The Let Men Be Dads Podcast: Why Do Evangelical Resources Make Dads Sound Pathetic?

by | Jan 25, 2024 | Men's Corner, Parenting Young Kids, Podcasts | 54 comments

Let Men Be Dads podcast

Let men be dads!

It’s our third podcast in our let men be men series, and we’re finishing that up today with a bang!

We often get accused of hating men, which is funny, because we believe men are amazing! Men can be totally emotionally healthy. Men have the Holy Spirit just as much as women do. Men can be responsible, capable, awesome spouses. And yet evangelical resources paint men the opposite. 

We started asking, “let men be men“, looking at all the pathetic ways that evangelical resources made men sound fragile, insecure, and whiny. Then we turned last week to our annual look at Emerson Eggerichs’ book Love & Respect, focusing this year on why it is that he thinks friendship to men means a wife watching her husband read a book, paint a wall, or work on his car without saying a word and without doing anything herself.

He seems to have confused worship and friendship.

And today’s our final installment: How resources paint men as dads. We believe men can be amazing dads (and we’ve got two amazing dads on the podcast–my husband Keith and my son-in-law Connor). And we’re going to look at some passages from Gary Thomas’ book which seems to suggest the opposite.

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

2:00 Let men be men and dads!
6:55 Why does it seem like they compare men to babies?!
22:45 “I want all the attention from my ‘mommy wife’!”
30:15 If she’s a mom of X, then that makes you a dad of X too!
45:30 Let’s see how ‘just give her understanding’ works out…
54:45 Don’t be surprised if she acts like a mom first when you’ve checked out
1:05:15 A very sweet outro ft. Special Guest Vivian

Why do resources so often equate being a husband with being a child?

It’s amazing how often our resources paint the man as being in competition with the baby or toddler for the wife’s attention, and warn the wife that she has to care for the husband first.

Instead of telling the man to be a more involved dad, our resources tell the wife: “your attention to your husband can’t change after you have the baby, or he will feel threatened and insecure. Instead, you have to just make room for both of them.” So where’s that energy supposed to come from?

We look at several examples of this, focusing on three big passages from Gary Thomas: two from his book A Lifelong Love, and we dissect an entire article that is up on his blog. In the article, he consoles husbands whose wives are busy with the children not to worry, because one day the kids will grow up and the wife will be able to give him her attention again. Nowhere in the article does he tell men to jump in with the kids and actually be a dad. 

It’s quite stark when you read it, and I hope you enjoy this discussion! I thought Rebecca and Connor were awesome.

One excerpt that we looked at:

Meanwhile, the husband eventually realizes he’s lost his wife. She speaks tenderly to the baby in a way she hasn’t spoken to him in months, if not years. If the baby cries, the husband ceases to exist. They could be in the middle of making love, but that doesn’t matter–the baby comes first. The power has shifted back to the wife. And the wife can do a lot of harm to her marriage if, ruled by these strong maternal feelings, she succumbs to the trap of becoming a mom first and a wife second.

Gary Thomas

A Lifelong Love

I did a Fixed It for you of this passage a while ago!

Gary Thomas on Parenting
Orgasm Course

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Let Men Be Dads podcast

What do you think? Why are men always portrayed as being jealous of their kids? What do we do about it? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the first Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my husband, Keith.  

Keith: Hey, everybody.

Sheila: Who is a wonderful husband.

Keith: Aw, you’re sweet.

Sheila: And a wonderful dad.    

Keith:   I try.

Sheila: And so you’re here for our podcast number three in our series of let men be men because, often, I find evangelical resources—when you actually look at how they describe men, it’s not very complementary.   

Keith: Yeah.  If you think about what they’re actually saying.

Sheila: Exactly.  It’s quite infantilizing.  So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.  Before we get started on that, I just want to say thank you to everyone who tunes in every week for our 2024 podcasts.  We had a great 2023.  We had She Deserves Better launch and lots of fun things happened.  Coming up in 2024, we’re going to relaunch our Whole Story puberty course hopefully in the spring or summer.  Got a lot of other great things planned for you.  And if you enjoy us, our podcast, if you enjoy the blog, just a reminder that you can help us out by joining our patron group.  That money helps support what we do, and you can join for as little as $5 a month and get access to our amazing Facebook group.  We also are able to give tax deductible receipts within the U.S. now.  So we have a—we’re part of an initiative of a new nonprofit.  So we’re Good Fruit Faith of the Bosco Foundation.  And we can put links to both of those things in the podcast notes so that you can join us.  And, of course, when you buy our merch and our courses, that helps us too, and we have some great new merch designs on Jezebel, if you’ve ever been called that like I have.  Science rocks, all our biblical womanhood, so that is—and biblical manhood—so that is all there in the store.  And, again, we will put links to those so that you can just help support us and help us keep going.  

Keith: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: But now let’s turn back to what we want to talk about today.  So over the last three weeks, we’ve been doing this let men be men.  Last week you and I were talking about Emerson Eggerichs and how his view of friendship, male friendship, with women is that women don’t talk.  Women must not talk.  They must be silent.  They must not speak to a man.  And that spells respect to a man is when she just does nothing and just watches him.

Keith: Yes.  Do nothing.  Watch him paint the wall so you can energize him because men need that.  They need a person to watch them paint a wall. 

Sheila: Yes.  So his idea of friendship is for not actually a relationship.  So that’s a problem.  And then the first podcast of the year we looked at let men be men and just how evangelical resources tend to portray men as extremely insecure.  And then they criticize us for being man haters when really what we’re saying is, hey, we believe men are awesome.  We believe men can be great.

Keith: We believe men don’t need their mommy wife to say what a good job they’re doing painting the wall.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s a little harsh.  

Sheila: But speaking of mommy wife, that is actually where we want to go today.  So we want to look today at a lot of the ways that evangelical resources actually infantilize men and turn them into boys that men—that women need to look after and how men are often portrayed as just not really being dads.  They’re abdicating their role, and they need women to care for them.   So I had so many different quotes of men being boys, and I just thought—okay.  I don’t want to read all of them.  I want to spend more time on this podcast on some longer pieces.  But just trust me.  We had so much to choose from.

Keith: Oh, it was all kinds.

Sheila: But I don’t want to start with a funny one.  Okay?  So this is just a tweet that went totally viral last summer.  It was seen a million times.  It’s not been deleted, but I was part of the ruckus when it started.  But a woman, who will not be named—okay?  One of those social media people who speaks a lot about biblical womanhood.  There’s no point in naming her.  It doesn’t matter.  Was tweeting about how women are often very selfish.  Wives are very selfish, and they don’t give men the sex that men want.  And women need to put out more essentially.  And this man replied like this.  Are you ready?  I don’t think you’re ready.

Keith: Okay.  

Sheila: But here’s what he wrote.  “A woman may not be in the mood to change a poopy diaper, but she does it anyway.  Why can’t she apply the same resolve when it comes to her own husband?”

Keith: Oh my goodness.

Sheila: And then the original tweeter—

Keith: I wasn’t ready.

Sheila: Yeah.  The original tweeter replied, “Exactly.  It’s far easier to allow our emotions to control us, our flesh, rather than the Holy Spirit.”  So she’s agreeing with the commenter.

Keith:   Which is hilarious because this is all unironic.  Right?  So she’s saying, “Yes.  It’s so easy for our flesh to control us rather than the Holy Spirit.”  But she’s not talking about the husband, who is saying, “Hey, have sex with me even if you don’t want to.”

Sheila: Because it’s as hot as changing a poopy diaper.  

Keith: I know.  Well, yeah.  That’s another thing.  But it’s like the double standard, right?  Him demanding sex from his wife when she doesn’t want it is not fleshly.  But her not being in the mood occasionally is fleshly.  Come on.

Sheila: I know.  But I mean this guy was retweeted so many times.  And this guy actually admitted that sex with him was like changing a poopy diaper.  

Keith: Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  He’s unironic too.  Yeah.  And it’s like we were talking about last week.  What it’s doing is it’s saying is the husband is a task for the wife, right?  So instead of them being partners, actually living life together, making this family, doing stuff together, it’s he’s a task.  So she’s got to keep all the relationship together.  She’s got to take care of everything including him as opposed to the two of them working together to take care of their family.

Sheila: Exactly.      

Keith:   And they would never say that.  They would never admit that.  And they would be the first to say, “That’s not what we think.”  But that’s the way you talk all the time.

Sheila: That’s what you said.  Yeah.  And what I find so interesting about this too—okay.  So he’s saying look.  Women will change poopy diapers.  So why won’t they just have sex?  So he’s equating changing a poopy diaper with having sex which is funny.  I mean that’s objectively funny, and he got totally roasted for that.  And that’s why he had to shut down his Twitter account.  Okay?  

Keith: Yeah.  Yeah.  Exactly.  

Sheila: But there’s a subtext there which is what I really want to talk about on this podcast which is just as a woman has to change a baby’s poopy diaper so a woman has to care for her husband.  So the husband is being compared to the baby.  And this is what so often happens in the way that we talk about family relationships is that the husband is portrayed in the same way that the baby is.  And I want to read—go into one of the longer passages.  So this is from Gary Thomas’ book, A Lifelong Love.  And Rebecca and I looked at this book two weeks ago where it was in a very similar section to what I’m going to read where Gary was talking about men are just immature.  And so if a woman is busy with her mother with Alzheimer’s, he’s going to feel disrespected and pull away from the marriage which is—

Keith: And calling men to more than that is—get’s labeled anti men.  Right?  Which is crazy.

Sheila: Right.  Right.  Yes.  He admitted that men were immature but kind of insinuated that’s the way it was.    

Keith: Again, because the underlying assumption whatever the man is we all default to that as opposed to us being equals and partners.

Sheila: Right.  Right.  So this is from a section where he is talking about power shifts in marriage and how basically one person can actually get the power or the upper hand in marriage, not even meaning to but when they care about something less or when they prioritize something less.  And it’s kind of like when you’re dating, the person who cares about the relationship less always has the power because they determine how often you text.  They determine how often you go out.  They determine if you talk, right?

Keith: Right.

Sheila: And so that’s basically what he’s saying.  It’s like if you’re the one who is more invested, you’re going to feel desperate because the other person has the power because they’re determining how close you are.  Okay?  So he’s talking about how power can shift back and forth with different things happening in your life.  And one of those power shifts happens when a baby comes.  All right?

Keith: All the power shifts to the baby.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And this is what he says.  “Meanwhile, the husband eventually realizes that he has lost his wife.  She speaks tenderly to the baby in a way that she hasn’t spoken to him in months if not years.  The baby cries, and the husband ceases to exist.  They could be in the middle of making love but that doesn’t matter.  The baby comes first.  The power has shifted back to the wife.”  And he goes on to say, “The wife can do a lot of harm to her marriage if ruled by these strong maternal feelings.  She succumbs to the trap of becoming a mom first and a wife second.”  

Keith: Yeah.  So this is how we turn it into the let men be dads because—

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  But there’s a commonality here with all of the quotes that we’ve read so far.  So what he’s saying, essentially, is the baby cries and now the husband doesn’t get what he wants.  So what are they both doing?  They both are vying—

Keith: Yeah.  For maternal attention.  

Sheila: They both are vying for her attention.  And so basically, they are both on the same level.  So what he’s saying is that a husband is a child.  Okay?  

Keith: He would never say that out right.  But it does put them in that position.  

Sheila: But that’s the dynamic.  She needs to care for him in the way that she cares for the child.  In fact, she needs to care for him first.   

Keith: Yeah.  Well, and that’s the thing I was thinking.  It doesn’t matter if they’re having sex.  The baby cries.  She’s no longer interested in having sex.  It’s like, dude, your baby is crying.  

Sheila: Why are you still interested in having sex?  

Keith: And why are we putting this forward as a good thing?  Yep.  It happened.  The baby woke up.  Okay.  Life happens, right?  It’s like your kids—there’s a knock on the door because the kid wants to come and sleep with you.  Okay.  Well, guess not tonight.  That’s part of being a dad.

Sheila: How can this—but think about this going in a book.  I did a fixed it for you.  

Keith: Was the mentality going to be that the perfect wife would just ignore the baby crying and finish the job?  Is that what the implication is?  Because I don’t think that—I don’t think anyone would ever say that’s what is intended, but that’s kind of what’s implied if you think it through.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And this is just bizarre.  It is absolutely bizarre.  So we have an infant.  An infant is completely and utterly dependent on its parents.  The infant cannot do anything by itself, right?  And Gary is jealous of the infant.  

Keith:     I don’t think it’s just him.  I see this a lot.  I see a lot of things about women make sure once you’re—you have a baby that you don’t neglect your husband.  That happens—he’s not the only one to say that.

Sheila: No.  I used to say it.  I used to say it.  Yeah.

Keith: Yeah.  It happens all the time.  Again, it’s like what we talked about last week.  It’s making the husband a task for the wife rather than the two of them being equal partners in a journey together where they’re sharing the load of building a family together.  It’s like she’s supposed to be—taking care of everybody including the husband.  And when she can’t balance her priorities right, the husband loses out as opposed to the husband being a contributor to the family rather than a recipient.  He should be contributing.  If mom is tired and can’t take care of the baby, it shouldn’t be oh poor me, husband.  It should be I need to take care of the baby more.

Sheila: Yeah.  That thing if the baby cries the husband ceases to exist.  So the baby crying—what’s the subtext there?  The baby crying is affecting her.  It’s not affecting him.  

Keith: Yeah.  There’s an assumption there.  Yeah.

Sheila: There’s an assumption there.  So when they’re making love and the baby cries, the mom is going to get the baby instead of tending to the husband.  Why isn’t the husband going to get the baby?  Your baby is crying.  

Keith: Yeah.  Exactly.  And it’s because of cultural norms that we have established in our society, right?  The job of taking care of the babies is the mom, right?  Now there’s some of it is practical because I mean if the baby is being breastfed then he can’t do that, right?  But there’s this underlying assumption that it is the woman’s job to look after the kids and not the man’s.  And I bought into that.  I grew up in a very traditional home too, and I used to have those kind of mindsets as well too.  I think the difference is is that I’m willing to sort of look at what my preconceived notions and maybe examine them.  And when someone says, “Hey, are you assuming that looking after the kids is Sheila’s job and not yours,” then I’m actually willing to go, “Actually, yeah.  Let me think about that.  Am I really doing that.”  And I think that’s what healthy is.  The men who don’t get upset with the stuff you say are the men who are that stage where they’ve gone like yeah.  Actually, maybe I am making some assumptions here that I really shouldn’t.  Or they say, “Yeah.  Actually, I’ve thought this through, and that doesn’t apply to me.  So I’m not mad at Sheila because I’m not the kind of guy she’s upset with because I don’t do that.”  You know what I mean?

Sheila: Yeah.  Here’s what’s funny.  Okay?  They’ve done studies of this.  And when men are really involved with their newborns—so when men watch their wives breastfeed, when they change the diaper right before she breastfeeds, their oxytocin levels go up.  So they bond with the baby too.  And the more a man is involved with his newborn the more hormones change in the guy, and his libido actually goes down.  Women’s hormones, when they’re breastfeeding, affect their libido, so their libido falls.  And you know what?  God made us that way so that we wouldn’t have kids right away.  And we wouldn’t—  

Keith: There’s a new priority in town, guys.  For both of you.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So we want to space the kids out biologically.  And so your libido is going to be lower when you’re breastfeeding.  We don’t ovulate right away if we’re breastfeeding every couple of hours.  It takes awhile before you ovulate.  It can take several months before you ovulate.  Never assume that, by the way.  Please don’t assume that you can’t get pregnant.  Speaking by experience.  But yes.  But we do.  We’re meant to space out our kids that way.  And one of the ways is that women’s libido falls.  Well, so does men’s.  When men are super involved with the kids, their hormone levels change too, and their libido also falls which is all of these books—and Gary was one of them.  All of these guys who were telling women to give favors postpartum because the men—you can’t forget about the poor man.  He’s still your husband.  He’s still the main priority.  It’s like those guys are not involved enough with the baby.  And that’s Connor, our son-in-law, is going to come in the podcast in a minute.  His rule of thumb always was if I want sex I’m not doing enough with the baby because you should be exhausted in those first few weeks and months.  

Keith:   That’s a lot of good insight for a young man.

Sheila: Now to be fair, in their case, Becca had two very difficult deliveries, so he was doing most of the childcare in those first few weeks.

Keith: Yeah.  No.  But again it’s the whole idea that he is something that she is supposed to take care of in addition to the baby is such an unhealthy thing.  And it is so much healthier to say to men you and your wife are partners.  And you should be doing this together.  That is an encouraging—that is uplifting.  That is a very male positive idea.  What it is not favorable toward is the idea that he gets to be some special person that gets something that she doesn’t by virtue of him being the man.  Right?  And so the privilege that society tends to give to men over women is something that people are just not willing to give up.  And they don’t mind saying things like have sex with me like changing a poopy diaper as long as they keep getting what they want.  And it’s really sad.  And I think that there’s a lot of—the millennial men, I think, are much better at seeing this and challenging those original assumptions.

Sheila: Yeah, like shout out to my nephew—to our nephew. Really he’s your nephew, but I’ll claim him – like they have a one-year-old.  And he’s amazing. He’s always done the nighttime routines I think. A couple of weeks ago when we had the baby shower for Katie and David, Matthew showed up with his baby because the mom – baby’s mom had to go away for the weekend, and so Matthew was alone with the baby, and he did great because he’s the parent.  He’s the parent just as much as she is, and I see so many millennial dads doing that. It’s awesome. 

Keith: Yeah, and I mean I guess I’ve seen a few guys more Gen X and Boomer guys decrying that, right?

Sheila: Yeah.

Keith: Like that’s not manly. You’re doing woman’s work, and it’s like oh my gosh, like get a life, dude.

Sheila: Yeah, but meanwhile who’s the one who’s going to have a great relationship with the son in ten years, or fifteen years, or twenty years?

Keith: Exactly. And again – anyway, it’s just—

Sheila: Yeah, but I—

Keith: Grow up. That’s not a very good view of masculinity if you think that taking care of your own children makes you less of a man. What is wrong with you?

Sheila: But that is what we’re trying to say is like grow up because what these guys are doing is they are equating themselves, they are putting themselves on the same level as children. I am jealous of my kids. Like if you are jealous of your kids, you have an issue, like you really do have an issue especially if you’re jealous of your newborn baby because let’s talk about that sex situation again for a minute, okay?  So they’re having sex, and the baby is crying. Now God actually created women with something called the letdown reflex, and women who are breastfeeding know what happens when you’re in the grocery store – okay, so you finally manage to get out of the house, all right?

Keith: Right.

Sheila: Like the baby is six weeks old, and you’re at the grocery store by yourself. So you’ve got out of the house for 45 minutes, and grocery shopping seems like the biggest treat you could have right now because it’s the first time that you’ve been by yourself since this baby was born. You are walking down the aisles, and there is another woman there with a baby. And that baby starts to cry, and what happens? You start to leak because God made women so that when you are breastfeeding, when you hear a baby cry, it starts the letdown reflex because a lot of guys don’t realize this but babies don’t actually suck the milk out of the breast. The milk goes out. It shoots out, all right? And so the baby kind of sucks it up as it shoots out, but when you get that letdown reflex, you can have milk going all kinds of different directions. And it can spurt. You can hit your baby in the eye. It’s quite the thing to have happen, all right? But like if the baby is crying, she’s going to have a letdown reflex, and he still wants to keep having sex?  Like what is wrong with you? God made women’s bodies to stop having sex at that minute because you’re supposed to go tend to the baby, and what is Gary’s concern? You’re being more like a mom than a wife, and you need to be very careful because of the harm – he used the word harm – that you are doing to your marriage. And he’s talking about a newborn baby.  Like that is such a load to put on women. So as soon as you have a baby, which is a huge change to happen in your life, your body has just gone through one of the biggest things it is ever going to go through. Another human being is depending on your body. You’re still healing, and what is the main message you’re hearing? Your husband is to get just as much of your energy as he did before or else your husband is going to feel disrespected, like that’s what Gary said. They’re going to go somewhere where they have a semblance of respect. So if mom is spending too much time with the baby, then he’s going to feel like he’s not getting a semblance of respect, all right?  So they’re going to feel disrespected. They’re going to feel pushed aside, and that is such pressure to put on a wife.

