Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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How to find a spouse?! – Part 2

I love my commentors! hehe Yesterday’s post received a comment and I wanted to add some more along the lines.

Comment by Latebloomer: “In my family’s church, the spin was a little bit different because compatibility was downplayed. The pastor taught that marriage was about sanctification, not happiness, so really any godly person could marry any other godly person. Your personality didn’t matter. In my opinion, this is a really irresponsible teaching to direct at singles, and I’m glad I found someone that I had a deep connection with because we are very compatible. I actually just wrote about this on my blog yesterday, haha. It must be spring :) .”

I didn’t even think about happiness and emotion when I wrote my post, but it’s such a huge deal!

Now, even when you’re believing that there is “the one”, emotion, happiness and love aren’t what you’re looking for. To quote countless sites and people talking about this issue: “Love is not an emotion, it’s an action. Love is not an adjective, it’s a verb. It’s something you do, not something you feel.”

I think this pretty much sums up what the movement preachers think about marriage. You don’t marry someone you love, you (as a woman) marry someone whom you can support and help achieve life goals, such as missioning. And as a man, you look for a woman who has all the abilities you need as support. Emotion is generally something that is not needed to start a courtship or get engaged. Love (emotion) isn’t even something you need to feel once you’re married!

For them, as love isn’t an emotion, all you need to do to “love” someone is.. well… let’s make a list!

Men loving a woman: Providing for her, listening to her, giving her gifts, respecting her mood swings, protecting her, being her spiritual leader, correcting her, training her.

Woman loving a man: Submit to him, respect him, fulfill his sexual needs whenever he needs it, follow him, share his vision, be a good mother and home maker, don’t talk back, don’t correct him even when he’s clearly wrong.

These are just the most common ones I could name off the top of my head. Depending on the author/church you’re looking at, there might be much more things to do to “love” someone. And some of the points I mentioned do sound very weird! For example the giving gifts part. They might not express it the way I did, but they certainly all mean it: A man should buy flowers/candies/give her massages every once in a while. The core of this idea is a very nice one, but it’s turned into an obligation here, and in that it means nothing if you ask me. Gifts are only worth something if they come from the heart, if they show thought, and as obligation they are nothing more than a meaningless duty.

One point that has bothered me to great extend, even more than the “submit” talk, is the “fulfill his sexual needs” part. Believe me, during my courtship I was given plenty of books to prepare to be a good wife and all of them stressed this issue. What you’ll typically read is something like this: “even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. Get pretty and do it. Offer it even if you’re tired and not in the mood. Be cheerful and happy during, show him that you enjoy it, even if you don’t.”

Can you imagine that? Out of the seven days the week has, would you feel good having sex with your husband every day if you don’t feel like it at all on 5 of the 7 days? As a man, would you enjoy it if you knew that there is no enjoyment for the woman? That she does it only and purely out of obligation? I think that’s a terrible thought. I know I wouldn’t enjoy something the other person is forced to do. Just like the gifts, it means nothing when it isn’t done out of love and honest joy.

So where does all that talk leave christian couples?

All of those fundamentalist speakers, authors and churches talk about the fact that there are so many divorces among the non-believers. They blame it on the fact that people marry out of emotion-love, not action-love. Besides the fact that this is untrue, because with emotion-love action-love usually comes naturally, of course christian couples don’t get divorces because they don’t love each other anymore! They didn’t love each other to begin with. Sure there are couples who are in love. Sure most couples have at least a crush on each other when they’re courting. But that doesn’t mean that emotional love will actually come – and stay. And because this part of a relationship is so unimportant, it’s easy to say you’re still loving each other when by love you mean actions out of obligation. None of the partners in a fundamentalist christian marriage want to break biblical law, hence they will keep up all the actions needed to qualify as “love”.

I’m not saying that none of the points I mentioned before are bad or not a sign of true love. If you bring your woman flowers because you thought of her that day, want to apologize, or simply want to see her happy smile, perfect! Go for it! If you give up your dream to help your husband fulfill his dream because you love him, good for you (and him)! Do it before you end up wondering for the rest of your life! Everything you do out of true, emotional love is worth doing in my opinion. Everything you do out of pure obligation, something you despise or would not do unless forced by some sort of law, give it some honest thought if your actions are really worth the price.

