Domestic Violence

Does the Watchtower Marriage Mate Selection Advice Actually Work? A Former Elder Tells His Story

When you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower publishing company desires to direct just about every aspect of your life.  This includes your selection of a marriage mate.  The Watchtower gives plentiful advice about how to select the appropriate marriage mate, as is evidenced by the August 2016 JW broadcasting.  If the Watchtower is directed by God and used by him as they claim, than how could you possibly do better than to follow such advice?  This is exactly what I thought when I was serving as a single elder and looking for a marriage mate.  How did following the advice of the Watchtower work for me?  If you read Karuna Light’s post from August 14, no doubt you have a pretty good idea, as she summed up quite well how “effective” their dating advice is.  If you have not read her latest post, “A Psychologist Dissects the Harmful and Downright Laughable Watchtower Advice on Marriage“, I highly recommend you do so.  My story is proof that her summation is correct.

A Former Elder’s Story 

In my mind, the Watchtower version of reality was reality.  I had been raised from infancy believing the claims of the Watchtower organization to be true and solidly founded.  As such, I did my best to follow their advice, especially when it came to choosing a marriage mate.  Their advice would distort my view of the dating process, and cause me to pass up on more than one girl who would have been an excellent mate for me.

Jehovah’s Witness youths are taught that the most important trait in a potential mate is their spirituality, which to Jehovah’s Witnesses means the level to which they engage in activities that promote the Watchtower organization.  The Watchtower teaches that such activities are sacred service to God Almighty Jehovah, and the level to which one engages in such activities demonstrates how much they love Jehovah.  Thus, what logical person would not want to be paired with an individual who really loved Jehovah, and demonstrated it by doing endless organizational activities?  After all, your eternal future depended on how many of these organizational activities you engaged in.

This was the delusion I was under until I got married.  That was nothing short of an extremely rude awakening, and would eventually lead to my waking up from the coma-like existence of the mind control that one is under when they are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Watchtower teaches that there are more “sisters”, meaning female Jehovah’s Witnesses, than there are “brothers” or male Jehovah’s Witnesses.  To a large extent, that is true.  However, that teaching has the effect of convincing the males – brothers – that they are in demand due to the sheer economics of the situation.  This belief was always in the back of my mind, though my reality never showed it to be true.  I lived in an area where the ratio was actually skewed in the other direction, meaning the women had more choices than the men.  The reason for this was because, much to the honor of the young women in the area, they left in higher numbers than the young men.  So, right away, the viewpoint I was given by the organization was not correct.

Nonetheless, I dated my share of JW women.  However, there are a few problems when you are dating in a very small group of people, the first of which is that you are far less likely to actually find someone you work well with.  Add this to the fact that you are looking for someone with “spiritual qualifications” before you are looking for someone you actually love, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

Doing Things By the Book

Of the JW women I dated, some were nice and some were crazy, but none ever truly clicked with me.  During this time, I met a few women at work whom I truly fell in love with.  However, I never even bothered to try to pursue them since they were not Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I can tell you from experience that few things are as heartbreaking as to look into the eyes of someone whom you know you love, and that you can tell loves you, and not to be able to say or do anything about it.  That happened to me more than once.  That is how indoctrinated I was.  Those experiences are now years in the past.

However, I dated several JW girls.  My desire to get married, coupled with my desire for sex (since sex outside of marriage is off-limits to JWs), drove many of my decisions; I was a virgin when I eventually did get married, but many of the girls I did date were just not good enough “spiritual partners” for me.  I wanted someone whom I could be proud of as an elder, someone who got lots of hours in service, who commented at meetings, and who knew the “truth.”  That, coupled with my extreme fear of getting into a marriage that was contentious, drove me to end many of those relationships.

So, eventually, I finally found my spiritual partner.  She had pioneered for a few years, and was currently auxiliary pioneering (spending 50 hours per month preaching Watchtower dogma from door to door).  She commented regularly, helped people in the hall, and checked all the right boxes for a “spiritual sister”.  She was well spoken of by her elders.  My friends all fell in love with her after meeting her once.  At long last, over ten years of prayer had paid off.  Finally, in my mid 30’s, I had found “the one” by following all of the Watchtower’s direction.  Jehovah had truly blessed me.