Keith: And it’s all based on the assumption that when a baby is born everything is going to change for the woman, and nothing should change for the man.

Sheila: Yeah. Yeah.

Keith: That’s the assumption. Once you interrogate that assumption and go is that true? Should that be the case?  Then the whole thing falls apart, right? Because then we go well no, obviously that’s not the case. It should not be that way. And if you want to be – if you claim the title Christian, right, then one of the fundamental things is you have to look out for others more than yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do to you, all right? So it’s like if you’ve got a wife who’s struggling with a new baby, having the mentality of well you’d better make sure you take care of your husband too because otherwise he’s going to go off and have an affair or he’s going to – it’s like where is the message to the guys that like that’s not right? Like it’s like – it’s just like well, it’s unfortunate. Men are just like that.  It’s like we know it’s immature, but men are just like that. Maybe this is selfish, but men are just like that. All this is based on the assumption that men get to dictate what’s right and what’s wrong.  But that’s not what’s supposed to dictate what’s right and what’s wrong for a believer. Our guide to what’s right and what’s wrong is supposed to be like the Bible.  And manifesting the fruits of the Spirit, and being Christlike. So in this situation of a baby crying – a newborn baby crying in the middle of the night, what is the Christlike thing for the wife to do? Is it really to take care of the husband?  What is the Christlike thing for the husband to do? I think that’s pretty evident.  But that’s not put forward.  Why?  Because we have these ideas of what men and women are supposed to look like, and we don’t see how often they contradict the basic tenets of our faith because we’ve just bought into this lie, and we haven’t questioned those assumptions.

Sheila: And that’s the thing. None of these books are actively teaching men hey you shouldn’t have to get up with your baby in the middle of the night.

Keith: No, no.

Sheila: Like Gary never says that.

Keith: Of course, they would never say that.

Sheila: No, but this is the underlying assumption in so much of what the books say or what articles say. And so I’m going to bring on Becca and Connor now, and I’m going to let them discuss – I’m going to read one of Gary’s articles, and I’m going to let them discuss it.

Rebecca: All right, hello, hello. I am Rebecca Lindenbach, and I am now here with my husband, Connor Lindenbach.

Connor: Hello, that’s me.

Rebecca: Yes, and we are going to talk about an article that was put out by Gary Thomas titled, Young Husband – It Might Not be Her. It Might be Her Situation.  

Connor: Oh.

Rebecca: Yes, and so we’re going to read through this. And it starts out by summarizing a story about a modern-day example of the author and his wife where he went for a run. It was record-breaking heat wave. He hadn’t realized it, and so his wife catches up to them, brings him some electrolytes, and he says, “I fell in love with my wife all over again. She is the best, but she’s also an empty nester. When she was a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t think number one she would have had time to watch the news in the morning. Number two I don’t think it’s likely she would have noticed I had left as she would be trying to keep child number one from ripping up her assignment, child number two from throwing a ball through the window, and child number three from having a diaper accident. Not to mention keeping our dog, Amber, from eating somebody’s shoe. I suspect fifteen years ago had we lived in Houston, and I had gone out for a run, I’d limp home. My wife would see me dripping sweat on the floor, and she might say, ‘You went for a run in this? Are you crazy?’ As an empty nester, I now get all her care. There’s a lot of it, but it’s just different when it’s not divided among four people. There’s just me now. We don’t even have a dog anymore. Young husbands, please give your wives a break. Try to understand. She wants to be a world-class wife. Most women do, but when she’s got a job, kids, a pet, and a house, never forget that there’s only one of her, and about ten of them if you add them all up together. Yes, she should be a wife first, but you’ve got to do your part with –

Connor: Parenting?

Rebecca: Nope.

Connor: No?

Rebecca: No, nope, not that. With understanding. “I wish I had been more empathetic as a younger husband. Back then, I could occasionally be resentful. Lisa would freely admit there were seasons where she was definitely a mom first. I thought the problem was her, but now I’d tell my younger self that the problem was really –

Connor: Him?

Rebecca: No, no. “—her situation.”

Connor: Okay. I’m oh for two, but I’m going to turn this around.

Rebecca: Yeah. “Give it time, Gary, I’d say. Let her work this out. By the way, some amazing years are coming. If your wife really cares for your kids, she’s a caring person. When the kids are gone, all that care will be poured out on you. If you leave her now, she’s likely to end up with someone else, and then her care will be poured out onto that person. You’ll have endured the years in which she was stretched the most only to miss the years where she could focus on you and love you the most. It’s not a coincidence that I wrote Sacred Marriage about embracing the difficulties and challenges of marriage when I was in my late thirties, and now in my fifties, I’m writing about building a marriage based on cherishing each other. Same wife, but a different life. So, young husband, be gentle with your wife while she figures all this out. Don’t let a very exhausting decade or two define your marriage or her.”

Connor: Okay, hold up, so just one quick thing. So is the expectation then that the decade or two should just kind of be seen as a hiatus from the marriage until you get back on track?

Rebecca: Yeah, pretty – I think so. I think that’s the vibe I’m getting.

Connor: How long have you been married up to this point? Has it been one or two decades already?

Rebecca: Yes, exactly.

Connor: Or are you like five years in, take a twenty-year pause, and then say but that’s not what our marriage has been about?

Rebecca: Yeah, this makes no sense.

Connor: Yeah.

Rebecca: Literally this makes no sense.

Connor: I’m still swimming a bit, still trying to figure it out.

Rebecca: Yeah, so what I found so horrifying about this is first of all, the idea that – I mean there are a lot of things that are horrifying about this, but the biggest one is we’ve been talking all month about our series that we’re doing this month which is the we’re taking it back, y’all. Let men be men.  Right? We’re taking that phrase back. We believe that men can be men. Men aren’t little boys. Men aren’t little children. They’re men. They can be reliable. They’re responsible. They’re a partner. They’re someone who is like competent and capable and not a pathetic little pedantic man child. Like we actually want men to be men.  That’s what egalitarians want. We want men to be men. And it is obviously just all tongue in check, play on words because there’s also not one like right way to be like masculine. That’s a totally different conversation, but when you read this, his focus is entirely on whether or not he’s – he’s mommy’s favorite frankly.  It’s weird.

Connor: Well, he just sounds like he’s being positioned as another one of the children.  And so when you’ve got a bunch of kids, the attention gets divided up between all the children, and then when all the other children leave, you get to be an only child to your mommy wife again.

Rebecca: It’s – to the mommy wife. Okay, but the accuracy hurts. Yeah, and when we were – I mean having kids is hard. Everyone knows having kids is hard, and I do want to say it is totally normal I think to feel like emotionally – I think it’s actually pretty normal even to start to feel a little bit lonely sometimes when you have those young kids, and you’re adjusting to like this new life that isn’t totally all self-focused.

Connor: Yeah, well, you have less time. You have less energy. Yeah, it is a big adjustment.

Rebecca: Yeah. And I don’t think it’s wrong necessarily to feel like having kids – feeling the loss of like the grownup time, right, and the loss of freedom. Absolutely. What is a problem is when you literally are treating it like your wife has kids, calling having young kids her situation is such a mind-boggling thing to me. How on earth—

Connor: Wild.

Rebecca: —can you say that? Like that’s ridiculous. But what’s so horrifying about this and what’s so patronizing about this to men is they are not expected to be an actual, equal partner, but also if she’s exhausted why on earth aren’t the recommendations that he just takes care of one of his own children?

Connor: I mean the whole thing right now is sounding very much me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Rebecca: Yeah, and then to have that pouting. It should be about me, but it can’t, and I’m such a good Christian husband for letting it not be all about me. Good job, me. She’s taking care of the kids, and so because of that I can’t get everything to be about me right now, and this is my cross that I bear. This is a cross that I bear as a father.

Connor: And as long as I bear this cross for a couple of decades, then it can finally go back to being all about me again.

Rebecca: Just like Jesus wants. Just like Jesus—that’s exactly it. What it says is men have it be all about you, and then when it’s not convenient for it to be all about you, that’s okay. You just be sad by yourself.

Connor: Just wait on the sidelines.

Rebecca: Just wait on the sidelines.

Connor: Your time will come.

Rebecca: Don’t pitch – no need to pitch in. No need to pitch in. You’re all good. That’s what she is for. She’s the carer. She’s the mother figure. She’s that. You can just kind of be a dude in your office, and then every now and then, poke your head out, and say, “I know this is hard for you, but don’t worry. You’ll be able to take care of me again in ten years.”

Connor: Yeah, because here’s the thing. If your wife can be described as a home school mother of three, you are also by definition a home school father of three.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Connor: One thing that I really noticed when we had kids was that it’s not just about oh my wife doesn’t have as much time or energy for me anymore. It was about I don’t have as much time or energy for me anymore. It was a real decentering experience, and I had this conversation with you. I was like wow. Now that we have kids I’ve just become such a smaller priority. Like I’m so much lower down on my own list of priorities than I used to be because I have this kid, now two kids, whom I love so dearly. And how can that not just take up so much of my time and energy and my emotion just trying to feed into these two kids. So it wasn’t that you weren’t able to give me as much time and energy anymore. I had less time and energy for myself, and that was okay. That felt like how it was supposed to be, and I found that what I was capable of – the amount of energy that I had expanded to accommodate all these new responsibilities. I thought before I don’t really have a lot of room for more stuff on my plate. You felt the same way, and then you have kids. And if you’re engaged, if you’re doing the work, you realize no I did have a lot more room on my plate. My plate has gotten a lot bigger, and I can fit all this on. And so instead of giving all this attention and energy to myself, I’m going to give it to my kids. I’m going to give some to you to support you, and you in turn, are then going to have – you’re not giving yourself as much time and attention anymore. You’re going to give some of that over to me while you’re also feeding into the kids, and so instead of it being well we don’t have time for each other anymore, just the kids, it’s we don’t have time for ourselves. We’re going to prop each other up—

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Connor: —as we take care of the kids, and I think that’s how a marriage gets strong.