What good is it for the partners if nothing is done out of true love, but only because they have to? Of course we all have to do things we don’t like doing sometimes. That’s life. But if life is nothing but obligation, and your only joy the freedom of guilt, not the joy of seeing the other person’s smile when you did something for them… Yeah… That’s not the life us fundamentalist girls dream of when we wait for Prince Charming.

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How to find a spouse?!

There are two beliefs within the movement about looking for a spouse (that I know of, there might be more). Basically, beliefs divide into two groups here: The ones who believe in “the one” and the ones who believe in “choice”.

Basically, the choice believers believe that God didn’t make two people who are absolutely perfect for one another. There are multiple people in the world who would end up being a good match for each person and you still got to pick one of them. There’s choice involved in this.

The other (bigger) group believes that God made one single perfect match for everyone. You have to wait for God to bring that person into your life and nobody else can make a marriage as perfect as this single person could. These are usually the people who strongly believe in the purity movements.

My family belonged to the latter group. While the first group leaves choice and preferences, allowing a man to actually “look” for a wife, the other group doesn’t allow “looking”. It’s all about waiting and seeing what happens – obviously the man still has to make the first step, but only if he feels God is telling him that this is “the one”.

I have major issues with the entire mindset of waiting on God, believing in “the one” and, maybe, even being called to stay single for life. I do not think that the bible means to express this mindset. I think it’s false prophesy and causes a lot of hurt in a lot of people.

Why? Well, I base my belief on the following verse:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.(1 Cor 7, 8-9)

Uh uh. So… where did that “one” go? Where did that “God will bring them into your life if you’re supposed to marry” go? I don’t think that’s what’s meant here. What I read is: Paul thinks people should decide whether they should marry or not depending on the fact if they can stay pure without being married (or not). I think this single verse blows up the entire construct of waiting and just taking it if God doesn’t send you “the one”.

I have always had major issues with people discussing this verse away, trying to spin the actual, literal meaning. I think that this is a general issue with Paul’s writings. Too often they are abused and twisted to suit the needs of the individual. Paul has written some of the most beautiful passages in the bible, and some of the most misunderstood, and yes, some of Paul’s writings are the complete opposite of something else in the bible.

I’m not trying to say that there isn’t “the one” for you, neither am I saying that there’s only “one”. I don’t really know what I’m saying, to be quite honest with you. I don’t know what to believe in this area. It’s just hard for me to imagine that there could be only one single person you can spend your life with, you know? I mean, I like to think I’m pretty easy-going, social life wise. I might not be the woman everyone looks up to, respects, is impressed by, but neither am I the person people don’t like or even hate. It’s easy for me to get along with different personalities because I try to accept everyone for what they are – the posh, heavy make up girly girl who talks about lipstick all day long, I understand her because it’s something that she enjoys, just like I can talk to the tomboy type of woman who likes football more than anything and cries when her favourite team lost. And likewise, I love the different personalities of several men I know, some are more quiet, deep thinking and emotional, others loud, funny and sporty. They’re all fine the way they are.

When I was out with some friends on the weekend, I had a quiet conversation with a friend of a friend, a man. I’ll admit he was a bit drunk, but we talked about his family and his struggles, something that he hardly ever talks about. Suddenly he asked me if I could imagine to date him. I laughed because I didn’t take that question very serious, after all, he was drunk! But he put on a serious face and I gave it a quick thought and this is what I said: “Well, you’re really handsome, you’re smart, much smarter than me, you’re a good listener and a hard worker, you’re interesting and lots of fun to be around, all in all you’re the type of guy all women would like to date – but no, I can’t imagine dating you – at all.” All of what I said was 100% true. I keep wondering why my answer was no. Well, obviously I can’t imagine because I already have a wonderful man I date, but that’s not all of it. There must be something more to it. By no means I believe I found “the one” with Daniel. I can’t say that after such a short time! I don’t know, I just keep wondering! The man who asked me this question looks A LOT like Daniel – the stereotypical tall dark and handsome guy.

At the end of the day what I end up with is: I think most people are compatible with a larger amount of people. In this group of matches, there might be one, two, maybe even three exceptionally perfect ones. But you can make it work either way. Does that make sense?


