Aside

Faking It: Why You Should Stop Treating Your Husband Like a Toddler, and ACTUALLY Respect Him.

There’s something I’ve noticed about many popular Christian marriage books and speakers.

They don’t seem to have a very high opinion of men.

Oh, they think that men should be “in charge.” But often, it is implied that women should just wink and nod knowingly at one another, that although everyone knows women are the responsible grown ups in the relationship, their appeasing submission is necessary to prevent a meltdown of two-year-old proportions. As if our husbands were pouting, screaming, red-faced little boys incapable of conducting themselves appropriately if we’re not there to pacify them, to stroke their egos and provide sex-on-demand.

Just put the sugar puffs in the shopping cart, ladies, and social order will be maintained.

What nonsense.

While I will readily acknowledge that I have been incredibly blessed by the men in my life, by a husband, father, and grandfather of incredible character, I refuse to believe that they are such an exception to the rule.

My assumptions?

Men are strong, good, gracious and intelligent, driven to protect the more vulnerable members of their “tribe.” Men want the best for the people they love, and will make incredible sacrifices to provide it.

They’re startlingly like women that way.

Who’da thunk?

Not all men, all the time, of course. (Or all women, all the time, for that matter.) But I do expect a base-level of decency, and usually, that foundation holds.

So when I read that when your husband suggests something, the first thing out of your mouth should be a chirpy “sure!”, because questioning him might wound his ego?

When I hear a Christian speaker talking about how you should use sweet words and physical affection to basically “condition” your husband, as if he was a puppy? (And no, I am not making the puppy analogy up!)

When people try to shame women out of participating in church, because “men won’t take up their rightful position of leadership” if we pray over the communion elements or read scripture up front? (Translation–boys won’t play with girls, so the girls should sit quietly on the edges of the playground, doing Cat’s Cradle or something.)

When it is suggested that wearing a skirt that reveals your knees will automatically turn every male in the vicinity into a slobbering, rapacious beast?

I have to arch my eyebrow and wonder what the speaker is angling at, what their real agenda is.

Because seriously? I have WAY more faith in and respect for the men in my life than that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe we should be incredibly supportive of our spouse, sacrificially supportive of their hopes and dreams and ideas. I believe we should bite back bitter, discouraging words and speak only what is beneficial for the building up of those around us. I believe we should conscientiously make room for everyone to serve in the way that best suits their God-given gifts and passions. And I believe we should all dress modestly.

But I believe we should do that because we are cultivating godly character, not because we think men lack it.

And if the men in your life DO lack character? Well, that’s probably not going to be improved by enabling them, by acting like the intimidated au pair of a tyrannical toddler.

Honestly?

I’m tired of teachings that make sweeping generalizations, of gender stereotypes that belittle, limit, and box in both men and women.

I’m weary of followers of Jesus feeling like they have to perform intellectual, emotional, and spiritual contortions to squeeze themselves into those boxes the church built for their gender.

And I’m sick to death of Christians–CHRISTIANS!–giving advice that appeals to the worst in human character, instead of calling out the best.

We were created in the image of GOD, all–not June Cleaver, not Homer Simpson, not Elle from Legally Blonde, not John Wayne.

Let’s start acting like it.

76 Responses to Faking It: Why You Should Stop Treating Your Husband Like a Toddler, and ACTUALLY Respect Him.

  1. Angie Mabry-Nauta January 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Write on, Redbud!

  2. AnnaC January 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    *slow clap*

    So true. I actually respect my husband a LOT more now that I’m not tiptoeing around his every word, trying to be Mrs. Perfect Submissive WIfe. I respect him because he’s deserving of it, not because I’m obligated to.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      Thank you, Anna! I first discovered your blog just a week or two ago–good, good stuff! Sounds like we’ve had a similar journey in some ways.

