Godly Women · Traditionalist Bird

The Pressure to Fulfill Roles

This letter Lori received really gets right to the heart of the obsession it seems traditionalists have with roles rather than practicality. You can read the entire letter here. Some quotes from Jane:
 
“I have worked a job the entire time of our marriage. However, recently my thoughts on working outside the home have begun to change. I can only guess that it must be the Holy Spirit changing my thinking.”
Or she is feeling peer pressure put on by godly women about how things are suppose to be.
“I’ve tried to hint some of my discontent to my husband by asking him questions about his opinion on me working and not cooking, or did it bother him that the house wasn’t clean, etc. He just replied that I should do whatever makes me happy. However, when I suggest that I quit my job to focus on housework full time, he will really insist that I cannot do that and we need the money. His job frequently will let him off early, except it is without pay. My husband does almost ALL of the cooking, dishes, grocery shopping, and his own laundry. I can’t do it because I am at work and he is at home. I can’t stop him from leaving work and doing these things while I’m stuck at my job. He views it as helping me out and doesn’t understand my resentment and discontent. But I view it as he is taking over my job as the housewife (and neglecting his job of being provider). I try to be nice and appreciate his help, but sometimes I get so furious and frustrated because our roles are all reversed and twisted.  He seems totally fine with it. And even though I do appreciate his help, and I understand what he is trying to do, he doesn’t make a good housewife! I can see so many ways he is not doing things (housework) efficiently. He wastes things; he doesn’t get them clean enough, he doesn’t organize things well, he can’t find things, etc. Plus with him waiting on me hand and foot, it makes me view him as less of a man. And I know he would never understand this because he sees it as his way of communicating love to me.”
My thoughts on this is take away the pressure to be godly, the pressure to keep up godly appearances, and then how would this woman feel about her day to day logistics and marriage? Its seems like this has only become a problem recently once she joined a very traditional baptist church. They are probably getting her to question and rethink the foundation of her marriage, that all along she hasn’t been doing it right. Gee, talk about the “whispers”.
This really gets at how damning the pressure can be to fulfill roles rather than what works best for a family. This woman has uncalled for resentment towards her husband simply because he is not letting her perform her role. Its crazy. He sounds like a good guy, but resentment still grows largely I believe because other women try to make her feel less of a woman if she is not at home all day cleaning and cooking. It doesn’t matter if the roles are reversed and twisted, what matters is if the marriage itself is twisted and roles should not define the health of a marriage.
This commenter puts it well:
Karen · 1 hour ago
“I saw red flags when I read what “Jane” wrote.
She has a husband who seems to love her. He has a job. He does more than half of the tasks at home. He sounds like he’s really trying to please her – and yet she’s furious and frustrated!
Something is very wrong here.
Lori, you have written in past about letting go of expectations. We need to love our husbands as they are and not try to change them.
I’m not sure that message is coming through here. I get the sense that “Jane” may be in love with an image that has been created for her by some Christians, instead of the flesh and blood man that she married. Would she be more content if those around her weren’t filling her head with that image and making her discontent?
Yes, prayer has its role, but if a wife is constantly praying for God to change her husband when he’s not a bad man, it can’t be good. It sounds like she’d just be constantly thinking about he needs to change and how unhappy she is with him. Maybe the prayer needed is one of thanksgiving, so she appreciates that she has a loving husband, that they are both able to work, and that he loves her so much that he’s willing to work hard to lift the burden on her.”
Exactly that, she is in love with an image and has made an idol out of the homemaker, putting aside her husband wishes or what might really work practically for their family for the sake of an image and to live up to the expectations of godly women.
In the secular or feminist world, the pressure and expectations of women are:
– have a career and climb the ladder (the role of career woman)
In the godly world, the pressure and expectations of women are:
– don’t work, stay home and be a homemaker, regardless of your family’s situation (the role of homemaker)
Within whichever camp you are in, If you fail at either you are seen as disappointment to woman kind. So, it is all very funny for those who write about letting go of expectations, somehow I don’t think letting go of the expectation that you will be a cookie-cutter housewife will be acceptable.
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21 thoughts on “The Pressure to Fulfill Roles

