Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For Young Couples in Patriarchal Wastelands

This post could be considered an extension of The Only Advice I Know To Give. In that post, I dealt with the issue of young women leaving patriarchal homes - whatever their reasons. In this post, I want to deal with young couples in situations like the one I was in - desiring relationship and marriage against the will of the patriarchal fiefdom.

Nothing that follows is said lightly...

My advice in a nutshell - If you love each other and want to spend your lives together, go get married. You're already blessed. If you're satisfied in your own faith about the relationship, go get married. Go to the courthouse or go to Vegas if you have to, but go get married.

No amount of discussion, reasoning, or "talking it out" is going to win you the "blessing" of the patriarch. Only the complete submission of the young man involved will do - and even that's no guarantee in a system founded on tyranny, religious paranoia, and knee-jerk reaction (if the patriarch - or matriarch in some cases - doesn't like him, he's out, submissive or not). Rest assured the patriarch and patriarchal family will desire and request numerous "meetings". These meetings will be full of religious guilt, emotional manipulation, chock full of the symptoms of religious addictions, and their purpose is definitive: subdue and/or destroy. Let me repeat that: The purpose of these meetings is to subdue and/or destroy.

This is where I may part ways with some of you...I suggest the couple have ONE meeting with the patriarchal parents - to announce intentions. If this announcement meets with resistance, trust me when I say there's no hope for a peaceful resolution, and at this point the couple must become the adults, the "parents", in the situation, and set FIRM boundaries (something along the lines of "This is how it's gonna be. You can either be a healthy part of it, or get left out of it, but you aren't changing it, because this is how it's gonna be."). The tricky part of this is that it requires the young woman to stand strongly upon these boundaries. She'll have to be firm in every way she's been indoctrinated to believe is wrong. This has to come from her. From the young man alone, it'll simply be dismissed. 

If FIRM, solid boundaries aren't set, and even worse, if additional meetings are planned, the couple is opening the door to an enemy that seeks only their destruction as a couple. As long as you give them your ear, as long as you give them a platform to voice their opinion about your relationship, you're saying without saying "It's still possible for you to destroy us." You ARE saying that. You're enabling their religious addiction and inviting emotional abuse. Don't give them even a GLIMMER of hope that they can move you. Shut them down. Shut them down entirely.

Reminder: Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or destroy.

They'll recruit others to spread their message to you, covering you with religious guilt and emotional manipulation. SHUT THEM DOWN IMMEDIATELY with "This is how it's gonna be. You can either be a healthy part of it, or get left out of it, but you aren't gonna change it, because this is how it's gonna be."

Reminder: Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or destroy.

Never, ever, enable your enemies to fight you. Never. And make no mistake, regarding your relationship/pending marriage, they are its enemies.

Enablerone that enables another to achieve an end 

Remember, your relationship with your beloved is about the two of you and God. Don't play games. Remove the power of all opposing voices by reminding them of as much. The only power they have is that which you give them. Give them none. They have no right to stewardship over something that belongs to you and God.

{CLA}They will want this to become a power struggle, to use a crude term - a game of "Who's the bitch?" - willing to reduce every person involved to the lowest primal forms of humanity if necessary to get their way. Patriarchy is built on a power/authority structure. For patriarchy to survive, that structure must be protected. You are now the enemy. They'll do whatever they have to, to whomever they have to, raising whatever emotional hell they have to, to get their way. The truth will become fluid and expendable, right and wrong will become malleable and expendable, and your heart and desires (which are expendable from the beginning in this paradigm) will be expended. Everything you've never thought your parents would be, they'll be. Everything you've never thought your parents would do, they'll do.

Reminder: Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or destroy.

You aren't gonna have a storybook, fairytale wedding involving all of the people you've always hoped to have involved. The religious addiction of the patriarchal parents assures this. It's likely the patriarch will refuse to walk the daughter down the aisle. These are things you're gonna have to accept. You can still have a beautiful ceremony, if a ceremony is what you want - as long as you can come to terms with the fact that much, maybe most, of the bride's family and circle won't be involved. Young couples...remember, your wedding is about the two of you, not about your families.

It's a MASSIVE mistake to delay the wedding until peace or healing can be achieved. Why?...

Reminder: Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or destroy. Never enable them.

If you love each other and are committed to each other, you, as a couple, are the priority. Keep your relationship on solid ground, defend it against ALL comers, solidify its health, and stand firmly in the liberty of Christ before pursuing healing with opposing parties. Go get married, solidify the relationship, and only then can you legitimately work on healing. Healing may be possible (some family situations have improved after the marriage), or it may not be possible - and you need to accept that it may not be possible.

Keep in mind that I'm not telling you to devalue the individuals in your family and life. I'm suggesting that you recognize things as they are, recognize evil as evil, wrong as wrong, regardless of who it may manifest through, and devalue the perceived and false power over you that these people will make every attempt to claim and cling to. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Not by guilt, not by addiction, not by daddy, not by daddy's friends.

Don't be an enabler. My ex was...and it destroyed something beautiful. It will. Everytime. Guaranteed.

Regarding continuing discussions with opposing patriarchal parents, I've written about Religiousness and Imbibling in the past, and recently, I posted the piece on the symptoms of Religious Addiction and on what an Imbibled Marriage looks like. Patriarchy and Alcoholism are kissing cousins. Many of the behavioral patterns are the same and most of the dysfunctions are the same. Today I came across a 12 question "Are you an enabler?" quiz that dealt with alcoholism, and one of the questions literally leaped off the page when I read it...

