The Value of a Thing is Not in Its Name

Marriage is an adjustment.

Our first year seemed pretty easy to me. Then we added some kids and work and life started to seemed a little more like life and less like a fairy tale. Adding to life feeling like well, just life, were my presuppositions about being a wife and how I was applying them. I had assumed the role of a silent partnership in an attempt to be the good wife (which came easily to me at time since I tended to be out of touch with my emotions anyways ( Read: How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage). I was submitting as I thought submitting should happen, but I was failing to share my heart and my head with the most important person in my life. Even though he, of course, sincerely wanted to know me. As me. (Doesn’t that just seem obvious? sometimes it’s harder to see love when you’re peering through layers of insecurities.) It’s too easy to shut down a little of yourself when you feel like you’re there for the support of your husband and not vice versa.

I knew something wasn’t working right, it just took a while to figure out what.

Over the last few years my thoughts on marriage and roles have evolved a little and matured a lot. I’ve gone from acting in a place of possible subservience to realizing that in order for us to have a healthy marriage and family, we have to do our marriage how it worked for us specifically.

Since I was raised in a fairly conservative Christian home, I was familiar with the idea that wives should submit to their husbands (complementarian view) (pretty explicitly stated in Ephesians 5:22), but the idea of mutual submission (egalitarian view) that I had discovered while reading blogs was appealing (Ephesians 5:21, the immediately preceding verse which is handily omitted in many wedding services and discussions on marriage). I realized that though I was familiar with the one way, maybe the other could possibly be right.

Eventually I found I had an unhealthy fixation on definitions and I decided to focus on how our marriage actually worked instead of wondering about the words surrounding. Because what you call your marriage isn’t important if it doesn’t work. It’s the actual moments in the day that matter and build the foundation. It’s not someone else’s words on marriage and how well you fit the mold that will make or break a marriage. It’s the ability of two individuals to acknowledge and embrace the unique personhood of the other and learn to live with that person well. So I began to focus on how we could both be healthy people in our own unique marriage together. Which brought me to the realization that I might have a log in my eye and I could only practically change myself.

Over time, I’ve learned that there isn’t a one size fits all for marriage and you can’t say what will work best for everyone, and the way I’d been taught to look at the Bible and marriage wasn’t the only way to look at it. And what I’d been reading into submission, a semi-serious lack of boundaries, (read Boundaries in Marriage !), wasn't a healthy way to live alone, let alone live in a marriage.

So even though from the outside our marriage may seem more complementarian with the wife at home and a lot of respect going from the wife to the husband. I have to choose to call it more egalitarian (while realizing definitions can't say it all, but also admitting words are important) so that I bring my whole self to the relationship. It reminds me I have just as much say in how our marriage works and just as much responsibility to make it work as my husband does. I am not absolved from being truthful just because I am flying the flag of submission. I am called to lift him up to help him be more of who he is and he does the same for me (quite effortlessly, I might add. Love that man), while we both bring our unique perspectives to whatever predicament we are in to solve the problem as the team God made us to be.

I have to use my voice and Israel has to use his and He will use both of us.

His plans for us both might knock our socks off if we let Him. Because that is just how He is. He made all things good and beautiful in its time.

The value of a thing is not in its name, its in what He makes it to be.

And we are all different.

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How does your marriage work? What do you think about prescribing marriage rules on everyone regardless of fit?
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Israel sends me pictures of sunsets because they have “my colors” in them. Love. :)

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