Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Response to "Ruby Wives" by Sam Greenlee

I borrowed this post (with permission) from Sam Greenlee, who wrote this insightful response to a Facebook group called "Ruby Wives," which teaches terribly unhealthy attitudes and practices within marriage. Enjoy!

A couple of days ago, Facebook Memories reminded me of a terrible list of "insights" published by a group called "Ruby Wives" that I responded to, point-for-point. I am sharing it here because all this same nonsense is spread out so diffusely in so much Christian advice and teaching.
Here is the full article with my commentary in parentheses:

1. Men thrive on praise. Your verbal compliments and sincere appreciation are like gasoline in a race car. Your praise keeps him racing for you.
(Most humans like praise, regardless of gender. It is a good thing to praise your spouse when they do praiseworthy things, and to be grateful for the gifts they bring into your life, but don't offer insincere praise just to make them happier.)

2. Never tell him how to drive. Just wear your seat belt and whisper a prayer if you are afraid of his driving. Men absolutely hate to be told how to drive.
(Both spouses should try to be gentle and loving when offering criticism, but sometimes criticism is warranted. One of the benefits of marriage is that both partners have a life-time commitment to the other and can trust one another to look out for their best interest. This creates fertile ground for sanctification, as both partners can lovingly help the other to see their blind spots and to do better. Unsafe driving is a risk for your spouse, for any passengers, and for others on the road and warrants a conversation.)

3. Your motherhood cape...You need to leave it at the door of your bedroom. Remember, you married your husband before you had kids. He needs you to be his lover in the bedroom. Don't ever let him feel like he's last place. His reach for you is important. Your response to his reach even more so. He connects with you emotionally when he connects with your body. Don't let this area in your marriage be neglected.
(The apostle Paul offers his wisdom that husband and wife should maintain the sexual aspect of their marriage, unless they choose to abstain by mutual consent for a limited time. So it is a good idea to cultivate that aspect of marriage, but there is no specific level of regularity required and the willing consent of both partners is always necessary.)

4. A woman of honor does not need to correct her man. Don't correct him. He's not your child. He's a man.
(No one, with the exception of Jesus, is perfect. This means everyone needs correction sometimes. Correction can be given lovingly and in a way that does not demean the other person or embarrass them in front of others. See #2.)

5. Your reaction when he walks in the door is so important.
Your warm smile and light in your eyes is his greatest welcome. Put everything down to greet him. You should always be his greatest hello.
(It is great to really acknowledge the humanity of other people, to greet them with attentiveness, kindness, hospitality, and love. This is a great practice within marriage for both partners, although a marriage does not benefit from legalism and there will be times when either one of you is distracted and busy. You are both called to love one another well, but neither of you is called to be the door-man or hostess for the other.)

6. Chaos and clutter are not pleasant for a man in his castle. A man likes to come home to a clutter free environment.
(If a man does not like clutter in his house, he can always help clean it up. Different marriages will have different arrangements based on who is working, who is in school, who is at home, etc. There is no general rule in Christian scripture or theology that wives are particularly responsible for a clean house.)

7. Whatever he provides for you...a house, car, gifts, etc... Appreciate and don't take his efforts for granted. Whatever you do- don't complain and nag. It's like arrows piercing his heart. A man's identity is often felt by his work and how he provides for his family. This is a natural instinct. Men are wired this way. Don't put down his job or what he provides you with.
(It's absurd to claim that all men are wired the same way regarding provision and employment. Men are diverse and unique individuals, as are women. Gratitude is a great practice for every Christian and greedy materialism is a sin to be avoided, but these are not gender-specific.)

8. The Holy Spirit never needs a wife's help in speaking and convicting her husband's heart. Your job is to pray and let God do the work.
(The Holy Spirit doesn't need humans to share the gospel with one another, but God has chosen to involve humans in that work. The Holy Spirit doesn't need a church community to help Christians in their sanctification, but God has chosen to work through such a means. There is no prohibition in the Bible or in Christian theology on a wife being iron who can sharpen the iron of her husband. A healthy Christian marriage will involve both partners spurring one another on toward holiness. It is true that not every situation calls for one spouse to offer correction to the other, so discernment is needed. See #2.)

9. A moment of dishonor can cause great damage...Even if he laughs it off or doesn't say he's me, disrespect and dishonor hurt him more than he tells you.
(It is not clear what a "moment of dishonor" means. If it has to do with unkindness, an insult, etc., then really the issue boils down to sin. If either spouse sins against the other, he or she should apologize, seek not to do it again, accept forgiveness, and be reconciled.)

