What Does Treating Women with Respect Look Like?

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Uncategorized | 36 comments

Weekly Round up Every Young Man's Battle

Can we stop objectifying women and treat us like whole people, made in the image of God?

We’ve been talking about putting the “Christ” back in Christian marriage this month, and part of that is by treating women as the Imago Dei (made in the image of God) instead of just as sex objects or appendages to men. 

As I looked back on my social media this week, that theme kept coming up.

I actually had a huge week this week–I hit 20,000 followers on Instagram (please follow me if you haven’t already!), plus I had my two biggest posts on Facebook since they did an algorithm switch about eight years ago. 

Let’s start with the biggest Facebook post, which was actually a hard one to write, but which I feel is tremendously important:

The “smokin’ hot wife” mentality among Christian pastors/leaders needs to stop.

I need to talk about something awkward, and I’m sorry, but this is important.

In my review of Married Sex by Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta this week, I mentioned that one of the things I found most disturbing was how Gary objectified his wife, thereby inviting other people to think of her in sexual terms. He mentioned her “superpowered, high-octane sexual excitement booster” nipples, and told us what she did at orgasm. (and I’m partially quoting because we need to understand this is bad so the trend will stop, not because I want to further the humiliation. Like I said, this is very awkward)

When backlash hit, his wife (I’ll omit first name) defended Gary on his Facebook Page.

However, the issue is not whether or not Gary’s wife is fine with being talked about this way. The issue is that an SBC megachurch pastor and best-selling marriage author has now made it normal for men to talk about their wives in sexual terms, which in turn invites the listener (or reader) to do so as well.

After explaining how women can do “something special” for their husband, like using your silk scarves and makeup brushes on his t*sticl*s, he writes, “Growing in your understanding of how his penis responds to your touch … will often create a husband who is so happy he married you it will be difficult for him not to brag to his friends about why.”

The thing is, most women do not want to be the subject of “locker room talk.” We do not want our husbands to brag about us in sexual terms to other people. We do not want other people picturing our nipples or what we look like at orgasm. We want to be private, dignified, respected.

Even if a wife is okay with this, this should never be normalized. This encourages men to think, “Well, Gary talked about his wife that way so it’s okay for me, too,” and women will believe, “well, his wife is okay with it so I must be a prude.”

Christian women–all women, actually–deserve more than this.

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The response was overwhelming. I honestly think there’s a sea change, and women are really, really tired of being objectified, especially in church and Christian circles. We just don’t want to put up with this anymore. 

The comments are fascinating too, so check out the original!

What if we stopped blaming teen girls if a man thought a girl was a “stumbling block”?

Then there was this that I posted yesterday:

What would happen if the next time a man announced to a church leader or parent that a teen girl was dressed in such a way as to be a stumbling block, or that someone on the worship team was distracting because of her cleavage, we took this as a signal that the man was not safe? And we warned the girls in the youth group to keep their distance. And at church potlucks, we assigned men to stay with him so that he wouldn’t go near the teens or harass single women (or married women). We warned parents not to let their daughters baby-sit at his house. And we women told other women that this particular person had red flags? What would happen if we treated it as a problem with the MAN, rather than a problem with the girl?

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The reaction to this one was mixed. Many women agreed with me, and others thought I was being far too hard on the men. I realized I should have specified that the adult man found the teenage girl “a stumbling block TO HIM” rather than just a stumbling block in general. 

The most common reaction was that we really needed to talk about how so many girls come to church dressed like they’re going to a nightclub, and why don’t we spend just as much time on that? Why not equal time?

I didn’t reply there, so I’d like to reply here so all can see it.

The reason we don’t give equal time to what a girl wears and whether a man lusts after her is because Jesus didn’t give equal time. 

Jesus very clearly talked about the person who is lusting, and talked about how they should gauge their eye out. Jesus did not excuse the man because of what the woman looked like. And so the whole “stumbling block” argument doesn’t hold water. 

But even beyond that, let’s talk about harm. 

What is the harm done if a woman is dressed in revealing clothing? A man may struggle with temptation and be distracted.

