Thursday, March 7, 2013

Another analysis of a popular marriage book

I was asked in my previous post what I thought of the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Today, Sunshine Mary has a guest post up by Anon who speaks of his experience having read the book with his wife. I direct your attention to that post* and the discussion there. I concur with what Anon has to say:
I think this kind of advice might work well in a red pill marriage. In a case like that, the man could take the lead and hold the woman accountable to a third party (the book is presented as a Christian). But in a situation where your wife does not have the insight or the intrinsic accountability (and real reasons to do the work), it just falls apart.
This echoes what I said in answer to the question I was asked about the book: "Heh - I remember that when I read that book, I instigated even more arguments with RLB. Fitness tests galore. I'll add it to my list to review. It'll be interesting to read it through a red pill lense."

Like Anon says above, I lacked the insight or intrinsic accountability to make use of this book. I was still very "me" oriented and in rebellion to God's commands for women in marriage. This book gave me the permission to whine and complain about all the ways RLB was not loving me right. I read "Acts of service" and thought "yeah, I'd like that, why don't you ever do that? That must be why my love tank is empty." And then I read "Words of affirmation" and thought, "oh, for sure, I need you to say more things that will fill up my love tank." And on and on my hamster brain went. Having no understanding that this "empty love tank" concept had completely to do with rebellion to God's commands and nothing to do with RLB.

I remember days of anguish and confusion about our marriage. Wondering why I just could not settle my brain and find contentment in the relationship we had. Why I was continually seeking out and reading these marriage books and nothing was improving (in my mind). I know RLB went through long periods of "why can't you just be happy?"

I search for a way for me to get across to you the difference of what I feel today compared to the fretfulness and discontent I felt back then. It is overwhelming to me how it didn't have a thing to do with RLB. It was all about God. Even as a Christian, I was not abiding in the Word as I needed to, to settle my anxious heart. I think back now remembering how ignorant I was and sad the answer was right in my hands - the Bible. I can not even conjure up the same unsettled feelings now. They just don't exist in this home anymore.

What a beautiful gift I've been given. I wish I could give it away to every unsettled heart reading this. But that would take away the significance of accepting it on Faith.

Update: *That blog is no longer available, but here is the guest post Anon had originally submitted to The Woman and the Dragon discussing his perspective of The Five Love Languages:
            
