Friday, August 30, 2013

CTNAHM-How Do I Need Thee Part 5 (Michael is Finger-Lickin Good)

p 43-44

OK. We are STILL in the chapter where Michael lists the reasons men need wives. Here we go.  Text is in purple.

I Need Her to Keep Me Civilized
   Men are basically uncivilized animals.  Ask any man who has been in a war zone for a year.  Most won't talk about it, but they know.  Ask someone who has been in a state penitentiary for ten years.  The presence of women in the house, especially one whom we value, has a most amazing civilizing effect upon men.  They keep us from being too crude.  They cause us to build houses and decorate them, to cut the grass and clean up after ourselves.  If the world had no females, men would live in the most basic shelters.  They would not maintain regular employment and would be lawless.  We institute law as a means of protecting our wives and culture.
   Ah. I have often heard the argument that men are animals.  I think it's a bunch of bullocks; there are women that behave uncivilised, and men that are beacons of manners.  Michael starts this section with another broad, gendered generalisation.  War zones and penitentiaries are weird examples to use.  In a war zone, there is tons of stress, killing, and fear.  In a penitentiary, there's cells, regulations, and a grouping of dangerous and/or mentally unstable people.  These are both bad examples to use.  In fact, I think the military has strong standards as to how one makes their bed, keeps clothes clean, etc.  But the real reason I think these analogies is off, is because both groups are acting mostly out of their control.  The military men have a general or the President or someone calling the shots.  In the pen, wardens, parole officers, and judges make the rules.  Both groups mentioned are acting on the orders of someone else.  Though I suppose Michael would claim men should act under God's orders, so maybe that's why he came up with this analogy.  Hmmmm.  And women that are valued? I don't even understand that comment.
   Another thing.  Why does Michael twist everything in such an odd way?  Can the presence of women tone down a man's instincts to be crude?  Possibly.  But I would contend if a man is crude, it's more an issue with the raising than the wife.  If parents raise children and enforce "No burping or farting or rude jokes in public.  It's impolite and crude." , then children problem won't behave that way.  However, if the parents say "Oh, that's boys being boys.", then boys will learn that's socially acceptable.  I also don't think it's merely the presence of women that cause men to want to build houses and cut grass.  And what about women building houses or doing lawn work?  Show of hands, if you didn't have a woman to "make" you, how many men would keep a job and be law-abiding?  It seems to me, that even back when people were living in trees, if you wanted to eat, you had to work.  I don't think the presence of women could change that.  Along those lines, call me silly, but I think the law was made more for the protection of everyone than just wives and children.  Yes, married men care about their wives and children.  Or at least they should.  But that doesn't mean every bachelor is lying in wait (because he obviously doesn't work) to go about mischief!
   God placed a nesting instinct in women, something that is missing in men.  Because of the woman in their lives, men eat their vegetables instead of all meat.  The women cause us to put a napkin on our laps and use another to clean around our mouths.  We learn to say "May I" and "Pardon me".  In a world of all men there would be no napkins, probably no table, and no one would apologize for burping or farting.
   I wish it were possible to tell Michael that people in general can have nesting instincts.  Just because someone is born with a uterus doesn't mean they were born with an insatiable need for the white picket fence.  Then Michael claims it's women that pull for veggies and napkins.  Again, why does it have to be so gendered?  Why can't things just be up to the individual, rather than the biology?  Though a "may I" and "pardon me" is certainly nice, it's not just women who should teach them.  Men can model good manners, too!   And every time Michael mentions a world without women, I want to add a snarky crack about reproduction.  One final thought-in some cultures, burping is considered a compliment to the chef.  So it's more of a cultural thing than a man/woman thing.
   The few times my wife was away for a week visiting our grand kids  I forgot to take a shower and went to bed dirty.  I found myself going three days without bathing.  But as soon as I know she is coming home I clean my body and the house.  What would I be without her?  A man who doesn't bathe has no right to make love to a woman.  A shower is an absolute prerequisite.  To approach her unclean is insulting and degrading.  It shows a lack of respect.  Women are much more responsive if you are like Kentucky Fried Chicken-"finger lickin good".  On the other hand, if your wife likes a little odor and grit, pay me no mind.
   What the heck happened in this paragraph?  One minute we're talking about civilised behaviour, then next, sex?  Head/wall.  Is anyone else getting the impression that Michael assumes because he is a certain way, every man is?  Just because you don't like to bathe, Michael, doesn't make every man that way.  My husband, for example, is fastidious about showering.  Even when I'm not there, he doesn't neglect basic hygiene!  We're trying to get licensed for foster kids, and one way that the agencies measure the level of care kiddos require is if they are able to keep themselves clean and groomed.  It's considered a problem if a 10 year old needs help and reminders to bathe.  I can't even imagine a man in his 60s (unless he has physical/mental limitations) that needs to be told to take a shower.
   I'm still trying to figure out how he jumped from "my wife's coming home, I need a shower" to "What would I be without her" to "take shower to get sex".  It's nice for both parties to be clean, and not just for sex.  I'm shocked that Michael uses the word "respect" when talking about a woman.  I think this is the first time that he's used the word in this way.  And he makes a good point.  Stinky, unclean men aren't being very respectful to their wives.  The reverse is also true. I'm just confused because Debi's book says "never say no to sex regardless", and Michael's book admonishes cleanliness.  Once again, there seems a disconnect between what Michael and Debi say.  Which is weird, because they co-edit/co-write their books, right?
   May I just say, the finger-lickin good part just made me throw up in my mouth?  I'm not going to go into my mental images there, but that line just left me feeling icky and gross.  Whoa. I just noticed something.  Michael talks about the woman's preference!  There at the end, "if your wife likes..." I'm pretty taken aback here.  And I'm not trying to be rude.  This whole chapter has been "Do this so your wife will do that for you".  Suddenly she gets a say in his hygiene?
   Obviously God put the civil side of his nature in the female gender.  We need our wives to help us be civil and to establish social order.  She is given to us as a help meet to manage this side of our existence   I said all that to make one statement.  A man's home may be his castle, but she is lord of the manor.  Bend to your wife's wishes when it comes to the house.  My wife owns the house and the kitchen.  She tells me what to do and what not to do in the house, and I obey her.  She can't make me wash dishes, but she can tell me where I can put my feet and where I can take my shoes off, and where I can drop a dirty towel.  Don't contend with your wife over the house.  It is her nest.  Our job is just to gather the sticks, build the nest, bring home the food, and get her pregnant so she can fill it up with little bundles of joy.  We men tend to need this direction and structure supplied by our wives.  It is their created nature and we should honour that.
   I've said this before, but where in the Bible does it say that God divided his attributes into male/female parts?  If men are created in God's image, shouldn't they get the same parts and attributes?  Also, I'm noticing that Michael doesn't seem to take much responsibility for his actions.  "She is given to us as a help meet to manage this side of our existence."  No, Michael, you need to manage your own actions and emotions.  That's not your wife's job. It's called being a fully-functioning adult.
   Something funny I noticed.  In 2 sentences, Michael uses the words "home, castle, manor", as if they can be used interchangeably.   If I remember history correctly, there was a king in his castle, and he ruled a country.  The country was broken up into smaller plots of lands called duchies (or estates), where lords were in charge of the manor (and serfs!).  So if man is the king of the castle, and women are the lords of the manor, then...yep. She's still under him.  Does that make children the serfs?  I don't think 'bending to the wife's wishes' in the home is the right strategy.  I think both parties should state their expectations and work together to accomplish them.  Good communication is important in any relationship!  Though if the man's options are "Micromanage the Home" and "Let Her Run the House How She Chooses", the latter sounds better.  I guess what people in these types of relationships don't realise is there isn't ONE and only one way to have a successful partnership.
   I am amused with how he specified his wife owns the house AND the kitchen.  Priorities, I guess.  And of course Michael doesn't do dishes.  Probably not laundry or cooking either.  The whole "Our job is to..." sentence really ticked me off.  It felt that he was saying "Look at how much you do, mighty man.  Let your wife play house.  Give her some babies to amuse her and keep her on the straight and narrow.  It's what she REALLY wants!"
   Overall, it is not the wife's job to keep her husband "civilized".  He should be regulating that himself.  After all, he interacts with the world on many different fronts.  He should be able to act like a rational adult, and not expect the world to bend to his wishes.  It's not woman's nature to be responsible for all the icky/boring parts of life, Michael!  No matter how much lip-service you give to words like "respect" and "honour", I will never believe you mean it until you act like women matter.  Their needs, their opinions, their wants, their likes/dislikes, their dreams.  Let me know when you're OK with women having those (especially if they differ from yours), then maybe I will trust that you are an authority on marriage!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

