Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Healing Hurting Relationships
Margaret J. Rinck
Zondervan Publishing House, 1990
Rinck acknowledges that some men misuse Christianity to dominate or abuse their wives and/ or other women around them. Frequently these men exhibit their misogyny only in private or only to a few women. These men appear to many as the epitome of propriety to those outside this "intimate" circle. Rinck tells us how to recognize these men, suggests how to deal with these men, and tells us that we women are fully human and that no one, man or woman, has God's blessing to treat us as any less than fully human.
1) "Any challenge or objection by his wife is met with rage, temper tantrums, or stony silence. The Christian misogynist (yes, there are such people) often uses distortion of scriptural teaching to keep his partner "in her place." " page 16
2) "The reason is that once the woman changes a particular behavior to please him, another behavior becomes the target. The definition of what is pleasing constantly changes, so that she is kept off balance." page 17
3) "A woman should examine whether her marriage relationship has most of these characteristics:
1. The man assumes he has the "God-given" right to control how she lives and behaves. Her needs or thoughts are not even considered.
2. He uses God, the Bible, and church doctrine to support his "right to tell her what to do," and demands that she "submit" unquestioningly to his desires, whims, decisions, or plans. There is no sense of mutuality or loving consideration. It is always his way or nothing.
3. She finds that she no longer associates with certain friends, groups, or even family members because of her need to keep him happy. Even though these activities or people are important to her, she finds herself preferring to avoid them in order to "keep the peace."
4. He believes and acts like her opinions, views, feelings, or thoughts have no real value. He may discredit them on principle or specifically because "she is a woman and easily deceived like Eve was." Or, he may give lip-service to respecting her thoughts, but later shoot them down one by one because they "are not logical."
5. He acts charming and sweet at church and is well-liked at work, yet at home the family has to "walk on eggs" to prevent setting him off. People who do not see him at home find it hard to believe that she is really suffering emotional abuse. He reinforces this feeling whenever she points out the differences between home and church by saying something such as , "Oh, quit exaggerating. I'm not like that!"
6. When she displeases him and he does not get his way, he yells, threatens, or sulks in angry silence.
7. She feels confused by his behavior because one day he can be loving, kind, charming, and gentle; the next day he is cruel and full of rage. The switch seems to come without warning.
8. No matter how much she tries to improve, change, or "grow in the Word," in her relationship with him, she still feels confused, inadequate, guilty, and somehow off balance. She never knows what will set him off next, and no matter how much she prays, he never changes. She almost feels she must be "crazy" and she is sure it is her fault.
9. He acts possessive and jealous, even of her time with the children. He may even try to restrict her normal church activities because "a woman's place is in the home." If other people, especially other men, notice her or talk to her, he becomes very angry or jealous.
10. When anything goes wrong in the home or in their relationship, the problem is always her. If she would just be "more submissive" or "more filled with the spirit" or "obey me like a good Christian wife," everything would be fine. He seems blind to any cruelty or misbehavior on his part. He actually sees himself virtuous for "putting up" with a woman like her." pages 20-23
4) "The unique feature of misogynists is that their abusive, nonempathetic grandiosity is directed toward the women in their lives. Misogynists may occasionally exhibit these characteristics toward other people, but the brunt of their disorder is aimed at their wives or girlfriends." page 43
5) "The misogynist is extremely control-oriented; he needs to control and dominate his wife." page 46
6) "He may make sex mechanical (when and where he wants it), refuse to be concerned about her sexual satisfaction, becomes less and less physically affectionate after the wedding, express repulsion or disgust at the idea of romantically touching, or use blame or punishment when her sexual needs differ from his own." page 47
7) "The goal of his emotional and psychological battering is to wear down his wife, to keep her under his control at all costs.
