Sunday, January 11, 2015

Newbie Bride's response to thoughts on Egalitarianism vs. Complementarian Prespectives

First of all: COFFFEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My Bri-Bri and I got coffee at Starbucks mainly because Bri-Bri needed it to finish his homework. I also apparently needed it to help him proof his papers. So apparently, my HDFS writing skills are coming out of hibernation WOO HOO! 

Thumbs up for blogger's coffee
THUMBS UP FOR CAFFEINE! Note my sweet Husband's shiny
dome above my shoulder! 

Speaking of adventures as a helpmate and life partner to my sweet hubby, two posts on men and women's roles got me thinking about how they manifest in my new marriage. The first one is here and the second one is here. The emphasis on my perspective are the words: new marriage. We are still working life out, but I thank my friend for  his thoughts so that I can ponder what I learned and how it can apply to my life. 

Hubby, Stepson, and I
Sweet Bri-Bri, Best Lil' Man, and I

First of all, my friend has anecdotes in his two blog posts about guys being jerks to their wives. That's just wrong and I wanted to smack those dudes. My Bri-Bri would want to as well because he knows that's no way to be a man. I think guys like that just use the 'submit' thing as an excuse and a swift kick in the nuts would set them right. 

Second of all, I agree that our old church was very adamant about women and men having different roles. I looked forward to being my husband's helpmate and I do enjoy helping him with things such as proofing his papers for school (1 year away from getting his B.S. in Human Services on his road to being a counselor!!!!) and doing chores when he is busy. I enjoy it because it is a tangible way of showing him love. Do I feel like he has a more important role as main breadwinner? No. I bring home some dough too as a legal assistant. We make decisions about the budget together, but I let him lead on big decisions such as when to open a joint account.

More importantly,  do I find my identity as a wife defined by how well I keep house or by how well I support my husband? Ok, sometimes. But do I feel like my role is lesser than his or that I have to submit to him in everything? No. He always tells me that he trusts me as his helpmate and advisor. Does he think he must provide to be a good husband? He wants to give me the freedom to stay at home if God has that for my life once we have children, but does he respect my decision to stay in a career if that's what I choose? Yes. Does he expect me to clean for him? He appreciates the help and he tells me. Most importantly, he appreciates what I bring to the relationship, and I appreciate what he brings as well. 

Given our attitudes about our roles, my husband doesn't automatically assume that he's a leader and I am a follower. We are equal partners with different strengths we bring to the relationship. For example, though he makes more money, I have bookkeeping skills learned through my position in my law firm. Therefore, I am the bookkeeper of the joint account. Both of us have the Budget Meeting mentioned in the Dave Ramsey class. My Bri-Bri is a good listener and helps me switch from task oriented 'I want to fix my Bri-Bri's probems' to 'I want to listen to my Bri-Bri' if he is discussing an issue. He is good at keeping his CD's contained in fairly neat piles in the living room and bedroom, and I am good at straightening the pantry and making sure no new strains of mold emerge in our refrigerated leftovers. In all these examples, no skill is prioritized as more important over the other. We both realize we work as a team, and we are equals on Team Abraham. 

Some of this was hard to wrap my head around. I wanted a man who had several hundred verses memorized, the books of the Bible memorized, had a theological encyclopedia in his head, made a six-figure income so I could begin making my Pinterest dreams reality, and was able to do a zero balance budget on a spreadsheet within the first week of being married. Basically, I wanted the idea of SuperHusband that I thought was the ideal at my old church.  In my thoughts, I would become critical of my sweet husband if he didn't meet all these criteria. 

I have a man who is growing in his faith, is not afraid to share his struggles in his faith, who gives thanks to God daily, and who is passionate about leading his son to Christ and encouraging his wife in her faith. I have a man who loves to sing worship to God in choir and a man who holds me in his warm arms to show me love. I have a man who kisses my tears away and reminds me that God is sovereign over my concerns. My man provides for us and is grateful for my contributions as we are both working our way out of debt. He views conversations about money as a team effort and recognizes both his and my perspectives. He trusts me with the bookkeeping of our joint account. I have a man who doesn't have the whole Bible memorized, but he demonstrates God's love to his wife, his son, his family, and his in-laws. Basically, though I don't have the Super-Husband that I conceptualized as a single college woman, I have a man who loves me and is an active partner in our life and active in his pursuit of God. I have a man that is passionate about loving me and who I am passionate about loving in return. 

So, is my marriage strictly complimentary or egalitarian? If you ask these questions regarding our marriage:  Is the marriage where the woman is the homemaker and the man is the provider? If the woman works, does she also have primary responsibility for the house? Does the man make all the important decisions? Then I would say we are egalitarian rather than complimentary. We share in household duties, though I tend to do more cleaning, but Bri-Bri does his fair share. As stated before, we are partners in our finances, and we both discuss our faith journeys together. 

If you ask these questions: Do our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other? Do we work as a team? Do I encourage my Bri-Bri to lead our family spiritually because he sees it as a role he wants to embrace? Does he recognize that God may call me to stop working once we have children? Then the answer would be we are a mixture of both egalitarian and complementary thought. 

Is that bad? I don't think it is. God is weaving two unique lives into one joined unique life. Does He have basic Truths - the most central Truth is that of Grace, Forgiveness, and Redemption through The Cross - to speak into our marriage? ABSOLUTELY YES! Will we follow a strict pre-set pattern for marriage? I dunno. Will both of us listen to God, pray for each other, our marriage, Bri-Bri's son, and our future children? Absolutely yes. The perspective we have on marriage is this: God is the Author and the Redeemer of our lives and our marriage who guides us every day. 

The Songs From the Summer of Ouch

Long time NO BLOG!!! Right???

Anyway, yesterday and today my huaband and I were listening to Jeremy Camp's "Stay" and "Carried Me" CD's in the car. 

Those were my "go to" CD's when my uncle was really sick one summer and I was trying to get over a hard core crush on a non-believer. Yeah long story. Summer of 2004 was the Summer of Ouch. My uncle was sick with terminal cancer and I was supporting my mom's grieving process and dealing with my own process. Also, God was addressing an area in my life where I was not trusting Him. You can probably see my posts related to this event within this blog. 

At any rate, listening to these songs again brought back memories of the pain, but they also made me aware of how much God grew my faith in that time. Listening to these songs was bittersweet because the pain twinged in my heart even as my heart praised God for giving me the sustaining grace to get through each day and showing me what it means to have joy that surpasses dark circumstances. 

God received glory in this moment as He does in every moment, but especially where His strength is displayed in our weakness and His joy shines through our sorrow. God healed me more because He once again revealed that He does not waste pain.