To New Beginnings and Regrets

I was diagnosed bipolar when I was 25.  My mum always thought something was wrong with me.  I had seen shrinks from the time I was 5 until I stopped going at 15.  I had been medicated, hospitalized, therapized, and re-medicated.  Yet I wasn't properly diagnosed until a decade later.  I later found out, that while I was in the hospital, they bandied about the "BIPOLAR" diagnosis, but for some reason it didn't stick.
   I'm hurt by that.  I have a terribly spotty job history, 125+ earned credit hours from 3 colleges but no useful degree.  I have very few long-term relationships.  I would sabotage everything.  I failed out of aforementioned colleges because I would stay awake 3 days in a row, then crash for 18 hours.  Or just skip class for weeks because I could barely get out of bed.  I would stop showing up at work because I wanted to watch movies, or something equally stupid.  I ticked people off and kicked them out of my life on a whim.  10 years of chaos and disorder that I can't ever get back.  10 years of disastrous, volatile living that I can't forget.  I feel sometimes like I got cheated.  What could I have become?  Who would I have ended up as?
   I don't know why the system failed me.  I don't know why my parents failed me.  But here I am, at 27, trying to start over.  I've been thinking for the past year about going back to school. I'm finally on good meds and have been stable for over a year.  But for the last few weeks, I've been dreaming about college.  And yesterday, I decided on a program I want to pursue at the local community college.  Today I applied for admission to the Spring '14 semester.
   And I'm scared.  I'm scared they will look at my transcripts and say "What the hell?"  I have classes ranging from Theatre II to Calculus 3 and Organic Chemistry.  I have always been so all over the map, and I'm afraid that that will count against me now.  But I really want this.  I want to do something with my life.  I'm tired of sitting around the house hoping that soon we'll get foster kids, yet feeling like I'm just so damn smart and I'm wasting my life.
   I'm terrified that even if, by some miracle, I'm allowed to take classes, that I will stop going midway through the semester.  Like I have for 80% of my college history.  I'm petrified that this endeavour will be nothing more than another crazy scheme that doesn't work out.  I don't want to disappoint my husband, or waste money.
    I can tell myself that this time will be different, and I'll actually do my homework and show up.  But the truth of it is, I just don't know.  And not knowing is what freaks me out most.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CTNAHM-How Do I Need Thee-Part 4 (The proper way for wives to challenge)

  pgs 41-43

Alright. We are still  going through Chapter 4. So far it's been reasons why husbands need wives, and the reasons why wives need to be needed.  It's been a blast, and we've still got 20 pages to go.  Text is in purple.
   Last section we ended with how men need to be challenged by their wives.  Today we're starting with a story in that vein.

"Let's Go" She Said
   [Michael contracted encephalitis and was hospitalized for 11 days. They didn't know if he'd survive and Michael fell into a depression afterwards, mostly due to the loss of his short-term memory.  He would often re-buy things because he forgot he bought them already.]  At the time I was making kitchen cabinets for a living.  I would head out to install a set and forget where I was going.  I got scared to leave the house. I felt confused and uncertain and lost my confidence.  I felt normal until I got into a stressful situation or someone called my attention to something I had forgotten. I began to fall behind in my business and was unable to get out and do the necessary sales.
   I'm impressed that Michael actually admits to feeling scared and less confident.  It must have been really scary for his family.
   One day my wife said "let's go."  She rode with me through new subdivisions and we stopped at houses under construction.  She sent me inside to talk to the homeowners or builders.  Our first trip out netted two jobs.  She had to continue challenging me to keep me going, but after several years I seemed to return to normal.  She tells me I was grouchy during that time and seemed to resent anyone thinking that there was anything wrong with me.  I still have trouble remembering names. If she hadn't challenged me with an offer to help, I might have shrunk into depression (but I doubt it).
   Perhaps I'm misinterpreting things, but telling Michael to get in the car and taking him to a job spot seems a bit more than challenging.  Saying "Let's go" really doesn't seem like an offer to help, does it?  I'm not sure if it's in line with Debi's book.  Though congrats to Debi for snapping Michael out of this depression - even though he won't admit that part.
   I am a minster of the gospel and often speak publicly   In my earlier ministry there were times Deb challenged me in regard to the appropriateness of something I said in a sermon, or in a public setting-still does every once in awhile.  At first I resented her challenging me for it felt like rejection, criticism, condemnation. I will admit-but just this once-there were times her challenges just made me more stubborn.  I didn't care about the issue; I just wanted her to think I was the best, number one, Mr. Infallible.  I would have been happier if she had been just an ignoramus who had no discernment and couldn't see my errors.  So what if I hurt someone else through lack of sensitivity or over-zealousness, my wife should be loyal to me regardless! Why did she have to be so smart?
   OK. I'm not a preacher, but have given talks in church.  It's kind of a given when you preach from the pulpit, you try your best not to insult people.  It's just a common courtesy. Especially if you are prone to speaking publicly often. It doesn't make sense to insult the people that pay you.  I think it's very telling that he admits it didn't matter what the issue was, he just wanted to be right. Also, what's up with the backhanded compliments?  He wished his wife were an "ignoramus", just so he can appear to be infallible.  I can understand that when he was challenged, he felt threatened.  I react the same way, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  But I've never, ever wished my spouse was too stupid to catch my errors!
   When husbands and wives don't have goodwill towards one another, a wife's challenges will be met with resistance, for he thinks she is judging him or "trying to be the boss."  You must bring your wife to the place where she has the wisdom and grace to challenge you without pushing.  And you must garner enough humility to recognize that you do indeed need a help meet to challenge you to greater things.
   He makes a good point here. When spouses don't have goodwill towards each other, challenges (from either) will be taken badly.  Though I don't see anything wrong with a woman trying to be the boss.  Honestly, it's whatever works for a couple's dynamic.  How exactly does a man bring his wife to the "place where she has the wisdom and grace to challenge without pushing"?  I remember last section there was talk about "cultivating" the wife. I still am unclear how that happens.  Or why a man needs to "bring his wife" to the place where he thinks she needs to be. Constructive observations, yes.  Telling her "you should be here because I'm the man and this is my need", no.  It is true, though, that everyone (not just husbands) need enough humility to say "you're right" to someone else.
   When a husband has a bad attitude that may cause him to lose his job or make a fool of himself at church, his wife is his first line of defense.  He needs her to be wise and sensitive.  If she runs in too fast with too much, he might just bite her like a dog being pulled out of a fight.  If he is already in a fighting mood, she shouldn't appear to be taking the side of the enemy.  Diplomacy is called for and a carefully crafted question is in order. "Honey, if you do confront the preacher, how do you think everyone else will respond?"  "Honey, I know your boss is sometimes rude, but if you say something to him and lose your job, where can you find employment in this economy?"
   Why must women be emotional regulators of their husbands?  I'm not saying don't talk him down if he's going to do something tremendously stupid. Definitely do that.  But Michael kind of makes it sound like if he's angry, cool him down.  Just don't be too harsh or take someone else's side.  Adults should be able to regulate their emotions.  I realise the irony in a bipolar person saying that, but at least I'm on meds that help.  Also, why is the only allowable way to get a husband to think about his actions (which he should be doing internally anyway!) one carefully worded question?  My husband is laid back and patient, so when he gets riled up, it's been building for a good long time.  I'm quite the opposite.  But we have a mature enough relationship where either of us can say something to the effect of "You're being unreasonable.  Calm down.", without having to tiptoe on eggshells.  Maybe that's the rub.  It doesn't sound like Michael and Debi have a mature relationship.  It sounds like he gets what he wants when he wants it and she makes it happen.  Not mutual giving and taking.  Moving on.
   You may tell me your wife is more likely to say, "Don't be so stupid.  You have no marketable skills, and if you lose this job, I am going to take the kids and live with my mother until you find another one."  If that is your situation, then you have a bigger job cut out for you at home than you do at work.  You need to bond with your wife, let her know that she is cherished, fellowship with her; walk in the light, and then be ready to allow her to second-guess your attitudes.  It is amazing that when a wife knows her husband is going to consider her critique, she grows more tactful in her approach.  But if he has proven to be a stubborn fool, she will treat him with scorn.
   Hmmm.  Guess I'm more like that wife.  I'm not above making threats to get what I want.  And it's not for lack of bonding or fellowship.  It's because I came from a very neglectful childhood, and the threat of my husband losing his job and me not having what I need is a huge trigger for me.  So maybe the wife responds badly because she's scared and doesn't respond well to fear.  Maybe it's the 100th time they've had this conversation.  I don't know the situation.  It just seems silly to completely ignore the WHY of the wife's outburst and focus on the "give her more attention and she'll treat you better".  I would think the right advice for this situation (and yes, I have been in this situation) is: "Wow.  You seem really upset.  Why does this situation cause such a reaction?  Are you scared?  I see.  Why are you scared? Oh. That's a good point." etc.  It just seems like Michael treats women like vending machines.  Pop in a few kind words and quality time, pop out the desired results.  People don't work like that!  Though he does have a point that if someone is going to be a stubborn fool, they will probably be met with scorn.
   When a woman finds her soul refreshed by her husband, she will not speak to him in a way that might cause her to lose the blessedness of that fellowship.  When he values her and she values him, they stop hurting one another and treat each other with respect and tolerance. You need someone on the front line to challenge you.  Wives are real handy.  They just need to know that they are valued for their perspective.
   I don't know what soul refreshed-ness is, but I'm assuming it's something to the effect of warm fuzzies.  Michael's point sorta kinda makes sense.  If you make your spouse happy, they are less inclined to make you unhappy.  Though I think there's an implied threat hidden in that line.  If the woman speaks in a condescending manner, she'll lose the "blessing" of her husband's fellowship.  I guess it's a "Play nice and I'll be nice" type of thing.  Which really seems to be the way marriage relationships (at least according to the Pearls) are cast.  Wives must submit to their husbands in order to make the husbands into godly men. Ick.
   However, Michael does have a winner in the next line.  "When he values her and she values him, they stop hurting one another and treat each other with respect and tolerance."  I think this should have been his main point.  He could have talked about the ways to show the wife that she is valued (that don't  point out how she was created to help a man out), or ways to stop hurting each other if that's the case.  I don't think there would be many people that could find fault with that kind of philosophy.  It's very Golden Rule and simple.  I appreciate that.  "Value each other and treat each other kindly." The end.
   Nope. Not the end.  Michael has to get his twist in there a bit.  "Women are handy."  No, Swiss Army Knives are handy.  Spatulas by the oven are handy.  Women are people that deserve respect.  Not merely because they can provide things that men need.  But because they are equal partners in their marriage and have needs themselves.  Besides the "God-given" need women have to want to be help meets, Michael ignores any other needs women might have.  Even though he preaches respect, it doesn't seem to me like he really offers it to women.  I could be wrong, though.

