by Aletha cross posted from her blog Yllom Mormon
We are still talking about the wives of Steady Men. Today, we’re discussing how discontent they tend to be, and the fixes men can take for this.
Text is in purple
The Making of a Shrew
I feel sorry for Go-to [women Visionaries, basically] wives married to Steady Men. They are like kids visiting the zoo strapped into a stroller. Consider this: When a woman is married to a bossy, dominant Command Man, people marvel that she is willing to serve him without complaint, so she comes out looking like a wonderful woman of great patience and sacrifice. A woman married to the impulsive Visionary who puts the family through hardships will stir amazement in everyone. “How can she tolerate his peculiar ideas with such peace and joy?” She comes out being a real saint, maybe even a martyr. But if the wife of a kind, gentle man grows anxious in demanding action, she appears overbearing and bossy.
Alrighty then. First comparison of the chapter, and he’s alluding wives to babies. Which, isn’t too surprising, given how he tends to think of women. It’s still insulting, though. And if I had a little kid, and took it to the zoo, I wouldn’t leave him strapped into the stroller. I would carry him, or take him to the petting zoo so he could harass the llamas or something.
It seems Michael is trying to convince Steady Men to act a certain way, and he is using the threat of how others see his wife. In Fundamentalist culture, appearances are more important than facts. Even in Mormonism, how you really are doing means less than pasting on a smile and pretending everything is perfect. So perhaps insinuating that Mr. Steady’s wife looks bad to outsiders is a good motivator? I don’t know for sure, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
He will always appear to be the underdog, and she the dog. A Command Man would channel her energies and ideas to his own end. A Visionary would give her cause along with the headache he imparts. But the Steady Man leaves her on idle until she could scream, “Get up and do something!”
Great. Children and dogs, that’s what your wife really is. I think it’s interestingly telling that in all of these descriptions of how the husband would use the wife, nowhere is there what the wife wants. No admonitions to listen, or ask her how she feels. Just the general understanding that a wife is there to drag where you will. Unless you don’t drag her, and then she turns bossy and overbearing.
When you help her, adore her, protect her, and provide for all her needs, she still seems unhappy and thankful How can you please that kind of woman? She is well aware that others think she is a shrew, and it makes her worse. Wives don’t do well under condemnation. No one does. Poor lady; it is better to be treated badly by her man than have half the church thinking she is a bossy brat.
While it is true that spouses (not just wives! Heck, not just spouses; anyone in a relationship) that seem to be ungrateful are difficult to deal with, I’m wondering what exactly Michael means by “provides for all her needs”. Obviously, she needs to be needed, Michael has made that clear over and over. But he’s never brought up any other need that a woman might have. I’m curious, too, what Michael means by “help”.
Also, I’m wondering how often women that are thought of as shrews get worse, seemingly out of spite. I know, while I was still attending church, I was viewed as negative and snappish. On days that it bothered me, I would try to keep my commentary to myself, and play nice with others.
Oh, and I think most people would rather half the church think bad things about them than be treated badly. I’m in shock that Michael would say that. From here it sounds like he’s saying “Hey, Mr. Steady, if your wife isn’t grateful, treat her badly and whip her into shape! You don’t want others seeing how shrewish she is!”
Disappointment and unthankfulness can make a woman wearier than any amount of labor. Her trials are conceived in discontentment over what she perceives to be your shortcomings. This is why many disgruntled wives married to Mr. Steadies fall victim to “hormonal imbalances,” physical illnesses, or emotional problems. Is your lady sickly? I have seen many sick women get happy and then healthy when their Mr. Steady gives them a challenging job.
Yes, that’s right. Hormonal imbalances, being sick, or having emotional issues are all a result of being unthankful to husbands. My husband is mostly Mr. Steady, and I have a serious amount of hormonal imbalances and emotional issues. But guess what? They’re not from my ingratitude. They are biologically and childhood trauma based. I really, really dislike this type of thinking, that mental/physical illness is because of some “sin” on the afflicted’s part.
And I wish Michael would have had an anecdote as to how giving a sick (perhaps legitimately) woman magically got happy and well by being given chores. Because it sounds like a lot of bananas to me!
As a Steady/Priestly Man, your natural response to your lady’s unhappiness is exactly the opposite of what she needs. You will be confused at your wife’s unhappiness and try to serve her more, which may further diminish her respect for your masculinity.
Don’t you just love it when Michael tries to talk psychology? It’s like watching someone play “Pin the tail on the donkey”, after they’ve been spinning for 10 minutes and headed the wrong way.
