Category Archives: Advice

The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 6

What is Submission by Christina Fox

Mrs. Fox admits that her childhood was full of verbal abuse (put downs, anger, threats, rejection, and fear) and that this left her with a very negative reaction to marital submission. The only way I can think of to connect marital submission to this abuse is if her parents were actively linking the two. Few secular couples ever connect the idea of submission with marriage unless they’re into BDSM, which is a very different kettle of fish.

When a parent is abusing their spouse or child, the words that are usually used (based on what I’ve heard friends describing in their household) are “you should do what I say, because I’m in charge”. Or, “You owe me.” The abuse doesn’t get linked to submission directly unless you happen to look in a dictionary. And at that point, it’s still viewed as an expectation of an abuser, not as an expectation of a spouse.

So, I can completely understand where Mrs. Fox would be skittish about a potential husband turning abusive, but I think that the only way for her to mentally connect biblical submission in marriage to marital abuse is if her parents were using the Bible to threaten her into submitting to the abuse. In this way, a bastardization of the Bible’s view of submission is used to control the child, which seems to me to be the place that Mrs. Fox is coming from.

I took a quick peek at her website and scanned her writing to see if any posts jumped out at me as being specifically about her upbringing. None caught my attention, so until further notice, I will assume that I’m correct that her parents directly linked Biblical submission to the abuse she suffered.

The definition she’s using for submission, which I’m very comfortable agreeing with since it doesn’t change my opinion on submission comes from John Piper:

“the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It’s the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership.”

Apparently by using the above definition whenever submission is used by Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33 is supposed to show that submission isn’t the equivalent of abuse. It apparently shows that a woman submitting to her husband is no different from a church submitting to God/Jesus.

This is supposedly beautiful.

There is a section on what submission isn’t. Essentially, Biblical submission is neither a conduit for abuse nor is a wife supposed to blindly submit to her husband because Christ is ultimately her guiding force.

But the last section on “Marriage and the Gospel” seals the fate of submission:

“When we struggle in our God-given roles in marriage, it is the result of sin.”

Sigh. Let me once again explain how an egalitarian marriage works, in terms maybe a woman like Mrs. Fox can understand:

I submit to my husband. And he submits to me. Just like you try to say that the bible encourages.

The difference is that our “submission” isn’t a mandate, while, however much you try to spin it otherwise, submission is a mandate in the Bible. How do I know that submission is mandated in the Bible? That quote about how all troubles in a marriage are caused by sin. Plus, Piper says that submission is a “divine calling of a wife” so if a woman doesn’t submit, she risks not fulfilling her divine calling.

When me and my husband “submit” to each other, all it is is us doing each other favors without any obligation. He operates on a different schedule than me, so there are many nights when I’m eating dinner and he’s not hungry. Later, he may ask me to make him mac-n-cheese or something else quick because he’s useless in the kitchen. I really don’t mind doing these things for him because I care about him and want to make sure that he eats something with a semblance of nutrition rather than just a bag of Frito’s. However, we have an agreement that the kitchen closes at 9 pm unless I’m unusually awake.

A husband who expects his wife to submit would want a fully home-cooked meal on his schedule, without any regard to whatever else she’s doing.

Remember: “When we struggle in our God-given roles in marriage, it is the result of sin.” Sins by whom?

What happens when a husband expects his wife to always submit and she has to say “sorry, dear, I’m too tired to cook you a 3 course meal at 2 am”? To what extent is her refusal to cook for him a sin? That is her “God-given role” in the marriage, isn’t it? Obviously, the question is whether a Biblical husband  would even think about asking for a 3 course meal at 2 am. But if he’s working on some huge project that is supposed to revolutionize the world, it’s quite possible that he might.

Of course, a wife may be very happy to complete this task for her husband and that is her choice. But the real debate over submission isn’t about wives “serving” their husbands or husbands “serving” their wives: it’s about what happens when one or the other decides that they’re not in the mood for whatever reason to comply with a specific request.

To ever say NO to a spouse seems to be a direct refusal to be submissive. Biblical submission is always described as beautiful because a spouse would NEVER request something of their spouse that they know the spouse doesn’t want to do. But that is not how reality works:

I have a higher sex drive than my husband. I enjoy having sex. However, I work 40 hours a week and most nights I’m half asleep by 9 pm. When he is interested in sex, it’s usually not until 11 pm. So yes, there are plenty of nights when I’m already asleep when he comes to bed wanting to have sex and yes, I reject him.  Does he get all upset about this? No. Does he make an effort to join me in bed earlier? Not usually, hahaha. His loss.

Every article I’ve ever read a Christian woman write about any kind of marital submission has never included any description of what to do when a wife doesn’t want to submit. This book says that abuse isn’t Christlike, but doesn’t tell a woman what rights she has to say NO.

….

My husband just got home from a trip to the store and bringing me a sub for dinner. We ended up having a bit of an argument/debate because he said in passing to his buddy on the phone while getting the sub that a woman who was out there should put some more clothes on. This happens to be one of my soapboxes (obviously) so I tried to explain to him that while I agree with the statement at face value (no one really wants to see all that), the reason it offends me is that despite my not wanting to see a woman or man’s body all hanging out, it is her right to wear whatever she damn well pleases and it hurts society to sum up such an interaction with “she should put more clothes on” as though it’s her fault should anything happen to her. My point is entirely that the party line is “blame the girl” and that we as a society would do better to leave the comments about the girl alone and instead focus on statements about boys and how they should respect women. Changing the party line would do more to change society than continuing to have toss away statements that ultimately do nothing.