*Also, I'm debating skipping the rest of this chapter. It's a lot more of the same, though we do get gems like "I Need to Be Her Protector" and "I Need My Wife to Meet My Erotic Desires".  Let me know if you want me to slog ahead and finish out the chapter, or just compile a list of the highlights.*

A Month Without Mormonism

It's been roughly a month since I decided that I was done with Mormonism.  Before, when I had thought about leaving, I was always full of guilt and fear.  "What if it really is the truth?"  "What if I go to hell?"  "What will people think of me?"  I kept attending church, even though my heart wasn't in it, because it seemed, as my mum is fond of saying "the right thing to do".  Every week I would go, and every week I would come home angry, tired, and bored.
   Looking back on this past month, and all I am is grateful that I left.  My days used to be filled with guilt.  I didn't read my scriptures, I didn't pray before every meal, I didn't keep a clean and tidy house, I didn't revere my priesthood husband adequately, I didn't go to the weekly temple trip, I didn't do this, I didn't do that.  Today?  I feel guilty for stuff I did years ago that I haven't made right.  I feel guilty for blogging and not exercising.  I feel a bit of guilt for being snarky with the cat or the husband.  But I don't feel spiritually guilty.
   The interesting thing about studying Wicca is that it's considered a journey, and that journey is up to me.  If I want to take a break, that's fine.  If I want to study one subject like crazy, that's fine.  There is no one prescribed way to get there.  Coming from an extremely structured church experience, that's bizarre to me.  There are 101+ things that Mormondom expects people to do often.  It's a nice reprieve to not feel obligated to do something ineffective for me, just because it works for other Mormons.
   On an exMo site, I read an interesting analogy.  It said, basically, the Mormon church is like a pair of narrow shoes.  Narrow shoes work great for people with narrow feet.  But people with wide (or really really wide) feet are in pain.  You go to church doctors (leaders), and they say, the problem isn't with our shoes-it's with your feet! Change your feet!  See how well everyone else does in our shoes?  So the people with wide feet (usually the more intelligent and deeper-seeking) are left to figure out if it's them or the shoes.  And after 27 years of walking in narrow shoes, it feels amazing to be barefoot!
   Another thing I'm happier about, as a former Mormon, is money.  Mormondom requires 10% of your income, plus a generous amount of money for fasting on a certain Sunday.  For us, this meant about $500/month was given to the Church.  I'm unemployed, and my husband has a decent job, but we were really, really stretched.  We bought a house hoping we'd get foster kids quickly.  That didn't happen, so we've had 6  months of paying for a house that is really far too big for us.  $500 a month is like an amazing bonus. We can pay off our almost maxed credit cards! We can put money into *gasp* savings accounts! It's amazing how simply stopping going to church has had such an impact on our lives.
   And as to my earlier fears?  I don't think that Mormonism is the only truth. It might have some elements of truth (especially those of hard work and personal improvement), but I don't see it as the end all be all.  I think spirituality is a journey, not a rulebook.  I don't believe in a hell, except for what we create for ourselves by our choices, or the will others impose on our lives.  But certainly not an eternal one!
   I still haven't told my mum and step-dad. I know she'll be crushed. I was the "good child" that did things right. Temple marriage, steady relationship, etc.  It will crush my mom to know that I've gone "astray".  I'm still deciding whether to go inactive or formally have my name deleted.  I keep going back and forth.
   So overall, my first month as a former Mormon has gone really well. I'm happier, less guilty, and slightly richer.  I wish I had done this years ago, when I had first thought about it.  But at least now I can articulate my reasons for leaving, and I have a husband who loves and supports me regardless. Hooray!

Monday, August 26, 2013

CTNAHM-How Do I Need Thee-Part 3 (Michael Confuses Me)

   p 38-41
   Yes, we are still learning about the ways men need women. I know you're excited, so let's jump right in.  Text, as always, is in purple.

I Need Her to Balance Me Emotionally
   Again, we guys don't like to admit that we are emotional beings.  It is quite obvious that the gals are 90% emotion and 10% adulterated reason.  We fellows pride ourselves on being logical and objective.  But keep in mind that anger is an emotion.  Irritability and grouchiness are emotions.  Men are just as emotional as women: we just have a male pride that will not let us publicly express weakness or vulnerability.  I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with us men, for I don't intend to get publicly vulnerable either.  I build strong walls and protect them against mushy intrusion.  But men can be just as imbalanced emotionally as can women.  It is just that our imbalance must be masculine while the girl's imbalance is feminine.  So be it.  I don't want any men friends that act like girls.  I have known a few-very few.  I knew them a short time-not short enough.
   90% emotion? Seriously?  By the way, the definition of "adulterated" is to make impure by adding inferior materials or elements.  So female reason is impure because it's inferior?  Is that what he's really saying here?! Because I'm about to show him some feminine imbalance!  Ok. Sorry. I'm cooled down now.  Why am I not surprised that the only emotion that Michael is admitting to in men is anger-based?  Also, just because you, Michael, don't feel comfortable being emotionally in public, there are lots of men that disagree.  President Bush crying about 9/11, for one.  Or was that considered not manly?  And what, really, is masculine imbalance, as compared to feminine imbalance?  I get irritated when he throws words around without properly defining them, and when people assume masculinity means never showing emotion. People have emotions, and it's very OK (male or female) to let these emotions show.  Nobody wins a prize for stoicism.   Oh, and it was nice of Michael to let us all know that he has met some...feminine men, and he didn't like the experience much.  Because that's surprising.
   Men without women can grow cold, hard, and unyielding.  As we adjust to the presence of a woman in our life, the hard edges of our psyche are rounded off.  We need these female creatures to be just what God made them to be.  The balanced nature of God is expressed in the combination of male and female emotions.
   I've known some married men to be cold, hard, and unyielding.  The presence of their wives did nothing to change that about them.  Oh joy. It seems women are back to being creatures.  Once again, Michael doesn't explain what God made these creatures to be, just that men need them to be what God wants them to.  And this might be my former LDS background, but I've never saw God as balanced.  He kills most of the world in a flood, created people he knew would have weaknesses, is OK with wars and murders (only on his schedule), and let's infanticide happen twice.  If a government leader did these, balanced is not the word people would use to describe it.  Insane, perhaps, but not balanced.  Since when were emotions male or female?  I was taught that emotions are neutral, and both genders have them; I didn't realize God went down the list and assigned certain emotions to certain genders.

I Need Her to Encourage Me
   I have never in my life admitted to, or even recognized, a state of discouragement-until five years later.  To me it seems weak that a man should be discouraged, but we read of prophets like Elijah and kings like Saul becoming discouraged.  Even John the Baptist grew discouraged after being locked in the dungeons for months.  Peter and the apostles were discouraged after the crucifixion.  A good woman with whom we have intimacy and fellowship can keep us from getting discouraged.  A wife must believe in her man if he is going to maintain courage when he fails.  She can be our "bridge over troubled water" to ease our minds if we cultivate her in the good times.  We need a helper to keep us from losing our vision.  The wife will recognize discouragement long before anyone else does and long before we we will admit it, so we need her all the more.
   Is anyone else getting the feeling that Michael just sat down and made a list called "All the Manly Things That I Don't Admit to Feeling", then went through and described how his wife is supposed to help with them?  His insistence of never admitting faults, discouragement, or really any feeling at all must be really difficult for his wife.  My husband comes from a family that doesn't admit to emotion, and it bugs the tar out of me that I can see how he's feeling, but he has no clue.  I imagine it's even worse with someone that refuses to acknowledge feeling discouraged, but is acting out the textbook definition.  I, personally, don't think that having a supportive spouse (male or female) staves off discouragement.  The spouse can make it more bearable, but getting rid of it before it even shows up?  Not so much.  And exactly how does a man "cultivate" the wife in good times? What does that even mean?  It sounds like he wants his wife to be his "weak" emotional detector and snap him out of it before anyone else sees.  Shouldn't he specify that the wife may need someone to encourage her, too, since we're on this subject?  I guess there are no male cheerleaders in Michael's world.
   If your wife has not been an encouragement to you, don't blame her; ask yourself why she does not have faith in you.  People whom we encourage tend to reciprocate in kind.  Let me tell you a little secret:  a wife has more faith in a man who includes her in the decision making process.  When she is shut out, she feels at the mercy of a fallible man who doesn't have her best interest at heart.  It is scary for her as it would be for you if your life were inexorably tied to the fate of another.  But when she is part of the decision making process she will appreciate the complexity of the problem and will be assured that the two of you have explored all the options and are making the best decision considering the circumstances.  She will become encouraging when she can believe in your decisions.  After all, if she has a say in the decision making process, then she shares the blame when things don't work out so well!  And about half of life doesn't work out well.  So why take all the responsibility?   You will need encouragement from time to time and God gave you that gift in the person of your wife.  You were created to need an encourager.  She is it.
   Here's where I get confused.  Debi's book, and patriarchy in general, is very "man is the head of the house, man makes the decisions."  Yet here, Michael is advocating, nay, insisting, that women share in the decision making process.  In fact, he says that if a wife isn't encouraging, it's because she's shut out.  This may be true.  But if man has the ultimate say, then why does he need his wife to help?  If I remember Debi's book correctly, she says that women shouldn't contradict her man.  I guess I don't see a couple practicing from both books actually working together.  It sounds like the man says "Well, this is my idea" and the woman says "Wow. That's great, honey! You're so smart!".  Does a man really need a sycophant for everything?  What's the point of having the woman "help" with decision making at all?  Oh wait...there it is. To share the blame if it goes wrong.  It makes sense now.  Though he may say "people whom we encourage reciprocate", he doesn't specify anywhere how or when to do that for your wife.  Just that "you should so she'll do it for you. Because you need it, my good sir."  Ugh.

