You may think the title of this blog is a bit presumptious. Wait until you read this before deciding I mistitled it.
Years ago, a friend recommended Michael and Debbie Pearl’s books on childrearing. We read a couple and while they had some good advice and interesting ideas, for the most part, they were a couple of freaky, freaky people. Before realizing the full extent of their creapiness, I signed up for their newsletter/magazine. After receiving it for a couple of months, we realized we didn’t even want it in our house. Neither Israel nor I wanted to write a letter canceling our subscription for fear that we would be chastized, because obviously, if we didn’t like what we were reading it was because we were being convicted and therefore needed to be reading it. And from the letters Michael Pearl received and the advice he gives, that would not be out of character.
We moved from Kansas City to California and the magazines followed us. I finally got online and after some searching was able to discontinue our subscription without having to talk to anyone. YAY!
Yeah…unfortunately, the canceling didn’t seem to take. We moved to Mississippi and continued to get the magazine. We never gave them a forwarding address and yet, here’s the magazine. We moved to a new place and yesterday, what should be in my mailbox but another “NGJ” (No Great Joy – the name of the Pearl’s ministry) magazine. This magazine did not have a forwarded sticker on it. Nope. It had my name and my current address. I don’t understand but am freaked the heck out.
Then Israel opened it and started reading it, thinking perhaps we’d find something ridiculous to blog about. Did he ever. Below, in blue ink, is a letter from a reader and Michael’s advice.
I have tried to read your articles to find an answer to my problem, but I have not been able to find one. So, I write to you in secret. My husband has been talking with another woman for several years without my knowledge. I just found out, and I’m so hurt. My husband says he’s sorry and that he tried to stop several times, but could not get victory.
This is the second time this has happened. My husband is a saved man in the ministry, and this girl has a high position in the ministry as well. I have decided to keep my mouth shut, because I don’t want my husband’s ministry to have a scar. I need help though, because I’m so hurt inside and have no one to talk to. I have to face this girl every week and act as though nothing is wrong. My husband has to work in the office with her a least once a week and act as if nothing is wrong. I don’t want him to talk to her, look at her, or even smile at her, etc., but if he acts funny, I know suspicions will arise in me.
My husband said that he would start being open with me when I ask him questions or ask to see his phone. But I feel like he’s starting to get irritated with me already, as I keep asking and I’m scared of his temper. My husband admits that he has a problem with wanted attention from women, and I fear that it may happen again. I feel so alone and I’m fighting so much with bitterness, anger, thoughts of their conversations and wondering why I wasn’t or am not good enough for him. I feel so betrayed.
I love my husband and our children, and I want him to do the Lord’s work. I don’t want to do anything that will destroy his ministry. Please help me with some advice.
Fight for your man. Go to the woman personally, and tell her to get another job or you will make her wish she had. Tell your husband that you expect either him or her to quit and go somewhere else. If not, go to work with him and don’t let him out of your sight.
Here are my thoughts on this little tidbit…
I have tried to read your articles to find an answer to my problem, but I have not been able to find one. So, I write to you in secret. First problem. Why are you doing this in secret? Your husband already knows you are concerned. If he is actually interested in “victory” you shouldn’t have to hide the fact that you are seeking advice, unless, of course, he thinks the Pearl’s are a bunch of crackpots. My husband has been talking with another woman for several years without my knowledge. Talking, huh? What a cad. I just found out, You just found out. This woman and your husband have enough of a relationship that you are concerned and you are just finding out. You should be involved enough (and your husband should allow you access to his life enough) that you know about friendships, male or female, before then hit the “years” mark. and I’m so hurt. My husband says he’s sorry and that he tried to stop several times, but could not get victory. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to get victory over. If all that’s happening is conversations, where’s the sin to be victorious over? Maybe you aren’t being as honest as you need to be? Maybe they are having sex in the pews but you are too embarrassed to say so?