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Don’t waste your love!

Oh my dear readers! I’m having a tough day as I’m studying my brains out (I’m afraid it will melt, run out of my ears and end up on the floor!). Right now, I’m taking a small break with a cup of coffee and figured I’d post something on here.

I’ve been wondering – yet again! – about love. I’ll admit, it’s my favourite thing in the world.

I think it was Libby over at lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com who wrote about how love doesn’t just run out when you give it away. See we’ve all been raised to believe that you will eventually have no more love to give to anybody if you “spend” it all on “unimportant” people. This is mainly used to argue pro waiting on God’s perfect man for you. After all, you can’t give your husband all your love if you loved a man before. And I think Libby too came up with this amazing way to prove that this might not be correct:

If you have a child, you love it. If you have another, you love it too. Do you love your second child less because you already gave your love to the first one (or vice versa)? I think every mother would laugh hysterically (or scream) if somebody supposed this idea to her!

In the same way, do you love multiple siblings less because the one that came first took all your love? Of course not.

Libby said that it seems that love grows more the more you give it away. It’s endless. It’s not a pool of water that will run empty eventually. It’s an endless source you can take from whenever need be.

I think that’s a beautiful way to say it. And it’s so true. Libby, I can’t tell you how much of a gift you gave me with that wonderful post of yours.

A while ago I was watching youtube videos (the internet is evil and does NOT want me to study!). Among them was a tag game and one of the questions was “Would you rather be loved and never love back, or love and not be loved back?”

I was surprised to hear my own answer: It’s the second option. I’d MUCH rather feel love for someone, even if he or she doesn’t love me back, than be the admired girl who is empty of love. I think my answer would’ve been completely different back when I was living with my family.

Since I left I started to feel all sorts of things, and love is one of them. I love the family I have here, but I don’t love my family in the US any less because of that. I love my friends. I love my life here.

Feeling that is so amazing. I am because I love and it doesn’t matter if that love is returned or not. The feeling of actually feeling something like that is enough to give me all I need. I wasn’t allowed to love people outside of my family this way. “Loving” your friends is discouraged. Now I can give away feely what I have and I realize that it really doesn’t grow less. Of course it’s all different ways, how you love certain people. But as the saying goes, love is always the same flowers, just sometimes the blossoms have a different color. And like a flower, it exists in me, just for me. I don’t need people to admire it, to help me tend it. I can do that very well on my own. It’s like a garden, growing bigger and bigger and more beautiful each day. So if I’m not loved back, if nobody comes to help me water my flowers and admire them, does it make them less pretty? Of course not. But obviously, it’s a great joy when others come to take a look anyway!


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Training up this child – Part 20 – Hurt

