I am almost done posting all of the chapters of my novel, Dates With God! This is a companion book to Maurice Harker’s book, Like Dragons Did They Fight. Here’s the first part of Chapter 9, Emma’s Letter #9. Emma fights satan over anger at her husband and recalls many manifestations of his laziness. She gets creative with how to deal with her husband’s lack of providing for the family and decides to start a relationship with money by writing a letter to it. As part of writing her letter she draws inspiration from the Bible. She looks forward to seeing a lot more of money. She prepares for temporarily leaving Clark if he continues his irresponsible behavior.
Emma’s Letter #9
Clark continues in his rut. He was supposed to apply for a job by the end of last week. Friday was the deadline for the application of a job I found for him online. It seemed like the perfect job. It required an MBA and the specific focus that he was looking for. He was definitely qualified for it. It would allow us to move to Pineview. I was lusting over this job for him! He assured me that he would apply for it. The next morning when I asked him if he had applied, he told me no. What?!?! I felt so disappointed and mad and frustrated. It was this huge ball of emotion that just devastated me. I felt just like I felt when I found out that my neighbor, the one who had been so against girls playing with Barbie dolls because she claimed that they teach girls to focus too much on superficial appearances, had breast augmentation surgery 5 years ago. I felt that I had been deceived by empty idealistic promises. I felt so mad that I couldn’t see it coming and fell so easily into believing.
So, not only did that frustrating, maddening letdown happen, but the absolute worst thing happened yesterday. My home teacher came over to help Clark fix the lawnmower. I didn’t even ask him, it was Clark’s idea. Clark is somewhat mechanical, but it takes him days to figure how to fix things, whereas our home teacher can usually fix something in an hour or two. So Brother Larsen came over, and after a while, Clark disappeared on him. Then Brother Larsen took a bathroom break. When he came downstairs looking for him, there Clark was, sitting at the computer, playing video games! Brother Larsen was so mad! He yelled at Clark and left. I don’t blame him! I am mad at him too. That’s just one example of my husband’s Peter Pan rudeness. I just want to shake him to wake him up! When is he going to stop being a boy and be a man? This takes the cake!
It’s even worse than the time we went to the parenting workshop that was sponsored by My Mothers of Preschoolers group. The leaders of the group had booked a presenter of the workshop for over 2 years in advance with a hefty reservation fee. The presenter was a popular expert on child discipline and promised that her system works wonders. I attended eagerly with Clark in tow. We even got free admission because we were dues-paying members of the group. I had arranged for a babysitter for the whole four hour workshop, which was held at a local church where we hold our weekly meetings. Fifteen minutes into the workshop, Clark left the room. I thought maybe he was going to the restroom but he never came back! At the halfway break I had no idea where he was and didn’t want to go looking because I got caught up in some fun conversations with my friends. When it was over and we are all milling around talking to the presenter and eating the refreshments, Clark ambled into the room. I found out he had been sleeping on one of the pews in the chapel for a lovely, expensive nap! I was so fuming mad! I can’t force him to want to learn parenting skills. How do you inspire your husband to want to learn about being a better dad?
He has about as much sensitivity as a hippopotamus on a tightrope. And as much maturity as a prepubescent boy. He still doesn’t care that we are running out of money as he is still not looking for a new job or building his consulting business. I can’t find any books or help on how to deal with unemployed or underperforming husbands. Nobody talks about it. I wish Oprah would do a show about it. I guess most people in modern America figure it’s no big deal because usually the wife already has a job. That’s hard to do when you have five kids, with three little kids under 5. I’m sure there must be more women out there who are in my same boat, like a blog or website or a book, on how to deal with an unemployed husband and/or a husband who is acting irresponsibly by underperforming and under-providing. I’ve Googled and haven’t found anybody though. I guess we are all afraid to publicly admit that our husbands are failing us or that we picked lousy husbands. I have been asking Thee for help and gradually the ideas are coming. The one idea that keeps repeating in my mind is to start my own blog under a pseudonym or a support group name to talk about it. I guess that it is the answer that Thou art giving me for now.
I’d like to start a blog to at least be a voice out there to find some company. Imagine, me, the girl who quit speech and debate, and drama class, because of my fear of public speaking, being a voice. This is what happens when I feel power coming from Thee God! It wouldn’t be a condemning voice of men, but a voice to encourage other women to support their husbands in fulfilling their God-given role. The problem is, I haven’t figured out yet how to do it myself. For a while I kept toying with giving him an ultimatum: find a job by this date or else! Except for a long time I couldn’t think of what the “or else” would be! I can’t leave him because I don’t have any money. But I am getting some new ideas.
I have finally decided, however, that the rut Clark is in is about to get a lot more uncomfortable. We can’t go on living like this! We have money to pay the mortgage, the utilities, barely enough food, if we eat a lot of rice and beans, and get off food stamps, gasoline, and car insurance. We don’t have medical insurance. That has been making me feel nervous for a while. We have zero budget for debt reduction to pay off his student loan, zero for clothes, zero for home or yard improvement, let alone, maintenance, zero for savings, zero for emergencies, zero for recreation, or zero for education. I don’t want to live like this the rest of my life! It is bondage and I refuse to keep living like this!
