This section is interesting to me. In fact, I think it is one of the more intriguing sections I've read. Mostly because Michael comes dangerously close to saying women have needs and desires of their own. Yeah, I was shocked, too. Read on!
Your Wife's Greatest Need
In good economic times the vast majority of letters our office receives are from women criticizing their laid-back, quiet, slow, unassuming, undemanding, hardworking husbands for their "carnal" habits. These women are not rebellious; they are just floundering in uselessness. In times past when people were less affluent, these women would be busy just trying to survive. Mr. Steady's wife would be hauling water, milking cows, growing a garden, and preserving thousands of pounds of food for the coming months. She would be a grand asset. Now these ladies married to a Steady Man are just ornaments, and it's a boring, unrewarding job.
I think it's interesting that any bad talk about husbands are "rebellious" in Debi's eyes, but not Michael's. And I'm curious to know how having a differing, even negative, opinion of one's spouse is considered rebellion. My idea of rebellion is...I don't know...American colonies starting a war with Britain, or something. If marital disagreements were considered (in more mainstream culture) rebellion, I'm fairly certain I would have been hung as a traitor while my husband and I were still dating!
I also think it's interesting that Michael calls these women "useless". Because the target demographic is stay-at-home-moms to large broods of children. These women are in charge of cooking, cleaning, educating, shopping, and discipline. I'm failing to see how that is useless. With 1 breadwinner and at least 6 kids, I'm wondering how "affluent" these families really are. And I'm getting the feeling that Michael thinks women should stick to the aforementioned list: hauling water, milking cows,etc.
Your wife needs a vision, a purpose; she needs to be employing her gifts and talents helping you become successful. You, as a Steady/Priestly Man, need to help your wife be a thriving success. Let her know you would like her to show some initiative.
Look! Michael says women have gifts and talents! Which is more credit than Debi ever gave them. Though it's sad (yet unsurprising) that the wife's vision should be to make the husband successful. I'm curious how a Steady Man can make his wife a success, since Michael seems to equate steadiness with mediocrity.
If she grew up under a Command or Visionary father, the idea of accomplishing something apart from you might seem unfeminine. She might need more than just an encouraging word; she might need a clear directive. Would you like her to learn accounting, photography, natural medicine, or some other skill? What has she shown an interest in? Ask her to study Proverbs 31: 10-31. Have her choose key words that describe a virtuous woman.
Wow. This wasn't where I hoped Michael would go. "Yes, women have talents, and you should think about what your wife is good at before you decide what she should learn." I guess it's better than not thinking of her skills? Still...I'm very uncomfortable with this. Because it almost sounds like he's saying "Boss your wife around-that's what she's used to, that's what she needs!" Ick.
Ask her to think about what she wants to learn and accomplish. She needs to be assured that you will not see her success as competition but as a complement to your goals. Tell her that you want her to use her natural skills, abilities, and drives to add to your life as a couple. Let her know that her achievements will be an honor to you. If she is uncomfortable with it, teach her how to handle money and invest it with an eye towards profit, how to pay bills, make appointments, and entertain guests with confidence.
OK. At least he's advocating asking the wife what she wants to learn. Though it saddens me that she has to be assured her husband doesn't think she's competing. But I guess with Michael's view of marriage as a war, almost everything is a competition. One thing that makes me mad is "Let her know that her achievements will be an honor to you." Why can't the woman get credit for her own achievements? If she can grow the biggest squash for the state fair, it's her doing-not the husband's! Why is everything good she does a reflection of the man, but everything bad she does a reflection of her carnal spirit? I am in favour, though, of people being taught in areas where they are uncomfortable or unsure. (That's why I'm considering getting a certificate in auto repair)
Don't just finance and idle hobby. Invest in her side business or venture with an eye toward financial returns. It is very important for her to succeed in something worthy and even bring in additional income as long as it doesn't hinder her family responsibilities. She needs to know her success is HER success.
There is nothing wrong with having idle hobbies. Sometimes people need breaks. I can't imagine the pressure of raising 6+kids, keeping house, homeschooling, being constantly pregnant or nursing, and still feeling required to make money at a side business. I feel exhausted just thinking about it.
I do agree that people should succeed in something worthy. I just think that Michael's idea of worthy (income-producing home-based business) may not work for everyone. Not everyone has the time, money, energy, or resources to start and maintain this. Also, it's confusing that a paragraph up, her success was her husband's success; but in this paragraph, it belongs to her. Does Michael ever proofread?
Encourage her to adopt hobbies that involve your children so she can teach them to be busy and productive every day. At the end of the day, talk to her about what she has accomplished and rejoice in the value of having a worthy partner in the grace of life.
Michael keeps adding stipulations to the wife's hobby. First, it has to make money. Second, it has to stay at home. Third, it can't take away from family responsibilities. Now, it has to involve the kids. Personally, my hobbies are singing and theatre. I will never, ever make money from these, yet I love them. But, according to Michael, I should forget about these and throw all of my energy into my baking business. (Which isn't doing well, by the way. People want quality cakes at Wal-Mart prices) And, even though I only have 2 (foster) kids, I LOVE doing things by myself. I like my alone time. I would feel awful if my hobby was encroached upon by even the people that I love. There is nothing wrong with personal time!
I like that Michael encourages talking over the day with your spouse. I think talking and any 1 on 1 attention between spouses is important. As is gratitude.
All women will thrive under this opportunity, but few would reach it without their husband's strong encouragement. A Go-to Gal will think she is in heaven. No need for drama if she is fighting the winds of business or struggling to help someone. Every day will be glorious.
He says "strong encouragement", but I hear "orders". Anyone else? While I think it is important for both spouses to have outlets for their talents, I think the emphasis on making money and involving the kids kind of takes away from that. They're called outlets for a reason.
I'm also irritated that Michael brought in the drama angle. Again. Not every woman has a yen for drama! And just be cause somebody has a home business, doesn't mean every day will be glorious! Talk about a promise you can't keep!
My wife has directed many Go-to wives into activities like helping stop abortions, and lately she has encouraged ladies to establish ministries to stop child sex slavery. This terrible plague is growing at alarming rates here in America. Every state of our union is guilty of entertaining this debauchery. Your wife could be making a difference in our society while growing as a person. Children are not the only ones who need a good self-image.
Um...how is activities like anti-abortion rallies or establishing ministries home-based, and bringing in income for the family? And while I am all for stopping child sex slavery (as well as all kinds of child abuse), I'm wondering how one includes their children in that fight. How does someone from a very conservative culture try to explain child sex slavery to kids? It sounds traumatic on a lot of different levels.
From these examples, it seems that what Michael is really encouraging is giving one's griping wife some busy work. I do this with my foster kids. If they are fighting with each other, or having exceptionally awful attitudes, I say "OK. Let's do chores." or "Can someone help me pick out a movie?" Basically, I distract them from what's causing the problem. And that sounds like what Michael is advocating. He dresses it up with buzzwords like "self-image", but what he's really doing is telling husbands to keep their wives busy so the wives keep their mouths shut.
Or, at least that's what I'm getting out of it. If you disagree, sound off in the comments!