           A thought experiment:
Let us suppose we were to conduct a sociological attitudes survey by polling 200 school children ranging from 6-18 years old.  We would randomly select 100 American girls and 100 boys. Our survey would contain one question-
“What are the things that are innately a part of being [male/female] that you have to do daily battle against in order to make yourself a better person?”
(Of course, we would have to word the question age appropriately for the little ones).
What kinds of answers do you think that survey would yield? In order for this piece to makes sense, I will give my opinion but the survey has not been conducted. It is based on  41 years of observing my culture.
From the boys we would get responses like:
We are violent.
We are aggressive.
We are cruel.
We are too competitive.
We are mean.
We are dumber than girls.
From the girls we would get:
What are you talking about? Grrrrrls are AWESOME!
You might also hear attempts to deflect from actually answering the question like:
We are too forgiving
We love without holding back
We take too much BS from men
All of which essentially have nothing to do with the question (and don't make any sense--how can you love "too much?")
What you should get is:
We are vain. (No truly masculine man spends the same amount of time in front of a mirror)
We have poor impulse control. (Diagnosed Borderline Personality at an exponentially higher rate than men)
We are attracted to violent/powerful/cruel men. (For every Nazi that women like to point to, there was a woman at home waiting with her legs spread).
There are others, but I am not a woman, so it is not my lot in life to face female demons. It is my contention that the same survey of 20, 30, 40 and 50 something women would yield the same result.
As I try to figure out why Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages” book (and workbook) was such a failure for me and my wife, it occurs to me—this book (and all like it) requires both parties to be introspective and accountable. If my basic presupposition above is true, it was doomed from the start.
My story starts when I was deployed and happened to have regular access to Skype. My wife wanted to “stay connected” while I was there and one of the ways SHE decided to do so was to go through marriage self-help books together using the Skype venue. At the core, each one of these had the same outcome—I would diligently do the homework or exercises between chapters, (while engaged with the enemy on a foreign battlefield, no less) bring my work to the next Skype session, and my wife would not have hers done. She would give excuses like “this chapter didn’t really speak to me,” or “I was too busy this week” or whatever.
We tried modifying the assignments, spreading them our over more time, whatever. It never worked. She started to show signs of guilt that I was getting them done, and she wasn’t.  She would express the guilt by hurling accusations at me like “you are just doing the work so well to make me feel like a bad wife.”
Huh?
She was the one who wanted to do these. She picked the damn books out. I had no say, really.
So after Chapman’s book, we stopped. The first two were similar—one was a devotional style book for couples. Doesn’t matter—we just quit.
Specifically with regard to the “Five Languages” book, let’s take a look at the basic hypothesis.  It states, more or less, that different people have varying subjective ways of sending and receiving love messages to each other, and more often than not, couples’ “languages” don’t match. Makes sense, right? In fact, I would suggest one does not need Gary Chapman to point this out. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
However, and as I mentioned earlier—there is an assumption when he creates his workbook that both parties come to the exercises with an open heart, willing to look inward and make changes for the other in order to create harmony for the relationship.
The problem is--no woman in a marriage 2.0 marriage has any idea what that paragraph even means. It is filled with so many presuppositions that are frankly not a part of what is now called “marriage” that it will be doomed to the kind of failure I had with it. I foolishly thought that my wife would be able to read each chapter and ask herself tough questions about her own motivations, instincts and baggage that might be interfering with our relationship. I foolishly thought that the abstraction—“the relationship” was a thing worth working on. She labors under several different assumptions, many of which have been explored time and again on this very website. I will not get into them here.
As for the specific tenets—the languages themselves—what are they and what kinds of exercises do you have to do in the workbooks? Let’s look:
1.       Words of affirmation—just what it sounds like. All of the assignments require the participants to make some kind of effort to affirm the other person verbally.
2.       Quality time—Some people just like the time spent together. Therefore, these assignments revolve around setting aside time for the person who’s primary language is “quality time.”
3.       Receiving Gifts—Easy enough, I guess. If one person “feels” love from receiving gifts, you get them more gifts.
4.       Acts of service—This one I had really hoped my wife would get, as the things that I do around the house are my way of saying “I love you, so you don’t have to do this.” It never sunk in, because the INSIDE of our house is just as likely to be taken care of by me as it is by her.
5.       Physical touch—Of course, Chapman tries to pretend like there is no humongous gulf between what men mean by this and women. My guess is, a survey of churchian women who read this part (and don’t like icky sex with their husbands anymore) love this chapter because it means, hug me, hold my hand, kiss me but DON’T GET TURNED ON, YOU PERV!
I think this kind of advice might work well in a red pill marriage. In a case like that, the man could take the lead and hold the woman accountable to a third party (the book is presented as a Christian). But in a situation where your wife does not have the insight or the intrinsic accountability (and real reasons to do the work) it just falls apart.
I will end with this—As many readers of SSMs blog are aware, I am new at this. I have extensive training in human behavior, but I am on a steep learning curve regarding the red pill. The comment that sparked this guest post opined that it’s not simply a bad idea to try “the 5 love languages”  to help your marriage, but that a woman is actually TURNED OFF by these suggestions. So readers—why is that?

21 comments:

  1. You should write your own book. Seriously. A biblical marriage book that actually follows the word. Considering that you blog about it already why not start compiling it into book form. Just a thought. 

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  2. I wish more people would realise that that book and many like it are supposed to teach you how to treat your loved ones, not to teach you how they are supposed to treat you. The problem is one of perspective.

    I think my wife's got it right.

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  3. Great point VryeDenker, if each understands what are the hot button issues or "language" and work towards providing them, then both sides can be happy. If one doesn't hold up their end of the donkey, then the whole thing falls apart. In my own marriage, the book provided some insight to my why my wife took my words so seriously and didn't brush them off so much (she's a "words of affirmation" language), and for her, she realized my "physical touch" was really important. It led us to some discussion and understanding and even though it took additional discussions and tries to get it to sink in, it finally is rooting. Keep in mind though, we were structurally sound at this point, with me as family leader having re-earned her respect a year+ prior. If I was a beta lap dog, and tried to beta-it-up even further based on the Language book to get her to be haaappy, I know it wouldn't have worked. But it does have its place once structure and perspective and respect is in place.

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  4. What happened to SSMs wordpress? As of this morning its..deleted? Can this be true?

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  5. We don't know any further details than what you've seen and that is the blog has been deleted.

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  6. If it's true, that would be a real shame. A blog owner has the right to do whatever she wants with it, of course, but there was a ton of good information there in both the posts and the comments (despite the recent spate of Trolling).

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  7. "I remember days of anguish and confusion about our marriage. Wondering why I just could not settle my brain and find contentment in the relationship we had. Why I was continually seeking out and reading these marriage books and nothing was improving (in my mind). I know RLB went through long periods of "why can't you just be happy?" "

    I was seeking help from everyone for a long time, including my matriarchal-minded family, which just kept doing more damage, because I didn't know what to do with it. I think I knew somewhere deep down that scripture said one thing, but everyone else said something different, but couldn't seem to get my brain to pick the right one for a long time. It was so confusing, and our marriage was suffering, and hubs admits he kept upping the beta to fix it (combined with random alpha outbursts, which really didn't help in the midst of everything else, because it wasn't permanent).... there was a lot of damage to our marriage during that time :(

    Since he's been getting into the manosphere and being more consistently alpha, and I've been working on trying to keep up with him, things seem to have improved. Still rocky in some areas, but improving...

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  8. SSM's site going down was abrupt. Something happened, I am sure, but I don't know what that would be. Usually when there is an abrupt site takedown, there is a security breach of some sort or the blog owner was outed, as happened when Solonon II and Thursday took down their respective sites a couple of years ago.

    It will be a shame if her site doesn't come back up.

    deti

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  9. Still rocky in some areas, but improving...

    Yey! That is wonderful to hear! There are few things I love more than to hear of marriages improving and heading in the right direction!


    deti - I'll miss her tremendously! But I am very thankful for everything she wrote and the discussions surrounding her posts. I know I'm not alone in having been impacted by what she gave freely and appreciative of the time she put into it.

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  10. I'm stubborn... it's taking a while ;)

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  11. It doesnt sound like step childs marriage is improving, really. It sounds like the husband is still jumping through her hoops, just wearing an alpha expression on his face while he does it, it being exactly what she wants him to do. She is still meting out approval.

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  12. Well, let's see...Red, what are you still being stubborn about? And what is your understanding of Titus 2:5? You don't need to answer here. This is what you pray about. Not focusing on what your husband is/is not doing. That's the key. It will matter little what your husband does when you are no longer in rebellion to this and other verses about what God commands of wives in marriage.

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  13. Sarah, I have long loved your comments at SSM's and just recently been fitting your blog into my reading around everyone else I follow. So, please forgive me for being off topic, as I do truly appreciate all you've said and written.

    That said, I have to share this just in case SSM comes looking later to let us know what happened. I very nearly posted on her latest thread this testimony, but I didn't want to go off-topic - now I wish I had!

    Ever since stumbling onto To Love, Honor And Vacuum, and from there Dalrock, and from there, SSM, (and others in the Christian manosphere) I have been slowly making my way from being, basically, agnostic, to hungering to learn more about the Bible and REAL Christianity - not watered down feel-good Christianity, and not hellfire and brimstone doomsday rants, but real Christianity, with both love and consequences. I made it my New Year's resolution to read a real Bible all the way cover to cover (I'd read a children's version before - sort of a "reader's digest"), and so far I'm doing all right - just finished the Pentateuch! Whew!

    All the posts you ladies did about helping your man through a hard time were perfectly timed for me - just enough in advance to get it in my head. A couple of days ago, my Fiance lost his job. I'm employed, so we'll be okay, and he's looking, but in the meantime, it'll be tight. As of last night, I was turning everything over in my head. I've grown up with the idea that it is good to vent, to get bad feelings out so you can move on. But since reading here, and at SSM's, I know it is no good to "vent" about my fiance to my family or friends - I don't want to bad talk him to anyone, and I know I'd only be undermining him. But I still felt like I needed to vent somewhere, to someone, so I wondered to myself, "What would SSM say? And SD and Song2:11? All those ladies who have it so figured out? Who do I go to to talk about my fears without undermining my fiance?"

    And then I had a total DUH moment. "Of course they would tell me to pray! That's who I talk to to help me handle this burden!" So right away I started praying, and it felt so good. I cried my little self out and put everything out, and I started to ask for a new job right away, then I thought some more and asked instead for the strength to get through, to continue to respect and love my fiance, to help us both to get through whatever was to come.

    And what this all adds up to is I want to thank you ladies for putting your experience out there and showing me what a wife should be like and look like. Reading in the manosphere has taught me a lot about how I and other women think, and I saw quickly how NOT to be, but seeing you all as examples has been so inspiring and it REALLY has, really IS changing me to be a better person, BEFORE wasting years getting feminist merit badges! So to SD, and SSM, song2:11, LisainVermont, and all the other classy ladies in this corner of the internet, I owe a real debt of gratitude. It's still early, and I'm still learning and have a long ways to go, but thanks to you all, at least my feet are on the right path rather than go miles down feminist roads and having to backtrack years down. I really hope SSM's blog comes back, or that she at least comes back to post comments, but whatever happens, I'm grateful for the time she was here.

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  14. Thank you for posting that, I hope SSM, Song and Lisa get to see it as well.

    You're right, we would have told you to pray. I'm so glad you did. And believe me, still to this day I'll be "off" - frazzled about something and RLB will say, "did you pray about it?" Man, I feel so dumb..."um...nope, not yet." Then he'll just say, "hmm...might want to try that, I've heard it works." Many times I'll catch it myself like you did in the "duh" moment.

    I'll keep you and your fiance in my prayers.

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  15. Haha, that's great! Glad to hear it's not just me then :P

    Thanks so much for the prayers. <3 It wasn't my intention to be sympathy seeking, but I sure appreciate it.

    Omigosh, I'm getting all watery eyed just thinking about it some more. XD It is just so great to be on this path and finally discovering a real religion instead of the cardboard facsimile so many other people buy into. Thank you thank you thank you!

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  16. Sometime over the weekend I'll have a post up about a book that I've finished reviewing. It is fantastic, I just don't have the time today to write it up. I highly recommend you get a hold of it. It's called "You can be the wife of a happy husband." by Darian B. Cooper and is available on Kindle. I read it a long time ago. I remember when I read it the first time, I confirmed my faith. I wish I would have just kept that book around instead of wasting my time with the femcentric/mutual submission marriage books I read after.

    You are so welcome PG, don't consider it sympathy seeking, challenges in life can certainly be talked about, it's where your heart is that matters. And it is always good to request prayers and be prayed for when your heart is right.
    “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” - Matthew 18:19-20

    You prayed for "the strength to get through, to continue to respect and love my fiance" - I (and many more reading) agree!

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  17. Oh, I will have to check it out - thanks! And do you remember the name of the book that was discussed positively in SSM's last thread? It was something like "Amazing Wifehood" or... gah, It was an adjective + noun, and the noun was woman/wife related... I didn't make note at the time, figuring I'd just take it down in the morning XD

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  18. It was "Fascinating Womanhood" :) by Helen Andelin. I haven't read it yet, it's on my list to get as well.

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  19. Total Woman was popular in the 1970's. She wrote about respecting your husband, stop nagging him, being sexy playful. It appears to be out of print but used copies are available.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0671732110/sr=/qid=/ref=olp_tab_used?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&condition=used&me=&qid=&seller=&sr=

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20065122,00.html

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  20. Ahh, thanks, both to SD for the title I was looking for, and to Anon for the suggestion. I should have plenty of reading to do now! ^-^

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  21. You might want to note that the link in the base post no longer works.

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