Rebecca: Well, that’s literally the idea of the oxen tethered together.  Plowing the field, right? Like exactly I don’t have time to do stuff for myself right now, and so I’m going to do all these responsibilities. You’re going to do all your responsibilities, and as such, we’re going to then have the ability for us to have at least a break because one of the big things we decided to do when we had kids was – and anyone who has listened to our fair play podcasts on this last season I think it was –this will sound familiar, but when we had kids, one of the big things we did was we put aside scheduled time off for each of us. And if you were not scheduled for time off, you were on.

Connor: Yeah, and the communication here was really important because we both had to be on the same page as to what time was off, but then the other really important component of that that I think is really easy to miss is say I didn’t fully know how to parent the kids or Rebecca couldn’t have confidence that I fully knew how to parent the kids, how to take care of diapers, making sure they were dressed for the weather, making sure that if it was a sweltering hot day they had their electrolyte water—

Rebecca: Yes, exactly, because these are things you have to know.

Connor: Making sure not just that they’re not just getting their meals, but that we have groceries in the house for the meals that I’m going to make, making sure I know their appointments and activities. If Rebecca couldn’t have confidence that I was on top of all of those things without her intervention, then she would never get any time off.  Because even her time off she’d be thinking, “What do I have to remind Connor of? What are the things that the kids need to have happen today that because Connor can’t be trusted to take care of them are therefore still on my plate and I need to delegate?” She would never get any actual time off.

Rebecca: I don’t preplan my kids’ snacks when you’re the one taking them to forest school.

Connor: Yeah, because why would she if I’m equally capable of planning out a snack or realizing well I’ve got the kids tomorrow, and I think we should go out and do this forest activity that we like to do on Mondays or Wednesdays, and I’m not seeing a lot of good snacky food in the house so I should make a mental note that I need to set aside time. Make sure that we get out to the grocery store and pick up those snacks.

Rebecca: Yeah, or like you have to actually do the registration.  You have to make sure that their mud suits are clean.  All this kind of stuff. It’s not that – but the thing is what you were saying about how your capacity increases, that is only true if you actually work those muscles, right?  Parenting and taking care of a home and just being a partner and knowing how to be a dad, that’s only something that you gain capacity in if you’re actually exercising the capacity you have.  Like how many people are not able to take care of their own kids because they just sat in the sidelines being kind of mopey and sad for themselves and seeing this as the wife’s kids. Again remember that in Married Sex, Gary Thomas’s most recent sex book – it came out in I think 2021 or something like that – he has this anecdote – this bizarre anecdote, like a bizarre anecdote where he talks about this couple where Erica had four children. They were also the dude’s children.  They were also his children, but they were labeled as Erica’s children. Similar here, like, he says this is her situation. In what universe, are the children that both of you made and both of you chose to have her situation? If you expect to actually be a good, Christian husband who swears to love his wife like he loves his own body and you have time for yourself, and you have time to rest, and you have time to pursue educational opportunities and enrichment opportunities and exercise opportunities and you have time to just stop and enjoy silence and your wife doesn’t, you are failing to love your wife like you love your own body. Your body is getting treated better than hers is. Not only that, I am a firm believer that when a woman has kids, her body should actually get more than his body does. Like when we first have kids, like pretty much the first year that we have children, you get up with the kids like every morning.

Connor: Yeah, and for the first few months, just for – at least for the first month or two for the sake of your recovery, I was just about a single dad besides the things that obviously only you could do.

Rebecca: Especially with a C-section last time.

Connor: Yeah.  But then on top of that, I was also taking care of you because I wanted you to stay in bed and get rested up so that you could heal and recover, but yeah, that meant I was doing all of the bath times, all of the diaper changes. Most of the time if the kid woke up in the middle of the night that would be me getting up to deal with them. I was taking Alex on his walks so that he could nap in my carrier, and then I would come home and I would do laundry while he slept on my chest.

Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. And we’re not saying this like a hard and fast rule or something but for us especially since my labors and pregnancies were really, really hard on my body for us what that meant is you did more than your “fair share” because my body had done more than its fair share for nine months.

Connor: Yeah, and I feel like your body is designed to make great kids poorly.

Rebecca: That’s exactly it.  That I make great kids, and I do it badly.  Exactly. That’s a great way of putting it, but in all seriousness, can you imagine the dynamic that would have to exist for me to have our children – I’m taking care of our kids entirely by myself, making dinner, and just not notice that you’d left to go for a run?  Like in what universe, in what universe, do I sit there with Alexander jumping on the couch, making an obstacle course, and I’m trying to get him to not jump upstairs and go down to the basement, and Vivian is having a tantrum on the floor because oh my goodness, her puppy doesn’t have a pink dress. It only has a blue dress, and this is the worst thing that has ever happened. And then I have dinner on the stove, and I’m answering a phone call at the same time. In what universe, do you being off work and just zipping out, not affect me? Because that’s what he says. He says that 15 years ago she may not have even realized that he went for a run. Running is not something you do on work time.

Connor: No.

Rebecca: That is free time. That is fun time activity. That is personal time activity. In what universe, do I not notice if I don’t have a second pair of hands?

Connor: Yeah, no, that’s absolutely wild because if you are a father, if you have kids that means when your job is done, that doesn’t necessarily mean you clock out and are done. You’re still a parent just like your wife is still going to be a parent during that time.  There’s the old tradition of the woman looks after the kids all day. Guy gets home from work and just puts on the game because he’s done his bit for the day. No, you’re not done. You still have kids. They still need to be taken care of.

Rebecca: You have to deal with her situation.

Connor: You have to deal with her situation.

Rebecca: Her situation.

Connor: No, you’re in this situation together. But there’s no way that you wouldn’t notice me just going out to go for a run because we do this together. And if I could just disappear that means I’m not having an impact on the household.

Rebecca: Yeah.

Connor: That’s not very – I don’t know – manly I think to just sort of be a ghost in my own home.

Rebecca: No, that sounds – it’s ridiculous to think that it should be expected of grown men that their absence is not noted when it comes to raising their children on a daily basis because anyone can tell you, like – and we’re not saying that people who aren’t fully equal partners are the same as absent dads. Not at all. We’re not stupid. We know what – everyone knows. That’s not the same thing. What we are saying is this idea that this is just going to be an exhausting decade or two for her is absolutely bizarre because I’ll say we’ve talked after having kids where – there was a day where you sat down and you were just like what did we used to do on weekends?

Connor: Yeah, that’s two whole days of not having work. What did we used to do on those days?

Rebecca: I know.

Connor: Because when you have kids, it’s looking after kids. That doesn’t stop. There are no holidays from that. So I’m just sitting there like what did we do.

Rebecca: I know. Where did we use all that free time? And then we’re now at a point where the kids are getting older, and we’re starting to have a little bit more free time because they go to bed at the same time. They wake up, and they can kind of play independently for an hour every now and then.

Rebecca: And they can kind of play independently for an hour every now and then.

Connor: Which means you can get cleaning done during the day.  I can clean up the kitchen while I’m looking after the kids because they’re playing independently which means there is less to do in the evening after they go to bed.  And what that’s meant is that—I talked about that plate getting bigger of all the stuff that I can handle.  And my capacity for energy increasing.  What that means is as the kids start to get older and get more independent and you get better systems and you figure out your communication with your partner, I’ve never had more energy in my life.

Rebecca: I know.

Connor: And not just for sipping a cup of coffee kind of energy.  I mean now instead of getting to the end of the day and just feeling like all I can do is spend some time with my wife, maybe watch a show together, or go downstairs, play video games now we are sitting in bed reading books together, having discussions about literature.  I’m going to the gym.  I’m taking online courses with my free time.  I’ve had trouble getting to my video game console because I’ve just—I’ve got all this energy to do stuff.

Rebecca: I know.

Connor: And I have more energy for that stuff now than before we had kids when we had weekends.

Rebecca: I know.  It’s because your capacity has increased, and mine has too.  And we know that’s not normal for everyone.  But the reason why we’re at this place right now for us is because I haven’t been doing this on my own for five years or for four years.  I haven’t ever been doing this on my own.  And you haven’t been sitting there building up resentment over my situation.  That thing just kills me.  It might be her situation.  Oh my gosh.  It’s just so inappropriate.

Connor: But honestly, I really feel like having the both of us splitting all the responsibilities of parenthood doesn’t cut those responsibilities in half.  It does more than that.  I feel it’s more than twice as easy for both of us to be splitting it than for one of us to be doing it on our own.

Rebecca: Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And I think that what I wish people could understand on a large scale is that men are not less competent in these areas than women are.  They’re absolutely not.  There’s not some biological reason why women are better at being parents than men.  It’s just not.  It is because we all will rise or lower ourselves to the base expectation that is set by our environment.  Okay?  Society’s expectations for men in fatherhood is practically nothing.  The number of times you get comments when you’d walk around with Alex strapped on to you.  I had to walk around with two children strapped on to me while walking my dog to get a comment about like, oh, supermom.  You would just be at the park with a kid, and they’re like oh my gosh.  What a great dad.

Connor: Oh, Mr. Mom.  

Rebecca: Yes.  You got that a lot.

Connor: Oh, I’ve received that term.  I do not like that term.  It’s like there’s a word for a Mr. Mom, and it’s dad.  That’s what I am.