(As some of you might have recognized I name many of my posts after songs or movies. I usually pick out a song that suits the mood of each post, usually googling “songs about XY” and then listening to my options. This time, I was torn between two song: Chris Isaak – Wicked game and Johnny Cash – Hurt. I ended up with Hurt because, well I think it sums up a lot of how I felt. I know that some of my readers are just as unworldly as me, so here’s a link to the song on youtube in case you don’t know the song.) Harry’s mother seemed a lot more excited than usual. She made compliments about how I looked, how nicely we decorated the house, how amazing the prepared food smelled. Everybody had a huge smile on their faces, a smile I immediately thought was… retarded. It felt as if the universe had shifted. I was no longer in the real world but in some weird dimension, full of retarded people who don’t even know that some sort of magical boss is shoving lies down their throats. I felt as if they looked at me like I was about to join their sect, go through a weird ritual where they’d take out parts of my brain to make me smile just as stupid as they did. I can’t recall much of this. I was in trance. I talked but it wasn’t me who talked. I heard myself speak and my voice was different, strange, not mine at all. My words didn’t come out of my brain – I didn’t know what I was saying and at the same time wondering how I came up with the things I said. Cold sweat was covering my entire body, my skin felt cold and tacky, but I still felt like that person wasn’t me. There must have been some sort of small talk, some sort of prayer, some words of encouragement but I memorized nothing at all. The only thing I can remember was looking at my shaky hands, covered in freezing sweat and desperately trying not to throw up all over the place. My insides were rotating and I was truly afraid my heart would stop beating any second out of sheer fear. I remember at some point Harry asked me to go outside with him, sit in the garden for a bit. I agreed, my face frozen in I don’t know what position and a very strong, sudden urge the really throw up. I think I held my hand in front of my mouth for a second, because my Dad gave me an encourage stroke on my head and opened the door to the garden for us. As soon as I was outside my mind started screaming: “RUN! Now’s the chance! Run away and don’t turn back!”. But I didn’t. Instead, I followed Harry to the bench in the garden and sat down. I was completely quiet and the sweat started to run down my neck and back. My hands were so wet, they sparkled in the evening sun as if they were powered with diamonds. Harry spoke up: “Do you like the flowers?” “Yes” I said, “Lilies are lovely. My favourite flower.” That was true. “I think so too. You know, you’re like a lily to me. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” “That’s true” I said, not knowing how to react. “Lisa, you know, I have been watching you for such a long time. Years now. I can’t imagine that there is anybody more beautiful and lovely than you.” He said and took my hand, squeezing it, which embarrassed me because my hands were freezing cold and soaking wet. “I didn’t have to think much about if you were the one. I knew it all along. I would’ve done this so much earlier but I felt I needed to wait and be patient on you. I was doubting your feelings for such a long time but now I feel like it’s different. I feel like we’re made for each other.” Harry looked at me, but I just started into the grass next to my shoes. I hadn’t looked at him during this entire conversation and I couldn’t find the courage to look into his eyes now. He was silent for a few seconds, but then let go of my hand. He stood up, slowly. My stomach twisted, making me feel sicker every second, my heart skipped at least 10 beats. Harry stood in front of me. And then, he did it. He got on one knee, found a little box in his pocket, opened it with shaky hands and presented a lovely ring to me. I stared at the ring and the universe shifted yet some more, completely separating my body and my mind at this point. And as I stared at the ring with my body, and my mind stared at myself sitting there, not knowing what to do, Harry finally said it: “Lisa Franziska Bennet, will you marry me?” I didn’t say a thing. I stared at the ring in Harry’s wet shaky hands and almost heard my mind laughing. This is crazy, this is unreal. “Lisa?” he said after some time which could have been hours for all I know. And for the first time I looked into his eyes and what I saw there I will never forget. I don’t think one can describe the horror and fear I saw on his face that moment. I looked back at the ring, then back into Harry’s eyes. Terror. An entire world crashing down, hands shaking violently, tears starting to fill his eyes. My, a lot worse than I could’ve possibly imagined. I still hadn’t said a word but I felt the need to react somehow. I took the ring in my hand, not putting it on and looked at the pretty little diamond. I could almost feel Harry dying inside and wanted to hold on to him, to make sure he wouldn’t just stop breathing. I put my hand on his hand, then on his cheek, stroking through his hair and while I did that I just slightly shook my head. I was still a mute. “Does that mean no?” he asked and I nodded just as slightly. Harry now sat in front of me, on his knees, staring into nothingness. “Do you really mean no? Why not? What’s wrong? What did I do wrong? I can make it right, just tell me what I have to do, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything.” I shrugged, silent, just staring at Harry sitting there in the grass, at my feet, not knowing what he or I should do next. Finally I found some words somewhere in the back of my head: “I’m so sorry”. There were some tears on Harry’s face, but he wasn’t really crying. “Well, tell me why you’re saying no. I thought everything went well.” My cheeks were burning as I tried to explain. That I felt like I wasn’t ready for marriage, that I was doubting practices and beliefs in the movement, that I didn’t feel quite right about marrying him. He took a seat next to me again, thought about what I said for a bit and then asked me “Ok, so what do you want? I’ll give you anything you ask for if you marry me.” I told him how I wanted an education and maybe a job, how I was afraid of having so many kids, especially right now, and that I wanted a different life, not as set apart from the real world and other people. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be normal. Harry was quick to answer. “You can have that. You can find yourself some friends once we settled down. You can go to school if we can afford it and you can work until we have kids.” I told him that by our beliefs, we’d have a kid within the next year. He told me that I couldn’t say that. God would time them. And if we did, God’s way would still be perfect. That he thought if I kept following God’s plan, I couldn’t possibly be happier. As he told me all that, the truth started sinking in, the truth Beth predicted: I couldn’t change his mind, I couldn’t make some sort of deal with him that our marriage would be different. He was too convinced of his beliefs. “This isn’t going to work” I finally said. “We’re too different in too many ways. You’re sure that your beliefs are right while I’m doubting everything. You can trust God while I can’t. You dream of a biblical family, I dread it. How can we possibly be happy together? It might just be a phase for me, but I don’t know that yet. If it is, and we are meant for each other, we will be together eventually. But if it isn’t, you’ll be stuck with a wife and family you’re too good for. Is that really what you want?” Harry was quiet, crying and so was I. “If that’s what you want, if that’s what you can deal with, I’ll marry you.” I hadn’t said that because I wanted it. I said that because at this point, I realized what I got myself into. Two families were waiting for a happy, engaged couple. They weren’t going to get one. I was very, very afraid of what waited for me back inside. I was clueless how to explain all of this. I think at some point I wished he’d agree and still want to marry me so that I could avoid what was sure to come: Anger, hate, disappointment, being kicked out of the house into a world I didn’t know, cut off from my family. I realized the extent of what I just had done and it was just as scary as my other option. I was trapped with no way out. “No, I think you might be right. You’re obviously not in the right state of mind to make a good wife. You need time.” Harry’s answer was partially a relief and partially the scariest situation I could imagine. I took his hand again and for whatever reason I said Thank you. I was emotionally broken down to bits and pieces and started crying violently. “What do I do now?” I asked him. “What will we say?”. Harry just shook his head. “I don’t know.” I cried even more at that and Harry must’ve felt sorry for me, because next thing I know was that he put his arm around my shoulders. I couldn’t resist and hugged him, crying harder, begging him “Please don’t let me do this alone, please help me, please do something, I can’t do it.” We sat there for a few more minutes, until I found a tissue in my pocket, cleaned up my face as well as I could. “We should go back in. I bet they’re wondering what’s going on.” Harry stood up, but I just couldn’t find the strength to do it. He took my hand again and pulled me off the bench. “Come on, we’re in this together.” He didn’t let go of my hand, which I’m deeply thankful in retrospective. We slowly walked over to the back door of our house. My mind was empty, fear struck me but somewhere deep inside I felt that I had done the right thing. Harry held the door open for me, and inside I went to wash away those stupid smiles off my parent’s faces.


