Created to Be His Helpmeet, by Debi Pearl. Originally published in 2004.
Since the book is divided into two parts, almost like 2 books in 1, I’ll do its review in two parts. Part 1 is titled The Help Meet.
Part 1 is pretty good. There were a few things I disagreed with, and in fact, I offer my review with this very strong caveat: I do not recommend this to anyone in an extremely troubled marriage. It could be damaging to the heart of a woman who is doing all she can with no positive response from her man. In fact, I would suggest those in such marriages refrain from reading random books for pat answers.
If there was one thing that bothered me most about this book, it was the testimonials implying that any woman can single handedly save the man, the marriage, the family, and her sanity all by following the advice within its pages. It seemed to imply that a wife could, by prayerfully striking all the right notes, render a husband’s free will irrelevant as he succumbed to the power of her perfectness as a help meet. That’s a dangerous seed to plant into the mind of a desperate wife.
To her credit, she pointed out that husbands who engage in sinful behavior were responsible for their own actions. I’d read reviews where women accused her of blaming wives for everything wrong in their marriages. I didn’t get that. It’s a book written by a woman, to women, about the responsibilities of women in marriage. That necessarily demands focused discussion rather than extensive caveats and attempts to balance.
Additionally, I was put off by the idea of wives ceasing to be individuals upon marriage. I believe in loving, radical submission and making every effort to please your husband, but the implication that one’s total being is to be immersed in him is not a Christian teaching. My husband wants me to think, not parrot his thoughts.
With those stipulations, part one was still very good. For wives in reasonably good marriages, or who just need a glimpse of what a submissive wife looks like (far too many have never seen it) this is instructive. There were things I wasn’t fully conscious of in my attitude until I saw it while reading this book. It was good mirror for me. Now to some of the specifics.
I laughed out loud when I read the letter and the author’s response to the woman whose husband was getting a little too chummy with the office secretary. In part because this was, if memory serves, one of the points of controversy in the book. That this wife was advised to make her self more attractive than “the office wench” made many women howl in objection. The second reason I found it funny was because the advice sounds very close to what my godly grandmother-in-law, now 93, would say if I came to her with this type of dilemma.
This is only controversial because of our cultural sensibilities. For the sake of brevity, I will not reprint 1 Corinthians 7 here, but click on the link to read it. If a woman wishes to keep her man’s attentions, of course she needs to do what needed to be done to make herself attractive to him. It doesn’t guarantee he won’t stray, but life doesn’t come with guarantees.
The reason I gave part 1 of this book fairly high marks was the extensive amount of ink -3 chapters- dedicated to the importance of being joyful, content, and thankful. These are invaluable to the health of any relationship and the fact that Mrs. Pearl understood this and called out women on their tendency to be ungrateful, even when they have pretty good husbands, was in my opinion, almost totally worth overlooking the parts I didn’t care for.
Specifically, I noted the women who complained because their husbands watched television, or “weren’t spiritual enough”, or any other number of minor things that were being blown up into major things.Women do fall into that trap. I’ve seen it more times than I can count and I appreciated Mrs. Pearl’s wisdom in pointing out that the notion that women are more spiritual than men is damaging to marriages.
Such wives inwardly exalt themselves over their husbands while pretending to be the dutiful, submissive wife. Looking for the good in our men, being thankful for the fact that we have good men, and refusing to try and make them be more like what we want than who God made them to be, is always good advice.
In a section titled, “Wisdom to Know Your Man”, Mrs. Pearl and her daughter lay out three different categories they claimed most men fall into: Mr. Command Man, Mr. Visionary, and Mr. Steady. I think that the idea that most men fit neatly into one of these three boxes was an oversimplification. If I had to categorize my husband, it would unquestionably be in the first category, Mr. Command, but there are nuances which her book failed to acknowledge.
I agree with her that certain types of men are more reserved and deliberate, and a strong woman can get frustrated with that type of man and dominate rather than appreciate him. I also remember when I was very displeased with my husband’s refusal -inability?- to capitulate to me. In time I learned that God knew I needed a strong man. We fit well together.
This book covers so much ground that it would be impossible for me to cover it all. I realize that my favorable review is not shared by many. In fact, the things that give me pause are what caused me to issue the word of caution above. This book isn’t for everyone.
Because I have always been a “big picture” type of person, it was easy for me to appreciate the good in this book despite its limitations. And I liked part 1.
Part 1 Grade: B-
Next time, I’ll take a look at part two.