Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marriage Changed My View of Marriage

                                                            Source: via Teighlor on Pinterest

I've heard sermons about how marriage that are built to last are based on
the man being the leader & the wife submitting.
I've read about how a woman wants to be loved & a man wants to be respected
& that is the "key".
I've heard that it is of central importance for the man to be the primary bread winner.

Most of the marriage counsel I have heard 
I saw it as good & right.
It all made sense to me.   
Except when I saw couples who did not follow the complementarian path 
& seemed to have successful marriages.
How was that working?
And what about all the folks who had a leading husband, a submitting wife
& an unhappy life?
So, I wondered.

Then I got married.
And all I thought before didn't seem to make as much sense.
Not because I was discontent at home.  I am not.  It is where I want to be.
Not because my husband was lording it over me.  
He's never pulled the "I'm the leader" card in a disagreement.

Or maybe that bit has a lot to do with my change of view.  
My husband didn't see any need to be over me.
And as time went on in our marriage, I started to see his point.
He led me in seeing that he didn't need to always be the leader over me.
(Ironic, right?)

we do have disagreements.  Sometimes.  
Actually, there are things we have ongoing disagreement about.

I started our relationship thinking we needed to always come to some conclusion.
We would need to make some sort of judgement as to what would be the right thing
 to do or believe or what ever.
I was frustrated that Scott would say what he thought, 
listen to what I thought & then be okay with the difference between the two.
If he was going to lead me, he surely should make a decision.  
Didn't he need to have the final say?

He would tell me that he married me to love me & walk with me.
He didn't intend to tell me what I should do or think.
I could see that my expectation of his high headship
was creating tension between us back then.
I thought I knew more about the Bible.
He felt like he had to have the Bible knowledge equal to all my favorite pastors, 
in order to meet my standard.

He married me because he loved my love for Jesus.
He married me knowing I had a trunk full of big opinions.
He loved that I was a strong woman.
Guess what - He has all those same qualities, of the male variety.

Now surely we didn't need to run a race in competition against each other, 
where he needed to stay one step ahead, in order to lead me.
Did he need to daily prove himself to me, as the strong head?
If I felt like I was catching up to him should I be poking him a bit
just to make sure he stays out in front?

Could we not run the race together?
Should we not both fix our eyes on Jesus (the author & finisher of my faith!),
rather than me on my husband?
Should we not urge each other on.
If I stumble, he reaches down & helps me up.  
And if he stumbles, I reach down & help him up.
We are in this thing together.  Side by side.

Once I understood that he didn't want to lay down the gauntlet,
we could both breath a sigh of relief.

So, if the husband doesn't make the final call in a disagreement, what happens, you ask?
We usually put it away for a while.  We lay that discussion to rest.  We pray about it.
As time goes by, new things come to light, hearts change, eyes see differently.
We can come to a decision together.
What about the times when the issue cannot wait?
We learn to defer to one another.  We both make compromises.
We try to lay down our own wants & submit to each others needs.
And I gave up on the idea that we would always have an answer
& that there would always be a clear right & wrong.

Does my husband lead me & our home toward Christ?  Yes.
But I lead him & our home toward Christ, too.
If I want to pray with my husband, I ask him.
It is okay.  I don't have to wait for him & pray that he will want to pray with me.
He doesn't need to feel like a failure, or walked all over.
We don't have an expectation that it is the man's job.
It is our job, as followers of Christ, to spur one another on in love & good deeds.

To be honest with you,
I am not really sure at this point what it means for the husband to be the head of the wife.
I'm not trying to say I know the right way.
I know that people can have long & happy marriages on both sides of the debate.
Whichever side you fall on;
Or if you aren't sure & you're still trying to figure it all out;
I wonder if the folks with happy, successful marriages have all found the same "keys".
Love the other.  Consider the other.  Build each other up.  Carry the others burden.

One of my favorite passages that speaks well to the foundation of a great marriage
is Philippians 2:1-11

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, 
if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, 
if any tenderness and compassion, 
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, 
having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, 
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, 
but also to the interests of others.   
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:   
Who, being in very nature God, 
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness.   
And being found in appearance as a man, 
he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place 
and gave him the name that is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father."

I am linking up with Rachel Held Evans for her Week of Mutuality 2012.
On Twitter, check out #mutuality2012


ed cyzewski said...

Thanks for sharing your process with us. What a story!

Stef said...

I loved this post! These are some very good insights.

I also have a hard time with the "keys of a successful marriage" stuff, because I don't see them in God's word. I see commands to be equally yolked, I see commands to love and serve Christ above all else and I see the things you mentioned here.
I'm becoming very skeptical with 'marriage' books because I can't stand when someone acts like they've found the keys or the secret and in the end, its sad because they tend to act like it all lies within us... and it doesn't.

Thanks for sharing. Really appreciate this.

Unknown said...

Erin - loved your, love, love the "walking side-by-side" analogy as I ended my post on what I would want my marriage to look like if I ever married again. I started with the analogy of the "dance" and what I used to believe marriages must look like - because I was of that mindset that a man must lead in order for it to work. Well- the only place that led both of us was to a divorce because I decided to change and get healthy...and you can read more on my blog. But thank you, thank you, thank you for your beautiful gives me so much hope that I too can find this kind of marriage some day!
Where you can find my analogy:

Ketchup with the Frys said...

Found your blog via your comment on my post at Rage Against the Minivan. Thank you for taking the time to comment. When I clicked over to check out your blog, I nearly fell over. I have been following the series at Rachel Held Evans! So random! I liked this post you wrote. It's so good to have food for thought and though I don't feel like I would do this topic justice on my own blog, it's been great reading and following along!

Anonymous said...

love this! "I don't have to wait for him and pray that he will want to pray with me..." yes, just pray already! I've done this, the waiting and finally realized that I too could and should initiate prayer! praying together tonight... :)

Dina said...

love this! "I don't have to wait for him and pray that he will want to pray with me..." yes, just pray already! I've done this, the waiting and finally realized that I too could and should initiate prayer! praying together tonight... :)