Capture sane

Oh, so close.

This delusion came crashing down most unceremoniously the day after my honeymoon.  That night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, something I will never forget happened.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, my wife gets this wild look in her eyes.  She needs to call her former roommate because she wants to spend the night there.  As she says this, I’m suddenly thrown for a loop, and can’t fathom what just happened.  “Why do you want to spend the night with your roommate, what is wrong?  Did I do something?”  The wild look continues, a look that is something between desperation and paranoia; I can’t quite describe it.  She refuses to tell me what is wrong, and will not address it.  She just MUST SPEND THE NIGHT WITH HER ROOMMATE.

I’m suddenly shattered.  What went wrong, what did I do?  Did I just marry someone who has the Watchtower’s mythical “gift of singleness?” ¹  What is happening, and how do I fix this?  Is Jehovah up there laughing at me, having just pulled a huge joke on me?  As I slowly witness my worst fears materializing before my very eyes, I eventually give in and tell her to call her roommate.  She does; her roommate responds by laughing at her on the other end of the phone.  My wife stays at home that night, and that’s the end of it.  Literally, the day after our honeymoon, the honeymoon period has come to a sudden crashing halt with no warning.  The thoughts begin to pour in, “Oh my God, what have I done?  Whom did I marry?  How did this happen to me?”

The next day I go for a walk to get some clarity and attempt to re-establish my grip on my sanity.  It isn’t that bad, I must be over-blowing the whole situation, or so I think.  After all, I have served Jehovah faithfully for DECADES, and I followed all the advice of the faithful and discrete slave.  How could this POSSIBLY go wrong?  Okay, it must just be a passing thing, maybe she was just a bit wound up.  It will pass, I tell myself.

That night was the beginning of the end.  Things only went downhill from there.  My beautiful bubbly wife transformed into someone whom I was literally afraid to go home to.  I never knew what would start a fight, and when the fights did start, I was utterly powerless to end them.  I would eventually learn that the only way for me to stop the fight was to physically leave my house, the place that I had lived in for almost ten years, the place that was no longer my home.

Coupled with the intense situations I had experienced as an elder working with a body of elders that was extremely contentious, this was too much for me to handle.  I began to drink more to cope with the situation.  At six months and again at one year in, I told another elder on the body I was serving with about the troubles I was having at home.  His advice?  “The first year of marriage is difficult.” As the kids would say, WTF?? That brother is now a circuit overseer.

Doing the work of an elder is difficult and time-consuming.  It takes lots of effort.  I went from doing that by myself on a contentious body of elders, to dragging a boat anchor with me through my personal life.  Not only did my wife not support me in any way, shape or form, but she actively drained me and verbally abused me, leaving me with even less energy for my spiritual duties.

The Good News

It was the cauldron of this living hell that finally caused me to wake up.  The sheer misery of having waited over a decade for something, having served so much for that decade, and then getting utterly the opposite of what I was promised that I would get, finally freed me to remove the shackles and truly examine things for myself.  Such honest examination led to my freedom from the horribly abusive auspices of the Watchtower.

Alexandra James writes from the point of view of one who has borne the brunt of such abuses under the guise of “submitting to male headship.”  As such, she is in by far the majority as far as Watchtower whistle blowers are concerned.  The organization is heavily rigged in favor of males over females.  I just happen to be one of the individuals who was a male elder, yet still had to endure the verbal and emotional abuse of my now ex-wife.  I am in the minority.

healthMy ex-wife suffered from an extremely rough past, and some fairly significant emotional and personality disorders.  I do not believe she had any intent to be the person she was.  I do believe that she literally had no ability to control it.  The Watchtower does not provide tools to help such individuals.  These people are regularly encouraged to study more, pray, go to meetings, and go out in field service.  Those things never helped.  As a married couple, we studied several times about marriages, marriage mates, etc.  It would make a difference for about a day, and then it was back to normal.

When a person has those issues, they need help from professionals and possibly some medicine; they don’t need to simply preach more.

That is my story.  When I watch the JW broadcasting giving advice about how to find a marriage mate, my only hope is that following that advice will wake others up the way it woke me up.  Until such a time as everyone is awake, someone will need to keep blowing the whistle to warn people about the incredible dangers of following the Watchtower’s horrifically misguided teachings.  I lived it, and as such, I believe I could be considered an expert witness about what it is really like to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I do not fear them, for they are following deluded men – as evidenced by their own literature, nothing more.