I Need Her To Challenge Me
   Sometimes we men can drag our butts.  We can get stale and indifferent, or we lose sight of the noble goal.  If left to ourselves, we could just drift into territory that makes us hard to recover.  We can get, as the country mamas say, "wrong-headed," which is wrong hearted, wrong attitude, wrong battle fought with the wrong people-just plain wrong.  Let's face it, when we take a survey of the people we know and the population in general, we are forced to admit that most men are a wrong a good portion of the time.  We need an early warning system, and they call it WIFE.
   Oh lovely.  Besides being a computer program patch, a Chinese made car, and a female creature, women are also early warning systems designed to keep men from stagnating.  Once again, I'm confused.  Debi's book advocates never talking about anything negative with your husband.  So how is a wife supposed to broach the topic of her husband being "wrong, just wrong"?  I feel there's a huge disconnect between what Debi's book says and what Michael's book says.
   Now, a wife can be just as wrong-headed as her husband.  She can lead him in the wrong direction like Job's wife, who actually tried to discourage him!  But just because the little woman can be wrong doesn't change the fact that sometimes she can be right as well, and we still need a helper to challenge us.  The beauty of it is that two very different sources (male and female)  provide a broader perspective on the same thing.  So it is quite common for the woman to see more clearly in those areas where the man is limited, the reverse also being true.  Where the woman's nature prevents her from seeing clearly, the man is more likely to be constitutionally endowed with the mental and emotional tools to make wise decisions.  If a man shuts his wife out in the process, he is denying himself the benefit of her more informed insights in areas where he is deficient. Likewise, if a man leaves the decision making to his domineering wife, it may bring him temporary peace, but he can be certain that she is not innately equipped to make the correct decisions in many cases.
   First, I hate the term "little woman". I think it's demeaning and rude.  Second, claps for Michael for admitting that women can be right (sometimes).  I'm a bit peeved that he barely touches on where the woman can be right, but makes sure to specify where the woman's "nature" prevents her from seeing, men are endowed (constitutionally and emotionally!) to figure it out.  Third, I am getting annoyed at Michael because of his insistence that by hurting his wife, he hurts himself a lot more.  Are the men this book is geared to that selfish that they refused to do anything to help their wives without something in it for them?  And finally, of course he had to add "Don't let your domineering wife rule your house".  Because of course she's not equipped to make correct decisions.  Of course. Sigh.
   It is terribly counterproductive for the duo to be mistrusting of each other.  The solution is for the man and woman to learn to see things from the other's perspective before jumping to conclusions.  My wife and I sometimes "argue" (classic point and counterpoint) our perspectives until we have aired our views and understand each other.  It is rare that we do not come to a consensus   When we fail to agree, I-the man, the head of the household-reluctantly do what I think is best.  If I make the wrong decision after hearing her out, she is compassionate with my error, knowing my attitude was not haughty, and it should result in me being more humble.  I am not sure if it has ever worked out this way, but it should.
   Again, I'm completely confused.  Debi's book specifically says "When you develop an adversarial relationship with your husband, you do so on the premise that you are right and he is wrong.  You also assume that you have the duty to resist, confront, or challenge him.  In thinking he is wrong and you are right, you declare yourself wiser than he, more spiritual, more discerning, more sacrificial, etc.  All this adds up to the obvious conclusion that you have assumed the role of leadership, teacher and judge.  This is sinful and odious, and displeases God gretly."  Point/counterpoint arguing sounds a lot like adversarial relationship.  Why is it OK in Michael's book, but not Debi's?  Also note that the title of this section is "I Need a Wife to Challenge Me" and Debi says that challenging your husband ticks God off.  Again with the disconnect.  I think it's amusing how Michael "reluctantly" makes the decision (without haughtiness!)  I really just don't see that being true.  I'm also amused that his errors never make him more humble.
   I hear some of you Independent Baptists saying "The man is the head of the home and the woman is supposed to obey."  How long have you been preaching that?  How is it working out for you?  Yeah, God told her to submit to you, but he never told you to dominate her or disregard her, nor does her obeying you make your decision right.  If you want more than a relationship based on law, it's time to act as if it is your responsibility to earn the right to lead.  Remember I am talking to men and would never say these things in the presence of a woman.  We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less.  We do have our pride.  Let her read "Created to Be a Help Meet" and she will obey even when she knows you are wrong and your decisions hurt the family.  Thank God for godly women.
   This section is seriously starting to hurt my head.  Michael just said a paragraph up that man is the head.  Yet it's wrong when the Independent Baptists preach it?  And call me crazy, but I don't really see Michael NOT dominating and disregarding.  I do agree with the point act like you have to earn the right to lead.  Though it shouldn't be an act. (I'm not even going to start lecturing on how men and women should lead together as equals).  Why are women supposed to OBEY?  Horses obey.  Mechanical objects obey.  Women should have a say and get to chose their behaviour.  "We should never let on that we could be wrong and ought to listen more and demand less."  Sounds like he knows what a good husband should do, but to never let on to the wife that this should work is almost criminal.  And his answer to just give her Debi's book, and she'll obey no matter what; good for you for having a Godly woman?  Makes me want to pound my head against a wall.
   The answer is for you and your wife to grow into maturity together.  If the family is dysfunctional it is time to take her hand and start confiding in one another.  If you plan on driving the old truck on vacation next year, you had better start working on it now.  Likewise, knowing you are going to need to be challenged and kept on the straight and narrow, start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system.
   Wow.  If the family is dysfunctional, it's clearly the wife's fault.  It can't be the fault of the man who refuses to show emotion, admit when he's wrong, humbly accept responsibility for his mistakes, or demands obedience in whatever he says.  Nope. Definitely the wife's fault.  Speaking of wives, why are Michael's analogies about women all comparing her to inanimate objects without will or voice?  "Start working on that woman so she becomes an able early warning system." Women are not trucks or fire alarms.  They are people with needs and a voice.  His blatant disrespect for women is starting to really bum me out.  Not once in this book, so far, has he said "treat her well ,respect her, show her you love her." It's always "Do this so she'll become better for you."  This is not healthy, and I feel sorry for the poor women that are constantly dehumanised this way!
   If I were writing this book, it would be much shorter.  "Women are people.  Treat them as such, love them, treat them with respect, listen to their points of view, let them help you, and don't expect obedience.  Talk to them as equals, acknowledge when they make good points, and give credit when she's right.  Do nice things because you love her, not because you want her to serve you better.  In conclusion, tell your wife you love her and that her happiness is important to you.  Then act on that.  Watch your marriage change."
   But I suppose that counts as heresy in the conservative Christian world.

Friday, August 23, 2013

CTNAHM-How Do I Need Thee -Part 2 (More About Women's Nature)

pages 35-38

Last time, I started on Chapter 4, which begins a huge list of the reasons men need their wives.  Sometimes the text makes good points, yet the theme of every section seems to be something along the lines of "your wife needs you to need her.  Your wife's womanly nature (from God) makes her want to meet your (as a man) needs.  Let her. If you don't let your wife meet your needs, bad things will happen to you both.  Plus emotional imbalance for you wife."  I'm not even kidding.  Go read last section.  I'll wait.
   Back? Alright. Let's begin. Text, as always, is in purple.

I Need Her Comfort
   We tough guys don't like to admit that we need comforting.  And I can admit it only as a matter of principle.  Now, understand, if tomorrow my wife says, "Do you need some comfort?" I will say, "Who, me? Why should I need comfort?" A wife can soothe the troubled soul of a man like good news.  Her touch, quiet smile, reassuring words, and positive outlook can give rest to the weary.  A man without the fellowship of his wife will have no place to dump his burdens.  There would be more war and personal duels if we didn't have our women to comfort us.
   Once again, Michael is asserting what a manly man he is.  Also, once again, there is nothing to say that men should comfort their wives, or that their wives may ever need comfort.  I would contend that a man's touch, smile, and reassuring words can give rest to the weary wife.  But maybe that's not manly enough?  Oh, and when was the last time someone had a duel?
   I realize that many of my readers are thinking, "Yeah, my wife just makes me angry.  She doesn't comfort me at all."  That's  my point.  You have failed to bring your wife to the place where she can provide the comfort that your spirit needs.  You would see a tremendous change in her if you could communicate that you desire her fellowship.  Where there is distrust and hurt, one act or word on your part is not going to purge her of so many negative feelings, but many acts of patience and kindness will eventually open her soul to you.  It is your responsibility to sanctify and cleanse your wife with your words. (Ephesians 5:26)
   I think what Michael means when he says " a place where she can provide the comfort your spirit needs" is " a place where she WANTS TO provide the comfort..."  Correct me if I'm wrong, but if there are marital issues, and one's wife makes one angry, then saying "I need you to comfort me" probably isn't going to get very far.  One thing that consistently doesn't make sense to me is that it seems Michael is saying "Just let her know you need her, and she'll jump right in to fill your needs; it's what she was born to do."  I don't know how often that perfect scenario will happen.  I guess if used in tandem with Debi's "Serve your husband or hellfire" book, maybe...Though I do agree that if there's distrust and hurt, it will take a lot of patience and kindness.  That's a great point.  Throw in an apology, and it's starting to sound even better.
   A woman by nature needs to be the source of comfort to her children and her husband.  If she is denied this role she will be significantly unfulfilled as a woman.  She is comforted in comforting.  Let her be the woman God created her to be.
   Ah.  Lovely.