"Have you tried drinking with the alcoholic in hopes of strengthening the relationship?"

Take that same question and apply it to Imbibling. To debate the bible with an imbibler is a waste of breath. You won't move them. Ever. For starters, where patriarses are concerned, they would have to betray the paradigm to which they've sold their souls to admit that you, who should be submissive to them and an underling, have a better understanding of the scriptures than they do, and it'd be like trying to take their bottle away from them. Biblical debates are the nirvana of the legalist. It's like trying to hold an intervention for an alcoholic in a bar - at happy hour. Wasted effort. Despite your good intentions, you become an enabler.

Nothing, NOTHING, good will come from attempting to "talk things out" with patriarchal parents. There's only acting against their will or submitting to them. There's no in between. They have a religious sickness, and unless God miraculously heals them...just go and get married.

Reminder: Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or destroy.

Don't enable them.

To young women in these situations, you're gonna need to be strong, and in many instances, take the lead in dealing with these things. To young men in these situations, if the young woman absolutely won't stand strongly with you, the relationship has no chance, and you should end it for your own sake.

More information about enabling addiction can be found herehere, and here. While these deal with drug and alcohol issues, the behaviors, dysfunctions, and co-dependencies are much the same.

Standing up to your parents' unhealthy addictions is in NO way dishonoring to them.


  1. YES.

    There is nothing more I can say to this but...YES. This is so incredibly true and so incredibly necessary. Thank you for saying what I wish I could have said...and for helping girls do what I probably should have done myself.

  2. We waited 5 years... part of it was a forced long distance where I was literally sent anywhere he wasn't. The other part was he had lupus and my crazy family thought they could "cure" him by having him go on a raw food diet... and his family took the bait, so guess what? He was moved in with my family and they thus had control over both of us. He wasn't allowed to work to earn money for us, just to pay off student loans. They said we could marry if, A) he was cured of lupus, B) he was cured of autism, c) he had nine months savings and an apartment, and d) he had all $40,000 of his student loans paid off.

    Wasn't going to happen. I will admit, we messed up sexually (after five years of waiting to marry) and my family threw him out and told him never to contact me again. Well, I left and we started our marriage homeless.

  3. Yes! If you know what you want, don't wait for them to approve because they never will. I sometimes wish we had just stood up for ourselves and had the wedding we wanted on our own time. Instead we got engaged in 2 weeks, married 8 weeks later, and kept our heads down and our mouths shut so that we would make it that long without our parents deciding it should be over.

  4. What a touching post. I personally relate to this in so many ways.
    I didn't wait very long (although I did endure the rejection from the beginning of the 9 month relationship we had before we married) and I'm so glad we just got married. When my parents turned us away from their door for the final time (I had been visiting my fiance in another state, and attempted one last time to have a discussion with my parents) I said "Let's get married," and we did that weekend. It's been over two years now, and I haven't talked with some of my siblings for that entire two-year period. I guess it's still a matter of subduing me for them (my parents, not my siblings, as they have little say in the matter).

  5. Yes, yes, YES.

    I actually followed the advice giving here in my own relationship several years ago, though with some faltering. First, we fell for the meetings bit, and second, I didn't see the religious guilt and emotional manipulation for what it was, and it plagued me for some time. Don't fall in this trap! You have to turn all that off. You have to close your heart off to them and not hear then when they say things like "can't you see what you're doing to your father and I?" in tearful voices, or when they refer to the work they put in raising you and educating you and leading you down the right path. You have to close your ears to that and run away!

    You have to see it for the religious guilt and emotional manipulation it is. And then reject it.

    Also, this:

    "You aren't gonna have a storybook, fairytale wedding involving all of the people you've always hoped to have involved. The religious addiction of the patriarchal parents assures this. It's likely the patriarch will refuse to walk the daughter down the aisle. These are things you're gonna have to accept."

    This is exactly what happened to me. The hardest thing in the world was that my siblings were not allowed to be in my wedding. None of the friends I had grown up with were there either, as we were married in my husband's home town because of my parents' lack of support. Honestly, my dad's refusal to walk me down the aisle hurt, but I was so over that, and would have told him no even if he had offered.

    And it's not just the fairy tale wedding you'll be losing - it's also the fairy tale life you had always planned. But you know what? Fairy tales aren't real, and reality - and freedom - are better hands down.

  6. I would add a strong piece of advice near the beginning of your article, Lewis.

    If your parents are manipulative or controlling enough to make your relationship misery, this itself is evidence that home is not a safe place for you. Leave. ASAP.

    If you both are sure you want to marry, go for it, but if either of you aren't sure, it is so much better to figure it out between the two of you after you both have left the toxic environment and are able to live and breathe.


    The reason I say this is because I was in a relationship during the time I left home, and had I not known I needed to leave first, myself, I could have ended up in a mismatched marriage. After several months of dating, we began to realize this, but if we were still in a us vs. them situation we might have not had the space and time to understand ourselves.

  7. "From the young man alone, it'll simply be dismissed."

    Yep! If you don't agree with them, your just a pile of snow, in the way of their pissing stream.

    "My advice in a nutshell - If you love each other and want to spend your lives together, go get married. You're already blessed. If you're satisfied in your own faith about the relationship, go get married. Go to the courthouse or go to Vegas if you have to, but go get married."

