The Absence of Malice

Deepstrength has been running an excellent series on how to choose a wife.  I applaud this (young?) man and wish him the best.  But some of the conversation has gone where it often seems to go, and it always drives me bonkers… so I’d like to do a little dissection, here on my own turf.

  1. Don’t marry a malicious person.  This is a deal-breaking character trait.  If you find out that your beloved is the sort of person who withholds affection or common decency because you haven’t done what they wanted first – next them.  This is *not* okay.
  2. Assuming you’ve eliminated the deliberately malicious, when someone does something (or doesn’t do something) that causes you grief, assume that there is some reason, and start the communication process.   Possibilities include:
    1. They’re ignorant of the depth of your need/desire.
    2. They don’t see things the way you do.
    3. They’re exhausted, or in some other way dealing with their own stuff.
  3. Men and women are different.  One of the beauties and frustrations of being married to someone who is, by biology, psychology, and culture, utterly different from yourself is that you have to break out of your own assumptions about priorities and ways of doing things.   Please don’t make the mistake of saying the other sex’s perspective is “wrong”.  It’s not wrong.  It’s different.   And you need to understand where they’re coming from to act rightly.

It always seems to come down to the sex thing, so let’s examine a common scenario.   Mother to small children – younger than school-age – has drop in libido, seems uninterested in the advances of her husband.  His libido is doing just fine… and he’s hurt.  Wife would like someone to have a conversation with her that doesn’t revolve around “get this for me now or my world is over”.  Everyone *could* blame everyone else and throw the selfish label around.  OR:

  • Wife could understand that husband desires *her*, and requires sexual release.  She could extend grace.
  • Wife could understand that husband needs touch, just as any other human does – and that he doesn’t get touch at work or socially.  She could extend grace.
  • Husband could understand that wife is being touched (including in the bikini zone) by small, demanding hands all day long – and not take offense when sudden touch no longer arouses her, but startles/upsets her.  He could extend grace.
  • Husband could understand that wife needs some transition time from being mom to being lover, and give her grace … and possibly a glass of wine.  (Men:  Did you know that it can take up to a year after childbirth to no longer experience any pain with coitus?  Yes, that’s normal).
  • So.  Everyone could say, “hey – we miss our intimacy, and we’re going to work for that” and work to make that happen and be reasonably pleasant for all involved… or everyone could take offense that the other person doesn’t seem to have the same needs as they do… and foster a spirit of divisiveness.
  • And everyone could take a deep breath, and remember that this is a stage in life, not forever.

Let’s talk conversation and turn this around… I’m a SAHM and that means I spend all day talking to children.  Also, I don’t get that many atta-girls (no one gives me a paycheck, no one says ‘nice job’, etc) unless I fish for them.   I develop a *need* for face-to-face communication with an adult.  But my husband, who goes to work every day, spends all day communicating with other adults, and sometimes he gets talked out.

What *we* do, is that he calls me on the phone on the way home and chats for a bit, we chat for a bit while he’s in the shower, and for most of the rest of the evening I leave him to unwind.  Kiss and a word or two when I bring him something, and otherwise he gets to chill.  Once a week or so, we go out and I get my big pile ‘o talk.  I don’t take it personally when he wants to spend time shooting things online and making loud bang-bang noises that send me out of the room post haste.  He extends grace and chats to me when he’s tired.

We do a lot of things like that – he and I are very different people.  Sure, it would be nice to be around someone who had the same needs, who viscerally understood that you need to talk yourself out when you’re wound up, or “play” your stress away after a long day at work.   But mostly marriage is complementary, not mirrored.  (Aka you marry someone who fills in your missing bits … well, that means they’re not like you).

And it never stops.  You never stop changing, you never stop learning about things that can make you a better spouse.  Your choice – will you choose to love, choose agape, love in action?  Will you choose to communicate and be honest about your own needs and where you are, and what’s okay and what isn’t?  I figure most people with good brains can figure out how to get their needs met and extend need-meeting if they sit down and think about it.  But it all starts with knowing what you need and what you have to work with.

None of that stuff tends to be easy in the moment.  In the long-term, it can make a huge difference in your marriage – and in your life.

Just my 2c – I want to remind folks not to assume malice when a whole host of other things are the more likely culprits.  You can’t fix malice, only God can do that.

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29 thoughts on “The Absence of Malice

  1. Jenny

    this would be two things you’re requiring. ..absence of malice and always assuming the best. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” 1 Corinthians 13:7.