Rebecca: It’s dad.  Exactly.  

Connor: I’m just dadding.  

Rebecca: Yes.  You’re just dadding.  Yeah.  Yeah.  Exactly.  Whereas for me, I’d walk around with Vivian strapped to my front and Alex on my back.  And when we were walking Winston and people would be like oh my gosh.  Good for you.  But I’d just be out with a kid, and they’re like hmm.  Is that kid eating a nonorganic carrot?  It’s just different for men and women, right?  And so when we expect men to rise to the level that we expect women to be at, hey, you know what?  I will say  a lot of the in and outs of parenting are not as hard when you actually have a decent partner.  And our big thing is we are not willing to live life where we are unnecessarily exhausted.  We are willing to take the necessary exhaustion.  If one of our kids or one of us just gets sick or something or gets diagnoses, of course, we’re just going to deal with it and get through it.  And we’re not going to mope about being exhausted more than what is appropriate for people who love each other and want to be each other’s emotional support to mope with each other.  Totally.   But we are just not willing to do unnecessary exhaustion.  And so when I’m sitting there, if I feel like I’m constantly barely getting to the end of the day and Connor has time to go for jobs which is what it sounds like in this article—if your wife is exhausted and you’re going on runs and you’re able to just read books in your study and you’re able to go out with friends and your wife is just frazzled and exhausted and barely has time for anything that she wants to do, that’s bad.  That’s being a bad spouse.  If both of you are at the end of your rope, if you both of you are just barely getting by, it’s like yeah.  Good team work, guys.  If you’re both at capacity but you’re both there, hey, good for you.  Be each other’s support system.  Get through it together.  But when one of you is exhausted and the advice is literally be gentle with your wife while she figures all this out—just horrifying.  Horrifying.  And the article ends with this.  “Give your wife a thankful hug.  Even more, give her truckloads of understanding.  And remind yourself whenever you feel neglected it might not be her.  It might just be her situation.”  

Connor: Oh, very nice.

Rebecca: So nice.

Connor: Lovely.

Rebecca: Again, just going back to that mental picture, can you imagine me in the kitchen, both children, dinner on the stove?  You come up to me, give me a hug, say, “Thanks for taking care of the kids.  Well, I’m off for a run.”  

Connor: Boy, let me tell you.  If that were the kind of thing I did, I would not be very surprised at all that you were not pouring any love and affection into me until—and speaking of, talking about waiting until the end of the kid period, the empty nester phase, I’m a little fuzzy on why psychology and sociology stats.  Is that how that works out?  

Rebecca: Oh, yeah.  No.  No.  No.  It’s not.  No.  It’s not.  So turns out one of the most common times for divorce among couples is not actually when kids are in the middle of the kid age but once the kids leave the house.

Connor: Are we talking top ten reasons?

Rebecca: No.  One of the top two times.

Connor: One of the top two.  Wow.

Rebecca: One of the top two times that people tend to get divorced is when the kids leave the house as far as I remember.  And the reason is that typically what happens is the mom has been taking care of the kids for so long, and she just—they don’t have anything in common anymore.  She and her husband.  Because she’s been working as a mother for 27  years, if they’ve had a bunch of kids from when the first one was born until when the last one left the home.  And he’s just—

Connor: Been going on a lot of jogs.

Rebecca: And he’s been really understanding from a distance, but they’re no longer in the same life situation.  He’s not competent.  She’s like I’ve taken care of kids for this many years.  I’m not taking care of a grown child the rest of my life.  That is not what I’m going to do.  And it’s not like she’s like sitting there like some weird manic pixie dream girl being like finally.  Finally.  I can put all of my love and devotion just on you.  My 44-year-old child.  She’s not going to be thinking that.  What happens instead is you have this couple where now she’s looking at them, and she’s like where were you for 25 years.  And now all these kids are gone.  I can finally actually be an empty nester, and I still have to remind you to take your water on a run.  Are you kidding me?  I did my time.  25 years of it.  In Azkaban.  No.  I’m just kidding.  Sorry.  I had to make the Harry Potter joke.  But seriously.  It’s this feeling where I already put in my time.  I’m not doing any more of this.  This is ridiculous.  Why on earth are we encouraging men to be just immature teenagers moping about how they’re not getting enough attention from mommy, frankly, instead of telling them grow up, roll up your sleeves, and be a dad?  What I find so funny too is that this mentality that Gary is talking about, how this is just how men are, it’s not even how men are among people who share his theology.  Men who espouse complementarian views, who say that they believe that the men should be the head of the house, are actually very, very likely to be heavily involved fathers.  And so it’s not even like this is at odds to his theology.  A lot of men who share his theology are very, very invested dads.  He’s encouraging men to do a worse job than they would otherwise do.  He is encouraging the bar to be lowered which makes no sense to me because men are more than capable of being amazing dads.  Many men are amazing dads.  But the men whose standard is set to be low will fall to that standard.  And it’s not because men are worse than women.  Women would do the exact same thing.  It’s just that women’s standard, by society, is just a lot higher.  So it’s nothing magical about women.  Nothing bad about men.  It’s just humans.  Humans are just inherently lazy or energy efficient.  We tend to just rise or fall to the lowest possible standard that we are given.  So why on earth aren’t we raising the standard to just the—be an equal partner with your wife?  Just do what your wife is already doing.  Just do it.

Connor: And here’s the thing that gets me about all this.  Parenting, raising children, can be great.  Should be great.  For the children, for you.  Again, more energy, more efficiency with our day.  We’ve had to figure out so many things to make everything work with having kids that once our kids leave the house we’ll be so much better off than we were before we had them.

Rebecca: I mean we’ve taken our entire house cleaning routine from like—it took us days to get the house clean before we had kids.  Now we can do it in two hours flat.

Connor: Yeah.  And we keep iterating on that.  Every few months we just get better and better at that.  But not only is it a wonderful thing for our kids and a wonderful thing for us individually but also our marriage is stronger now than ever before, again, because we’ve been working together and building that bond so closely.  We have been forging our marriage through the fires of that shared work, that shared labor, and also all the wonderful shared emotion that comes from watching these two kids grow up and the shared pride that we can have when Alex starts doing math or Vivian starts figuring out her letters.  All of those things.  Being able to talk about what we’ve done with the kids that day and share and communicate about what we’re going to try next day or what we’re happy about from the day.  All of that stuff.  Those are the building blocks of marriage.  And so I think that’s really what I hope the takeaway from this is is that don’t let yourself be sold a cheap flimsy version of marriage and parenthood when it can be an incredible thing that strengthens you and your relationship and your relationship with your kids.

Rebecca: Yeah.  What really sticks out to me is how Gary, in this article, really does talk about this idea that women just need to make sure not to be moms first.  They’re wives first like it’s some competition with their kids, and we never saw it that way.  I remember when—I think Alex was something like six months old.  We had just moved to Belleville or something.  We were sitting in bed.  And we were talking about that idea of everyone saying you have to be a spouse first and then a parent.  And we were just like that is not how we live our life.  We are parents first together.  It’s not a this or that.  It’s because we are both so invested in our children watching you take care of our kids is you feeding into our marriage.  And you watching me having impromptu dance parties with our children before dinner is feeding into our marriage.

Connor: One of us giving the kids bath time and then reading them stories while the other one does a quick tidy of the downstairs so that once the kids are in bed we can just sit down on a clean couch together right away.  That’s building up our marriage.

Rebecca: But the kids do come first because they are both of our first priority.  I just find it weird to even consider parenting and marriage as a competition because there is no universe in which I want to take my kids’ dad away from them or you want to take their mom away from them.  But that’s something that’s such a gift is that parenting and marriage has never been a competition for us because it is no question, no contest.  That’s our first priority for both of us.  We chose to bring these children into the world.  They are therefore our first priority.  And the intensity of that prioritization absolutely shifts when a child is an infant, a newborn, and is waking up every hour and 15 minutes to nurse.  Yeah.  That’s a little more all encompassing than our four year old right now who can just go and play for an hour by himself in the basement and has a normal bedtime.  There’s going to be seasons of it absolutely.  But I’m just so grateful that, in our marriage, it hasn’t even been a competition between me and the kids or you and the kids or anything like that.  And so then when we do start to feel like, hey, I just need to connect with you more, it’s a conversation that doesn’t need to be a you’re not giving enough.  You need to give more. But it’s a conversation where it’s like a, hey, what we’re doing now is no longer sustainable.  So how can we work together to make this better for both of us?  And that’s just fundamentally different.  I don’t think that I could be attracted to you, frankly, if it was this weird mommy competition thing.

Connor: Because you’re attracted to a man who is being a man.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Yeah.  Exactly.  Yeah.

Connor: Let men be men.

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s exactly it.  And that’s why I just don’t think this needs to be a competition.  It’s not a competition between the dad and the kids.  It’s not a competition between the mom and the kids.  It’s just mom and the dad together for the kids.  

Sheila: One of the interesting things when you put that article together with the passage that we read earlier is how often Gary is talking about a  mom first and then a wife.  And this appears a lot in his writings.  He also talks a lot about the problem with women making their whole identity into their kids and how difficult it is then when the kids leave home.  Okay?  But if you have abdicated the role of father and you’ve given that to your wife, what can you expect except that that becomes her whole identity?  Because you know what?  Parenting?  There’s a lot of emotional labor that goes into parenting.  Okay?  What am in going to do about the fact that Sally is being bullied in grade five?  What am I going to do about the fact that Peter won’t practice piano?  What am I going to do about the fact that Michelle just broke up with her boyfriend and she is so sad?  There is a lot of emotional energy that goes into parenting.  And if the dad is out there jogging and ignoring it, if the dad just isn’t involved emotionally, all of that emotional energy is going to be carried by her.  And so then yeah.  You know what?  She’s going to feel lost when the kids leave home because you were the one who gave her all that.  So it’s like you were the one who abdicated your role of fatherhood, and now you’re angry at her that her primary identity isn’t being a mom.  You can’t have it both ways.  If you don’t want her primary identity in being a mom, if you want some of her emotional energy to come back to you, then you need to carry some of the emotional energy of being a dad.  When Katie left home—she’s your youngest.  I cried all the way back from Ottawa when we dropped her off.  It was really difficult.  I had homeschooled both girls all the way through.  They were so much a part of my daily life.  And it was really hard.  But then we immediately we went into—we got in the RV, and we went away for six weeks on a speaking tour.  And I had the time of my life, right?  I didn’t go through this identity crisis because while I had really enjoyed my kids they were not my identity because you were a super involved dad too.  It was something we did together.

