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she’s so… sweet

Just something I’m pondering this evening whilst eating edamame and drinking wine while my husband is at play rehearsal.

When I was “in the church” I would hear men brag on their wives (often from the pulpit) and it usually went something like this…

“___ is so amazing, she homeschooled all 6 of the kids today AND had dinner on the table when I got home and took the time to put on a fresh change of clothes and fix her hair.”


“My wife is so great, she irons my shirts every morning and puts little love notes in my packed lunch every day.”

I always wondered what my husband said when he was in conversations like those. I still do wonder. But it brings up a much deeper and more troubling concern regarding the expectations of wives and the husband/wife dynamic.

I know for my part I had to hold back a little gag when women in church would say things like

“___ is so sweet, he actually helped me dry the dishes last night.”


“I’m so BLESSED to have a husband who lets me go out with friends once a month and watches the kids for me.”

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  1. Ryan Wiksell — February 2, 2009 #

    Me wife so ‘mazing… she make Trog breakfast of mastodon rib twice every day.

    But Trog no slouch… he give woman best sex of life THREE times every day.

  2. Maria — February 3, 2009 #

    Is it just a measure of the “unrealness” of much of our faith that so much of the church seems to be or is attempting to live a 1950’s sitcom life? It would be so much more helpful to me to have someone honestly talk about how two people exhausted by the demands of work, kids, house, etc. can find time and energy to connect with each other on a regular basis. And how can our faith help us look at those demands and reevaluate them or reapportion them?

  3. Mak — February 3, 2009 #

    agreed Maria.

    one of the criticisms I received at my old church right before they “outed” us was that if I talk too honestly about things, it can “feed” people’s doubts and fears and that it’s better to keep most of that to myself and if I have to share it, to make sure I qualify it with “the Word”. Hand to God that was what they said.

    Questioning and wondering and asking questions on my blog was essentially what got me in trouble - and the problem, IMO, is that it was because I was “in leadership”. So the message is, if you’re just a regular church goer, you can have those doubts and questions and even voice them but if you’re a leader you should have it all figured out and if you don’t you need to at least pretend that you do lest someone see you as a real person and doubt his/her own faith because of your “weakness”.

    And I think we all know how THAT went for people like Ted Haggard. Yeah, not so well.

  4. Lauren Martin Gauthier — February 3, 2009 #

    i’m with you, girl. and you know what else? (this is a comment on your comment, not on the original post ;) ) honesty from other churchgoers (or, God forbid, church leaders) about their own struggles doesn’t ‘feed’ other people’s doubts and questions- it just allows them to feel less alone and marginalized and “less-than” in the process of working those things out! UGH…that kind of attitude just infuriates me. rant over.

    PS- i don’t know you ryan, but you made me laugh out loud in a quiet cafe’!

  5. Becky — February 3, 2009 #

    Hi - My first read of your blog… did you know that on my Visa (I am currently living outside of my home country), my status is defined as “Spouse of a Clergyman?” We have just come through a year of recovery after leaving a church where my husband was the youth pastor. I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how many encounters I had with people who had preconceptions of my role at the church. I should have known…at the interview they wanted to meet me, as well as speak with my husband; this in itself does not bother me since frankly I would like to meet the significant other of someone who will be in such a huge place of influence. It would be nice if they weren’t immediately apparent as being an axe-murderer, etc. They began to ask me questions about my view of my role in the church, and what I would be interested in doing. I told them that it would be at least a year before I volunteered for any position whatsoever because I wanted to be sure of what I chose, and I wanted to look around first. (Also, my whole family would be dealing with culture shock issues). Then they asked me if I played the piano!!!! Unbelievable. I told them No. They asked if I sang. I said Yes, very badly. They stopped asking me questions about abilities that they could manipulate and went on to ask very rude and intrusive questions about our finances, which I could not answer in part because I didn’t know what anything cost in the new country… I could go on. I think I won’t. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny then.

  6. Mak — February 3, 2009 #

    Wow Becky, what an experience…I’d like to say I’m surprised but I have seen it happen to spouses (always women) in EVERY SINGLE CHURCH I’ve been a part of. This speaks to another issue I have - spouses seem to be expected to be fused together as one person or something…as if the scripture so often referred to is literal.

  7. Becky — February 3, 2009 #

    It often surprises me, too, that many ministries either assume that both spouses are being called to work in the ministry when the application is for just one, or that both spouses are GIFTED to work in the ministry. I do believe that if you are married, or have a family, that God calls you as a couple or as a family; i.e., God does not pull our relationships apart on the altar of devotion to Him - he works with them and through them. However, just because one spouse is able to teach or minister does not mean that automatically the other spouse should teach or minister. How many times is it assumed that if the pastor is male, that his wife will lead the women’s Bible study? Another example, from my own life, is watching my parents deal with this on the mission field (yes, not only am I a Spouse of a Clergyman, I am an MK, too). It is assumed that one spouse (usually the wife) will shoulder 1/2 the ministry that the other spouse has been called to do. What if it is necessary in that country that one of them works full time? What if it isn’t necessary, but they choose to do so? Why should the wife of a pastor be even required to ATTEND services at the church where her husband is employed? Personally I find it a breath of fresh air to go to another church and enjoy worshipping without thinking about everything I know about the people around me, and how they bother me.
    And regarding doubts/questions about my own faith: what if I had a theological problem with what was being preached, and I contested it? (done that) What if I didn’t understand it? (done that) What if God was leading me through a trial of faith and it looked really really ugly to me and to the rest of the congregation? (done that) It doesn’t seem to matter to many that I struggle with issues of God’s goodness and his power. They want perfection - they place you on a pedestal. I have found great humor in occasionally bashing the pedestal just for shock value. It isn’t very exhortational, but it’s fun for the moment.

  8. Jamie Arpin-Ricci — February 4, 2009 #

    As the (male) spouse who does most of the domestic stuff while my wife leads the ministry, we still get these kinds of comments. We have literally had people ask me questions about my wife’s programs with her sitting next to me. I used to be more polite about it- not so much anymore. Sadly, at an upcoming leaders conference, we had to communicate clearly that I was attending as the leaders spouse. That really shouldn’t be necessary.

    Oh, and I think Ryan’s comment is hilarious. Well said, bro.

  9. Carlos — February 4, 2009 #

    Mak, don’t even know y’a in person yet I love you because ou’re a freaking fellow rebel rouser like me; my mom, bless her heart in heaven, stood up and spoke against the local Russian Pentecostal church leadership in Sao Paulo in the earl 50’s(before I had many memories) in one of their sessions and left before they excommunicated them/us and joined the slavic baptist church; I guess I leaned well and can’t seem to swallow directives from Patriachical leadership and I think my children are following in those footsteps as well; I guess I did well in teaching them to stand on heir own…

  10. Mak — February 4, 2009 #

    Jamie - love you bro, fight the good fight.

    Carlos - hehe… I love your stories. I’d love to just sit and drink scotch with you and listen to your stories. Thank you for your encouraging comments.

  11. Carlos — February 5, 2009 #

    Mak, we’ll have to be intentional about the scotch..we’re sort of talking about driving to Seattle to visit our daughter somettme this year, and if we do, we’ll make it a point to bring a bottle of single malt and stop by and visit with you and your fam..wow I never had communion with scotch….

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