In his book entitled, “What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You,” David Murrow makes a number generalizations about men. He seems to believe that his view of what it means to be a man is normative, healthy and Christian. He writes as if men are simply “wired this way” by God.
Here are some of his assertions, followed by my responses:
If a man is not allowed to be the spiritual leader in his home, he won’t know what role to play because “men are hierarchical thinkers” (p. 152).
This is only true if a man has been exposed to a patriarchal social environment, and has internalized this culture as normative. He may even believe that “his” normal is “God’s” normal. Simply put, this comes across as an egocentric perspective that seems unaware of the dynamics of gender-socialization. Some men are socialized to be hierarchical; others to be egalitarian. Even men who internalize hierarchical norms can learn to be more collaborative. This has more to do with nurture than nature, and it has nothing to do with God’s design.
“Modern Christianity has begun morphing into a ‘woman thing’” (p. 134). “Today’s church offers the things women crave: safety, relationships, nurturing and close-knit community.” Men “feel unneeded, so they go passive or leave the church altogether” (p. 138).
If men do not recognize their emotional and relational needs (for safety, relationships, nurturance and community) and seek to have them met in healthy ways, they are prone to try to get them met in unhealthy ways (e.g. through addiction).
Murrow (makes a number of comments about sex):
Men are like “chocoholics” when it comes to sex. If a man is unable to come home after work and “indulge [his] fantasy,” he will believe his wife is saying, “get your ya-yas somewhere else, buddy.” Wives shouldn’t be surprised to later find their husbands “engaged in masturbation, porn, or an extramarital affair.” Men, according to Murrow, need wives to be “generous with the chocolate” (p. 118).
“Men actually get a cocaine-like shot of pleasure from looking at a beautiful woman. So here’s your assignment: Give your husband as many cocaine shots as possible. Satisfy his addiction by looking your best” (pp. 163-164).
“And why are looks so important to men?” “Men compare. Men compete. Men size each other up by their spouses” (p. 164). “Having a knockout wife raises your social standing at work, among your relatives, and even a bit at church” (p. 165).
“First realize that sex is one of the cornerstones of the male psyche. If a man has a satisfying sex life, everything is right with the world.” “Here’s something else your husband hasn’t told you: It’s his greatest source of comfort. Sometimes it’s the only way he can access the emotions trapped deep in his heart” (p. 167).
“You are competing for your husband’s body. It’s you versus a thousand foes—food, drink, drugs, illicit sex. Fight for his body and you’ll win his heart” (p. 171).
Women are not responsible for their husbands’ behaviour. They are not responsible to give him enough sex so that he won’t fall prey to gluttony, alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual immorality. Men are responsible to regulate their own impulses and manage their own appetites. We are encouraged to “walk in the Spirit” so that we will not fulfill the “lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
If sex is the cornerstone of a man’s psyche, if it is his greatest source of comfort, if it is the only way for him to access his emotions, he may have a sexual addiction. He should be assessed by a qualified psychotherapist.
If he has married his wife because he believes her beauty enhances his social standing at church (or anywhere else), he should seek to understand his worth as a loved child of God and friend of Jesus Christ. If he measures his status by comparing his wife to someone else’s, I believe he should prayerfully consider the words of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).
“Since the beginning men have brought home the bacon; women have fried it up in the pan” (p. 162). “Your husband wants you to take charge of the menu” (p. 163).
This is a gender-stereotype. Some men enjoy cooking. Some men do not. In some societies, men and women have equally been responsible for hunting and gathering. In others, men have hunted while women have prepared food. In still others, women hunted while men prepared food. Again, this has more to do with nurture than nature. There has never been a universal pattern for all humanity regarding cooking based on gender lines. Murrow’s comment seems to be an expression of his personal preference, and he seems to believe wrongly that it is universally true and part of God’s design.
“If your husband is a follower of Jesus and an enthusiastic church-goer, these chapters may not have a lot to say to you. But read them anyway. You need to know what he’s not telling you—about God, about church, and about the role of faith in your marriage” (p. 134).
Your husband may not be telling you these things, simply because he may not be thinking them. Many men are very comfortable in collaborative, non-hierarchical relationships. Many are aware of their emotional needs and seek to meet them in healthy, non-sexual ways. Many are not sex addicts. Many do not struggle with sexual immorality or substance abuse and blame their wives. Many do not measure their personal worth by their wife’s outward appearance. Many do not compare their wives to the wives of other men. Many Christian men attribute their worth to being a loved child of God, created in God’s image, and redeemed by the life Jesus gave for us on the cross.
In my opinion, Murrow’s book does not present an accurate picture of Christian men.