Of course, my husband, as well meaning as he is, feels that conversations of this nature are an attack on him as an individual instead of learning that he can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. He has had too many experiences with women getting him in trouble for their lies, so his gut reaction to my arguments is that I’m automatically taking women’s side rather than seeing “both sides of the issue”. Truthfully, it all comes down to him arguing about Oranges (that there are 3 sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth and that no one deserves to have blind acceptance of their story) and I’m arguing about Apples (that it hurts women (and men) to always make the conversation about what a women is wearing or doing and that we as a society can do better if we make the automatic statements into “look at that woman and how she has the absolute right to wear whatever she wants without being touched” instead of “if she goes walking around like that in the wrong neighborhood she’ll get raped”–one statement teaches boys to respect women, the other tells boys that women only deserve respect when they’re wearing respectable clothes).

I still haven’t figured out how to explain to him that I’m not the only one who has a visceral reaction to certain triggers. He seems oblivious to the fact that he automatically reacts negatively to these discussions, though he seems well aware of my triggers. But that’s a discussion for another day :-).

Anyway, in my attempt to explain to him that I’m not anti-men, but anti-party line about this issue (and that it’s not his fault that he’s been well trained by society to spew the usual lines about women being the problem) I pulled this paragraph from Lori Anderson’s “The Transformed Wife” to show him that it’s not just men who spew the party lines:

Young women are encouraged to have “free sex” and pursue higher education and careers instead of getting married, bearing children, and guiding their homes. They are told to send their children to daycare and public schooling instead of raising them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord and yes, having boundaries for them, disciplining, and training them. They are encouraged to divorce their husbands when they aren’t happy instead of being covenant keepers until death do they part. They are sold a bill of goods in buying provocative clothing to cause men to lust instead of dressing modestly and respecting themselves and the men around them enough to cover up.

I added the emphasis for the sentence that sounded most like what he’d been trying to say in his defense. About how it’s women and how they dress that causes men to lust and if women respected men, they would cover themselves up. I don’t know what he thought of it because he didn’t respond, but I’m hoping it’s something he’ll think about.

Anyway, while scrolling through Lori’s blog posts on feminism to find an example to use for my husband (it, unfortunately, wasn’t hard to locate), I found this gem which seems very appropriate for use on this post about submission:

“When you heard many sermons on how women submit to husbands but zero on how husbands lay down their life for wife.” I have never heard a sermon from the pulpit of any church I have attended in my 58 years that teach women to submit to their husbands. In fact, there are few women preachers/teachers/writers/bloggers who even teach it. Instead of searching out Scripture for how they are to live their lives, they prefer to hear how their husbands should treat them instead. These women are either unbelievers or baby Christians because those who are mature in the faith examine themselves to see how they can become more like Christ. They understand that they will only have to answer for themselves one day instead of constantly pointing their finger at their husband. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5).

This is from Lori’s blog post about Misogyny in the Church, which apparently she thinks is a feminist delusion. According to her, telling a young girl that she can’t be president is simply sharing that God’s plan for women is for women to be wives and mothers and to be content to stay at home.

Anyway, I can totally believe that women like Lori aren’t hearing their pastors specifically teaching women to submit, but then, Lori makes it clear that she’s not a preacher because she’s a woman and therefore isn’t Biblically allowed to preach. What she refuses to believe is that she is one of the people who is teaching women that they should submit to their husbands. I don’t know whether she’d be proud of the fact that she has so much power over women or shamed because women aren’t supposed to overshadow men. In any case, here’s Lori’s very blatant post on the submission that she’s never heard preached anywhere in any church she’s ever attended. I think me and Lori have very different definitions of preaching.

Urgh. I was scrolling through other recent posts by Lori and apparently she has a big problem with young women not being taught to submit to their husbands:

“God is clear in His Word what older women are to teach younger women. They desperately need to be learning to submit to their husbands, how to properly discipline their children, to be sober, discreet, modest, chaste, good, and keepers at home since many younger women who claim to be Christians don’t look or act any differently than worldly women.”

Maybe Lori should get ordained so that she can have a real pulpit to preach from instead of a blog that only masochists read. Then she could teach even more women…

Before my husband got home and caused me to look at Lori’s blog, I’d already found this post where Michelle Duggar offers advice to newlywed women about always being sexually available to their husbands because that’s the one thing that sets a wife apart form any other woman in the world, supposedly. If you remember where I was before my husband got home and distracted me, I’d just explained how being in an egalitarian marriage doesn’t mean that my husband and I don’t “submit” to each other in an appropriate manner (though we’d use a better term like loving each other and showing that affection through our actions), but that because we’re in an egalitarian marriage, there’s no obligation to never say NO.

————————————————————————————–

By the way, I’ve loaded up Lori’s post on Misogyny in Church on my tablet because I’d like my husband to read it. Or I may just read out the parts that he most needs to hear because the vertigo makes his eyes jump around, which makes reading difficult and the stroke that affected his left side has caused him to be slower at comprehending what he reads/hears–he get’s stuck on certain ideas easily, which is why we so often are arguing Oranges and Apples :-). It’s not because he’s a closet misogynist, no matter how much it sounds that way; he’s just had the party line ingrained in him for a long time because he’s of a certain generation, plus his own experiences, and then the stroke makes it harder for him to switch gears quickly. I think that offering him more female anti-feminist voices will help him understand that I’m not attacking men specifically, but society as a whole. Women are just as much to blame for rape culture as men, since I fully blame mothers and fathers for not teaching their sons to respect women rather than blaming mothers and fathers for not teaching their daughters to dress modestly.


Argh! I just checked Glow, my fertility tracker for our natural family planning (because I don’t want the hormones from birth control) to see where I am in my cycle because arguments don’t stop our sex-life, haha. Anyway, Glow has a daily community poll and today’s question is “Is your relationship an equal partnership?” and I generally expected the spread of answers that I’m looking at: 70.9% of women (I assume that most users of Glow are women) are in an equal relationship and happy about it and 17.8% of women aren’t in an equal relationship, but want to be (they really should find a better significant other). I think it’s sad that 10.3% of women aren’t in an equal relationship and think that that’s okay (they also deserve better), but the fact that 1.1% of women ARE in an equal relationship and don’t like it, is the worst statistic! What have these poor women been taught that they want their significant other to quit treating them like an equal?