This is the second time this has happened. The second time he’s talked to a woman or the second time he’s hidden a relationship from you? My husband is a saved man in the ministry, and this girl has a high position in the ministry as well. I have decided to keep my mouth shut, because I don’t want my husband’s ministry to have a scar. That’s right. Because what’s really important here is that you all keep a nice happy public image while you die from the inside out. You should be more concerned with you marriage, your husband’s soul (if indeed there is sin occurring), and your own self respect and health (if you are continuing to share the bed with a man who’s sleeping around), than with public image. I need help though, because I’m so hurt inside and have no one to talk to. Ironically, no one to talk to except a man you aren’t married to. Hmmm. Ironies aside, why are you alone? Why don’t you have friends you can share this with? If it’s because you are too afraid of “ministry scars” you are a fool. Build some friendships that are deeper than what you had for dinner last night. Be vulnerable and open and then accepting and nonjudgemental when your friends are open and vulnerable in return. I have to face this girl every week and act as though nothing is wrong. Why must you pretend nothing is wrong if something is? Of course, if all that has happened is that your husband and this girl have been friends, than you are overreacting and there isn’t anything wrong. If there’s been an affair, the Bible has guidelines for how adultery should be handled in the church. Follow the Scriptures you claim to believe. My husband has to work in the office with her a least once a week and act as if nothing is wrong. See previous statement. I don’t want him to talk to her, look at her, or even smile at her, etc., You have just given much more validity to their “relationship” by putting all these rules in place. What had been a friendship has now been classified as “illicit.” Again, if there has been adultery, it needs to be dealt with at a corporate level. but if he acts funny, I know suspicions will arise in me. I think you need to be in therapy. Seriously. You shouldn’t be this upset and this “suspicious” over a friendship. And if your husband has committed adultery, you probably need to be in therapy to deal with the betrayal and the hurt.
My husband said that he would start being open with me when I ask him questions or ask to see his phone. Again with the not trusting. He’s a grown man. I would get irritated if Israel wanted to count the cookies every day to make sure I wasn’t having more than my fair share (food being my addiction). But I feel like he’s starting to get irritated with me already, as I keep asking and I’m scared of his temper. Stop the train. You are afraid of you husband. This should not be a letter asking for advice on how to stop him from talking to another woman. This should be a letter asking for advice on how to get yourself and your children out of the house without endangering anyone needlessly. If you are afraid of you husband, get the hell out of the house. You both need counseling. Him for being angry or violent enough to make you afraid; you for staying in a dangerous relationship for all these years or, and this is the clincher, for being willing to say your husband is abusive (what else do you think “afraid of his temper” means?) when in reality you don’t have the maturity to deal with normal adult relationships, which include some conflict. My husband admits that he has a problem with wanted attention from women, (I’m a woman and I like attention from woman. I like attention from men, too. I enjoy people noticing me. I also enjoy people noticing my husband. I like it when people think he’s neat and want to talk to him. I find it very complimentary to me. I chose well.) and I fear that it may happen again. What happen again? Talking to another human being who happens to be female? I feel so alone and I’m fighting so much with bitterness, anger, thoughts of their conversations and wondering why I wasn’t or am not good enough for him. I feel so betrayed. Again, you need friends, girl. You need to make some friends outside of your immediate family. You need to deal with your bitterness. That crap will eat you up from the inside out. Seriously. Bitterness will destroy you. Anger is not necessarily bad. If something wrong had happened, you I should be angry. Of course, if you are angry because he chats with a coworker, you do probably need to be dealing with anger issues. Stop thinking about their conversations and ask your husband what they’ve talked about. Maybe you’ll find out that they went to the same highschool and have many mutual friends. Maybe they both like painting and have been discussing different water color techniques. Maybe they are having phone sex and you do have reason to be upset. You will never know until you ask you husband and he has the integrity to tell you the truth. And if he doesn’t, a “scar” on his ministry is the least of you problems.
I love my husband and our children, and I want him to do the Lord’s work. So much that you are willing to sacrifice your marriage so he doesn’t look bad. I don’t want to do anything that will destroy his ministry. Oh, like keeping your mouth shut until he has a high profile, public affair that blows up and makes the whole Christian community look bad? Thanks. Please help me with some advice. Or, give me some really crappy advice that won’t help at all.
1. “Fight for your man.” Not bad in and of itself. But the way he advises to go about fighting for her man…yikes.
2. “Go to the woman personally, and tell her to get another job or you will make her wish she had.” Okay, okay, I am trying to write about this but the laughter in my brain just won’t stop. The Pearl’s pride themselves on being based on the bible. Where do they find support for making someone’s life miserable in order to get your way in the Bible? Because that’s what he’s saying. First, you make an ultimatum. “Quit or I’ll make you wish you had.” Okay, then when she doesn’t quit, what are you supposed to do? Start slashing her tires? Begin telling people what a slut she is? Maybe egging her house and calling at all hours of the night is the answer. With open ended advice like that, anything is possible. Michael stresses consistency and following through with threats in his parenting advice. Why would dealing with adults be any different? So, if this girl doesn’t quit, now this woman is stuck with having to make someone else’s life miserable. Sounds like a great way to model Christ.
