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Husband/Wife Roles


By heath - Posted on 24 October 2005

Courtney and I got into a discussion tonight about husband and wife roles. Thankfully, I can say that this topic hasn't come up in quite some time. Unfortunately it did earlier in our marriage.

In small talk with an acquaintance, the idea that Courtney would be well taken care of as the mother of three boys came up. This caused me to reflect on my own practice of chivalry.

I think I have inherited a somewhat rare version of masculinity. It is one that is strong and traditional, and yet appreciates various traditionally feminine characteristics and interests and has a slight egalitarian strain. I'd love for women to be more active in theological discussion, but my wife stays home and raises the kids. I also have been known to enjoy home decor, shopping, and the arts. No, I am not gay.

On the other hand, my male role models were by no means chivalrous. That is not to say they did not love their women. They were however for a somewhat more traditional role in a 50's sort of way and not in a southern sort of way. It is not uncommon for my dad to be sitting with my mom and ask her to get him a drink.

In addition, there is a significant influence of a kind of pioneer woman in my history. My mom is a hard worker and a capable woman. I know that my Dad respects her and trusts her to hold her own in multitude of ways with pretty much anyone in probably anything. I think this also works against my developing a highly chivalrous attitude or practice.

Then there is Courtney's family. They might be seen as the more modern, egalitarian relationship. Her mom will without thinking ask her dad to retrieve the smallest ingredient on a special trip to the grocery store. I often remember him vacuuming at 12:30 in the morning.

Needless to say there were some surprises when we began to become "regulars" at each others houses. This translated to some rough interactions during the first couple of years. You can imagine my shock. I was sitting on the couch about to ask for my drink when I am told (ok, asked) to go get some sour cream for our baked potatoes. We sort of settled into a you don't ask me and I won't ask you sort of agreement. It's not perfect. Mutual submission and service would probably be better. We're getting there.

As far as chivalry goes, I probably get a C-. In addition to my checkered history, I consider Courtney my intellectual equal, and she beats me at most games and many sports. Also, our relationship grew out of a friendship centered on parity in debate and discussion. We have always focused on our likeness rather than difference. Chivalry feels false and forced.

However, we are different. I know she would appreciate a little more TLC. Now that all the female readers really appreciate their own husbands, I will wrap up.

No doubt this issue has caused it's share of marital problems. It would be so much simpler if our culture was more homogeneous with respect to marital roles. We would, in faith, accept them and transform them according to Christ. Instead we face the modern predicament. The "heretical imperative" is upon us. We are forced to mix and match seemingly incompatible views looking for the once for all right way to order the marriage, when, in reality, there are probably many perfectly acceptable ones. The postmodern addendum tells us not to trust truth claims because they are just power grabs. Ergo, the battle of the sexes rages on.

The solution: The Gospel. First, trust God. He loves you. Second, repent. Do not scramble to protect and defend your own rights, desires, and dignity. These are our gods. Instead, submit and suffer as Christ suffered and as he calls his church to suffer. Our dignity and safety is assured in him.

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