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I’m a cow, free at last.

As a girl you see the world as a giant candy store filled with sweet candy and such. But one day you look around and you see a prison and you’re on death row. You wanna run or scream or cry but something’s locking you up. Are the other folks cows chewing cud until the hour comes when their heads roll? Or are they just keeping quiet like you, planning their escape?

(Quoted from the movie “The good girl”)

When I watched this movie a few days ago I was struck by this opening passage. So much that I in fact paused the movie, restarted it and listened to it again. And for some reason, this very stereotypical quote from a hardly known movie made me think. And it lifted a weight from my shoulders that I didn’t even know about.

I know so very well just how you believe everything is a wonderful dream as a child. And I too know the moment of looking around and realizing – it’s a prison. I’m a cow, I’m on death row. Everybody is. I too wondered if I was the only one realizing what we were. Our deaths would come much too soon and someone would have to act, but for some reason, nobody did. The humans stared at us whenever we left our barn. They stared, made fun of our furs and claws, were shocked by our ways and always wondering why there were cows at all.

I accepted my inevitable fate. My death sentence was spoken the day I was born and no amount of pleading would reverse the decision. I took my case to the highest court, begged God himself on my knees to somehow let me out of the cage and remove my chains. God’s answer was simple: The butcher was sent to make it short and quick.

I was decorated and prepared to walk down the aisles of the slaughterhouse soon enough. I, the fearful cow, looked around at the other cows, just as chained as caged as I was. But they didn’t know. They didn’t see it. They didn’T see the blood splattered tiles on the wall, blood of hundreds and hundreds of other cows who weren’t able to escape the freezing cold deathtrap.

I saw my own death approaching with steady steps, a large knife in hand, smiling softly. “This is what you were made for” he told me. And just as he was about to swing his knife, he trembled. Let me go, I said. And to my surprise, he hesitated for a moment and his eyes told me to run for my life as long as I had the chance. And I did.

