childhood) family with every little thing.

    Obviously, this does not apply if something genuinely harmful is going on, but for little disagreements and things that really need to be settled between spouses: Leave parents and siblings out of it, especially at first. If you’re old enough to be married, you’re old enough to solve problems between yourselves.

    I had a cousin who kept asking his dad’s advice about everything because he had this fantasy about what kind of father-son relationship they could have now that the son was an adult. But my uncle is a controlling meddler who doesn’t like any of his daughters-in-law. Cousin finally asked my mother and she told him to stop running to his dad all the time and listen to his wife. He called back later to tell him that she was right, and that, as hard as it had been to give up the idea that his dad could be the right kind of person for this, it couldn’t happen.

    I imagine it especially doesn’t work in cultures where daughters are taught to revere Dad above all others. How do you ever form a base family of your own if your husband is an outsider until . . . I guess until your dad dies?

  • Mary

    This very much depends on the details of your relationship with your parents and with your spouse.

  • Nea

    What will you tell your children someday?

    My parents tell silly stories about how they dated and decided to marry. One of them is about how my mother could not remember my dad’s name out of her pack of suitors so she got her college roommate to answer and say “Whom shall I say is here?”

    She tells this story right in front of Dad. He’s not threatened by it. After all, he’s the one who got to marry her.

    “I was taught I was a princess and to be independent. I didn’t need a man.”
    The princess part is a bit much, but the independent and don’t *need* a man are true.

    unconditional submission, respect and honor was never in question
    Nor should they be. Don’t marry a guy you can’t respect and honor and unconditional anything isn’t on the table at all. That was easy.

    David and I purposed never to seek marital advice from our parents or friends after marriage
    After all, what could those people possibly know, especially your own married parents? Better to go find some total stranger and air it all in front of her!

    How on Earth is talking to a random stranger about your marriage more respectful than talking to friends or family members?
    Damn fine question!

    I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to have an older, godly
    woman telling me, “Good job – that was hard, but you did the right
    thing.” or “That is very normal – welcome to the club.”

    God knows that no mother or mother-in-law could possibly know what is very normal, or have insight into the person they actually raised.

    Mind you, I don’t think Leah exists. That tongue-bath to Debi was just a tad over the top, especially the idea that Debi would sit for 3 hours a month listening to complaints about a husband when her advice to Sunny was “Shut the fuck up about him committing assault with a deadly weapon and threatening to kill you and never say a bad word about him again EVER.”

  • Nea

    But this is also advice to avoid the in-laws, and who better would understand the quirks of the person they raised?

    There’s also the difference between asking advice and asking for every little thing. “David likes katsup on his eggs and I think that’s gross” — no. “Is there any insight on why David shouts angrily when he drops things by accident? It was an accident, I know that.” –yes.

  • Rebecca Horne

    Fun facts: my ex (I only have one) and my partner are close friends. This is a completely non-painful situation for all involved, and has some definite benefits. Top benefit?

    “Why did you break up with Rebecca?”

    My partner asked before she began dating me. Had I been abusive or otherwise dangerous, she would have had warning.

    Stigmatizing having more than one partner means you never get to benefit from anybody else’s experience, you never get a heads up, and you may never even learn the red flags at all, if you’re not allowed to leave and get enough distance from the relationship to see it for what it really was. See also: Debi Pearl.

    Edit: Seriously, I think the ideas that ex’s must be enemies, and that people who care about the same person must be rivals, are the top two most damaging romance norms in American society (probably other societies as well).

  • Try to think of how happy you will be on your wedding night, when you are giving the ultimate gift with no hint of regret.

    “Ultimate gift,” good grief!

    I will never understand the sickening obsession these folks have with untouched vaginas. If your “virginity” is the ultimate gift you bestow upon your husband, it’s only going to go down hill from there.

  • Nicole

    My inlaws know nothing about the child they raised. Well, not the child *I* married. The other child- that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  • Nicole

    Right?! Although my husbands and I were each other’s first (before we were married though, sinner that I am), I’d like to think that the ultimate gift we gave each other is our commitment, faithfulness (to each other) and love over the course of the past 15 years of our marriage- and that that will continue to be the ultimate gift.

