The Roles We Assume in Marriage

It’s not uncommon for you and your wife to be at different stages in life.  Sometimes it might be in your career.  Other times it might be your emotional and/or spiritual maturity.  When we were first married, Jen and I were definitely in different places in our respective relationships with God.

What’s interesting is that Jen and I had similar childhoods.  We were both raised in the church.  In fact, both of us grew up in the Episcopal church.  Both of our parents were active members and made sure we went to church regularly.  We both were active in our respective youth groups.  But even though we had similar backgrounds, we matured spiritually at different paces.

I’m the middle kid in my family.  I won’t bore you with the details of life as a middle child.  Most of you wouldn’t notice anyway.  (That’s a middle child joke.)  Just know that as a child I learned that my needs weren’t always primary to my parents.  I was one of three kids and, whereas my older brother and younger sister were normally ok with voicing their requests to my parents, I often found myself being silent about my wants and desires.  This led to me being independent and not relying on other people.  It sounds good but it caused major stunting in my relationship with God and also led me down the path of self-medicating and self-soothing behavior (i.e. porn use). 

Fast-forward a bit and I’m now married to Jen who, initially in our relationship, is both confident in herself and vocal about her wants and desires.  Once again, I found myself taking a subservient role and not always expressing what I wanted, especially if I thought it would wind up causing some sort of conflict. 

As a side note, this type of thinking and behavior is terribly unfair to both parties.  How many of you choose to be silent and bury your feelings because you think it will cause yet another fight with your spouse?  Be honest.  I just told you that I was one of those folks.  The problem is that it never gives your spouse the opportunity to prove you wrong.  In addition, all of those buried feelings will eventually bloom into resentment or outright aggression and then you really WILL have a fight on your hands.  Take the time.  Be honest with your spouse and if you get hurt feelings, work it out right then.  You and your spouse will be better for it. 

In marriage, the husband and wife assume certain roles, but the roles we assume are not always the roles God intended for us.  Jen found herself in the familiar role of teacher and caregiver.  I found myself in the familiar role of passively accepting whatever came my way. Please take note that not everyone responds well to direction and instruction.  I’m one such individual.  As soon as I perceived that Jen was telling me what to do, my ears magically stopped working.  If Jen persisted, it would often result in me getting frustrated and angry.  Jen had to learn to let go of her natural and professional inclinations and allow God to work.  I had to learn to look to God for my validation and assume the role He created for me. 

During my recovery from pornography, I learned to see God as my true Father and my source of love, affection, and identity.  Once I was able to do that, I was able to stop using the idols I set up in His place.  It’s hard to go back to fake stuff when you’ve tasted the real thing.  Anyone who has tasted New Coke knows exactly what I am talking about. 

So what about you?  Are you and your spouse on the same page spiritually?  Do you have dramatically different ideas about God?  Take some time this week to find out and discuss them.  Feel free to post your stories in the comments.