Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr Steady Part 5 (Don't Read Your Wife Your To-Do List)

p 95-97

Text is in purple

Healing
Dear Mike
  I am writing in response to your request for info for your new book. The most amazing thing happened in our marriage a few years ago, when, after almost 20 years of being married, my husband gave me the gift of time alone with him in prayer on a consistent basis. This began revolutionizing our relationship. Now we say things in prayer that have never come easily between us. We pray about tough issues, past hurts, hopes, dreams, etc. We were able to cover subjects that we hadn't been able to approach for various reasons...mostly over-sensitivity and/or defensiveness on one or both parts. This time together became a refuge, and I looked forward to being able to bring up important events, problems with the kids, conflicts within; I finally was getting to know him. It is the best gift he has ever given me. He told me that he battled within himself to do it because getting started was so uncomfortable for him. We have both reaped incredible benefits because he took the incentive and made a decision to lead! All I want is to be a good help meet to this wonderful Mr. Steady. Now he looks forward to our time in prayer as much as I do.
-Louise

This letter made me feel a lot of things. Sad, because it took 20 years for Louise to understand her husband. Encouraged, because it sounds like things are getting better. Confused, because it sounds like she's confusing prayer with communication.
  If praying is what works for you, then I'm glad you have an outlet. But this couple sounds like they are using the word "prayer" to cover all important topics of their life that they can't (or won't) talk about. I think it's interesting that she views praying together as her husband making a decision, even though it is obvious (at least to me) that the real reason she's happy is because her fears and concerns are being heard.
   I'm having a difficult time with this letter, because it seems that Louise is saying "My husband listens to me now! He spends time with me! He tells me what he's thinking! How great is it that he can make decisions? I want to serve him!"  I'm afraid that what most readers (at least in the target demographic) will take away is that "praying" with your wife will make her want to be a better help meet. And it might. But what really needs to be stressed is the sheer amount of communication that seems to be going on between Louise and Mr. Louise.
   I guess we'll see if Michael even touches on that.

