In my last post I described the surprising wisdom included in a New York Times piece on marriage:
“The way to stay married,” my mother says, “is not to get divorced.”
This is in line with both the Bible and science, but is contrary to modern Christian thought. In the modern Christian view unhappy wives are an opportunity to invert biblical headship via the wakeup call.
Focus on the Family offers a striking example of this new and unbiblical view of marriage in their radio program Moving From Loneliness to Intimacy in Your Marriage*. The program is an interview with Christian relationship expert Dr. David Clarke by Focus on the Family president Jim Daly.
The show opens with three clips of women with petty grievances about their marriages. Dr. Clarke sums the complaints up:
Well, these little stories we heard just a few minutes ago from these ladies, I have heard a million times at my seminars, in my therapy office, oh, just one after the other, good solid Christian women. I am so lonely. I love my husband. He’s a good guy. He’s not in a serious sin and … and he loves me, but … and then they go into what these ladies just said. We’re not together a lot. There’s no real intimacy. I’m dying inside. And the key is, they’re not letting the husband know that. The guy has no clue. He’s perfectly happy. So, when that woman hits the wall and leaves him, he is the most stunned guy on earth.
Clarke’s focus is “catching” these women before they are compelled to divorce, by teaching them how to threaten their husbands into better communication. He explains that the solution is for the wives to take charge, and for the husbands to let them take charge, which he claims is God’s plan:
This is what God has done to us (Laughing). Now He’s got a master plan, because if we work together and let the woman actually teach us, ’cause she has many more skills interpersonally that we will … ever will have. She’s got a Ph.D. in emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy very often. We have like a third-grade education. So, we have to let the woman kind of guide us, teach us. And then we come together, we get it.
The premise here is that women are better at marriage because they are unhappy being married. Since men tend to be for the most part content in honoring their vows, and women tend to be unhappy doing so, this is proof that women are better at marriage than men. It isn’t just headship that Dr. Clarke is turning upside down; virtue has become vice, and vice has become virtue. Being discontent is a virtue according to Clarke, and being content is a sign of foolishness and inferiority. Also note that Daly is right on board with this, and Daly is the president of Focus of the Family.
To solve the problem of “communication”, Dr. Clarke explains that husbands need to carry a notepad with them at all times and take notes so they will have things to talk about with their wives.
Even if it’s, “I bought batteries at the store for” you know, on sale for 5 bucks (Laughing). Okay, it’s a start. But I … she knows I care about her. But I’ve gotten better with this. I know what she wants. She wants personal things, emotions, anger, frustration, memories that come into my mind. Guys, this happens to guys during the day, but it’s just whoo! It’s gone if you don’t jot it down.
The problem, Dr. Clarke explains, is that wives aren’t nagging their husbands enough to get them to communicate, and this is exacerbated by pastors and others teaching wives to love their husbands (emphasis mine):
If you just love your husband, uh … treat him well, meet his needs, then he’s gonna turn around and just love you back the way you really need to be loved. Absolutely false. He’s a guy. He doesn’t know how anyway. He doesn’t know there’s a problem. And if you keep loving him, he’ll think everything’s fine. He will never get it. You have to get the man’s attention. You gotta sit down and say, “Honey, I’m not happy in our marriage. Here’s why. Let’s change it.”
Dr. Clarke explains that following the advice in the Bible in 1 Pet 3 won’t work. Instead, wives need to threaten their husbands:
You gotta get a man with a shovel to the head, metaphorically speaking, of course.
He explains in detail how they should do this:
The woman’s got to tell the man, “Look, Honey, I want to have a meeting with you in three days. It’s about our marriage. It’s gonna be very serious. In fact, it’s extremely serious and I want the kids aren’t gonna be in the house when we have this meeting.” And you set a time and that will get his attention. A decent guy, it’s like, wow! This is serious.
Men need to be threatened because when it comes to marriage they are idiots (emphasis mine).
You see a movie. You don’t see a movie to see a mov … a guy thinks … he thinks …. sees a movie just to see the movie. No, no, no, no, dummy, moron. I’m the same way. You see the movie to talk with your wife about the movie afterward. That’s the whole point. And if finally when the mov … of what it reminds you of. Boy, that couple, that one scene reminded me of when we were dating, you know, back and we were at the Del Coronado in San Diego and we were on the beach and we snuck in and used their Jacuzzi.
Later however he acknowledges that both the husband and wife are to blame. The husband is to blame for being an idiot, and the wife is to blame for not nagging and threatening him enough:
We’ve gotta teach this man skills. First, we have to get his attention. I’m not happy. And the woman will admit, I’m part of the problem. I’ve not shared my needs. And so, we go through a series of steps where she shares her needs very clearly.
Daly and Clarke tie this back to Proverbs 21:9, explaining that the lesson of the proverb is that stupid husbands make their wives be insufferable by not communicating (emphasis mine):
All the resentments make a woman who’s cold, who’s mean, who’s sarcastic, who will pay you back. (Laughing) Oh, it’s terr … and she doesn’t want to; she’s just going to.
Daly jumps on to the stupid husband bandwagon with:
Let’s give a little clue here. You talk about uh … a man’s density (Laughing), you know, but that we’re dense generally.
Dr. Clarke reiterates that while divorce is technically a sin, women can’t be expected to honor their vows if their husbands don’t “communicate” the way wives demand:
Christians now, they have no biblical reason. “I’m unhappy; you haven’t met my needs,” is not a biblical reason to get divorced.
But women especially, are walking away. And so, I’m trying to stop that. They don’t have to if the man would really change. But a lady will love a man with every ounce of her heart until she’s finally … and not having honest … being honest about her needs or “I’m very unhappy,” until the last day. And then when that last (Sound of snap) ounce is gone, boom! I call it hitting the wall. She’s done. And you literally cannot … other than an act of God, get that woman back. She’s through.
The solution of course, is to buy Dr. Clarke’s book. As luck would have it, if you donated to Focus on the Family immediately after the program ran, you would have received a copy for free. However, this isn’t merely about money. Focus on the Family believes strongly that biblical headship has it backward, and that wives are supposed to be in charge.
- Disrespecting respectability, dishonoring the honorable.
- Unhappy? Make your husband put a deposit into Dr. Harley’s Bank.
- The Whispers