Some of the tools of abuse and control are yelling, bullying, threatening, temper tantrums, name calling, constant criticism, verbal attacks, ridiculing the woman's pain, subtle attempts to confuse her and make her doubt her sanity, forgetting things that happened between them, accusations, blaming, and rewriting history. The misogynist uses all these tactics with the overt aim to "teach you a lesson" or "make you a better person." In Christian homes the justification for abuse becomes even more powerful. Often God or the Bible is used to justify the verbal attack as "correction." "If you were a really good Christian wife you'd . . . ," or "I only do this because God gave me the authority to lead you and be your spiritual head." These become stereotyped defenses. If the wife shows anger, fear, or weakness, she is "rebellious," "untrusting," or "immature in the Lord." If she questions her husband's decisions or opinions, she must be disciplined for her own good." page 53
8) "Codependent women are usually deceived by the occasional "nice" behaviors that their mates exhibit." page 60 - see Dee Graham's Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence, and Women's Lives (New York University Press, 1994) for a way of explaining women's submissive behavior that does not degrade women by calling us co-dependent. In Loving to Survive, Graham attributes this behavior to "the Societal Stockholm Syndrome," an adaptive behavior that allows women to survive in an hostile environment. She adamantly refuses to acknowledge that such women are codependents. Good book and I agree with her. Although the behavioral responses/ intellectual conclusions that people reach are the same where they are codependents or suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, women who are suffering from the Societal Stockholm Syndrome can be "reprogrammed" to reject a culture that condones abuse and to reject their abusers.
9) ". . . Elaine was a people pleaser and tried desperately to "correct" her behavior so as to please her spouse. Yet each time she tried, it seemed as if the rules had changed." page 60
10) "Learned helplessness is observed in victims of chronic abuse or trauma; these people feel that they have no ability to make choices or influence their destiny." page 61
11) "A child growing up in the kind of environment Ruth Ellen or Mary did or in other dysfunctional families where codependency develops learns some rules:
1. Your feelings do not matter. Pleasing others and soothing their feelings becomes all-important. Peace is to be maintained at any price.
2. No one is there to protect you. "If Mom can't protect herself from Dad's abuse, she obviously isn't going to take care of me."
3. The only way to handle a man's aggression is to give in to it. "Mom stayed married to Dad for thirty years, and he belittled her and treated her mean, so I guess I have to do it too."
4. The most important thing in life, yet the most painful thing, is to have a man. . .
5. The way to keep people from abandoning you is to try to be perfect, meet all their needs, ignore your own thoughts and feelings, and, above all, never act as if their mistreatment is that bad." page 69
12) "They end up feeling constantly condemned by their spouses, by Scripture and by God. It never occurs to them to question their husbands' interpretation of Scripture or to decide for themselves whether it is being used appropriately. All too aware of their faults, they see these biblical injunctions as proof that they have failed and that if they would just "do it right," everything would be fine.
As we all know, Scripture can and has been used to justify everything from slavery to the Holocaust." page 72
13) "Example: Phillip was separated from his wife for three years, but not divorced, and had an affair with a needy, codependent Christian woman. A Christian himself, he told her that "it was God's will" for them to have sex because "in God's eyes we are already married." She begged him not to do it, but Phillip pressured her and forced himself upon her. Afterward he said he had "no guilt" because "God had created sex and their love was beautiful." "page 74
14) "Many men use this notion of their sanctioned "authority" to commit atrocities against women and children. . . .At a national seminar I attended, one well-known Bible teacher said that even if a woman's husband beat her, she would be better off to "obey God," submit to the beatings, and even die than to leave him to seek relief!" page 75
15) "Even victims of such abuse find it difficult to conceive [that the abuse is real]." page 76
16) "Sexism permeates our evangelical culture. In some churches, it is intrinsic to certain doctrinal positions. The problem is both cultural and religious." page 79-80
17) "Another root problem in the evangelical church is misuse of the biblical ideal of submission." page 81
18) "However, for the woman who has no idea of what a healthy relationship of mutual submission looks like, let me outline a few characteristics:
1. Both partners live in a daily, personal voluntary submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. . .
2. Love is based on a deep, mutual respect as the guiding principle behind all decisions, actions, and plans. . .
3. Both partners are aware of their status as "heirs together" in Christ . . .Both recognize that the purpose of those gifts is to build up, through mutual submission, the body of Christ as well as their own relationship.
4. Natural abilities and talents of each individual. . . are a practical basis for delegating various roles and responsibilities in the home.
5. The emphasis is on a mature relationship between two adults, not on prescribed, arbitrary roles or functions into which each personality is forced to fit. The marriage is seen as a relationship rather than as a career or an organization.
6. Each person maintains their own God-given personal identity and personality. . .
7. The sexual relationship is not only procreative but it is one of joy, fun, fulfillment, and refreshment for both partners.
8. Intimacy and deep emotional closeness replaces game playing and role playing.
9. Honesty and fidelity are the cornerstones of healthy communication patterns, based on a deep, abiding trust in the other person and in Christ.