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Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 3

A ha. This is the chapter that I knew would piss me off. The title of this chapter is The Happy Call to Holistic Provision.

First of all, I am the primary “breadwinner” in our family. I have a full time job at a print shop and am now in school to become an elementary teacher. My husband is on disability and works part time as a tow truck driver. He would love to work more, but is physically unable to return to his preferred profession (OTR truck driving; he cannot pass the DOT physical with a defibrillator in his chest) and is physically unable to drive a tow truck full time (he gets easily overheated especially in summer months and between the vertigo and nerve damage on his left side, standing upright for long periods of time is nearly impossible). When we crunch the numbers for him pushing himself beyond his limits in order to work more, he’d have the choice between paying bills or paying for his health insurance. At least with disability, the health insurance is paid for, even if the bills are usually more than he can afford.

He fully supports me working because it is something that I enjoy. He fully supports me being considered the breadwinner because I am the one with the 8-5 job even though between the disability check and his part time work, we make about the same amount. Being the one with the regular work hours means that he has to take my schedule into consideration and he understands that he needs to pick up more of the slack around the house just because he’s home and I’m not.

We have an egalitarian marriage. He is not the head of me and I’m not the head of him. We make decisions together. Why these Christian men (and unfortunately women) cannot seem to understand that partners can work together without someone having to be in charge is beyond me, especially when I’ve read numerous blog posts by Christian women who seem perfectly willing to explain that their husbands are more or less clueless about the duties that are in the wife’s domain!

I guess that’s what gets to me. In our egalitarian marriage, we do have different roles and duties. I work all day and am in charge of most meals. He works when he gets called and is in charge of dishes, trash disposal, lawn mowing, and he’s supposed to wash clothes. I fold clothes, put dishes away, and run the weed wacker, because of the nerve damage in his left hand that makes these tasks uncomfortable. He’s also in charge of most of the major house cleaning because a) he’s great at it when he gets the ambition and b) because it’s mostly his mess.

All egalitarian marriages have some version of this compromise. But it depends on what the individuals in the couple enjoy doing chores-wise and what they’re good at.

In a Christian complementary marriage, it’s not so about what an individual is good at, but what they were born with between their legs that determines what their chores are. I’ve read at least one woman’s blog posts about how amazed she is by her husbands ability and willingness to cook! Like, it took a few years of marriage for her to feel comfortable with him doing such “women’s work” especially after he’s been at work all day. I can only assume that she had kept her boy children out of the kitchen because it’s pointless for them to be there since boys aren’t capable of cooking or would even enjoy cooking, but once her husband finally got into the kitchen, maybe she’ll realize that boys can be interested in cooking without damaging their masculinity.

What truly baffles me is how willingly these complementary wives are to give their husbands all the credit for the work that they are obviously expert at. I mean, since he’s the head of the household, obviously he must have been the ringleader that got all the kid’s schoolwork done (because more often than not the kids are homeschooled), got the housework done, and all the errands completed. While I realize that this “headship” isn’t supposed to take credit and is supposed to graciously praise his wife for all the work that she does, in a “marriage” where the head is an asshole, he can all to easily come home and disrupt every aspect of the wife’s hard work (send the kids outside when they’re supposed to be doing their school work; decide to go out for dinner even as supper is on the table; tell her that he’s spent the grocery money on a new boat) and she’s supposed to smile and say “Thank You, Dear”.

If my husband did any of these things, I’d be a single woman so fast he’d get whiplash. Especially the last one since I take our finances very seriously.

The United States was founded on the principles of “checks and balances”; that’s why we have 3 branches of government. This complementary marriage has no checks or balances. A wife is supposed to just accept whatever her husband does as law and can’t voice any opinions which question his authority.

This chapter talks a big game about how a husband is supposed to “serve and give his life for another” (i.e. his wife), but with a wife who isn’t supposed to question his judgement, how can he know that he’s really serving her when she feels like he’s undermining everything that she’s trying to do. To go back to those three examples from earlier:

  • He comes home and sends the kids outside and feels so proud of himself for giving her some free time with her husband. She’s upset because she had finally gotten them all to work after fighting all day.
  • He decides to take everyone out for dinner so she doesn’t have to cook. Except, she’s already cooked the meal and suddenly has 4 kids who are begging for pizza instead of being happy to eat the rice and beans she made. To keep the peace, she consents to save the meal she cooked for the next night. She can’t lecture him on the importance of calling when there’s a change of plans.
  • He thinks he’s buying a memory creating object when he buys a boat. Depending on the family’s finances and who controls the checkbook (I think these women are more often than not in charge of paying bills to save their husband’s the headache), that money might have been earmarked for any number of things. Because he made a unilateral decision without consulting her, there’s no telling what sacrifices she may have to make in order to make up the difference. She’s forbidden from questioning his judgment and lecturing him on frivolous spending.

Having a well functioning marriage depends on both partners being free to not only express opinions, but to put their foot down when someone wants to do something that is not in the best interest of the family unit. For the most part, I let my husband do what he wants with his money, but he’s not good at keeping money in his savings account and as it dwindles, I get more and more say about what he buys, since he’ll become more and more dependent on money that is in my account.

What is troubling about the section of “Taking Cues from Christ’s Self-Sacrifice”, is this emphasis on how a husband must sacrifice his life for that of his wife and children. Looking back at our three examples from earlier, it is way too easy for a husband to believe that he’s making personal sacrifices when he decides to send out the children (he could have gone into his mancave and ignored everyone instead of saving his wife from their constant presence), it’s his money that’s going towards paying for dinner (he could have used that to buy a new…book? probably not a video game), he feels like it’s his personal finances that is taking a hit when he buys a boat (since he’s the one slaving away for “the man” to make the money that pays for it).

