I will spare you my rationalizations about why I watch the Duggars’ reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” and simply say: I am repulsed yet strangely fascinated. Also, I have always enjoyed learning about foreign cultures.
I didn’t think their beliefs could shock me anymore, but the season premiere proved me wrong. The camera scanned ever so briefly across one of Michelle’s public speaking handouts and the title, “Seven Basic Needs of a Husband,” jumped off the page.
I paused the DVR so I could study up on my husband’s needs. And so I could take a picture of the screen. Here you go.
Squirming with discomfort, I read about the ways in which I am destroying my husband’s (apparently ridiculously weak) manliness.
For example: wives, did you know that we destroy our husbands’ manliness when we “resist his decisions in our spirit.” That’s interesting, because I don’t stop with resisting in spirit. I say that shit out loud.
Most entertaining were the handout’s practical tips. For example, instead of “resisting his decisions,” you should “learn to wisely appeal to your husband.” Even fundamentalists understand the need to be realistic about who really makes the decisions. Fear not, wives! We need not accept our husband’s decisions, we just need to learn how to be more subtle in our resistance.
These “needs” were so over-the-top ridiculous it was hard to be as pissed as maybe I should have been. When I noticed the “love is killed by self-sufficiency” line, I dissolved into giggles.
But wait a minute…
If you’ve been reading here awhile, you may be aware of my early retirement fantasy.
Why is it just a fantasy? A.) our mortgage, 2.) I imagine replacing the time currently spent working and commuting with things I want to do, not what I’d actually be doing (learning to cook, cleaning the house, doing Dave’s laundry, etc…), and c.) as grumpy and depleted as work makes me, my self-worth is largely tied up in how well I perform there and in my ability to earn a living. It would make me (not to mention Dave) uncomfortable to expect Dave to earn all our income.
But the Duggars (actually the “Institute in Basic Life Principles”) were telling me that God wants me to be financially dependent on Dave. My self-sufficiency is killing our love. That doesn’t sound good.
Could Dave really need me to quit my job? Could this really be so simple and easy? I thought I’d consult an actual husband about the accuracy of these needs.
“Dave, I need to show you something. Can you come in here for a minute?”
I played the scene in slow motion so he could peruse his basic needs.
“So, what do you think? Do you need me to quit my job? Because I’m willing to make that sacrifice to support your manliness,” I looked at him hopefully.
Unfortunately, Dave fixated on a different basic need.
“No, but I agree you shouldn’t resist my physical affection.”
“Crap, I hadn’t even noticed that one. I brought you in here to discuss how my self-sufficiency is killing our love.”
“But God wants you to stop crushing my spirit.”
“I don’t think God understands how often you want to have sex. Look, if we worked on meeting your need to have a financially dependent wife first, I’d have so much more time to, uh, stroke your manliness in other ways as well.”
I think he’s starting to warm up to my early retirement. I think it will be more difficult to convince myself.
I joked that God didn’t understand how often men want to have sex, but apparently he does. The only practical tip the handout provides for wives to help them meet this need is: “learn the power of prayer.” Yep, that sounds about right.
If you wonder how I know the “Institute in Basic Life Principles” published this document, that’s because my
perfectionism commitment to my blogging craft made me research the source. I may also have ordered my own copy. Hey, there are six more needs the show didn’t even cover, and I’m nothing if not thorough.