What is the harm done if a grown man blames a teenage girl for his lust? Well, we can quantify that. When girls believe that they are responsible for men’s lust, it leads to lower marital and sexual satisfaction later in life. It leads them to trust their husbands less–even men who have not done anything to prove themselves untrustworthy. It artificially lowers women’s libidos later. 

And even if that man never acts on that lust, he has now caused emotional harm to that girl–emotional harm that can follow her throughout her life. Even if it’s women who are telling girls that they are stumbling blocks for the men, those women are causing emotional harm.

But besides that, blaming girls for men’s lust also contributes to rape culture. It makes it easier for men and boys to get away with sexual assault, because girls feel ashamed, like they caused it. And so they don’t speak up, and the men and boys can act with impunity. 

The most common time in one’s life to be sexually assaulted is ages 16-20–those teen years we’re talking about. And many, many girls are assaulted in youth group/church situations. 

So why don’t we give equal attention? Because the harm isn’t equal. And we need to grapple with that and realize that a man blaming a girl for his lust shows that he is not emotionally safe for a teenage girl to be around, and is a red flag that he could be physically unsafe as well. 

I’ve been sharing about how bad Every Young Man’s Battle is all over social media as well.

And I’ve shared MaryEllen Bream’s AMAZING Facebook review of Every Young Man’s Battle multiple times this week–read it here! I’m working on my own, but it’s at about 5000 words right now. There are so, so many horrendous quotes it’s hard to even know where to start. I may put it away for a few weeks to get some perspective. 

But I did make a Fixed It For You last night!

Every Young Man's Battle Fixed It for You

Want to See Some Knitting?

And now for something completely different! 

I can wear all my knitting again! That was a huge victory this week!

Oh, and you can find the Love & Respect merchandise right here!

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I’ve been asked over and over again on social media what I think about Redeeming Love.

Francine Rivers wrote the novel based on Hosea quite a few years ago, and now it’s been made into a movie. I do have some concerns, but I also don’t have the time or emotional bandwidth to reread the book or watch the movie. So I think I’ll link to others next week who have written some insightful things about it. If you have any links you want me to include, drop them in the comments! But I’d rather lift up others than do work myself that others have already done well.

So I think that’s all for me! Rebecca had her birthday this week, so that was fun, and I’m going to spend tomorrow helping her with some new storage units I bought for her to organize her basement. Keith and I were supposed to be on our 30th anniversary cruise right now, but we cancelled because of the COVID numbers. So we’re going away for a few days with friends next week (the blog will still be up and running!), but I am sad to not be where it’s hot. 

Today I’ll be putting up a funny reel on Instagram where I spit my tea on the podcast yesterday when Emerson Eggerichs said that you can’t tell if a woman is turned on. So come on over and follow me and don’t miss it!

And have a great weekend!

What do you think about the guy who finds teenage girls a stumbling block? How should we talk about our spouses in public? And do you have concerns about Redeeming Love or Every Young Man’s Battle (or did you love them?) Let’s talk in the comments!

What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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36 Comments

  1. A2bbethany

    Yeah if I ever found out my husband was talking sexual about us, I’d be livid. You don’t sit around comparing wives, unless you have a mentality of replacing a faulty or boring one. Like if a video game turned out a disappointment.
    I’m a life time decision, and we’re supposed to have sacred secrets. And that’s not supposed to be a hard one to figure out.

    Reply
  2. CMT

    Re the “smokin’ hot wife” nonsense: I just recently listened to the “Where Do We Go From Here episode where they talk about The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. I think it’s August ‘21. Anyway they bring up that Mark Driscoll used that line a lot. He quoted it from a Will Ferrell character who prays and thanks “sweet baby Jesus” for his “smokin’ hot wife.” In other words, Driscoll took satire mocking religious people for objectifying women at face value and ran with it. He certainly wasn’t the first to say that sort of thing, since the idea had to be around to get satirized in the first place, but that specific verbiage does seem to have been lifted right from a Will Ferrell movie. If it weren’t so gross and hurtful it would be quite funny.