    Reply
  2. Deborah

    I’m tempted to go over to deepstrength’s blog and read, but … I used to read in the manosphere a lot. I had to stop. The constant anger toward women, the assumption of malice on all of our parts … I just couldn’t deal with it. I found myself always angry and assuming the worst. I’m happy to read this, though. I’ve found it to be true in my own marriage that we can resolve everything as long as we assume that neither of us is deliberately *trying* to hurt the other–we just have to figure out how and why we’re doing it accidentally so we can fix it.

    Reply
  3. Maea

    I agree with you here, but the problem IMO is the overanalysis of stats to make predictions. Of course statistics infer probability, but it’s not a guarantee. LGR made a great comment about doing “due diligence,” and it was ignored (not surprising).

    There is a pattern in the manosphere to come up with fool-proof methods, but it’s not how life works. What is irksome was the statement of how things could possibly not change significantly in marriage. Part of the problem is people wanting to avoid uncertainty.

    Over at Lena S.’s blog, she made a comment about people wanting fool-proof methods but life isn’t fool-proof. I said something similar over at Deep Strength’s, and was accused of diversionary tactics and fallacies.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      I don’t want to throw fish at anyone. This was meant to be an educational essay more than anything. I think DS is on to some great stuff… I’d love to see the good guys read some articles/books aimed at women so that they could have a wider/deeper set of data.

      Reply
  4. Pedat Ebediyah

    It’s a strange thing, trying to walk out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

    “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” 1 Corinthians 13:7.

    …and..

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

    …come from the same author.

    And so what is being asked of men, who are literally on their own, no matter their faith, creed, or persuasion, is to put their faith in men (mankind, the male and female kind)…given the torrent of testimony, observation and data that makes this difficult as all get out to do.

    So let me tell you why the men responded to LGR and to Maea the way the did, and the same way they respond to InsanityBytes.

    They don’t trust you. You do not and could not care less if their heart gets broken by, or that they suffer diverse kinds of evil at the hands of any woman they chose to surrender their lives for.

    I think I shared this on DG’s page one time about the woman who I was involved with who, over the course of their 19 year marriage, cheated on him 5 times with 5 different men. He was, and still is a very well known NFL Football player, and if I gave you his first name you’d know EXACTLY who I’m talking about.

    Before her confession to me, I was sharing with her about a married couple with whom I was friends, and how the wife was engaging in behaviors unbecoming of a godly self-confessed Christian woman. I shared that how hurt I was that she was behaving this way, and could imagine how the husband would feel if I knew EVERYTHING that was going on that only I knew.

    This woman told me that I needed to “grow up”, and that if the wife did something, then that’s life, and the he should just “put his tail between his legs, move on – and get over it”.

    That (the above “get over it”) is what men hear when you sisters bristle at the due diligence…vetting…game…that the brothers in the manosphere feel forced to employ – to save themselves from heartache.

    They ignore you because they wholeheartedly believe that you couldn’t care less about the fear of heartache, disappointment, and rejection. I imagine that might be frustrating to you sisters because you feel that you’re really not trying to throw them under the bus or talk them into doing something that will lead to dismay. It’s a tough sell, and likely always will be.

    It’s about trust.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      You know – I think 90% of that was completely irrelevant to my post.

      I entirely support vetting. I think that’s due diligence and wisdom. Game? Eh. Some of it is useful, some of it is despicable. Much like most creations by humankind designed to control others. I also entirely support MGTOW. Not everyone should marry, and the Bible never says that we should all do so. There is more than enough that wants doing other than building families. If the risks and duties of a married person are a dealbreaker? Then so be it. Best to be honest up front, always. Always.

      This post was meant to point out that not every bend in the road is because of malicious intent. Things happen in a lifetime, and once we are joined together, it is far better to assume that that person you have married is still the same person underneath the situation, and you need to figure out (together) how to meet all your respective needs and goals.

      If that sounded to you like it was meant to be an excuse for sin – especially egregious sin, as you used in your example – I’ll apologize for being such a poor writer.

      If you don’t trust me? That’s okay, you don’t know me. 🙂

      As for the verses? Yes. We are all desperately wicked – but those of us with Christ are to just keep loving (agape), believing, hoping… and putting our trust in God to sort out the consequences of our obedience.

      Reply
    2. Maea

      That (the above “get over it”) is what men hear when you sisters bristle at the due diligence…vetting…game…that the brothers in the manosphere feel forced to employ – to save themselves from heartache.

      Women are told “get over it,” too. ChildofRa mentioned a scenario with a friend and she was told the friend should “suck it up.” Why else are good Christian women’s families so hesitant to welcome a potential marriage mate? Why do they put seemingly decent men through the ringer? Because you see, many people care about the heartache, disappointment, and rejection women face. Facing evil isn’t a men vs. women thing. It’s a people thing.

