Like a Life Saver Candy

For years Ive been an advocate of the Marriage Savers program. Created by Mike McManus, it is a cooperative effort amongst local churches in a given community whereby, through a covenant commitment, pastors adopt certain programs and policies that show remarkable efficacy in decreasing the rate of divorce in defined populations. They have years of data from each successful deployment (meaning a sufficient critical mass of proximate churches participate) showing fantastic results. You can scan the site and see for yourselves.

I receive regular emails from them and in the past have engaged them in conversation by email. I asked what I thought were blunt tough questions and never was disappointed by the responses, even from McManus himself who seems to be a real gentleman with real concern about divorce in the church (and in general, but his program is about churches). I failed, however,  to dig in and actually read the covenants to which churches commit..

An email I received yesterday , subject line : “A Lenten Pledge to radically Reduce the Divorce Rate” , listed off new community successes including the before and after statistics. They are impressive. Then it goes on the summarize the church covenant in numbered parts with my simple description following their headings:

  1. Preparation….premarital counseling.
  2. Enrichment….reinvigorate stale marriages
  3. Restore…using mentors to help repair hurting marriages
  4. Reconciliation…Here is where the bomb went off

I found this quote in the Reconciliation section text about helping separated couples:

a 12-week Marriage 911 workbook course taken by the spouse who wants to save a marriage when a partner wants a divorce. The course is taken with a friend of the same gender, who acts as an accountability partner, using a Support Partner Handbook to know what questions to ask each week. It is designed to help the committed spouse grow so much that the errant spouse is attracted back. It saves more than half of the marriages. Cost: only $28 plus shipping. [my emphasis]

I fear the “cost” is far more than $28.00. This is nothing more than a fancy new specialty tool added to the toolbox of the unhaaaapy wife. Its the full weight and force of the churches under covenant, the staffs, the elders, the mentors, and the support people back at Marriage Savers, all working to fix the man ( fix the man ≅ fix the marriage).

He knows its men who find themselves “the committed spouse” in the vast majority of cases. My pastor acknowledged as much a few weeks ago at lunch, sharing that his next meeting was with a wife who had refused to see him for four months during which the husband had more than remade himself per her complaints.

The advice to men is comfy chair stuff. “Don’t beg, don’t push”, just polish yourself into a Dove-scrubbed glow so fresh looking and smelling she will take you back if for no other reason than it will allow her to sit the fabric softener aside when washing the sheets, so fresh your aura will be. (fresh enough to overcome the miasma of passive aggressive manipulation).

Saving the marriage is unarguably good. Kids benefit enormously. The cost is born by the husband who has had this laid upon him by degrees for years with each argument that she uses to leverage out another chunk of who he is. This kind of program cuts short her rock chipping and blasts the crap out of him leaving a plodding long suffering steadfast man who will find no succor in the law, in friends and family, nor from his church.

Like the candy mentioned in the title, there is a hole in the center of marriage savers. It beats the alternative though. In this game some people do not get trophies. But for the victory with points at the buzzer….marriage wins 51/49.

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29 thoughts on “Like a Life Saver Candy

  1. re: #4. It wouldn’t be so bad in theory, but I am certain it is probably worse than you say in practice. I think you covered the case of the workshop-attending spouse being a committed husband. There are three other Reconciliation cases, in which the workshop-attending spouse is an uncommitted husband, a committed wife, and an uncommitted wife. I’m going to inch a little further out on my little limb and claim that there will be a lot of uncommitted wives in actual attendance, who will be looking primarily for personal justification for finalizing the separation and divorce process, and will find it.

  2. Could *anything* reduce the church divorce rate more than forcefully exhorting wives to strictly adhere to Ephesians 5:22-24? So, why wouldn’t counselors stress that first and foremost?

  3. @jf12

    Wouldn’t enforcing Ephesians 5:32 be a good start. Submitting starts with respect and some wives don’t do this unless the husband is a trained; puppy training where she is the the master.

  4. “Ok, class, so, today we’re going to take another step towards you submitting yourself to your husband like you would if he were your God, subject to him in every single solitary thing. Remember, yesterday each of you acknowledged, however grudgingly, knowing this is the Biblical way. All of you conceded knowing *exactly* what submitting like that entailed. Many of you whined that you didn’t feel you should have to submit like that until your husband really was God (and not even then!), and that it was your husband’s fault for not making you feel like he was God. Anyway, today, I want each of you to list one solitary thing in which you submit yourself to your husband like you would if he were your God. And tomorrow we’ll think of another thing in which you can start submitting that you’re currently not submitting, so today should be easy. Who wants to start?”

