How I Became an Egalitarian: Married Life

This is Part 9 in a series that started here.

Married life was wonderful.  But it was also hard.  We loved being married to each other.  But there was also a lot to work out in terms of roles and responsibilities.

In those first few months as we hammered out how we wanted to do things in our marriage, we tried to remember our premarital counseling.  There were certain roles that we were taught.  I remember particularly that one day during our engagement period, the wife of our mentoring couple took me to Panera to address the fact that I am a strong leader.  She sympathized with me because she is a strong leader too, but she explained to me how wonderful it will be to yield to my husband and to allow him to lead me.  I wanted this kind of wonderful that she was painting for me, so I tried to emulate their marriage in our marriage.

Much of what our mentoring couple taught us corroborated with the message we heard from a marriage conference we had attended during our engagement period.  At this conference, they described the wife’s domain as the home and that her biblical calling in life is to take care of the home and the family.  This was her great gift.  A wife’s job is to make the home into a refuge for her husband, so that when he comes home from work, he could find restoration and refreshment from the battles that he faced in the world.

They gave some tips on how to create this haven for husbands when he comes home from work:

1.  Before your husband comes home, pick up around the house so that it is neat and orderly.
2.  Make sure to change out of your house-clothes into something presentable when your husband comes home (i.e. You don’t need him to see the spit-up from the baby on your clothes.  This would not be sexy or appealing to him).  Also, it won’t hurt to check the mirror and touch up your make-up as well.
3.  Make sure your children are tidy and clean.
4.  Be sure to make it a special event that your husband has arrived home.  Run to the door to welcome him with a hug and kiss.  Prompt the kids to welcome daddy home with great enthusiasm as well.

When we attended this conference, we came with a humble posture, eager to learn the secret to a healthy and successful Christian marriage.  Hearing their tips, I could see, on one hand, how it would be nice for my husband to be welcomed enthusiastically when he arrives home.  But on the other hand, I was memorably surprised that the speakers were presuming that women would be staying at home with the children, first of all.  And, second, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they were getting their “tips” from the Bible or from 1950s TV shows.  In the end, it was a weekend I actually wanted to forget, not remember.

For us, trying to figure out how to fit our marriage with our particular personalities into what we were taught about marriage felt like attempting to fit wrong pieces together in a jigsaw puzzle.  We kept on trying because we thought, eventually, we’d find the match.  However, it was in the midst of trying over and over again to turn the same wrong pieces round and round that we were invited to a Bible study.  This Bible study would start us on a journey that changed our marriage and our lives forever.

Click here for the next part in the series.

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