  3. Meadow Rue Merrill January 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Hear! Hear! My mom always said that most women who talk about “submission” are controlling their husband’s unaware through manipulation. Better to talk things out as grownups!!! Love this! Love my husband!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      I’m with your mom! I think there is a certain type of personality that graviates toward very defined hierarchies, and often that extreme need for order manifests in a need for control. Interestingly, it often seems to be women who insist on patriarchy, enforce rigid gender roles, etc.–and then go on to run their families with the skilled precision of a drill sergeant! They are often incredibly strong, gifted women with amazing leadership skills–I just wish they didn’t feel like they had to conform to some non-existent gender ideal. Or insist on other people doing so. 😉

      And yes–MUCH better to talk things over like grownups!

      • jmb April 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

        I think a lot of it is the desire for un-accountability — you see the same thing from both men and women, when they say, “I’m not bigoted/mean/hostile, how dare you say it? — it’s not that I WANT to vote for these laws — it’s just that God commands it!” When of course, they aren’t distressed and struggling at all, they’re quite complacent and happy to be working towards the discriminatory goals.

        Kind of a cake-and-eat-it-too syndrome: do exactly what you want and nothing more, but don’t have to worry about getting called on it, you can just appeal to your Higher Power!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy January 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      “Hear! Hear! My mom always said that most women who talk about “submission” are controlling their husband’s unaware through manipulation.”

      Has anyone considered that might contribute to abuse? I came from a family where there was a LOT of manipulation going on; these days, any indication that I’m being manipulated and I push back HARD. (“Never Again!”)

      The type of manipulation-within-submission Jenny Rae talks about is one of the most underhanded forms possible, with a nasty undertone of disrespect towards the two-year-old-toddler husband beneath the Yes-Woman exterior. With every stereotype of the manipulating bitch and the P-whipped husband. (As in “carrying his testicles in her purse” or the worst of harem politics.)

      I’m surprised the hubbies don’t get violent/abusive more often if this is the dynamic going on. It sounds like the type of thing that WOULD throw a man into a violent rage — in some Uber-Macho societies, he might even be required to honor-kill his wife to prove to his peers that he’s a man. At the very least it would lower his opinion of women even lower than it is.

      • B Rose April 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

        Just to clarify – are you suggesting that a woman who is being manipulative towards her husband is an excuse for a man to beat her? This comment sounds like justification of abuse to me, but I want to be sure I’m not just misunderstanding you.

      • Coralyn August 17, 2014 at 7:52 am #

        Weeeee, what a quick and easy sooltiun.

  4. Pamela Starbuck January 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Dear Jenny,

    My sister-n-law Margot Starbuck shared one of your recent post on her facebook and said you were awesome! Since she is an author and we live in Washington state and she live in NC and is a Christian author, I don’t even know if you are friends through writing groups,etc. However, I need to tell you how much all of your articles helped me. I grew up opposite of you in a liberal, justice-loving presbyterian church that taught issues about the poor and not evangelical.

    I was drawn to finding Jesus and the bible and then encountered the rather strange and sick better homes and gardens women you are talking about. Because I love HGTV, I am not against decorating but to conflate the two disgusts me. I was ordained as a presbyterian pastor in a church (not my home church) where I was shocked to find out that the parents of the kids I had mentored through Junior High ministry would not attend my ordination because I was a woman!

    My husband has a Ph.D. in bible and is a part-time professor and fullt-time pastor. He is brilliant (e.g. he reads in 22 ancient near eastern languages) so I understand that I look to him for biblical interpretation stuff often as well as our congregation. As a clergy couple, I was ordained as a pastor before I was a wife. I came into the marriage confident of my call and now feel like there are individuals who see me as “the pastor’s wife” even though I have two master’s degrees from seminary and I have been ordained for 13.5 years. This is painful for me to work so hard and to feel so invisible to my youth and families who I have served for 8 years as an official pastor. Often, I hear people say, I’m meeting with the pastor’s wife.

    So, thank you…as my baby toddler threw up all night and this week I was ready to quit ministry. I have had those thoughts about am I just too rebellious to believe the truth that I’m supposed to submit. My brother, who I adore, also left our liberal church for a very conservative church and he says it’s okay that I’m a pastor as long as I’m not the senior pastor. However, the college pastor who brought him back to the faith in his twenties is now a very gifted preacher and senior pastor (not by her choosing) and it makes no sense to me that her recent call has somehow turned her into the reprobate. So, thank you!

