Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Submissive wife

I was a bad submissive wife. Even in the best of times, though I truly tried to be a "good" wife, I couldn't follow the paradigm well.

I found this list on a blog today, and sitting here six months escaped from this nightmare, I start to realize why I'm struggling so badly at becoming a human again.

This is not a checklist, or list of standards; it is just a cheat sheet of ideas.

1. Refuse to miss a day of Bible Reading

Do not read in front of your husband – keep it private to avoid conflicts that some marriage have about "trying to be more spiritual"
2. Pray before reading your Bible, “Open my eyes, Lord.”
3. Teach the Word to your children through the course of regular interactions
4. Make a commitment to prayer.
5. Make a habit of prayer.
6. Acknowledge any sin God reveals to you and confess it to the Lord.
7. Pray for your husband.

Pray for God to bless him as the leader of your family.
Pray for God to bless him as a man of God.
Pray for God to grow him spiritually.
8. Pray for your children.

Pray for them to grow strong in the Lord.
Pray for them to be trained up in the way they should go.
Pray that you would be able to train them the way God wants you to.
Pray for God to bless them.
9. Seek to know your God-given role as a wife and mother.

Find books, sermons on CD or DVD, articles, and blogs while you study and meditate on God’s Word and the teachings that apply to the most important things in your life: being a wife and mother!
10. Keep a song of praise in your heart at all times.
11. Keep a prayer in your mind at all times.

“Lord, be with me at work at this moment and let me be a testimony.”
“Lord, give me the energy to joyfully do my job for just five more minutes.”
“Lord, thank you for the home you have provided me.”
“Lord, thank you for this hot running water.”
“Lord, thank you for a husband and children. Help me to be the wife and mother You want me to be.”
“Lord, bless my child and help her to grow to be a strong Christian.”
“Lord, bless my husband wherever he is at this moment.”
“Lord, I am so angry right now, I’m just going to tell you about it.”
“Lord, I am so hurt right now, I’m just going to tell you about it.”
12. Study and know your husband.
13. Be a servant to your husband.

Let me get that! (water, keys, coat, shoes, seconds at dinner, ketchup, dessert, the remote, a snack, a tool, etc.)
Keep his clothes clean and put away so that they are easy to find.
Keep his “area” neat (favorite chair, desk, his side of the bed, his toiletries)

14. Follow his leadership at the slightest opportunity (where to eat out, how to handle a home situation, whether or not to go somewhere, whether or not to buy something, what to watch on TV, how to fix something, etc.)
15. Readily accept his advice for any situation and acknowledge that it is good advice, and thank him for it.
16. Don’t be contentious or resistant to him in your spirit.
17. Don’t embarrass your husband (your speech, appearance, behavior, neglect of your family or home)
18. Prepare for his arrival each day (make sure his first perception of the house is that it is clean—even if it’s only the entry way and the area where he sits to relax, have a smile on your face, freshen your hair, clothes, or make-up, have the children clean and occupied, and have a smile on your face.)
19. Never belittle him or make cutting remarks of any kind, even in jest.
20. Speak a sincere word of praise or appreciation whenever possible:

“I don’t understand how you can fix that. I’m completely clueless.”
“Thank you for fixing that. I’m so fortunate to have a husband who can do that.”
“Absolutely you made the right decision.”
“You are absolutely right.”
“You couldn’t have handled that (work situation, etc.) better.
“That was very smart.”
“That was totally the right thing to do.”
21. Meet his gaze showing your love and acceptance of him—do not avert your eyes to show your hurt or disapproval and to punish him.
22. Respond readily to his physical affection.

Do not be stiff when receiving a hug or a kiss.
Do not resist physical advances: Pray instead. God will provide the grace.
23. Offer a warm hug, a warm smile, and an unexpected kiss of approval and appreciation.
24. Do not be financially independent. Let him control the finances.

Even if you have always controlled and balanced the checkbook, start checking with him on budget amounts and spending decisions. Immediately concede to his input of any kind.
Look for every opportunity to praise his wise financial decisions.
Do not spend money foolishly—make sure he never has to worry about how his wife will spend money.
Check with him on any purchase that is not a necessity.
Do not argue or resist his financial decisions, even if you know they are bad ones. Pray instead. (Your silence and support is actually more powerful of an influence—try it and you will see!)
Remember that whatever decision your husband makes, it is God’s will for you. Your resistance and interference will actually cause more problems.