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¹ “Whether to stay single or to get married is a matter of determining in one’s heart if one is able to cultivate the gift of singleness.”
– August, 2016, Watchtower Simplified Version

For more information on the use of this phrase, see the November 15, 2012, Watchtower and the book, “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love,” pages 110-120.

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Visit Spike Raynor’s YouTube channel at this site.

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8 replies »

  1. Spike sad to say your experience is very very common. I knew an Elder & Pioneer who married a Regular Pioneer who had 10 studies & was successful in getting ones baptised & was very bubbly BUT once married & behind closed doors she was Verbally & Physically abusive because of a damaged childhood . Many Regular Pioneers have severe emotionally damaged backgrounds & they crave the attention & the limelight of being looked up to & used on the platform at meetings & assemblies.

    • Soooo true. I know of dozens like this. People who are traumatized either in childhood or through abuse are especially drawn to JW’s I feel because they crave LOVE and initially that’s how JW’s come across.

  2. This is on point with what I went through as well. My spiritual match of course was a Bethelite. The jackpot of brothers. And just like yourself, things got weird fairly quickly. And as a spiritual sister myself along with the fact that I had to remain submissive to my spiritual head, I endured it for 10 years. Until HE fell in love with someone else. And can you believe that he only got some privileges removed temporarily as I had to suffer the emotional manipulation effects of 10 years of being with crazy? Well…long story short. I’ve escaped him and the JW organization. He’s still serving as an MS in his local congregation. I remarried another escaped witness and happily partnered for 13 years this month. But deep down I’m still bitter for those lost 10 years and that those people only care that he’s still attending despite all that he did. And I did nothing yet I’m the evil one.

  3. Great article! Like others it brought back memories of my own holy matrimonial quest and eventual marital misery…

    I remember two pieces of advice offered by two unqualified marriage counselors (elders who were janitors) One I can’t share because it involved a womans vagina (very wierd) and the other I follow to this day and encourage other newly weds to follow.

    “If your mate cooks up a big ole batch of tuna surprise and you don’t like it… be honest and tell them so… or you’ll end up eating it every Wednesday night for the rest of your life.”

    If I ever find that special someone (free mind) I’ll still follow that advice lol

    Back to your article.

    People with significant emotional and personality disorders:
    “These people are regularly encouraged to study more, pray, go to meetings, and go out in field service. Those things never helped.”

    Awesome statement. One of the foremost identifiers of cult mind control. Keep people from the much need help and support they desperately require. Cuz, they’ll certainly live your ass and the organizations vice grip the minute they become healthier.

    Thank you Spike for what you shared. Keep writing… keep speaking out… you are a great source of support and inspiration.

  4. I am sorry for you having to go through that part of your life. I appreciate you sharing this; and it’s especially a good story for younger people to read to learn from it. Much happiness and success to you in the future.

  5. This article brings back memories. A decade ago, my sister got into trouble and my parents chastised her for dating someone behind their backs. She wasn’t dating a worldly person, she was dating someone from the congregation, but since my sister was just 20 at that time, my parents wanted to make sure that she was ready for marriage.

    See, the thing is, for the Witnesses, dating doesn’t organically happen. One doesn’t just stumble across a person one might like, and slowly see how things go. Instead, for the Witnesses, dating is done so that one can find a marriage mate. So my parents told my sister, that if she isn’t ready to get married yet, then she shouldn’t date.

    Needless to say, that relationship ended, my sister left the Witnesses, and she is now in a very stable and happy relationship with someone she is not married to.

    I also recall my own experience of being in the closet. For the longest time, I thought that I was bisexual, and that even though I was definitely attracted to men, I thought I could will myself and be attracted to women too. Thankfully, there were other issues that forced me to confront my religious beliefs, and left the Witnesses as well. Only after leaving did I come out and figure out who I really was.

    Now, I am in a same-sex relationship, and married; my sister, on the other hand, refuses to get married, no matter how stable her opposite-sex relationship is. I suppose there are plenty of ways a Witness indoctrination can scar you.

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