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From Our Mailbox: "He's Happier Than I Have Ever Seen"

April 22, 2019

Dear Mrs. Pearl,

I recently read your book Created to be His Help Meet, and I wanted to write and share my story with you and tell you what a blessing this book has been to me and my marriage. Neither my husband nor I began well with relationships. This is a third marriage for each of us. We have felt justified in our previous divorces because of the infidelity and abuse of all our past spouses, but I only recently came to understand my own part in those failures.

For the first seven years of our marriage, I was simply awful and he was a saint to stand by me. The one and only redeeming thing I did was to take on the care of his disabled adult daughter about a year into our marriage. For that alone, he has praised me to anyone who’ll listen throughout our marriage. But in every other area, I treated him miserably.

He is a Steady Man, and I am the daughter of a Visionary (who is a pastor) and a strong-willed woman who took charge of my father and our home. My husband came into the marriage with a severely damaged self-esteem and a lack of confidence regarding relationships, and I came in with a chip on my shoulder. I would NOT be abused again, and I would beat him down as needed to be sure to never be in that position again. He was willing to do just about anything to keep the peace, and I was willing to do just about anything to assure that my rights and my children’s rights weren’t in any danger of being trampled.

Over the years I neglected every responsibility. I didn’t do housework at all unless company was coming or we were out of towels or clean dishes. He picked up several of my responsibilities to keep the peace. He started doing his own laundry after several times I left things in the dryer for days at a time. Then he bought his own washer and dryer to put in the garage after I couldn’t even be depended upon to have the machines empty one day a week so that he could do his clothes. He began getting us pizza every Monday night, taking me out on “dates” every Friday and Saturday night, eating cereal Saturday mornings, making sandwiches or frozen dinners on Sundays, and lots of impromptu fast-food runs on other days—all to keep me from the meltdowns I regularly had over cooking dinner with no advance preparation (I regularly had nothing thawed or didn’t have the needed ingredients for any one dish when it came time for dinner).

I was picking fights with him over what I perceived as a total inability to make decisions, and then picking fights over his lack of compromise every time he made a decision I didn’t like. I drug him to marriage retreats and counselors regularly to try to “fix” our communication issues, and then got angry about what he had to say when he finally tried to talk to me. I rejected him often when he tried to initiate sex, accusing him of “pawing” or “groping” when his advances were unwelcome, and then blaming him when we’d go weeks or months without having sex.

About three years ago our marriage was at its lowest, and I felt convicted to research what it meant to be submissive to my husband. I determined that it would be my New Year’s resolution for 2016 to be submissive to him. Unfortunately, my researching what this could look like in a modern family led me down the rabbit hole of “Christian domestic discipline” (not the spanking thing, but the rest of the ideas were appealing to me). I decided that I “needed” my husband to be firm with me and not allow me to get away with being awful. I “needed” him to make rules and expect me to follow them. I “needed” him to tell me what his expectations were and expect me to obey them. I didn’t realize that I was putting a lot of pressure on him to be something he just wasn’t. Or that I was taking no responsibility for my own actions, but rather expecting him to fix all our problems. When I couldn’t get him to tell me what he wanted, I fell off the wagon and blamed him for the failure. Things went back to our previous norm.

Then 2017 came and a new New Year’s resolution. I continued to feel convicted about submission and I realized some of the mistakes I’d made previously. I decided that I needed to ask respectfully for his guidance, but not expect him to give it. And I should figure out what I thought a submissive wife really looked like and try to be that 100%. But I tried to go from nothing to the perfect combination of June Cleaver and Martha Stewart. I was getting up at 4 am to get things ready for him to have breakfast and leave for work, working hard to get our house clean and keep it that way during the day, waiting on him hand and foot all evening, and staying up late into the night working to try to get it all done. His daughter became ill and after spending a few nights up with her while still trying to do absolutely everything during the day, I totally burned myself out and fell off the wagon again.

Then 2018, and guess what—another New Year’s resolution. I told him that I was sure it hadn’t worked last time because I tried to do too much. I was going to try again, but this time I was only going to do the things that were obviously my responsibilities (clean house and meals cooked) and that I’d do anything he asked (while not expecting him to ask anything) and that I’d try to be respectful. Easy-peasy, right? Well, I fell off the wagon for the third time and reverted back to my old dirty house, disrespectful ways.

This year I found your book. I determined to not make this a resolution but rather a change of heart. I told myself that every failure would be looked at as a chance to learn, that I would apologize and continue being what God called me to be. I would find ways to be helpful every day. I would ask, but not push, for my husband’s guidance. We are one month in, which is longer than I’ve ever made it in these last three years. We have had one slight disagreement, which I apologized for immediately. I asked him what he would like to see me focus on and he said the housekeeping, so I have been spring cleaning and have things just about spotless now. I check his laundry basket every day and I’m trying to make sure he never has to do his own again. I try to thank him every day for something, treat him with the utmost honor and respect. I try to remind myself of how blessed I am to have a husband who put up with all those rebellious years, and he deserves my complete devotion. I offer to cook every weekend and Monday night. Sometimes he lets me but usually he insists that he’d rather take me out or stick to our old routine. I try to always remember to show gratitude for his generosity. I come to bed every night excited to show him how much I love him. I ask him every night if there is anything I can do to help him the next day, and he has begun asking me to handle little tasks for him from time to time, which thrills my soul after years of him walking on eggshells and never asking anything of me. I love hunting for little things I can take off his plate or things I can do to make him happy. He’s happier than I have ever seen him, and I’m overjoyed to be the one bringing that smile to his face.

Thank you so much for your help through this wonderful book, Mrs. Pearl. Thank you for revealing God’s will for my life and my marriage.

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