Making the male headship’s life all about personal sacrifice gives him the perfect way to guilt trip his wife about anything and everything. He’s the one sacrificing his life in order to give her everything that she wants. He doesn’t want to work at his lame, boring, dead end, whatever job, but he can’t quit and pursue his dreams because he’s supposed to sacrifice his life’s ambitions to taking care of his wife and children. If he’s not sacrificing something, he’s not a very Christlike husband.

This chapter breaks a mans different types of “providing” into 4 types: physical (food, shelter, clothing, etc), emotional (….?), intellectual (education…), and spiritual (church).

Mmm kay….wow. So, apparently husbands and wives are similar in that they both want to ensure that all 4 of these types of provision happen. BUT, it’s specifically a husband who worries more about these things, especially for providing those physical aspects.

Yeah, I know that my husband is depressed because he feels like he can’t provide the physical things that I may want that he once was able to do (with his first wife, she stayed home while he made all the money that she did a great job spending (sarcasm)). However, as a working woman, I am more than capable of paying the bills that we have. In fact, because of our age and health difference, it is imperative that I be capable of keeping a roof over my head and food on the table in the event of his suddenly passing away. Knock on wood! The reason I worry less than he does about our finances is because I have the savings that I need in case of an emergency (he’s really bad at saving money). If I didn’t have these savings, I would be as worried and depressed as he is. The idea that a husband is supposed to worry more about finances that “the little woman” puts undue stress on men while disenfranchising women. Men don’t have more stress because they are born with a penis. They have more stress because society tells us that men are supposed to provide financially for their families.

Both my husband and the rest of the world need to lighten up and relax. We’ve got this!

As for the emotional provision…ummm…wow. This guy admits that his wife is much better at judging the emotions of the household. That she “better monitors and cultivates the emotional wellbeing” of the household. Apparently, he’s supposed to make himself pay more attention to what’s going on in the household, being more “emotionally present” after being “drained from a long day of breadwinning”, and that he’s supposed to resist the urge to come home to a house full of screaming children and a crying wife and want to tell everyone to sit down, shut up, and solve the problem (or as he words it: “resist the urge to manage behavior”).

Well, first of all, if a man needs to pray in order to realize that he shouldn’t give his wife and children the cold shoulder just because his job is “intellectually and emotionally draining”, he’s an asshole with very little (no) empathy.  I usually want to talk about my day at work, whereas my husband usually wants to brood about whatever is bothering him. There are plenty of women who prefer to brood and men who like to talk through their issues. My husband doesn’t have to pray in order to listen to me talk: he just knows what kind of person I am and listens with earnest when he can. And when the vertigo is kicking his ass and his left side is driving him insane and he’s feeling drained and all around miserable, he simply says “Cathy, I don’t feel like talking right now.” And do you know what happens then? I say “okay,” and I do my own thing. I wait for him to be in a chatty mood and talk then. That’s called respecting others. When he’s extra broody, I let it go as long as is normal, and then I try to get him to talk about what’s bothering him because he always feels better once it’s out on the table. He realizes that he’s being unfair when he doesn’t communicate with me and has been working on it.

Intellectual provision. Ooh. I love all the digs about people putting too much (or too little) faith in intelligence. Sarcasm.

Personally, I don’t think anyone can be too intelligent. Of course, people can be condescending when they think they know everything and hurtful when people admit ignorance, but I’ve found that most people who think that their intelligence makes them better than someone else are usually not very intelligent at all. They’re faking it to make themselves seem smarter than they really are (Trump). Intelligent people don’t have to brag about how intelligent they are; intelligent people usually just want to share their knowledge so that everyone else can benefit.

Wow: way to make husband’s seem extremely self-sacrificing dude! “Outside the home, for the wife (my emphasis), there is continuing education and community education and book clubs and friendships with thoughtful individuals–none of which will happen without the provision of the husband to have the kids and cover the home while mom is out engaging and sharpening her mind (again my emphasis). See, ladies! Your husband is completely incapable of pursuing his own intellectual ambitions because he’s too busy taking care of the children and the home so that you can pursue your interests. Sarcasm.

Believe it or not, husbands and wives can pursue whatever interests they want so long as they work together to plan a schedule. Only a husband would make himself seem like such a huge sacrifice to take command of the kids one evening a week so that mom can see her friends or join a book club.

Mmm… also love the dig about field trips for the kids and how “a curious dad with energy enough to ask and engage [the content of the trip]–or better, lead or join the trip himself.” Why oh why is it way too easy for me to picture the dad who comes on the public school field trip (with a female teacher) and spends most of the trip trying to lead it. How comes there’s no encouragement for mom to join field trips and maybe even try to butt in and lead them.

Oh wait. Most of these kids are homeschooled, so most field trips are mom-led, with a half-dozen kids in tow. This writer is mostly saying that dad’s should take the day off work to join the kids’ field trip and show mom how she could do it better his way!

Oh yay! There’s going to be a chapter on discipline in this book. I’m not sure how that relates to manhood and womanhood, but I guess we’ll see.

As for spiritual provision…make sure the kids and wife go to church, learn the bible, and don’t be too pushy because only God can change people. Mmkay. Well, at least it says that men shouldn’t try to push their wives into a certain belief system, but without knowing how a woman is supposed to react to this kind of disagreement, who knows what actually happens.

Oh shit.

“Though holistic provision for women and children is a greater burden than a man can fully bear, he is not alone. Precisely in the most desperate moments, when having the masculine role feels most unfair, when we’re our most tired, running on fumes, and need to keep providing in all these aspects, this is when the provision of God (my emphasis) tastes the sweetest.”

As a wife, I feel like chopped liver! Apparently, women are such a huge part of the burden of men that they cannot help alleviate that burden. Only God can give that kind of comfort.

