Why does Prince Charming often turn into a terrifying beast even before the honeymoon is over?
Imagine the horror of discovering that your dream man is really Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—a nice, charming, caring man in public, but an angry, domineering abuser at home. Dr. Margaret Rinck (in her book Christian Men Who Hate Women) describes such men as misogynists—men who need to control their wives more than they need their affirmation or admiration, men who are deeply dependent on their wives while at the same time harbouring a strong resentment.
The word misogynist literally means hatred of women. Although they claim to love their wives, the actions of a misogynist indicate just the opposite. They may appear kind and charming at church or the
office, but they lead a double life at home, acting kind and loving part of the time and disrespectful and abusive the rest of the time.
The woman who lives with a misogynist is confused by the double messages he sends, and is often not believed by friends and pastors when she describes what really goes on at home. As she begins to doubt her own perceptions, she blames herself for the problems and works even harder to please the abuser and gain his approval.
However, this is a game that can never be won. Once she changes a certain behaviour to please him, he will find something else to target. Nothing she does pleases him, and she begins to doubt her ability to function as a wife and mother. Usually it is when she begins to doubt her own sanity that she reaches out for help to her pastor or a counsellor.
Dr. Rinck believes that “Christian men who hate women are in some ways even more dangerous and destructive in their relationships than their non-Christian counterparts.” This is because Christian men use the scriptures and church doctrine as a weapon to intimidate and threaten punishment if their wives don’t submit to their every demand. Many men justify their violence by blaming their wives for being unsubmissive or out of God’s will.
How do you know if you are in a misogynistic relationship?
Here are a few telltale signs:
The man believes he has the “God given” right to control the thoughts and actions of his wife, to demand total obedience, and to punish or threaten her if she resists.
He uses the Bible and church doctrine to justify his actions. He quickly skips over the “servant leadership” model of a husband and obsesses on the duties of the wife. He adds punishment to his role as a husband even though the scriptures do not give him such authority or control.
He believes that her opinions and feelings have no value, and her needs are not important and should not be considered.
He is charming and well-liked at church, but the family has to walk on eggshells to prevent making him angry.
He yells, threatens, hits, or sulks when he does not get his way or when she does something to displease him.
She feels confused and off-balance when without warning he changes from being loving and kind to angry and cruel.
No matter how much she changes or tries to please him, he is never satisfied. She feels inadequate and guilty, and believes it must be her fault. She no longer trusts her own perceptions and wonders if she is going crazy.
He is possessive and sometimes jealous, especially when she talks and associates with other men. Sometimes he acts jealous of the time she spends with the children. He may try to restrict her activities and make her a prisoner in her own home.
Because of his possessiveness, she may disassociate from family and friends in order to keep him happy. She needs these relationships, but it is more important for her to keep the peace.
When anything goes wrong, he always blames her. If she were more submissive, more sensitive to his needs, more like so and-so’s wife, a better mother, etc. then all their problems would be solved. He sees himself as a good husband for putting up with her. He is blind to his own faults and does not take responsibility for his own actions.
When he is displeased and does not get his way, he yells, hurls insults, breaks or throws objects, or is physically violent.
Dr. Rinck has identified four types of misogynists, each with behaviour based on shame and fear of abandonment. These four types of men hate women and use the Bible, church doctrine, and theological arguments to support their right to control women.
They demand “submission” to their viewpoint. They discount their wife’s feelings, opinions, and thoughts. They act charming one minute, then hostile and cruel the next. They frequently point out their
wife’s faults, but are unable to perceive their own shortcomings.
Type I Misogynist
- Not physically abusive, but is disrespectful and often critical toward his wife.
- Rarely loses his temper, but uses logic and flattery to discount woman’s feelings and thoughts.
Type II Misogynist
- Type I behaviour plus more verbal abuse such as belittling, name calling, comparing to other women.
- Uses non-verbal techniques such as pouting, the silent treatment, dirty looks. Demands special attention, and may be jealous of wife’s attention to others.
Type III Misogynist
- Type I and II behaviour plus threats of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
- More extreme in controlling wife’s actions, finances, social life, and matters of daily living.
Type IV Misogynist
- Type I, II, and III behaviour plus physical or sexual abuse toward wife and/or children.
- Very extreme in controlling wife’s behaviour and family life.
- Abusive behaviour has become deeply ingrained and poses a significant danger to the woman and children.
If you are in a relationship with most of these characteristics present, seek help immediately from a pastor or counsellor who understands the dynamics of spousal abuse. If they tell you simply to go home and be more submissive and understanding, find another pastor or counsellor who is qualified. Read books about domestic violence, and join a local support group.
Help is available!