I Need Her to Encourage Me
I have never in my life admitted to, or even recognized, a state of discouragement-until five years later. To me it seems weak that a man should be discouraged, but we read of prophets like Elijah and kings like Saul becoming discouraged. Even John the Baptist grew discouraged after being locked in the dungeons for months. Peter and the apostles were discouraged after the crucifixion. A good woman with whom we have intimacy and fellowship can keep us from getting discouraged. A wife must believe in her man if he is going to maintain courage when he fails. She can be our “bridge over troubled water” to ease our minds if we cultivate her in the good times. We need a helper to keep us from losing our vision. The wife will recognize discouragement long before anyone else does and long before we we will admit it, so we need her all the more.
Is anyone else getting the feeling that Michael just sat down and made a list called “All the Manly Things That I Don’t Admit to Feeling”, then went through and described how his wife is supposed to help with them? His insistence of never admitting faults, discouragement, or really any feeling at all must be really difficult for his wife. My husband comes from a family that doesn’t admit to emotion, and it bugs the tar out of me that I can see how he’s feeling, but he has no clue. I imagine it’s even worse with someone that refuses to acknowledge feeling discouraged, but is acting out the textbook definition. I, personally, don’t think that having a supportive spouse (male or female) staves off discouragement. The spouse can make it more bearable, but getting rid of it before it even shows up? Not so much. And exactly how does a man “cultivate” the wife in good times? What does that even mean? It sounds like he wants his wife to be his “weak” emotional detector and snap him out of it before anyone else sees. Shouldn’t he specify that the wife may need someone to encourage her, too, since we’re on this subject? I guess there are no male cheerleaders in Michael’s world.
If your wife has not been an encouragement to you, don’t blame her; ask yourself why she does not have faith in you. People whom we encourage tend to reciprocate in kind. Let me tell you a little secret: a wife has more faith in a man who includes her in the decision making process. When she is shut out, she feels at the mercy of a fallible man who doesn’t have her best interest at heart. It is scary for her as it would be for you if your life were inexorably tied to the fate of another. But when she is part of the decision making process she will appreciate the complexity of the problem and will be assured that the two of you have explored all the options and are making the best decision considering the circumstances. She will become encouraging when she can believe in your decisions. After all, if she has a say in the decision making process, then she shares the blame when things don’t work out so well! And about half of life doesn’t work out well. So why take all the responsibility? You will need encouragement from time to time and God gave you that gift in the person of your wife. You were created to need an encourager. She is it.
Here’s where I get confused. Debi’s book, and patriarchy in general, is very “man is the head of the house, man makes the decisions.” Yet here, Michael is advocating, nay, insisting, that women share in the decision making process. In fact, he says that if a wife isn’t encouraging, it’s because she’s shut out. This may be true. But if man has the ultimate say, then why does he need his wife to help? If I remember Debi’s book correctly, she says that women shouldn’t contradict her man. I guess I don’t see a couple practicing from both books actually working together. It sounds like the man says “Well, this is my idea” and the woman says “Wow. That’s great, honey! You’re so smart!”. Does a man really need a sycophant for everything? What’s the point of having the woman “help” with decision making at all? Oh wait…there it is. To share the blame if it goes wrong. It makes sense now. Though he may say “people whom we encourage reciprocate”, he doesn’t specify anywhere how or when to do that for your wife. Just that “you should so she’ll do it for you. Because you need it, my good sir.” Ugh.