    Go get the legal part of the marriage out of the way. Many times, in my opinion, if you have given yourself to each other with God as your witness, the true marriage part is complete.

    "They'll recruit others to spread their message to you, covering you with religious guilt and emotional manipulation."

    Not only will they recruit the other idiots, but they'll surprise you at a meeting with the room FULL of people who hate the very ground they want you to crawl on. These people will stop at nothing to humiliate and beat you (sometimes literally) down.

    "Go get married, solidify the relationship, and only then can you legitimately work on healing."

    Personal experience: Unfortunately for this crowd, they view marriage as THE MOST SACRED INSTITUTION! More sacred than salvation, Christ, or even a father/child relationship. To them, Christ is head of the church as man is head of his wife, along with all the baby squirting and such.

    I say unfortunately because that fact alone is pretty much you're only leverage for getting these idiots to even look your way. After all, if you're married, they're forced to accept that you fit into their hierarchical astrological reference charts in one form or another. If they don't accept you after you have accepted the P/QF salvation of marriage, well..., the hypocrisy will be quite apparent.

    "Biblical debates are the nirvana of the legalist."

    I disagree only slightly here. I agree that, at the time you are vulnerable and unmarried and un-studied in the anti-message to this crap, stay away from debates. But, once you have doused yourself in truth, it is so easy to rip the crap apart. Debates are actually quite pleasant with these morons, even when they start throwing stuff. Just be quick on your feet.

    And finally, what was that reminder? Um..."Their ONLY goal is to subdue and/or..." um...sheesh! Already forgot. Doh!

  8. @Revenwyn:

    "I will admit, we messed up sexually"

    Please do not beat yourself up over this. You might want to re-think your ideas about sex and the boundaries of sex. If your account's timeline is as I see it, you had been married in God's eyes for years. So, sex was and should be remembered as beautiful, pleasant, and right.

    "They" will try and hammer you to death with what they see as your rebellious indiscretion and proof that you are not living in God's favor unless you redefine sex and marriage in your own mind.

    A marriage license and certificate, witnesses, doing the vows in front of a church or magistrate, are no more than legal formalities, set up by the government. By all means, follow the laws for the awesome legal benefits and tax breaks but view yourself as married when you gave yourself to each other in front of God. That is all that matters.

    Free yourself from the unnecessary guilt and walk away from it with the understanding that you were right in every way and your parents were wrong in every way.

    Also, study the MANY ways that people were hitched in the Bible and other historical records. You will be shocked at what was considered marriage in the old days. It would fly in the face of our mainstream traditional definition of when you can have sex and when you cannot.

    X-rated alert! Go forth and have lots of unguiltified sex!

  9. Fantastic post! Wonderful advice and I hope that many girls in the same situation I was will read this and find strength in it.

    It reminds me so much of the struggle that David and I went through to get married and live our own lives. We had the advantage of me moving 450 miles away to be with him so it wasn't easy for my parents to meet with us but they did try phone calls for a while to the point that we would walk out of the house when the phone rang so that my MIL could honestly say that we weren't in the house to talk.

    My father refused to walk me down the aisle (and even to come to my wedding) and so I asked my grandfather to do it and he was honored to do that for me.

    What an appropriate post for you to post on June 14th. Our 14th wedding anniversary!

  10. Lewis, unfortunately it doesn't end when the couple gets married. In some ways it's just beginning. Some of these people have really strange ideas about what marriage is. I personally know a couple that decided after the man did go through all the courtship crap that they wanted him to, that they didn't like their daughter being married and living in another country, and so they secretly flew there, telling nobody they were coming, to try to kidnap their daughter and grandchild and bring them back to the USA. They tried in several ways to justify this. It was disgusting.

    I also know of another couple who the man went through all the courtship crap and the parents are happy because they now have control over the man, too. He knows that if he messes up they'll mess with his family. They'll make up lies, call CPS on him and try to get the kids to be with them or his wife only and throw him under the bus. These people give lip service to "divorce is wrong" but they will encourage it if it means they get to keep control of their daughter.

    My husband and I have had people try to break us up because they think I am a rebellious woman, and as such am not a Christian and they think my husband should divorce me and marry a "Christian woman" (one that will do what THEY want and listen to them and be a Debi Pearl wife). It's hard though because while I booted these people out of my life, my husband still claims them as friends and refuses to get rid of them completely.

  11. "Everything you've never thought your parents would be, they'll be. Everything you've never thought your parents would do, they'll do."

    This was heartbreakingly true in my courtship experience. I entered into it with innocence and high expectations, feeling blessed that our parents were graciously helping my suitor and I along a "better way" to marriage than we could find on our own. Yet the courtship was so much about them, their reputations and relationships. With horror, I made the discovery that these things were more important to my parents than my peace and feelings.

    It was a huge blow psychologically. I began having dissociative spells and self injuring, became severely depressed, and was plagued by frightening suicidal ideations. I know to some this will seem unbelievable, but suffering through these things seemed preferable to taking a stand for myself and rocking the boat. After all, I wanted to be an honoring, submissive daughter who made my parents happy. Perhaps sacrificing my mental and emotional health was a small price to pay.

    I got through the courtship and am now happily married, but still trying to sort through these issues, and to do what I can to establish my new family on a healthier footing. I don't claim to have any magic answers for anyone else, but I felt compelled to put my story out their as part of Lewis' warning to you all.