I can’t change Clark, but I can do two things:
#1. I can insist that we not live as husband and wife when he is not acting like a husband
#2. I can create my own stream of income so that I am prepared for living on my own with the kids if he decides to continue not acting like a husband. I will not be a victim to my husband’s poverty!
So, here are my thoughts on those two changes I can make.
#1. Hmmm…I’ve been studying what Maurice wrote on his blog. Maurice is the guy that wrote the book we use for this course, Like Dragons Did They Fight. He wrote about how to deal with a husband who is not fully living up to his potential because of an addiction. Clark’s addiction to video games and his depression, which I believe in his case, is an addiction, are definitely causing him not to perform to his potential. He’s not abusive with words or violence, but in a way, his unwillingness to look at the situation and change so that we have money for those other categories and for the future is a form of abuse. It’s hurting me and the children. I can’t take it any more!
Maurice says that when a husband isn’t fulfilling his husband/fatherly duties, it’s time for a wife to go into Pioneer mode. He explains it on his blog. (http://www.lifechangingservices.org/2011/10/casualty-of-this-war-part-iii-i-fee/) This is when a woman gets to defend herself. He says there are three levels of self-defense in Pioneer Woman mode, 1. Words, then 2. Walls, then 3. Weapons.
So I’ve been thinking how to apply these to myself. Here are my thoughts. I present these to Thee and ask Thee to help me refine them to accord with Thy will in my specific situation.
This involves using kind words and assuming the best and giving the benefit of the doubt. It also means using words to protect against abuse and ask for it to stop. This is what the Lost Classical Womanly Arts book teaches. I am going to try this more. I admit that I haven’t always used positive words with Clark as much as I could. Instead, it’s always been, “When are you going to get a job?” and “Clark, you need a job. What is your plan for getting one?” For a time I was asking at least one of the questions every day. I realize now that even though that didn’t seem like nagging, it actually was. I used to take comfort that I wasn’t an obnoxious feminist wife like Lauren, always bossing James around. Then I finally realized that persistently asking those questions was obnoxious too. I wasn’t letting him own the provider role or giving him any confidence that he could do it. I was just always expecting him to have the answer right away of where we were going to get more money. Then I would start telling him my ideas. I wasn’t giving him any space to come up with own ideas.
Instead, I am going to say to him something like this, “We can’t go on living like this. I understand you lost your job and haven’t found one yet. We’ve been living on the inheritance money and welfare but it will run out soon if we go month after month living like this. We are counting on you to earn the money for us to live on. You can do it! I am sorry that I have taken over the father and husband jobs of stressing about our financial future and telling you where to get a job. I have been treating you like a little boy, who needs to be told what to do, instead of a man. I know you can get another job that will allow you to earn the money for all of our needs and reasonable wants. If we lived a long time ago, I wouldn’t let you come home unless you had food that you had hunted or gathered for us. And you wouldn’t want to come home empty-handed either. You are our provider! We are counting on you. We know you can do it! You are fully capable of going out there in the world and finding a job to support us. I know you have struggled with depression, but now that you have medication for it you can function at a job. I know you can! I believe in you. I don’t expect to see a job within a week, but I expect to see you working to find one. I expect to see progress. I ask that you not come to bed Saturday night unless you have applied to 5 jobs, one for every weekday. I know you can do it. If you have to stay up all night applying for jobs on the Internet, then do it!”
So if he comes to bed Saturday night and hasn’t applied to 5 jobs for the week, which might happen because of his gaming addiction, I am going to insist that we have a wall between us. I am going to ask him to sleep downstairs. If he refuses, then I am going to leave and create the wall myself. I have been thinking about where to go with the kids. I would rather not go to Grandma’s. I think I am going to talk to Diana, my close friend in the ward. I am not going to talk to her about Clark’s negative habits. I am just going to say that I might need a break from regular life so can I come if needed on a Friday and Saturday night, with all the kids? I feel close enough to her to know that that would not be imposing on her. She’s always been very generous in her service to others and likes having people over. I thank Thee for blessing me with her friendship.
If the wall doesn’t work then I will have to resort to using weapons against him. In my situation, that doesn’t mean a literal gun. He is not threatening me with violence, so I don’t need real weapons or a restraining order. I am going to have to figure out what “weapons” in my situation means. It might just mean thicker walls for a longer time, like separate homes and separate bank accounts so that I can maintain thicker walls.
#2. In order to create income, I have some clearing to do with money. I have grown up with a lot of negative attitudes towards money. I didn’t have any money of my own until I moved in with Grandma and could earn some babysitting for neighbors. Even then it wasn’t a ton. I went to college on a full-ride scholarship that paid for my housing and food. I got married three days after I graduated from college so I’ve never had to be on my own and support myself by working a 9 to 5 job. Clark had a great job and he made more than enough money in the “good old days.” We saved quite a bit in the early years of our marriage. That came in handy later on when we realized we weren’t going to have any babies. We were able to start adopting with our savings. It was a little bit after we got Isabelle, our last baby, that he lost his job. We limped along with him doing temp jobs. Then his grandpa died and he got this huge chunk of money and he figured he could start coasting and not continue to earn an income for the near future.
