Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Can Of Worms For You To Consider

I have a feeling I may be opening a huge can of worms here; worms that, once released, may be impossible to recapture and return to their docile state. But, since I am only going to open the lid and I really have no personal agenda or stake in the worms wriggling inside, I believe I will take the chance.

My husband took me shopping yesterday; he's amazing like that. I've been wanting to get up to Holmes County for quilt batting and fabric and he so nicely made the trip happen. I've told you before how our thrift store adventures turn out. I'm happy to say, we came home without a single cassette in hand. What I may have failed to mention is his other thrift store weakness: Books. Particularly ones that have something to do with marriage. He insists the dusty stack of books hiding out in the back corner of a closet that I roll my eyes over and repeatedly ask permission to dispose of is the reason he is such a marriage expert. He is, so what can I say?

We added to the stack yesterday ---


He flipped through the book and spent the $1 because of a page and half that he read and wanted to show me. The ironic truth is that I spent a good part of last evening reading what Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale had to say back in 1971. It didn't take me long to figure out that she must have had a stack of dusty books on the subject of marriage in the back of her closet too, because she sure thinks a lot like my husband!

                       

The page and a half that convinced him to spend a dollar has me intrigued too. It flies full in the face of popular marriage advice these days and I find it very, very interesting. I'm not going to say anything else about it; I'll just pry open the lid on the can and leave it here to let the worms wriggle where they will...

"The wife who studies her husband over the years--really studies him--will come to know him even better than he knows himself. She will be aware of qualities and potentialities in him that he himself may not know are there.

I thought of this the other day when I heard a story about a certain wife in a small Midwestern town, a gentle  sweet-tempered woman who's husband was a gay blade, very attractive to women. He knew it, and he took advantage of it at every opportunity--and there were lots of opportunities.

Since it was a small town, this man's amorous adventures were a matter of common knowledge. And since it was a typical small town, there were those who considered it their duty--their somewhat gleeful duty--to tell the wife about the husband's philanderings.

But the curious thing was that these bearers of ill-tidings never seemed to get anywhere with the wife.  She would listen patiently to the worst they had to say, then she would smile and reply that she was quite sure they were mistaken. Her Bob was not that kind of man at all. He would be incapable of such deceit. She appreciated their interest, but they really need not concern themselves further, because obviously they didn't know what they were talking about.

The informers kept trying. But against this serene assurance, against this unshakable faith (for that is what it seemed to be) they made no headway whatever.

Meantime, because nothing remains secret in small towns, reports of his wife's attitude got back to the husband. At first he congratulated himself on having a wife whose suspicions were so hard to arouse. He told himself that it made his extra-marital exploits a lot less risky. In fact, it just went to prove his long-time contention that what a wife didn't know wouldn't hurt her.

But gradually a change came over this man. He stopped looking for adventures, and he ceased being responsive when adventurers came looking for him. The townspeople were amazed. One day a man who knew him well asked him what had come over him.

"Well," he said, "I think I could have stood up to any sort of complaint or recrimination from Martha, any wifely jealousy, any amount of anger or accusation. But the one thing I couldn't do was brush off her faith in me. If she thought I was a hero, how could I go on being such a heel? I tried to go on, actually, but I found I just couldn't. I owe her a lot. I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her."

Was that wife simply naive, innocent, starry-eyed? Or did she know her husband better than he knew himself?

Who can say?"

--Quoted from "The Adventure Of Being A Wife" by Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale, chapter 3. Study Your Man

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I have not forgotten my last post. I am delighted to say I have had several responses and will be back to share with you! In the meantime I'm still listening if someone has thoughts to share.


18 comments:

Rosina said...

Nope. Dishonest and manipulative. ;)

Bethany Eicher said...

I see :) So, you're saying she knew what he was doing and lied about it (dishonest) and responded the way she did in order to get what she wanted (manipulative)?

dorcas showalter said...

Oops, not sure whaere my other comment went, but She knew her husband better than he knew himself. I believe she studied him, knew him good enough to know what was way down in his heart, and then believed for the day that would rule in his whole life.
That's my story, well, after crying and nagging about something as a young bride, then one day was given a marriage book that changed my life. I believe that lady did it the right way.
I am still thinking about your last blog and want to email you a couple tips I have learned from older women, as my baby is now almost 7.
P.S. I used to be the one that bought the marriage books, but that one has worked all these years, so buying other books has lost its appeal :)

Bethany Eicher said...

I tend to agree with your verdict of the lady in the story. Curious what the book was to refer to? :)

Rosina said...

I do think believing in each other is very powerful. But dishonesty is not the Jesus way of relating at all.