  12. I have never posted before but I have been reading for several months. I have to comment on this post because I lived it, and it still hurts. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last month, and our relationship with my parents is now (mostly) whole and restored, but the first few years were hell. The thing that made me cry the most in this post is when you said "your father may refuse to walk you down the aisle." My father did walk me down the aisle, but he refused to give me away. You know, where they ask "who gives this woman to be married?" and the father says "her mother and I." Yeah, my mother made him say he wouldn't do it. So we had to figure out some other ridiculous way of handling that part. I cried many tears over that, and still haven't completely gotten over the rejection. But what hurts more than that, is when my older sister got married a year later, also to someone whom they did not approve of (and this was actually for a good reason because the guy has already proven himself by cheating on my sister, twice) my dad gave her away. Thats right. He gave my sister away. He told me it was because he didnt want to make the same mistake twice. Never apologized to me, just said he didn't want to mess it up again. So all this to say, I agree. Just do it. Just get married. BUT I agree with the other comments in that it doesn't end after the wedding. In ways, it only gets worse. And there will be a lot of healing you will have to go through for the way the wedding goes down. I can't even look at my wedding pictures without my gut hurting. Its hard when my daughter wants to "look at mommy in her princess dress and daddy in his prince suit" and I feel so uncomfortable looking at them that I put her off. Maybe someday it won't hurt so bad.

  13. Yep, I've seen it...experienced it...in the past 10 months.

    "Everything you've never thought your parents would be, they'll be. Everything you've never thought your parents would do, they'll do."
    Yeah, I've really felt that one...

  14. I am grateful that there are blogs and websites like this one and Quivering Daughters. It took me years after I left home to figure out what was wrong with the way I grew up.

    Though in general I very much agree with the advice in this post, in a way I am glad I didn't run away with the man I loved and who loved me. It does make me sad now that I didn't even consider that as a possiblity, even though he begged me to. At the time, I just couldn't fathom disobeying my father. I didn't realize that my idea of marriage and family was so completely screwed up until after I finally got up the courage a few year later to leave. I had no idea who I was or what I believed outside of the indoctrination that my parents had fed me. I had no clue how to really communicate or what makes a healthy marriage. The only way a marriage could have worked is if he had been very patient and allowed me to work through what would have been a lot of guilt (it was bad enough leaving without getting married!) and restructuring of my belief system. I have a lot of admiration for those young women who grew up in patriarchal homes who have the strength and self knowledge to be able to marry the man they love under bad circumstances and make it work.


  15. I did wait to get married in hopes of reconciling - I don't regret that for a moment. It gave me high ground both with my family and his. I got my life together, and I took my time, and didn't let anyone pressure me.

    I came to the place of realizing they weren't going to change no matter what I did. They were stubborn, and as a consequence they were going to miss out.

    On the flip side, I missed out. I scarcely had anyone there, I will never have pictures with my family in them. Everything I spent my life on relationally was basically taken from me. I got married but my heart was broken. It's made me a hard person, and sometimes an angry person, sometimes it's made me care less about myself and feel worthless.

    I feel like I got divorced and remarried... so yeah a year was kind of needed in between.

  16. I'm not sure I would advise all young couples in situations like this to "go get married" as long as they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together.

    Almost by definition at least one person really hasn't had the opportunity to grow into an independent, self-directed individual, and within marriage probably isn't the best place for that to occur.

    I've seen several of these kinds of situations up close, and it is those who marrired who I feel are at the greater disadvantage.

    There really is no one-size-fits-all approach. In your case Lewis it might have worked out, you being healthy, independent, self-directed, strong, etc. But often these couples both come from similar backgrounds and neither has been permitted to mature into adulthood. They may be 20-something years old, but for all practical purposes they are still a minor.

    First, they should GET OUT. Don't use marriage to get out, that's a cop-out. Get out, on your own, where you lay out your own clothes and set your own bedtime.

    Second, by all means move forward in the relationship but get some outside perspective. To me that means premarital counseling (secular or otherwise) with a qualified, licensed, experienced professional. Odds are you are going to discover some significant areas that need exploration. For better or worse (no pun intended) I think it often is NOT in the best interest of the couple to marry.


  17. I've read every post you've written, Lewis, and can resonate with just about everything you guys went through.

    And Christy, my story is almost *exactly* like yours. Down to my dad willingly giving my sister away, making eye contact with me throughout her ceremony as some sort of twisted "payback" or something (though my parents have not once admitted they made any mistakes in regards to my relationship and are still waiting on an apology from us after 8 years of marriage--haha)

    We waited 3 years to get married. We broke up twice when they asked us to at the beginning. I knew I had a great guy when, even after we were forced to break up, he said he'd wait for me. Poor guy had never heard of anything related to Bill Gothard/IBLP/ATI/QF/VisionForum so for him to be willing to wait for a girl with a freakshow family said something to me.

    After the second break up we realized things were getting ridiculous and told our parents how things were going to be. That issued in several years of angry phone calls from them filled with screaming, them telling me I was no longer a Christian because I had disobeyed them (and by disobeying them I was rebelling against God), them with holding love even down to completely stopping saying "I love you", them spreading rumors that we were sleeping together, then that we had eloped, and on and on.

    We tried to "honor" them by doing things their way, but then it became apparent that they were only setting up hoop after hoop so that eventually we would get tired or that we'd fail and then they could step in and say "ha! see! we knew it" so we quit playing their games and got married. Eight years in and it's been the best decision we made :)

    Things are tolerable with my family now, though we never touch on the subject of our relationship. In a backhanded way they acknowledge that my husband is a great guy, but they will never admit they did anything wrong or that they misjudged him.