Running down the aisles, making my way to the backdoor, the other cows mooh’d and boo’d at me, threw stones, spit blood out of their half slaughtered mouths, and finally, as I could see the first flicks of sunlight at the end of the hallway, they joined together to form an unheard choir. “You are lost, you are lost, you are lost.” The steps approaching, the sound of metal banging against tiled walls, the slurping sound of dying meat dragging across the floor grew louder and louder as I finally pushed open the door and stumbled on warm, hard concrete. With a loud banging noise the door closed behind me. I looked back just to realize there was no knob on the outside, no way to get back in. From inside I could still hear the choirs, the dragging, the screaming but muted now.

I stood up just to realize that I actually had two legs and the warm breeze gently played with my flowery skirt. My bovine grimace was gone, replaced by a pointy little nose, almond-shaped eyes and small mouth with soft lips. My fur, which had subjected me to much joking from the human crowd had receded and formed a ponytail on my head. I looked at my claws, bloodied still, but now made of fragile fingers. As I started walking away from the slaughterhouse I wiped my hands clean on my dress. Not quite sure where to go, I left the slaughterhouse grounds through a little whole in the wire netting fence. Out on the sidewalk I was greeted with wild inner city traffic roaming on the streets. Cars, busses, trucks. The other pedestrians looked at my shook-up being with some suspicion, but I quickly adjusted as I walked down the street. As I reached the end of the street I saw a bus-stop. I took a seat on one of the worn down benches and waited with the other figures. Did they know what was happening right here, in the middle of the city? Had they not wondered about the cows? Had they not heard the screams?

The bus arrived, smelling of gas and city dirt, making steaming sounds as it stopped. Together with the other passengers I got in line and stepped onto the bus. The friendly old driver shot me an understanding look and asked “Where to, young Lady?”. I was speechless. Where should I go? I tried to come up with something but my mind was empty. As the first tear started flowing from my eyes, the driver said “No worries. Just sit down. I’ll take you to the train station. From there, you can decide where you want to go.” I nodded thankfully and sat down and as I did I could hardly believe the thought which flooded my mind. Free, free at last.

So, as I watched this movie and the scene unfolded in my head I couldn’t help but take a deep breath. I hadn’t realized before just how lucky I was to get out when I did. I know that, once I had been married, it would mean my death. It would have been the point of no return. I jumped off the crashing train just moments before it hit the wall. And this realization was so… amazing.


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About Mom and Dad

The last few posts in which I was talking about my Dad received plenty of comments with a lot of thoughts, ideas and opinions. I want to thank you all for that, simply because it proves to me personally that this feeling I had about my Dad, that he wasn’t handling things the way he should, was in fact right all along.

There were many questions concerning my Mother and her role in this, so I want to talk a bit more about her as I feel it makes more sense to know her character and personality as well.

My mom is a very very quiet, introvert person. Ever since I can remember, she’s been quiet, hardly talking to people outside of our direct family. At church, she had a very hard time connecting with people, finding friends and such. She tried to be more outgoing, but it went only as far as signing up to bake a cake and then dropping it off without a word, only a smile.

While in the normal world, this would cause her problems, within the movement, it didn’t. Quite the opposite. My mom was praised for her quietness, her submission, her willingness to be simple and “die to self” as they love to say. While she was ignored, not noticed by the world, in the movement, she was somebody. And she didn’t have to do anything but be herself.

My dad was (is) really proud to have such a wife. She brought him honor and praise, she made him look really good in front of the other Patriarchs. She was the walking symbol of his strength and wisdom. If a woman was and could be this meek and quiet, it had to mean that the husband was an amazing leader. My dad took all his pride from the way his marriage looked to the outside.

My dad on the other hand always felt the need to be right and unquestioned. I was told that he was always a strong personality, but that he wasnt this bad. During the marriage it seems, the fact that my mother hardly ever spoke up, voiced an opinion or questioned him, must have gotten him used to feeling like this. My mom is addicted to harmony and peace. She’d rather swallow all her anger than get into a fight. And so, even if she felt my dad was wrong, she didn’t tell him simply to keep the house a peaceful and quiet place.