Keith: I thought you were going a different direction.  I thought you were going to say that when the kids left I was just as sad as you.

Sheila: Well, you were.  You were too.  We both cried all the way back from Ottawa.

Keith:   Yeah.  Exactly.  We missed them.  And it was a big part of both of our lives.  Right?  But then we were able to move on because we were a partnership.

Sheila: Yeah.  And when you’re a partnership in parenting, it’s so much easier to be a partnership.     

Keith: Yeah.  Because you were talking about abdicating your role as a father, and I think that part of the problem is that what’s being taught out there—and, again, it’s never intentional.  Or it’s never specifically worded this way.  But the underlying sort of assumption is that fatherhood is very low input.  Being the father is being the distant—wait until your father gets home.  He comes in and makes a judgment call, but he’s not actually day to day involved in the kids’ lives.  And no one would ever say that.  But I think that that’s sort of the mentality.  It’s a holdover from the fifties dad kind of mentality.  And so they don’t feel like they’re abdicating their role because the role is just to be a distant figurehead, so they don’t feel like they’re abdicating.  But you preach at women there is no calling greater than being a wife and a mother.  And we preach how important it is to be a mom.  The MacArthur thing was talking about how we need to have—there is nothing better than having kids and making kids grow up to be Christians and all this stuff.  And then women really, really internalize that.  And then we criticize them for getting so invested in their kids.  

Sheila: Yeah.  You absolutely can’t win.  Okay.  I want to do one more passage.  Okay.  From someone else this time.  This is Kevin Leman.  And I did quote him at the beginning of the podcast.  But I want to share the story that opens the book.  Okay.  So this sets the stage—

Keith: This is Sheet Music.

Sheila: – for his entire book, Sheet Music.  Because the long story that opens the book kind of gives you a feeling of what he thinks about sex overall.  And he’s telling the story of Mark and Brenda.  All right?  And Mark is having problems at work.  They have young kids.  They haven’t been connecting a lot.  Mark feels insecure at work.  And he phones Brenda during the day, and he says, “I’ve had a really crummy day.  Can we go out for dinner?”  And Brenda is quite upset about this and says, “Mark, it is 5:00.  I can’t get a babysitter this late.  What were you thinking?  You don’t give me any notice?”  All right.  You never give me any notice.  And Mark is upset about this.  And Kevin Leman has a lot of sympathy for Mark in this.  But it is 5:00.  How are you supposed to get a babysitter?  That’s totally legit, right?  So then he explains that Mark is feeling really lonely and like Brenda doesn’t really care because all she’s concentrating on is the kids.  And so Brenda also didn’t understand that Mark masturbated two or three times a week, and every time he did so he felt his desire for Brenda as a person decline just a little bit more.  He was tired of being reluctantly accommodated and never pursued.  And when he’s explaining is like Brenda is super busy with the kids and so every time Mark is like, “Hey, can we do something together,” she’s like, “I got to care for the kids.”  So Mark is masturbating two or three times a week.  He’s watching porn and not paying attention to his kids.  All right.  And he’s mad at Brenda because she’s paying too much attention to the kids.  And what is the solution that Kevin Leman says that’s going to color this whole book?  “What Brenda didn’t realize was how much this sexual winter was costing them as a couple and how if they didn’t turn things around they’d probably be divorced within another five years.”  So it wasn’t that Mark needed to realize anything.  It was Brenda.  This is all Brenda’s fault.  Her husband’s porn use.  Her husband’s feeling neglected is all Brenda’s fault.  He never says, “Hey, Mark.  How about just being an involved dad and stop whining?”

Keith: Yeah.  And you’re anti man for suggesting that.  Right?  Which is really sad, right?  Because Leman does say there—you didn’t read that part.  But he does specifically that this man is using porn.

Sheila: Yes.  He does.

Keith: You’re not just reading that into it.  It’s in there.

Sheila: He says, “Mark was taking matters into his own hands and was adept enough at hiding the porn on the computer that she never found.”

Keith: Yeah.  So it’s not just you’re reading that in there.  So this is a man who has got a pornography addiction.  But not only that, he knows it’s destroying their relationship because it says he felt himself feeling less close to her each time he did this.  So he is driving the relationship into the ground.  Kevin Leman specifically states he is the one because he knows he feels less close to his wife.  Yet he continues to do the very thing that is making him feel less close to his wife rather than address the issue.  He doesn’t get help for his porn.  He doesn’t work on the relationship.  He doesn’t do anything other than feel sorry for himself and blame his wife for all of his problems.  How is that a man?  These people talk about how men are strong.  Men are leaders.  Men are tough.  But then when you criticize a man like that and say he’s not being a man, you’re anti man.  I don’t get it.  Make it make sense. 

Sheila: I know.  I know.  And never is Mark told, hey, maybe Brenda is busy with the kids because you’re not.      

Keith: Yeah.  Well, and maybe also you’ve internalized the idea that women are the ones who are responsible for relationships as opposed to I am responsible for making this relationship work too.  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Exactly.  And so our call is just to let men be dads again.  Let men be the kind of man that Connor is with his kids.  The kind of man that my nephew is with his kids.   Or kid now.  Men can be awesome.  Men make amazing dads.  Kids need their dads.  And we believe that men can be awesome dads.  We believe that men can show up for their wives in huge ways after the baby is born.  We believe that men are not naturally selfish.  We believe that men do not need sexual favors at the same level as they got them before they were pregnant as Intended for Pleasure says during the time where you have to abstain from sex.  So we don’t believe that women have to give men hand jobs right after the baby comes so that he doesn’t feel like he’s displaced.  We believe that men are mature enough to realize that a newborn baby is not a threat to me.  A newborn baby is a gift to me.

Keith:   Yeah.  And men are smart enough and caring enough, in general, when they feel those feelings to stop and go why am I feeling that way.  What are the underlying assumptions that I’m having here?  I kind of joked last week a little bit about go to therapy.  If you don’t know why—if you go yeah.  This is really selfish of me.  Why am I acting so selfish?  And you don’t know why you’re acting so selfish don’t go to the evangelical website.  They’re going to tell you it’s all your wife’s fault.  Go to therapy.  Find out why that is.  Find out why you’re acting that way.  Find out what the needs are in your heart.  Why are you turning to porn rather than your wife when she has a newborn baby?  Work those things through.  I think men can do that.  And I think that the tide is turning.  And I think that we are looking at healthier more self aware sort of men, who are more relational, who understand those kind of concepts.  And I think these old fashioned views of masculinity, the poverty of those views of masculinity, are really showing so that when people start putting them forward people are automatically seeing that’s not the kind of man I want to be.  I don’t want to be a Kevin Leman kind of like that Mark guy.  I don’t want to be that guy.  Right?  And if you don’t know how to not be that guy, that’s okay.  Find out how to not be that guy.  But just even knowing that that’s—you don’t want to be there, first step.

Sheila: Yep.  Exactly.  And for more, if you want to take that next step, check out The Great Sex Rescue because we talked a lot about—yeah.  What sex looks like even in that newborn period.  

Keith:   Yeah.  And The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex too.

Sheila: And The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex too to help you—yeah.  Just understand what a man is and how a man does not have to be jealous of a toddler, does not have to be jealous of a newborn, does not have to see their children as threats.  But instead can be a fully engaged partner with their wife which is what you were meant to be and what you, honestly, were great at.  And I just want to appreciate that.

Keith: Thanks, sweetie.

Sheila: All right.  I brought Rebecca back on.

Rebecca: Hello.  Hello.

Sheila: We’ve switched places for those of you watching the video.

Rebecca: Yes.  Well because I was actually just recording with Connor and I didn’t feel like moving.  

Sheila: Yes.  But thank you for your idea for this three-part podcast series to start 2024.  I think it’s been a good one because you know what?  We believe that men can be men.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  We believe that men are not less capable than women.  

Sheila: Exactly.  And so to end this podcast, to do the outro, I’m actually going to have your husband come back on and your baby daughter.  And this is a recording that was taken a couple months ago.  And I thought you all might enjoy it as Connor puts Vivian to bed.  

Connor: (singing) Jesus loves me when I’m good.  When I act just like I should.  When I say thank you and please, brush my teeth, and wash my knees.  

Vivian: (singing) Yes.  Jesus loves me.  

Connor: (singing) Yes.  Jesus loves me.  

Vivian: (singing) Yes.  Jesus loves me.  

Connor: The Bible tells me—

Vivian: So.

Connor: – so.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


Recent Posts

Want to support our work? You can donate to support our work here:

Good Fruit Faith is an initiative of the Bosko nonprofit. Bosko will provide tax receipts for U.S. donations as the law allows.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

Related Posts

PODCAST: The Sex Talk You Never Got feat. Sam Jolman

What if purity culture didn’t just steal sexual health from women, but stole it from men too? What does it mean for a man to have healthy sexuality? Today licensed counselor Sam Jolman joins us for The Sex Talk You Never Got. He's got an amazing new book out that...


We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!


  1. Angharad

    Any man who is jealous of his OWN newborn baby or toddler needs counselling. Immediately. Thank you for calling this out as the idiocy it is.

    And the idea of a ‘good husband’ being ‘understanding’ that his wife can’t be 100% focussed on supporting his HOBBIES while she is permanently exhausted caring for HIS children… Argh!!!