    The one thing I would caution girls in this situation about is that if you take such a firm stand against your parents, be prepared for them to kick you out and/or for them to remove financial support.

  18. e...I'm not suggesting that marriage be used merely as a vehicle for leaving. I'm suggesting that if the couple is ready, go get married. I'm suggesting that they don't wait simply for the sake of reconciliation or healing (it isn't gonna happen). It doesn't give them, in my opinion, any moral high ground to wait (they already have the moral high ground in their own personhood) and only opens the door to the enemies of their relationship.

    If they (or at least one of "they") aren't ready for marriage...then, just get out.

    There's no perfect plan for any of this. Some of these young women aren't even truly prepared (emotionally and materially) to just get out...but they still need to.

  19. Yeah, I hear you Lewis. Sorry if my comments were construed as opposing your post. I meant them to be more of a clarification. I totally agree that waiting around for reconciliation or healing is a complete waste of time. Give these kinds of parents an inch and you'll find yourself a mile deep in sh*t in no time.

    How often do these couples really know if they are ready? Many times they don't. They've been conditioned/brainwashed for years not to really worry about figuring that out because they'll know when God shows them (through their parents). It's great if they've come to reject that arrangement, but I think leaving it creates a vacuum that can lead to some very bad decisions because in essence you have a very immature ability to make responsible and sensible decisions.

    Looking back do you think your ex was prepared to get out (emotionally, materially, etc.), much less for marriage?

    Good stuff as usual, I appreciate your perspective. :)


  20. e...No worries. If anything, you gave me a chance to clarify what I'm saying in the piece.

    Looking back do you think your ex was prepared to get out (emotionally, materially, etc.), much less for marriage?

    Materially - Yes, because I would've met her material needs.

    Emotionally - This one's a little trickier. She was two different women. With me she was a vibrant and confident, naive but absorbing women whom I could see growing by the second. With them, she was an emotional 13 year old who was afraid of her own shadow - and that may be a generous assessment.

    There was enough love between us, and enough stability in my world, that with genuine commitment, I think we'd have been fine despite the obvious baggage to be dealt with and the difficulties we'd have faced - but only if I could get her away from them and here with me (they knew this too). The disparity between who she was with me and who she was with them, though, was enough for me to have a small group of people ready to help her deal with some things. I wouldn't have demanded her seek qualified counseling (wouldn't be my right), but I would've encouraged it and made her know it was available if SHE wanted it.

  21. Yes...yes...yes!

    While our situation, all those years ago, was more a matter of a heavy duty military/ethnic social patriarchy, and less based in fundamentalist christian patriarchy, the dynamics are virtually identical.

    In our case, there were racial and economic status elements, as well as religious tradition issues...his ethnicity and his lower income background and my ethnicity and ELCA affiliation sent our fathers into their respective "patriarchal" corners, and both came out swinging.

    It was ugly, right up until the time that we simply ceased to play the game. Our long-suffering mothers had also had enough, and both came down from the fence on the side of their children. I actually walked in on the stunning scene of my sweet, gentle Mom quietly informing my Dad that his ego was ridiculous, and he would be walking me down the aisle if he planned on "living under the same roof" with her. I was "gobsmacked!"

    I did agree to join and be married in my husband's LCMS church, and raise our children in the tradition (peace in the in-law family) and we kept limited contact with the more racist, class conscious members of BOTH families during those early years.

    Funny how both patriarchs came around a bit with the birth of our first child, a son.

    And I cannot deny that our Moms, ordinarily deferential to our domineering Dads...turned the tide for us once they were convinced their kids were the real deal.

    So while we did not suffer the true nightmare of fundamentalist patriarchy, we can assure folks the dynamics Lewis describes are spot on!

    Thirty odd years later, I agree with Lewis. Trust God, and Go Get Married!

  22. oh, man - how can i feel anything but pity?

    even for those "patriarchs" who don't even seem to realize that they've become the very people Jesus preached AGAINST. i feel bad for them, SO BAD - if there is any truth in Revalation, these people are probably going to be shocked to discover how badly they've messed up. [erm. let me rephrase that: if there is any truth to the current accepted "Hell" mythology, they are going to get a shock. "Hell" is only mentioned THREE times in the ENTIRE Bible - once as part of a metaphor about what happens to rich men who let the poor die; once as an alegory about what would happen to those who weren't following Christ; and in Revelation, where it says those who aren't "saved" are thrown into the "Lake of Fire" - which i read as a "final death", not "eternity of torment", and i know i'm not the only one...]

    just... pity.

    and then, of course, ANGER at what they do to their OWN CHILDREN. i was brought up QUITE differently, but it's still the ultimate sin - to abuse your children to the point that they can never grow. anger could quickly become hate, if i don't watch myself :(

  23. Anon 12:02...

    I knew I had a great guy when, even after we were forced to break up, he said he'd wait for me. Poor guy had never heard of anything related to Bill Gothard/IBLP/ATI/QF/VisionForum so for him to be willing to wait for a girl with a freakshow family said something to me.

    I can relate to this in a lot of ways. This is a tricky thing for daughters of patriarchy. I'm glad you and your husband are doing well, and you DID make the right decision.

    My approach with my ex was as follows...

