Three Peaces of Command

Yesterday I wrote:

[B]ecause I was too chickenshit to appear sexist or hypocritical about work,–I had been passively hoping that she would pick “stay home, cook, and clean”, and therefore angry that–in the absence (and complete abdication) of my direction–she had chosen neither and both…just as I had demonstrated.

The question, then, is why was I chickenshit? What was it of which I was afraid? Well, one can chase that squirrel for a long time, but it always comes back to the fact that I chose to believe my modern instructors

  • parents
  • teachers
  • pastors
  • peers
  • TV shows
  • pop music
  • movies
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • billboards

were right, and that the clear text of the Bible was wrong; that Paul and Peter’s instruction–and Mary and Sarah’s examples–were wrong. I believed that what God had called righteous, I should call foolish. Even though the anger and confusion–within me!–witnessed that I was convicted this crap ain’t right, I still felt like I had to make up my own mind about it. Even though I wanted to have a wife follow me I still didn’t want to lead her and instruct her. Rather, I thought it better to let her wander after me[1] because… because why?

Because I got a paycheck? Because I’m smarter?  Because I was taller? Those things are fleeting, like beauty, and so even if they are momentary gifts from God, it is foolish to make them requisites for headship. The need for a husband’s headship will very often outlast these conditions.

That truth of the withering nature of material worthiness hounded me in my heart. I knew I could not keep it up forever, but my hope was in human frailty and inertia; that if I was just patient then she would realize what sweet and worthy guy I was.

At the same time I knew that wasn’t true because the longer we were together, the more we fought. If a wife’s drive-by spats are fitness tests of me, they should have subsided upon proof of fitness because I gave better than I got. They didn’t. They just got more frequent, pettier is scope, and grander is exercise. Bitterness crept into everything. No peace. Because I hated what God had to say–and because I did not speak out against hate –there was no peace in my house. No peace with my wife. No peace within me.

Really, I have those three peaces listed backwards. The argument that I described yesterday (“What do you want me to do?”) took place after I had moved back in from a nine month separation. My agreement to reconcile was based on several demands I made of her: You will always do this; you will never do this; etc. They were very specific to my main frustrations. But before I even made those demands, I had already decided the most important thing that I would ever do for my marriage.

I confessed, angrily, to God that I did not like His way; hat I had not tried it because it seemed crude to me; that I had tried to do my own thing that looked like His way, but which was more sensible for our progressed times and people. Now, no matter what, I would try His way, and by this I would prove whether He was right, or whether He was wrong. Either I would live or die and my marriage would survive or not, but I would do so by His Word, and everyone would know. If I had not made that decision, I would not have had the answer to my wife’s question of what I wanted from her.

At the point of the question I walked away and went to smoke a cigarette. There I reflected on what I had said to God I would do. I went back into the bedroom and said, “I want you to clean, and cook, and take care of my children and my house like a wife is supposed to.” To which she spat, “Great.” and we continued our fight…but this time I did so with peace; with the knowledge that I could not lose because it’s not Cane Caldo’s word or headship at stake.

Ten plus years of poor leadership, bad habits, and entrenched rebellion is not undone in one fight, but from there things got better. For one, our fights had a real basis of disagreement instead of just festering feelings and bitterness. I felt free to say to her, “Didn’t I tell you to do this? Why isn’t it done?” And she could be mad at me all she wants, but the truth is that I don’t ask her to do insane things, and the reason she doesn’t want to do them is because she’s got an ugly, rebellious spirit, and that she’d better check herself because the Lord loves a quiet, respectful spirit.

She could have left, but she didn’t. She still gets mad at me, but she does what I say. She quit her job (against her wishes). We homeschool now; which was my idea, not hers. The house is clean(er) now, but I am satisfied that she does her best. I put the kibosh on a lot of volunteer activities that she claimed to enjoy, but actually drained her energy and spirits. The further I went along with this idea of being a husband according to God’s Word, the more I realized I wasn’t doing, and started trying to implement. And the more I implemented, the more I realized that my wife hadn’t really been disciplined about anything. She had no idea what it was like to live under real expectations; not the pain of failure, and not the joy of success.

Wash, wash, wash…

[1] Who could only be described charitably as misguided. It is more honest to say that I was deliberately going the wrong way.