    Reply
  3. Anon

    Something that has just struck me, reading this post:

    If a teenage girl is walking down the street and a guy starts talking openly about how her figure is making him want to do something sexual to her, someone calls the police and he gets arrested and at the very least, cautioned.

    If a teenage girl is in church and a guy starts talking in the same way, she gets told she needs to change her behaviour so he won’t feel that way any more.

    It is seriously screwed up when the world has a better way of dealing with perverts than the church does.

    And that review of EYMB had me borderline throwing up – even the cover is objectifying women, and the cover sounds like the least-harmful part of the book.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is so true. In the secular world we deal with this so much better than in the church. And EYMB is so much worse than you could ever imagine. So much worse.

      Reply
  4. Laura

    You have brought up some excellent questions here. My life will be chaotic for the next 2.5 years thanks to starting graduate school at the age of 45 and holding down 2 part-time jobs, so I won’t be able to comment much on here. I will try to get on Facebook and Instagram so I can see the interesting back and forth going on.

    What do you think about the guy who finds teenage girls a stumbling block? I don’t think a grown man should even be looking at teenage girls in a sexual way. Teenage boys should not find teenage girls stumbling blocks. They need to see them as sisters-in-Christ. The only stumbling blocks should be the LEGOs on the floor that need to be picked up and put in the toy box.

    How should we talk about our spouses in public?
    Talk about your spouse RESPECTFULLY in public such as their good qualities like personality and character. Sexual stuff should NEVER be talked about. I know women talk about their husbands in a sexual way. Some of my friends have told me stuff about their husbands that I did not want to know about and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

    And do you have concerns about Redeeming Love or Every Young Man’s Battle (or did you love them?) I ready Redeeming Love nearly 20 years ago, so I cannot recall a lot of details. After having read some recent commentaries on it, I now remember the way Michael Hosea treated Angel and it seemed troubling to me. One of the commenters had a link to Phylicia Masonhamer’s post about Redeeming Love. Since it’s lengthy, I just skimmed through it, but what stuck out at me is that we need to read the book of Hosea ourselves and not rely on someone else’s interpretation of it. Also, Christian romance does tend to replace soft porn, in my opinion and as the blogger mentioned, there may be too much emphasis on physical beauty. In a lot of Christian romances, the main characters are almost always described as physically attractive and comparable to Hollywood beauty standards. The male is never bald like The Rock (who makes bald sexy) and the female is almost always attractively thin with hourglass curves. If the main characters are single parents, they are usually widowed. It’s like nobody is allowed to be divorced.
    As for Every Young Man’s Battle, youth group leaders and parents should read these kinds of books and examine them before deciding what to teach their children. Just because a book is marketed as “Christian” does not make is so. I have issues with books that use absolutist, gender-specific language like “Every Young Man.” NOT every young man has the same battle. The last time I checked, we are not living in ancient times so the gender-specific language needs to stop!

    Reply
  5. Cynthia

    Agree with the stumbling block comments.

    I was taught some of these lines in an Orthodox Jewish setting, but most of the approach is the same. Your “what is the harm done” question hits the nail on the head, and ultimately led me to reject some of those teachings on modesty and apologize to my daughters.

    What, exactly, would the man be tempted to do if he saw a girl in skimpy clothes? For YEARS, I didn’t realize that lots of people weren’t really being honest about this answer. Any normal guy can manage to restrain himself from sexually assaulting or harassing someone, or suddenly engaging in an illicit affair. If he can’t manage to do that just because a girl in a skimpy outfit is around, he isn’t safe to be out in public because those things can and do happen to people who dress modestly too. I’ve worked as a lifeguard, I live near Canada’s Wonderland and my husband is a doctor. In all of these settings, we regularly see people with not a lot of clothes. Treating other people normally and respectfully, no matter what they are wearing, is just a basic requirement for being able to function in society.

    Otherwise, what he is really worried about is having some feelings which he thinks are sinful. He doesn’t like to feel like a sinner. So, instead of thinking that maybe having a perfectly common reaction that doesn’t harm anyone might not really be a sin, he turns the anger outward toward the girl.

    Now, women are often told that dressing a certain way will make men respect them. The more accurate version would be that men are taught NOT to respect women who don’t dress a certain way, and that it is okay to mistreat them.