Well, I’ll be honest with you folks. If my husband told me that the stress of providing for our household was so much that he had to ask God for help, I’d tell him that then God can be the one who sucks his dick. I am a woman, but that does not make me an incapable mooch. If I’m taking up too much of my husband’s ability to provide financially, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually to our relationship, and he’s not asking for MY help, he can leave.

The first thing a woman can do when her husband is feeling too much pressure to provide is get a job. This will bring in some income so that he doesn’t have to work so much. This will give him more time to pursue his personal interests, which will in turn relieve the stress that is keeping him from connecting emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually with the rest of the household. If money or the job isn’t the cause of his stress, then he’s an asshole who doesn’t have any ambition to connect emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. In other words, him working less and playing more wouldn’t change his stress levels.

Now, I realize that my husband seems to be the poster-child for the case of when a working wife doesn’t solve a man’s stresses. This is both true and false. It’s true because there’s nothing I can do as a wife that will make him feel like he’s providing as much as he once did. I can only reassure him that we’re fine financially. He knows this and is fine with this but it doesn’t ease his own feelings on inadequacy. Except, that in some small way it does ease them.

We’ve come a long way from when we first started getting to know each other (as partners during a summer league) when we used to fight over who was going to pay for our bowling. I didn’t even know he liked me at the time, but I didn’t (and still don’t) like the idea of anyone paying my way. At that time, I’d just started working part time after 2 years of unemployment where I’d run through all my savings, so I was extremely emphatic that I was going to pay my way and the fact that I had enough left over that I could pay for him made me feel even better. It got to be a fierce competition between us over who would get there first to pay for bowling and I think by the end of it, I had been one week up. Sigh. I miss those days when he made a real effort to get to the bowling alley before me, haha.

When we first started dating, our argument over who would pay continued. To keep things simple for our waitresses, we’d go “double dutch” (a term I’m inventing here and now). We all know that “going dutch” is when the two parties pay for themselves; well, with us and “double dutch”, we would alternate who paid. If I paid last time, he could pay this time and vice versa. I highly recommend this system if you’re dating exclusively. If it’s a one-off date, go ahead and just pay for yourself.

As we continued dating, I realized just how tight his money was and started insisting on paying more often. He was slow to accept this, but eventually he didn’t see it as a weakness. Since then, he’s actually started asking me to pay for stuff. He just gave me the water bill to pay on a permanent basis! I’m trying to get him to split the bills evenly so that he can rely less on me for bailing him out at the end of the month.

His stress level has definitely decreased with every bill he gives to me to pay. Even as he feels bad about needing to rely on me, at least he doesn’t have to worry about how he’s going to pay back money he has borrowed. They are two different kinds of stress. And no, God isn’t going to miraculously put money into his bank account, but I, as his wife, can.

I can also support him emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually (which doesn’t really apply to us) in a way that God (which is to say, himself) cannot. God rarely (ever?) offers up new ideas to an individual. I’ve often heard men and women say how God works through people. Like, if one person can’t figure something out, they ask God, who apparently in turn, has someone come up and volunteer the answer that the first person needs. As a wife with a husband, I’d much rather cut out the middle man and have my husband directly ask me for help, a shoulder to cry on, an opinion, or for advice instead of him talking to God and hoping that I’m paying enough attention to give him what he needs (in secular circles, we call this kind of behavior passive aggressiveness; where one person has to infer what the other person wants based on the other person’s actions because the person doesn’t want to admit that there’s a problem).

 

Our “Christian” Wedding

So, you already know that we consider our wedding to have been non-conformist. My husband and I are Deists, not Christian. But while writing a review of The Pilgrim’s Progress, I realized that there are a lot of Idols and Symbols associated with a modern wedding that aren’t what I consider Christian.

I really feel like my husband and I had nearly the most “Christian” version of a wedding–there were no frills, no Idols, nothing but us in front of the very few people who matter most to us. We actually planned it, rather than a quick elopement, so it was done with purpose in a place that felt special, but wasn’t ornamented to make us seem any more special than anyone else.

The only thing we “splurged” on was our clothes, because I wanted to be pretty on my wedding day and I wanted him to be drop dead gorgeous (because we’re not the type of people who dress up, ever). However, the actual amount of time and money spent on our clothes was relatively little. My dress took about an hour to order online. Three quarters of that was debating if I really wanted the dress that immediately caught my eye in comparison to the rest that were available. It is black and white hounds-tooth patterned and doesn’t conform with any Idolized Ideal of a wedding dress (a tradition started by Queen Victoria and isn’t in the Bible, so far as I know). The rest of that hour was getting my husband to measure me.*

My husband’s clothes took a bit longer because we had to go to multiple stores, but the overall look was relatively cheap: Jeans and a gray button-down. New boots, which he needed anyway (and we did this trick again for his son’s wedding: they looked fine under his tuxedo). The most expensive item was his suit-coat, which we got new, but could have come from a thrift store if we really wanted to search it out, though he’s a big guy, so our choices were limited. But time is money and getting his suit coat new also got us a great relationship with that particular Philip Michael’s store in Chesapeake Square Mall, who helped us out when we needed to measure my husband for that tuxedo.

If being a good Christian means being austere (and really, I don’t think you can be both filthy rich and a good Christian), I think a big, audacious wedding ends up being more a status symbol than a sacrament. A few choice items, picked for their importance to the couple are wonderful, but more for the sake of filling up the space, well, maybe you shouldn’t be getting married in such an empty room!

We didn’t have a registry for gifts. Honestly, I find this entire idea a bit nauseating. I’ve seen the movie My Fake Fiancé where two broke people pretend to get married for the gifts, but really, as a person, I hate any time someone wants me to tell them what to give me as a gift! My least favorite part of Christmas is the gift exchange because I hate the idea of gifts being an expectation instead of a surprise. Ideally, I’d only give gifts when I feel inspired to give gifts and it seems stupid to literally hold onto items that you know someone will love because of the unspoken obligation to have something for them to open at Christmas. Seriously, I’ve started working on my Christmas presents for this year and I will have to store them for the next 8 months. Is there any wonder why people wait until the last minute to buy and wrap their gifts–that’s where all the incentive is.

When we invited everyone to our reception in May, I specifically told everyone not to bring a gift, but to bring a dish to share (it was potluck). Honestly, I loved packing up all the leftovers to fill our fridge! That was the best gift we could have asked for because I won’t be tripping over random stuff for the next 20 years. Okay, I will be, but it’s all stuff my husband had from before we married.

We didn’t have a cake either on our wedding night or at our reception. Wedding cake is yet another unnecessary Idol/Symbol/Tradition. While I’m amazed by the amount of work that can go into a gorgeous wedding cake, at the end of the day it will either be eaten or thrown away. It is food. I think everyone should take a moment when they buy their cake (and their flowers) and decide if they are getting it because it’s something that means a lot to their relationship or because it will make a good statement piece.

I guess there’s a fine line between a bride getting her vision and the audaciousness of a $50,000 wedding. And I guess that if you can afford it, you should get what you want. But, I think it’s important to keep your priorities in check with everything you do. I actually do have a really big problem with the divorce rate being 50% and while I’m libertarian enough to say that folks are more than allowed to do whatever the hell they want, I think society would be better off with better marriages, not more of them!

Oh. One final note is necessary. It’s actually really easy to identify when you’ve crossed the line from getting the wedding of your dreams and the wedding meant to please everyone–you’ve felt even the smallest twinge of regret over at least one choice. If you feel overwhelmed, you’ve definitely crossed this line! Yes, things can (and do) go wrong, but if you feel unable to run with whatever life throws at you, STOP. You need to reevaluate the situation. There is no need to rush into anything and I can tell you from personal experience working in a print shop, RUSH means that someone, somewhere screwed up (and because of that, more things will go wrong). There is no such thing as a job marked RUSH where everything was done right from the beginning.

*By the way, while my husband is a good sport about measuring me, keep in mind that husbands will shrink you an inch around the waist, where it’s easy for you to inadvertently suck in your stomach when he pulls the tape too tight.

Our Non-Conformist Wedding: Part 3, Finale

Well, I’ve got 3 posts in progress this morning and I just realized that I never offered a real conclusion describing our actual wedding :-). So, over a year later, let me answer some of those hanging questions!

We did get married at St. Luke’s.

I absolutely LOVED my dress! I decided that instead of hemming it to make it shorter, I bought a petticoat so that it would poof out instead of hanging drably. Perfect! Well, except for my adventure with the petticoat on the morning of the wedding when it decided to fall down, but I got that figured out and it was fine.

We were married by a former sheriff of Isle of Wight County. My husband has always respected him and the sheriff’s wife works in the office of the body shop husband tows for, so it worked out great. He was really awesome, didn’t mind that I wanted things short, sweet, and to the point. He had a favorite ceremony that he read to us and I thought it was perfect for us. Seriously, if I didn’t know that it was one he used often, I’d think it was written specifically for us!

The ceremony went smoothly, except that my husband and I both ended up saying “I will” 3 times instead of 2 because we both interrupted at the same wrong spot, haha. I did it even after I heard him do it and thought to myself that I wasn’t going to do that! Oh well. We had a moment.

I didn’t cry one single tear at my wedding! With my Stepson getting married this past Feb, I can confirm that I have cried at every wedding I’ve attended, except my own. Actually, I cried more at during my Stepson’s rehearsal (I was a bridesmaid), because I knew when to brace myself and look away during the actual ceremony.

But yeah, during our own wedding, I was grinning ear to ear during the whole thing! I was wearing my (now) daughter-in-law’s over-sized sweater to the church (they drove me over) and I’d stuffed some paper towels in the pocket for my waterworks, but ended up just forgetting about them. She texted later asking about them and I told her they were clean!

I did walk my own self down the aisle. St. Luke’s is set up with 3 “sections”, which are all well separated from each other. There’s a foyer, where I was able to leave the sweater, the main pews, and then the front set of benches situated in front of the alter, with a 3/4ths wall separating them  from the rest of the pews. When I called out that I was ready to walk, Charlie (the Sheriff) instructed everyone to rise and while I could see their heads, I don’t think they could see me (they were seated on those couple benches right up front). I could see my husband, though, but I don’t remember really looking at him; I was too busy trying not to fall over in my heels.

Oh! And my husband didn’t wear a suit. In fact, after seeing him in tuxedo pants at his son’s wedding, I hope to never see him in suit pants again, haha. I put him in a new pair of jeans, a grey button-down shirt, new work boots, and a suit coat. He didn’t wear a tie, his shirt had the top button undone. He was yummy looking. Perfect!IMG_0184

Yes, there is a step up for the actual alter (which, since it’s a historic church, is out of bounds), but my husband was able to help me onto the 6 inch wide step outside the fencing for our kiss and the first set of pictures. In real life, I’m a foot and a half shorter than him.

Oh! And since I hate PDA, I thought it was very sweet that by putting me up on the step for the kiss, we ended up with his back to our audience, so we could have a private kiss(s). He gave me our usual 3 pecks and a hug.

And then I nearly fell over when getting off that step by myself. He had to grab me/I had to grab him to keep me upright, haha.

We left from the church for our super short honeymoon (we got married on Monday and I wanted to be back at work on Wednesday). We didn’t get very far because my husband realized he didn’t have his nitroglycerin tablets which meant he didn’t have his house keys. And of course I didn’t have my house keys! The Kids were supposed to lock up the house when they left. So we spent a good hour and a half trying to get in contact with them because we really needed the rest of his pills that were forgotten.

We went to Luray, VA and toured the cave and various museums there. He had wanted to take me to the Eastern Shore for our honeymoon, but after discussing his first 2 marriages and honeymoons, I vetoed all trips east (both went to beaches)!

4 Tips for an Egalitarian Marriage

My pinterest homepage is full of the usual mix of crafts (especially note cards), gardening, recipes, funny animals, and “helpful” blog posts about making your marriage stronger.

I’m a curious soul, so I generally read these latter posts, figuring that somewhere in them there must be something helpful.

Yeah…not really. All of the ones that propagate my pinterest are those that at face value seem great, but when you really start thinking about them, they’re really sexist and misogynistic, even though they’re all written by loving wives.

Here’s the problem: they all are written with women in mind and generally that woman is actually seeking help for a problem in her marriage. Most of the “solutions” offered are ones that the wife can implement without her husband even really understanding that there is a problem. When I picture my own marriage trying to do some of these tips (“Have a weekly husband/wife meeting” for example), I can only snicker. I mean, the idea is that you pencil each other into your busy schedules so that you can discuss the upcoming week, which is pretty ridiculous when this is your spouse we’re talking about. “Honey, I want to schedule a meeting with you so that we can discuss scheduling future meetings…”

This is as bad as scheduling sex! Or really scheduling anything in your marriage!

I guess life is different when you have kids, but honestly, if your husband in involved with the kids (like he should be!), he doesn’t need to have a weekly meeting for you to tell him that Timmy has baseball practice on Thursday and it’d be nice for him to be there. Because, you know, he should already be planning to attend like he does every week.

If Suzie has a tonsillectomy scheduled for next Monday, Dad shouldn’t need a meeting to tell him that Suzie will need him to help hold her hand.

The tips that piss me off the most are those which tell women that they should “love their spouse more”. You have to remember the type of women these posts are going to affect most–those who feel like their marriage is on the rocks. Most of these bloggers are very anti-divorce. For them, it is a woman’s responsibility to keep the household together, regardless of her personal feelings.

It’s really easy for a desperate woman to forgive her husband for everything, but it’s not emotionally healthy. She can decide to be submissive to his will and smile to the world while inside she’s dying. This is abuse. And telling a woman that if she just loves her husband more he’ll change is flat wrong.

Yes, it is imperative that you love your husband! BUT, loving him should not mean sacrificing any aspect of your own well being! If you find yourself wondering why you married him, you need to identify the actual problems with your marriage (are you working too hard so that he can play?) and address them. Trying to remember the good times of your relationship won’t help if your husband is no longer the man you married. People do change and that’s both a good and a bad thing in a marriage (depending on if you are growing and changing together).

Anyway, enough of my rant. Here’s my 4 tips for a happy and healthy egalitarian marriage (because you two are partners in life).

  1. SPEAK. AND LISTEN. Seriously, your husband should be your best friend. Treat him as such. Talk to him about what’s going on in your life. Your likes, your dislikes. Vent to him. Listen to him when he needs to vent. If you ever feel like you can’t say something, anything, to your husband for whatever reason, run, don’t walk away from this relationship. That isn’t what a marriage should be!
  2. SPLIT THE CHORES. You both live in the house, you both have equal responsibility to keep it clean. Of course, your family situation is probably different than mine and that’s cool! Dividing the chores equally doesn’t really mean that the chores are divided perfectly in half. A lot of tasks make up all that goes into running a household and you should split them up in such a way that makes the most sense to you and your family (children should also be put to work maintaining the household).

    When splitting chores, be mindful of the time you and/or your spouse spend working and commuting (seriously, give each other extra credit for that commute!). Since I work full time and my husband works part time, it is more fair for him to do more of the housework. Plus, he’s the real mess maker of the two of us.

  3. SPLIT THE BILLS. I realize that this is difficult in families with only one income earner…

    Actually, I’m scared to picture my life if I were dependent on other people for money. I’m one of the odd people who in high school was loaning my parent’s money. Even though I wasn’t earning all that much to start with (just mowing/raking my grandma’s yard), but I didn’t spend it, either.

    But, if you’re cool about getting an allowance from your spouse, that’s fine. That’s your life. I wouldn’t want it, but that’s me.

  4. HAVE TIME FOR YOURSELF.  You and your husband are two individual people. You are not joined at the hip. You have separate interests. So, enjoy them! Apart! Do not be afraid of your independence.

    You and your husband should spend lots of time together. I recommend eating together 99% of the time, but you know what, sometimes your husband is going to get a police call in the middle of you cooking dinner and if you don’t eat you will literally tear him a new asshole because low blood sugar affects you that way (true story).

    But, if your husband enjoys working on cars, you don’t have to be involved with this. I quite enjoy shooing him out the door to play with his friends so that I can watch what I want on TV instead of having to share with him. This actually makes the time we do spend together that much sweeter!

 

I imagine that the author’s of those blogs I mentioned earlier would have a conniption if they read that last bit of advice (about spending time apart). I guess they feel like a marriage on the rocks is one in which the individuals of the couple are “growing apart” and the only way to combat this is to spend more time together.

I think it’s important to identify why your relationship is “growing apart”, because honestly, you can spend every waking moment physically together, but not be connecting emotionally. It’s funny that they’ll recommend remembering the “good old days”, but would be afraid for people to reconnect with being independent.

I just finished a book where the main character thought that she wasn’t ready for marriage because she didn’t want to give up her independence. What had instigated this thought was her sister’s husband clarifying with the sister her plans to going to the main character’s house for a late evening. It is not losing independence to tell your husband that you are going out. But, you have lost your independence if your husband tells you that you aren’t allowed to go out (this is an abusive relationship: RUN!).

marriage-2
A cute couple, but I don’t think couples can be defined by gender. You love who you love! 🙂

Ready for marriage?

Before We Kiss (Fool’s Gold Book 16)” by Susan Mallery –

“Sam glanced at the door and thought about bolting. This wasn’t his area of expertise. Yet even as he inched toward freedom, he realized that he knew exactly what she was doing wrong. His mother would be so proud. He took a seat across from Fayrene.

