Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Emotionally abused men


I used to believe that men are generally free of any deeper emotions (apart from anger, feeling hungry and the need for sex). Men, in my mind, were almost incapable of connecting with their emotions, if they had any. No, men were rational beings, driving by the wish to win, to dominate, to be adventurous and to satisfy their sexual needs. Everything ’emotional’ a man did, like buying his wife flowers, was behavior that he had to learn, to remember, not something he would do because he wanted to express emotions. That’s what I saw all around me. Men who just don’t have that many emotions. That’s also why women were so weak, ruled by their hearts and feelings.

As I said, for the longest time I believed that this was a natural thing. God made men this way and it wasn’t their fault. And if you weren’t this way, you were probably gay. Gay, abused and perverted. Mind you, you were gay BECAUSE you were sexually abused as a child. Because we all know that anal sex makes men feel feminine, and that these feelings of femininity are what causes men to ‘be gay’. But don’t worry, there are programs to cure your gay (or pray it away).

You see, I’m in a relationship with a man who has no issues expressing his emotions. More shocking, he HAS emotions beyond eat – sex – sleep to begin with. He can tell me when I say things that hurt his feelings. He can tell me when he doubts himself. He can tell me when he’s happy. He can tell me when I did something for him that makes him feel loved. By my fundamentalist definition, he’s not a real man. Actually, I’d worry that he’s gay (and sexually abused) right about now. But he is neither fully homosexual nor has he ever been abused. His parents didn’t even spank him apart from two occasions which he remembers, and which his parents apologized for. In fact, when I heard these two occasions, I was not surprised they lost it (not going into details but trust me, all of us would have a hard time not freaking out).

Going back to it – where do the men get the idea from that emotions and th expression thereof are off-limits?

I found a gem on No Greater Joy ministries, written by King Michael the Patriarch himself. Let me first quote the letter Michael is referring to:

She has absolutely no respect for me, is very rebellious toward me, and outwardly refuses to obey me in nearly every manner possible. She does not acknowledge that I have any authority over her. I have told her that she needs to obey me and leave it up to God to deal with me if I am wrong. I am heartbroken. I have been unable to make her happy in nearly everything for years. I feel that she needs a serious trial to bring her to her senses. I want God to do this, but… We have been married nearly 30 years. I don’t want a divorce, but I do want her to be my true Help Meet.

Now, I do not want to get into the question how spiteful this man is towards his wife by wishing trial would hit her. He is obviously torn between the idea of being a leader while at the same time genuinely wanting a happy relationship with his wife.

Here’s a part of Michael’s answer:

You sound like a 13-year-old boy, whining because his six-year-old sister won’t treat him with respect.

I bet that hit home. There’s nothing worse for a good ol’ Patriarch than being called a boy. But it gets better:

You said, “I am heartbroken.” Excuse me for not being sensitive like a psychologist, but my response to your broken heart is, “How pathetic.” Where is the man in you? As they say, “Get a life.” What woman respects or is attracted to a brokenheart? As I think about it, there are a few, but they pick up stray cats and sick dogs who don’t need them as badly as they need to be needed. They are also attracted to men who are whining losers. It gives them a sense of purpose to have the weak and broken depend upon them.

Well, I suppose I am one of these catwomen… Anyway, Michael clearly makes fun of a man who has emotions. A man who expresses emotions. He’s a pathetic wimp for being as weak as having his heart-broken by his wife. How dare he! Besides obviously aiming to put down a man who has emotions and shows them, he additionally manages to put down women who like emotional men by referring to them as catladies.

This basically sums up two ideas: If you’re an emotional man, you’re not right. And if you’re a woman who likes these men, you’re also not quite right in the head.

But what can a man do who is a pathetic, over-emotional wimp? Well, Michael has a solution – THE solution:

Become exuberant with creativity and adventure. Share the gospel with others. Minister in a rescue mission or homeless shelter. Get a speed boat or go wind surfing. Do some gardening or build a chopper (motorcycle) in your garage. Take up sky diving, or go on mission trips to the Kurds in Turkey or Iraq. Do all of it. Cram your life full of service to others and of daring adventure. In doing so, you will become attractive to everyone, including your wife.

Totally. Do something life threatening like going into a war area all by yourself. Get a speed boat without quite knowing how it works and risk getting eaten by sharks. Get one of the most dangerous vehicles known to mankind (motorcycle). Don’t be a wimp – instead, by a person who is so obviously tired of his own life that he just might risk being kidnapped by other religious fundamentalists. Because the people who actually work there as humanitary helpers, who KNOW the risks of getting kidnapped and have a training for such situations will be ecstatic to see a man messing things up because he want to be a “real man”. This post by Michael Pearl dates back to August 2007, just on a side note.

I am not surprised that men neither show their emotions nor fancy any “normal” hobbies. If this is what the elders teach men, it should not surprise anybody that fundamentalist men are raised to be utterly unable to develop a healthy psyche.


13 thoughts on “Emotionally abused men

  1. Men – and women – do the kinds of things this “advisor” recommends all the time when their marriages are rocky and unhappy and, for whatever reason, they are unable to have the type of relationship they want or need within the marriage. They throw themselves into their work, take up hobbies, buy a boat or a fast car or an airplane, become activists, and essentially leave the marriage without getting a divorce. Does that lead to the other spouse respecting and loving the one who’s jumped ship? I’d venture to say that’s rarely the case.

    Without even addressing the issue of gender roles, patriarchy, and all the crap that throws into the mix, this “advice” is one way to set up one or both parties to either leave or find something – or someone – else without leaving. It allows the relationship to cease while maintaining the institution.