    I would've waited for her all the way to my grave - and told her as much. The ONE thing I wouldn't wait for, however, was for peace to be made with her family. Any peace to be made between me or us as a couple and her family would've been a false peace and would've been like shaking hands with the devil. I was clear with her that I wanted no part of it, and it was unfair of her to expect it of me (at times downright cruel of her), which on occasion, after being pressured by the patriarchal jackasses in her life, she did. If she wanted to make peace with her family, she was searching for fool's gold, and prior to the marriage she'd have done it without me. I'll get in to some of our exchanges about it at some point in the Joke series.

    Long story short - I'd have waited as long as necessary...for substance, not for a fantasy.

  24. Good advice! I think this is what makes "outsiders" go "Huh??" when they hear of a 34 year old living at home doing what Daddy commands. Of all the False Teachings that damage people the "Umbrella of Authority" and similar has to be among the worst [there ARE worse, but, this is pretty awful]. Letting an ADULT think he or she is still somehow a child is bizarre. Two great examples: Zak Bates ["19 Kids and Counting"] is an ELECTED OFFICIAL in his county, but lives at home and must have a sibling with him at all times. Another, at Staddonfamilydotcom the new Mrs. Robert did not want to marry him! THEN DON'T!! Naturally, since they are a prominent ATI family, she came to see that her Daddy was right all along. Her courtship story is a study in coercion and mind-control to an outsider. To a OF/P believer it's a study in obedience.

  25. *sigh* every time i read about your experiences, my heart aches. twice i've called my boyfriend to make sure he doesn't want to end our relationship while he can.

    my family was in ati all of my growing up, and while my parents weren't as controlling in certain areas as many patriarchal families, the root issues still exist and evidence themselves even today.

    my dad always told me he would be there for me whenever a guy expressed an interest in me; that he'd get to know them with me, help me make a wise decision about the guy i should marry.

    in college, i dated several guys informally, never even realizing (due to my naivete) it until much later. when finally a relationship developed that was both mutual and serious, he and i both wanted him to talk to my parents, but it went nothing as we expected.

    on his eighteenth birthday, we had a huge meeting with both sets of parents where they told us we could no longer have any form of contact whatsoever because he's black and my parents don't want me to "shame our family like that." after seven months and making two major moves across the states, i came back to visit over christmas and they told us we could be friends again (probably because he was going into the military and they assumed a long-distance relationship would not be viable).

    we spent all of break reconciling our relationship and discussing the pain our separation brought us. when i went back to school, we decided to try a long-distance relationship and see how it went. we've been together six months (it'd be a year and a half if we hadn't been separated) and we both seriously want to get married.

    i don't think it's dishonoring my parents to marry him because i believe they're completely wrong in their racism; and i believe this is the man God wants me to marry; but i am confused about how i can do it in a way that doesn't seem like i'm completely disregarding the station they hold in my life...especially as i'm not yet entirely financially independent from them yet (though i should be within a year or so).

    ...pray for me? pray for us? it is more painful than i can really express, as i'm sure you know.

  26. ~*~ and midori - Your parents expect you to present your case to them time and time again. They know that, as you do, they can tear it apart piece by piece, causing you to feel guilty and shaming you into believing you must still be under their control. The fact that they are racist in today's modern age, as well as the fact that your dad flat out lied to you should make you see that your explanations to them, no matter how logical or "godly" will just fall on deaf ears. They will make all sorts of new rules and ideas up on the spot.

    The problem with P/QF ideology is that the rules for the ones in charge are so malleable. They don't have to live by the hardened box that they require their subjects to live under.

    Explaining your correct position (after all, you're a freaking adult and they need to respect the fact that they don't contain all knowledge and wisdom for every circumstance and nuance of life, even though Billy Boy G. has told them they do, if only they study his stupid red books) to them is a waste of time. They will ignore all logic and leave you in tears or angry, at best.

    In my view, marrying your lover will be taking the high road and your parents can pick up the pieces of their issues.

    Finally, here's the rub - racism is alive and well in many areas of society but, when exposed, it is completely shunned and beat down. It is wrong. Exposing their racism on another venue that is more public could potentially cause them to run for the hills and buy you your freedom.

    Even P/QF people like to look politically correct when they hit the spotlight.

    If not, RUN!

  27. Oh and Lewis (this is Anon 12:02), I wasn't trying to say that because my guy stuck it out you should have too. You're right, unless the person who grew up in the crazy makes the decision to leave, there's not much the other person can do :(


  28. J...No worries. I didn't take it that way. Your comment just sparked something else I wanted to say for guys who are "willing to wait". ;)

  29. @Christy:

    Something you said struck a chord with me -- "My father did walk me down the aisle, but he refused to give me away."

    Seven years ago this spring, my best friend told me he loved me, and asked my parents for permission to court me. Instead, they refused to meet with him and forbade us to have any contact with each other. And I, the devoted/brainwashed daughter that I was, I believed that I had to obey if I was to remain in God's will, and that God would bless us for our patience by turning my parents' hearts. I never saw or spoke to him again. (I later learned that he blamed me for not standing up to them; but I honestly didn't know that there was any other God-honoring option.)

    I have been out of patriarchy for several years now, but not without scars. My father and I have a fairly good relationship now, mostly because I have learned to recognize and reject his emotional manipulation.

