What if it was affirmed that emotional neediness causes marital problems. What if preachers and Christian ministry leaders started using a real biblical view of happiness and steadfastness and boldly telling women that they have ramped up their expectations to a level that will never be met, indeed that the level of expectations will rise with the attempts to meet them. What if Christian counselors actually looked into the words being spoken instead of falling back on the same old “we need to get you two communicating”?
If that happened they would uncover what an article I found shows secular counselors have already discovered to a larger degree than their Christian counterparts.
These are things we have written and commented about in the sphere for years. The article lists “6 Mistakes Women Make That Lead to Divorce”. I have pasted the list below and some of the commentary that follows each item. There is more in the link. The take away is that this is far closer to reality than any of the main stream Christian thinking on the subject.
The title boldly states that women CAN cause divorce. That is a deviation from the way Christian articles are written, where the examples of misbehavior are men, the examples of redemption and “getting fixed” are men, and the examples of saved marriages are due to the efforts of men and the examples of divorce causes are men and our sins, which include not pandering to emotional needs. Have a look at some better information than you will find at church:
1. You talk to friends about the rotten thing you think your husband did to you. Research suggests that friends are often more upset when they think their bestie is being mistreated than when they’re experiencing the same mistreatment themselves. [ ]
The article doesn’t mention the compelling effect that the drive for empathy has on these interactions. The friends actually want to feel what the one complaining feels, and they want it to be really bad so that the feelings are intense. This makes the empathogasm more intense when it is achieved.
2. You think that talking about these problems with your husband is the answer. [ ] One of the biggest pet peeves for men is that feeling of being nagged or badgered, [ ] Also, the rules of polite, kind, nice conversation that women try to follow often come off as indirect, manipulative and mysterious to men. [ ] The solution: learn communication skills designed specifically to talk with men
[ ] .
3. You believe that your happiness depends on your husband changing.
[ ] Research has shown that happiness does increase when your husband changes for the better, but that change originates with you.[ ]
4. You live parallel lives. [ ] Couples who are trying to reconnect after their children have left home often come to realize that they don’t know each other anymore. [ ]
5. You focus on what’s wrong.
6. You utter these deadly words: “I deserve … . [ ] It’s very different from knowing internally that you are worth more, and having the communication skills necessary to ask for more. Knowing what you’re worth helps you inspire your husband to cherish you. The solution: focus on knowing your own worth.[ ]
Lets compare that with some blog entries written by Dennis Rainy as well as a radio interview that included Rainy and Bob Lepine. They are talking about how women can help men step up. I will frame this with a couple of quotes from the interview:
Bob: So, I‟m thinking of a wife who is planning for that weekend. She‟s got the option of either her husband, on Saturday, doing all the projects around the house so that he can watch the game on Sunday; or she can send him to the Stepping Up® Super Saturday event, down at the church
She has the option, she can send him. Then after, wax on wax off circles.
Bob:You talk about the fact that the men‟s culture in America is a broken culture. Do you think it‟s always been that way? Do you think it‟s true in other cultures?[ ] But has there ever been a time when you‟ve looked back and say, “They understood masculinity, back there, or over here, or—”? You know?
Kenny: I think it‟s just more visible now. I think broken male culture is just more visible in this age of technology, and smart phones, and cause, and internet, and the tsunami of information that‟s becoming available [ ] For 20 centuries, men have had broken, male subculture to deal with power, and pressure, and responsibilities.
[ ] it‟s a news bite, almost on a daily-basis—some celebrity man, some athlete, some politician who has either cheated on his wife—
When you start from such a premise it is clear why they go where they go. In an article called Becoming the Man of Her Dreams Dennis Rainy explains:
I’m convinced we have a generation of married men who are confused and lonely; they’re stuck in a lifeless marriage because they never learned how to cultivate a relationship with a woman that speaks to her romantic need for intimacy.
Reader Sandy offers a (sort of) specific complaint:
Dennis, I’m afraid that I am losing respect for him as a man. He is not really contributing to our marriage or even to his own life, so it’s like having a dependent rather than a husband, a partner.
Can we assume Dennis did any investigation as to what this even means? Not that it would matter, because his response is canned:
Men have been led to believe that great sex, like fresh fruit, is hanging off every tree, ripe and waiting to be picked. All they have to do is reach out and grab some. They’ve been duped into thinking the same should be true in a marriage.
Correct me if I am wrong. Rainy is telling men that in marriage, sex is not there, available. Rather its a result of his continued performance, and as he shows later in the article, the performance is about meeting elusive emotional needs:
because God hard-wired a woman to desire relationship. Just as your wife has the power to affirm you sexually, you’ll have tremendous power to provide her with the relationship she longs for, namely, a connectedness to your heart and soul.
So, she has the power to affirm you sexually, and you have the power to provide her with the relationship she longs for. So far so good, until either one is prerequisite for the other. Here is where it goes in a direction I’d not picked up on before:
God, in His wisdom, created Eve to be the companion that Adam didn’t even recognize he needed. She was created to remove Adam’s aloneness. No wonder God placed in Eve an intense drive toward relationship
Adam needed relationship too, but didn’t even know it. So, God put Eve there with these relational cravings that Adam will have to meet, all in order to meet emotional cravings Adam didn’t even know he had? These folks will say ANYTHING to create more and more biblical backing for unfettered neediness. He explains why.
I believe God wants to knock the edges off me, as a man
Because we know that men have edges, oddly God given and God created edges that then God created woman as the tool with which to sort the man out. Some of the other “edges” God created in men, those of, say, provision, those are OK, but not to be recognized as germane in this dance he describes.
I think if I just knock off about a half dozen items on her “honey do” list—cooking breakfast, weeding the garden, and so on—then Barbara will feel romantic when we go to bed at night.But points are irrelevant to Barbara if she feels disconnected from me. In my way of thinking, a little sexual intimacy will connect us. But that may not even be on her radar screen as a woman. Romance for her begins heart to heart and is consummated body to body. In her way of thinking, she wants me to be her friend first, then her lover. Giving her a relationship first is how I become the man of her dreams.
The result? The problems listed above in the secular article, and rampant sexual denial to go along with it.
Rainy exacerbates the creation of needs by actually spelling out what he calls “5 Romantic Needs of a Woman”
I have made a partial list of some things that I think any husband could use in complimenting and praising his wife: charm; femininity; faithfulness to God, you, your children; hard work; beauty; personality; her love, including her receptivity and responsiveness to you as a man; her advice and counsel; character; desirability; friendship—and that’s just a start. What wife won’t respond to a husband who praises her regularly with gentle words for all these qualities?
The circle is complete. He creates the needs, the man meets the needs in order that the wife be receptive to him, then the man compliments the woman’s receptivity. I just know there has to be a term for that circular thinking, i just don’t know what it is.
Compare the ease in understanding the secular admonishments to women to the nonsensical instructions from Family Like, specifically from the Men Stepping Up blog. Setting aside which gender is doing what, which of the two is easier to understand and act upon?
This is why the confession Dalrock refers to is so crucial. When secular relational advice is better, and easier to understand, and Christian advice is wholly destructive, only a tidal wave of resistance born of confession can begin to turn this around. To answer the questions I posed in the first paragraph, we’d have a situation where secular interests invade the church in a good way.