10. Decision-making is based on a process where both partners have a willingness to come to a mutually satisfying outcome. " pages 83-85
19) "He believes that the best way to keep his woman from leaving him is to cripple her emotionally, to limit her activities, and to keep her guessing psychologically." page 89
20) "He is incapable of seeing her as a separate human being." page 103
21) "This woman lets his personality overwhelm her and gives way to the force of his persona." page 103
22) "Recovery is a life-long process, so I urge you to let go of any perfectionist expectations you may have about accomplishing this in a few weeks." page 111
23) "The misogynist is happy with things as they are; he likes having the balance of power in his favor and sees no need for help." page 115-116
24) "The feelings that normally motivate change - sadness, guilt, remorse, anxiety - are not a significant part of his emotional experience." page 138
25) "Thus, even in a Christian context, the prognosis for repairing a misogynistic marriage is not very good." page 140
26) "The primary thing that the Christian community can do to change the misogynistic system is to break the silence about it." page 159
27) "Often those most vocally opposed to change regarding sexism are women who are afraid of change and of losing their martyr's role in society." page 161
28) "I am aware of two cases in which a misogynist, through charm and manipulation, deceived court-appointed psychologists and/or psychiatrists and persuaded them to grant him custody of the minor children." page 164
"Appendix E : What is Misogyny?
You may photocopy this appendix and Figure 1 for the purpose of sharing information about misogyny with a prospective counselor.
What is misogyny? The word is unfamiliar to most people. It comes for the Greek words misein, meaning to hate, and gune, meaning women. Literally, misogyny means the hatred of women. Misogyny entails a pattern of mental and emotional abuse in marital and male/female relationships. While misogynistic behavior can include physical abuse, it is usually much more subtle. Unlike the usual stereotype of men who hate women, such as wife beaters and rapists, the usual misogynistic male primarily uses emotional and mental weapons against his partner.
The partner of the misogynist is usually very bewildered. What happened to the man with whom she fell in love? After the honeymoon had ended, she realizes that she married not Romeo, but Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The fact is that women in misogynistic relationships are constantly dealing with a double-minded man. Her partner at times is charming, adoring, affable, and loving; the next moment he is likely to be controlling, mean-spirited, and cruel. The wife is likely to be so confused by the mixed messages of her relationship that she wonders if she is going crazy. She thinks that because he can behave so lovingly at times, that it must be her fault that he is not always that way. Women in these dysfunctional relationships are usually very codependent. When they are scapegoated by their spouses as being the cause of the problems in the relations - they tend to accept the blame.
Christian men who hate women (religious misogynists) are in some ways more dangerous and destructive in their behavior than their non-Christian counterparts. Secular misogynists do not have the powerful, additional arsenal of church doctrines, God-talk, and the sanctioning of male authority, which comes with the idea of Christian marriage. Christian women are often taught in the church or at home that they should "submit" to men "no matter what" because men are the "spiritual head" over women.
What is confusing to the woman is the double-sided nature of the man's behavior. He frequently acts one way at home and then presents a different face to the outside world. When he is at church or work, he is witty, kind, considerate. Often his wife finds that her pastor and friends at church do not believe her confessions of abuse because they never see his misogynistic side. This double-life factor keeps the wife and others off balance. She becomes convinced that if she would "just do what he says" or "try harder" or "be more loving" then he would be consistently kind and caring to her.
I have seen cases where psychologists, psychiatrists, and pastors have been totally fooled by the good-looking facade of these men. Misogynists are usually quite bright and quite capable of doing a snow-job to escape detection by a professional therapist. Even when a misogynist is confronted with evidence of his abusive behavior, he may respond saying, "I know I did that - but it's only because I needed to teach her a lesson. If she would just do as I say, everything would be fine."
Misogynists are unable to empathize with their wives' pain and distress. In fact, the pain of their partner seems to enrage them and feed their hatred. Here are some telltale signs of a misogynistic relationship:
1. The man assumes that it is his "God-given right" to control how his wife lives and behaves. Her needs, thoughts, feelings are not considered.
2. He uses God, the Bible, and church teachings to support his right to "tell her what to do," and demands that she "submit" to his desires, whims, decisions, or plans without question. There is no sense of mutuality or loving consideration. It's always his way, or no way.
