Elder Nelson's article is in the February issue, 2003
Unconditional love is mentioned in the article but is not doctrinal and is damaging. See Ensign April 2003 "Divine Love" by Elder Nelson. It can be a life changer.
I wish to base my comment on the assumption both husband and wife are functioning and responsible persons. My comment is this: I do and assist with things for my wife: her projects, her car, her hobbies, etc. Never once do I entertain the thought that she is my daughter or we’re in a daddy daughter relationship.
Therefore, those wives who count their husband as part of their children because they do the laundry and cooking, etc reflect a deep seated mental health issue . . . psychosis or neurosis. Those women who exhibit these unhealthy motherly tendencies toward their husband ought to be shunned.
Regarding the article - yes, a spouse can make a choice but every choice has a consequence.
As the first man making comments, I would like to remind female readers that the purpose of the article was not to excuse men for their wrong behavior towards spouses. Some of us do realize that a lot remains to be done in order to provide better support to the "women of our lives" in the care of house and children. However, as my mother used to say, "you won't catch flies with vinegar," and treating husbands as "one of the kids in the house" can only generate negative outcomes. For those still not convinced that there are more productive alternatives than nagging, I recommend the reading of "Project: Happily Ever After: Saving Your Marriage When the Fairytale Falters" by Alisa Bowman
After 43 years of marriage I think those are great thoughts for 2 people who are both striving to be contributors in their marriage.
Margot your BiL sounds like a narcissistic human being and his wife an enabler. They do this dance together because it works for them. Sick? Yes. Yet it fits like hand and glove. You or I would likely not put up with a taker and a user for a husband yet for some reason she allows, even enables it. Relationships are both give and take. This is exemplified in Christ. Never would our Father in Heaven enable us by requiring nothing of us. I have a dear friend with a similar story. One day she and he met with the bishop who told him she was considering a divorce. It was quite shocking to him and it began an awakening. It ended well and over their 46 years of marriage he gradually became the complete opposite. Such a loving Christlike man, one would never dream he was ever how he was. Although it's not your sisters job to change or parent him, she would be wise to put something in motion that will at least help her to learn why and how to stop her pattern of enabling. A good therapist could teach her about that. Who wants to be married to an 8 year old boy for crying out loud?
I concur with Angela. Additionally, I see many young men & women, who *expect* others to care for them in general. Many parents have produced brilliant children who can play many sports, instruments or sing like a professional but can't cook, clean or pay their bills. Those of us who are married (both male & female) know the challenge of assimilating the other spouse's family values & traditions. Sadly, the new tradition is having all your needs met and having it handed to you. Many young couples end up in their Bishop's office struggling with life's responsibilities. We as parents need to step up and foster a generation of responsible, hard-working and self reliant adults.
"Of course, an adult will want to make a mature decision because it is the right thing to do, regardless of how he is being treated. Husbands will want to resist the impulse to rebel, or to act like a child even if he is being treated like a child. Adults take responsibility for their choices, rather than justifying them with other people’s behavior."
Wow, this is NOT my brother-in-law!! I think your advice is sound, but it hasn't worked yet on my BiL. He gets annoyed and bristles at anything my sister asks him to do -- even tucking his children into bed at night. "I can't, I'm working on my resume!" What kind of a father thinks editing his resume is more important than spending 5 minutes making sure his little children are settle into bed for the night? That's just one example of thousands, and no amount of marriage therapy seems to be motivating him to change his behavior or even make an effort. Every time I stay at their house, I get sick to my stomach listening to the conversations between them, and I just want to smack him upside the head!
How can a wife feel romantic and loved when she asks her husband to do something, and he always says "No" or gets exasperated and annoyed? It takes two to tango, and I don't think the responsibility lies solely in the wife's communication skills to create a loving, respectful marriage environment. I think husbands -- or wives if the situation is reversed -- need to understand that even though they have the agency to make their own choices and ignore the requests of their spouse, they are also contributing to the downfall of the marriage. Just because I can choose to walk through a park at 2:00 AM doesn't mean it's a good choice and will lead to my safety.
If my sister says, "Honey, I feel hurt when you get upset with me when I ask you to take out the trash because it's full and spilling over onto the floor," it makes my BiL even madder and he blames my sister for nagging him. I understand that he has his free agency to say "No" when my sister asks him to do something, but that does not inspire my sister with feelings of love and romance towards her husband when he's always battling her instead of saying, "Sure honey, happy to help you." He is just always annoyed that my sister is interrupting whatever he is doing at the moment. This is actually the same behavior that their 8-year-old son exhibits when my sister tells him to put down his iPad and help clean up the toys. OK, I can understand an obstinate attitude from an 8-year-old who is obsessed with his iPad, but not from my 47-year-old BiL!
If my sister says "OK, please do such and such at some point today when it's convenient for you," then it doesn't get done. When she reminds him, he gets mad at her. How does she break this cycle? This reverse psychology of getting my BiL to "want" to make mature choices does not seem to be working on him!!
Equally, husbands need to stop behaving like children by depending on their wives to organise their lives for them. I know more than one divorced husband who sheepishly admitted, when the marriage had totally collapsed, that he had thought his wife would look after him the same way his mother did. With that mindset, husbands can hardly complain if their wives start telling them to keep their elbows off the table.
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