  1. Another thought: It’s quite likely that this couple is facing being put out of the church if they don’t comply or at least being effectively shunned. If the woman states she’s doing what her husband wants, he will be accused of rebelling against God and the elders might be called in. If this is the case it’s likely he hasn’t yet picked up on this underlying message but she has because women do – we find out quickly what we have to do to be “in.” He will be perceived exactly as Lori perceives him – disobedient. Many of these kinds of churches have a strong level of community for those who are in, so being put out usually means losing all social connection. It’s quite uncommon for people in these sorts of arrangements to have any meaningful connections outside of the church. The emphasis on submission to husbands is usually a cover for everybody submitting to whichever couple is the top dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So one reason why wives submit to husbands is because we are letting go of all those cultural messages that demand we emulate Betty Crocker.

    But, but, that would mean we’re submitting intelligently and we can’t be having any of that.

    Like

  3. The problem in this case is likely the wife’s need for control, competition with her husband, and territorial issues. This is why wives often lament how husbands never help out with housework and cooking, but when they do, we can get even more annoyed. Now he’s threatening our control, our territory, and competing with us.

    So one reason why wives submit to husbands is because we are letting go of all those cultural messages that demand we emulate Betty Crocker. We submit to husbands in a way that works for our particular family structure, otherwise what we wind up submitting to is cultural expectations, the advice of other women, TV advertising, etc. When we fail to meet any of these often contradictory expectations, we are a failure of womanhood. So, it is far better to look towards your individual husband’s wishes and needs, because he really is the only one you need to satisfy.

    And of course we need to explore our own personal issues with Christ, because when we get upset because the man is cheerfully doing his own laundry or cooking, the error is probably on our end and not his.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Yes, can’t they just admit that at least partly they do it for the rush, the thrill, the ego boost. But, nope, “I do this because of God and only God”. They love being able to only let through the positive comments to reinforce the ego.”

    I realize that my experience is very small, but I’ve found women like this to be dangerous, especially to vulnerable women – the godly women will drive the vulnerable ones literally into the ground and then blame them for “being weak” or “having little faith” or some such ugly horrid accusation, when the vulnerable are often the poor in spirit, the meek, the women who want more than anything to please God. That “I’m carrying God’s edicts from on high” attitude should immediately disqualify any woman who pulls it. The best mentor I ever had was the one who encouraged me in my attempts to do well, not the ones who pointed out my limitations (often not even actually limitations) and blamed me that I couldn’t see how to overcome them. I carried the burdens of the latter for many years until the former came along and invited me to lay them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. TPC,
    Yes, this is huge. If you don’t do things a certain way you aren’t feminine. Not only is there they mommy wars between working and sahms, there is the feminine wars. To the manosphere if you admit that motherhood is anything less than 99% fun, you are a shitty mom, not feminine, an evil feminist. This is largely played out in the culture too.
    I like the Scary Mommy website because it tells a lot of honest, ugly truth. Dalrock and crew have called that site feminist.
    In fact, the title of their latest book is “Motherhood comes naturally and 21 other viscous lies”. The cultural message is if not every moment of motherhood is pure joy, you are doing it wrong, you aren’t maternal, etc. It is incredibly damaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I think it ultimately comes down to ego and how exciting it is to be the one who others follow, how humans want to share the things they learn, and the huge boost when another woman tells us that our advice fixed everything for her.”

    Yes, can’t they just admit that at least partly they do it for the rush, the thrill, the ego boost. But, nope, “I do this because of God and only God”. They love being able to only let through the positive comments to reinforce the ego.

    About being part of the group–that is the attraction women have for the red pill and manosphere. Ironic as it is, they desperately seek approval to stay within the the red pill lines.

    Like

  7. TPC said:

    “I think there’s also the fact that living a SAHM life isn’t all carefree relaxation and cheerful days with frolicking kids and joyful family dinners. It can be really nice and have lots of good parts, but it’s not some luxury trip and a lot of women pretty much implode upon finding this out.”

