by Aletha cross posted from her blog Yllom Mormon
Well, we are in for a treat today! Having spent the last few weeks talking about Mr. Steady, now we are talking about the horrors that come from dominant mothers. Specifically, how mothers that are in control screw up the chances for daughters to get married. As an added bonus, Michael attempts to use cool-kid phrasing. I hope you’re ready.
Dominant Mamas and Dawdling Daddies
We have received many letters from young ladies whose marriage plans have just been crushed by decisions made by their dominant mothers. The stories are the same over and over again. It’s almost like there is a species of mother out there that is predestined to repeat this patterned response so as to fulfill some dark twisted destiny, and their Steady husbands dawdle away in dreamland. It is the stuff from which tragic love stories are written by old spinsters whose mothers destroyed their one chance at happiness while henpecked Father sat by quietly.
Check out the language here: dark, twisted destiny…a species of mother…old spinsters whose mothers destroyed their one chance of happiness. Michael should write PSAs. His usage of scare tactics and blaming would convince people of the error of their ways! But in this instance, it seems a bit overdone. Though I suppose, since Michael believes that men are the God-appointed rulers of the home, then he feels it’s his right to tell men the “way it should be”. And then give horror stories of what happens when it isn’t.
Though I’m wondering about all of the failed chances at marriage because a father didn’t think anybody was good enough for his daughter. Or where the father encouraged a relationship that didn’t work out very well, and the couple is either divorced, or unhappily married. Or, frankly, anything that could be anyone else’s “fault” than the mothers. Oh, and I thought Visionaries were the dreamlanders…wasn’t the whole first part of this chapter how steady and decent these guys are?
The events unfold like this: There is an easygoing Steady Man who doesn’t say much and has always allowed his wife to take the lead in family matters, mostly because he wants to keep the peace instead of listening to her give him a piece of his mind.
My husband would be considered Steady, but he lets me take the lead for different reasons than Michael suspects. First, I’m better at managing people. In a corporate world, at home, or at school, I’m one of those people that say “jump”, and people ask “how high”. My husband says it’s a combination of intimidation and charisma. Whatever it is, I am much better suited to dealing with people. Second, my husband doesn’t have very many opinions-on anything. Honestly, he just doesn’t care about most things enough to want to dictate any particular way. I’m wondering how many Steadies let their wives lead for similar reasons.
And let me stress: it’s not a bad thing. We went through foster kid training, and we were taught to play to our strengths. My husband’s strength is patience and listening, and my strength is managing and efficiency. That’s what works for us. Just because it may be different than the stereotype doesn’t make it wrong.
The daughter is a happy, obedient young lady with great hope for a glorious marriage. Into their lives comes a young man that is attracted to their daughter. Mother immediately likes him because not only is he highly moral and disciplined, having made preparation for his future, but he is exciting, too. Not like her dull husband, he is commanding and has a vision of accomplishing great things. Mother would be proud to have him as a son-in-law, and Daddy goes along to get along, liking the fellow just fine and glad his daughter is going to get such a fine husband.
At this point, it’s a good story. One, in fact, that I think a lot of people have for their kids. POOF! Enter charming prince (or princess), and happily ever after! Though it really bothers me that Mother immediately is drawn to the fact that this boy is different from her husband. The thing that really bugs me is that the daughter has no say-anywhere. A boy comes into the picture, Mom and dad are OK with him, cue wedding bells. Yes, daughters in this circumstance probably want to get married, but I wonder how many marry to be married, rather than because of personal connection. (I’ve known quite a few Mormon marriages like that). But Michael doesn’t leave any room in this story for the daughter’s perspective.
But when we get the letter from the young lady, stuff has hit the fan. After planning the wedding and going through several months of families getting to know each other, Mother discovers that her exciting prospective son-in-law is not like her submissive husband; he is “self-willed”. He acts like he is a king or a prophet. He is stubborn and opinionated. Mother characterizes him as “not kind” or “not teachable”.
I feel very defensive, for some reason. I want to shout at Michael, “Maybe the mom has a bad feeling about the guy or something!” Or, honestly, considering how Michael believes Command man are tyrannical dictators, and Visionaries will let their families starve, I can see how a mother might be hesitant to give the daughter over. Especially since that type of person might not be anything the mother has ever encountered before, and that can be scary. (Not to mention how she might feel her daughter would have to deal with).
The young man has recognized the mother-in-law’s overbearing attitude and has taken charge. He may have made it clear that when they get married they are going to do things a certain way-regarding homeschooling, or where they live, or what church they go to, or any number of life choices. Mostly it is just his personality she doesn’t like. He acts like he intends to be head of the family in ways this mother doesn’t appreciate. So after failing to persuade him to make changes to his personal demeanor, she calls off or postpones the wedding. Postponing is more to her liking because she can use this time to get “the boy in line” by holding the bait in front of him.
No wonder Michael thinks himself a prophet! Look at him go. From one letter (by the daughter, no less), he can ascribe motive and circumstance of ANYONE in the wedding party. Also, I am noting, again, that the daughter’s feelings in “life choices” are absent. I’m not a mother, but I think it would be easier to hear my daughter say “Homeschooling is what I want to do.” or “We discussed it, and we think private Christian school would be the best choice for us.” than to hear it as a pronouncement from fiance like his will makes it a fact.
It is also possible to have a personality conflict, and still be OK with a wedding. I think it’s interesting that Michael seems to equate not understanding with disliking. In this type of isolated culture, it is entirely probable that the only man the mother had been around prior to her own wedding, was her father. And preacher, but I doubt that was much of a relationship. So she could have gone into her marriage knowing only how to deal with a man in one way; the way that she interacted with her dad (or saw her mother do).
Oh, and feelings can change. People grow on other people, the more exposure one gets. Just because you seem to be at odds with the fiance now, doesn’t mean that you will always be. Plus weddings are stressful on parents, because (I’m imaging here, if I’m wrong, let me know) they’ve raised their kid, tried their best, put a lot of love and effort into making the kid into a decent person, and then somebody swoops in and wants to take all that away. All I’m saying is that Michael might want to cut these mothers some slack.
But the boy is too much of a man to put up with the old biddy. The girl is brokenhearted and blames her Steady father for not taking a stand against her domineering mother. But he has his head down, making sure he doesn’t catch any flack. His wife makes the bed and allows him to sleep in it, so he doesn’t want to pull the rug out from under her.
Here’s where I get confused. The girl is hurt and angry-why doesn’t she talk to her dad? “Dad, I know Mom doesn’t like him, but I love him and want to be with him forever. I know you love me and want what’s best for me. Why can’t you let me decide what that is, and support me in what I choose?” Heck, she could say that to her mom, if daughters making requests is taboo. The point I’m trying to make is: WHY DOES NOBODY COMMUNICATE? The mom just says “Nope.” and the subject is over.
The young man, being a Command or Visionary, is not at all wired to cater to a bossy woman, and he has too much pride to grovel. There are plenty of other fish in the pond, so he winds up his line and goes downstream to fish, careful to “not again make the same mistake” of getting involved with one of those “courtship” families where Mother presides over the court.
I feel like I have to re-state that people can change. Just because a guy is “wired” to be Command, doesn’t mean he can’t listen to other’s points of view. I’m wondering what kind of culture this is where the fiance can’t tell the Mother “This is what your daughter and I both want. I love her and will take care of her. I would like you to trust me with this. I promise I will be good to her.” Instead, he just says “Ooooh, don’t want to deal with domineering women-guess I better try elsewhere!”
And if that really is how the culture works, how very sad.
The most tragic letters are those we receive from girls in their thirties who have given up hope. They had one chance at marriage eight years earlier and Mother “didn’t feel the leading of the Lord” in it. And Daddy is still sitting in the same chair, watching old “Gunsmoke” programs on Netflix. Hey, Mr. Steady, grow a pair and tell the lady when to cease and desist. She might even begin to find you exciting for a change.
Aaaaaand here is the Michael technique we all know and love. After the scare tactics are over, instead of offering constructive advice or examples, name calling and insults abound. Why help a person see where they’re “supposed” to go, when you can make fun of them for not being there? Why go through all the trouble of telling men they are different types, if the rest of the book is spent turning those types into the same thing?
Remember, your responsibility as a husband is to sanctify and cleanse your wife with your words, not support and condone with your silence. As a Priest your love is made known to your wife by nourishing and cherishing her, even as the Lord the church. She will know you love her by your willingness to lay aside your uneasiness in taking the lead on important issues. Love doesn’t allow; it leads in the right direction.
Yes, Michael, you hit the nail on the head there. Your wife will know that you love her when you dictate to her your will. She will be so grateful that you have overcome your “uneasiness” in leading, that she will be happy to overlook the complete 180 you’ve just pulled. Also, just because the man leads, doesn’t necessary make that the right direction. If you don’t believe me, please see the section on lazy Visionaries.
And now you have a disgruntled old maid to take care of until you die. Thanks, Mama that was a real cool move. And Father can go back to watching Matt Dillon and Kitty; there are now two unhappy women in the house.
I know, I know, I have an attitude. After hearing from 500 old maids blaming their bossy mothers and laid back daddies, I’ve earned the right.
Wow. Just wow. “See, Mr. Steady? See what you did? Because you didn’t take the lead-like a godly man should-you now have two WOMEN to take care of! I hope you’re happy.”
Nevermind that single women can become missionaries, teachers, heck, astronauts, whatever. And this is the problem with equating women’s worth with marriage (I’m looking at you, too, LDS church!). Because sometimes women (even if they really, really want to) don’t get married. Then what?
But of course, the solution to that is say yes to the first guy that comes a-knockin’, no matter how you feel about him. I’m curious, now, about those girls who never get a suitor. What’s a parent to do, then?
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