  2. Good grief! I suppose Jesus wasn’t a real man either because he wept at Lazarus’ grave (whether you believe it was for Lazarus or the unbelief of those around him), washed the feet of the disciples, sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, and wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I believe the Apostle Paul admitted to weeping and praying over the various churches.

    I agree with Syl–this is the way to ruin what little is left of the marriage. If they are still married today (five years or so later), it’s in name only and because they possibly live in the same house. He should be brokenhearted that she doesn’t respect him. He should be more than brokenhearted–he should wonder where that lack of respect comes from. Does it come because he’s a tyrant? Or because he’s already so caught up in himself and “doing” that he’s forgotten she and any children they might have exist?

  3. Holy Moly!

    My husband is one of the strongest man I’ve ever known. He’s brave, he’s independent, he’s brillant in his job, he’s one of these “born leaders” people want to listen to and he’s able to show emotions and even tears. I think that’s one of the things which make him this strong and that’s certainly one of the things I respect him for. But even with me believing that respect is the most important thing in a relationship and even – at least for me – the precondition for loving someone I wouldn’t “obey” him. Of course, if our house were on fire and he’d tell me to get him water I’d do. And if we were under attack I’d certainly follow his orders, too because I’m sure he’d keep a cooler head in such a situation as I would. But in our daily life I’d ask him if he’d have had something wrong for breakfast if he’d expect me to “obey” him. I’m not his property, I’m not his employee and I’m certainly not his subordinate, but his wife! We’re equals and as such equal I want to be treaded by him. Hubby doesn’t have a problem with that. He doesn’t have a problem with me being independent, rather good in my job too and someone to be taken seriously. He’s not afraid of living with a stronge woman because he’s a strong personality himself. He knows he can cope.

    Whenever I read about the “patriarchs” I think how incredibly insecure and weak they appear. Instead of standing up to strong, independent and intelligent women they want their little wifeys just “obeying” them without questioning their wisdom, instead of being proud of a woman staying with them and loving them though she has other options and could stand on her own, they want her dependent and switching her brains off.

    The one you’ve quoted proves that he doesn’t even have a clue what a “real man” is! A real man doesn’t need to prove his masculinity with silly things like sky diving and buildung a chooper. A real, strong man is able to stnd to his emotion, he isn’t ashamed of strong feelings and even of crying. He isn’t surpressing his emotions because he’s too afraid of idiots like this fundamentalist thinking him “gay”.

  4. I feel so guilty whenever my old gender-roles thinking affects how I view my boyfriend. He doesn’t fit the patriarchal masculine stereotype at all, and every once in a while, it will scare me and make me suspicious about his sexuality. It only lasts for a moment, and when it’s over I feel anger towards the teachings and attitudes that influenced me for so much of my life. The truth is, we’re so much better off having him be the kind of man he is. He’s kind, open, communicative, sympathetic, egalitarian and treats me with respect. We each take on the role of protector whenever the other needs protecting. I’m glad he didn’t grow up in a patriarchal society, because I can only imagine how emotionally abused someone like him would have been in that environment.

  5. good grief is right. those people don’t know what good advice is.

  6. Pingback: Thanks, But No Thanks: Gays Really Don’t Need You Condemning Us to Hell | Tyler Lehmann

  7. Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Interesting essay from a woman who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family.

  8. Not to mention, a biblical answer to the question actually is: “Dude. The Bible nowhere says your wife has to ‘obey’ you. Not once. Not anywhere. Seriously, look it up. Actually, if you want patriarchy, God told Abraham to do whatever his wife told him to do — Genesis 21:12. So stop worrying about it and start doing some things to serve her instead. You’ll be happier and so will she.”

    Instead, Pearl has to resort to bullying and belittling this poor man for experiencing a problem caused entirely by the doctrines that Pearl promotes. That’s unbelievably messed up.

  9. Yikes… I’ve never read anyone address this aspect of Michael Pearl’s advice, and it is spot on. =/

    My boyfriend and I have found a book called “Hold Me Tight,” which applies attachment theory to romantic relationships, really helpful cause both of us have experienced some level of emotional abuse in our past. We intuitively tend towards sharing honestly with each other, as opposed to withdrawing, but I needed a bit more help with it than he did. XD If you ignore heartbreak, you separate yourself from yourself, and the balm that your partners love could offer you (or that your own self awareness could help you find).

  10. The Pearl’s always had a couple of screws loose that’s for sure.

  11. Here’s an even more perplexing issue. If you had this kind of question about marriage, why would you write to Michael Pearl for advice? It sounds like the kind of advice you’d get from Frank Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

  12. Seriously? You care about his feelings even though he is the stereotypically fundamentalist man you rail against in other posts to expects unquestioning, unthinking obedience from a woman and whiens hwne he doesn’t get it? The problem is not that he got his feelings “hurt” the problem is they were hurt because he was being a self-centred baby.

    • To be honest, no I don’t care about this particular man’s feelings. As I said in the post, I did not want to get into the question what I find disturbing about this particular man. I agree with you, he does not have a good (or let’s say “normal”) reason to be hurt by the actions of his wife. The point of this post was M Pearl’s reaction to a man who expresses emotional distress. Unfortunately, this is the exact same reaction any man would get if he were to talk about a real issue (aka “my wife cheats”, “my wife says hurtful things to me”, “I don’t feel good enough for my wife” and many other problems that are normal and understandable). So that’s really the point here. Thanks for your comment, I hope this cleared this up a bit!

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