  5. (Cathy Curvewrecker slowly raises her hand long after waiting for someone else.)
    “Yes, Cathy?”
    “Well, this morning I really, really, really, really, wanted to complain that the replacement spoon my husband got me for my cereal, after I dropped mine, wasn’t quite the spoon I would have chosen for myself. I mean, all he had to do was look at the fallen spoon which he got down on the floor to retrieve from under the table and carried to the sink, so he should have known! He *knows* I prefer the slightly smaller ones with only a few floral details, and instead he got me one of the more numerous middling sized ones with a few more floral thingies. But I didn’t complain, I held my tongue.”
    (Applause by the other students)

  6. Arguably, such Biblical submission need NOT involve feeling submissive. As far as I know the Greek words don’t imply anything being commanded about the wives’ feewings. In contrast, inarguably the husbands are commanded, among other things, to work specifically on their feelings: increasing the love, decreasing the bitterness, etc. It’s almost (almost!) as if the Bible recognizes that women’s feelings are fickle, disconnected from reality, and unimportant compared to men’s feelings.

  7. Oops, the wives are indeed commanded to feel fear. My point is that “I don’t feel submissive enough to submit” is the exact wrong argument for a wife to make. In fact, her knees ought to be knocking around her husband, and if not because of Dread per se than maybe fear of hell should suffice.

  8. The following comment doesn’t track very well with the above article but it does apply to the underlying issue, man bad, woman good therefor man must strive endlessly to compensate woman for agreeing to be/stay with him and if there is any difficulty in a interaction between a man and a woman, the man, being organically insensitive and a brute, is to blame and must make amends to the woman who is never at fault.
    Female member of our decade old, tight knit little group of single friends called me up yesterday to apologize for possibly being too rough in her comments about something I was telling our group about. We all get to joshing sometimes and I do get a bit over the top (my normal, unrestrained personality is rather over the top) so I try to be good company to all people regardless of gender and rein things in when I become aware that I may be exhibiting too much fierceness or enthusiasm. At any rate, I left that gathering thinking that I had probably been a bit vehement in my reaction to her comments and that I should acknowledge that next time we all get together. She called me first to apologize for what she thought was her own vehemence and said something to the effect of “the same standards of behavior that apply to you, apply to me as well. I can’t expect others to treat me with more kindness and not treat them the same way.” (Even though she’s in her early thirties, we kind of treat her like a little sister and have several times continued kidding her about issues long after she’s asked us to stop) After we hung up there was something really bothering me, something that really caught my attention that I couldn’t quite find the source of. It finally occurred to me. A modern American woman had just openly declared herself in words and action to not be exempt from the standards that she expected from men. Instead of blaming a man, she had looked in the mirror and found a log in her eye then had owned it and vacated the position of female exceptionality and blamelessness that is the cultural norm. (Maybe others have done the same thing in the past and I didn’t recognize it for what it was, my education on the specifics of male/female inequality via MRA-MGTOW videos only started a year and a half ago) My surprise, almost shock at not being emotionally beat up or censured for being an insensitive, rough male tells me how accustomed I am to being treated that way. It also tells me I may be part of the problem because I accept it to the point of expecting it and perhaps even precipitating it because it’s pretty much been what I’ve gotten through out my life. (This stuff is dawning on me as I write it) Which means I need to examine this area of my expectations and make changes where necessary and possible.

  9. re: “It also tells me I may be part of the problem because I accept it to the point of expecting it and perhaps even precipitating it because it’s pretty much been what I’ve gotten through out my life.”

    Nope. A principle is “Never blame the victim”, especially when the victim is yourself. But more particularly, you said you weren’t doing anything different than normal, so it’s not you precipitating (or anti-precipitating) anything.

  10. I agree that blank stares, for today’s lesson, are most probable. But I would bet that each woman will be eager to share tomorrow just how unsubmissive she is and how much she puts her husband through. As if she’s proud of it.

