Back in May Empathologism wrote about Joel and Kathy Davisson in his post Your wife had and affair, its your fault. One of their catch phrases is “lowering the boom”. They use this term to describe wives using the divorce meatgrinder to punish husbands who have “abused” them. However, it is worth noting that anything which makes a Christian wife unhaaaapy could be argued as fitting their incredibly expansive definition of “abuse”. Does he not make her haaapy? That’s abuse! Does he not go to counseling as she commands? That’s abuse! Does he not read the relationship books she assigns to him? That’s abuse! From Don’t Develop BITTERNESS:
Has she spoke directly to him about her heart felt needs… and he has rejected her heart-cry repeatedly?
Has she begged him to go to counseling, and he has refused?
Has she pleaded with him to read good books on marriage – yet he has declined to do so?
However, they do have requirements on the wife. Her job is to lead her husband and forgive him for being a failure:
One of these requirements is that she speak up to her husband, very clearly, and COMMUNICATE to him exactly what he is doing or not doing that is straining the relationship. Has she learned to speak up and REQUIRE that he be a man of God in his marriage by being the husband that he promised to be when he convinced her to marry him?
Another requirement for a wife, is to forgive her husband, IF he hears her heart and begins to change in to the husband that he promised to be when they were dating. She needs to recognize his efforts at change.
Has she forgiven him for failures and recognized efforts at change?
If a wife has NOT been plain spoken, If a wife has NOT called upon her church leadership to speak to her husband and call him to accountability, if she has NOT asked him to read books or go to counseling, then she has to do this first. First things first.
I’m sure there are many unhaaapy Christian wives reading my post who want to know: I’ve nagged him and complained about him to others. I’ve told him what to read and which Oprah episodes to watch. And I’m always having to forgive him for being such a failure. What next should a godly wife do?
Many of my other Christian readers are no doubt thinking of the scriptural instruction that wives win their husband over without a word, and they would be technically right. No words are required, just a good divorce lawyer. If he is making her unhaaaapy, Joel and Kathy explain that she has a sacred obligation to use the family courts to crush him (emphasis mine):
If she has done all of this, and he is still a manipulative, controlling, and abusive husband. Or if he is simply a retreating, non-responsive husband to her needs who continually ignores her pleas, informing her that she is losing her sanity, then she must act before she becomes embittered.
She must act before she indeed does lose her mind.
She must decisively give him what he wants: out of the marriage. What does he want? He wants OUT!
In this case, it is time for him to get exactly what he wants, and that is to be put out of the home.
She must engage the law to the fullest extent to extract child support and alimony. If her state can extract this from him with a separation, then separation is the way to go. If her state cannot extract this in a separation only, then she must file a divorce to put his back to the wall.
But don’t worry, this is all part of God’s plan. They explain that crushing him with the family courts is to ideally be used as a threatpoint. This is needed to restore the wife’s position of headship over her rebellious husband, and taking command of him using this tool is her biblical duty (emphasis mine):
Do we WANT divorce.. or separation in these cases, until “death do us part?”
We WANT restoration!
We WANT healing in the marriages.
If this wife does NOTHING, the end result is clear: She will become a bitter woman who is so deeply wounded that in many cases, her relationship with the Lord will be hurt or even ended.
Her husband will continue in his rebellion.
Even worse, there is a chance that if she doesn’t act quickly to crush her rebellious husband the no fault divorce process might misfire terribly and be used to punish her:
In most of these cases, when a wife does not finally leave him out of bitterness and anger, he will file for divorce.
He will feel fully justified that his crazy wife was the full problem in the marriage.
He may even turn the children against her because she is so crazy.
She may not see her children return to her until they are young adults and begin to understand, in retrospect, the abuse that their wonderful father put her through.
These end results are NOT good, but the Body of Christ is replete with examples of this exact end result: bitter and deeply wounded wives and self-justifying, pride-filled, completely deceived husbands and ex-husbands.
It is VERY, VERY hard to convince a Christian wife of this course of action.
Thats right, she might suffer the injustice of having her children taken from her with no due process. She could suffer this fate simply by his word alone, and the normally justified process could be instead used to trample the innocent! This is why it is so critical that an unhappy wife act decisively and crush him with the family court, and do it with extreme prejudice:
Woe to that wife who believes her husbands first proclamation of change and welcomes him back into her heart and home immediately. The first two wives that we had personal experience with, who kicked their husbands out or left the husband respectively, BOTH let the husbands come back TOO SOON. Within a week of coming home, each of these husbands reverted to their old behavior.
In one case, it took a year for the wife to get circumstances organized again to where she could leave. In the other case, the husband turned things around, provoked his wife to hit him, got a restraining order against HER, and she ended up being out of the home. He ended up with the child. It took SIX MONTHS for her to get back into her home, regain control of the child and get him out.
This is why it is also critical not only to crush him decisively, but to make him grovel:
The Spirit of God would compel you to give your husband (or ex-husband if that be the case) a chance.
Put him through the ringer.
Make him grovel.
You suffered for twenty years.
If he cannot stand to suffer, outside the home, for a period of time, while he is doing everything that he needs to do to bring healing to your heart, then he is not a changed man. (How long of a time? That is pretty individual. If a wife has only been in a marriage for a short time, then the time would be short. If he has been a lousy husband for twenty years, then longer, obviously.
Note that even if you have only been married a short time, you suffered for twenty years. I would add that wives should be careful not to let him twist this around and make you sound crazy when you say this either. Keep in mind the husband who provoked his poor wife into beating him. He made it look like she was the abuser! Don’t use your fists to punish him, use the tools God gave you, the family court.
But lets say you are a wife who has been obedient to the Scripture (as interpreted by Joel and Kathy) and used the holy family court to crush your husband and piously made him grovel. How will a Christian woman know when her husband is finally acting the way God intends? As Dr. Mohler (separately) explains here, it is through the mysterious wisdom of her vagina, the one needle which always points to the true north of godliness:
A Christian woman CANNOT resist her husband, when he becomes Christlike.
Thats it. You will know it is time to once again honor your marriage vows when he has won back your love.
While Joel and Kathy are so incredibly over the top in how they present all of this, note that what they are describing is the plot to the movie Fireproof.
I’m not aware of any Christian leaders who are willing to directly associate themselves with Joel and Kathy and their far too overt calls to use the divorce process to bring wayward husbands in line, and I would be shocked to learn of any. However, note that no active permission from a pastor or any church body is required. All that is required is for the family courts to exist as a no reason required tool to crush husbands, and for the church to look the other way.
Actually I left out one extremely important step. Husbands who have been brought to heel need to demonstrate this by reading Joel and Kathy’s books and attending their weekend retreat:
What does this wife do when her husband first turns his heart back toward her?
She must demand that he get into counseling and begin a journey of discovery, BEFORE the marriage is restored.
Our books are perfect for this man. Paul Hegstrom’s books are perfect for this man. Ken Nair’s books are perfect for this man.
Our Intensive Marriage Weekend is a required necessity for this couple, BEFORE the marriage is restored.
I might offer that Sheila Gregoire’s book To Love Honor and Vacuum should be added to the list to teach the newly tamed husband all about biblical headship.
Edit: Click here for a list of exciting products and services you can purchase from Joel and Kathy to assist on your journey of marital creative destruction.
See also the continuation: How Fireproof lowers the boom.
Wrecking ball image licensed as Creative Commons by Stefan Kühn.