    So, if girls don’t dress the right way, or if anyone is the object of sexual attraction, it is open season on them. They can face RAGE, even to the point of violence and murder. They can face extreme harassment that is seen as something they deserved and provoked.

    Reply
    • CMT

      “ Otherwise, what he is really worried about is having some feelings which he thinks are sinful. He doesn’t like to feel like a sinner. So, instead of thinking that maybe having a perfectly common reaction that doesn’t harm anyone might not really be a sin, he turns the anger outward toward the girl.”

      Very insightful. So much of our emotional and spiritual development depends on learning to own our own feelings and responses rather than blaming others for them. I’m in the trenches parenting young kids, so I feel like I am trying to teach this lesson all day every day! Yet in certain areas we are ok with people remaining terribly immature.

      Reply
  6. Andrea

    Do these guys feel like they missed out on something in the secular world, so they start talking like frat boys as soon a they get married? And, for the record, the frat boy world is a tiny portion of the secular world, most secular guys don’t act and talk like that.

    For anyone who thinks women dressing modestly prevents harassment, look up the statistics in countries where women wear burkas! Dressing “appropriately,” as Sheila defines it is a good thing, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with stopping men from assaulting women.

    Reply
  7. Marian

    1. As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for your work, and using your platform to bring truth, health and freedom where there has been the opposite, advanced in God’s name! I believe you are helping to revive the faith of many by separating toxic, harmful things that have been so interwoven with Jesus that some struggle to find any path but to step away from the Jesus they love for a time. Praying for you as you continue.
    2. After reading through many comments on the post about Mr. Thomas’ intimate sexual descriptions of his wife, I do think it’s important to distinguish one thing for safety and clarity:
    No, it’s not ok to be discussing intimate details of what goes on in your sex life with others for bragging or entertainment.
    That’s not the same as saying that you should never discuss your sex life outside of the marriage, which is a takeaway I saw here and there. “What happens in the bedroom is between a husband and wife, and must stay in the bedroom.” That kind of thing. That kind of taboo imprisons women who are being abused, though, and can stifle vital discussion of all of the dynamics we’re discussing.
    If a woman feels unsafe, degraded, harmed, or abused in the bedroom, and addressing it with your husband is not safe or effective, that’s when it IS ok to reach out for help to healthy people trained in dealing with abuse! That is not a betrayal of a marriage; abuse and degradation is a betrayal of a marriage.
    I know that you know this! It just made me a bit nervous to see some of the takeaways here and there.

    Reply
  8. Jo R

    Another issue with the “modest dressing to prevent lust” message is that different men are turned on by different things. There is literally no way for a woman to dress to hide or disguise whatever little body part a particular man might be into.

    It used to be that showing ankles was scandalous. Every reduction in skirt length has been an issue, and at least one woman commented on another post here that wearing ankle-length denim skirts at the height of purity culture didn’t prevent crappy (even assault, IIRC) behavior by church teens and men. Didn’t you yourself find in visiting European cathedrals that bare shoulders were forbidden (so no tank tops) which meant you had to wear a shawl around your upper arms, but any amount of cleavage and bare legs were just fine?

    If ears become men’s fixation, what in the world are women to do, wear deerstalkers or knitted beanie hats 24/7/365?

    So there’s no way for a woman to not be a stumbling block to 100 percent of men 100 percent of the time, except possibly by staying in her home 100 percent of the time. Hmm, wouldn’t her husband enjoy scrambling around doing all the shopping, kid schlepping, and other outside-the-home activities that he’d then have to do??? 🤣🤣🤣

    Reply
    • A2bbethany

      On that note, as a single teen, I once overheard a conversation. Girls asking what was the body part they found most attractive on guys. The typical abs, chest, ECT. But I thought it was interesting because my answer? Hands. For some reason holding hands, or just noticing them has been my thing.
      Apply that to the noticing is lusting…… nobody ever covers hands up! They’re not considered sexual or attractive by hardly anyone. And then there’s the people who find feet particularly attractive. How aweful summer must be!

