COUPLES WORKBOOK - Chapter 4
HOW I LEARNED TO SORT OUT OUR MARRIAGE ROLES THE HARD WAY
Psychology had taught me that feelings should not be repressed but ventilated. So I helped Rachel to freely express herself and her unhappiness. Unfortunately, the psychology books did not say what to do when a person expresses herself and all the wrong attitudes begin to develop. The more she expressed herself, the worse it became for all of us. Psychology taught me that there was one marriage role and it was to be split fifty-fifty. I was to be half man and half woman, and Rachel was to be half man and half woman. We became very confused as to what our responsibilities were to be.
Rachel had several part-time jobs that brought in the majority of our income. I did counseling-sometimes part-time and sometimes full-time, but the counseling never brought in very much money. I was home a lot counseling over the telephone. In another part of the house, Rachel would be working on her art commissions. She did not care much for food but planned her art. I love food and thought a lot about the next meal. So I learned to cook, do house work, and take care of the children while she painted. I became a "house-husband" and she became the provider with her part-time jobs. We argued a lot over money (mainly the lack of it) while I maintained that the Lord would provide. She said I needed to help the Lord provide. We were both self-employed and had a lot of business decisions to make. Sometimes after a decision was made, Rachel would have doubt and fear about it and question the decision. She had a Masters Degree in business administration, and I could not understand why she was so unsure and fearful in this area.
I read the Bible in Genesis 3:1-21 that Eve was the first to sin and that the Lord judged her with pain in childbirth. He told her that her affection would be unto her husband and he would rule over her. This had an obvious meaning that the husband was to be the head of the house, but there was also another meaning. God made the woman dependent and the man independent. God made the woman to be a "helpmeet." She was to help the man meet his responsibilities to subdue the earth in his area of responsibility. A woman often has an intuition that cn pick up signals that tell her when a man has needs. Ideally, she seeks to meet those needs. When I was a young man, I pressured girls on dates to meet my illegitimate needs. I knew they were vulnerable but I didn't know how or why. Whenever I went out on a date, the girl set the moral standard for the date. If she said "yes," we did; if she said "no," we didn't. Therefore, I told my conscience that whatever happened was not my fault. The girl was always responsible for what happened. Not me! How irresponsible I was in my bachelor days-and I carried this irresponsibility over into my marriage.
God made the woman physically and often emotionally dependent and the man at least physically independent. How I did not want to face the implications of that! I know that a woman will rightly point out how childish, clinging and dependent a man can be, as Rachel pointed out to me many times. What a woman does not realize is that, while a man is acting in this manner, he is shrewdly manipulating her dependency needs to get what he wants. What God has set up, however, is that the man is head of the home and his aggressiveness, independence and strength is for the protection and providing for the woman-not her exploitation. This is what I did not want to face. I wanted the pleasures of marriage but not the responsibilities. When I did get married, this irresponsibility continued to distort my thinking and outlook. My lack of self-discipline reflected my never having my self-will subdued when I was growing up.
I wanted to shift to Rachel my responsibilities (which psychology provided a very convenient excuse to do) to provide and protect my family. My father-in-law tried very hard to help me see my responsibilities. I was reading books on walking by faith in the Lord and His provision and felt that I was ministering in God's will and He would provide what we needed. Rachel felt I was misguided and was irresponsible in my interpretations. Rachel felt she needed a man to lean on and instead had to act frequently as a mother trying to get me to face reality. I thought the Lord was providing for us through our part-time incomes and generosity of my in-laws and my parents. They were all contributing some here and there to help us stay afloat financially. They saw me as a "freeloader," and I saw myself as a "man of faith." The irony of this was that I was a marriage counselor and supposed to be an "expert." Here I had more marriage and family problems than anyone else I encountered!
Related Scriptures: Woman's Role:
Genesis 2:18 (AB): "Now the Lord God said, 'It is not good (satisfactory) . . . that the man should be alone; I will make his a helper meet (suitable, adapted, completing) for him.'"
I Peter 3:6-7: "It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham (following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by) calling him lord-master, leader, authority. And you are now her true daughter if you do right and let nothing terrify you-not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you. In the same way married men should live considerately with (your wives), with an intelligent recognition (of the marriage relation), honoring the woman as (physically) the weaker, but (realizing that you) are joint heirs of the grace (God's unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off-otherwise you cannot pray effectively" (AB).
Proverbs 14:1: "Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands" (AB).
Proverbs 31:27: "She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent and self pity) she will not eat" (AB).
Titus 2:5: ". . . wisely train the young women to be . . . temperate, disciplined-and to love their husbands and their children; to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured, adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be . . . discredited" (AB).
Proverbs 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame."
Proverbs 1:7: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . . ." (KJV).
Proverbs 10:1: "A wise son makes a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."
Genesis 2:20-23: ". . . but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, completing) for him . . . .. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man, He built up and made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then Adam said 'This (creature) is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of a man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'" (AB).
Ephesians 5:25-29: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. . . Even so husbands should love their wives as (being in a sense) their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church". . . (AB).
In what ways have my spouse and I confused our roles?
Have I assumed the responsibility for my own role that God intended?
Have I been manipulating my mate to take my responsibilities?
Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 5: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.