Before wife, loser. After wife, ex-loser?

5 Jul

Or: with your help, he shall be healed.

I’ve noticed that it’s fairly common in evangelical circles for a man to more or less prostrate himself at the feet of his wife’s saintly goodness, proclaiming some mixture of the following:

  • I don’t deserve my wife.
  • I was a mess before I met my wife.
  • If it weren’t for my wife, I don’t know where I’d be right now.
  • I don’t know what she sees in me.
  • I’m an idiot, but for some reason, she married me.

Among Christian women, humility is an ENORMOUS turn-on and is considered an outward sign of inward maturity.  This is probably why Christian women love saying that they were “blessed” by something someone said or did ( e.g., “Your thoughtful words just blessed my day so much”, as opposed to “Thank you for stroking my ego the compliment”) and that doing something for someone else is a “privilege” (e.g., “I had the privilege of ministering to those in need today” instead of “We served food to the homeless”).  So I suppose it makes sense that Christian men have learned that putting themselves down scores points with the opposite sex.  It’s also part of the beta scourge that has infected the modern church – men feeling so guilt-ridden and/or unworthy and/or inferior to women that they have a hard time owning their masculinity.  It is very rare to hear a Gen-X or younger Christian man say of his wife, with gusto, “Heck, yeah, she got one heckuva deal in marrying me!” and actually mean it.

This “my wife is better than me” attitude is sad.  It may be humble on the surface, but it’s really just a big fat ugly DLV.  I would hope that a husband would feel that he is shaping his wife’s character just as much as she is shaping his, and that the quality of her life has improved by being married to him.  Otherwise it starts to seem like the whole marriage hinges on the wife’s inexplicable beneficence – which of course just makes her seem all the more saintly.

Basically, men should be grateful for the good that their wives bring into their lives – but not at the expense of acknowledging the reverse.

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14 Responses to “Before wife, loser. After wife, ex-loser?”

  1. Will S. July 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    What’s particularly galling about it, is that men are called to lead, to be the head of the household; how completely backwards is it, then, when he’s self-abasing, and pedestalizing her! And yet many perceive no dissonance, which shows just how far astray the church has gone…

  2. Thursday July 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    I’ve heard this a lot too.

    Though in their defense, evangelical women do tend to be very good people, at least in comparison with women out in the world.

  3. Aunt Haley July 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Oh, for sure – few people are more saintly than the average evangelical woman. But the way some evangelical men talk, you’d think the majority of women in the church married down, not even or up.

  4. Thursday July 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Yeah, the attitude should be that I’m lucky to have her, but she’s lucky to have me too.

  5. dalrock July 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    evangelical women do tend to be very good people, at least in comparison with women out in the world.

    I wish I agreed with this (for men and women). From what I understand, the divorce rate for evangelicals isn’t any better than atheists of the same demographic groups. This is one point brought up on Citizen Renegade, etc which I wish I could refute.

    Anecdotally if anything I wonder if evangelical women aren’t more likely to frivolously divorce.
    My wife taught at a local Christian school and the kids who’s parents went to the local evangelical mega church seemed the most likely for the mom to get bored and dynamite the family.

    To be fair I don’t think it is just the women. Ask a pastor how many weddings they performed and he can probably get that stat pretty quickly if not off the top of his head. Then ask what percentage of the congregation has at some point divorced without biblical reason and he’ll look at you like you are insane. Why would he know that?

  6. Aunt Haley July 11, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    From what I understand, the divorce rate for evangelicals isn’t any better than atheists of the same demographic groups. This is one point brought up on Citizen Renegade, etc which I wish I could refute.

    I’ve heard this stat, too, but I think a better stat would be to look at the rate of divorce for first marriages by couples who regularly attend an evangelical church. Another interesting stat would be the divorce rate of couples who regularly pray/read the Bible together. Just because someone self-identifies as an evangelical doesn’t mean that person is living as an evangelical or even has evangelical theology – part of the problem of the modern evangelical church’s primary focus on making people feel loved and accepted rather teaching doctrine.

  7. Thursday July 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    The divorce rate among Christians is about 12.5% and the divorce rate among the general population is 40-45%.

    This goes along with everything I’ve seen that says bad behaviour among devout women is about 1/3 to 1/2 that of the general population.

    And that doesn’t even take into account things like education. College educated evangelical women, my demographic, are extremely well behaved.

  8. dalrock July 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    @Thursday
    The divorce rate among Christians is about 12.5% and the divorce rate among the general population is 40-45%.

    Do you have a source for that stat? I’d love to see the specifics and also be able to point others to it.

    Better yet, do you know of a church that tracks divorce rates within it’s own congregation and publishes this for the outside to see?

  9. Rose July 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Hope this isn’t a dumb question. What does DLV stand for?

  10. Aunt Haley July 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi, Rose–
    DLV is an acronym for “demonstrate lower value.” (The opposite of DLV is DHV, “demonstrate higher value.”)

  11. grerp July 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    Evangelical Christianity has a very emotional component to it – the altar call, the “getting saved” experience. There’s a certain drama to some evangelical services. (“Can I get an ‘Amen’?”) It’s my theory that this attracts the kind of person who thinks or experiences the world emotionally, and those people tend to not experience the world most comfortably with hard and fast rules. Also, there’s an emphasis on forgiveness that is very compelling.

    There are many different evangelical denominations, though, and other factors, such as church size, can significantly contribute. What is more effective on individual behavior than theology or fantastic sermonizing is how much social pressure a church can bring to bear on any one person. You can find anonymity in a Mega Church, and anonymity allows for all kinds of exit strategies. A medium to small church with hard and fast rules that can elicit real loyalty, for whatever reason, from its congregants? I’m guessing that church will have lower rates of common social problems. Because it is effectively mimicking the “Small Town Effect.”

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