*I was given a free copy of this book from Cedar Forts Publishing in return for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I know I’m not the best wife around. I know I’m not always equally yoked to Justin as I should be. Sometimes I’m just plain lazy in our relationship. I should be his help-meet, not his task master. So, I willingly asked to review this book, When Beauty is a Beast, to help improve myself.
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Now, this book uses the term “abuse” to describe the 10 things women do that harm their relationships, but Sorenson makes sure to define abuse as the spectrum…it’s not all just threats, sexual abuse (which women are guilty of too), or swearing and saying profanities toward him. No. It could be simple, subtle, little off-putting things that sometimes we just don’t realize are hurting our husbands. Sorenson also reminds us that men are sometimes just as guilty with these 10 things, but there are already plenty of church talks, studies, books, etc condemning and lecturing them for that, but there aren’t really any resources when women act these ways.
Now, this book takes an LDS gospel twist to it, but honestly, it is applicable to any Christian marriage, or really ANY marriage in that matter!
Again, Sorenson’s 10 things are really a broad spectrum:
1) Controlling your spouse
This could be manipulation, isolation, forced submission, trying to make men thing like women (they are physiologically and psychologically wired differently!), trying to be overtly influencing in his church duties, making him do everything (chores, cooking, child-rearing) her way and saying that his way is wrong, the whole “what do you want to do tonight” “oh, I don’t want to do that,” and using “revelations from God” to control your spouse.
The one that I’m guilty of and trying to work on is having Justin do things my way, especially when it comes to Rhys, cooking, and driving. I’m not a perfect parent, and Justin takes good care of Rhys and Rhys loves him, so I need to be less controlling when it comes to that. Even simple things like saying, “Cook the fish first before frying the rice” (which I actually said on Sunday night and he called me out on it), or “get into the right lane, the turn is coming up” when he knows where to go is considered “controlling your spouse”, and therefore harming our relationship. I’d be annoyed if Justin acted that way to me, so I shouldn’t do it to him.
2) Verbal abuse
Of course this could be profanities, yelling, and being demeaning to your husband. But, it could also be little threats. It could also be nagging. Sorenson says that we shouldn’t use PMS’ing as an excuse to be *witch-y*. He says that a lot of times, men will tiptoe on eggshells because they don’t want to upset us. Really, with reading this chapter, I just got the impression of the Kat from Taming of the Shrew. He even includes complaining about our husbands as verbal abuse.
We really shouldn’t complain about our husbands…I’ve seen plenty of FB groups for newlyweds that do that. NO! Remember what you learned as a child: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” However, I do realize I am guilty of nagging Justin.
3) Drawing comparisons
This includes comparing him to other men spiritually (“you don’t respect your priesthood as well as the Bishop”), physically (drooling over six packs when your husband doesn’t have one), or situationally (“Bob is getting his PhD, owns a house already, and is making twice as much as you. Why didn’t I marry him?”)
I’m bad at comparing our situation to others, but together as a couple. I don’t blame Justin for any of it, but I do have the green monster tendency sometimes.
4) Unreasonable expectations
Basically, think of your teenage check-list for the perfect husband. I’ll be honest. There is no such thing as a perfect husband. These expectations could be in how he treats you, the job he works, his skills and hobbies, how spiritual he is, how he looks. It isn’t fair to project a set of dream standards upon him when you agreed to marry him the way he is.
I wanted to marry someone taller than six feet, who wanted to go to grad school immediately, loved to read, and loved to stay active, and had some sort of musical talent. Although Justin is good at folk-dancing and some ballroom dancing, he is only 5’10”, has an auto-immune (plus diagnosed flat feet) so maintaining as active a lifestyle as I lead is difficult, would rather watch sports or play a game then read, and doesn’t need to go to grad school for his career choice (just take qualification tests and certificates), I still love him for who he is. I support his decisions, although if he chose to work on any of those check lists, I would be ecstatic, but I don’t expect him to because I fell in love with him the way he is and married him for who he is.