      Reply
      • Hannah

        Also, many people have attractive faces. Magazines ,advertising etc. have plenty of pictures of attractive people which focus on their face. I don’t think anyone wants a world where both sexes cover their faces 24/7. (Would be like an extended covid).

        Reply
      • Anon

        Same here.

        Men, can you PLEASE show some respect. I can’t even walk down the street without seeing some guy flaunting his bare hands at me. Just cover up – wear woolly mittens all year round and we’ll all be happy.

        What’s that you say? It will make day to day life too difficult and your hands will overheat in summer? But surely that’s SUCH a small price to pay for helping us women stay pure?

        Reply
  9. Nathan

    > > Otherwise, what he is really worried about is having some feelings
    > > which he thinks are sinful. He doesn’t like to feel like a sinner.
    > > So, instead of thinking that maybe having a perfectly
    > > common reaction that doesn’t harm anyone might not
    > > really be a sin, he turns the anger outward toward the girl.

    This may be a large part of it, and a lot of that comes from many people in Christian circles redefining lust in such a way that even the tiniest noticing of somebody counts as lust, and it’s NOT. Feelings and even temptation aren’t lustful or sinful, either.

    Let me fix that excerpt from Every Young Man’s Battle…

    When I see the shapely woman walking towards me, I’ll notice her, I’ll see a child of God and sister in Christ. I may find her attractive and may even have stirrings of sexual attraction and desire for her. Then I’ll keep walking and go about my business without assaulting her or making any suggestive comments. I won’t blame her for my feelings. I won’t report her “sinful” actions to the principal/pastor/etc. In fact I won’t blame ANYBODY, because such feelings are a normal human reaction and ARE NOT lusting. I just won’t make a big deal out of them and soon they’ll leave my head anyway.

    Reply
    • R

      Hi Nathan,
      Praying for Father God’s Direction on this.
      I’m no expert but IF you are married, your should not be available in your mind to have that “normal human”reaction. If a married women “notices” a ripped man she should not desire him even for a second either. I think it’s a thin line between noticing and moving past the person vs.”noticing”- feeling sexual good then forgetting. Feels like betrayal to me as a wife. Sure I notice a handsome ripped man walking down the street, but that doesn’t mean I quickly take in his muscle and then quickly feel good then say oh forget it…what I do is not “quickly notice”. I am not in hunting mode- so I look at something else and if he is really attractive I pray that God guards my heart and mind.
      Just saying….

      Reply
  10. Nathan

    Also, a bit off topic. I wanted to say this in an earlier thread, but I’ll post it here since today is today. Using my favorite fictional couple, Donny and Marcia from the Mental Load going to the beach page.

    “Donny and Marcia have been married for ten years. Marcia has four kids, and Donny sometimes helps out.”

    We’ve already noted how BOTH of them have kids, and caring for them (by either one) is PARENTING, not “HELPING”. But there’s another angle…

    Marcia spends 15 hours per day, getting the kids up, feeding them, dressing them, packing lunches, drive them to and from school and playdates, washing their clothes, etc. Nobody says anything, since it’s her job, after all. That’s why God put her here. Donny spends five minutes playing catch with the oldest boy, and everybody praises Donny to the hilt for his enormous sacrifice and going above and beyond.

    Reply
    • Cynthia

      YES!

      My husband would do a Daddy-Child day every year, with each kid. They loved it. He was seen as an absolute hero for doing this.

      I’m very happy he did this, but the many, many days spent during carpool, taking them to appointments, running in whenever I got the call that they were sick, going shopping with them, providing care during days off school, etc.? Nobody thought it was anything other than expected, and if I didn’t do everything, I was clearly falling down on the job.

      Reply
  11. Jane Eyre

    Help me out here. If a woman has been sexually active before marriage and other men know what she looks like when she orgasms, that might make her husband uncomfortable. At the very least, he’s not going to want to think about other men seeing his wife climax.

    So why would he go out of his way to put that image into the minds of other men?

    If you somehow MUST say something about how awesome your wife is in bed, what on earth is wrong with “she’s very sensual and generous” and just leave it at that?

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Bragging rights?