    Yes. If it’s what you do every day, it’s work.

    “Women are told it’s natural and feminine and that if they do it, they’ll be fulfilled and happy and envied by other women. And when that doesn’t happen, it can be devastating. A great deal of mommy blogging is about the distress of this. You make a blog with a presentation of what you wish it was like and then other women come to believe it can be that way if they only could be more like you. This is also, obviously, part of what’s going on with the “Godly/Biblical women” blogging.”

    Yes.

    Like

  8. Stone said:

    “That’s funny about costco and that is exactly what I am talking about. Would you say he has a godly palate now, lol? Seems like an LA post the sin of an ungodly palatr.”

    Yes, but I don’t do a lot of cooking these days…

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  9. I think there’s also the fact that living a SAHM life isn’t all carefree relaxation and cheerful days with frolicking kids and joyful family dinners. It can be really nice and have lots of good parts, but it’s not some luxury trip and a lot of women pretty much implode upon finding this out.

    To some extent, conservatives can recognize this problem when it comes to working women finding out that workplaces have work and boring parts and aren’t just whatever endless party they thought dudes had. But when it comes to how messed up the SAHM role has become if you do undertake it, the blind spot is a galaxy-sized black hole.

    Women are told it’s natural and feminine and that if they do it, they’ll be fulfilled and happy and envied by other women. And when that doesn’t happen, it can be devastating. A great deal of mommy blogging is about the distress of this. You make a blog with a presentation of what you wish it was like and then other women come to believe it can be that way if they only could be more like you. This is also, obviously, part of what’s going on with the “Godly/Biblical women” blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. That’s funny about costco and that is exactly what I am talking about. Would you say he has a godly palate now, lol? Seems like an LA post the sin of an ungodly palatr.

    Like

  11. Maea said:

    “I find that there’s an element to submission I like to call “SubmissionGate.” A lot of so-called pro-submission women are pro-submission until something violates their code of conduct.”

    Right.

    Like

  12. Stone said:

    “My theory is this “godly woman” stuff is a carrot used to always dangle over other Chrisitan women…you are never godly enough….if you only do this you will be godly, then the woman does that and they move the carrot, the goal post.”

    Yep.

    “And yes, for some men more sex is the last thing they want. The assumption that ALL men are just horn dogs who want sex, 3 plus times a day is false. Same thing for all wanting home cooked meals. Some are fine with basic slower cooker stuff. She can easily do that and work. So if she were to ask him, “do you want more home fix meals, more sex, more clean place” and he say nah I am happy just how things are–then what?”

    Right.

    When we were newlyweds, my husband (whose mom has worked his whole life) once praised my home cooking as being “almost as good as Costco.” I think his palate has improved since then, but there have to be a lot of guys like that, whose tastes have been formed by convenience foods.

    “Sex is being used as a bargaining tool to get what she wants, not what he wants. Let me quit and you will get more sex. How about just find a way to give more sex while working. With no kids and eating out a lot, you have about 4-5 hours after work to rest, unwind, and have plenty of spunk for sex.”

    Depending on how their work schedules mesh…But if they are both basically 9-5ers, I don’t see what the problem is…

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  13. “LA automatically writes the husband off as a ‘disobedient husband.'”

    This type of thing just adds fuel to the fire of the submission-in-everything crowd. So much of what these so-called Titus 2 women present it as obedience versus sin really has little to do with God’s order. Scripture gives us principles and then “godly” women busily go around teaching specific applications of those principles as godliness. Every single person ever born has to sometimes take things that are less than ideal in life: The widowed mother didn’t choose to be single, but she certainly has to cope with it somehow; the infertile couple don’t choose it, but they have to cope with it; the disabled husband didn’t decide not to provide for his family; the mother who develops lupus can’t homeschool anymore; sometimes women can’t breastfeed, etc. Sometimes we have to do the best with what we’ve been given, but there always seems to be some woman somewhere who’s perfectly willing to burden those folks who are doing the best they can. This applies as well to people who are bearing the consequences of sin: There’s no going back.

