Marriage Role Reversal - it's always had its share of controversy
Marriage role reversal is more prominent than ever! But back when I was first married and living in the Deep South, my role as a wife was clearly defined for me by my church. This was based entirely on my gender and the popular interpretation of scripture at the time. The conservative Christian South didn’t offer much wiggle room when defining marriage roles – marriage role reversal wasn’t considered an option!
As you know, there are many conflicting opinions among Christians on the roles of men and women both in marriage and the church. These days I see much more openness to the idea of expanded boundaries and the reversal of roles than I did when I first married. More and more churches today encourage couples to explore for themselves the best structure for their households, accepting the notion that for some, it’s a natural fit for the wife to pursue her career while the husband runs the house. But is it wrong?
The Christian perspective on this issue depends entirely on which Christian you’re talking to. Those of an extremely conservative mindset will gasp at the thought of the wife playing the role of provider, while those who read the bible less literally may feel that each couple needs do what what works for them. To pronounce role reversal in marriage as ‘wrong’ for the masses is simply not appropriate.
After 30 years of marriage, I know this: how you structure your marriage means everything. Your quality of life depends upon how you and your spouse learn to maneuver through this life together as a team. Above all, your greatest goals on this planet are to seek God together and to love people as Jesus does. If marriage role reversal is the best fit for your life, it's the best fit for your life.
You must ask yourselves individually and corporately how you can best accomplish those goals. Will a strictly structured household with clear-cut boundaries help you get there? Will a hierarchical structure move you in the right direction OR will a relationship of equal balance be your best path to knowing God more intimately as a couple and individually? The bottom line is, there isn’t an individual or institution that can answer those questions for you.
I recently spoke with a couple whose marriage was wildly successful. I asked them to tell me their secret to marital success. The response from the wife was profound. “Oh, I’m very competitive,” she said. “Every day, I try to bless him more than he blesses me AND …” she paused for a moment, “I try to get there first!” Her husband added with a grin, “She really likes to win!”
I can’t help but wonder how marriages might be changed if each individual in a marriage adopted that viewpoint. What would bless your spouse the most today? If you adopt that attitude and do those things that will bless your spouse, will you be guilty of a marriage role reversal? If so, ask yourself this: which is more important in building your marriage?