Sunday, March 22, 2009

Love and Respect 8

More from Love and Respect,


    What your husband wants is your acknowledgement that he is the leader, the one in authority. This is not to grind you under or treat you as inferior. It is only to say that becasue God has made your husband responsible (review Eph. 5:22-33), he needs the authority to carry out that responsibility. No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure. That is one of the big reasons that people are divorcing today. page 221
I would like to note that there is no evidence that complementarian marriages are longer-lasting than egalitarian marriages. Nor that they are happier. There is no evidence whatsoever that marriages fail because they have two equals at the head. I am not sure whether it is the male domination theme or the lack of honesty that bothers me the most in this book.

It is very tiresome to read something as poorly supported by fact and reality as this book. I am depressed. I realize the reason why this book has not received more critical reviews is because it is difficult to read something that denigrates and demeans women this much. Sad stuff.

I think that reading hate literature, porn and anything at all that actively degrades you as a reader is not healthy. At the same time, someone needs to deconstruct these things. This book claims to reconcile science and complementarian exegesis, but it does not accurately cite social science articles and its handle on exegesis is weak.

I would like to end on a positive note by citing a passage from John Gottman - its long but I didn't feel ill after reading this. I thought about the values of friendship and affection, humour and tenderness. I am thinking of this verse,
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8
With this in mind, I offer this passage from Gottman on the same topic,
    We find that there are differences between men and women and the way you to study these differences is independent of sexual orientation. You have to study gay and Lesbian couples who are committed to each other as well as heterosexual couples who are committed to each other, and try and match things as much as you can, like how long they've been together, and the quality of their relationship. And we've done that, and we find that there are two gender differences that really hold up.

    One is that if a man presents an issue, to either a man he's in love with or a woman he's in love with, the man is angrier presenting the issue. And we find that when a woman receives an issue, either from a woman she loves or a man she loves, she is much more sad than a man would be receiving that same issue. It's about anger and sadness. Why? Remember, Bowlby taught us that attachment and loss and grief are part of the same system. So women are finely tuned to attaching and connecting and to sadness and loss and grief, while men are attuned to defend, stay vigilant, attack, to anger.

    My friend Levenson did an acoustic startle study (that's where you shoot of a blank pistol behind someone's head when they least expect it). Men had a bigger heart rate reactivity and took longer to recover, which we would expect, but what even more interesting is that when you asked people what they were feeling, women were scared and men were angry. So that's probably why those two differences have held up. Physiologically people find over and over again in heterosexual relationships — and this hasn't been studied yet in gay and Lesbian relationships — that men have a lower flash point for increasing heart-rate arousal, and it takes them longer to recover.
    And not only that, but when men are trying to recover, and calm down, they can't do it very well because they keep naturally rehearsing thoughts of righteous indignation and feeling like an innocent victim. They maintain their own vigilance and arousal with these thoughts, mostly of getting even, whereas women really can distract themselves and calm down physiologically from being angered or being upset about something. If women could affiliate and secrete oxytocin when they felt afraid, they's even calm down faster, probably.
    So there are all these small but reliable differences, and I think they have big implications for what you do in relationships. Now it's women who matter here, because we find that 80 percent of the time women are the ones in our culture who raise issues, and they raise them harshly in an unhappy relationship and more gently in a happy relationship.

    But does that mean that women are to blame in some way for relationships going bad? The poor men get so physiologically aroused they can't think straight and the women are calmer, so it's no wonder, we might think, that men withdraw or aggress. Not so at all. Levenson and I did a study where we had couples talk about how their day went before they talked about their big conflict area, and it turned out that the women who raised the issue harshly — and by the way, the men who raised the issue harshly as well, 20 percent of the time it's guys who raise the issue — had partners who weren't very interested in how their day went. They'd look at their watch, or, you know, they were bored, or they were — they were kind of insulting when the person started talking about their day. Like one guy said to his wife, "Why don't you go first? It won't take you very long." Really a putdown, just in their talking about how their day went. Those people had partners who started harshly. So it's really a circle. Friendship and emotional connection and the management of conflict.

7 comments:

Jay Seidler said...

There is no evidence that the New Testament supports a single head of a local church(not really an organization, but some would think so). The opposite seems to be the NT norm, so why should marriage need a single head. Besides, my God has three heads. Oops! I fell right into their logical trap. Of course the Father is the big boss and Jesus is subservient. Now I just have to figure out if Jesus is greater than Muhammad or not.

Kate Johnson said...

Equality in relationship is the reason for divorce? Seems contradictory to me. Interesting that research supports that women who are abused have a divorce rate of 75% and non-abused women have a divorce rate of 15%. (Nason-Clark 2004)If this is true as research suggests, then what really leads to the high divorce rate?

Gem said...

I don't have the book anymore... My impression upon reading it was extreme frustration because I lived what he preaches. I was always so careful to be respectful and to make sure our children were respectful. And I believed that he was "a godly man", I put him on a pedestal, I supported his dreams, I followed him around the world from job to job and believed that he lost them because "no one appreciated him"... He had his own little kingdom at home where he was the undisputed KING and we all catered to and served him and his interests.

So, when I read this book, I was FRUSTRATED. Because I PRACTICED what he PREACHES, and it just about killed me emotionally, and it was not healthy for my husband, enabled his denial of some of his root issues which bit him over and over and over again in his employment history. I failed to be the life-saving ezer [help MEET] God intended.

For marriages like mine, the book is a manual for enabling.

Kristen said...

Why, oh why, must some Christians insist that marriage is "an organization" or should work like one?

Do they not realize that this view of marriage as an institution, an organization, is one of the reasons many in the world today just avoid it altogether?

Marriage is an organic unit, a sythesis, a joining of two into one body. It is, or should be, the best kind of best-friend relationship you could ever have.

Best friends do not need one of them to be the leader. In that case they wouldn't be best friends, they'd be hero and sidekick. One thing best friends never are, is boss and subordinate as in an employment model. As soon as you set up that model, the friendship has been compromised. That's why bosses are advised to never become close friends with their employees, but to always maintain a certain distance.

A business is an organization. It is our human tendency throughout history to make it into one, but the things Jesus taught were meant to counteract that. We are to be "one flesh," and a body isn't an organization.

Kristen said...

Whoops! I meant that second-to-last sentence to read, "It is our human tendency throughout history to make marriage into one, but the things Jesus taught were meant to counteract that."

Jane said...

Suzanne - thanks you so much for this post which I have read at the end of a difficult week at work. What actually interests me is that this view of a man's "authroity" and "role" in mariage then spills over into wider society, into the way many men feel women should look up to them simply becuase of the role they have

Lydia said...

"It is only to say that becasue God has made your husband responsible (review Eph. 5:22-33), he needs the authority to carry out that responsibility. No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure. That is one of the big reasons that people are divorcing today. page 221 "

This quote from L&R is typical comp teaching I heard for years. But if you analyze it there are several problems.

1. If the husband 'needs' the authority to carry out his responsiblity then ONLY the wife can give him that authority. That means the wife HAS authority to give.

2. The whole concept of 'two heads' is one I heard a zillion times. After a while I had to rethink this because the way they are teaching it...head as authority...means the wife will always have TWO 'heads'. One is Christ and the other her Husband. And we know that cannot be right.