    I was a mother’s helper to a young woman whose baby almost died because she had no milk, but because she would be sinning to give the baby formula she kept trying and trying to get her milk to come in. I told my mom that the baby cried and cried and his mommy was nursing him constantly but he didn’t gain and he cried all the time. My mom took bottles and formula to her, hugged her, told her that the principle is good mothers feed their babies, and she could be free of this expectation that was killing her child. So she fed her baby, but she still had to deal with all the women who condemned her lack of faith and told her all the things she had done wrong so her milk didn’t come in. I think this is part of the reason the aged women are supposed to teach the younger instead of the younger teaching the women who are a little younger. Although, I suppose LA would qualify as an older woman.

    I think it ultimately comes down to ego and how exciting it is to be the one who others follow, how humans want to share the things they learn, and the huge boost when another woman tells us that our advice fixed everything for her. As an older woman I realize now that I’m dealing with real humans in real thorny situations and that pat answers hurt and burden other women instead of helping and healing, but as a younger woman I thought I had some special wisdom other women didn’t. It’s a feature of the young and unfortunately some older people don’t seem to grow out of it. Perhaps the previously rebellious women are still young in that way. It’s also natural to want to help when so many women are confused about what they’re supposed to be doing. Women need approval, we need to feel like we’re coloring within the lines, and so we want somebody to give us a fail-proof list that will keep us part of the group. It’s terribly difficult for women to live outside the group.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Maea, disobedient to God I imagine for not letting his wife stay home. But what is really implied is he is disobedient to his wife’s wishes. He doesn’t just immediately cave to what she wants.

    Like

  15. @Aethelfrith:

    Perhaps it’s because I’m an immigrant AND because I wasn’t in an intact family until my teen years, but I really can’t fathom this idea that women musn’t work. An immigrant household cannot abide any dead weight, and anyone who can work, MUST work.

    I also come from an immigrant family (I came to the US as an infant), and their values on work are probably very similar to your family’s. My family has more than 2 children, and my dad outlined to my mom what she needed to do in order to provide for us kids.

    It’s strange to me this woman is starting to obsess about whether or not what she’s doing is “right,” when her husband’s made it clear to her. If he were complaining or asking her to reduce her hours or quit working, that would be a different issue. She’s taking the expectations of other people and injecting them into her marriage in a very damaging way.

    I find that there’s an element to submission I like to call “SubmissionGate.” A lot of so-called pro-submission women are pro-submission until something violates their code of conduct. Then they start with the “you need to tell your husband he’s wrong,” when in reality many, if not all, of those issues aren’t moral issues. They’re family issues that need to be worked out and agreed upon between the couple. At a Christian forum I once used, other women there said they were pro-submission and pro-husband heading. We were talking about dietary changes for weight loss and health and one of them told me “you need to tell your husband he should let you do this,” and “you need to get your husband on board.” Seriously, I’m not about to cause a conflict over something as inane as low-carb dieting. No, I don’t need to get my husband on board with it because it’s not a moral issue and it’s not a spiritual issue. It’s an issue for sure, just not one I care to subscribe to.

    LA automatically writes the husband off as a “disobedient husband.” What did he disobey? Who did he disobey? It’s weird how LA applies obedience when it’s convenient for her based on her own world-view.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Amy, great insights. Yeah, what is this working on becoming a godly woman. It implies she wasn’t one before. My theory is this “godly woman” stuff is a carrot used to always dangle over other Chrisitan women…you are never godly enough….if you only do this you will be godly, then the woman does that and they move the carrot, the goal post. Truly, LA and her types are the only truly godly ones, but to get a following they promise other women godliness, but you will never be godly like them because they keep changing what that means.