    I will share this with my mom’s group carefully as I think some of them are too afraid to say what they really think about women in ministry because they love my husband and as a clergy couple with my husband as my boss at works makes a few of the conservative ones live with it! Thank you. There is very little care for pastors in my work…and you were a gift to me at just the right time! Thank you..baby waking up and so sorry if no time for grammar check

    Pamela Starbuck, Pastor for Youth and Families, Manito Presbyteriian Church, Spokane, WA

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Pamela, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story with me!!! I am THRILLED that my writing has been an encouragement to you, and wow–your words were an incredible blessing and encouragement to me, too. That’s why I write–because I want to encourage and empower women, especially, to cheer them on in their walk with Christ–so to know that my words blessed you means the world to me. :-)

      Hang in there, Pamela! Being in ministry is hard, being a “pastor’s wife” is hard, and puking babies–excruciating!!! The lack of support for people in ministry, and *especially* women, is a very real and unfortunate phenomenon. I pray that you will find people in your area who will come around you and support you, who you can be real with about every aspect of your life, who will *see* you for who you are and bless you!

      And also–NEVER make a big decision when there is a puking kid in the house. ;-D Just ride it out, sister. Ride it out. If I lived near you, I would bring you a white chocolate mocha and one of those fancy, expensive organic chocolate bars. Consider this a virtual hug, okay? *hug* Blessings on you!!!

    • Cheryl April 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

      Pamela, so wonderful to read your story. I too live in Spokane, and have been in ministry for many years. I fully understand the frustrations of the whole “women in ministry” thing, as I have experienced the bad side of that for years. Bless you so very, very much.

  5. Tim January 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    “They’re startlingly like women” Yep, we are. As you say, whodathunkit.

    And that paragraph that begins “Now, don’t get me wrong” applies as much to husbands as wives, because as near as I can tell each of those are about what spouses should do for each other, not just wives for husbands.

    You had me chuckling as I read through all this, Jen, even though much of it wasn’t funny in itself but instead rather serious. I couldn’t help it though. I had an image of John Belushi singing Stand By Your Man in that honky-tonk bar in The Blues Brothers

    You’ll have bad times
    And he’ll have good times
    Doing things that you don’t understand
    But if you love him you’ll forgive him
    Even though he’s hard to understand
    And if you love him
    Oh be proud of him
    ‘Cause after all he’s just a man

    Yeah, after all I’m just a man, so if I should ever make a foolish comment on a blog all the women are apparently obligated by virtue of being women to forgive and even be proud of me anyway. (At least, that seems to be the message from the speakers and writers I’ve also heard from in those and articles and seminars on marriage.)

    Wow.

    Tim (who happens to be a man, in case anyone was wondering)
    😉

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Tim, that John Belushi moment would make a great meme! Love it. 😀

      • Tim January 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Speaking of standing by men, you should check out my piece tomorrow on the military’s decision to remove the blanket restriction on women in combat. I bring it back to our roles in the church, and how men and women stand side by side.

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

          Sounds interesting! I’ll drop by!

          • Tim January 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

            Just found out that a commenter today at The Gospel Coalition linked to my piece from Friday. I’m hoping it won’t lead to rancorous comments.

      • Zaylee July 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

        You did not answer Tim’s question.

  6. Laura January 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    I agree with your post Jenny. I also hear repeated in the Christian community that “men need respect, women need love.” My husband and I were recently discussing this. Don’t both men and women need both respect and love?? And in my marriage, I think we reverse this – I tend to need respect more than love, and my husband needs love more than respect. Evangelicals seem to like to pigeonhole men and women, and I don’t think this is helpful.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      “Evangelicals seem to like to pigeonhole men and women, and I don’t think this is helpful.”

      Agreed. Generalizations can be helpful sometimes, but they can turn into unhelpful prejudices if we give them too much weight.