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20 thoughts on “Three Peaces of Command

  1. Long before I met my wife, I was engaged to another girl. I made it clear to her on our first date (because I’m the very picture of subtlety) that I wanted to marry a home maker. She said she wanted to be a home maker. Some time after I proposed, she revealed that she really wanted a career. I told her that my children would be raised by their mother, not paid strangers, and whether that would be her or not was up to her.

    I’m just glad she put her cards on the table before it was too late.

  2. One problem is the lack of knowing what “leadership” is. The same secular media confuses leadership with belligerence, bossiness, and brow-beating. That it means you are a micromanaging control freak. No man wants to be that caricature. And that caricature can be used unfairly against you.

    From another site (research in response to a fairly stupid article “why aren’t women so concerned about police brutality”), I found these “training wheels”. Given what’s at stake, I can see why they burned heretics. http://www.theduluthmodel.org/training/wheels.html Don’t read the PDF wheels or explore the site if your latest meal isn’t completely digested.

    From the military, there are leaders who simply state objectives and expect the subordinates to accomplish them. (The Germans even had to do training where the bureaucratic orders had to be violated to accomplish the missions). Same in the best businesses, the CEO trusts the CTO to get all the tech, the CFO to handle the financial aspects.

    In the war between the states McClellan was too cautious. He wouldn’t lead, he worried too much. He had a high rank though.

    The hard and subtle part is since your wife isn’t Rosie, the remote-control robot you need to program, but another thinking human being, you need to get the right balance between detail and overview, strategy and tactics. It will usually require several iterations to start getting it right, so she becomes the helpmeet.

    In Matthew 25, in the parable of the Talents, two servants doubled the talent given. The one that was afraid and buried it was called unfaithful and slothful. Rebellion can be a sin of omission, “Non Serviam” is the same even if you don’t shake your fist at your master, merely not serve.

    In a Christian marriage, men must be the heads, they must lead. Whether they want to or not. Whether they find it easy or not. Just like they must control their lust and anger. Those are sins of commission, while failing to lead is one of omission. But it is still sinful. It is the “talent” which you must invest.

  3. So much dirt to wash away.

    And I’m finding that I have a hard time if the dirt is from me or from her. Which is a delightful predicament in many ways

  4. One of your best posts Cane.
    Oddly, you have typos which are outside the norm. You don’t go pseudo Socratic (not intended as criticism, just description) in subtlety therefore you are totally unambiguous, maybe because you recount personal anecdotes.
    It is a testimony of sorts with decision points and your internal thinking throughout.
    This post will profit many.

  5. Been super busy.

    @Oscar

    Hahaha! “Look: A woman’s place is to raise her children, and at the end of the day tell they husbands which ones they had to almost kill.” Awesome.

    @tz

    One problem is the lack of knowing what “leadership” is.

    Leadership is a deep and subtle subject, and you’re right that there is a lack of knowledge. There are, like the Duluth Model, active efforts to eradicate it. However; I always keep in mind that the Duluth Models comes into existence because of the vacuum left by those who abandoned it; who decided that leadership was oppressive. The good news is that the hole is still shaped for leadership. If it is provided, it has a good chance of displacing the Duluth Models. If we’re patient.

    @Chad

    And I’m finding that I have a hard time if the dirt is from me or from her.

    You can’t do dishes without washing your hands. The moment you start, you do.

    @Empath

    Thanks. I purposefully put away the intellectual tone for this post. Sometimes personal examples are the best way to communicate, but I’m ambivalent about them. (Modesty hides treasures and trash.) There will probably be more in the near future, but over the long term I don’t want to make this blog a memoir.

  6. I like reading all of the various Canes. I was meaning to convey that the intellectual tone posts make folks think…..and maybe do, where this one is pure do.

  7. @ Cane

    Now compare Mother Agnus’s philosophy (get married, stay married for life, care for your husband and his children) to the following.

    Behold our nation’s trajectory explained in two (three?) generations.

  8. Pingback: Permission | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  9. In my own marriage I got a rather good wife. She wanted what most women _don’t_ want. But, as Cane points out, while I was definitely a sexist pig by most standards I was not _enough_ of a leader. This lead to really bad habits that metastasized after a long time of neglect. That neglect occurred because of my willingness to ignore what I _knew_ was True.

