One of my favorite ranting topics is bad marriage advice.
Here, for instance, I discuss in a testy way the idea that “men need respect and women need love” as if you can separate the two in a marriage.
I also devoted an impressive wordcount to illustrating how God wants us to play mind games with each other. (Bonus: Blatant misuse of Scripture by an author who teaches women what “the Bible says” about marriage.)
A friend sent me a post she found (it’s from three years ago) that fits right in with the themes above. The major feature of this type of bad marriage advice–mostly to women–is this:
You don’t need to communicate with your husband. You just need to stay in your God-given role and follow the rules (whatever you perceive the rules to be). If you are unhappy, then make yourself happy.
Let’s roll out this blog post and I’ll show you what I mean.
My Husband Is Not My Helpmeet… I Am His. The title really takes care of the whole issue, but the author does unpack it a little.
She begins by remarking: “Often as a wife I’ve found myself sucked into a downward spiral of ugly thoughts. With all of the laundry, cooking, cleaning, dishes, and childcare, I at times make myself out to be a martyr.”
Note that this line of thought assumes that negative emotions are bad and must be gotten rid of. Tiredness and frustration aren’t signals to stop and ask “Why am I feeling like this? What needs to change?” They’re automatic indicators that you’re sinful and you need to stop that.
Her husband, the blogger says, is helpful with the house and the kids when he’s home. “But sometimes my selfish, greedy heart piles demands onto him that go far beyond the realms of his reasonable duty.”
She goes on to explain,
I’m angry when he doesn’t read my mind and vacuum the floor while I’m doing the dishes. I become disgruntled during final dinner preparations if he’s reading to our daughter but ignoring the baby’s screams. And if by chance he is sitting on the sofa watching t.v. while I’m still slaving away in the kitchen, you can bet a storm is brewing in my heart.
“Why doesn’t he help me more???” I stewed on one particularly grumpy evening. All I wanted to do was crash on the couch with him. I was tired and worn out, and it all seemed so unfair.
The thought dawned on me in that moment. A gentle, Holy Spirit guided hush-
Okay, so this is the turning point right here. The buildup is a situation that most of us have experienced in one form or another. We’re tired, we want help, we’re stewing and unhappy. Something has to change.
Here are a couple of good options of what the turning point could be.
Option 1: “I realized that I was piling greedy demands upon myself as well as my husband. Somewhere I made up a list of what a properly kept house should be like, and I’m killing myself to keep it up to that standard. The truth is, a lot of the work is unnecessary. I can let it go and have time to crash on the couch with my husband.”
Option 2: “I waited until I was not actively stewing and grumpy. Then I asked my husband if he could help out in specific ways. To my surprise, he said that some of these essential jobs really didn’t matter to him. So I told him which ones were most important to me, and we figured out a way to get them done together.”
As a matter of fact, I myself just wrote a blog post with a different approach to the same problem. Adam and Eve and the Parable of the Balance
But in the Husband Isn’t My Helpmeet post… I hate to disappoint my readers, but the actual turning point is neither of the above options. This is what the Holy Spirit whispered to her in her moment of need:
–my husband wasn’t made to be my helpmeet. I was made to be his.
These dishes, and the day-in, day-out, draining tasks that come with a house full of kids- they’re my opportunity to serve him well and fulfill my God given role of being “a helper suitable to him”.
The marriage that God is most interested in, according to this thinking, has nothing to do with mature, adult-to-adult interaction. It’s all about staying in your place and playing mind games to feel better about it.
She adds a general observation that’s hard to argue with:
But when my eyes are on my lofty expectations for what my husband ought to be doing for me, my perspective is way skewed.
True. That’s the problem you need to take care of. Your frustration, tiredness, and resentment toward your husband are merely symptoms. But thanks to the timely whisper of the Holy Spirit, reminding you to stuff all those bad emotions, you never actually get to addressing this issue with a real solution.
Instead, the blogger closes with this sentiment:
Peace and freedom come in embracing the work God has given with joy and a thankful heart.
Peace (as long as you make yourself be happy) and freedom (but not to talk to your husband about your struggle) come in embracing the work God has given (assuming that everything you feel that you ought to do is straight from God) with joy and a thankful heart (make it so).
Whew. The Holy Spirit has a full-time job just keeping couples from talking to each other. Fortunately he’s got this kind of advice to help him out.