5) Transference of blame
This is blaming all arguments on your husband, or saying that he drove you to do a certain thing, or “he brought it upon himself.” It takes two to argue, and the truth hurts. I have seen my dad give up many arguments with both my mom and us children saying, “I’m the loser. You win. It’s my fault,” when the majority of the time, it was our fault to begin with. My dad doesn’t like tension in the house and doesn’t like confrontation, so he’ll put the blame upon himself before someone else can do it.
I feel like I’m the opposite in this. I tend to blame myself more than blame Justin. I tend to think of myself as the worse spouse and him as the better spouse. Maybe that needs to be fixed, but at least I’m doing good with this chapter!
6) Creating doubts
Sorenson describes this chapter as “not necessarily seen as formal ‘abuse’…may simply be evidence of bad communication skills or the utilization of dysfunctional ‘techniques’ in relating to others or in expressing needs and concerns.” Really, it’s making your husband think something that isn’t true. It’s kind of like Verbal Abuse and Transference of Blame put together. And, it can be seriously manipulative and cause serious damage to your husband’s self-image and self-confidence. And the worst part is, sometimes it’s completely unintentional!
One of the clearest examples I have was when we were dating. I’ve always been a pretty independent girl and put heavy dedication into my schooling. So, there would be a few nights that I would say, “Ok, I’m gonna go work on homework, see you in the morning.” Then, without a kiss, but a quick hug, I’d leave and go work on homework. Justin never dated a girl like that, so he thought he did something to cause me to leave. Also, apparently, I have a few faces or tones that I use for various reasons. Sometimes that can be confusing to Justin and makes him wonder if he did something wrong.
7) Manifest Jealousy
Sometimes women can be jealous of their husbands: how they react with other women, staying at home while he gets to go to work, or how close he is to his family, etc). This can cause tension between the marriage. But, he also says it could also include women who are overtly dependent.
Honestly, I’m not jealous of Justin in any of these regards. I don’t isolate him, I let him go out on bro-dates, and have his own hobbies, and let him play video games often. However, there was a point in our marriage in the first few months, where I had trouble socializing outside of him. So, when he was out with friends, after a while, I’d get real lonely and couldn’t sleep, so I’d ask him to come home because I missed him. I don’t do that anymore. If he’s out late, or playing a video game late, I text him and tell him I love him and I’m going to bed (because he asks to know when I’m going to bed).
8) Exhibiting Violent Behavior
Now this is another spectrum one: actual physically violent behavior to him or his property, threats, or accidental violent behavior.
I am proud to say that I have never damaged Justin’s property, nor have I ever touched him harshly. I have made a vow to him that I will never hit him. And I take that seriously.
9) Withholding Intimacy
Now, I’m going to say this upfront–this is a private issue, I’m not going to talk about Justin and me. Eww. Bedroom stuff should stay in the bedroom, and not on a blog.
Remember that one episode of Everyone Love’s Raymond where he and Deborah got in a fight and then starting withholding sex from each other and then it turned into a contest to see who could go without the longest? That’s an example of this chapter–withholding sex as a punishment or encouragement to get your husband to those unreasonable expectations. However, it also has a big caveat for women who have been sexually abused before or to whom sex is physically painful for them. However, the biggest warning he gave was that withholding sex because you just don’t feel like it or are too tired or that “the stars aren’t aligned” is a small form of this abuse. He makes sure to say that women shouldn’t have to give sex to their husbands whenever they wanted it, but they needed to be clear about expectations and to remember that Heavenly Father gave us the commandment and gift to be intimate with each other. Intimacy strengthens the marriage.
10) Creating Fear
This is another form of manipulation. Again, threats like divorce, turning kids against your husband, telling everyone negative things about him, suicide, etc. This just isn’t fair or nice, nor is it establishing a good strong partnership.
Thankfully, I don’t threaten my husband! However, he has mentioned that sometimes, he stays silent because he’s afraid I’ll get upset or it’ll hurt my feelings. That, too, is a form of creating fear. We both act that way–we don’t want to hurt each others feelings so badly that sometimes our communication as a married couple suffers for it sometimes.
Honestly, most of these chapters have to do with communication, which is one of the most important things in a marriage. I really enjoyed this book, and love learning different ways to improve myself as a women of God, a mother, and a wife. I definitely suggest this book to you if you are married, engaged, or dating someone.