    And yes, for some men more sex is the last thing they want. The assumption that ALL men are just horn dogs who want sex, 3 plus times a day is false. Same thing for all wanting home cooked meals. Some are fine with basic slower cooker stuff. She can easily do that and work. So if she were to ask him, “do you want more home fix meals, more sex, more clean place” and he say nah I am happy just how things are–then what?
    Sex is being used as a bargaining tool to get what she wants, not what he wants. Let me quit and you will get more sex. How about just find a way to give more sex while working. With no kids and eating out a lot, you have about 4-5 hours after work to rest, unwind, and have plenty of spunk for sex.

    Like

  17. “There also aren’t any blogging women in the Bible.”

    Exactly. There was now electricity or cars in the bible either. Lets get rid of that too. 90% of the luxury LA enjoys was not in the bible.

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  18. This part from LA’s answer squicked me out, especially the part right at the end:

    “You work on becoming a godly woman who loves, submits to, obeys, and does everything she can to please her husband and then give it to the Lord in prayer. You may want to make a gentle appeal to him, if you are already doing all of these things, and ask him if you could go down to part-time for a while and explain to him that you will live frugally, fix him great meals, keep the home clean, and be more available for sex.”

    What was she doing before? Does he even care about most of that stuff? Does he value frugality?

    Also, there are a lot of assumptions packed into that “be more available for sex”–namely that he wants more, or that she hasn’t been very available.

    Plus, I just can’t think of a delicate way to say, “Let me go to part-time and I will have sex with you more often.”

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  19. “I believe all women should be keepers at home since there aren’t any career women in the Bible who left their homes all day long and God never commands women to be the providers.”

    There also aren’t any blogging women in the Bible.

    Like

  20. Some notes:

    “I am a thirty eight year old woman with no kids. My husband and I have been married twelve years. We haven’t been able to have kids, but have not sought medical advice or help about that matter because we just figured that God did not want us to have kids (but that’s another matter).”

    Lawdamercy, can you imagine how depressing it would be for her to actually stay home full-time with no children and not old enough to fit in well with the older ladies? Who would her peer group be?

    DON’T DO IT!

    “In the meanwhile, I am always too tired to cook anything when I get off work, so we usually eat out, which is unhealthy and expensive. Our home/life is not sloppy or dirty, but it is certainly not as clean and organized as I would like it to be. I constantly feel rushed and drained. I feel like less of a woman. I’m really not sure how much of our money is being wasted by eating out all the time, or on gas for me to drive back and forth to work, or clothes for me to wear to work, etc. It also seems that the more money I make, the more we spend and it isn’t on things we NEED.”

    1. Monthly cleaning lady (they can almost certainly afford it)
    2. How much can she possibly be spending on work clothes?
    3. Different job?
    4. Why doesn’t she know “how much of our money is being wasted”? Do the math.
    5. Is she really honestly planning on staying home all day every day?

    “However, when I suggest that I quit my job to focus on housework full time”

    That just isn’t enough to do in a small home to keep a middle-aged woman with no children busy all day.

    “But yet he’s not concerned about the money he is missing by leaving work when they let him (and he makes much more per hour than me).”

    If I’m understanding this correctly, he has the option to work full hours, but he isn’t taking it.

    I think the OP does have a right to feel ticked off about that.

    “Do I try to drop hints to my husband that things should change? Do I just quit my job and hope everything works out and make my husband just deal with my decision?”

    Nooooooo!

    LA said:

    “Keeping their homes clean and tidy and their husbands happy should be their priority. Then they can minister at their church or to those in need.”

    It looks like what makes Jane’s husband happy is Jane working…

    Like

  21. >the pressure to keep up godly appearances

    “Appearances” is the keyword here.

    Perhaps it’s because I’m an immigrant AND because I wasn’t in an intact family until my teen years, but I really can’t fathom this idea that women musn’t work. An immigrant household cannot abide any dead weight, and anyone who can work, MUST work.

    Haven’t the past several decades warned us of the dangers of credit-fueled conspicuous consumption?

    Of course, everything works wonderfully in the manotradsphere, where all the men are alphas, all the women are submissive porn stars, and all the children are infinitely malleable lumps of clay.

    Liked by 2 people

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