Over the years, my dad worsened. When you’re used to being right, it must be hard to accept criticism from anybody. My dad’s ego depended on the quietness of my mother, and likewise, the peace my mother loved so much depended on my dad’s ego.

 

Now, some comments talking about the wrong concept of submission in my family. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But for my parents, submission looked different. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

“Honestly, he should be hit with Ephesians 5:28-29 (Husbands love your wives and cherish them–my paraphrase) and Ephesians 6:4 (Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.) Perhaps the children should make posters of those verses and hang them around the house. It’s a thought.”

That IS a good idea, but it wouldn’t work out at the end of the day.

In this mindset, it’s really hard to argue whether a man really love his wife. Even if he mistreats her, its covered by “he wants to protect her, hence he loves her.”. Shes living on a really small budget? Protection of the family. He doesn’t listen to her? Because she’s not as smart and he’s protecting the family from foolish decisions. She doesn’t feel loved? He just has a different way of expressing it. She needs to adjust to her head of the house. Theres ALWAYS some way to explain every male behaviour, no matter how bad and degrading it is.

A wife on the other hand can be easily caught unsubmissive. She does it her way? Unsubmissive. She criticizes you? Unsubmissive and not honoring the husband.

Really, I could go on and on with thousand examples, but we will always end up with one answer: The man’s faults are encouraged by unsubmissive wives. A submissive wife will cure all problems within marriage. I encourage you to read http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/articles/general-view/archive/2003/july/01/learning-our-place-as-wives/

The Pearls answer questions about marriage and family life on their site and they demonstrate a deep understanding of this form of submission. It’s about total submission to a point where you can’t do anything in order to talk to your husband about problems. If you are too lazy to read through all the articles, here’s the basic principle: Submission is key.

 

My mother firmly believed that her total submission could cure all the problems within our family and within her marriage. Whenever things got worse, she tried to be even more submissive. She never questioned his decisions but blindly trusted that he had a divine revelation about everything. Whatever it was that he said or did, to her, it was directly from God and if it was a bad thing that was said or done, then it was because of her lack of submission.

 

I know many people are going to comment that it’s a wrong form of submission, not meant like that, that my mother needs to act rational, like a normal woman. But that’s NOT going to happen. It wont happen just like it wont happen that they leave the Christian faith. This is their faith. It’s irrational, yes, but so is all faith.


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The silent treatment

One of the things that bugged me the most about my Dad was the silent treatment. I know this sounds weird, but as a child I prefered a spanking, because that would end and only affect me. The silent treatment was something my entire family would suffer from and you never knew when it would end.

The silent treatment would usually follow when Dad wasn’t worshipped enough as the Lord of the house. Say mom spontaneously drove to town when Dad was at work to shop for a new jacket for one of us kids without asking him at least 24 hours prior.

That was the rule: Everything had to be mentioned to Dad AT LEAST 24 hours prior to doing it. Better would be 48 hours. If it was bigger things, you had to tell him up to 7 days prior to doing it (friends visiting, for example). The biggest problem with this was that my Dad forgot a lot of stuff or simply didn’t listen to anybody well enough to actually understand what was being talked about. You had to mention it again and again to make sure he remembered. But this could cause problems too! You had to word it correctly. You couldn’t say (on Sunday) “Dad, don’t forget I told you Wednesday I want to go shopping for a dress on Monday.” That was insulting to him because we questioned his mental abilities. Asking something like this would result in a very loud lecture about how he is NOT stupid, NOT deaf, NOT retarded and that he is VERY disappointed and ANGRY that we speak to him like this. The only way to really get out of the remind-daddy-of-something game was to put all the blame on yourself: “Daddy, did I mention I wanted to shop for a dress on Monday? I’m not sure if I did…” Then he usually remembered we actually had mentioned it before and he would rather calmly say “Yes you did. Sometimes I’m worried that you forget so much.”

If you forgot to remind him of something and he felt it was inappropriately close to said event, he’d get really angry. Say I told him on Sunday evening for the first time that I wanted to shop on Monday, he’d freak. He’d yell stuff like “Who do you think I am? Why am I NEVER told ANYTHING you plan? I’m the head of the house and you treat me like a family dog!”. He’d go on and on and on about it, and then suddenly… silence. Silence that could last for days and was directed at everyone in the family, not only the offender. My mom as well as all us kids.