  11. Matt

    You don’t reveal your age, only hers, but I have said that I see some positive differences in the millennial generation anecdotally with those that I am around frequently. I have two mid 30s men working in my group and in addition to being “boss” I am friend and mentor and note that when they talk about spousal issues it is revelatory of some improvement that I cannot really describe succinctly.
    One guy once told me he was doing something, I forget exactly what, that was one of those “boost the romance in your marriage” type things. I asked if he’d been hearing about her disappointment in his performance in that area and he looked surprised saying, no, and maybe that’s why I started thinking about how I could do better. It was indeed formulaic, but it was utterly genuine, and not born of a task list. In context it shines light on that age cohort of Christians seeming to either have gone full egalitarian or settled into a far different type of detente than what my baby boomer colleagues have done.

  12. re: comparative anecdatum

    A mid 30s male employee was frivorced, agonizingly, over a three-year period. His ex-wife recently moved away unilaterally a couple of hours away, and he could arouse the interest of neither his lawyer nor the court in the matter. He wanted his 10 yr old son (there is also a 6 yr old son) to keep active in youth baseball, as that had been a major shared activity. He was his son’s teams’ coach since teeball, so for five or six years. Starting last week he is commuting 2 hrs one way three times a week just to cheer his kid’s practices, since he isn’t a local resident there so he can’t coach. And timewise he obviously can’t coach other kids here now. His ex is now threatening, for no reason that I know of other than to punish him, to pull the kid out of baseball.

    IOW I haven’t seen anything change in forty years.

  13. @jf12

    IOW I haven’t seen anything change in forty years.

    Well, you’re talking about a different group than Empath. He spoke of younger husbands, and you spoke of wives.

    I take it as a given that the natural order demands that for there to be a change in women, men must change first.

  14. @Empath

    This kind of program cuts short her rock chipping and blasts the crap out of him leaving a plodding long suffering steadfast man who will find no succor in the law, in friends and family, nor from his church.

    It doesn’t sound pleasant, but those are pretty good results…if those results are actually achieved. It leaves wives in the lurch, though; the hole in the center.

  15. @Cane, re: “I take it as a given that the natural order demands that for there to be a change in women, men must change first.”

    This is exactly where I completely disagree with you, as you know. The husband’s changes, or lack of changes rather, did NOT cause anything in Empath’s example. And mine too.

    “One guy once told me he was doing something, I forget exactly what, that was one of those “boost the romance in your marriage” type things.”

  16. Men in the sense of the group….men….changing is indeed a logical first step to steering any change in women. But on an individual basis it is not that straightforward.

    A man’s change cannot penetrate demonic deception. Christ Himself, canpenetrate deception but doesn’t operate that way, rather….knocking at the door….instead of barging in. How much can a man perfect himself? Christian men tossed by wives almost always go into accommodation mode following the template McManus mentions. How’s that been workin’?. In this sense the woman’s sin of steadfast familial destruction is no different than any sin perpetrated systematically by man or woman. Which explains the men-as-group aspect.

    No one (to the pedants, that’s an expression) holds women to account. Upright men are far more likely to hold other men to account, to create stigma. Ive had accountability spoken to me AND I have spoken it to friends. In both cases, not just a glancing blow, but blunt truth. Neither men nor women are doing so to and for women. That men as a group started doing so and ceasing the Lift chasing is truth. It needs to be so comprehensive that it leaves nowhere to turn for succor or affirmation.

    Having said that, only good can come from men “stepping up” Not in the way those who re-coin that phrase mean it. It means men recognizing direct God given imperatives in their lives the righteousness of which is not to be determined by the accolades or lack thereof from their wives, but through prayer and the word of God.

  17. Cane & Empath:
    Exactly—but to be more precise, the change in men has to come from them rejecting feminism and the current feminist culture. The way to stop feminism is to teach women that feminist values don’t bring any rewards. IOW, stop rewarding feminist behavior—especially via attrition.

  18. @jf12

    This [the natural order demands that for there to be a change in women, men must change first.] is exactly where I completely disagree with you, as you know. The husband’s changes, or lack of changes rather, did NOT cause anything in Empath’s example. And mine too.

    Not every spark lights a fire, but you cannot have fire without heat. Women are wooden. That’s all I’m saying.

    @Empath

    Men in the sense of the group….men….changing is indeed a logical first step to steering any change in women. But on an individual basis it is not that straightforward. […]

    Well said.

  19. a 12-week Marriage 911 workbook course taken by the spouse who wants to save a marriage when a partner wants a divorce. The course is taken with a friend of the same gender, who acts as an accountability partner, using a Support Partner Handbook to know what questions to ask each week. It is designed to help the committed spouse grow so much that the errant spouse is attracted back.

    Good find Empath.  As Elspeth pointed out, it is The Love Dare.  Except this has the added step of an accountability partner.

    Like the candy mentioned in the title, there is a hole in the center of marriage savers. It beats the alternative though. In this game some people do not get trophies. But for the victory with points at the buzzer….marriage wins 51/49.

    I disagree strongly that it beats the alternative though.  I get the stakes here, and I know you understand them even better.  But this is evil.  I could go through a number of explanations on why it is so, but I’ll limit it to one;  it only thrives in the dark.  If this were sound, it would be something we would be proud to teach to our children, and to young men and women who were considering marriage.  We would proudly teach that this is how Christians resolve marital disputes.  Whichever spouse wants to honor the marriage vows needs to be held accountable to finding a way to convince the one who does not.  Or, we could say we hold the faithful spouse accountable to satisfy the rebellious one.

    Would you teach your children that this is how Christians should approach marriage?  Would you be proud to tell the world that there is a better way to approaching marriage, and that this better way is from God?  Even the Kendrick brothers knew they had to use misdirection to claim they weren’t teaching how Christian marriage should work.

    There is a reason you have followed this organization for years and never learned of the core of the program. You are a very astute man, and very sensitive to what modern Christians are doing to marriage. It wasn’t a lack of clarity on your part that made this a sudden revelation;  they know well enough to keep it in the dark.

  20. I should add that in a small minority of cases this teaching does incidentally line up with biblical teaching. In the case of a wife with a sinning husband, to the extent that this program teaches her to submit to her husband it is right. But even here it is right by accident, and only a small percentage of the time.

  21. Poseidon

    No, not that one. Ive seen countless similar ones. Honestly I am unmoved by those things. Im neither warm nor cold. I caution that the propensity to fetishists is to use these for cover, like the well known man and woman pair who had a blog for awhile, foist themselves into all manner of controversy, and attacked another female blogger on a very personal level. They were steeped limp in stuff like this.

    Im very much in favor of hierarchy and accountability, even if it included discipline of some sort or better said…consequences regardless whether physical ones. If couples order up under this and they are ok, great. For me its a bit of a distraction.

    There is the underlying physicality men hold over women in general that is designed in by God to be used for His good purposes. Men protecting home and family and men leading family. This used to be a factor holding things a bit in check. Now, if a man’s physicality is mentioned in the same conversation as his leadership its a controversy. Worse, we are at last vestiges of men even being able to openly be protective of their family and home from outside harm. This is a negative that applies to the younger group I praised above. In large settings dominated by 30 somethings I find myself just being polite and quiet because I feel zero connection to them on these topics as they pursue their generations version of earthly utopia in the form of genteel coexistence, diet, sharing, etc.

  22. empath:

    Thank you for the reply. I find your response quite insightful. I agree that the spanking option would most likely be so distractive that the spanking would become the issue over the initial issue that initiated the spanking consequence to begin with. Also, if a legal domestic violence charge were to result, that would all but destroy the husband.
    Regrettably, I see our culture evolving more and more in the direction of “egalatorive sharing” and such like that. I see no reversion back to patriarchy at all. Perhaps this dynamic is part and parcel of men’s hearts failing in the final days. Therefore perhaps Jesus will be rapping up this world in our near future?? We can hope, but things might get really bad for a while if this is so; especially for those of us who have young children that we adore.

  23. Where’s your chivalry?

    Do you not take a woman to a fancy restaurant? (because you’re the man)
    Do you not buy a woman flowers and gifts on special occasions? (because you’re the man)
    Do you not make love to a woman? (because you’re the man)

    It’s generally the man’s duty to play the hero knight who fights for the woman’s affection.

    I’m frankly puzzled by men who complain about the special treatment women get. It’s almost as if feminism has tricked you into believing in it, tricked you into abandoning your masculinity so that you now see yourself as the weak victim.

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