  2. Lisa Johns

    What the heck is Gary Thomas doing out running when his wife is trying to bring order to the house and keep the kids alive and uninjured??? What a big, over-grown adolescent!

  3. Codec

    Babies need the attention or they could undergo several horrifying potentialities such as SIDS or Failure to thrive.

    Besides babies are neat. You can learn a lot taking care of a baby.

    • Lisa Johns

      You are so right!

    • Zed

      Honestly, I was so, so disappointed to read that article of Gary Thomas’. It was possibly the most tone-deaf and ignorant article I’ve read so far this year. And the baffling thing is that he apparently meant well, and he doesn’t seem to realize that he completely missed the mark with what he was trying to say. It felt very much like the blind leading the blind. Everyone is headed for the ditch! Also I thought of the verse in James where you say “depart in peace – be ye warmed and filled” and you don’t give the needy person what they actually need. It doesn’t profit, at all. So giving your wife ‘understanding’ over her ‘situation’ – when you should be getting involved and helping her with YOUR home and YOUR children, or figuring out what you can change in order to make her life easier, or giving her resources that will help her – does not profit anyone but yourself, and only then in the short term. Because very likely she won’t be there to ‘shower you with affection’ when the kids have flown. She’ll have long flown too. You reap what you sow, after all.

      • Kay

        James 2:14-17 is SO applicable here— you are SO right!! While understanding is good, we also need to DO something!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        it was absolutely tone deaf and ignorant. Well said.

  4. Jo R

    So let’s review, which is mainly for me, since, as a woman, I’m automatically kinda stupid.

    Men are to be providers for their families, and when they work long hours, they get cheered on for their providing. Yeah, they miss the recitals and never do drop-offs or pick-ups from school and practices, and they of course can’t miss any time off work for things like doctor appointments or teacher conferences, because the paycheck is his absolute priority.

    No one will shame him for not knowing his toddler’s favorite food, toy, or game. Or clothing size. Or nap time. Or any detail at all required for the child’s mere survival, let alone thriving. No one will wonder that his tweens and teens never come to him with problems, because paycheck!

    Simultaneously, women are told motherhood is their highest calling. To not long to be a mother is pretty much sinful, because God! So moms with newborns bear the entire brunt of newborn care, because her husband (not “the kid’s dad”) has to sleep and then be up for work, because paycheck! Women with several pre-schoolers are now playing zone, and the mobile ones take looking after and now also chasing after. Nothing changes as the kids get older, because they’re really her kids, not their kids.

    The man comes home from his job and needs all evening and all weekend to do nothing but rest and relax, because paycheck! He can’t possibly be expected to be involved with his kids in even the most minimal way, because he’s punched out for the day. But mom is always and obviously meant to work 168 hours a week, with no sick days, no vacation, no time off at all for any reason, because she doesn’t “work.” (And it all started with her whole being working the equivalent of more than three years’ worth of full-time work in the nine months she was pregnant.)

    But moms are wrong, wrong, WRONG for devoting themselves to motherhood (their highest calling) the way husbands devote themselves to paycheck (their highest calling).

    Have I got that right?

    [For those who’d like this drawn in even sharper relief (with all the associated Anglo-Saxon vocabulary in her posts and in people’s comments), I recommend Zawn Villines on FB and Substack (zawnv).]

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Perfectly put! And they think that this is so obvious that they will even advertise that they think this way in their books and blog posts, and not realize how much they are telling on themselves. It’s really mind-boggling and sad.

    • Codec

      Another thing I don’t understand why would someone not look forward to seeing their family? Work can be exhausting sure but most times work isn’t that bad. I have had work days where afterwords I know I get to be with my brother or my grandparents and it is that knowledge that makes things bearable.

    • Jany

      I had to look this up, Jo R, remembering “because paycheck.” Thanks for making me laugh! But true…and, as a SAHM, I’m trying to figure out where (or if) my contributions matter. Because, “no paycheck” on my side.

      • Jo R

        When I stopped working outside the home, all my female coworkers thought I was so lucky “we could afford to do that” and one and all wished they could also quit working, but they “just couldn’t afford it.”

        I simply asked them if their income covered childcare, office-appropriate wardrobe, extra takeout meals due to being tired or crunched for time, a second vehicle being used for commuting to work instead of just for driving around, gas and parking, higher income taxes, etc. Every one of them was surprised, as they had never thought in those terms.

        One church friend stopped working as a paralegal in our large downtown area because she realized that after her income paid for all of the above expenses, she was clearing literally one dollar an hour.

        If you think you aren’t contributing because you don’t bring home a paycheck, consider what your husband would have to pay if he were suddenly widowed. Childcare, obviously, but he also has to take time off work for doctor appointments, kids being home sick from school, and other direct effects on his income due to job performance adjustments.

        In addition, I’m guessing you do things like wait for sales to stock up on items, comparison shop as a matter of course, trade off childcare with friends on occasion to save on babysitting, and countless other ways you save money, which is, in effect, a net income you provide.

        Spend a month or three keeping track of time and effort you spend on things that he would have to actually pay someone to do if you weren’t home and on call 24/7.

        If he’s a mature man, show him your findings. If he thinks paycheck and sperm donor are his only required contributions, then set up your own bank account, and deposit all the money you save from the above shopping and other strategies so that you can get out ASAP.

        Don’t sell yourself short.

  5. Codec

    Not manly to look after a baby?

    Ever looked at the classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub? Ever read Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter?

    Heck do these people not know about life saving endeavors like The Berlin Airlift or The Iditarod?

    Men have been looking after babies and others around them for millenia and that has consistently been celebrated in our stories.

    • Rebecca

      Thank you for mentioning one of my favorite books (or three of my favorites, I should say). Lavrans was a wonderful father, true. And Erlend was an excellent example of a likable, well-intentioned, and thoroughly immature man (not that Kristin was much better).

      I’ve never heard of that manga, but now I want to check it out.

    • May Weller

      My personal favorite Is Jasper Tudor. A medeval prince who steped up when his brother died leaving his sister in law 7 mounth pregnant and scared for her life. Then cared for her and her son for 4 years and eventually through a series of war realated misfortunes singel parented his nephiew through the teen years eventually fighing along side him in a battle winning him (the nephiew Henry) the crown of england founding the Tudor dynisty of Hery 8 and Elizabeth 1 fame.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s really a neat story!

      • C

        Jasper may have stepped up to the plate. But Margaret Beaufort(the sister in law that has a name) was married off very young. Her husband Edmund married her and she was pregnant at age 13. He was 13 years older than her. The rest of the story is important because patriarchy. Just think if poor Margaret would have some say in her destiny about when she would marry and become a mother.

  6. Laura

    Again, these evangelical male authors are telling on themselves. They may not use these exact words, “I’m just a selfish, overgrown toddler who cares more about my needs than pitching in and helping my wife with the kids I helped her create.” Yet, they make the assumption that all men are this way and husbands should come before their children. The Bible says that we are to consider the needs of others ahead of our own needs. So fathers, the needs of your babies must come before your “need” to ejaculate.

    Then there’s the whole idea of telling men they are leaders when they step up to help their wives with parenting duties. But women are not considered leaders for doing the same thing that they have already been doing all along.

    There’s a lot of Christian resources that say marriage should be prioritized over children, but I don’t see that mentioned in the Bible. I like how Rebecca and Connor talked about that. Caring for their children together helps prioritize their marriage and neither should make it a competition. However, when the kids are grown and living their own lives, that’s different.

  7. Angharad

    I’ve been trying to think what Gary Thomas’ advice reminds me of, and it’s James 2 v 14-17, where those who see a brother or sister lacking food or clothes and say ‘go in peace, be warm and well fed’ but don’t do anything help are criticised for having a dead faith.

    Because that is exactly what Gary Thomas is suggesting Christian husbands do to their wives – sympathise and be ‘understanding’, but do absolutely nothing to help.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Good pick up!

    • Jo R

      First of all, Angharad, you are female, so how dare you think you can instruct men in any subject? (There may be male readers here, after all.)

      Second, don’t you know that the golden rule, the “one another” verses, “think of others,” “bear burdens,” “better to give than receive,” and all those other verses that describe Christlike behavior and attitudes apply only to how MEN treat MEN and not to how MEN treat WOMEN–and most especially not how husbands treat their wives—because women are not actually human beings who are thus worthy of the respect due to all who bear the image of God, because image bearers are obviously only men?

      /sarc, for those who might be confused

  8. Megan

    What I don’t understand is the dichotomy of it all. Mark either gets all of Brenda’s attention or none of it. Mark says “I have had a crummy day at work, I need some affection” totally valid that after a crummy day at work he would like something to make him feel better. But he is completely oblivious to the reality that he lives in. He offers something that was never going to work and then is mad when it doesn’t work. What does Kevin think was going to happen? Brenda can’t suddenly magic a babysitter out of thin air? He could have said “I had a crummy day at work, after the kids go to bed, I would love to get some of the take out that we find special and we can enjoy a little special treat together” There exist solutions that give Mark the affection he desires without completely upending the situation he is in. But authors never seem to go for the easier, smaller solutions. I guess the difference is that most of those solutions require Mark to do some amount of work for said affection.

  9. Suzie

    Loved the beginning of the podcast!! I had to stop listening as Rebecca read the article. 🙁 The more she got into the article the thicker she laid on her sarcastic tone. If you are open to suggestions from your fans. I suggest in the future reading articles as an average reader would read it. Without the added sarcastic inflection.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We have an article coming out next week about tone.

      Sometimes you have to laugh or you would cry.

      • Lisa Johns

        Hooo boy, looking forward to that article!

    • Jo R

      This is not an academic paper being read at a symposium with debate to follow.

      This is “Christian” writing from a well-known author purporting to share Christlike advice with husbands, who are being encouraged to continue in thinking only of themselves instead of being a second adult in the house, stepping up to take responsibility, and sharing the effort required to keep a home running.