Bethany Eicher said...

I think I understand what you're saying. It's a bit hard to know if we can assume whether she had concrete evidence of her husband's unfaithfulness or not and therefore whether she was, indeed, lying. Regardless, I'm curious how you think the wife should have responded to the gossipers? (Maybe we'll have to take this discussion to email? πŸ˜‰)

Rosina said...

I think a healthier response would have been "I know my husband is struggling. Would you join me in praying that Jesus will meet his need?" or something like that. Respectful but honest. Somehow I think acknowledging someone's wrong and loving them anyway is more powerful than pretending that everything is fine.

Yikes, I feel like I'm talking too much. You can email me though if you want! I do believe in women being submissive and respectful.

Bethany Eicher said...

You are fine, Rosina! Truly. And I like your suggested response. I honestly hadn't considered the "wife being dishonest" side until you brought it up, that's why feedback is a good thing!

Gina said...

Interesting story to consider. I'm trying to decide if the lady was seriously in denial of the truth or choosing to look at what her husband could be instead of what he was. Even if she believed that her husband had a good heart (which wouldn't be completely truthful because all of us have a sin nature) it seems that sin does often need recognized in order to be healed.

I do admire her response to gossipers. Often those kind of reports are embroidered and shared just to find glee in the victim's response. Love that she didn't give them more fodder. But what if those that came to her were part of the body of Christ who were concerned about her soul and her husband's soul? Should her response have been different in that case?

Maybe my view of this story is colored by the fact that the author's husband wrote about the power of positive thinking which I don't think is totally Biblical. Our thoughts are powerful as this story shows. But I think that it is more important to think Biblically than to think positively - whether that is about marriage, sin, or any other topic.

Thanks for giving me something to mull over.
Gina

Bethany Eicher said...

Enjoyed your comment ☺

I looked at it as the wife choosing to look at what her husband could be instead of what he was, rather than denial of the truth. I am not advocating condoning and covering up known sin. I do also think there is a difference between responding to gleeful gossiping and true, loving concern for a soul.

I'm also not putting my stamp of approval on everything the author has to say. I haven't finished the book and I am not sure that I agree completely with all her advice but she does give some interesting things to chew on! ☺

dorcas showalter said...

The book is Created to Be His Help meet

Laura said...

It's a very beautiful and attractive idea to think that a wife like that could change her husband in that way. Beautiful and attractive and unlikely, I say :)

Bethany Eicher said...

Ahh, yes. That's a good one! The life changer for me was the book Love And Respect 😊

Bethany Eicher said...

You might try telling that to the author of I Peter 3:1..... πŸ˜‰ Because of the way a man is made up, I think there is more to the idea than we women might think!

dorcas showalter said...

I like that book in a way as well, but tend to avoid it after understanding the crazy cycle and applying it in my life. It is a book written to couples and I find that when I read couples books I can so easily struggle with where my husband may not be doing what I think he should... Although I must say my husband is an amazing man. I know there are many others who have gotten great help from that book

dorcas showalter said...

I have been reading in 1 Timothy 2, and we hold so much influence for our husbands in our hands that we are commanded to be quiet in church... because we were first deceived. How many men have fallen at the influence of their wives, or the nagging, criticism of their wives who have held men down, and then they look at other men and ask, why can I not be married to that wonderful man?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't 1 Peter 3 say that they "may be" won over, as in something like, "will be able to be", or "will be in a position to be", not that they "definitely will be" won over? I don't know. I get that the target audience of the story is women and their behavior, not men.

I wonder if the woman was the "philanderer" in the story, could her own sins be called the "amorous adventures" of a "gay bird" in a moral story acceptable to Christians? And would it be alright in this hypothetical Christian story if the wife happily ran around town and then only changed--again, quite blithely--because of her husband's leadership? This is the feminist in me wondering! :0

Bethany Eicher said...

Thanks for your thoughts πŸ™‚In my mind, your point on I Peter 3:1 goes without saying; there are never guarantees in these situations. That doesn't mean we shouldn't bother to obey, does it?

To your second paragraph, I would say two things: First, your comparison is a bit hard to wrap my mind around because A) Philandering is not generally a wife problem and B) The husband's command is not leadership, but to Love as Christ Loved the Church, so I find it a little hard to understand where you were trying to go with it all?

Second, I was not putting the story out there because I had picked it all apart and found every detail to be "Christian" (although, honestly, I don't have a big problem with it). I was taking from it what, I believe, the author intended -- a principle: The wife who studies her man with a deep desire to respect and stand behind him, holds amazing power in her hands. A power that we, as women, have a hard time grasping and would do well to consider.