    *though the year I waited overnight, outside best buy, in Colorado in December to score a PS2 for him for Christmas might actually be the ultimate gift. 😉

  • Nea

    Valid point.

  • BlueVibe

    The problem lies in running to Mom and Dad in the heat of annoyance and bringing them every little thing that doesn’t go exactly as wanted. It’s one thing if spouses have discussed, or are in the process of discussing, and ask for advice at a time when they are cool-headed and able to provide reasonably neutral takes on both sides of the argument. It’s running to Mom because husband didn’t pick up his socks or forgot to call or didn’t do the activity she wanted him to do with the kids while she was out, that is problematic. All the in-laws hear is the kvetching, from their own child’s perspective.

  • BlueVibe

    I have dated guys who thought they needed women, and that is not fun. I am perfectly happy to be a helpmeet of sorts (not to Biblical extremes, mind you) and I have no issue, obviously, with the general concept that couples should work for each others’ good (provided the other is not a psycho), but I am not his mom.

    I have dated at least one guy who was so dithering and submissive that I doubted his ability to follow through, not because he was lazy or did not have good intentions (he was stone-cold honest and ethical), but because he was so easily intimidated that he would back down at very little thing. I realized I could never trust him to make adult decisions because if somebody pushed back just a little, he would collapse, even when he wanted to do better. No.

  • Mel

    My spouse and I are comfortable talking to our married family and our family of origin about problems that come up. My in-laws – especially my mother-in-law – can cue me into a family dynamic that I was unaware of.

  • Gypsy Rose B

    This is all the precise opposite of the advice I’ll give my (future) kids when they are wanting to start dating. Go out with interesting people. Allow there to be boundaries. Don’t let yourself feel jerked around by someone who doesn’t respect your feelings. Respecting your significant other is very important, but they have to be respect worthy and respectful.

    My boyfriend and I met at a party I was throwing at my house for a mutual friend. The moment we met eyes we both knew we wanted to get to know one another better. I didn’t know there was anyone so attractive in my group of friends. (He, similar to your Opa, noticed I was stacked.) We wound up in my room, kissing, that night. He stopped things and said “Do you want to have a conversation?” and I was so excited that he wanted to actually get to know me. (Had it just been a one night make-out session with a handsome man, that would have been awesome too.) That was 6 and a half years ago. We’ve dealt with every crazy problem under the sun together, but that has strengthened our connection. I’d advise my daughters (and my sons as well): Don’t stick with someone who doesn’t want your opinion on matters that concern you both or isn’t willing to listen to you.

    Also: Having exes makes for great stories to tell not only at girls’ nights out, but also when bonding with a new love interest. Initially my bf and I were hesitant to talk about our pasts but once we became more secure in our relationship, we were able to joke about the weirdos and train wrecks we’d dated before we met one another.

  • Gypsy Rose B

    One of my childhood best friends was raised (and is) evangelical. She saved just about everything for her wedding night a few years back. I remember being at her shower and feeling so out of place because I was the only non-married non-“virgin” in the room. At the end of the event, we were asked to write advice for her on slips of paper that she could read on her own. I gave her the only advice a heathen like me could: “Don’t laugh the first time you see it.”

  • gimpi1

    I was about to say that, Nicole. My mother-in-law doesn’t know her son at all… she has an image of him as a totally different person, and whenever the real man differs, she just ignores reality.

    She remains convinced that she raised a Republican, Episcopalian conservative banker, totally ignoring the Democratic, Agnostic-Taoist, progressive scientist sitting at her dining table declining potatoes au gratin yet again. Seriously, she can’t even accept that he doesn’t like cheese.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Re: “…I have dated at least one guy who was so dithering and submissive that I doubted his ability to follow through, not because he was lazy or did not have good intentions (he was stone-cold honest and ethical), but because he was so easily intimidated that he would back down at very little thing. I realized I could never trust him to make adult decisions because if somebody pushed back just a little, he would collapse, even when he wanted to do better….”