      Regarding the love and respect thing, I think its current popularity can be traced to a marriage curriculum called Love and Respect (although I was hearing about it LONG before that curriculum came out!). I have heard great things about the curriculum, and many of my friends love it. If it helps people’s marriages, praise God! However, any generalization overused can be harmful, so extra-biblical advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m pretty sure my husband and I would defy “Love and Respect’s” typical couple too. In an argument (the L&R paragigm), Aaron would be much more likely to feel relationally threatened, while I would be upset that someone couldn’t see the reason in my POV. And I think our desire for love and respect are probably quite conditioned by the culture and family system we grow up in.

      • Jenny E January 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

        I just found this series through Rachel Held Evans and I LOVE it! I agree with Laura that, in my marriage, respect and feeling “heard” is hugely important to me, though I’m not sure it’s less for my husband. Incidentally, we are a “Jenny and Aaron” also!

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

          Another Jenny and Aaron–how cool!

          Thanks for coming over and commenting. I am SO excited about this series–it’s been incredibly encouraging to read the posts as people send them. I have to discipline myself to only post one of the stories a week! 😀 Glad you’ve joined the conversation!

  7. Angie January 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Yes! There is a lot of teaching that seems to hold men in very low regard. It is disappointing to hear pastors speak of God creating a “helper” for man because, well, without her he couldn’t match his socks, dirty dishes would be piled high, and he would forget to shower, brush his teeth, and put on deodorant. This view holds not only men, but women as man’s ezer kenegdo, far below what God has called them to be.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

      Ha! Yes, where would guys be without someone to fold their socks and remind them to slather on the Arm and Hammer? 😀 Belittling to everyone.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy January 27, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      How can you have a partnership when everything is Power Struggle?

  8. VelvetVoice January 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Sharing this!

  9. Harriet January 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Thank you for exposing the real implications behind some of the advise given to women who desire to be co-laborers in the Kingdom and treat the men with kind of respect they would want for themselves. Here’s another piece of advise that was offered to me: If I have a good idea, propose it to a male leader in such a way it looks like he was the one who thought of it in the first place. I thought the advice was demeaning to men, assumed they were terribly insecure or threatened and overall was dishonest and manipulative, not to mention dishonoring to God who created me the way I am and to the Holy Spirit who gifted me with good ideas. The sum result is a bunch of Christians stuck in immaturity and lacking in real love for one another.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      “I thought the advice was demeaning to men, assumed they were terribly insecure or threatened and overall was dishonest and manipulative, not to mention dishonoring to God who created me the way I am and to the Holy Spirit who gifted me with good ideas.”

      Ugh, what you described is to horrible, and so typical! I’m sorry your heard that “advice,” but thankful that it sounds like you rejected it and the mindset behind it!

  10. Raye Jones January 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    I have an online radio show every Monday at 10:00 am PST. I teach wives how to love their husbands. 38 years ago I didn’t know how to make myself happy inside, let alone how to make my husband happy. I was mentally pack and ready to leave my second husband, when a neighbor knocked on my door and invited me to a ladies bibles study in her home. That study changed my life and my marriage. Tom and I have been married for 40 years and I love and appreciate him more now than I could have ever imagined. I think you will be pleased with the godly principles taught each week. I also have other topics as well, which are Bible based teachings. God Bless you and thanks for speaking out on behalf of our wonderful men!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 24, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks Raye. I have some dire concerns about many of the things suggested in the book you mentioned on your site, but I am glad that it helped your marriage! There’s some good and bad in all books–take the good, and leave the bad!

  11. Lacey January 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Interestingly, new research came out recently that totally flips the “love/respect” paradigm on its head. I wish I could find the article again, but a quick Google search only yields lots of the stereotypical fare: “How can I get more affection from my husband?” etc.