      Reply
  12. Brit

    If men really can’t control themselves around women with skimpy clothing, doesn’t that mean they should be excluded from many professions? Doctors, nurses, firefighters, EMTs, coaches, life guards, care takers, etc. see females with tight clothing and possibly naked.

    Reply
  13. Lisa M

    If an adult man finds teenagers a “stumbling block,” then he needs to refrain from going places where teenagers are. He is the threat, not the teenagers. Will that be a hardship? Yes. But I’ve read many many evangelical books that tell us that living through hard things, even living through decades of misery, makes us holy. So these men should be excited about living as exiles.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! And this is also why changing what teens wear to church won’t help. Even if all females go to church in potato sacks, women in the rest of the world won’t. So men have to learn to respect women and not lust regardless. If they truly can’t, then they shouldn’t leave the house.

      Reply
  14. Sarah

    Phylicia Masonheimer has a great podcast about Redeeming Love that she just released and she has a highlight of saved instragram stories that talks about it as well!

    Reply
  15. Anon

    Glad to hear you’ll be taking on “Redeeming Love” next week, Sheila. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear your takedown of “The Scarlet Thread,” also by Francine Rivers. That book is a lesson on how to shut up and stay with an abusive man, and I could kick myself for liking it when I first read it. Now, I want to throw the book across the room.

    Reply
  16. Sarah

    Redeeming Love … hooo boy. I could go on a rant but the best reviews of the book are a lot of the 1-star ones on Goodreads. I remember reading it at the age of 21/22 and thinking how it made me feel – it was almost like it laid a dark shroud over my soul. I had to read a lighthearted secular chick-lit novel immediately afterwards to cleanse my mind. The story of Angel’s childhood abuse is stomach-turning, and I know that’s the point, but it just felt like too much info for a Christian book, or any book tbh. Also, I don’t remember the specifics but Michael (Angel’s husband, representing Hosea) marries her while she’s half-conscious from a beating. She doesn’t even really remember saying ‘I do’. So consent is an issue. Also, he’s not the most stable person and does a lot of other questionable stuff. It’s been a long time since I read it, but Angel goes from abuse victim to prostitute to wife without the author really pausing on the question of ‘what would it look like for an abuse victim to find true healing? Would it look like being defined by her relationship to one man as opposed to many? Or would it look like realising she could exist freely without being defined by her relationship to men, and find God in that space?’

    Reply
    • Anon

      You think “Redeeming Love” gave you a bad feeling? Give thanks you didn’t read “The Scarlet Thread.” The female lead in the story left her husband (who was a cheating, controlling jerk) and it seemed like she was going to finally find true happiness with a man who valued her… but she ended up going back to the cheating, controlling jerk. And the whole time, SHE is the one who’s portrayed as a whiny, ungrateful brat who just needed to be more submissive to her husband. Gag me.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Sounds like And the Shofar Blew. I had a really, really hard time with that one.

        Reply
        • Anon

          You’d probably get really steamed if you read “Inklings” by Melanie Jeschke. Another one I thought was good when I first read it, but second time around saw the flaws. Again, another one about how to be a perfect, submissive woman – and the man constantly pontificates about purity, modesty, and what the perfect Christian woman should be. Honestly, Sheila, I’d love to see you tear this book apart. It’d give me a good laugh.

          PS: If you’re looking for an author who writes about truly great relationships, check out Carla Laureano. A great example of her work is “The Saturday Night Supper Club.”

          Reply
  17. Nessie

    1. I got to wondering… how do these boys raised to “look away” from anyone attractive ever grow up to marry? Are they relegated to date only those women they find unattractive? If they dated someone they were attracted to, how awkward would that date go?
    *starring at beam on ceiling while sitting across from his date… “Hey, so, do you like bowling? Yeah, me, too.” *now starring at floor tiles… “I really love hitting at the batting cages. Have you ever tried that?” *inspecting his fingernails…”What kind of movies do like? Do you have a favorite movie?”

    2. Your knitting skills- WOW! I am advanced-beginner crocheter (sp?), and I am SO impressed by the sweater you made (as well as the fair isle-ish pattern pants you made your granddaughter recently)!! I’m kind of drooling over your gorgeous yarnwork skills!

