This week on Facebook the group Lori Alexander 2.0 shared one of Lori’s most recent Facebook statuses. It was from her old blog Always Learning, and I believe we have shared and discussed it before – The Neglected Husband. The graphic she used just makes me laugh, some poor man-child sitting out in the cold, cold rain alone. Give that man an umbrella, a puppy and a warm sweater, someone please before he catches quinsy or dropsy!
Lori is reiterating something she put in her book as well. Her belief that you should never chose your children and their needs over your husband and his needs. Like never. Sort of a Quiverfull “Sophie’s Choice”
Here it is:
I absolutely hate that in the world of Quiverfull, Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity men are viewed as needier, emotionally weaker, most easily damaged and a host of other negative attributes. Handicapped by life around them.
Some of the commenters on her Facebook promotion of this old post told tales of loving to do all sorts of things for their husbands to make them feel like King Daddy, like fixing their plates always at the dinner table. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, if that makes you happy, but relationships serious enough to produce children should not have to require near constant ‘proof’ of love. That’s not necessarily love, it can be things like fear, control, manipulation, insert issue here.
When you apply these ridiculously childish and simplistic actions to all marriages it may not go well. I personally witnessed proof of how crazy it can go about three or four summers ago, when we went to visit my husband’s relatives in southern Indiana.
The closest decent hotel was filled with people dressed in togs from the Creationism Museum, Ken Hamm’s place in nearby Kentucky. One morning I was eating breakfast in their dining room when I saw a woman wearing the regulation below the knee denim skirt with a frilly shirt come in with her family, three boys wearing hoodies with various promotions for the museum, and a man I can only assume was her husband. He wore the same garb as Jim Bob Duggar does, khaki slacks and a polo shirt.
I sipped my coffee and gobbled my waffles as the males of the family sat down together and Mama started to serve them. She served Daddy first, while Daddy sat there with a glowering look on his face like a dyspeptic toad. She then served the boys, interrupted by copious complaints and requests from Pappa Toad. It took a very long time before this poor woman was able to fix a plate for herself, and sit down in an attempt to eat. She didn’t get more than a mouthful here and there between complaints of the father, coffee not sweet enough, too sweet, now too hot. Jump to it, chop, chop woman! It was clear to see he was completely ungrateful, feeling entitled to order her about. She was lightly sheened by sweat and looked overwhelmed, getting about a half a meal before Daddy declared that they were going. Great, waffles and indigestion first thing in the morning. I so longed to intervene but knew anything I said would likely fall on hostile ears.
That is the sort of thing that can happen when you force a one size fits all approach to theology and rules for living. Am I saying never fix your husband a plate? No, if I’m cooking usually I will fill my husband’s plate, but only because it is the best way to assure he eats some vegetables. I don’t nag him or shame him about it, I put it on his plate and he eats it without comment. But in a situation like the one I witnessed I would never wait on him hand and foot unless there was a legitimate reason, such as the time he had knee surgery. I hover and dote for no one, not child nor man, unless there is a genuine need. I would not have fixed those pre teen boys plates either for them, though I might have guided them through the options and helped organize what they needed.
Which brings me to my second objection to Lori’s ideas that men must be served first and be numero uno. Again, just like I said in my review of her book, men are grown adults that can do for themselves, while children may require large amounts of help to meet their daily needs. This is not dissing or disrespecting your marriage or your husband, it’s meeting the most critical needs first. He should be mature enough to handle not always being first, or at least mature enough to express to you that he feels neglected in some way so you can talk it out and make whatever changes needed to keep everyone relatively content.
Whose needs are the most pressing changes too, so it’s not always children first. Lori and others of her ilk fail to recognize that there are phases in life where the rules must shift, where the husband waiting on the wife might need to happen, or everyone pitching in together gets life together done efficiently. It’s not sin, it’s not disrespect and it’s surely not some poor pathetic dude sitting out in the cold rain while Momma snuggles and makes cocoa for everyone else in a warm house elsewhere.
It seems to me that the husbands and wives of Quiverfull would be better served and happier simply by developing maturity and realizing they are a team, not opposing players. Please don’t get to nearly 60 years old and still be carrying around the same old grudges, ideas and expectations you did in middle school. It’s a miserably frustrating way to live.
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