I don’t understand why he thinks that! This money will run out! Our kids are getting bigger. This three bedroom, 2 bathroom home with no family room will not serve us well when these kids are older and wanting to have friends over for parties or when they are getting married and having kids of their own, bringing them home. And I would love to adopt more! I’ve always dreamed of having a huge home with tons of bedrooms so I can be a foster and adoptive mom to 2 dozen! I want to be able to host Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinners here with lots of people. I would like a home with a big gathering room that we can fill with tables and food and people. As the kids get older, I would like to have money we can allot to them that we would normally use to buy their own food and clothing and entertainment so they can learn to manage money and be wise stewards. Clark just seems to think we can keep having people just give us boxes of hand-me-down clothes which is what has happened in the past so we don’t have to buy any. He thinks we have no need to create more money, we will just maintain with the amount we have.
I just don’t get him. We need more money! I want to get out of debt and I want to have money for all those things I just mentioned. I want to give money when asked for donations and I want to give large sums of money without being asked, to worthy causes. That can’t happen on our current income.
In regards to money, I’ve got to create some money if I ever need to have longer, thicker walls between us. I want to have the financial freedom to support myself and the children, so I am not reliant on his limiting depression. I’ve decided it’s time to write a letter to money to clear up the energy around me so it flows to me better. So here goes:
I must admit I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with you. Maybe that’s why you sometimes avoid me and we have troubles. For most of my life I felt like it was up to someone else as to how much you visited and stayed with me. That someone else was first my drug-addict parents, then Grandma, then it was my husband. I thought someone else, the guy they worked for, determined how much of you they got, and in turn, how much I got. I also knew that something else out of my control, drugs and alcohol, came and took money from my parents. As I got older I still believed that the money I got was controlled by outside forces. This is because my enemy, the dark side, knew that I could someday do some amazing things helping people with you so he whispered lies to me. I gullibly accepted them because I was not actively looking for the truth about you. No more! I am becoming more and more of your friend every day as I wake up to the awesome future you and I can have together helping people, including my children. That awesome future depends on me adhering to the truths about you. So I have gone to the ultimate source of truth, the scriptures, and I have found the following marvelous truths about you:
1. Money is good. I am not to put it first it in my life. I am to put the kingdom of God first in my life. After I do that I can seek after you if I use you to help the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and liberate the captive. These are symbols for many things. The poor can include those poor in worldly things as well as poor in knowledge. The hungry can be those who lack food as well as those who lack spiritual and mental nourishment. The naked are those who lack clothes as well as those who are exposed to physical, mental, and spiritual harshness or extremities. The captive are those who are not completely physically, spiritually, and financially free. I want to help all these people with you!
2. I use you, my money, to create and build real things that last and are not wasted. 2 Nephi 9:51
3. You are not the root of all evil. It’s loving you more than God that is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10.
4. There is enough money in the world for everyone to have what they want. D&C 104:17
5. Debt is not good. The prophet has counseled us to only use debt to get a modest home and maybe a car. God has spoken, “And again, verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.” Doctrine and Covenants 104:78. So I want to pay our debts and feel free of financial bondage.
6. It’s OK for a housewife to attract money if directed by God. I have many girlfriends who have this notion that it is evil for a housewife to earn ANY money. It is also easy for them to say this since they are well provided for by their husbands. I, however, am not well provided for. I have the bare basics, so compared to third world women in the world, I guess I am well provided for. But I don’t have everything that is needful. Whatever is going on with my husband is his deal. It’s not right that the amount of money I have be limited by his struggles to work and whatever else is going on with him, namely his depression and his addiction to gaming. The Proclamation on the Family does say that fathers/husbands are primarily responsible for providing for their families, and mothers are responsible for nurturing. Then it says that they are to help each other in these roles as equal partners. It also says death, disability, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. I have prayed and feel that Clark’s depression is like unto a disability just as a long-term illness is. I choose to attract more of you. So…guess what I did this morning? Yep, I looked up scriptures about women and money in the Bible. This is what God’s word is about you, money, and housewives:
10 ¶Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
This is my new vision of what I can be as a virtuous woman, a virtuous housewife. I can attract money and invest it wisely. I use you money to stretch you out to the poor, to the needy, to cover my children with protection from the elements, and to turn you into things I can sell. It may not be fine linen and girdles and fruits of a vineyard, but it is things that help me to be blessed by my children, praised by my husband, and able to feel strength, honor, and rejoicing. I use my time and energy to be a vessel for God to let money flow through me to go to where it does the most service for others. Lucy Mack Smith, the prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, had some industries going to attract money. If the prophet’s mother felt it was OK to earn money, I feel OK about earning money as well.
8. Thou will reward me for my hard work. As it says in 2 Chronicles 15:7:
“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.”
In summary, money, bring it on! I am in harmony with you. I look forward to seeing a lot more of you!