“This has to stop,” he told her. “Put on your big-girl panties and tell Ryan what you want.”

She rolled her eyes. “I can’t.”

“You won’t. There’s a difference. If you’re not prepared to ask for what you want from a man who loves you very much, then you’re not ready for marriage. It’s a full-time commitment. It requires everything you have, and being honest about how you feel is the cornerstone to success. If you can’t be honest about this, what else won’t you be able to talk about?””

This is some excellent advice :-).

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.to/2gu8T4M

A Routine Traffic Stop

I have never been pulled over by the police, except for that one time when they were having a DUI checkpoint when I was driving home from the bowling alley. But, this doesn’t stop me from feeling like I have to have a plan should that ever happen to me.

This morning as I drove to work I evaluated the situation in case a cop decided to pull me for whatever reason. I have a slight lead foot (I end up going 5-7 mph over the speed limit usually) and drive a 20 year old SUV. I don’t pay attention to my taillights and could have one out without knowing it (I nearly always turn my lights on, even in broad daylight).

Anyway.

This morning, I realized that if I got pulled over, I would find myself in a bit of a pickle. My wallet, with my driver’s license in it, was in my backpack, which was on the floor of the front passenger seat (this is true about half the time, with the other half being my backpack is in the actual passenger seat). Now, the last time I reached over to the passenger floor while wearing my seat belt, I pulled a muscle in my back/neck and thought I was going to die because it hurt so bad. Virginia has a seat belt law, so taking my seat belt off before the cop sees me wearing it seems like a very bad idea.

Plus, there’s the whole issue of the cop seeing me reach around into my floorboard before he gets the chance to walk up to my car window–what’s he going to think I’ve grabbed?!?!

Did I mention that there’s a whole host of random crap in my backpack and my wallet is usually somewhere at the bottom?

And my registration is in my glovebox, I think (it may be in the center console). One of the two. So again…do I break my neck or risk a lack of seat belt ticket?

So. I guess I should leave my important stuff in their places until the cop gets to the window so he can see my seat belt is on. But then…what’s he gonna think when I ask to start rummaging (seriously, there would be some rummaging going on) in my backpack and my glovebox?

I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a tiny white girl and not a black guy of indeterminate size. Cop is totally going to assume I’m harmless.

Which got me thinking–what would I do if I actually was a black guy of indeterminate size?

Ya know what? I think that if I get pulled over, I’m just going to do what everyone recommends black guys of indeterminate size do: I’m going to leave my seat belt on and I’m going to keep both my hands on the steering wheel (I may even turn my car off so that the cop doesn’t think I’m a flight risk). I will already have the window rolled down. When the cop comes to the window, I’ll be polite and tell the cop that my license is in my wallet in my backpack and that my registration and insurance are in the glove box (you know what? I think I’ll make sure these items are  in my glovebox in a clearly marked envelope). When the cop tells me that I can reach over and pull them out (because that’s how tiny white girls are treated), I will calmly tell him that I’m more comfortable staying as I am and give him (or her) permission to retrieve the relevant items. When the cop looks/acts uncomfortable doing this because I’m a white girl…well, that’s not my problem.

Hmm…thinking about moving my period supplies from their private pocket in my backpack to the main compartment with the rest of my crap, just to add to the awkwardness of the situation, in case the cop is a squeamish guy.

Anyway, what do y’all think? Good plan?

 

An interesting dream/idea

I had an interesting dream last night. I was at a science museum with various family members. One of the items we saw was a windmill that didn’t really rely on wind. 

Its blades were made up of multiple weights on tracks that slipped around as it turned so that the balance was off just enough to make it keep turning. Kind of like the “Wonder Wheel” on Coney Island in terms of the weights tracks, though it keeps itself moving because of gravity.

I’m not much of an engineer, so if anyone wants to play with this idea, have fun, but let me know how it goes!

Parenting

Father in Training (Hometown Heartbreakers Book 3)” by Susan Mallery –

“Her head snapped up. “You’re not a parent. How would you know—” 

“Having a child of your own doesn’t give you instant access to magical skills, so quit acting like it does,” he interrupted. “I might not have raised kids, but I’ve been around them my whole life. I see messed-up ones on the job just about every day. You make it sound like you were out with me while the house burned down. Chances are, even if we’d never met, you still would have sent the kids to camp. They wanted to go.””

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.to/2fBcf1U

Fairness

I just saw this Louis CK meme under the heading “Parenting Done Right”:

I have to say that I totally disagree with this meme and this idea of fairness. This says that fairness is an idea that will never happen and that kids should just accept that as a fact when really it’s mentalities like this that CONTRIBUTE to fairness being a pipe dream!

Let’s start at the beginning. The girl complains that someone got something and she didn’t. That implies that they’re literally standing right next to each other, were doing the exact same thing, and one girl got the gift and the other girl was left out. Hell right this isn’t fair! It’s also discrimination unless the only reason the other girl got the gift is because her name was randomly picked in a FAIR drawing (which would then make the gift giving FAIR).

Now, if Louis had explained, “Well honey, it’s her birthday and you’ll get gifts on your birthday,” then it’s a different ballgame! [Insert whatever hypothetical reality you want that gives a reason for one person to deserve a gift over another person while still being considered fair. Yes they exist as I’ve just given one above.]

The concept of fairness is that two people in identical circumstances deserve to be treated identically. This is what we need to teach our kids, NOT “life’s not fair, get over yourself”. Because honestly if we just ACCEPT that the world can NEVER be fair, then the world will never BE fair!

If people like me didn’t step up and say “what makes that other girl so special?” then girls like this one will continue to make less than their male counterparts WHEN DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB, poor black men will continue to be killed by police at a rate higher than poor white men WHEN COMMITTING THE EXACT SAME CRIME, etc. Unless, of course, folks like Louis CK want this reality for their children.