I came into my marriage with a lot of baggage and fears. I wasn’t unhappy at my Mr. Steady, I was confused. I didn’t understand his mildness, and I didn’t think I deserved his kindness and serving. I constantly waited for the other shoe to drop. But what I needed was consistency, not whatever Michael would prescribe. Same with our foster kids. They came into our house from a dysfunctional background. They needed kindness and consistency. Giving people that has no effect of your masculinity, because those things should be gender-less.
Your weakness is giving over when what she really needs is for you to make some simple decisions-now, not tomorrow-and stick with them regardless of who pushes you. But you must pick your battles and make sure you are in the right, that you are not acting selfishly or with malice. She should be able to eventually see that you were wise and correct in the stand you took. As a woman hates a vacuum, she loves just authority. Justice without authority is weakness, and authority without justice is tyranny, but just authority is peace and security for a woman.
Here, I think Michael makes some decent points. Sometimes people just need to make a decision. Fence sitters are frustrating for those who have already chosen a side. It’s good to pick your battles and don’t act selfishly or with malice. Though I think it’s funny that it’s Michael who says that. What would he consider selfish? Not letting his wife put on shoes to go crabbing? Making her cook while he slept? Hitting children for showing any emotion but cheerfulness?
I have no idea how he came up with his “women hate a vacuum” thing. But even worse is that he pairs it with “women love just authority!” Not all women do. Not all people do. Some people can’t handle any authority at all. I really wish Michael would define his terms. What does he think “justice”, “authority”, “tyranny”, and “security” mean? Because the way he uses them sure doesn’t match up with how I define them!
Also, how does he know what is security for a woman? For every woman, especially! I can’t imagine him asking thousands of women in an unbiased survey, as research for his book. I can’t even imagine the scads of women who said “Well, yes.” if he were to ask them 1-on-1. For me, personally, security (dealing with my husband) means that I know he won’t hit me, and he will take care of me. I’m not really sure what justice has to do with that.
Welcome to being a husband and trying to understand the female nature. It would be easier to fix a recently discovered World War I land mine. But be assured, she is just as confused trying to understand what makes you tick as you are about what alarms her.
Yes, there will be times when your spouse’s motives or actions are questionable or confusing. The key to de-mystifying that is communication! Say “Hey, honey, I don’t understand why you did that. What was your thought process?” or “Wow. You seem really upset. What’s on your mind?” If trying to understand your spouse or partner feels like attempting to diffuse a land mine, you’re probably doing it wrong. Landmines can’t talk. Landmines can’t make decisions. Landmines don’t care about feelings. They are inanimate destruction devices. And comparing a person to that shows a gross misunderstanding of humanity.
The lady who lies by your side each night doesn’t know what goes on in your mind. She wants to see, hear, feel, and know what you are thinking; she wants to be your suitable helper, not just your wife. As Mr.Steady, you don’t go around with your ideas scrolling across your forehead. For a woman, just knowing how you think and feel is sooooo [Michael’s emphasis not mine] romantic. Your lady hungers to share your dreams and to know what you are feeling. She would be much more patient with your reluctance to make a decision if she just knew you were carefully weighing the issues.
This is a valid point. When we first got married, I would be infuriated by my husband’s lack of decision making. After awhile, I would scream “Why don’t you just pick something???!”. He would look at me, confused, and say “I’m thinking about it.” That’s when I realised: not everyone thinks at the same rate as me. Not everyone is OK with snap decisions. Since this talk, I know that he will, eventually, come up with a decision, and he knows to tell me that he’s processing.
Unless you step up and take charge, you are providing a context for your wife to look and act like a shrew. You are placing more temptation on her than she is willing-or able-to bear. It is your job to sanctify and cleanse your wife of all impurities. If you become the man she needs, she will become the woman you want.
I know this will come as a shock to most readers, but people are responsible for their own actions. No matter how infuriating somebody acts, it’s still my fault if I respond badly. Telling men that by not taking charge they are tempting their wives with shrewhood is…disquieting. Also, I’m curious how Michael thinks an imperfect man can “sanctify and cleanse” his wife of all impurities. Does he mean “whatever she has/is/does that I don’t agree with” when he says “impurity”?
I sort of agree with the last sentence. Sort of. Something about it makes me feel squicky. Maybe it’s because Michael really has no clue what women need? Maybe it’s because if your spouse isn’t what you want, then you should talk to them? Or maybe the problem is just you and/or your expectations? But Michael never says that. Ever. His whole shtick seems to be “scratch her back so she’ll put out.” Or, in other words, change something about yourself so that she will change to become what you want her to.
And that doesn’t sound healthy. Or very nice.