I Need Her as a Confidant
   There are private things all of us need to discuss from time to time.  I know that when I am confused or uncertain, I need to air my thoughts in the presence of someone who will not jump to a conclusion for me and will not immediately judge the right or wrong of my preliminary conclusions.  A wife that is a good listener is invaluable because she is so handy, always there when thoughts run through our head.  Most of what we say or propose never goes beyond words.  Plans and ideas die with the speaking of them.  To vocalize an idea is to build an imaginary model of it.  Sometimes it doesn't look as good spoken as it did in the imagination.   All creative people need a confidant, someone who will not laugh or ridicule or run to the press or the neighbors.  Wives are hungry to share their husband's personal thoughts about work, worship, goals for the future, and all manner or wandering thoughts.
   Cripes.  Where is the reciprocity?  Where is his admonition to men to listen to their wives? Why doesn't this matter to Michael?
   If your wife has proven to be an untrustworthy confidant, it indicates that she is hurt and crying out for respect and recognition.  If she is quick to ridicule or judge or makes you feel foolish, it is because she is in attack mode, retaliating for previous hurts and her belief that you do not have goodwill toward her.  If you have not depended on her has your help meet, and she has futilely knocked on your door a thousand times, saying "Here I am; let me help," and you have turned her away, it indicates that she is deeply unfulfilled and feels that the hurt you caused her is intentional.  So she hurts back.  It is time to absorb the blows and embrace her when she is exhausted.  Begin confiding in her "here a little and there a little," and she will mellow out like a hound dog by the fireplace.
   I tend to be kind of a gossip.  Sometimes when my  husband tells me something, I have a deep seated need to tell someone else. Usually my mum or best friend.  It doesn't at all mean I need respect or recognition.  It means I have terrible impulse control.  But that's just me.  Is anyone else getting the idea that Michael's idea of making a woman into a "proper" help meet is simply to let the wives know all the ways they need to serve their husband, and then letting her "God given nature" do the rest?  I do like the line "It is time to absorb the blows and embrace her when she is exhausted."  I think it was needed far before here.  But comparing a woman to a hound dog?  Seriously? Grrrr.

I Need Her Intimacy
   Even the toughest, most independent man needs intimacy.  I know, for I have never met a man more independent and self-sufficient in deportment than I.  We were created to love and be loved and to care deeply.  We began life cradled in Mother's belly and then spent our first year cradled in her arms.  Several more years passed with us continually fleeing back to the lap of Mother and Father and anybody else that would give us a hug and word of approval.
   OK, Michael.  We get it. You are a big, strong, independent manly man.  You really don't have to remind us quite so often.
   I can still remember when I was a child taking an afternoon nap with my mother.  We lived in a one-room house and had no air conditioner or fan.  The bed was next to the window and my mother would lie down beside me and tickle my ear or twirl my hair.  It never failed to put me to sleep.  For a long time, I thought she was sleeping as well, but I eventually learned that she got up and went back to work while I slept, happy and secure.  Men do not grow out of the need for intimacy.
   Oh!  This explains his honeymoon so much!  His mother would put him down for a nap and then get back to work. Of course his wife should do the same!  It's all starting to make sense now.  Though I have to admit, when I think of intimacy, I don't automatically think about my parents.
   Mister, you need something more than sex, and your wife needs you to seek intimacy that is not initially sexual in nature.  Many men are irritable because they do not experience enough intimacy with their wives.  When opportunity arises, lie down on the couch and put your head in her lap.  Let her twirl your hair or tickle your ear.  Lie on the bed and scratch her back and she yours.  Talk quietly and fellowship.  Some of you guys that think you married a cold turkey will stoke the fire and awaken the beast with a half hour of intimacy.  Women who are cherished will give until they pass out.  You need her just as she needs you.
   While I agree with Michael that wives need intimacy that is not sexual, I disagree at his reasoning. It seems he's saying here "give her a bit of what she wants and she'll put out".  Also, I was a wee creeped out by Michael's use of the same "intimate" tactics his mother used to put him to sleep as a precursor to sex in marriage.  And while some women (or men) enjoy being scratched and close contact, some don't.  Or some do depending on the circumstance.  It depends on the person.  It would probably be better to know your spouse's physical contact needs.  The end is just...insanely out there.  A half hour of touching will "awaken the beast" who will give (and we all know what they're giving) until they pass out?  Is passing out during sex normal? I just don't know what to think here.
   If getting close results in getting hurt, start ministering to her needs.  When you meet her needs, she will meet yours, but you must first be willing for it to be a one-sided relationship.  At first you will do all the sacrificing and make her the beneficiary of your blessing.  In time it will balance out until you are both trying to outdo the other in giving and blessing.  That's when it gets real good.
   Interesting.  Debi's book talks about how women can, unilaterally, change their marriage.  Now Michael is preaching the same thing, but with men.  Why do relationships have to be one sided? What's wrong with sitting down as a couple and saying  something like "Something isn't working.  Neither of our needs are being met and we are both miserable.  Perhaps we should talk about this."  Instead, it's like the movie Fireproof.  A man wins back his wife with service.  Don't get me wrong. Service is great.  But it isn't a patch for communication and honesty.  Since when is a "good" marriage a contest to see who can serve the other more?  Yes, my husband and I serve each other, but we don't keep score, and it's certainly not a contest!  A lazy or not as well-meaning spouse will, invariably, take advantage of the one doing the serving.  And let me point out: serving your spouse to manipulate them into "blessing" you is selfish and wrong.  You should want to serve your spouse because making them happy is important to you.  Not so they put out more.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Childlessness and such

My sister (13 months younger) and I were raised by a single mother.  My dad was an abusive alcoholic who took off when I was 5.  I later found out Mum had given him the choice: alcohol or family.  Obviously he chose the drink.  Mum did her best, but she was working 2 job and going to school full time.  I was a difficult child, and she was still dealing with the scars of my dad's handiwork, and her own childhood abuse.  I guess you can say I come from a long line of domestic abuse and mental illness. Genetic lottery winner, that's me.
  It's an interesting thing, being raised by a single woman in a conservative Christian church.  One one hand, we're pitied, because we don't have the priesthood (male authority to act in God's name).  On the other, we were kind of scorned, because clearly Mum did something wrong to make Dad want to leave.  Coupled with that the fact that both my sister and I have now been diagnosed with severe mental disorders, but had suffered from them since childhood.  So basically we were a whole lot of crazy in one house.
   The thing about Mormons, or any conservative culture, is that women are supposed to stay home, and raise lots of children.  There are some differences between Mormon culture and Biblical Patriarchy culture.  For one, in Mormonism, birth control or NFP is OK; it's left up to each family to decide how/when procreation happens.  But still, big families are praised.  Then men who head large families always seem to be the men that get called to serve in higher areas.  Men with 6 or 7 kids seem to become Bishop more often than men with 0 or 3.  Women with lots of children are sought after for advice and sometimes contests can develop between women to see who can bear the most kids.
   It seems, at times, that the thinking is more kids=more righteous parents.  Because of the belief that children are blessings from God, there's the unspoken converse that fewer kids are God's punishment.  Coupled with that the stigma of divorce, and single mothers of few children seem to have no place. I'm not saying the church is cruel.  I'm saying that people tend to draw incorrect conclusions based on outside circumstance.
   The fallout for us kids, was we were always babysitting.  People thought we needed to know how to take care of kids so that we can raise our own one day.  So we would babysit this family and that family.  But it was never enough.  There was always that little bit of mistrust, because we hadn't been exposed to babies since the time we were toddlers.  Clearly that meant we wouldn't be as effective Mothers in the Kingdom.
   I have always felt the sting of not being good enough to be Mormon, and I wonder if it stems from my childhood.  Even after Mum remarried, she didn't have more kids.  (It's because the step-dad never wanted kids; he didn't want use either, and made that perfectly clear, but he wanted Mum) So even in high school, our family was often compared to other families with kids similar age.  The thing about church, any church, is that there is always the ONE FAMILY.  The perfect family that everyone aspires to be, but secretly hopes will fall into ruin.  My high school years were in a very small Mormon church-the area where I went to High School is far more Methodist-and there was usually 35 people on a good day.  But there was always that one family.  It was never us.  We didn't have enough kids to qualify, Mum had remarried, and our attitudes were distinctly not very Mormon.  We were too loud, too crass, and too uncontrollable.
   But still I babysat.  Hoping to learn the secrets that would make me a good wife/mother.  I would always say I didn't want to get married and have kids, that I would rather be a biologist or something.  I said that because I had always been fat and weird, and no guy had ever shown any interest in me.  I said I never wanted marriage because I didn't think I'd ever get it. I headed to college expecting to be single and isolated forever.
   Then I got married (much to some people's surprise, let me assure you).  We wanted kids right away, but that wasn't in the cards.  We went to church, and it was hard for me to look at pregnant women.  I avoided baby showers, newborns, pregnant women, and Mother's Day.  It was too painful.  I felt that the reason I wasn't "blessed" with kids is because God was punishing me for something. People would ask "When are you going to start your family?" and I would be hurt, because I thought my husband and I were a family.  I saw my lack of progeny as God's judgement upon my unrighteous life.
   I think, despite my deconversion and redefining God, I still feel infertility is a curse.  I wonder how much of it is because I had been indoctrinated with the notion that God's blessings=children.  Some days I blame myself because of my weight, my diet, my past.  Some days I hate the world.  And some days, I'm grateful I'm barren.  The addiction gene is crazy strong in my bloodlines, and so is mental illness. I would hate to screw over a kid before they were even born.  I realize that getting pregnant would mean going off meds (apparently anti-psychotics aren't good for fetuses-who knew?), getting little sleep, and dealing with hormonal fluctuations that would drive my bipolar to new levels.  Logically, I understand that.  But sometimes the thought of not being a mother tears me up.  Like today.
   We are trying to license for foster/adoption.  There was a family we saw online, 5 kids.  I felt like they would be my kids, and ever since January, have thought of them as mine.  We recently found out more information about them, and realised that their needs are more than we can adequately deal with.  I feel like I let those kids down.  We are not even licensed yet (should happen next week), but it's already been an unpleasant roller coaster ride.  I don't know what to do, I don't know what I want. I'm feeling lost and helpless.
   Holy cow. This post has turned into quite the pity party, hasn't it? I apologise.  It's just one of those days...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CTNAHM-How Do I need Thee? (What your woman needs to be happy) Part 1

p 33-35

Previously, I had been posting whole chapters.  However, this chapter is a ginormous 30 pages, so I'm going to break it into smaller sections.  Text is in purple.