10. Your honor keeps his heart open for you.

11. Never talk about his weaknesses to others. It's called respect. You represent your husband. speak well of him or not at all.
(It's a good idea for neither spouse to gripe about the other to others, in general. Christians should not gossip about others and Christians are told to present their complaints about wrongdoing first to the wrongdoer for the sake of repentance, reform, and reconciliation.)

12. Your "Not tonights" are huge rejections to a man. Let there be very few of these. If he's reaching, you're blessed. When's he not reaching for you, then there's something wrong in your relationship.
(It's ok to be too tired or stressed or just not to be interested. It's good to speak openly and honestly with one another about your felt needs in this regard and to cultivate this part of your relationship without one partner always having to assent when the other wants it. Your husband is an adult and should be capable of handling small disappointments with empathy and understanding for your own feelings. Also, don't buy in to to generalized broad-brush representations of how each sex feels about sex.)

13. Your looks do matter. Women often say, "My husband loves me just the way I am." This is true. And he won't tell you because he doesn't want to hurt your feelings....but honestly, he wishes you would dress and try to be your best for him. Many wives let themselves go and get stuck in a frump girl slump. Men are visual. Just being honest... a wife should be her best. You dressed nice and put make up on to impress him when you were dating...He still deserves this.
(It is good for both partners to try to love one another well, to be generous and considerate, and to tend lovingly to their relationship. This means it is a good idea for both partners to be continually putting in effort to make the other happy and to help them feel loved (although "happiness" can be a false idol if it gets in the way of holiness). It can be great for both of you to take care of your bodies for many reasons, including for one another's aesthetic preferences, but you also both need to love and accept the other when the other is exhausted, or needs a break from "performing", etc.)

14. A man will share and open up when he feels safe to do so. Keep your love nest with no thorns. Don't tell him how to feel or criticize him when he's being vulnerable with you. A man needs a soft place to land. Your warmth and non-judgmental approach offers him this.
(People in general sometimes need a place where they can be vulnerable and listened to without being given advice or criticism. It is important for everyone to recognize these times and to behave accordingly. It is silly to pretend this is a special husband-thing.)

15. Every man has a little boy in him. God made men this way. Don't forget to sometimes play, flirt, and laugh with your man. Men connect with women who can relax with them. Don't take every moment of the day too seriously.
(Everyone sometimes needs to play, to laugh, to have fun, to relax. This is part of why God gave us the Sabbath. Don't try to make in this into a gendered thing.)

16. Respect to a man is the same as romance is to a woman...Men feel loved when they are respected. Your respect is what he desires...more than your romantic gestures.
(Men, like women, are diverse unique individuals. Christians should do their best to respect everyone they encounter, which is not the same thing as obedience or pretending that a person who is wrong is actually right.)

17. When the world is against him, always be present and by his side. Your loyalty is everything to him.
(Loyalty and faithfulness are important to any marriage and to both spouses. Obviously you should both be faithful and supportive to one another. But again, you don't need to support someone when they are wrong and refusing to recognize it. That does them no good.)

18. Don't try to correct in him in how to be a spiritual leader. Let him become a leader by trial and error. God will raise him up. Yes, its scary being in the back seat, but there can't be two drivers at the same time. Let him lead the prayers at the dinner table. Let him suggest the devotions. Let him lead. God will honor you for this. Your husband will make mistakes...extend grace.
(There aren't two drivers in a car, but there are two on a Tiller truck. "That's silly! Marriage isn't like a Tiller truck!" you say. Sure. It also isn't a car. You are both responsible for your own spiritual lives and mutually accountable to and for one another and for your children. You should pray together, discuss matters of faith together, seek discernment on big decisions together, etc. Don't worry about who is in charge "as the Gentiles do". Seek to be faithful together in mutual loving submission to one another that seeks consensus in the Spirit. You should both be open to loving correction from the other.)

19. He needs your prayers when he's in battle. Be his best prayer partner. A praying woman is a strength to him.
(It is good for people to pray for other people.)

20. A man who loves his wife will do just about anything to please her...and a good woman will never take advantage of this. Appreciate and value what you have...Because you never know when it could be lost or stolen.
(Gratitude is good. Refusal to take advantage of others is good. These don't need to be gendered.)

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