Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

***Working to be a safe place for all sides to share.***


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Married to One of "Them" (A Complementarian and Egalitarian in Marriage)

It's akin to a Republican and Democrat being married, but only during an election year. In actuality, they have it much easier. Politics, while we all love our political issues, are not what spin the globe. Whereas the way a married couple chooses to give structure to their relationship is an area much more integrated with all aspects of life. A comp/egal marriage is probably more akin to a Christian/Jewish marriage. So can you love when you live in two totally different paradigms?


But it's really hard.

I'm an egalitarian (now) and I was married to a complementarian. I'm not really sure to what degree that is, but I will say that in the name of sacrificial love, he's chosen to refuse the path of forcing me to comply with a complementarian outlook and instead has opted for a, "we choose together" framework for our home. For my part, I was more than willing to let him continue to "have the final say," for the same reason that he wasn't willing to have it anymore. Because of love.

It's been two years since I quit patriarchy (otherwise known as hard complementarianism). There was a lot of pain there. By the time I "quit," I was a deeply wounded person (much of it not due to patriarchy but due to the sharp fundamentalist outlook I'd had on other big issues, etc). A huge part of my pain was the fact that because I was female, I'd not allowed myself to be "myself." In the "Biblical Womanhood" world, godly women are quiet, submissive, teachable, and for God's sake, never behind a pulpit. I stuffed myself into the box I thought God wanted me in for so long, I started thinking the world was a wooden square. Then God, in His good grace, let the box drop.

Once I was free, I'll admit it. It took me awhile to relax. Like an abused caged wild animal newly set free, most any movement made me flinch and anything that looked like a cage wall made me snarl and run. I am seeing that change. A lot of things that were triggers before aren't triggers now. I'm a lot less sensitive than I was. Things inside of me are healing---or at least are beginning to. I can look back and not just see pain, but see how the pain started, how it grew, and see how much of it was my own fault. And, good grief, a lot of it was so my fault.

I know things are hard for my husband, or so I would think, what with the two of us seeing things so very differently. We were already opposites from the get-go, and this just magifies it. He's having to operate in a way that he may not feel is well supported in the Scriptures. And that is hard for me. It troubles me to think that he has to lay down his Scriptural views because mine are different. Actually, it more than troubles me. I really don't like it. And yet I can't/won't go back to a hierarchal structure. Call it an allergy to cages (and maybe I'll grow out of it, but right now, it's strong). Even if I would, he refuses, because he would know it was violating what I think Scripture says. Maybe he's wrong for folding. Maybe he should demand to lead. Maybe I'm wrong for not being willing to fold myself. I don't know.

Honestly, in the long run, I think the one doing the most sacrificing is my husband. And as for an answer to that, I don't see one and neither does he. So we live together and learn to love, without a sound structure that we agree on for this marriage of two totally different people. Sometimes I wish we had one. At other times, I'm glad that we don't. We are forced to work together, forced to learn to listen, forced to learn to grow in ways that, when all is said and done, can only make Christ shine brighter. I lay down the theological/emotional/intellectual guns that I so badly want to fire, and in the process, find a person on the other side of the divide---my husband, a person that is deep, that is delightful, a person that God calls beloved. At those times, I think that seeing things the same way is over-rated.

So how do you do it, and/or how have you seen it done? How do two different paradigms live in union? Is Christ big enough for both?

*Edit Later to Add:
This post prompted a great discussion between my husband and I tonight as to "where we're both at" on the comp/egal continuum, and so now I have to take back some of the above. He's currently uncomfortable being called a complementarian. (Last time we talked about this was 4-5 months ago, when he expressed views that landed at a fairly soft-comp sort of place). So I have to take a lot of the personal nature of the above post back, and yet I still think the subject of the post itself is something worth talking about.