      Reply
  5. Pedat Ebediyah

    Hey Hearthie…can a brother get 75% irrelevant…since I was actually responding, in an admittedly long narrative, to what Maea wrote. 🙂

    “This post was meant to point out that not every bend in the road is because of malicious intent.”

    I agree. I hadn’t gotten around to responding to that yet.

    “If that sounded to you like it was meant to be an excuse for sin – especially egregious sin, as you used in your example – I’ll apologize for being such a poor writer.”

    No. You’re a great writer. I’ve been lurking for a long time. Even tried to encourage an ex of mine to read your blog along with Lori’s and a few others, but you all, in her opinion, “make it seem like it’s all deep, and it’s not”.

    “If you don’t trust me? That’s okay, you don’t know me.”

    No, I do know you, and I do trust that you’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness and are thoughtful in your teaching and presentation on your blog.

    None of what I wrote was about any one of you sisters PERSONALLY. It’s sad, but true. I’m not being facetious, nor malicious, nor even trying to be a smart-ass about it. I’m being very serious, actually.

    A great many of your brothers in Christ have reservations about whether you wish them true happiness and success and a loving yoked up partnership…in GENERAL. I hope I’m clear about that. Nothing personal.

    “As for the verses? Yes. We are all desperately wicked – but those of us with Christ are to just keep loving (agape), believing, hoping… and putting our trust in God to sort out the consequences of our obedience.”

    I agree. With the men it’s not THEIR OBEDIENCE that’s the issue. It’s the obedience of the women they encounter that is their concern. Again, as I wrote above

    ” It’s a tough sell, and likely always will be.”…the tough sell is for devout men truly believing…

    “given the torrent of testimony, observation and data..”

    That the WOMEN in their midst truly love the Lord the way they do, and would be unequivocally willing to surrender all they have to their shared endeavor.

    While there are some in my circle who disagree, I’m not confident that I’ll ever meet a woman, who is a Christ follower, in my area, who loves Him like I do, hungers and thirsts for righteousness, and is willing to die to herself daily and be a suitable joint-heir in anything ordained by Him.

    But I could be wrong.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      Fair enough. 🙂 (And thanks for the multiple compliments).

      I’m sorry to say that I see what you’re saying is true. It grieves me – and whoever it was in the ‘sphere who said that women take *everything* personally was 100% correct – at least of me. I don’t mind if gents (or ladies) decide to go it alone – that’s cool. But the pain, the distrust, the animosity – those get to me. I’m someone who wants to do what I can to bring understanding (so posts like this one, or comments in the same vein) and mutual support to the party. If I could fix, I would. But I can’t. More’s the pity.

      Being a romantic soul who is deeply happy in her own marriage, I want everyone who wants one to be married and make fat giggly babies and live happily ever after. My intellect knows that the “happily ever after” is strewn with potholes, even for the best of hearts. That most people don’t have faith, haven’t been raised with love and good character, habitually mouth things they don’t mean – that is true. A failure of character or a failure of faith (or both) is something that should be vetted for, but darn it if humans aren’t good at lying – and the best lies are the ones you tell yourself first.

      As for your search? I’m saying a prayer for you as soon as my fingers stop typing. God knows best.

      Reply
  6. Pedat Ebediyah

    I love you Hearthie, it’s all good.

    My faith is not very good. I’ll admit that. The thought of someone (anyone) trying to play me or trick me or mess with me when that’s not how I roll, it pisses me off just to think about it. In fact, it’s brought out the worst in me more times than I can care to relay.

    For example, the woman in the story I relayed above, who i thought I loved, when I found she was a serial cheater…it got ugly very quick. I was wrong. I showed her no mercy, no charity, just venom. Telling someone that I feel like I need to take a bath in muriatic acid after being with someone like them isn’t very nice. But at the time I meant what I said. And she didn’t cheat on me at all, but the fact that she had the gall to think I’d want to be with someone who did such dirty things – it was ugly…seriously.

    Some of us are better at suffering at others, and are selective at what we can suffer. I can and have suffered..hunger, joblessness, sickness, loneliness…I can deal with that. Just don’t lie to me or try and play with my feelings or trick me. That’s my issue I know..but that’s the way it is with men. We can suffer the mundane, but messing with our emotions produce what you see in the manosphere (or manuresphere, as The Black Pill MGTOW calls it).

    Yes, you take it personally, and I get that.

    We love you, but we don’t trust that you wouldn’t have us laying with liars and serial adulteresses, because after all Christ “hung out” with them….so how are we better than He? Man up and marry these sluts…that’s where that whole thing came from…

    Sad but true story….

    Reply
  7. Pedat Ebediyah

    Oh..and thank you for the blessing of the search.

    I’m taking a break…long break, but I’ve met some nice people. No prospects, because…I’m not sure who is truly a Christian woman nowadays. They don’t seem to believe what I believe, and that is the words of Christ. For some reason, His words seem silly to a lot of women I’m meeting lately.

    *sigh*

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      You’re too sweet. 🙂

      1) Sometimes someone has to put things on the line about the rotten things people do to one another. This is very rare in this day and age, for any number of reasons. I’m not certain of the relationship (and it’s none of my business) – but saying, “that’s revolting. I don’t want to associate with you any longer” is acceptable. If none of us do that, nothing will change. I’ve said, “you know that was wrong, right?” a few times to friends – and stared speechless a few others. People look for validation for evil acts, it’s totally okay not to give it to them.

      2) It’s okay to take some time to heal. It’s okay to be picky, and to know your limits. If those are your limits, okay. Will having limits limit your pool of fish? Yes. So what? This isn’t going to get better, our world is headed straight for chaos. A good wife is a blessing from the Lord, and He’ll give you that in His good timing or He won’t. If He doesn’t, He has something He needs you to be doing other than making with the fat giggly babies.

      3) Learning to have faith and trust in God isn’t a one-step process. I’m not there. Right now I spend nearly every day looking at the Lord and saying, “Wow – You arranged something gorgeous right there. Thank You!” And I still struggle to let go and let Him do what He’s doing *and* keep doing what I should be doing and not going limp and curling up in the corner. So, you know you need to work on faith/trust? That too is a blessing, it gives you something to focus on that will benefit you the rest of your life.

      Reply
  8. Maea

    Hearth, I didn’t mean to ruffle feathers on this post but sometimes things are ridiculous. As married people, I’d think we have a perspective worth sharing but it often is deemed irrelevant.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      I know that when I first encountered the manosphere, I was shocked and horrified. First, by the extent of the anger, and second, by my reception when I did little more than say, “But I’m a nice person…”.

      What I concluded was that it was not wise to confront them – especially not on their territory. There are a handful of blogs by men that I still read, and otherwise I stick to women’s writing. I do read a few, because I find it useful and interesting to get their perspective, to hear them talk about things I’d never think to ask the men in my life about, and because I like to remind them that “nice women” are still out there. 🙂

      Because we are married women, our business is to train the younger women. I occasionally (too often, probably) throw some information to the menfolk – I have a strong need for folks to understand one another. But I know that my primary business is to train and teach younger *women*. My business isn’t to teach a man. I might tell him, “hey this is a possibility – check this out” on the principle that I’ve learned a great deal from men’s writing – but I have no authority over him. This is a careful line. Most of my writing is general Christian exhortation – useful for anyone who needs it, or at least I hope so. I seldom go into male/female stuff unless I see something that is screaming to be addressed.

      Anyway, that was a really long-winded way to say, “Yeah, I know. And it sucks. But some of that you brought on yourself by being confrontive. Not that I don’t understand, but your reception was… not surprising. Come over to the girly side, we have tea.”

      Reply
      1. Maea

        I’m not one particularly interested in teaching men. However, there are some things worth pointing out for the benefit of everyone.

        I do read a few, because I find it useful and interesting to get their perspective

        That’s why I read a few, too. I maybe read at most, two? The rest are women authors (like yourself). What I do find maddening, and saddening is the dismissal of how these ills, sins, etc. are a shared responsibility. Sin is sin is sin. We sin against each other, not “these are women’s sins, and those are man’s sins.” If any, or all of these problems are to be resolved, it requires the shared effort and responsibility of both sexes.

        I’m sure many women who read the manosphere have sons and brothers they care for. The last thing they want is to see their loved ones suffer what a lot of men have. But a disagreement over finer details and analysis doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means we disagree.

  9. Elspeth

    I had no idea this thread had been resuscitated. Hearth and I (and friends) have discussed all of this ad nauseum before, but in the online world, where people tend to congregate in niche enclaves, the us vs. them mentality is very easy to fall prey to. The assumption of malice on the part of one of “them”- whether they be the opposite sex, a different race, religious sect, etc.- is almost always present.

    And people do suck, including me, LOL. Some Christians hat the phrase “but for the grace of God”… but there’s no getting around it unless one is seriously deluded about their capacity for sin.

    This is why we MUST be open to correction and love those around us enough to lovingly correct them.

    I was thinking about one of your comments on my most recent book review Hearth, and you’re right. I totally gravitate to those books and authors which highlight the darker sides of life. Which is why I take pains to balance that out with books that remind me of the beauty and order to be found in life as God ordained it.

