He was getting desperate in his family life. Married for 15 years to his childhood sweetheart, with three daughters, building a home in the mountains — but he felt he had lost true communication with his wife. He had no motivation left to work on their rambling, unfinished cabin. He was at a loss as to how to raise his children with meaning and purpose. As he heard about our Master Yahshua and how He is changing and restoring our lives, he gained a little hope. He asked us to come and talk to his wife.
When we arrived, a dog circled our car, barking. Michael was working on a motorcycle in the front yard. A tall, blond man with long hair tied back — gentle and friendly — he directed me toward his house as my husband went to see what he was working on. His wife Sandra opened the door and invited me in. A very attractive woman with waist-length auburn hair and beautiful green eyes, she was just back from a run, sweating lightly, obviously trim and athletic in Lycra tights and a T-shirt. She drew me into her kitchen where she was starting supper preparations. We soon found common ground: babies, home births, midwifery, women's health. She was a nurse-midwife in a nearby hospital, loved her work, had helped with home births and borne two children at home. I had been at a lot of friends' births, and all three of my children were born at home. We compared experiences and thoughts with excitement. I liked her instantly.
I began helping prepare vegetables. As we chopped and tossed parings into the compost bucket, we also talked about the garden I could see in her backyard. Her three daughters began appearing from other rooms in the house, and she tried to involve them in supper preparations. Her oldest daughter, a thoughtful child and mature in her speech and composure, began setting the table with hand-thrown pottery plates and bowls. As her second daughter came to help put on the cutlery, the oldest began pointing out what she was doing wrong. Sandra broke in instantly, firmly but kindly insisting that they needed to cooperate with each other.
The youngest daughter stood by and asked questions, or interfered with her sisters to see what would happen, as children will. I brought her to one side to give the older girls a break. We looked at some books and listened to records — popular children's authors and artists that presented non-racist, non-sexist, environmentally-conscious material.
Soon Sandra called us to sit and eat. It was an excellent vegetarian meal of potato and leek soup with grated cheese, vegetable calzones, and carrot-raisin salad — all homemade. We all talked to the children, talked about our Community, talked about their life. It was an enjoyable time. Then we had fresh pie with ice cream and herbal tea — the children only a little, so the sugar in the ice cream wouldn't keep them awake.
I helped Michael clean up and do dishes, as my husband cared for our baby and Sandra put their children to bed. As things began to quiet down in the house, we could hear a guitar and Sandra's voice, soft and pretty, as she sang old Joan Baez songs to put her children to sleep.
We commented to Michael on his wife's amazing gifts and abilities. He agreed sincerely and wholeheartedly, then went on to tell us how miserable he was in spite of it all. He said that Sandra didn't know how to handle his increasing discontentment and lack of motivation. She was totally threatened by us, as well as the thought of Michael deciding to move their family into the Community. She had even radically changed her daughters' simple hairstyles to something very modern so they would less resemble girls in the Community. And she had also told him that he would have the children "over her dead body." Her cry to him was, "Make our life work here — we've got so much going for us — make it work!" But his problem was that he didn't know how to make it work. He wanted forgiveness in his tortured conscience. He wanted to know God, to have a new life and a new heart to overcome the things he hated about himself. He wanted purpose and direction for his family life, apart from just "doing good", being properly ecologically conscious and politically correct.
When Sandra came downstairs they began talking to us about all of these things openly. She and Michael were quite honest with us, as strangers, about their personal life.
The issue was this: Michael wanted to give up everything to start a new life with his family. Sandra not only didn't want to follow him, she didn't want him to do it, although she insisted that he should just go ahead and do the deepest thing in his heart. But she felt that her career as a nurse-midwife was too important to abandon, as she was using her God-given gifts to help people. She didn't know what these women would do without her support in their births.
We told her how she had made a covenant with him in marriage, to be a wife to him — that this was a much higher calling than her career, and the responsibility would be hers for the breakup of their marriage, should she refuse to follow him.
She then began reasoning that they'd never had a true marriage. Mutual bad attitudes about their past with each other began to come out: She was energetic and efficient — he couldn't seem to finish what he started. She had direction — he was unmotivated and purposeless. But he felt that she had never truly supported him, believed in him, or given him a chance. He was asking her to abandon all to go with him. She was saying, "No, I like what I've got. Your way is a bad risk."
My husband and I were saying: It's TRUE that he hasn't been the head, the provider and protector of the family, according to the instinctive knowledge all men have of this responsibility of a husband and father. He was accountable for having allowed her to rule. He needed to stick his neck out and even risk a divorce to do what he knew would save him and his family. But it was her desire to rule the marriage that emasculated him and made him passive. No trust, constant criticism — what else could his life have been?
It was a vicious cycle: He was spineless, she inwardly despised him and ran their life. If she continued to despise his weakness instead of building him up, she would eventually destroy his manhood.
It was so intense being there as they laid each other and themselves bare. We hadn't intended that all this would come out so blatantly when we'd just met her, but both of them were so tortured inside, it seemed they just had to get it out.
We finished our conversation late in the night. She was going to have to leave for work at dawn the next morning, so we said our goodbyes to her before we all went to bed. Composure restored, Sandra hugged us with a few tears and thanked us for coming — still in control of life, seemingly able to roll with all the punches and come out optimistic.
The next morning Michael talked with my husband for a long time about the details of changing his life, selling his stuff, etc. At the same time he mentioned that he had started going to counselling at Sandra's suggestion, that anti-depressant drugs had been prescribed, and he was considering taking them.
It was so clear the trap they were in. A man who wouldn't use his will to command his family's respect and meet their needs. He wouldn't rule over his wife, but allowed her to rule him, and was considering the use of medication to ease the pain of his worthlessness. A woman who despised her man's weakness and was striving on her own to make their life "work", demanding that he follow her. She used her career as an excuse to maintain the independence she loved, refusing to be a true wife.
What Sandra didn't see was that, although she appeared to be a faithful, diligent wife and mother, she was living in sin, daily being disobedient to an instinctive knowledge put in Woman, that she should desire her husband and let him rule over her. Surely he was wrong in many ways, but she was the key, refusing to follow and be the support to him in their life together. Their whole situation looked so complicated, but the solution was simple. If her heart had been toward her husband she would have trusted him in his inclination toward seeking the salvation they both desperately needed. But she held to her own intellect, reasoning, and opinions over his, following in the footsteps of the first woman, Eve, who allowed herself to be deceived as she came out from under the covering of Adam. This independent act resulted in the very fall of mankind and the beginning of the destruction of the environment, as it brought division into man, male and female, who were supposed to be caretakers of the earth.
Michael's and Sandra's life, on the outside, seemed to be an opportunity for utopia. But on the inside they were both violating something fundamental and simple: the instinctive knowledge put into husband and wife of how their relationship is to be ordered. Such is the state of many who are on the broad road headed for eternal destruction, the Sea of Fire. You wouldn't think their moral situation was that bad — who would think they were living in sin? They are so much like you and me. But that is the great subtlety of this kind of modern-day hypocrisy, when people think they have it together while in reality they are daily suppressing and denying the instinctive truths that God put into all human beings.