3. “Tell your husband that you expect either him or her to quit and go somewhere else.” Whoa, Whoa, whoa. TELL you husband? TELL? I thought that Michael Pearl supported women being submissive to their husbands. Maybe telling your husband what to do means something else to him but to me, it smacks of being unsubmissive. (I am NOT agreeing with Michael Pearl’s view of submission but simply pointing out his own inconsistencies.) My question when I hear this is “Or what?” What if he doesn’t quit or she doesn’t quit? Oh, yeah, last sentence…
4. “If not, go to work with him and don’t let him out of your sight.” Wow. Well, that is certainly one way to build trust and faith in a relationship. And I’ll bet his boss will be really pleased when wife and kids (because they should all be homeschooled if you are a follower of the Pearl’s) show up to shadow Daddy at work. And what if you husband doesn’t happen to work in the ministry where that sort of thing might be acceptable? What if one’s husband works in a controlled or secure area? What if he works in a construction site? What are you going to do when he has to leave town for a business trip? Come on, Michael.
There are just so many things wrong. I think the first thing that needs to be addressed is the truthfulness of this letter. I don’t think she’s telling the whole story. Either her husband has done more than just talk previously in their marriage or he’s doing more than just talking right now. OR, and this is a big OR, she’s seriously this worked up because her husband is talking with a coworker.
My husband and I have a great relationship. We also have great friendships outside of each other. One of my best friends, is also one of his best friends. She came down and spent two weeks with us last summer. We went up and stayed with her for two weeks this fall. She plans on coming to Germany and staying with us for 6 months. Israel and she talk on the phone once a week or so, sometimes less often, sometimes more often. Sometimes I’m home, sometimes I’m not. If I’m not, Israel makes sure to tell me so that it doesn’t seem as though he’s hiding anything. I’m not concerned about him having an affair with her. Do you know why?
Because I’ve made a conscious decision to trust my husband and my best friend. Would I want them to go on a month long back packing trip through the Rockies by themselves? No. If such a situation happened (through no fault of their own, like a plane crash or something) would I believe them when they said nothing inappropriate happened? Yes, I would. I can’t live any other way. If I can not trust my husband to be honest with me, than there’s nothing I can do. Yes, I could follow him around and watch his every move. If he doesn’t respect me enough to tell me the truth, why would he respect me enough to change his behavior just because I’m watching. And if the only reason he’s behaving is because I’m watching, what happens when I can’t watch him?
The only way to have a relationship with any meaning is to trust. What Israel does is his responsibility. If he has an affair, there will be consequences and he knows that. If he looks at too much porn, there are consequences. If I eat a whole bag of Hershey’s Kisses, there are consequences. If I don’t clean the house and he has to come home to a pigsty, there are consequences. If I have an affair, there are consequences.
Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for your actions. Israel and I have made a commitment to be 100% honest with each other, which includes telling the other when we’ve screwed up.
We don’t hide things. Why be married if you aren’t going to be soul mates?
We don’t lie to each other. How could I lie with a man, allowing him access to me while I am more vulnerable than at any other time, if I’m lying to him and vice versa?
We are honest about our weaknesses. How can you address a problem if you don’t know it exists? How can we be a help to each other if we don’t share our struggles?
We help each other and lean on each other when we need a shoulder to help us along. Why have a relationship if you aren’t going to be bettered and neither is your partner?
My point is that Michael Pearl’s advice smacks of distrust. It smacks of someone who thinks the best way to find out what’s going on is to follow the person around. The only way to make sure your spouse is doing what they are supposed to is to shadow them. Where’s the trust? Where’s the love? Love doesn’t do that.
God doesn’t hound us, following after us, waiting for us to screw us so He can pounce on us. God doesn’t give us ultimatums. Well, only the “follow Me or suffer eternal damnation” one but other than that, God doesn’t say, “Preach the gospel here or I’m going to give you fecal incontinence.” God says, do this. God sets the standard. We make a choice of whether or not we are going to strive to meet that standard. If we decide to not meet it, than we suffer the consequences, be what they may. If we decide to meet the standard, than we must do all we can to meet it. If we are unable, God is there to help us. He’s more than willing to help us. I think He enjoys giving us a hand for that last heave up the mountainside. He’s not just going to do it all Himself. He expects us to put some effort into it.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m going to have to make this magazine stop. This man’s advice is so bad, I don’t even want it in my home. I am not looking forward to having to speak to them or write to them or in any way alert them to my existence but this drivel has to stop coming into my home. I get enough drivel through the news.