By: Debbie L. Cherry, Ph.D.
Maggie and Max are anything but your traditional couple. They have role reversal issues in just about every area of their life. Maggie is quiet, introspective and analytical in her personality while Max is much more outgoing, emotional and social. Maggie has served in the US Navy and is now a captain on the local police department. She enjoys carrying a gun and is an expert marksman. She is mechanically inclined and can usually be found in her garage tinkering with her stock car or her Harley. Max, on the other hand, has no interest in any of those things. He actually enjoys cleaning and has turned that talent into a successful professional janitorial service. His free time is filled with reading, Bible study, and gardening. He loves to cook and invite their friends over for dinner and an evening of games and conversation.
In the three years they have been married; their nontraditional roles are evident both around the house and in the way they relate to each other.Maggie handles car maintenance and upkeep while Max is in charge of most of the cooking and cleaning. Maggie mows the yard because she enjoys doing that but landscaping is totally Max’s domain. Max loves to stay in contact with friends and family, and never forgets a birthday or anniversary. Although the way they interact with each other has brought razing from their friends and family, they just shrug it off. They are both very comfortable in their own skin. They know who they are and realize that they complement each other perfectly, although not traditionally. Although it has taken them some time to get there, Max and Maggie have finally come to accept that they don’t fit the traditional stereotypes. And they are not willing to be forced into a pigeonhole just because society says they should. They have learned to allow God to use what He created in each of them to make their marriage the best it can be. They have realized that having a marriage that brings honor to God is not as much about who does what chores or who likes to talk and who doesn’t; as it is about the attitude of each of their hearts. It’s not about doing what others tell them to do but about being who God has called them to be.
Striking a Balance
Did you ever play the balancing game with your friends as a kid? You know, the one where you and one of your friends stand on opposite ends of a teeter totter and try to keep the ends from touching the ground. If you did, you learned very quickly that where you had to stand on your end of the teeter totter was different depending on which one of your friends was on the other end. Because each combination of the two people had different weight and mass, each balancing act looked slightly different. Marriage is a lot like that. Because each person has a unique personality, talents, strengths, and weaknesses, each marriage combination will also be unique. As we work together to reach a place of balance in all the different area of marriage from leadership and submission, personality and talents, and even roles and chores, we need to remember that where we ultimately have to stand on our teeter totter to bring balance will look different from any other couple.
Striking a balance within your marriage requires knowing each other’s wants and needs and being aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Once the two of you discuss and agree on how God has personally gifted each of you, you can then use those gifts to benefit the relationship. Accepting that every couple is unique and holds a different combination of skills and talents will help you realized that each marriage will look different when it comes to the specific ways their roles are managed. We must decide to stop comparing ourselves and our marriages to anyone else. And realize that just because our marriage doesn’t look like every other marriage out there doesn’t mean that it’s not godly. As long as we are treating each other respectfully and doing our best to meet our spouse needs, even if those needs are not “traditional” or “typical”, then we are honoring both God and our spouse in our relationship.
Going against the tide
Within our churches, just as in society at large, we still seem to hold some strong beliefs that there’s a right way to have a “godly” marriage. But as long as we allow our culture—even our church culture—to dictate to us the “right” way to have a God-honoring marriage, we just may miss what God has in store for us. What if His plan for your marriage doesn’t look like what your friends, family, pastor or neighbors down the street say it should look like? What if you’ve tried to make your personalities and marital roles fit into someone else’s template for marriage and it just doesn’t fit? Does that mean you are doomed for failure or a marriage that is miserable? Not if you are willing to think outside the box society has placed around husbands and wives.
There are some basic skills that are needed to make just about any home run efficiently. These are things like: managing the checkbook; home and vehicle maintenance; cooking; cleaning; and laundry. There are also some basic needs that are present in just about every marriage. These include thing like a need for: conversation; affection; social contact; respect and admiration; and recreational companionship. Most of us have been taught all our lives that a certain group of these skills and needs must be managed by the husband and a separate set by the wife if the marriage is to be considered “godly.” That may work just fine for some marriages. But what happens in those marriages where the wife is much better at the traditionally husband skills or if the husband’s set of needs fall more in line with needs that are traditionally the wife’s? Should they settle for lower results or less satisfaction within their marriage just to keep with society’s standards? I don’t think so! I believe that when we try hide our God-given strengths or needs in an attempt to do what society says, then we are rebelling against what God intended for our marriage. I believe you need to be willing to go against the tide of conformity and allow your marriage to find its own unique balance, and then you can have a satisfying and thriving marriage that will indeed honor God in the process.