How Do I Need Thee? Let Me Count the Ways
   A man needs a woman with his entire being-body, soul, and spirit.  Every man knows his body needs his wife, but many do not know that their souls and spirits also have a deep need that only she can meet.  Many men know by her complaints that they are not meeting their wife's needs.  What they do not know is that the need they are most neglecting is the wife's need to be needed.  Your wife needs you to need her in body, soul, and spirit, and she will never  be content until you allow her to meet your needs.  This is not something she can turn off.  God created her with a female nature that finds fulfillment in being your suitable helper.  Likewise, you will never truly cherish her until you welcome her to minister to your soul and spirit.
   Cripes.  The first paragraph of this chapter, and I'm already appalled.  I think, out of all the stuff going on in this paragraph, what I'm finding the most unsettling is "she will never be content until you allow her to meet your needs."  And this is apparently a God-given nature that can't be undone.  Women are created to meet the needs of men.  This has been the theme of the whole book.  But to claim that what women want most is to be needed and the chance to meet the needs of a man? I'm calling bananas.  Personally, my needs are: to be loved, taken seriously, pampered on occasion, and treat me like a human.  To suggest that my husband will never really cherish me until he lets me "minister" to his needs reminds me too much of a previous abusive relationship to make me feel comfortable.
   Men who complain about their wife's lack of sexual response are ignorant of the realities that women who are not allowed to meet the needs of their husband's soul feel used when they are called upon to meet the needs of his body.  It's not that women don't like sex; they just want the sex to be an expression of something deeper than animal hunger.  A cherished woman is a sexy woman.
   I feel like Michael came really close to getting it right.  I think a woman with needs that go unmet (in any area), is less likely to enjoy sex.  Yes, she probably would feel used.  However, suggesting it's because the woman wasn't allowed to meet the needs of her husband's soul (what are these needs, by the way?), she will be lackluster in the bedroom seems a bit...bizarre.  I do agree that women (and men!) want sex to be something more than lust.  Sometimes.  Sometimes animal hunger is nice, too.  Also, may I point out, it took 4 chapters, but finally Michael is addressing women as women.  Not creatures, beings, or girls.  Hooray!

   I need my wife's companionship.  Everybody needs a friend.  I have had many friends with whom I have shared experiences.  There have been fishing and hunting buddies, guys to like to work on cars and tractors, or another woodworker who loves table saws.  Other friends like to discuss the Bible, and some enjoy a good laugh, but there is only one person in the entire world of whom I can say, "This is my very best friend," and that person is my wife. I would rather spend time with her than anyone I know. I never tire of her presence.
   Wow. I agree with almost the entire paragraph.  Everybody does need a friend, and it's especially nice to have a best friend that you like to have around.  While I would rather spend time with my husband than with anyone else, sometimes I get tired of his presence.  Sometimes alone time is OK.  And look, what a nice compliment he paid his wife!
   There are some places I go where my wife would rather I take someone else.  She doesn't want to get up at four in the morning and head to the lake to fish in the hot sun all day.  But she does like to go for a short fishing trip and picnic once or twice a year.  It is all about how you make her feel.  If she's jealous of your friends, it's an indication that you are not allowing her to be your number one companion.  When a wife knows that you enjoy her companionship, she is much more willing to allow you to go do those man things without her.
   This started off so well.  Why should you make your wife feel like your number one? So she'll let you go do "man things" with your man buddies.  Not because it's important to her.  Not because a man should want to make his wife feel loved and special.  Because it allows him to do what he wants elsewhere.
   If she ever gets the feeling that you are choosing other friends because you like them better, then be certain you are failing to meet a need in her, and you are failing to allow one of your own needs to be met.  Another man cannot truly meet your companionship needs.  If you think he can, it demonstrates that you are a man only partially fulfilled.
   It's true.  If a wife feels that her husband likes her friends more than he likes her, then she definitely has a need that is going unfulfilled.  And if I'm not mistaken, there's a sneaky little anti-gay reference.  "Another man cannot truly meet your companionship needs."  Trying this means you're not really a fulfilled man.  How sad.  I think it's fairly obvious that men can meet men's needs, (and women women's needs).  Love and respect should be in every good relationship, regardless of sexuality.

I Need Her Fellowship
   Aren't companionship and fellowship the same thing? Not at all.  The word "fellowship" implies communing and communicating.  It involves a transparent sharing of one's space.  "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? (1 Corinthians 2:11)".  I spoke of needing our wives body, soul, and spirit.  It is in the human spirit where fellowshipping takes place.  Fellowship occurs as we walk in the light of honesty and truth.  There is no fellowship walking in the darkness.  Unless both parties are walking in the light of truth, they will not care to be open and transparent.  A man with secret sins cannot fellowship with his wife.  Likewise, if a husband or wife is critical they will not be open in fellowship.  True fellowship draws strength and encouragement from the one with whom we commune.  There is acceptance and lack of criticism in fellowship.  It refreshes the spirit and encourages the soul.
   I wish he would give dictionary definitions of the words he uses. defines "fellowship" as: the condition or relationship of being a fellow (as in fellow human being), friendly relationship or companionship, community of interest or feeling or etc, communion as between members of the same church, and friendliness.  I think it's odd that he doesn't define the word, but tells us what it implies.
   A man who shuts himself off from communing with his wife is hiding his soul, either because she hurts him when he opens up or because he is concealing the darkness inside his soul.  We need the fellowship of our wife because it has a sanctifying effect.  She becomes a constant mirror of our soul.  Every time we look upon her with openness we are forced to come into the light "that our deeds may be made manifest. (John 3:21)" Fellowship with our wife guarantees that we will never be able to walk in darkness without it being known.  A man who learns to walk in darkness will always have the curtain drawn on his soul.  His wife will never feel she has his heart.  She will sense his distance.  It is a place of safety for us guys to have a wife with whom we fellowship.
   Call me crazy, but what he is calling "fellowship" here sounds a lot like honest communication.  Seriously. Replace "fellowship" with honest communication (he implied that it's kindasorta the same above), and tell me that doesn't make way more sense. Why not just say communication? Fellowship brings to mind bringing a casserole to the new neighbours or something.  And the thought of the wife mirroring the condition of the husband's soul is a bit off.  Shouldn't she mirror the condition of her own soul?  Though it is true that a man who doesn't communicate (or fellowship, if you must) with his wife will never make her feel like she has his heart.  She will usually be uneasy and unsure. So fellas, have a good honest chat with your wives every now and again, K?
   You need her fellowship, but she needs yours just as much.  A man who does not have the fellowship of his wife will experience a great lack, but a woman who does not have the fellowship of her husband may become emotionally unstable. Many women base their self-worth on the companionship and fellowship of their husbands.  Your wife was created to give herself in fellowship just as you were created to recieve it.  Let her become your source of fellowship.
   I'm really hoping every section will not end with "if you think it's bad for you, your wife will feel tons worse if you don't let her ______ for you!"  I don't know how many women really do base their sense of self-worth on their husbands, but it sounds unhealthy.  Though, I suppose, in a conservative Christian environment, women are to stay at home and produce and raise Godly children.  Guess there's not much place for external validation.  But still, there's a reason it's called SELF-esteem.  Because, ideally, it should come from yourself. Not a man, not a boss, not God.  But from you.