    Anyway, the article I read said that men were more likely to cite lack of demonstrative affection as their reason for divorcing their spouses, and then went on to say that to men, physical affection and “love” (in quotes because love is much more than a physical demonstration of it) are of the utmost importance in marriage because it’s less culturally acceptable for them to get those things from others. For example, a woman may feel nurtured by female friends, her parents, and her siblings even after marriage, so that her need for affection from her husband is less. But it’s harder for men to get those needs met elsewhere, since it’s less acceptable for them to touch, hug, or show affection for their male friends.

    Of course, we’re all just humans and we ALL need love and respect, and that’s what I remember whenever my mind tries to make this all more complicated than it really is. The truth is, I usually don’t think of Ivan as “a man” and me as “a woman” — I just think of him as Ivan, the person that I love and married.

    I was briefly appalled to learn that the puppy analogy was real — but then I remembered a book by a well-known Christian therapist who likened men to trained seals who would perform for their “treat”/”reward” (sex), and it didn’t seem so unbelievable anymore.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 24, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      A trained seal?! EEEEEEEK!!!

      “The truth is, I usually don’t think of Ivan as “a man” and me as “a woman” — I just think of him as Ivan, the person that I love and married.”

      Yep. The danger of stereotypes is that sometimes, we can’t see the individual through the type we’ve cast them as. Much better to look at the individual.

  12. Gary Shogren January 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Absolutely on the money, thanks very much! If men used language such as “I have to train my wife” all hell would break loose, as it should. Men shouldn’t have to hear it either. And I’m appalled when women are told they should cool it in church – hey, if men aren’t doing their share, let’s applaud the sisters who are, not shush them!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Thanks Gary!

      “I’m appalled when women are told they should cool it in church – hey, if men aren’t doing their share, let’s applaud the sisters who are, not shush them.” AMEN!

  13. Kate January 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    So how many of us are really submitted to God….first, then to our husbands who in return are to love us the way Christ loves the church. How he died for us, in our place. This is what your husband is commanded to do for his wife.

    Respect is a word that is passed around and has changed over time….taken out of context, the way submission has been in the Bible. In order to please the tastes of it’s current readers.

    What woman wouldn’t respect her husband if he followed through on this end as a Christian leader of the family?

    As a Christian woman I am an example to my husband and children. I am supposed to shine the light of His Love to others. I am commanded to love…it’s not a polite request.

    If you got married, and you used those stock “wedding vows” you promised to love, honor and respect your spouse. So why do we need a lecture, as Christians or otherwise?

    I love my husband and after 30 years the definition of love has evolved and become something even more unique to the two of us than anything defined by the world. If you have been married this long and dealt with the burdens of life, the raising of children and you still have a kernel of love for each other….that is a milestone worthy of celebrating!

    • Tim January 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Kate, that is one great milestone all right, and on we celebrate in our marriage too after more than 25 years.

      On the respect issue, I am actually glad that my wife respects me despite my failures as a husband, just as I do her. Our mutual respect stems from realizing we are each made in the image of God, and we each share in the inheritance of Christ’s kingdom, and we each have the Holy Spirit himself dwelling inside us. It certainly can’t be based on whatever value I may have as a husband, because I know just how dismally I fail to live up to the standard of loving her to the very same extent that Christ loves the Church. What husband has ever perfectly fulfilled that standard?

      Cheers,
      Tim

      • Kate January 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

        So true, Tim…and congratulations for going the distance. I am sure the most valuable commodity of marriage is the ability to forgive and at least try to forget!

        Wishing you the best,

        Kate

  14. Susan T. January 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Hello from Philadelphia! I just happened to click on a Facebook link from Left Cheek, which took me to this blog. And how refreshing! Not that I am a practicing Christian (well, I was raised in a strict evangelical Christian household, that’s a long story…) but I still feel strongly connected to the Gospels and the words of Jesus and his example. Which makes for lively discussion with my agnostic-almost atheist husband of 17 years, whom I dearly love. I think your observations apply to a wide class of married/committed people, not just Christians.