Knowledge is Key
A man avoids intimacy of soul when he has something to hide, possibly the shame of ongoing evil in his soul, fear of being known for who he really is; or some men just lack confidence, feeling that if they are truly known they will be rejected. Others have been hurt by people they loved and have developed a defensive position of remaining beyond emotional reach so they cannot be hurt or rejected again.
  It is true that sometimes guilt or fear make people pull away emotionally. What I think is interesting is how Michael can, on one hand, emphasizes that sometimes people are hurt by the ones they love, and develop defense mechanisms. On the other, he teaches that children should show no emotion other than joyful, immediate obedience; which, by it's very nature, sets the child up for hurt and rejection. Sometimes I just want to shout "You can't have it both ways, Michael! Pick a stinking side!"
What people don't know, they can't throw back in your face. I don't like my wife to read my "to-do" list because I don't want her to remind me of what I need to do.
   Kind of says a lot, huh? I, personally, like sharing my to-do list. It keeps me accountable. If left to my own devices, I will usually end up binging on TV episodes and chocolate. If I tell my husband or foster kids "Today I will do _____", then I feel more obligated to get it done. Maybe Michael just has issues with his wife reminding him of what he says? Because there have been 8 or 10 instances so far in my reviews where I wish Michael would be reminded what he wrote!
The Bible says, "Adam KNEW his wife and she conceived..." Copulation is identified with intimate knowledge. Men desire sex; wives desire intimacy-with exceptions. What is the difference? Many men and some women seek sex without intimacy, and they are never satisfied with the experience, only addicted to its pursuit.
   I'm trying to figure out how we jumped from "Don't serve your shrew wife" from last post to "I pray with my husband and it's nice" to "SEX! Sex! Sex!"  And it honestly seems every chapter has at least 1 section about sex. Yes, sex is an important part of some relationships. But what about communication, compromise, caring?
   Also, what's with the dig about people (although it is a change that he allows that women can desire sex without intimacy) never being satisfied with the experience? For some people, perhaps, the conquest (the hunt, if you will) is more exciting than the sex. But to assume that everyone who wants sex for the sake of PHYSICAL SATISFACTION without the emotional "intimacy" isn't satisfied with the sex, sounds a bit backwards to me.
  What are these "exceptions", Michael? Because I'm really curious. It's rude to say "There are exceptions out there, I promise!" without telling what they are!
Knowledge is key in a relationship. To "know" in the Biblical sense, one must be open and honest in marriage, free to speak and dream without criticism. A great marriage is a sanctuary where you are never laughed at unless you tell a dumb joke; you are never mocked or ridiculed, and old failures are never brought to mind.
   Interesting. It seems he's saying to have good sex, one must be honest everywhere else. I think there's a grain of truth in there, as guilt is seldom an aphrodisiac.  But it seems odd that he thinks the only way to teach his audience that honesty is important is to frame it in how it relates to sex.
   Michael's idea of a great marriage sounds quite different than mine. No, I'm not saying I enjoy being made fun of, or raked over the coals for past incidents. But there are times when you need to be laughed at, and laugh at yourself. That's healthy. It seems that Michael feels a good relationship (at least for the man), is one where there is no accountability. Nobody laughs at, takes him to task, or mocks his decisions.  That's not a relationship, that's a dictatorship or tyranny. Ultimate power and all that.
The two never use their intimate knowledge to hurt the other. It is a safe place, a garden of rest and peace, a refreshing drink of sweet juices ,a place of healing and safety. If you don't talk to your spouse-really talk from the heart-you are depriving her of yourself, leaving her without knowledge of you.
   I agree. It is never good to use intimate knowledge to hurt your partner. Just because I know some of the skeletons in my husband's closet, doesn't give me permission to decorate the yard with them!  And I agree that a safe relationship is refreshing and healing. But nowhere does it say to listen to your spouse. Nowhere does it say take into consideration the wife's needs. It's just "talk to and share with your wife and she will be happy."
   Which reminds me of the above letter. The wife wasn't just happy that her husband is sharing with her. She is happy because he seems to be LISTENING to her. And that's a point that is consistently missed in this book.  Communication is a two-way street. Both people have to talk and listen. Not just one talks, the other listens and harmony is achieved!
The Steady Man can make small talk all day with acquaintances, but he often has a hard time sharing his heart and soul with his woman. He has close friends who he enjoys spending time with, discussing a variety of things, but really opening up to his wife doesn't come naturally. The poor, lonely lady never feels she knows her man or that he really knows her. Emotionally, she hangs in limbo.
   This. This is how I felt the first 6 months of marriage. I felt my husband used up all his words at work, and there was none left over for me. The fix? I asked him how he felt. What he thought. How his day went. I was nosy, and I was nitpicky. I made him feel that it was safe and desired that his feelings be heard. If I had waited for him to come around and realise there was a problem, I'm doubting we would still be married.
   I guess what I'm trying to say is that if either partner feels like they don't know their spouse, that their needs aren't being met, and that they are hanging out in emotional limbo, TALK TO YOUR PARTNER! Don't wait for them to make the first move, because sometimes the status quo is too comfortable to want to move.
Communicating with his lady is easy for both Mr. Command and Mr. Visionary-with exceptions of course. But you, Mr. Steady, are very uncomfortable teaching or praying with your wife. 
   I will say it again-GIVE US EXAMPLES OF EXCEPTIONS!
If you want to be a wise Mr. Steady with a good marriage, you will make an effort to teach your wife even if it means simply reading a book with her or listening to a preaching MP3 together. Memorizing Scripture together would also be an easy way to study together. Praying together while lying in bed at night will help a woman become more settled and secure. Once you start certain habits it's not so hard to continue. It will mean a lot to your honey.
   One thing I don't understand about this book. Michael gives advice to his readers. "If you want to be a wise Mr. Steady, do this." Yet he gives no real incentives to change, except the vague idea one's wife will be happier. Which, if she is reading and following Debi's book, she is smiling, appearing happy, and acting like everything is OK.  So to the man who has no clue what a healthy relationship looks like, everything is alright, and there is no incentive to change-why rock the boat if the cow is giving milk for free? Or something similar. And why would a woman who is told that cheerful happiness and willingness to do whatever the husband says feel safe enough to tell her husband how he really feels? If she honestly believes that questioning his actions is questioning his masculinity, what incentive does she have to want change?  It seems like these books are a recipe for martyrdom and tyranny.
   While I will agree doing stuff together, as a couple, is important in marriage, doing it for the right reason is just as necessary. I don't like the phrasing "Teach your wife." Because it sounds...bossy. I prefer "learn/pray/study together", because it sounds like more of a cooperative effort than a boss/subordinate relationship.

   My overall opinion of this section is simple. If you have to be told by a book that perhaps your honey wants more from you than you are giving, you need to have a good long talk with your honey-and possibly a therapist. A relationship should be safe enough for either party to feel comfortable sharing their needs and wants.
  I'm starting to feel like a broken record. "Communicate with your partner! Talk with them how you feel! Waah-waaah-waaaah." Seriously, though. Teaching people to communicate would make this book so much shorter, and less offensive, instead of giving tips and tricks to manipulate your spouse into doing what you want. Ugh.
 

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