Complementarian Marriage, Abuse, Infidelity, and Unhappiness

Complementarian Marriage, Abuse, Infidelity, and Unhappiness April 3, 2020

What happens in Quiverfull when the dress is boxed and the veil is packed away and real life sets in?

Through the years I have noticed a curious thing in Quiverfull marriages, even among the more prominent cultural enforcers. What is it? Unhappiness on a mass scale, control, secretive control by wives that claim they are submissive. They paint a picture for anyone that is not attractive, not at all. It’s enough to put everyone off ever marrying. It just reinforces the beliefs of guys in the MGTOW world. I don’t blame them for holding those views just based upon what we see all the time in Quiverfull marriages. The same with the young women seeking careers and delaying marriage. The examples around them are so joyless and unloving. Marriage in complementarian circles is grim, dire, and tortuousness instead of the joyous coming together of two equals who share everything.

Years ago I had the chance to observe for several hours the interactions of the poster couple of Quiverfull, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. What I saw was that while  Jim Bob was ostentatiously the family “leader” he frequently turned to Michelle for subtle approval, that she did control him in a very low key way. It was eye opening to see their body language, the tiny micro expressions, and a thousand other things that put lie to the whole submission of women thing. I doubt they are even aware of it either.  They will swear it’s all female submission. But it is not, it’s manipulation, that same manipulation that is listed as akin to witchcraft in the Bible.

I have to believe this is at the heart of most complementarian marriages. We know that many times it is the wife that drags the family into the world of Quiverfull. It seems to always boil down to the unhappiness of the wife. She wants to change her husband, and buys the lie at the heart of the theology that if she just does it right, sacrifices the right way, submits hard enough and is joyous that God will miraculously change the husband. This is the whole “win him without a word” misunderstand of scripture that the whole rickety base this subculture rests upon.

It is wicked. It is evil and it wrecks marriages by forcing both partners into unnaturally strict roles instead of allowing them to function in what their strengths are. Marriages not in this subculture are less prone to divorce statistics show, and I think it’s because people aren’t forced to do things they are not suited for. Marriages should be free form and malleable  enough to accommodate the needs and talents of everyone.

One quick cautionary tale of how complementary marriage is damaging. From an unnamed semi-famous cultural enforcer’s marriage. Someone we have covered here many times. The gruesome twosome are so toxic I have no wish to poke them, or the husband’s sock puppet so I am not naming them. I am sure every regular reader knows exactly whom I am speaking of.

Lately I am getting increasing amounts of messages from women who are not part of the Quiverfull movement with tales of the husband of a female cultural enforcer. He illustrates the unhappiness and frustration that is built into complementarian marriages just by the way he interactions with his wife’s detractors.

What does he do? He contacts in private message many women. He hectors them, seeking to ‘teach’ them why his wife is right. Eventually the messages start seeming a little bit flirty, and he suggests meeting for coffee.

This is what emotional infidelity looks like. It’s not actual physical cheating, but it is becoming emotionally enmeshed with others of the opposite sex you have  no reason to contact.

There have been rumors for years that this man has cheated, but I have seen nothing to that effect. Only this sad clinging emotionally to a sea of other women.

If I were to speculate on the whys this man is doing this I would have to say it seems more to do with the obsessional nature of the wife. Her control of what he eats, her lack of human emotions, her strangely inappropriate behaviors and hygiene. It would be a very hard row to hoe for anyone. It’s pretty obvious he is seeking emotional support, human connection, completely away from his wife. Which is more sad and tragic, to be pitied.

I have read through the reams of stuff sent to me on him, and all I can do is think how incredibly miserable his marriage must be. Husbands in healthy, happy relationships with their wives generally do not seek these types of outside relationships.

This is where “Biblical marriage” and complementarianism has completely ruined his life. In normal marriages someone confronted continually with an angry controlling spouse making demands and spiraling into mental illness could take actions.  Insist the spouse get mental help, or if they refused to stop their abusive behavior (and that level of control is spousal abuse) there is the option of legal separation, or even divorce eventually once all other options for helping the spouse are exhausted.

Divorce is no fun for anyone, and yes, it is a drastic step. But in marriages where there is abuse and infidelity it is sometimes the kindest thing you can do for both partners. No one needs to stay in an abusive marriage, but Biblical complementarianism traps many into this sick unholy unions. God is not honored by any of this no matter what the enforcers might claim. Life is too long to allow the abuse of someone else to keep you in hellish misery.

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