    The title of your piece is so well articulated. Puppies indeed! We shouldn’t treat *any* adult like they are a child and we should recognize when we presume to do so. However, I would observe that this development mirrors much of the popular culture of our day. Just look at the movies, and the “over-grown child/adult” is the paradigm. True for both men and women, as characters of both genders are often shown to be shallow, selfish, motivated for instant gratification and needy of positive reinforcement. Personally, I would welcome Christians to present the wider culture with a healthier, more sustainable example. Hope that makes sense!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 26, 2013 at 6:25 am #

      “We shouldn’t treat *any* adult like they are a child and we should recognize when we presume to do so. However, I would observe that this development mirrors much of the popular culture of our day. Just look at the movies, and the “over-grown child/adult” is the paradigm. True for both men and women, as characters of both genders are often shown to be shallow, selfish, motivated for instant gratification and needy of positive reinforcement.”

      Oh, that is SO true!!! It makes me wonder–who are our heroes and role models today, and what is their character like? What are they celebrated for? We desperately need to call people to a more mature way of interfacing with the world and one another, instead of letting them wallow in our low expectations.

      I’m so glad you stopped by!!! Come again!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy January 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

        “Oh, that is SO true!!! It makes me wonder–who are our heroes and role models today, and what is their character like? What are they celebrated for?”

        Where are they, Jenny Rae? Their names are Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and Charlie Sheen. They are celebrated for being CELEBRITIES — famous for being famous.

        All other heroes of our culture have been thoroughly deconstructed with twelve-syllable words of psychobabble and the curled upper lip and Appropriate Ironic Quip of the Seinfeld Sneer.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy January 28, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      “Just look at the movies, and the “over-grown child/adult” is the paradigm. True for both men and women, as characters of both genders are often shown to be shallow, selfish, motivated for instant gratification and needy of positive reinforcement.”

      The current version of My Little Pony (see first and second season) has more “grown-up” acting characters than that. What do colorful cartoon ponies have that we don’t?

      • erin a. January 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

        Totally made me laugh. My husband love My Little Pony. I like it, too. But I think he likes it more. :)

  15. Virginia Knowles January 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    My husband and I went to hear a popular home school speaker a year ago and he warned wives not to correct their husbands because they would feel like scolded puppies. There was a lot of similar advice. I went home and wrote this: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2010/10/honesty-respect-leadership-and-academic.html

    Great article!
    Virginia

    • Virginia Knowles January 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      I mean •your• article is great! :-)

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 26, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      Thank you! And wow–I really appreciated the article you wrote! I think, so often, people are trying to be cute and funny, but say things that are really demeaning and hurtful, as if humor gives them a carte blanche to be as obnoxious and prejudiced as they want to be. That drives me nuts.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy January 28, 2013 at 9:27 am #

        Jenny Rae, that’s the old schoolyard bully trick of “I was joking! Can’t You Take A Joke?” which shifts all responsibility and blame back onto the victim.

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

          Yes! My father-in-law, a retired English and debate teacher, always quotes Shakespeare in those circumstances: “What is said in jest is meant in earnest.”

  16. Red January 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Quite often, I see this belief that “men are stupid” lead to homes where housework, childcare and responsibilities are GROSSLY over-proportioned towards the wife, with the excuse that men just aren’t wired to know how to do this stuff.

    Men accept this because it gets them out of all that extra work. Women accept it to make themselves feel better about the fact that their workloads aren’t fair.

    Not to be cynical, but that’s how it shakes out much of the time.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 28, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      I think you’re right, Red. Both men and women get something out of this dysfunctional system. In some ways, they both get to feel superior, while dodging some level of responsibility.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy January 28, 2013 at 9:29 am #

        And male-female interaction goes back to being Power Struggle.

        Because in a Power Struggle there are only two possible end states: My boot stamping on your face or your boot stamping on my face. And the only way to avoid the second is to make sure of the first. Forever.

    • akash January 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      many men also toil and work hard all day- cause their wife does not want to-nothing wrong with majority housework being done by the wife then

      • erin a. January 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

        Wives shouldn’t lead a life of leisure, either, Akash. But, a woman who is parenting her children all day is most likely a woman who is “working hard all day”, just like the husband who went out to his job that pays the bills. Both the man and the woman should work hard to support each other. Don’t you think?

