As I tried to write a response to today’s post on (in)courage and the two posts on her.menutics it was based on, I found my thoughts spiraling along two parallel but inextricably intertwined realities. Hopefully, this post will do them both justice.
Mary DeMuth is a courageous woman. She has shared her stories of abuse and the decades-long struggles it has caused in her life and her marriage, as well as the tremendous grace she and her husband have found in walking through those challenges.
Her posts “The Sexy Wife I Can’tBe” and “I'm Sick of Hearing About Your Smoking Hot Wife” have garnered hundreds, maybe thousands of comments from people who needed to hear her message, and I applaud her for that. Some of her points are completely valid, and a valuable counterpoint to the alternative views she rebuffs. What is frustrating about her writing, however, is that in her efforts to speak truth to one community, she is dismissing and denying truths that are extremely relevant to a different audience.
The sad truth is that (both within and outside the Church) there are many women for whom the issues of abuse that Mrs. DeMuth faces do not apply who are creating homes and marriage beds for their husbands that are little more than desiccated wastelands. Men get married, start a family, and work hard to provide only to find that they have become last on their wife’s list of priorities, consistently getting the dregs of her time, energy, and attention. Though not an excuse for infidelity, it is deeply damaging. There is a legitimate need to call women in such situations to pay attention and understand what their choices are causing. Just because a message is not for one person does not mean it is invalid.
The more important reality illuminated by the conversations Mrs. DeMuth’s writing have prompted is that we –as a culture and a Church – are failing to teach women how to be good wives. More specifically, and perhaps more importantly, women are not being not taught the importance (let alone the mechanics!) of being a good wife to one’s own husband.
There are a few core elements that form the foundation of every strong marriage – trust, respect, But there are some extreme variations in what those things look like in practical application.communication, commitment.
Women don’t need badgering or heaps of unrealistic, inapplicable, or overwhelming expectations about how they should look, act, or run their homes based on societal trends or other people’s struggles. We need exactly what the Bible told us thousands of years ago that we would need: older, wiser women in the faith teaching (and mentoring) us in the principles of sacrificial love and the sanctity – and beauty – of marriage. (Titus 2:4, anyone?)
When you genuinely apply these core principles, you don’t need to attend seminars on how to be a “sexy wife” because you understand that what makes a wife beautiful and a blessing to her husband is different in every marriage. You learn to tune in to what your husband needs and gracefully excuse yourself from the chaos of messages bouncing around the outside world that don’t apply to you.
It is a process that will take a lifetime, and certainly there will be bumps and storms along the way. But I think, too, that there would be less heartache and fewer tears if worried a bit less about other people’s expectations and focused a little more on the small handful that actually matter – God’s, and our husband’s.