    Reply
  18. Estelle

    That is a seriously gorgeous jersey. So glad you can wear it again.

    Reply
  19. DR

    Hey! I have a question about boundaries with friendships with the opposite sex.

    Recently I’ve (husband) started having an ADHD accountability partner who happens to be a female around my age (also married). I have ADHD.

    We check in periodically about productivity and ADHD symptoms and also do some online co-working sessions together.

    My question is that my wife was wondering what are healthy boundaries around this kind of thing. Initially, we were checking in weekly (30m to 1h), but then we started to drop the ball, and we felt like it would be more powerful to do a daily check-in (15m) as well as to start doing co-working sessions, which are kind of random right now, sometimes a couple of times a week, sometimes not at all. It really varies. During the co-working session, we start by stating our goal for the session and then check in every 30m to see if we’re still on track.

    I found this person in an ADHD Facebook group. I posted to the whole unisex group asking if anyone would want to be an ADHD accountability partner, and she responded. She lives in Bulgaria. (I live in the USA) She also happens to be a Christian (same values).

    My wife is concerned that I might be spending too much time with this person. We really do focus just on our goals and ADHD symptoms but my wife is worried about the frequency, and she’s also worried because sometimes when I’m working no one else is around to hear our conversations.

    Usually, my accountability partner and I do zoom calls in my office, which has glass doors (you can see/hear through). The only bathroom in our home is in the line of sight of the office, and I usually work in my office when I do these calls. So my wife or anyone else could see into my office going in and out to the bathroom. I also can/do keep the door open if neither our baby boy or wife are sleeping, and if our baby boy isn’t ridiculously loud. Otherwise, I do close the door but you can still see in. However my wife isn’t concerned so much about the visual aspect, but more so about the emotional aspect, and she’s not always around to hear what’s being said. Moreover, sometimes she’s trying to nap right outside my office so she does not want to hear anything and wants the doors closed. In addition to that, sometimes she does not want to be seen on my camera and asks me to close the curtains to the glass doors.

    So we’re trying to balance my wife’s domestic comfort (ability to relax or nap, not hear my work, not be seen in the camera), my ability to be productive with this ADHD accountability partner, and my wife’s sense of trust and safety with my interactions with the AP. My wife is not sure what healthy boundaries are around this thing. She feels like the wisdom we both grew up with was to not spend too much time talking with the opposite gender too often like that. She also doesn’t like that no one else is listening in on our conversations, but I’m already fine with leaving the doors open, but she’s unwilling to do that because of the camera and because sometimes she doesn’t want to hear me (so she can nap or relax, etc.).

    What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Nessie

      I’m no expert, just sharing my thoughts as a wife of someone with ADHD.

      It’s hard growing up with those teachings and not over-correcting. And, as you have a baby, she likely isn’t getting the rest she needs which can make one more prone to worry while also not having the energy to check in on you. (You could record your sessions so she could later listen to assure herself, but I doubt she wants to police you or has the time/energy for that.)

      My husband can fixate on something- often the wrong thing- too much, so there may be legit concern you could do that emotionally with this AP relationship. Have you given her past reason to not have full trust in you in other ways (which is not uncommon with ADHD)? That may be playing in here, too.

      Could you add a third person, possibly male, to the accountability group? Or make once-monthly check-ins include spouses to cement to all of you that you are in committed relationships? (That could be good accountability-wise, too, as sometimes spouses see pieces those with ADHD don’t notice.) Can you transition some of your sessions to just an online chat/email type check-in that she can glance through? Also, could you reposition the camera so she can’t be seen AND the curtain can stay open?

      If she is concerned about this yet is being a reasonable person in other areas of life (as opposed to overly-concerned in many areas), then it may be better to decrease the time you spend together with AP. Many women are told to discount their gut feelings so maybe I’m projecting here, but I would hope to have my concerns respected, especially when they have been argued as wrong for years by a faulty church culture.

      Hope this helps you think through a solution! Saying a prayer right now.

      Reply

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