        • KellyK February 8, 2013 at 5:42 am #

          Good points, Erin. And even when men and women both work full time, in a lot of cases the woman still does most of the housework.

          I think every couple should balance things in a way that works for them, and support each other.

  17. Rebecca Trotter January 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    My husband’s family is real big on the submissive woman/patriarchal man thing and having met the men in his family, I have to say that this set-up isn’t doing the men any favors. To the man, they are the most stunted, immature people I have ever known. Because no one ever says no to them or challenges them or holds them accountable when they are really out-of-line, these men simply haven’t grown or matured practically since they got married. And the women don’t actually respect them (I can’t imagine anyone would!). These are full grown men who would have a hard time making themselves a sandwich.

    The last time we were there, my FIL was telling my kids that coffee was an old people’s drink and the young folks drink kool-aid like him. I just laughed and told him that some of us actually think it’s a good thing to grow up and leave the kiddie stuff to the kiddies. I think he kind of got that I was make a bit of fun, but mostly he just seemed confused. It’s really rather pathetic to see this nonsense played out in real life.

  18. erin a. January 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Thank you for this one. YES!!!
    It makes me so mad (SO MAD) the way men are looked at so negatively. And then we slap the identity tag “masculine” on it and tell ourselves that this is the way God made men.
    Sitting in a group of couples at church when everyone is agreeing that men are unable to see what needs to be done, men are naturally selfish, men don’t equate sex with love, and on and one. It seriously makes my blood boil. I always speak up and say it is far from true for my husband. I’m not sure if the other men are grateful that I stand up for their sex, or if they sort of like having such low expectations for themselves.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong January 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Thanks! I think both men and women “benefit” in some ways from the low expectations thing, even if it makes them feel skanky inside. It’s epidemic nowadays, especially among boys and young men, and I think society is beginning to feel the repercussions of that.

  19. Sarah Tun January 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    I admit I’ve come in late and haven’t read all the other comments. Just to say, ‘here here’ and absolutely agree. Biblically-speaking it is reiterated that women need love; men need respect. That anyone actually would consider it isn’t deserving is beyond me!
    Thanks for your post, Jenny Rae.

  20. Brindusa January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you for articulating this so well!

  21. Dana January 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    This all makes me so sad (well, not the article, but the stories behind the need to say these things). My husband once pointed out how said the hierarchy in marriage is, which leaves men with no one to really lean on as the sole leader and the wife no one to really contribute meaningful to on an adult level. Also, the hierarchy means, in a lot of ways, the man doesn’t get a chance to really grow up, to be sharpened as iron sharpens iron, since he is the leader, and not a mutual grow-er.

    • erin a. February 1, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Yes Dana! That is one the big things that opened my eyes to the problem. The expectation for the man is incredibly high (be as Jesus is to the church!)- & yet there is no mutual accountability, encouragement & sharpening.

  22. Allyn February 1, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    What you said is so so true. My husband is my best friend and partner in all things. We are a team. A democracy. We talk it out, and sometimes one of us has to concede, but it’s not always me.
    I can’t imagine how sad and lacking my life would be if I assumed he was incapable of things. I think when it come down to it, it isn’t that men can’t do something, it’s that they don’t do it exactly the way their wife would. Hence, they’re wrong?! Talk about being self absorbed. Guess what? Two people (regardless of gender) think in two ways. That doesn’t mean that one way is wrong. My husband cleans the house just as much as I do. Our methods are different, but the result is still a clean (and very happy) home.
    I do think that a lot of men are willing to put up with this mindset because it allows them to get away with so much, including affairs. If the “I’m just a man, I can’t help it!” excuse keeps applying to small things, it will continue to apply to more important ones as well. I expect more from the men in my life.

    • Zaylee July 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      So unfair to women what you said about we are mad when they do not do something our way.
      Let me ask you this: If the husband allowed his wife to wash the car and wax it and he told her a good way to do it, would that be okay for him to tell us we did it wrong?