      There will be substantial, harmful, real-world negative effects heaped on women and children because way too many men will follow it—and their wives will be considered (and, worse, consider themselves) sinful, rebellious, and selfish for thinking they’re married to adults instead of six-foot-tall toddlers.

      Sarcastic tone is the bare minimum that this “teaching” deserves.

    • S

      I think of myself as the average reader and I would have read the article in my head or out loud the same way Rebecca did. Its too bad you chose to ignore the message and instead policed how you think another person should express themselves in a podcast. Rebecca is entertaining, I hope she stays true to herself.

      • Laura

        I’m with you. When I come across articles like the one Rebecca read, I would be reading it in a sarcastic tone. It’s entertaining as well.

    • Angharad

      I would love it if, just for once, we could have a podcast calling out a serious issue without someone saying that they couldn’t listen because they didn’t like the ‘tone’ in which it was conveyed. Especially when there is a perfectly good transcript available for anyone who dislikes the tone!

      I’m not saying people don’t have the right to prefer certain tones over others. But when your preference for tone is regarded as more important than the message the tone conveys, there is a problem. And I don’t mean a problem with the ‘tone’ of the speaker.

      • Nessie


        I very rarely see anyone criticizing the tone of Gungor, Eggerichs, et. al., when they put on condescending, ridiculous voices to represent women or even dripping with vitriol when discussing women… Laughter, yes. Not much tone policing though.

        I have much more seen comments criticizing women for any “tone” that they take on- even if they haven’t really because it was all in writing.

        It’s more of the “keep sweet” and speak nicely mentality.

        Sometimes the deepest sarcasm can feel a little bit much for me- but then I remember how these same messages have been ignored for so long and I realize how justified it is, and am reminded again when I actually listen to the message that was so unfair to women. Besides, any “tone” is likely resulting because when things were said “sweetly,” no one listened. In some ways, you could argue that her “tone” is very necessary.

    • Lisa Johns

      I loved her sarcasm. It was hilarious and exactly what the article deserved!!

      • Bernadette

        People have been conditioned to accept misogynistic behavior as something normal, even good. Tone of voice bypasses that conditioning.

        You laugh at how ridiculous that BS is before the conditioning has time to kick in.

    • Jany

      While I understand why, Rebecca read that article in a sarcastic tone, I agree with Suzie’s analysis. Listeners
      to this podcast usually (bit not always…new listeners wouldn’t) have an idea what your opinion is going in. But using a matter-of-fact tone would allow the listener to begin evaluating the article in their own head it from the beginning, and then bring a few of their own questions to your discussion.

  10. CMT

    Hooray for involved dads! My husband is very much a part of our kids’ lives, from breakfast to bedtime. He always has been. Heck, I was in med school and residency when our first two kids were born, so my husband was the primary caregiver for both of them when they were little, from about 6 weeks old. Does he do everything exactly the same way I would? No, but he is 100% competent to parent them (and there are plenty of things he’s better at with them than I am). I’m so glad our kids are growing up seeing both of us sharing work, household responsibilities, and childcare.

  11. Kay

    He probably also teaches, “s3x starts in the kitchen….. so men, do the dishes once in a while”. Thus turning intimacy into a transaction— which I know you’ve spoken against.

    It’s not about embracing the life you both created, but merely putting up with it til it’s “his time again” : / But actually, it’s likely not even a life they BOTH created bc “he’s the head/leader” and she’s the “good submissive wife” who went along with everything.

    This all hurts my brain— and heart.

    • Kay

      “When she can’t balance her priorities right” (11:37)— SHE gets “talked to” with questions like “how are YOU going to fix this?” ….. “why wasn’t this done?”

      And guilt tripped by all the books that tell her she should WANT to be everything to everyone— being a mom is the best— you’re not organized enough— be better— do better.

      Anyone else?! lol.
      Just me?!?!

  12. Nessie

    The problem isn’t that she’s being a “mom”; it’s that she’s being a mom to the baby and not to the husband. ~19:35

    I think this husband *should* give “understanding” over her “situation”… her situation being that she is married to a whiny, selfish, and unloving man-baby who has no business “leading” anyone in anything for any reason because he is proving his incapacity to think or act for anyone else’s best interest. He then needs to “understand” that he needs to work on himself and that will change her “situation.”.

    Men who wish to be seen as Christ-like need to be more Christ-like. They should keep in mind Jesus said let the little children come to Him.

    According to some, it sounds like “men” are those who choose to have a giant pity party for themselves while refusing to take any of their marriage vows seriously. But sure, let’s say it’s the wives who are destroying their marriages.

  13. K

    This isn’t my area of expertise, but is the “Christian” doctrine of “women only” as parents – especially of needy small children, also a hangover from FOTF (et al) teaching?

    A talk by James Dobson – way back in the day (early 90’s), is the first place I ever heard about John Bowlby. As I recall, the talk was very much geared towards Bowlby’s earliest attachment theory (which was somewhat hurriedly posited after WWII – which was not acknowledged.) In his earliest theory, Bowlby felt that mothers were crucial to the psychosocial development of children.

    (According to Wikipedia Bowlby’s focus on mothers was also politicized, in an effort to discourage women from remaining/joining in the workforce to make space for returning soldiers, after the war.) Again, this is not my area of expertise – but is this “politicization” still running in our churches today? Dr. Dobson’s talk was almost exclusively geared towards mother’s as parents of small children.

    Bowlby’s original theory has changed, others have weighed in – and the theory has now embraced dads (at least in the world of research) as being just as critical, too.

    But has the church (para-church) conveniently clung to an outdated childhood attachment model in an effort to “prove the value” of Titus 2 – and just tacked “the importance of motherhood” onto the tail end of the patriarchal supremacy model of marriage?

    It’s just with some of these authors that have ties to FOTF – I wonder how deep the echo chamber actually is…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s really interesting!

  14. JG

    Just finished listening this morning. What Gary Thomas recommended sounds much like a 1950s newspaper article my husband shared with me at lunch yesterday. It told women how to manage a “peaceful home” for her husband, so that he would be able to relax when he got home from work. As if she didn’t have plenty of work to do in taking care of their children and home. We both found it very funny. It mentioned nothing about the husband and wife being a team in caring for the children.

    I have been blessed with a wonderful husband that has been involved with our children.

  15. Grace Vernaton

    This is a super good podcast! You’ve tackled a sensitive subject with clarity and humor and grace. Thank you!

  16. Amber

    Yes! I always find it cringy when husbands are considered an extra child. Like a couple has 3 kids but it’s joked about the wife being the one who has 4 kids to take care of because the husband acts and functions like a child. Why??!!

  17. Sue

    Rebecca, Thanks for your written response to Gary Thomas’ article about “poor husband
    ‘ has to wait until kids are grown to get his wife’s pampering. I didn’t listen to your podcast but read your blog post. Really, thanks again Gary. He refers to “her situation” as if she has the problem.
    As I read about Connor taking your children to the grocery store, I thought of my own son taking his littles to the store. He likes to grocery shop and loves to take the kids with him, even when Memaw is there to help out. He’s a good dad and I love watching how he and his wife share child rearing.
    I , on the other hand, thought like Gary Thomas, and thought it was all on me to be the perfect wife and mother. I expected to have the house in order and dinner on the table when he came home from work, after my day of keeping 3 preschooolers alive. In the evening I would read to the two year old, ,put him to bed, then nurse the baby and put him down, walk into our bedroom, where my husband lie on the bed “waiting.” Much of this I put on myself from the teaching I had.
    The interesting thing is about his statement, just wait until empty nest and you will have all the attention. If some wives are like me they will have resentment built up and have no desire to baby their husband. Occasionally now my husband will offer to help with supper. Uh, no thanks, where were you 25 years ago when I could have used some help?

    • Anonymous305

      Of course I’d have resentment ☹️❤️☹️‼️

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I understand, Sue. That’s the dynamic that we are now seeing as we analyze the marriage survey that we just completed. Women can only put up with unfairness for so long and then love goes.

    • JG

      I thought of one other dynamic that GT did not consider. There are some parents that will never have an empty nest. They have an adult child with special needs. As a mom to a daughter with autism, I am insulted that he thinks that my job ends when she reaches 21.

  18. Anonymous305

    When I was married, I said school and money were reasons for not having kids, but deep down I was afraid of not having the energy to care for kids while my husband was one of them. One of the very rare times I admitted that, he just laughed.

    He alleged that he’d do more housework if we had kids because he alleged to take parenting seriously, but I didn’t trust him because I assumed that kids couldn’t make him be responsible if he weren’t already.

    I’m not fully anti-kids, but I’m glad not to have kids with him. I just regret losing my most fertile years already.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.

  19. Becky

    Thank you so much for this episode – I particularly loved listening to Connor and Rebecca’s portion! I found it very moving. What a beautiful testament to raising a family together. They talked so articulately and honestly about the challenges of parenting yet with such hope. My husband and I don’t have children but would like some one day, and feel I see I lot of content online talking exclusively about how difficult it is and how it takes so much away from your life & independence, with not much hope or encouragement, and I find it so refreshing to hear Rebecca and Connor talk about the challenges but also how much raising children has added to their lives and listening to them has helped reignite that hope in me, and how if anything raising children can strengthen marriage. So thank you to you all – I was truly touched hearing this. Thank you! And blessing on your lovely families 🙂

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      And their children are AMAZING! They’re simply so much fun! (And I’m not biased at all, of course).

  20. Amy A

    Rebecca and Connor, I just wanted to thank you for your loving emphasis on how being parents first doesn’t take away from your marriage. My mother used to use the “I SHOULD BE HIS WIFE FIRST” as a way to guilt-trip my brother and I for just… being kids with needs. I cannot express how much I appreciate you guys modeling a healthy dynamic.

    • Amy A

      (Ironically, my dad never made her feel bad for parenting and was a pretty good parent himself; it was actually her that weaponized whatever toxic christianese she could to justify her behavior)

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, that’s really common. Sometimes it’s the woman who internalizes this as a stepping stone to pride.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *