Not to put too fine a point on it, but yes–this is precisely why it didn’t work. They all came home, got on their knees in front of their wives, (some of them even crying) prayed with them, promised to take the kids to more ball games, do more chores, and their wives lost all respect for them.
They thought they had found the key–the holy grail of getting their wives to respect them (which is what men actually want). Work harder! (Like Boxer) and it failed.
This is why you see so much writing and commenting in the manosphere about women’s solipsism. I would probably argue just a little that this is the exact right word, but it speaks to one of the great myths of the current age. That is–supposedly women are so much more emotionally sophisticated than men.
But the evidence shows something much more different. It was men (in huge numbers) who assessed their own marriages and concluded that whatever was wrong with them was their own fault. Therefore, I will band together with other men, openly discuss where I have failed and my brothers will keep me accountable.
This is the highest level of introspection one can achieve, really. It is the macro version of Christs commandment to first look to remove the mote from your own eye. Men internalize this message and make changes. (Listening to their pastors and wives telling them the supposed secrets to success involve being “exhausted” at the end of the day.)
Where was the commensurate women’s movement of the day?
Hopefully not too much context is lost by pulling those quotes out like that.
Now, it would be perfectly reasonable to conclude then, as commenter Oscar did:
So, what you’re saying is that the husbands led, and their wives didn’t follow.
And there is a sense in which this is true. It follows in a linear fashion. In my profession, we would call this linear, logical and goal directed. Not everything that the western collective mind produced is bad. And, as I have hammered on many times before, I am culturally western and theologically eastern.
But imagine for a moment if we could transcend this type of transactional thinking, just as a thought experiment. Under what conditions might a commensurate women’s movement spring up and what would it look like? And further allow yourself the thought that it arose organically somewhat coincidental to the Promise Keepers. Such a movement would then be independent of the need for women en masse to respond to mens attempt to win their wives over without a word. (Dalrock calls this marital “cross dressing because it is exactly the opposite model proposed in scripture). They would have been convicted of their own failings and disobedience to clear Christian teachings on submission, sweetness, modesty, etc. The common denominator here would be the Holy Spirit Himself, as both groups decided to be better husbands and wives according to the scripture.
When I go to confession, my priest in his totally awesome Serbian accent always comes to this part of the sacrament:
Scott. As you know, God is not willing to forgive those who do not also have forgiveness in their hearts for the ones they have something against. So, do you have anything against any brothers or sisters you need to let go of and confess?
I always know its coming. And every time, I’m not prepared for it. I stutter through it, squirm, etc. But on my knees with that stole on my head in front of the altar, kind of makes it imperative to search yourself. I think God will strike me dead if I don’t assess that part accurately.
All of spiritual discipline is like that. I figure, if its something that you personally find hard to do–but God asks you to do it anyway, you should probably do more of it. Struggle with overeating? Restrict your calories more. Struggle with loving your wife even when she is acting unlovable? Love her more. Struggle with obeying your husband because you think you know better? Submit and get over yourself.
Getting back to Promise Keepers–it is true that the guys in that movement did not recognize (or were afraid to confront) much of the rebellion that goes unchecked and even encouraged by their pastors. This cannot be excused.
If may also be true that women do not naturally respond with graciousness at the sight of their husbands trying harder, this is also something that must be addressed. I don’t actually believe that women struggle with empathy. I do, however believe they tend to lack the courage and/or motivation to turn the data provided by empathic responses into actionable items. In other words, the kind of empathy that changes your life and the lives around you. This is what happens when you see something that is not right and then you make a series of decisions about what can be done, and then do them. But no one escapes the Lords wrath in the end when He will ask “why did you stubbornly wait to do the right thing?” and we respond: