This piece was written by the husband of a former Mary Kay consultant who was involved with MK for many years. He offers his advice for other husbands, boyfriends, and family members.
1. LOVE YOUR WIFE. This is the most important thing you can do. This is where you must invest the majority of your effort and resources. Take every opportunity to let her know she is as vital and needed by you (and your family) today as she was the day you married her. Be ready to court her all over again. She’s worth it. You be the source of her recognition. Be the loudest source of her applause. Be her number one fan club. Shower her with your affection and attention. Perhaps this MK crisis is a God sent reminder that we’ve not done this enough.
2. DECLARE A CRISIS. Do this now. Proclaim the harm your family is suffering due to your wife’s association with Mary Kay Cosmetics is WRONG! Effectively express your objections rationally. Do it often, and then do it some more. Express your objections without anger. Practice alone in front of the mirror or in traffic while driving home. Continue, with regularity, to effectively express your objections rationally. And when you think she’s got the message, tell her again.
Your silence on this issue is a passive endorsement. This is a crisis. Sound the alarms.
In hindsight, I can clearly say one of the biggest mistakes I made as a husband was not expressing my objections about Mary Kay Cosmetics sooner and more often. I was sure somehow things would get better ; I was sure all she needed to make her Mary Kay “business” work was my unquestioned support; I was wrong.
Make noise. Make it rationally. Make it often.
3. DECLARE SECRETS ARE UNACCEPTABLE. While everyone has a right to privacy, secrets in a marriage are a recipe for divorce. She must agree you will be privy to (and agree to) any and all future “investments” in this “business venture.” Make clear that any such information not shared with you is (in light of the current family crisis prompted by MK) a personal affront, a blow to the sanctity of your marriage. You’re her husband, and your marital relationship is more precious than secrets between MK girlfriends.
No secret spending.
No secret bank accounts.
No secret credit cards.
No behavior (secret or otherwise) undertaken to hide expenditures or any MK activity.
Get a fresh credit check, learn to read it (or get help) and know where you stand. There may be debt out there you don’t know about.
4. IMPLEMENT PARAMETERS. Define Success. Together sit down and have her describe what a successful MK business looks like. Reach agreement about milestones, outcomes, and objective measurements. If you’re able to TOGETHER define success in objective terms, set goals, and review them in 6 months, 12 months, etc., she will be faced with having to address what is, essentially, an unfulfilled business plan.
The most effective parameters are the product of a negotiated agreement between both of you. If you and your wife are unable to reach agreement about these parameters, then share with her what you believe are appropriate boundaries (whether she adopts them or not), i.e., limits on MK spending; no travel to seminar or other MK related events unless X monthly profit is realized; no MK related travel until the MK debt is liquidated, etc. Recommend a “do or die” date with specific numbers. Your prescription of boundaries to protect the family financial interests is justified and reasonable.
5. ADOPT A MANTRA. Although you may need to unilaterally espouse parameters, realize you can not and should not expect to control any other person’s behavior, especially your wife’s. You are, by contrast, in total control or your own behavior. Your mantra can have nothing to do with what you hope or expect from your wife. It can be only what you have control over, what you will do. As a starting point, I suggest the following mantra for your consideration:
“I will do everything within my power to protect the sanctity of our marriage and the financial interests of our family.”
Make your mantra your own. Say it often to yourself. Say it often to your wife. Print it in large font and tape it to your bathroom mirror, tape it to your vehicle dashboard. Your mantra speaks to your wife and yourself about priorities and the mission you are undertaking. It is your personal declaration, your own personal foundation in sanity. Make your mantra a stand taken in support of your marriage’s longevity and your family’s financial health.
6. DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN. Be able to outline for yourself and your wife the action you will take in support of your mantra. For example:
If the assaults to your family finances continue, you will place all liquid assets in accounts accessible to you alone, where the funds are no longer vulnerable to such assaults;
If the assaults to your family finances continue, you will place a freeze on all credit accessible under your name. Laws vary from state to state regarding your ability to do this. See:
There are more drastic measures you can add to your action plan but I strongly suggest your plan be a collection of small incremental measures instead of a possible disproportionate response. Remember, the goal here is to protect your family, to regain & promote the trusting relationship with your life partner, not to simply impose your will on your spouse.
7. GET A THERAPIST. Do this sooner rather than later. A good therapist will help both of you define the important things in your marriage. This can be a long, tedious and expensive process. A therapist can be a great help (to you individually) with development of a mantra, an action plan and accentuation of the many positive things in your marriage.
8. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. This is vital. So much keys on your ability to accentuate the positive. This is tough when your life mate is squandering the family treasure and your trust on the continued unfulfilled promises peddled by MK. Do it anyway.
Appreciate your wife. There is so much to be positive about and thankful for in your marriage. Such emphasis on the positive aspects of your marriage is a gift not only to your wife, but to yourself also. Recognize the positive and accentuate it daily, many times daily. Tape right above your mantra (on the bathroom mirror or wherever), “Thank God for my wife,” and mean it. Let her know that’s how you feel.
Let yourself know that’s how you feel.
You fell in love with this woman for so many, many reasons. You know the qualities you find attractive in her, the qualities she brings to the relationship. Let her know you are thankful for the way she brightens your life. Remind her (often) you know how important she is, how irreplaceable she is, how she is so much a part of your existence. She needs to hear this and (I bet) you’ve not been letting her know this as often as you once did.
Be genuine. Let’s face it. If you were to play poker with your wife, you’d (most likely) have a tough time bluffing. She knows you. She can read you. So, don’t lay a heap of bull s#*% at her feet and expect to be taken seriously. However, you know the wonderful things about her that made you fall head over heals for her. Revisit them with her in words and in actions. Praise her in what you do and say. Praise her for all the things she brings to you and your family.
The breadth of your praise should exceed the level of noise you’re making about Mary Kay. You have to be better at this than Mary Kay Cosmetics. The good news is you’ve got so much more to work with. You know the true nature of your wife’s character, the qualities she so naturally brings to most any situation. You don’t have to rely on the grotesquely disingenuous applause and praise heaped out by the truck load at Mary Kay gatherings for the most insignificant things. You’ve got so much more substance to recognize. The difference is (too often) most of us husbands don’t praise our life partners as much as we once did. Perhaps we leave a void, a void the Mary Kay machine is ready and eager to fill.
9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Know you’re not alone. Visit the many forums on the internet addressing the abuses suffered by those associated with MK and take in the support offered. The mere knowledge you’re not alone is a gift. These forums are a refuge. Also, find a close friend or family member and vent. In doing so, though, be careful not to disparage your wife. Remember, you and your wife are going to be together long after this curse is gone.
10. WORSHIP TOGETHER. One of the things I despise most about this organization is the way it so successfully bathes itself in Christianity and co-opts the personal faith of its targets. Many of the MK gatherings I’ve been to center around wonderful stories of how women have overcome cancer, life threatening trauma, or other terrific hardships through prayer and the strength a genuine faith can provide. At theses MK gatherings such beautiful stories, unfortunately, are then magnificently blended into a Mary Kay quote and ultimately used as a reason women should join the cult-like sales force.
By worshiping together, the tenants of the faith in your marriage will serve as an effective counter to the MK road shows and revivals which seek to convert your spouse to a mind numbed follower. Encourage, if she is so inclined, her involvement in varied activities surrounding her faith. Attendance at a church function, for example, can easily be as (and more) spiritually fulfilling as any MK gathering. And what’s more, a genuine Christian organization won’t be using Christ’s name to prompt your wife or anyone else to buy or sell a product.
11. KNOW YOU’RE THE ROOKIE HERE. The MK community is accomplished at playing you and your reactions like a good poker hand. Learn everything you can about this cult-like organization. Be deliberate and informed. Fear, and take steps to avoid, losing your role as your wife’s #1 confidant; don’t let her MK associates take this role from you. Be the number one supporter of your wife.
12. KNOW TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE (in most cases). Hang in there. You can weather this nightmare, your marriage can. Your marriage is worth it. The good news is the duration of most women’s status as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant is kinda short. Your wife is an intelligent person. Her perceptive abilities combined with your continued objections (and very importantly, your support) will win in the end. This company goes through consultants like logs through a wood chipper. It’s the nature of the beast, it’s an MLM. Be patient but vocal.
Time and reality have a way of making interest in such harmful pursuits eventually rot. Steer her toward the places she’s been told are off limits like PinkTruth.com, and the many other internet resources out there. Send her e-mails sharing testimonials (cut-n-paste) from the many former consultants who’ve stepped beyond the insanity. Your wife is well worth the wait.
13. STRIVE TO SOFTEN HER LANDING. It’s been a long time since I visited the big city but I clearly remember seeing the three-card monte games played on top of card board boxes on the sidewalks of 42nd Street. These guys weren’t just good, they were artists. If you don’t know what three-card monte is, see here:
Their use of shills, manufactured excitement and the effective communication to their marks that winning was a sure thing, was masterful. Many a tourist lost a crisp $20, or more, to these cons. Were these tourists stupid? No, they were victims. The MK scam is, in so many ways, just like three-card monte, but on a much larger scale. Your wife is a victim of this con.
One of the big differences between the 42nd Street card game and MK is the victimized tourists in the city weren’t recruited to help target new marks. This, as you’re well aware, is an oversimplification. I draw this contrast to illustrate the depth of the MK victimization, the abuse of women.
Our wives didn’t merely lose a $20 bill on a busy street corner. Her loss wasn’t limited to just the money. Her loss was (is) so much more; she invested her personal integrity, and this company eagerly squandered it. She invested her personal commitment, her trust, to one or more of the polished catch phrases: “Enriching women’s lives,” “God first, family second, business third,” etc. Mary Kay Cosmetics became not just a job, it became a life mission. It became a primary component of her sense of self.
For many, I believe, coming out of MK is not prompted by a sudden epiphany. It’s more often a long process that begins with an interspersed serious of clues, like individual soft flickers of light. These clues continue and prompt recurring self examination. Over time, like a growing crescendo, the flickers of light increase in number and intensity. Self examination intensifies. Doubt develops and it becomes more and more difficult to ignore. Questions arise in the consultant’s self talk and stressful, recurring self debate ensues:
“This isn’t what they said it would be, is it”?
“Just what are my personal standards”?
The objections repeated by you, her husband, for what has seemed like an eternity are beginning to sound reasonable. “Warm chatter” is no longer engaged in with the vigor of a Christian missionary spreading the word of God. Participation in weekly MK meetings drops off. The doubt becomes constant. The intensity of the doubt is no longer easily dampened by the disingenuous enthusiasm and painted on smiles of fellow consultants. The MK trite, hackneyed cliches are beginning to sound like trite hackneyed cliches.
And then what is perhaps the toughest part, your wife realizes this “dream” was not merely a con in which she was victimized, it was also something she peddled to others. In the process of selling the dream she certified its authenticity to others with her own personal endorsement, an endorsement she proudly presented as the best choice a woman could make. She gladly accepted the personal vulnerability which accompanies such full-throated promotion of the MK MLM. She did so, however, without malice. After all, she was just sharing what she genuinely thought was a great opportunity.
But now, she can’t ignore what has become so obvious: she was scammed and she facilitated the scamming of others. Depression is a frequent companion. Her sense of self worth takes a major blow. At this point she feels like a failure. As the idea of getting out finally begins to emerge large on her horizon, many of her MK confidants do little to soften the injury to her spirit. In fact, too often, they exacerbate her feelings of failure. Depression engulfs her.
This is the time you must do everything you can to soften her landing. This is the time to let her know you’ve never stopped believing in her. Although you despise everything having to do with Mary Kay Cosmetics (a message by now she clearly understands), you’ve never lost faith in the person you married. The thing you don’t want to do is hit her with anything remotely resembling an “I told you so.” If your going to give her that kind of message you may as well just hit her with a roundhouse open handed slap across the face. Don’t do it.
Be there to steady her with your embrace, to support her as she steps back from the abyss. And very importantly, let her know she is not a failure, never has been. Welcome her into your open arms and thank God you didn’t lose her.
14. WARN OTHERS. For the love of God, don’t ever miss an opportunity to warn others and hopefully save them from the horror of the MK nightmare. I use to be the guy delivering MK product in little pink bags to people in and near my workplace. I commonly used MK lines on women and followed up by handing them my wife’s MK business card. Yes, I engaged in “warm chatter.” I can tell you now, with great certainty, had I known then what I know now about this seductive predator, I would have never supported my wife’s involvement in Mary Kay Cosmetics.
This is not about Mary Kay products, it’s about the multi-level marketing scheme that preys on women’s vulnerabilities so effectively, so mercilessly. It’s about subtle directions consultants are given to lie to their spouses, to never stop pursuing the MK peddled dream, regardless of the amount of debt it causes. It’s about damage to marriages and family finances. Do for others what you wish someone had done for you at the beginning. Tell others they shouldn’t walk away from the MK “opportunity,” they should run.