  10. I also experienced peace when I finally decided to lead. The fighting stopped almost immediately and my house is no longer in complete chaos.

    My wife and I went to counseling with the pastor of our church and his wife last year it wasn’t bad. He took a firm stance on submission and sexual denial and she agreed to do what I say and not refuse sex. I told her to declutter the house and lose weight primarily and she’s done those things. When I tell her to do something, she usually does it. The house is clean most of the time and she’s now thinner than when we married. Sex is about as often as I want but she is not into it. She’s polite about it which is as much fun as it sounds.

    She treats me like my employees treat me. Pleasant but impersonal. She doesn’t initiate sex, rarely starts a conversation unless you count “good morning,”and “what would you like for dinner” or “do you need anything before I go to sleep” which is her way of saying that she doesn’t want sex but will have it anyway. She doesn’t talk to me as much, but she’s not yelling and nagging either. She seems content with our marriage how it is, but it is far shy of what I want.

    If she was being rude or not doing what I told her to do then I could easily call her out, but this is harder to deal with.

  11. @John

    To be totally useless: you’re probably the person who knows her best. Surely you should be able to figure out what she needs/wants, no? Maybe her diet’s off. When I eat junk food I become a low-energy dick. Not being married, I have no empathy at all, but I extend my sympathies. Or is it the other way around? Good luck anyway.

  12. And, like all things human leading isn’t magic. As Cane’s post points out surliness will happen. She is still a moral agent.

  13. @John

    It sounds to me like you have been very blessed, yet you are still unhappy about it. I’m going to quote what you said; with the only difference being that I’ll bullet point the blessings

    1. My wife and I went to counseling with the pastor of our church and his wife last year it wasn’t bad. He took a firm stance on submission and sexual denial

    2. and she agreed to do what I say and not refuse sex.

    3. & 4. I told her to declutter the house and lose weight primarily and she’s done those things. (The house is clean most of the time and she’s now thinner than when we married.)

    5. When I tell her to do something, she usually does it.

    6. Sex is about as often as I want

    Most husbands in your position don’t find a straight-up supportive pastor and wife. The rest is more than many other husbands receive also.

    Your response to these is:

    but she is not into it. She’s polite about it which is as much fun as it sounds.

    Because you are the husband your relationship to your wife will never be fair in the sense that she will meet you halfway. Will she ever be more than polite if you are humdrum? I do not mean to say that you started it, or that it’s your fault that she’s merely polite. Let her own that. At the same time, you are the leader. Is it the case that you have shown her joy, and she only reflects civility?

    When my wife and children return my attentions and efforts with polite indifference or cold obedience it usually tempts me to anger, or to become stingy with the portion of joy and peace that has been given to me. I am tempted to think that I should not invest in them more than I believe they are willing to share back with me. I am tempted to believe that we are caught in a Prisoner’s Dilemma.

    The truth that gives the lie to the deception of the Prisoner’s Dilemma is that my wife and children are not my masters and not my equals. The Lord is my master. Whatever good I have came from Him, and He has much more to give me. I couldn’t give it all away if I tried, and, yes, I am supposed to try. As long as they serve (obey) I can afford to pay them jewels of joy for their service even if their service is perfunctory. And if I do not do this then I am betraying my Master; who gave me the monies to invest them. He will hold it against me. Likewise, if they do not pay you and others in joy, then God will hold it against them also.

    You are not me, and your wife is not my wife, but if my wife retreated into “duty sex” I would take it, and choose to be glad about it. Afterward a round of it, I would say something like, “Whew! I hope you had a good time, because I sure did ‘Preciate you inviting me in like that.” If she’s going to turn sex into a strictly service affair, then you shouldn’t let your feelings get hurt upon being obeyed. Save it for when you are disobeyed.

    I also recommend swatting, pinching, and otherwise grabbing her ass whenever it presents itself.

  14. I like this post, Cane. I needed to read this today. One of your best. This, and your advice to tacomaster a couple of years ago.

  15. “The truth that gives the lie to the deception of the Prisoner’s Dilemma is that my wife and children are not my masters and not my equals. The Lord is my master. Whatever good I have came from Him, and He has much more to give me.

    This is excellent. I am called to much more than tit-for-tat. Do I really believe that the Lord will bless even if my wife does not?

  16. Pingback: Will Women ever Get Submission Right?! | Unmasking Feminism

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