Review: “The man of her dreams, the woman of his,” by Kathy & Joel Davisson.
I used to think I understood how to “filter” out the problem (and my desire to fix the problem) from the words a woman spoke, and that I would be able to focus on the underlying emotions to hear the real meaning behind the words. I was wrong.
The Davissons made it clear that men are required listen to “how” a woman speaks and not the actual words assigned to conversation. They are silent regarding the importance of reciprocity, namely that both men and women must listen with care and in love. For instance, they never say women have faults or problems that contribute to the stress in a marriage. This egregious omission implies women are lie-detectors, purity inspectors, faultless and innocent and have no problems (except the Neanderthal in the room). All trouble in a marriage is the man’s – so they think.
It is impossible for women not to bear some fault for the problems of a marriage, in how they approach men, how they communicate, and so on. If, as they assert, it is important that men meet women at their point of need, then this too is true (according to Podesta) of me, of all men, and YES, of all women. Every human being has the responsibility to meet the other person at their greatest point of need. In fact, this is an entirely biblical approach to marriage. Quite unlike the Davissons, who seek to blame only the man when this doesn’t happen.
The Davissons deny that women need to be more open to saying what she needs. In this I agree with Connie Podesta, and say that the Davissons are very wrong. Podesta says that men are better at getting their emotional needs met because we just say what we want. Women don’t. Women walk around an issue, they don’t just come out and say what they mean, and they have to learn to do so.
Podesta cited an example. Imagine a man and woman on a long drive. He’s hungry, more than hungry. He sees a sign that says, “Food Next Exit.” He turns, drives to the nearest fast food place, orders a burger, gets a drink. Back in the car. On the road again. Nine, ten minutes.
Now imagine she’s hungry, seeing the same sign, she turns to him and asks, “Honey? Are you hungry?” He thinks about it and says, “No. I’m not. Thanks for asking.” Keeps driving and passes the exit. Next food is 78 miles. She becomes upset that he did not know she was hungry. She pouts. She gives him the silent treatment, which is a big mistake. According to Podesta it takes the average man one hour to realize he’s not being spoken to. So… another hour goes by, then she gives a loud sigh. No answer from him. Another hour and now she hits or smacks something, so then he has to ask, “Honey? Whats wrong.”
The point to all this is IF SHE’D BEEN MORE DIRECT, there would have been no problem. The point is NOT-he should just know what she wants, because no one can know the unspoken, unknown words in some one else’s heart.
The human mind has been compared (by Podesta and others) to a computer. It is the most complex, orderly arrangement of matter in the universe. YET…. no computer can give an answer to data not programmed into it, nor can a male mind act on female words NOT SPOKEN. According to Podesta, the average male mind just does not wonder what a woman thinks inside her heart, because the average male is very literal. As in the road rage example above, if she is quiet, he thinks, “This is great. We’re here together, we don’t need to talk.” In other words, his actions are based on what he can sense, and thus he believes they are connecting on a level so deep words are not necessary. He is wrong precisely because she has with held vital information.
This is something the Davissons don’t seem to understand. Both men and women are responsible for accurate communiciation if they want their lives to remain entwined together in proper relationship. Both men and women need to communicate effectively – one alone is not enough. The Davissons place the entire load on the man for the mistakes of the couple – as if the woman has no standing before Messiah for her own actions, or understanding to make this possible. They underestimate women.
The Davissons’ book, like the leaven of the Pharisees, is dangerous to read without a real knowledge of the word of G-d. Where they discuss Greek, when they discuss the meanings and usage of a word they are correct, BUT the conclusion they draw from their study is wrong. Women are far more sensitive to unspoken truth, to sub-vocal communication than men, sensing things that men miss entirely, and women act on a level of intuitiveness that most men find absolutely baffling – but this does NOT mean women have a built in marriage manual, anymore than men have a built in “how to” or fix it manual. Explaining why Davissons think this is difficult, even if they come close to the truth, they keep missing it. And in missing it obscure some simple basic facts about human needs.
We all come equipped with some pretty basic needs, food, comfort, shelter, love, affection, and so on… nothing inside us is built to know how to accomplish these complex tasks without instructions, and marriage is as complex as it gets in our world. Though women are more attuned to relationship matters, they don’t have a personal indwelling of the Holy Book of Matrimony. If they did, they’d read the part that says men need straightforward (verbal) communication, men need to feel respected more than they want love (if forced to choose between them), men need the reassurance that she admires him for himself (just watch any little boy ask his Mom to “feel my muscle” as he holds up his arm). Yes, men have needs too… and the Davissons seem to miss out on that message, too.
They (the Davissons) seem to think that women are holy and sacred and it is mundane and profane men who miss out on the message of G-d in a holy marriage. Yet, I read passages in other books, other testimonies of restoration, other websites, and in scripture, which more accurately paint a picture where BOTH men and women are responsible for their marriage. If it succeeds, or fails, both bear the praise or the blame. The following quote, written by Erin Thiele, illustrates this point;
It is the same with all who find their marriages in shambles or completely destroyed, including you. You will soon find, if you are not aware of it yet, that it is not just your husband who violated God’s principles. You will find, as I did, that you have done much to contribute to the destruction of your marriage. This understanding will be the turning point as you accept and look at your sins only, not your husband’s. (Italics added.)
This failure to recognize her own sins, failure to seek salvation in Messiah was what doomed her.
Another real danger of the Davissons’ book is that they stress the “if” factor; if you do not believe as they do you cannot restore your marriage. Yet, it is very clear from the testimonies of many women that the Davissons view is not the only one, nor (in my opinion, is their example anything more than what worked for them). The problem here is the same as a the following example; I knew a couple with four naturally compliant children. Great kids who’d do whatever was asked of them with no disobedience. If you guessed the couple began to give advice on child rearing to every one else around them, you are right. Their fifth child was a different spirit entirely. Constantly asking why, constantly looking for loopholes, constantly upsetting their applecart. They stopped giving advice.
It is obvious from the examples (cited in other paragraphs above) that women, as well as men, have problems. Consider the following (from Thiele);
The Lord showed me that I had violated many of the principles of marriage, and He also showed me other sins that I was unaware of or had never dealt with (by repenting of them). All of these sins and violations led to the destruction of my marriage.
Thiele admits to having violated principles of marriage (relationship building principles) and had hidden sins, which she buried, or ignored, or pretended to resolve, but had not worked on to them to repent… where repent has the meaning of… to feel regret or contrition, to change one’s mind, or to feel sorrow, and/or regret, but also to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life. And if this is not clear enough, repentance also includes restoration:TO RETURN what was stolen, rebuild the relationship.
Scripturally when one repents it is as Zaccheus repented – to feel sorrow, to change your mind about the sin, to actively seek to amend (fix, repair, restore) the conditions brought about by the sin, and return in larger measure that which was stolen. In a marriage it means to accept your sin, stop blaming your spouse for those sins, to repent of those sins which caused the separation, and to go home again. It DOES NOT mean to remarry in a final act of rebellion and desert your spouse FOREVER.
There are many sins one may not repair; murder, mayhem, sexual sins… which have unalterable consequences (death of a loved one, loss of a limb, pregnancy, STDs,) but marriage is unique in that the prodigal has every opportunity to turn it around and return to the husband/wife of their youth…. if they will listen to the Spirit of G-d and not to human reasoning and doctrinal interpretations of the Word.
(This requires more in the way of explanation. It is true if you can apologize to one you harm, pay back their losses, replace their property, and so on.. but restoring the loss of security, of safety is not as easy. Nothing you can do will fix that because that is entirely up to the one you harmed. In marriage, the apology, the loss, the theft of security is still up to the one you harmed, but YOU are the property (1 Corinthians 7:4), and YOU can restore that loss by going home. The restoration of emotional, spiritual, or internal losses will be difficult, but in the end it works better than giving back physical goods.)
Lysa TeraKeurst, like Podesta, recognizes that the truth about marriage is a far distant place from the Davissons. Read the following with quotes from Lysa taken from an article (web site follows) by Carol Heffernan, which illustrate this point;
“I went into marriage thinking of all I was going to get out of it, not of all that I had to give another person,” Lysa admits. “To be honest, Art and I were very selfish in our approach to marriage.”
Another problem in their relationship was expectations that went both unmentioned and unfulfilled. Lysa emphasizes having open and honest conversations about expectations, saying, “You cannot possibly meet the expectations of another person if you don’t know what they are.”
“A lot of women make the mistake of placing their children above their husband, and the children become more important. It’s a good thing for a mom to have the desire to really love her children, but setting her husband aside is a great disservice to her family,” she says, (emphasis added).
Marriage is all about shared responsibilities, not about blaming the man for not following a hidden marriage manual placed inside a woman as the Davissons assert so often. Yet, this approach worked for the Davissons despite their ridiculous rhetoric. It worked because BOTH took responsibility for the marriage.
A decided down side of their book is (leaven of the Pharisees) that they are both in agreement that the man is totally at fault. Though, as I said, this works for them, advice like this could and probably will push a fragile marriage over the edge of divorce. She blames him, he blames her, and they (or one of them) finds the Davissons’ book, a book which places the blame for the destruction of the marriage solely on the husband. A normal human, pushed to the limit, looking for a way out, would grasp this false straw for survival and – blame him. A good man convicted of his sin in his marriage may come to believe he alone is at fault. In either event, this is a recipe for the death of a marriage.
As I said earlier, there is a lot of good in the Davissons’ book, but you have to read it AFTER you have read up in the Word of G-d. Be strong in the might of the L-rd in order to discern where the drek in the book must be ignored. So, if you read the Davissons’ book to find help for your marriage do so with caution, and do NOT let the leaven of legalism (of men bashing, or casting blame) pierce the armor of light with which you must clothe yourself to remain in the gap for your marriage, because marriage is about more than making us happy, it is to make us holy.
Ramón Argila de Torres y Sandoval