Complementarian Marriage and the Lies They Tell Themselves Part Four

Complementarian Marriage and the Lies They Tell Themselves Part Four May 3, 2020

 

We’re continuing on in examination of this ten page plus paper that one of our least favorite cultural enforcers wrote in a misguided attempt to explain his marriage to the members of his group Men of God.  You can see the first parts here  Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Strolling through the group it looks like the same group of MAGA-hatted losers one might expect with the same goal. Punish the hell out of any female arrogant enough to believe she might be nearly as equal as her men folks.  Ladies, if your man is a member there I have but one suggestion – RUN!

We start with the husband’s list of things he thinks do not “fix” a broken marriage. The funny and sad thing about this list is that many of those things actually do work, are suggested by marriage counselors. At least in marriages when you don’t have two inflexible lunatics battling for the upper hand, that genuinely want the best for each other

“Well before we go there and explore correct thinking, let’s first make a list of the things that will not work when I am in my box. I do not have time to develop each one, and again recommend you get the book, but all these things most spouses have tried and they do not work:

~Trying to change others ~ Doing my best to cope with others ~ Running inside myself and staying quiet, moody, or leaving ~ Communicating ~ Implementing new skills and techniques ~ Changing my behavior”

I think what Captain Clueless is trying to say here is if you try any of these solutions from a place of “ME FIRST!” selfishness they will not work. He may be right, but let’s examine how these things can help a great deal if you accept and acknowledge the fact that the world and your marriage does not revolve around you, that you are a partner.

Trying to change others

Nope, let’s just toss this one straight out. It never works. The only person you can really effect a change in is yourself. This is something a narcissist like our husband here might actually try.

Doing my best to cope with others

Depends on the others. If you’re just trying to survive a  business meeting you better have some idea how to cope your coworkers that does not lead to a workplace shooting. A useful skill to have, even in marriage. There are always going to be those times where your spouse reacts instinctively from a place of trauma or hurt that has nothing to do with you, where reacting the wrong way, or taking offense is just going to ratchet the entire drama up a few dozen notches. Better to know how to defuse or handle these things and hopefully they are few and far between.

Running inside myself and staying quiet, moody or leaving

There are just going to be times in marriage when one does need to withdraw, to think, to nurse an internal hurt that has nothing to do with the spouse, or to simply cool off.  Sometimes this involves leaving. There is nothing wrong with needing a bit of space for a time.

My personal thinking spot – the overlook near Playa Pan de Sucre (Sugar Bread Beach)

I find sometimes when I’m out of sorts for whatever reason, like being quarantined, or if my emotions are all over the place from my asthma (it’s actually a warning signal it’s on the way) that a drive alone helps. Time to think without noise. Hop into the car and take an ocean front drive  over to Pan de Sucre beach cliff overlook, sit there for awhile before driving back is so helpful. My friends has suggested things like just going out shopping, or to the movies, or out for a run help. Infinite ways to defuse.

Being moody with the other person is never good. It’s childishly projecting your ire on someone that has nothing to do with it, or if it’s them you’re annoyed with it just makes you come off as even pettier. Part of being a responsible fully-functioning non-toxic adult is knowing that only you are responsible for your moods, and taking self regulation actions to deal with your feelings. No one else, just you.

Communicating

That this one is on the list is so breathtakingly stupid! Real communication about the problem, how it makes you feel, and everything else attached is essential! The only time I can think of when it might not be a good thing is if you have a situation where one partner is relentlessly monologuing out a long list of complaints without allowing the other partner to respond. A sort of verbal vomit. But that would fall under the heading verbal abuse.

Implementing new skills or techniques

Another jaw drop moment here. How is learning new things, and applying them wrong? Particularly in difficult personal relationships. When whatever you are doing is not working, and you read up, or consult an expert that points you to try something different it might just work.

Changing my behavior

Another good tool to defuse bad situations and potential fights. Suppose every single time you go in the kitchen you leave a cabinet door wide open. Your spouse routinely does not see it right away, walks into it and ends up with a black eye. Or trips over it, and twists an ankle. They might start out simply asking you to remember to shut the cabinet door. You nod and agree, then go right back about your business the same way, leaving those cabinet doors open with more black eyes and twisted ankles. Your spouse makes their request not to do that increasingly more hostile each time this happens. Eventually it dawns on you to close the cabinet door, like a human being instead of a bear with furniture and kitchen cabinets. Problem simply solved, irritant and trivial argument defused with your spouse no longer looking like a run away from a domestic violence shelter.

You change your behavior in ways that bring peace to the home, for the benefit of others, because you love them. Not because you are trying to manipulate them into some perceived other scenario. We all must do this sometime in our marriage. Nobody gets a pass because we’re all imperfect humans who need each other.

“Maybe you can quickly see why the first five will not work. If you are in your box you are intent on preserving self and selfishness, self-justification, and self-deception. You can take each one of these tools and if you are using them for the wrong purpose of ultimately getting what you want from the other person instead of helping yourself to grow and understand the other person, they are doomed to failure. Everything you are doing from your box is really just for you! Even trying to change your own behavior within your box will only take your selfishness another direction for one main purpose: ME! I love me more than I love my spouse. I will do all of the above within my box so long as I do not have to look at my own real issues”

And that in a nut shell is the problem with this man. Everything he has tried, even good things, comes from that goal of manipulating the wife into doing what he wants. This is not Godly, right, or anything else beyond sheer narcissism.

“I tried all the above with Wife to get her to see clearly her baggage she had brought into the marriage, yet her issues grew over time as she felt that her husband did not truly love her. After all he was at times unkind, and would not show her love the way she wanted to be loved. I had tried everything except for getting out of my own box first. And getting out for no other reason than that I owed it to God and myself to regularly live out my own stated values, especially to my wife.”

That’s not a box, that’s being love with your own image in the mirror and only thinking how you can manipulate the other person instead of bless them. Again, this is a marriage without kindness, love, mercy or any other positive feeling. This is a man who expects a smiling sex robot that cooks and exhibits no needs, but ended up with a fragile emotionally damaged flawed human like everyone else.

Next week the husband tells us what he values, and his list looks nothing like anything he’s said anywhere here. Pie in the sky wishful thinking that does not line up with the reality of his awful marriage choices. You cannot make caviar from mud.

Part 1 ~ Part 2 ~ Part 3

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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