    This spring, I married the love of my life. And one of the things I insisted upon at my wedding was that the minister could NOT ask the question "who gives this woman...". The only person who can give me away is my own self. While I did ask my father and my brother to walk me down the aisle, I was quite clear that it was simply a demonstration of their support for my marriage, not an authorization for it. My dad sulked about this for a few weeks, but ultimately decided that he would stay involved in my life on my terms, rather than not at all.


  30. midori;

    it won't just be your parents. i admit i was lucky on that score - while my abusive stepfather was *incredibly* racist, he died when i was 16 - and neither my father nor my mother are racist [well... my mom is trying to NOT be, but she was raised to be racist and is fighting it].

    how do *HIS* parents feel, first of all? that's where we first had trouble - his parents hate "white" people, and despite the fact that i'm NOT white, i'm Cherokee, i LOOK white [now. i didn't when i was younger. very long story there] and that was a stumbling block.

    second - everyone else you both know. they may or may not, but in a lot of cases, it's not actually "racism" - it's more that people think nothing has changed, and any interracial couple will go through hell [and you WILL!] so they might advise against it, trying to spare you that.

    but love is worth that battle.

    this is a weird a touchy topic, but i've been with my guy over 7 years. if you need advice, or just want to talk to someone who's been there, you can email me - denelian at yahoo dot com

    if you need a year to be able to leave your parents, then you need to be ready to lie to them. "honoring" your parents doesn't require blind obedience, and it absolutely DOES NOT mean that they get to decide who you love. that is between you and God - and if they can't accept your heart as it is, they don't DESERVE to be part of it. bide your time, and leave when you can, then follow your heart - God is there, and will guide you.

    [yes, yes i believe in God! just before anyone asks.]

  31. Lewis, this was AMAZING. So glad we weren't the only ones! I would love to have you guest post this on my blog.

  32. Chandra...You're completely welcome to it if you'd like to post it over there.

  33. second - everyone else you both know. they may or may not, but in a lot of cases, it's not actually "racism" - it's more that people think nothing has changed, and any interracial couple will go through hell [and you WILL!] so they might advise against it, trying to spare you that.

    As a gay person I went through the same thing a decade ago with my parents, who apparently hadn't gotten the memo that the 60's were over and I didn't have to lie to everyone about my sexuality to keep my job (yeesh!).

    But ultimately I think it's an excuse to cover the parent's own embarrassment or discomfort.

    The racist parents may think that their child has taken a step down by marrying a black person. "For the children," is a lot of crap in a country where the POTUS had a black mother and a white father! I mean, come on! It's 40 years later. Lay that bugbear to rest. And let the pathetic Real Housewives status-seeking go straight to Hell. Was Paul wrong when he said we are no longer woman or man, gentile or jew, slave or free in Christ? Bottom line, DO NOT let yourself be guilt-tripped, especially AS A CHRISTIAN, for not being a bigot.

    I wish you the best and hope that others are not as hateful to you as your own parents. It seems like it has become socially acceptable in some quarters to let your racist freak flag fly. I suppose at least you will know who your real friends are! Everyone else can shove it.

  34. Hi Lewis,
    Thank you for posting this,I am getting married in 15 days. The last 8 months have been like hell with my family. I grew up in a "Christian homeschool" family, being one of 9 siblings. Almost my whole family is totally against me getting married, mainly because of the fact, that my parents didn't "pick" my guy.
    I have one sister that has been faithful in supporting me. She the only family member that is attending our wedding.
    I moved from my home to live in with his parents, because the stress was too much for me too take. Being 7+ hours away, I was still getting "mile long emails" and countless text of guilt and blame from my family and people I had never even met. My father was sending me emails telling me how he and my mom were weeping for me, and begging "God to give me repentance" Once my older brother even came here to "talk things over" with me. He wouldn't leave so I ended up threatening to call the police. Now having changed my phone number, email, fb, and blocking any way of attack, I am able to breath and smile at the up coming wedding.
    But part of my heart is still braking, I LOVE my brothers, ((I have 7 brothers, and one sister)) One of my brothers, I was super close too, and he doesn't know where he stands, he thinks I am wrong, but he doesn't want to lose a relationship with me. But every time we talked he would question me. It got to the point that I had to cut him off as well. I'm having a hard time with the fact that I didn't invite him to the wedding. But as a couple we both think it's better to just get married first, and then go back and try to deal with this mess. Anyways, I just wanted to say, THANK YOU for writing this. It encouraged me in our decision, that we are doing the right thing.

  35. Anonymous...I'm so sorry about the situation with your family.

    You ARE making the right decision to get married first and make sure that union is healthy and strong, and then deal with the issues with your family.

    I hope and pray for eventual healthy relationship with your family.

    VERY proud of you.

  36. Me too! Hugs to you for standing firm in the face of so much pressure.

  37. Wish I had read this back when I made my decision to get married. By the way, we actually got married in Vegas! Hubby is military, loves God and loves me, and since having his son has proved to be a great father too. His family are blended, and hence not "perfect." Oh, and he's also a LOT younger than me. But before God, there was nothing to hide, no sin in marrying him; in fact, if I hadn't married him, we could have found ourselves IN sin as defined by church, because I would have had to come out Vegas-way to date him anyway- he got stationed out here.

    To cut a long story short, I spent a month being engaged long-distance under severe pressure to break it off. The worst was that when I found out he was serious and had just proposed, I came to my parents in delight and excitement and they took it as the worst possible news! My parents at another time sat me down, and my dad asked me if I was pregnant (I was a virgin by choice until we were married) amongst other ridiculous things. Before I made the decision to marry, I didn't realize how patriarchal my family and religious background truly was!