25. Do not take matters into your own hands. Defer to your husband’s decisions whenever possible.
26. Do not be your husband’s conscience.
27. Do not nag. Ever. It is never a life or death matter.
28. Show loyalty to him at all times.

Never seek counsel outside of him without his approval.
29. Encourage and wholeheartedly support any idea or goal he shares with you.
30. Listen with your eyes, your ears, and be aware of your body language. It doesn’t matter how busy you are. Stop and listen and show him he is important to you and that you support him.
31. Share his excitement over anything.
32. Laugh at his jokes
33. Look at him with admiration when he is around his peers to inspire their respect. (It is your job from the Lord to reverence him and to make him look good at all times.)
34. Always seek to make him look successful.
35. Spend the time and effort needed on your appearance because it shows you reverence your husband.
36. Dress to please your husband.
37. Dress modestly so he does not worry that you may be trying to attract other men.
38. Remember what your husband likes:

Cook his favorite meals.
Keep his favorite snacks handy.
Keep his favorite beverages handy.
Wear clothing you know he likes on you.
Wear your hair the way you know he likes.
Wear a perfume you know he likes.
Keep the children quiet, entertained, happy, engaged--whatever he likes!
39. Care for your clothes and his clothes. Eliminate unused clothes.
40. Create order in his environment (one step at a time is fine)

Organize the bathroom cabinets
Organize his socks and underwear and keep it that way.
Make a permanent and tidy place for his pocket stuff (wallet, keys, change, receipts, screws, batteries, business cards).
Keep track of his “stuff” however you can

41. Keep the home free of clutter
42. Train your children to be neat, clean and organized
43. Keep a meek and quiet spirit
44. Do not speak in anger
45. Stop a backbiting tongue by silence (Proverbs 26:20)
46. Ask your husband your spiritual questions.
47. Expect nothing from him (put all your expectation for fulfillment on the Lord, especially in moments where you feel empty or alone)
48. Do not have the “marriage is teamwork and you’re not pulling your share” attitude. YOU commit 100% to your husband, regardless of how you think he is performing (you will only answer to God in the end for the kind of wife you were to your husband).
49. Learn to prioritize (quick prayers often clear up moments or days of confusion).
50. Organize one drawer, shelf, or area a day until your home has a place for everything and everything in its place—then keep it there.
51. Train the children so that they make him proud.
52. Train the children to love him and respect him.
53. Never say a bad word about your husband to your children. Don’t even suggest in any way to them that he is not the “dad” he should be.
54. Do not try to solve any of his problems without his consent.
55. Overlook his faults.
56. Overlook his little mistakes.
57. Overlook his big mistakes.
58. Forgive any offense that hurts you as quickly as you can (urgent prayer will take care of this—pray until you feel your anger subside and your pleasure in your husband return. At first this may take a few days. After a while, you will cut it to a few hours. With continued practice, you will be able to forgive, with prayer and God’s help, within a few minutes to a few seconds)
59. Remember DAILY back to the beginning of your relationship and all the things that attracted you to him. Recall the smiles you had for him them and smile them all again.
60. Stop for one minute and thank the Lord for your husband.
61. Pray for God to bless your husband as the leader of your home and as the provider for your family.
62. Smile.
63. Laugh.
64. Have joy.
65. Be lighthearted and create a lighthearted mood in your home.
66. Make him proud of his home, his wife, and his children.
67. Make sure that he would be proud to invite his boss to dinner.
68. Ask him for advice whenever you can, and always take it seriously—and tell him what good advice it is.
69. When he tells you about his work, tell him how good he is at his job, in his position, and praise his strengths at work (his leadership, his diligence, his honesty, his integrity).
70. Try to make all your words positive.
71. Never talk bad about his friends or coworkers. Do not affirm when he talks bad about someone. You can nod sympathetically, but do not verbally agree.
72. Do not be negative.
73. Keep your speech clean and pretty—becoming to a lovely wife with a sweet spirit.
74. Do not correct him. Especially in front of others. Let it go unless your life is on the line (it really doesn't happen often!)
75. Do not criticize him about anything. Not even about a shirt, how his hair looks, how he spends his time, what he spent his money on, or…anything.
76. Pray for God’s strength and grace whenever—WHENEVER—you feel tired, angry, or that you just can’t do it. Even if it means praying 2,000 times a day. All you have to say is one word, “HELP!” He will.
77. Pray for God to reveal to you the opportunity to do something on this list whenever possible.

