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 "...to a place where she can provide the comfort your spirit needs" is "...to 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.
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.