    I think this is the kind of guy who the CPM leaders proclaim is the only alternative to the CPM ideal of a “masterful” man.

    Now THAT’S an actual False Dichotomy Fallacy, for those who are curious. ;-D

  • Astrin Ymris

    I don’t like cheese either! I’ve noticed that people in food service react with shock when you tell them this, exclaiming loudly in disbelief so that the entire restaurant knows.

    It’s almost a relief to be able to tell people that I “can’t have” cheese now, to avoid the other-the-top befuddlement at the idea that someone dislikes cheese.

  • gimpi1

    I know, people really think it’s odd. I’ve gotten used to it, so I forget how surprised people are when someone turns down the triple-cheese lasagna. He doesn’t even like cheesecake. He sampled one at a party, and thought it tasted sour and spoiled.

    I make risottos or pastas with cheeses on the side, so our guests or I can add them. It’s easy, and that way he can enjoy his meal too. It’s such an easy adaption that it still baffles me that his own mother won’t make it. But that would require her actually looking at him, and we can’t have that/

  • Melody

    “So, yeah. You can be attracted to someone because they have nice breasts and still have a satisfying and long lasting marriage.”

    This^^^ I was so unsure of what physical attraction really was about that I basically thought that I was in love with every nice guy I met. Being shy, I didn’t meet that many men to begin with. I never realized that I wasn’t in love with any of them, that finding someone nice or friendly or liking their humor isn’t the same as attraction. That these things can be about friendship and don’t have to be about attraction at all (although they can be, of course).

    It wasn’t until I really starting thinking about this, that I realized I was gay. I liked the men fine, but that was all it was. Not having a real preference for any might have been a red flag. If you cannot (are not allowed) to even feel physical attraction, how can you even distinguish between crushes and friendships? I think this question isn’t adressed at all in these so-called love stories.

  • Hannah

    Well they’re not even allowed friendships with the opposite sex, so there isn’t really a need to address it. It’s the idea that if you want to spend time with someone, you must want to bang them, so therefore you can’t spend any time together at all. And of course, if you can distinguish between crushes and friendships, then *gasp* you’re thinking for yourself! And about what you really want! And we just can’t have that, can we.

  • Melody

    Yes, the idea that 1 man + 1 woman alone in a room = sex at all times, which is just so wrong and utterly untrue. I have to say that this kind of thing made me quite distanced with men too, just in case, I guess.

    Allowing friendships with the opposite sex would be a great way (for most, i.e. straight people) to learn the difference between the two: who do you simply like and who do you want to be with? Learning about the intensity of feelings etc. I might have realized that most women’s feelings about their female friends are not that intense… which is why I often felt that I cared more for them than the other way around (not realizing why I felt this way).

    Just a total lack of real sexual education. Of course, I knew what sex was, but not so much what attraction was or even felt like. It’s also the discomfort of talking about such things though. My father got a leaflet in the army of the army pastor about sex and christianity and he didn’t know if he was allowed to read it, so he went with it to his dad on leave, who then read it and said something like: “better read this, my boy,” and that was that… This was the late ’50’s, I think.

    Our own education wasn’t much better…

  • Gypsy Rose B

    I’m a lightweight compared to some of my girlfriends, but I’ve still got plenty of stories if I ever decide to write a memoir.

    You’re exactly right about the “what ifs.” There will be occasions when my mind drifts to things I could have done differently in the past, but I wouldn’t change things in the slightest if it affected what I’ve got now! And for the most part: Noooope. Don’t wish I could at all.

  • jennabobenna

    This. I go to friends for venting like that because my friends are at the same stage in life and we can share our complaints with each other, offer advice, and still not hold it against others’ SO’s. With my mom, on the other hand, it requires active omission on my part to keep her out of my business.

  • It’s very much the “people as property” school of thought rather than “partnership as a shared experience” school of thought.