    My dad basically implied my guy was in sin because my guy didn't ask my dad's permission to marry me. My dad felt that I was under his authority until marriage, although I had had my own place and career for several years before moving home during a transition. Number one, my permission kinda trumps my dad's, seeing as I'm the one who has to live with the guy and such. Number two, my dad would have said "No" to my guy if he'd asked anyway, so no way we were going to go down that route!

    My dad then wanted me to get counselling from a guy who I knew full well felt negatively about military life, and so on. The guilt I felt the whole time was unbearable (I was living at home). I can honestly say that I was right with God and at peace despite the pressure that I was doing the right thing. If I hadn't put my foot down, I'd probably still be single and my parents wouldn't have a grandson to nag me about how they don't get to see often because we're so far away because the Air Force stationing hubby here is apparently our fault(!!grrrr!!).

    If I sound bitter, I'm actually more sarcastic- I can laugh about it all now, but it hurts that I had to get married to be viewed as an adult. Still working on getting treated like one.

    So I totally agree with this article, and I say to anyone who is in love and knows your guy's/girl's character is stable, not abusive- because sometimes there's an unhealthy pull to someone who isn't right when you're trying to escape control- if you are truly safe with that person and you guys can financially and emotionally separate yourselves from any possibility of control, go for it now. God created us for relationship, and anyone who tells you singleness is right for you, when you're a sexual being, of age, and in love, is wrong.

  38. The patriarchy doctrine is not relegated only to the quiverfull movement. In my own life, I was 1 of 4 children in a homeschooling family. While my parents were involved and supportive throughout our lives, they are nothing of the patriarchy mix. They have proved to be my greatest allies.

    In contrast, my now-husbands' parents are a part of a deceptively-modern church cult that is centered around the personality of a pastor who advocates "Biblical authority" and twists Scripture to his own gain. While these people look so normal and spout relatively standard Biblical doctrine, when you hear the stories that have come from within the church... of children kicked out and divorces forced because the wife doesn't want to leave the church and the husband has already left, it's downright disgusting.

    My husband's awakening and liberation came after trying to play their game to keep the relationship with his parents. Until he started to date me, and they cut him off entirely. Their whole church spread horrible untrue rumors about our dating & engagement relationship, his parents and his brother & brother's wife would not attend our wedding and have not spoken to us in more than a year.

    And you know what? It's sad. But we really don't care. We're living our lives in the way that we know God wants us to, we have a wonderfully happy marriage and beautiful life. While we pity his family for not wanting to know us and misusing the Bible to justify their actions, we know that things won't change until they leave the cult.

    Someday we will take these things public and expose this cult for what it is. But until then, we will wait quietly and attend to our own business --- knowing that it does not hurt us as they think it does.

  39. All these stories here keep reminding me of the time when my husband and I were going through our dating, etc. in the mid 1970's. I am from an Italian family and they keep hold on their daughters tight.

    My dad was very sweet and Catholic and he loved me. My mom was not impressed with religion, just said believe in God and follow the 10 commandments and she knew me. WE had never heard of Gothard, P/QF though those influences would hit us in the face like a mack truck in a very short time after being married, but that is another story!!!!

    I dated my husband for 3 years. Well, not dated in the traditional sense...he was a student and had no money, but we went horse back riding and he liked to hang around for the food (Remember I said we were Italian.) He was an answer to my prayer for a husband. I did not care to date for my own personal reasons and just wanted God to bring the right man for me. When I brought him home to meet mom, she said, "You couldn't have stuck to just bringing 4 legged strays home?

    My mom always thought we were up to something wrong (making out in the orange groves and she was not far from wrong. ) My parents became experts at taking turns falling asleep on the couch so we would have no place to neck.

    On the day we told her we wanted to get married, she hit the ceiling. After scraping her down with a spatula she sat us down and told us to our faces some hard cold facts. Me first. She looked at me and said...."Do you think this guy is a ball of fire? Do you think he wants to work and get a job? (he was working but only after she insisted he get a job after flunking out of college) Then she looks at him and says "Do you think she wants to make meals and keep house? All she wants is a horse!!!" Then she said "Oh well, at least there will be two other less miserable people in the world with you two getting married!" Meaning we basically deserved each other, immature (ages 22 and 25) ignorant about life and not really wanting to learn. So we got married and mom was right. It took many years to grow up and learn who we were, how to keep jobs, handle finances. And we are still learning, growing, making mistakes.

    And being Italian my parents held on tightly after we married and moved from Calif to Ark. My first and second anniversary were spent WITH THEM with my husband left back in Ark.!!!! They got the " you have him for the rest of our life, but you won't have your parents forever" guilt trip down pat!

    Our life started out as a roller coaster ride. 37 years later it is still a carnival ride, the kind that makes you puke after getting off. You do not have to be in a P/QF family to have parents invading your personal business. Try living in NE Texas and you will see what I mean. .

  40. One word of caution: It is a good idea to listen if parents have legitimate concerns. I agree that if the parents are manipulating for reasons that are wrong you ought to just go get married, yes indeed. However its a good idea to make SURE you really want to be married, make sure you know what you're getting into. If you're not sure, ask an objective friend whom you love and trust (or two, particularly a married couple) for their input. Don't overreact.