The silent treatment meant more than just silence. It meant a complete absence of all family life.

I’m not sure about regular lunch and dinner customs in normal American families, but we applied European customs. That meant that the food wasn’t put directly onto the plates by one single person. All of the pots, pans, bowls and so on were put on the dining table and the rule was to serve yourself. In this set of dining habits, it’s very impolite NOT to serve yourself. Of course, small kids are served but everyone above 10 is to do it themselves. Of course you can ask people “May I have some potatoes?” because they sit closer to the potatoes and then have them serve you. But, say, wordless handing of the plate awaiting to be served is so beyond rude… It’s about as bad as eating from another persons plate without asking them. Just so you get the point. Well, if the silent treatment was in effect, my Dad refused to serve himself. Not only that, he even denied holding the plate up for mom to serve him. I can’t word just how rude that is in our family. He sat there, hands folded on the table, staring into the air. Waiting. My mom usually tried to ignore it and served the small ones first, but usually my dad was really quick to grab food and so it was obvious we were getting the treatment again. My mom then proceeded to take his plate and fill it. She’d put it back in front of him and he would start eating, staring at nothing else but his food. When he was finished, he stood up without waiting on the others – something that would result in a spanking for us kids! He went to sit alone in his office room and read all night till bedtime. My mom was left alone with the kids. When everybody went to bed, my Dad left his office and went straight to bed without just looking at anyone.

The silent treatment also meant that, for example, if you knocked at the bathroom door and asked “Anybody in there?”, no answer would follow. We could tell Dad was in there because the door was locked. There was also no family time, not even bible study. He didn’t say goodbye in the morning, or hello when he came home. He didn’t ask for anything, just hold out things to the next best person to be served, like holding up an empty cup in order to get coffee.

This form of behaviour made me incredibly angry. I was angry at Dad mostly, but I was also upset with Mom. Why on earth would she put up with that? Why would she still serve him like a slave? Why would she talk to him, hoping to get an answer, only to end up not even being looked at???

It made me so angry, so frustrated, I usually hid somewhere away from my entire family. My favourite activity was locking myself away in the bathroom. I’d be in trouble if my parents found out I did that without a real reason – we couldn’t lock doors unless it was an emergency. I couldn’t say it was to shower, showering for an hour would be considered wasteful and would get me in trouble, plus, there was no water running. So every time someone knocked on the door to be let in, the conversation went like this: “Who’s in there?” – “It’s me, Lisa.” – “Lisa, you’ve been in there for ages! Get out! I want in!” “I can’t!” – “Why not?!?” – “Uhmmm… I have diarreah.”

Yes, that was my actual excuse and secured me the bathroom all to myself for at least an hour, sometimes two. While I was in there, all I really did was sitting on the bathroom floor with the small mirror in my hands. I stared at my own face, sometimes for minutes without a break. I waited until you get that feeling, you know, that you’re not looking at your own face anymore, but somebody else, and you can observe the whole situation from outside and feel really strange. I stared at the ends of my hair, cutting off split ends with a small pair of scissors. I cut my nails. I hummed melodies. I lay on the floor and dreamed about other place. Being on the beach in a bikini somewhere on a lonely island. Seeing historic European cities. Shopping like the girls on TV do in New York City. Sometimes, I played out entire scenarios in my mind. How I sit at a cafe with two girlfriends and we talk about our lives, or feelings, everything. Those two girls actually appeared very often, and they would always listen, always understand me, and they considered me their best friend. Once I cooled off in my bathroom (no worries, we had 2 bathrooms so everybody could still pee!) I went to my room or straight to bed.

I asked my mom a bunch of times why she let Dad treat her like that. Why she wouldn’t tell him that he acted like a spoiled little boy and not like the head of the house, she told me that women must ALWAYS be submissive. It was ok Dad did this, because she was his wife and she would be obedient no matter what. I feared to end up with a man like that. I hated my Dad so much for it. For showing us off like little circus monkeys, proving us that even without words, he can make us jump again and again.

I can’t tell you how many times my night-time prayer included stuff like “Please God, don’t let me marry a man who acts like this. Please send me a man who can at least fill his own plate, no matter what I did wrong. Please send me a man who can talk about his issues, and not ignore me for days.”