    As for vetting, I am all for it. Only a fool would not use due diligence before marrying. Our current way of living makes it hard to do this in a natural, organic way. You may be meeting someone 1000 miles away from their place of origin, and all the vetting in the world can’t really overcome that handicap.

    Because my husband and I both met in the city in which we were raised, it was was for him to get behind a mask. We were married a year before I found out that he had used his considerable access as someone a lot of people knew to talk to folks that “knew me when”, to verify that I had dated only who I said I’d dated, that the person he was spending time with was the same girl she’d always been, and not putting on an act. Lots of investigating that would have been impossible had he met me when we were both away at college, or when one of us had just moved to a new city, etc.

    Of course, this idea of staying put, and finding someone else who has stayed put flies in the face of our rootless American pursuit of the American dream and self improvement. And I’m not saying everyone has to do it, but I do think it makes all of this stuff much easier. At the very least, you have some idea of what kind of family the person came from before a high stakes meeting.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      Well, I enjoy authors that have adventures and where everything comes out happily ever after… because I am an incurable romantic who is an armchair paladin. 😀 Finding well-written chewy examples of this is not exactly easy. All the literature is so darn depressing! Maybe you should read Anna Karenina… it’s long. But it’s got some lovely prose.

      What you say here brings out something important. There IS sin, there IS sin that women fall into more often than men do (and vice versa) but simple difference is not sin. It’s very often difficult to deal with, frustrating, and annoying – all of which grow us in maturity, but that’s not sin. (In a recent example, my husband is on a diet. He’s been on a diet for a whole *week* and has lost six pounds. This is very frustrating for me, who takes months to lose that kind of weight, if she goes to bed hungry every single night and works out 3-5x/wk. Is that a sin? LOL no. It’s just a thing.)

      Reply
    2. hearthie Post author

      PS as you know but as the other readers don’t know, I didn’t say a word about vetting because I don’t know anything about it except “that seems like a realllll good idea”. DH and I were HS sweethearts, and dated for 8 years before we married.

      Reply
      1. Maea

        I am all for vetting and planning. But then life happens. At some point we have to pray and allow God to intervene, and make decisions in good conscience.

      2. hearthie Post author

        Yes. I agree with you, which is why I blogged this.

        However, I’ve come to the conclusion that men and women communicate differently when they’re talking about this sort of planning, and I believe that difference in communication/connotation makes us, as women, react very strongly to hearing things about finding the diamond in the muck, the one who will be perfect forever.

        I’ve heard this thread of conversation before, and I hear them saying, “and if she’s not perfect forever, that means she doesn’t love me and that I shouldn’t love her and the universe is coming down on our heads” and I freak out. I know the times when life – and marriage – has been hard, and I know my own imperfections, and I don’t want to see that kind of Cinderella story horror happen to anyone – male or female.

        But these are decent guys… honorable… and they do seem to have brains… so it can’t POSSIBLY mean what I’m hearing.

        I totally sympathize with your reaction, I’ve had it before. But I think it’s a difference in communication styles and the way we look at possibilities, absolutes, loyalty, etc.

    3. Maea

      This is why we MUST be open to correction and love those around us enough to lovingly correct them.

      I knew I could count on you for giving sound advice 🙂

      Reply
      1. Elspeth

        Thank you, Maea.

        You want to hear somethng truly funny Hearth? On the heels of my going on about rootlessness and having some history to draw on, my 20-year-old says that if she doesn’t meet someone inside the next 18 months or so, she’s going to ask her dad if she can take “Miss Hearthie” up on her proposal to come out there for a bit and be introduced to some Marines at your church.

        Now that is funny for a whole bunch of reasons…

      2. hearthie Post author

        Not, lol, that I doubt her ability to acquire a husband on her own merits (and those eyes!) but she’s always welcome here.

        FWIW, it is the height of traditional respectability to go visit a female friend of one’s mother in order to expand one’s prospective dating pool.

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  12. alcestiseshtemoa

    Don’t marry a malicious person is great advice on choosing a husband. I’ve converted to Catholicism months ago, and am lately reviewing my dating options. Hearthie, which group of men is more romantic in your opinion: French or Italian? Or do you think that romantic love isn’t as important as the love of agape for marriage?

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      We’ve been discussing romance vs. agape… basically anyone with sufficient agape (in the Lord, obviously) can have a successful marriage. However, in this modern day and age, not one of us would choose to do without the romance. Best answer: Both. Agape comes from your relationship with Christ and your maturity in that relationship. It’s not of the flesh. Romance is romance. 🙂 As far as nationalities? Not a clue.

      Reply

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