  23. Rena Gunther April 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Shout it, Sister!!!!

  24. Saskia April 6, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Yep!! One thing I’ve learnt from my few years of marriage so far is the more I try to control, mollycoddle, patronise, or pacify my husband, the worse things get.
    The more I encourage him, say hard words when they are needed and give praise where praise is due, let him know I love and respect him unconditionally and want his best – and the more I start working on my own flaws instead of picking on his! – the more he is grateful for my presence and support, and the easier it is for him to do things off his own bat and grow for himself, not because I preemptively told him to!

    Great reminder, loved the post :)

  25. Bev Murrill April 30, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    ‘Startlingly like women in that regard’… oh, I love that.

    I’ve been a church leader in a co-role with my husband for about 30 years… it drives me nuts when people say that if women lead their husbands won’t.

    You don’t make weak men strong by making strong women weak.

    Everyone deserves respect; everyone should have the right to lead/be led according to their gifting, circumstances, character… putting a man into a position where he HAS to lead, despite his patent inability to do that is no less cruel than putting a woman leader into a position where she has to find a way to make the context work without showing that she has had anything to do with it.

    Ugghhh… honestly… it gets tiring. Respect is what’s required, as it is in every interaction between any humans. Respect and not posturing or abdication of leadership.

    • Tim April 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      “You don’t make weak men strong by making strong women weak.”

      Best line I’ve read on a blog all day!

  26. Diana Trautwein May 6, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Amen and AMEN. Thanks so much for this, Jenny. You got it SO right.

  27. Zaylee July 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    I agree to a certain extent with your article and disgree with a few points. I respect you as a person. I do not know you, but I would hope that you meant well for women’s side of the issue. Wives are not supposed to kiss their husbands behinds. wives are not supposed to exalt men like God. Noooo!

    Sometimes, female article writers who pose as marriage counselors on the internet, can be so hurtful to women. I believe we put too many stresses on women and most of those stresses should not be on wives alone!!! Husbands canot sit back on a throne and do nothing!!

    We need to stop with the scolding and blaming women. Why do we preach at women to be submissive, respectful and worry about man’s fragile little boy ego? Why do we never preach at men. They are mortals just like their wives. They are not God!! This is why the world is so sinful. We women sit back and scold other women and allow these men to hurt women and sin against God.

    Men do not get a free pass to Heaven. They have to earn their salvation and not wait on their wife to respect first. That is so childish to wait on a woman to bow down and shut up, never have an opinion, never say anything and then then you will lover her!!

    Men must obey the Bible and the commandments too. They are accountable for their own sins. The wives are not responsible for their husbands sins. But when you all tell these gullible weak, worn down, discouraged, over worked wives, all this propaganda about respecting a husband and submitting to him when he is so sinful, it is wrong, to not tell him that he has to give up his life, honor, love, and respect his wife too. And he is not to wait on the wife to respect first. HE is the servant leader not the wife. HE should be leading her, not her going first. Do you all think God is pleased when you blog writers tell wives to spoil husbands?

    I am so hurt and angry for my female gender. Enough is enough. This world is in a mess not because of wives, but because of men, who have always been in power.
    God is watching. Men are not doing their jobs and these unfair , wife blaming,writers on the internet are encouraging this.

  28. Scott Hill February 12, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    Stumbled across your blog while doing some reading on women in combat. Been reading articles for about an hour. I don’t think I’ve ever read someone who I agreed with so much and disagreed with so much all at the same time. I feel like you have a tendency to address those who have taken biblical complementarianism to extremes (a good unbiblical example would be a guy like Doug Phillips), instead of those that model what you claim you think marriages should look like, yet hold to a complementarian view. However, I very much appreciate the spirit with which you write. This article and your “50 Shades…” article are particular important topics to me. I’ve been surprised that no matter how graciously I try to confront the issues regarding erotica or (porn for women) I get kick back from women who almost always use the argument that ” it’s not as bad as what the men look at”.

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