Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When a woman swings a hammer and a man does the dishes

A young woman friend, who is exploring the dynamics of marriage, asked me if I had an egalitarian or complementarian slanted marriage.

I put down my hammer and said, “What?”  (Kidding, no hammer in hand at the time) But after a few decades of living with someone and growing in the Lord with them, the lines that once had been so carefully drawn were now smudgy and scribbled over. I had to think about it.

Having entered womanhood on the tailwind of the sixties, I had a skewed idea of what marriage should look like. I embraced liberated, unshackled, un-dominated Woman. Later I directed some of that confusion into a more grounded, back-to-the-land living. Still, my tepee dwelling days were a peculiar backdrop for marriage to a polyester-suited, God-loving, man from Queens.

I was a new Christian and didn’t know much about gender roles. I didn’t know men manned the barbecue, fixed the leaky faucets, and made the major decisions. Everything in me curled at the mention of submission
But I wanted to do things God’s way.

Actually, after having had to support and fend for myself, I was interested in seeing what being taken care of felt like. We sorted out our activities into he/she piles, but had a rocky go of it when it came to attitudes of heart.

One day I was particularly resentful of a decision my husband wanted to make. I was sure my way was the wiser choice. My body was sitting in on a women’s Bible study, but my mind was smoking and fuming. I mean, when you’re married, it isn’t like one person’s mistake is theirs alone. You both feel the ripples, or worse, waves of consequence. It didn’t seem fair I should suffer for my husband’s error (as I perceived it to be).

 I have no idea what the study was about, but I clearly remember hearing the pastor say, “Ladies, give your husbands room to make a mistake. Entrust yourselves to God.”

It was an arrow shot straight through my smog from the throne of God.

The idea I could trust God with my life, even when it meant trusting him with a decision I might not agree with, expanded in my heart.  God would take care of me even in the “we.”

 Unfortunately I didn’t  don’t always run to the Lord before opening my mouth in a disagreement, but when I do, sooner or later, either we come to a mutual agreement, or God gives me the grace and peace to lay it down and entrust my concern to him.

And as for the stuff of life—does it really matter who does the dishes or lays the tile? We give and take, step in for the weary one, and seek to live in peace rather than preference. I don’t know, does that make me a conservative complementarian egalitarian?

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who although he was in the form of God, did not count equality with god a thing to be grasped. . . and God has highly exalted him. . .--2 Philippians 3-5,9.

Blessings friends,


  1. I was raised by a single mom of the 70's who read Self cover to cover. Submission is something I'm still learning, but I know it pleases the Lord. When I learned that I'm submitting to a position rather than a person, it made it easier.

    Great post, Marcia. I miss not receiving notification in my inbox. I just happened to see this on FB. :)

  2. Thought-provoking, Marcia. I was a young adult in the 80s with a pretty firm foundation of independence. I still kick against those goads from time to time ;)

    I love the advice to let your husband make a mistake. Someone once said that the hubs would have to answer to God for both of you, which kind of takes the heat off the wife. But still, we have to deal with a lot of the fallout. And the "I told you so" thoughts running through our minds.

    Ouch. My "ugly" is showing.


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