I know its long, but its so genuinely what that world believes...and so much of what I was fed by my friends and my community. I was a member of momys dot com. I was married in a Conservative Mennonite church. My brainwashing was begun before my wedding, by my mother but also by my church. Conservative, not to be confused with the Plain People--the Amish Mennonites nor other groups that completely sequester from the world. But, conservative and steeped in Patriarchy and Quiverful mentality. Everyone homeschooled. Everyone had large families--or were working towards those. All the wives were homemakers. From there, I entered the community fully and even when geography caused us to stop attending that Mennonite Church, the theology was well engrained in my heart and life.

I was banned from the quiverful message board, ironically mostly because I was still very vocally against aspects of Patriarchy and Quiverful. In too deep to save myself, but not far enough for them to tolerate and consider me legitimate, not when I kept preaching mercy and grace. Seriously, the two biggest problems anyone had with me were my fierce stance on gentle parenting, and my just as fierce stance that quiverful should always, always contain a mercy clause. In the end, I was banned for trumped up charges, accusations I never, ever did. And, the board violated their own written policies in banning me. II actually insisted I go to the board owner--a man, of course, and appeal the action.

We found churches with other Patriarchial minded families, homeschoolers who were often quiverful as well. I remember many, many discussions about how we wanted to keep the world away from our children. Courtship, sheltering, all good actions that loving parents do to keep that big bad wolf of the world away from their precious innocent children. Until they too turned on us. I was never actually sure why the church did it. We lost our last support system and our children lost their best friends, and no one ever gave us an explanation of why. It seemed to center over our decision to adopt M. He was broken, far more than they could handle facing. I think they truly thought they could force our hand and get us to return him, like a piece of garbage. What was clear was that they removed us from their fellowship when baby J was born.

Today, I'm glad I walked away. Then, I was devestated to lose all my connections with people who understood me and didn't demonize me for being 'different'. Oh, how the brainwashing went.

I had other friends. I had to learn to find them over the years, because I was never going to tow the party line and therefore never going to be fully accepted. And, it was probably those friends who started my healing and my exit of that world. Those friends still speak to me. They still sit in my living room, or invite me into their living rooms. They don't run away from my broken son, and they don't hide from my broken husband. Were not for that contingent of gentle, loving, Christian friends, I would have given up on Christianity now. They serve as a embodiment of Christ to my bleeding soul and remind me that living in faith is NOT the world I entered but something far different.

Yet, I read that list, and all I can do is puzzle. First, I feel guilty all over again to read it and know there is NO WAY I will attempt to follow it again. Second, my boundary of considering divorce to II would have gotten me banished if I weren't already. Because he is contrite and no longer sinning, in that world, my role and choice in that world would be to stand beside him. If he continued to cheat, then it would be acceptable for me to walk away with the children and rebuild with a 'better' head of the household. But, II is not continuing to cheat. He is doing everything 'right'. He would be set up with a mentor/accountability partner. He would be given "Every Man's Battle" and some other titles from great leaders in the movement. He would be assured that all men struggle and he'll be okay. And, I would be told to forgive and submit.

I cannot even fathom staying in that world now. It is no longer enough for him to go and sin no more. I want him to love me and to cherish me. And, for the first time in my life, I realize that I will not settle for less than my heart anymore. I'm not going to be the good wife anymore. I'm going to break every one of those "suggestions" (suggestions my ass, welcome to the Patriarchal legalism of marriage--you can be sure no such list exists for how a man is to love and honor his WIFE in that world). I am as fully human and worthy as II is. And, I deserve every bit as much respect, worth and value as he does. Never again will I let anyone tell me I deserve anything less because I lack a garden hose in my pocket!


  1. Love the "suggestions my ass" comment. LOL You know, I started reading that list thinking ok, that's good, that's what I should be doing, but by the time I got oh, 1/4 of the way down, my mouth was literally hanging open. I know that I am *too* "in your face" w/ people, esp dh when I feel he's crossed the line, but my goodness. Sit back and say nothing when he makes bad financial decisions???? Not this ol girl. LOL

    I'm glad you're seeing the light, so to speak about Patriarchy. I never knew that much about it until recently, and for an outsider looking in, it's just....out there.

    I have to know though, what does your dh think? Is he still firmly in the Patriarchy camp? Or is he starting to see the light?

  2. The day I pointed out that this paradigm led us down the road to our destruction, he thought for a night on it and agreed with me 1000%. At this point, if he didn't agree with me, the marriage would be over. There is no other option. Submission is NOT an option now, not with what he has done and where we have gone. The only chance for restoration of this marriage is radical change. That is what I have said from day one, and that is what he has agreed to.