Coming up next time are a few more reasons why men need women.  Or why women need men to need them, and in what ways. Take your pick.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Low-down on the Mormon Lay Man

So Mormons churches, unlike most other religions, are run almost completely by lay people.  There's no Mormon Theological College (though there should be!) where people train to become Mormon leaders.  I guess to completely understand, we'll have to go through the Mormon hierarchy.  At the top, there's the prophet (currently Thomas S. Monson).  Mormons believe that the prophet is chosen by God and is a seer and revelator in our times.  Under the prophet is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  They make up kind of a grand council to make decisions for how the church should run, and give talks occasionally.  These are all upper class, older white men.  Though lately there have been a few from other countries, predominately these men have come from Utah, and Utah stock.  Under the Quorum of the 12, is the Quorum of the 70.  I think there are 3 Qo70s, and many area 70s underneath.  Basically an area 70 is in charge of a large region.  Underneath an area 70 are Stake Presidents.  These men run a stake, which is a local group of individual wards.  Under the Stake Presidents are Bishops/Branch Presidents.  These are what, in other denominations, would be considered the priests or the pastors.
   So how does one become a Bishop?  Is it intense spirituality?  Is it through hard work; working one's way up through lesser jobs?  No. It's done by "revelation", on the Stake President's part.  I put revelation in quotes, because I found that many times, the same people get re-called into top positions.  A "calling" in Mormondom is a fancy way of saying "Well, hey there, Brother Jones, God thinks you'll do a bang up job teaching 14 year old boys.  Whatdaya say?"
   That means that everyone, from the organist to the Sunday School teacher, to the Stake President and higher are lay people.  They don't get paid for their service.  There is very little training to fulfill these callings, outside of being given the Handbook of Instruction.  Inside the Handbook are the rules of how things ought to be done.  Back when I was in Single's Ward (a special church for single adults 18-30), I was a member of the Relief Society Presidency.  Relief Society is the women's meeting.  Relief Society President is about as high in authority a Mormon woman can reach; in culture, it's often the sign of the perfect woman, and many wish to be called as RSPres.  Anyway, I was given the Handbook, with it's 2-3 paragraphs of what my job was supposed to be.  There was not much by way of how to do things, just a list of things that should get done.  As a 23 year old, this was quite tricky.  I, without any formal training, was expected to help lead a group of women towards salvation.  It was hard enough working with the people in the Presidency; not even taking into account the needs of the women that were under us.  It's an insane amount of pressure.  Added onto that, I was going to school and had a job.  But that's how it goes (I'm assuming) for everyone.  They have a job, maybe school, probably a family, and a church calling.  Every one's a layman.
   But think about that, for a minute.  If everyone is a layman, then how can they be expected to lead effectively?  That's the rub.  It seems like people assume that if God calls you, God will strengthen you to fill your calling.  What I've always wondered is what about the times of stretching?  You make mistakes, tick people off, say inaccurate things.  But this thought somehow never reaches flowering; the idea that because a person was called to a calling they are perfect at it is the predominant.
   This is dangerous.  Especially with Bishops.  Bishops are expected to guide the ward and give counseling, advice, and repentance when necessary.  So you have, say, an architect trying to give marital advice.  He has some training, maybe a workshop or a broadcast or two, so he's not totally incompetent, but it's a bit out of his scope.  How does he do it?  Mormons say it's revelation from God.  I think it's maybe a bit of that, and a lot of regurgitating what they have been taught.  For example, when I told my Bishop I felt out of place in Relief Society because I have no kids, my husband isn't in the military, and I didn't live in the subdivision right next to the church.  His advice was to tell me that Relief Society was ordained of God and that I needed to adjust my attitude.  How I felt meant very little in comparison to his experiences as Bishop.
   I've heard from now-divorced people that they were counseled not to divorce. In one instance, my friend's husband had been sleeping around since before their marriage, was verbally abusive to her, and didn't support his family.  And yet she was counseled not to divorce, but to try to be a better wife, and maybe seek counseling if that didn't work.  She is thankful to this day she didn't listen to him.  But a lot of people do listen.  Because when they see the Bishop, they see GOD.  I mean, God called him, God has to lead him, God wouldn't let him make a mistake...On a personal note, when I was 16, I had a meeting with my then-Bishop.  He told me that he had special revelation from God that I would never get married.  He told me I should start looking into a school that would teach a career to provide a future for me, as I'll never have a husband to support me.  At 16, I was told that God says I'll never be married!  It still makes my blood boil, and to this day I can't look at him without getting upset.
   OK. So the Bishop has very little training to do his job.  What about the other people?  Take for example, the Sunday School teachers.  They are given a manual and told that they can only take from the manual, the Scriptures, and church magazines for extra info.  You've got people with no training in teaching told that they can only look in a few (carefully regulated) places for knowledge.  So how do they teach?  As best they can with what they're given.  And what they're given is only what the First Presidency wants people to know and think about.
   Think about it.  If you were in charge of a school, and told the teachers that here is there lesson plans.  If they want anything else to supplement these lessons, then they have these 2 approved options.  How much learning and growing can really happen in such a stunted environment?  If teachers aren't trained to teach, and aren't given adequate resources to teach from, then they have no real recourse but to use what they have and supplement it with things they've heard previously.
   Even in Sacrament Meeting (Which is equivalent to an hour's sermon).  Lay people give talks.  The Bishop supplies a topic and the person looks for info on it in the scriptures,, or Church magazines.  They supplement it with their opinion, church culture, and personal stories.  Average people are teaching "doctrine" from the pulpit, once again with no training.
   This may sound harsh, but it seems more like indoctrination than actual teaching.  Teaching should be about asking questions, and reaching higher, and searching answers for oneself.  Not simply re-reading approved material and asking easy questions (the answer is always go to church, read your scriptures, say your prayers).  In my experience (limited, I'll give you that), the ones that ask the hard questions, or try to dig deeper are labeled troublemakers or rabble rousers.  Or they are simply ignored.  One final personal example.  I was a bright kid. When I was 14, I decided I was done with teenage Sunday School because I knew all the answers.  I'm not bragging.  I literally could answer every question.  So much so, the teacher got snippy and told me I was reading from my mum's manual so I could show him up.  I decided to go to adult Sunday School, hoping it would be better.  I lasted 2 weeks.  I have a habit of answering church questions in a way that is succinct and unique.  And it bothered people.  Perhaps it was because I was 14, perhaps it was because they never thought of things that way.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I was asked to leave adult Sunday School because I made the adults "uncomfortable".  I wasn't disrespectful or rude.
   My point, in this whole rambling post isn't to (totally) dog Mormondom.  I just think they should implement more training. There are already people schooled to teach Church Education. Why couldn't the church also employ them to teach people how to adequately fulfill their callings?  What reason could they possibly have to not want people properly educated in how to perform their duties?  A doctor needs a license to practice. A day care provider has to prove hours of training.  A Bishop can preside with a 2 hour broadcast and God's stamp of approval.  It seems a tad unequal to me.
    I've often heard it said that the reason people are called is to make them strong when they are weak.  But while they are getting strong, what are the people that depend on them for education or edification supposed to do?

CTNAHM-Marriage Made on Earth (What to do if you marry the "wrong" woman)

pages 27-31. Text is in purple.

I Married the Wrong Woman!
Mr. Pearl, 
   I was not a Christian when I got married.  My wife and I were drunk at the time and I think she married me because I had enough money to keep her supplied in drugs.  After five years of miserable marriage we both became Christians and now we have three children.  We have attended counseling and read several books but we are still on the verge of divorce.  I know I did not get God's choice. How could I?  Satan was controlling my life.   The fact is I just do not love her.  I thought I did once, but if you only knew her, you wouldn't like her either.  By staying together we are just hurting each other and the children.  I have told her I do not want to have any more children because it would be a crime to bring them into this relationship.  Is it too late for me?  Is the woman I should have married still out there waiting for me, or did she marry the wrong man also?  How do I get out of this mess?

Dear Hurting,
Yes, it sounds like you are in an unhappy marriage.  I'm sorry that kids are caught in the cross-hairs.  It's awful when counseling doesn't work.  Since you are at the point where you admit to not loving her, and told her that having more kids would be a crime, I think you guys should just get divorced.  If your relationship was built on drugs and alcohol, it's understandable why it is struggling now, even though you have both converted.  Make sure you don't hurt the kids in trying to hurt your wife.  And while I'm at it, just because you are having problems with your wife, it doesn't mean nobody else would like her.  That's just rude.  Also, I'm not an oracle.  How am I to know about the woman you should have married?

   Ok.  I wrote that response.  I think it's appropriate, especially given his tone about his wife!  But here's what Michael says:
   I have heard it many times.  It is the number one cop-out of husbands divorcing their wives to make another try at finding a better match.  Let me be clear.  There is only one time in Scripture that God created one particular woman for one particular man and that was Eve, and she was essentially cloned from one of his ribs.  
   Wow.  I never thought about Eve being cloned.  Two things.  First, Michael doesn't understand cloning.  Cloning makes a perfect copy.  Dolly the sheep didn't become Donald the sheep!  And second, if Eve was practically a "clone", that makes their relationship all kinds of messed up.  It's worse than dating your brother-you're dating your...father? clone buddy? Just ick.
   God does not micromanage our lives, making us fulfill predetermined destines.  There is not a parallel world somewhere, an ideal one that is God's will for us, and then this present one where we must somehow discover all that is foreordained.  The concept that God created a single match for each person is romantic, superstitious, and wishful thinking.  Marriages are "made in heaven" when God recognizes the earthly union of an opposite sex couple becoming one flesh.
   I agree with a lot of this paragraph.  I don't think God micromanages. I know, coming from an LDS background, there is kind of the unspoken thought of a different universe where you're perfect and God grades you in this universe, how far you were from the perfect one.  That actually sums up quite succinctly how I've often felt.  Of course, marriage is only between opposite sex couples.  I'm surprised this didn't come up earlier.
   However, miracles are a suspension of natural laws, and it is not beyond the scope to suppose that from time to time God has taken special note of one of his servants and cultivated a particular mate for him, then supernaturally led them to intersecting paths so as to establish a foreordained union.  Certainly he will lead us and guide us to make wise choices in all things, including choosing a wife, but most of us are not foreordained from eternity to marry one particular person.
   I'm a romantic, so this kind of makes me sad.  I like the idea of "soul mates" and loving one person through many incarnations. Also, take note on how God only cultivates particular mates for a man.  Like there's a garden of women that he adds special fertilizer to until she is ready to be placed in this man's way.  Surely this works both ways?  Oh wait...
   Furthermore, when God does perform that special marriage miracle, preparing two people for each other, that in no way means they are going to jump right into a perfect marriage.  God could bring two people together because he knows the wife needs sanctifying in the worst sort of way, so God prepares a man for her that has sufficient patience and grace to sanctify his wife.  
   Just wow.  That's the only example he gives in this.  An un-sanctified wife that needs a man to show her the right way.  I guess she should be lucky that the man that found her has enough grace and patience to put up with her. Isn't Jesus the one that does the sanctifying? Not the husband?
   When God chose David to be king, he chose a flawed man who would make some poor decisions resulting in the death of many of Israel.  A truly perfect marriage can only occur when two perfect people come together or when two imperfect people spend many years integrating their souls into one.  What is so special about you, or what great work have you accomplished that God should provide you with a perfect woman?  Would she still be perfect after having to endure YOU day after day?  Maybe she was a wonderful woman when you married her, but she was just not mature enough to tolerate your inconsistencies and insensitivity.  Have you seen a man buy a new tool, abuse it until it malfunctions, and then blame the manufacturer and try to trade it in for a new one?
   First, I wouldn't categorize David's mistakes as poor.  Some of them were outright catastrophic!  And really?  Use the guy who killed Bathsheba's husband just to get in her pants as your example?  Ugh.  Then, of course, we move into insulting the letter writer.  This is a tactic Debi's book uses as well.  I do have to say, though, I never thought Michael would stick up for the woman, no matter how round about he went at it.  I think he has good points. Maybe she was great when they got married!  Who knows?