3. He believes that a woman's beliefs, opinions, views, feelings, and thoughts are of no real value. He may discredit her opinions in general or specifically because she is a "daughter of Eve and easily deceived." Therefore, her opinions are of little consequence. Or alternatively, he may give lip service to the idea that his wife's opinions count for something, but then discount them one by one because they are not "logical."
4. The woman reports that her husband's behavior at home is strikingly different from his behavior at work or church. At home everyone "walks on eggs" out of fear of displeasing him or setting him off. When the wife points out the difference between his behavior at home and other places, he is likely to respond, "Oh, quit exaggerating! I'm not like that!"
5. The woman reports that when he is displeased and/or does not get his way, he yells and threatens, or sulks in angry silence. Yet the next day he acts as if "nothing" had happened, and is charming and sweet. No one can predict when he is going to switch from nice to nasty.
6. The woman finds that in her relationship with him, no matter how much she may try to improve, change, "grow in the Word," etc., she still feels inadequate, guilty, and somehow off-balance. She never knows what is going to set him off next, and no matter how much she prays, he never changes. She almost feels as if she must be "crazy," and she is sure it is her fault. Even when other relationships at work or school give her positive feedback and encouragement, she loses all her confidence and self-esteem when she returns home. No matter what she does to change and adapt to his demands, it is never enough. His demands always change and become unreasonable.
7. The husband remains blind to any fault or cruelty on his part. When anything goes wrong in the home or in the marital relationship, the problem is always the woman. If she would just be "more submissive" or "be filled with the Spirit" or "obey me like a good Christian wife," everything would be fine. He actually sees himself as virtuous for "putting up" with a woman like her. On the other hand, he can become unreasonably jealous if other people, particularly men, pay too much attention to his wife. Thus, the wife no longer feels free to associate with certain friends, groups, or family members because of her need to keep him happy. Even though these activities or people are important to her, she prefers avoiding them so that she can "keep the peace."
If you see a relationship that has most of these characteristics, you are dealing with a misogynist. If a pastor or counselor, you meet a woman who comes in for counseling and she describes a relationship that sounds like this, there is misogyny involved." pages 185-189
Figure 1: The Rinck Misogyny Continuum
Unconscious Foundation of Misogynistic Behavior: Shame and Fear of Abandonment
This produces a pattern of disrespect and hatred toward women. Misogyny lies on a continuum and is manifested at various levels of intensity, in various types of behaviors and attitudes. To one degree or another, all the types (I through IV) of Christian men who hate women use the Bible, church doctrine, and theological arguments to support their right to control women. He demands "submission" to his viewpoint: He discounts his wife's feelings, opinions, and thoughts. He acts charming one moment, then hostile and cruel the next. He frequently points out his wife's faults. He is unable to perceive his own shortcomings in the relationship.
Type 1 Misogynist (Mild):
No physical abuse of his partner. He uses indirect criticism; denies that he is abusive, protestations of love when confronted with his disrespectful behavior; extremely subtle, may use flattery to keep woman at his side. Uses logic to control situations. Outargues spouse, totally discounts woman's feelings and thoughts. He rarely loses his temper. He always looks as if he is in control, very reasonable. Out of touch with his own feelings.
Type II Misogynist:
Includes Type I behaviors plus more overt verbal tactics such as teasing, bullying, belittling, namecalling, obvious criticism, unfavorable comparison of partner with other woman. Uses nonverbal tactics such as pouting, the "silent treatment," dirty looks to show displeasure. May demand special attention. May be jealous of wife's attention to children or other relatives. May use temper tantrums to get his own way. Increase in intensity and frequency of behaviors over Type I.
Type III Misogynist:
Uses any of Type I and Type II behaviors plus the threat of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. More extreme in controlling social life, religious practices, finances, sexual interactions, and matters of daily living. Increase in intensity and frequency of behaviors over Types I and II.
Type IV Misogynist (Extreme):
Uses of any of Type I through type III behaviors plus physical and/or sexual abuse toward wife and possibly children. Level of intensity of abusive behavior is very high and poses a significant danger to the woman. Abusive style has become a deeply ingrained behavior. More extreme in controlling various areas of family life." page 22
Note: It took me probably 10 years of verbal/emotional abuse by a "true Christian" followed by reading probably 20 books on (feminist) theology to accept that there are committed "Christian" men who truly believe that they are given the moral right by God to "chastise" (read that "punish" ) any woman who comes into their path.
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