Don't Skip This Paragraph
   As a point of clarification, God designed the nature of women to be help meets, not a particular help meet to a particular man; in other words, the nature of women is that of a helper suited to the needs of the generic man.  Every woman is by nature equipped to be a help meet to any man.  No matter the circumstances that brought you together as man and wife, she is equipped in every way to be your helper.  You must discover the path to maturity for both of you.  That, my friend, is God's will for you.
   Interesting.  I think this goes along with the whole "any Christian man and woman can have a lasting marriage" type of thinking.  Here, once again, the teachings of the Pearls align with the teachings of Mormon prophets:
       Soul mates are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and every young woman will seek with all diligence and prayer fullness with whom life can be both beautiful and compatible, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.  (Prophet Spencer W. Kimball)
   I wonder what the path to maturity that Michael speaks of and if the price that Kimball talks about are the same thing.  I don't think it's quite true that any good man and any good woman can have a happy marriage.  Sometimes people aren't physically, sexually, intellectually, or emotionally compatible.  No amount of praying or sacrificing can make up for gross inequalities or lack of compatibility.  This kind of thinking is destructive, because when people believe this, they are more willing to stay in unhappy or abusive marriages.  If any man can be with any woman, might as well stay where you are.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don't, after all.

What's Wrong With My Helper?
Few men actually "marry the right lady" and live happily ever after.  Two sinners decide to sign a contract that binds them in a partnership for the rest of their lives.  They will live in the same house, share everything, and be in each other's faces for better or for worse until death separates them, and they are not allowed to kill each other.  Such an arrangement seems doomed from the start.  It sounds more like a recipe for psychosis and bipolar disorder.
   What a lovely picture he paints of marriage!  I guess props to him for not being idealistic?  But still...why would anyone want this?  And as a bipolar person, I am a bit offended that he arbitrarily throws it out there that BPD is caused by bad marriages.  It's a tricky chemical, emotional, and circumstantial disorder, and nobody knows quite what the cause is.  Grrr.
You married a sinner.  She may have been a dedicated Christian, but she was not even half sanctified.  You assumed the responsibility for somebodies daughter.  I can her her father driving home from the wedding saying "Well, she's his problem now."  You might have thought you were getting a brand new car that was guaranteed to never need repair, but the one thing you bought was actually in recall.  She came off the Eve assembly line-Chinese made.  And, considering that you are not a trained mechanic, but rather a self-absorbed, fleshy, fallen creature, making this thing work is going to demand more than you supposed.
   It's interesting that he insults everyone in this paragraph.  First, how does he know she's not sanctified?  What's his definition?  Second, I'm never going to be a father, but if I left the wedding saying "She's not my problem anymore, do dah do dah," I would hope someone slapped me upside the head.  I wonder if that's what he thought when his daughters were married?  Third, comparing women to a car?  Not just a car, but a Made in China car-racist much?  And what's an Eve assembly line?  The purpose of an assembly line is to rapidly produce identical products.  Is he saying women are identical?  Perhaps he is, now that I think about it.  Fourth, finally, he calls man "Creature", too.  I guess nobody is human to Michael Pearl.
   When you get married you signed on to the most colossal undertaking imaginable.  The hardest thing you will ever do in your walk with Christ is to bring your marriage into the blessed state of holy and delightful matrimony.  It can be done.  I am a witness to many successes, but none took place automatically.  It takes heart effort.  This book will help you succeed.
   I feel it's appropriate to note that while Debi's book speaks of changing a marriage into a heavenly one singlehandedly by the woman, this book also has that goal, aimed at men.  I'm not sure how it will play out by the time it's done, but at this point in time, I like that Michael says it will take work, and not expect the woman to do it all.

Of Conflict and Triumph
If a man could marry and immediately move with his bride into the Garden of Eden, a perfect place devoid of the curse, without death or disease, their marriage would be no easier than it is now, for all marital problems are rooted in the self-seeking of two people.  In fact, I do believe God intended marriage to be a mini cosmos of human development.  It is the perfect context for the sanctification of a fallen race.  It replicates the world at large, having all the element of temptation and trial.  It is a personal character building package designed to try, prove, and perfect the content of our souls.  If a man succeeds in marriage, he succeeds in life.  That is why God designed marriage to be "until death do us part,"  for to bail out of a troubled marriage is to bail out of your sanctification program.
   I guess there's never any excuse to get out of a marriage.  You signed the contract, you're stuck!  I also distinctly remember Michael saying in the introduction that his book wasn't philosophical, but embarrassingly pragmatic.Perhaps it's just me, but I wish there were a bit more pragmatism and a bit less flowery comparisons...

We are placed on this earth to grow beyond our origins.  There are some things God wants that he cannot create out of nothingness, like love, mercy, patience, grace, sacrifice, honor, and glory.  Those things are achieved in an environment where character is tested, a battlefield of good and evil choices, selfishness or service, where the end is a product of free will, and choices have eternal consequences.  Marriage is the boot camp of life where men and women discover their strengths and weaknesses, and have opportunity to adjust their characters.  If a man cannot succeed in marriage, he is not qualified to hold any position of authority in the church.  "For if man know not how to rule his own home, how shall he take care of the church? (1 Timothy 3:5).
   I'm a bit confused.  If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all powerful, why couldn't he create things like love, mercy, etc?  Isn't everything good attributed to God, anyway?  I understand that these traits usually necessitate some type of struggle, but if you believe in a God that can part waters and raise people from the dead, surely it isn't much of a stretch to say that he can create glory out of nothing.  I would never, ever, compare my marriage to boot camp!  Boot camp brings to mind people being yelled at by an uncaring boss, doing physical trials that are almost beyond my capabilities, and terrible food.  I think a better analogy would be an obstacle course.  There are things you have to overcome.  Sometimes they take 3 or 4 tries until you get past them.  But it's great having someone to help you; someone to be strong when you're weak, someone to help you grow, and vice versa.  At least that's how I think of my marriage.
   Marriage is the second big challenge in life.  Maintaining your virtue is the first.  Marriage is like a three-legged sack race.  You cannot win by leaving your partner and crossing the finish line alone.  When she falls, you must stop and recover your partner before you can proceed.  You only win if you learn to cooperate and work together, running in rhythm, feeling your partner's every step and holding her more tightly when she is prone to stumble.  Your strength becomes her strength and both of you become a crutch to lean on as you keep your eyes on the prize and the glory set before you.  There are many winners.  All you must do is get to the finish line together still smiling and on your feet with your leg in the same sack.  You can't win by getting in the sack with someone else.
   Ok. I kind of like this analogy.  Kind of.  There's something that is sitting wrong with me, but I can't figure out what it is.  Maybe you can explain it down in the comments if you feel it, too?  I've been in a few 3-legged races before, and none of them required smiling at the end.  Maybe that's the JOY of Jesus?  Also, I am so amused at this last line.  "You can't win by getting in the sack with someone else."  Double entende, anyone? Hehehe.
   Like dancing, the male must take the lead, but he is likewise responsible to keep his partner in step with him.  A dancer who blames his partner will never gain the favour of those watching.  And a dance team or three-legged sack racers are never better than the weakest member, so it falls to the stronger to encourage the weaker, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7)"
   I took a ballroom dancing class in college.  I was taught it was my responsibility to follow where my partner leads, but that I was in charge of my own steps.  If I wanted to cha-cha while he was doing the rumba, I could.  We would just both look silly.  (Yes, I tried.)  And whose favour are we trying to gain, Michael? God's? Yours? The church's?  Why is the weak one always the wife?  I know with my husband sometimes I'm weaker, and sometimes he is.  I think it works out better, so nobody has to be the strong one for everything.  I think that would be too much to bear, especially during a crisis.
   Yes, marriages are made on earth, one act of kindness and goodwill at a time.  Like expensive wine it takes years to mellow a marriage and it is worth every day of it, more so as the years pile up.  The direction you are headed now is the place you will be when you are 66 years old, as I am now.  If you are headed the wrong way, turn it away now or get used to sitting in the middle of the playground alone with an empty sack and no dance partner or aged wine.
   I agree.  Marriages are made one act of kindness and love at a time.  I, personally, feel that marriages can start out good and get better as time goes on.  Sometimes there will be ups and downs, but as long as there is trust and compassion, things usually right themselves. Trust and compassion from both parties, I should add.

Coming up next time, we discuss the ways men and women need each other.  It's sure to be a blast!