Perspectives on Egalitarian Relationships: Where my hope comes from.

Perspectives on egalitarian relationships: Bekah Legg on We Mixed our Drinks.

I am slowly coming to appreciate the sheer freedom there is in a relationship like this where I feel able to utterly respect my husband because I know he totally respects me. I think it’s Ephesians 5:21 in action – mutual submission. This passage goes on to unpack verse 21 and people conveniently forget that the whole section on relationships is rooted in submitting to one another. Paul goes on to explain mutual submission in terms women and then men will understand but he starts by saying submit to each other.

I didn’t even know the word egalitarian a year ago, but I now understand that it nicely describes how I  have lived and want to continue to live my life.

I was brought up in a household that from the outside probably looked incredibly complimentarian. My mother gave up work when my older sister came along and only ever returned to volunteer work when her three children were at school. Dad was a busy salesman and manager, on the road for weeks at a time, coming home to dinner on the table and asking us for a report on what we had been doing at school. Dad drove, Mum didn’t. Mum did the household chores and Dad fixed stuff when it went wrong. Superficial, visible gender roles fulfilled.

Yet my sister and I were treated exactly the same as my brother. The three of us were never denied any dream, ambition or education and have always been encouraged to pursue whatever it was we felt drawn to. Mum and Dad chose our education wisely and our single sex schools never limited us to gender specific career options. Our church never taught that we had to behave one way or the other because of our sex.

One pressure from my folks that I felt did have negative consequences was their insistence that I do the best I can with what I have been given. There are complexities within that, that have left me occasionally fighting a need to be perfect at everything, but I now believe that comes from the world, not my parents. Where it did come from them it was well meant, but probably expressed in a way my teenage ears couldn’t hear.

It turns out  their example taught me never to subjugate myself to a person or an ideal but to accept who I am and be that person to the best of my abilities. I had certain economic and social advantages, I recognise that, but this is about the example I was set.

That example was one way marriage can be and I think it iis a pretty darn good version. Mum and Dad disagreed, they had very different ideas about certain ideologies; Dad wasn’t a Christian until I entered my teens.  But they supported, nourished and loved us nonetheless. They let us make our own mistakes, and were there, and Mum still is there, to pick us up when we fall.  I’m very grateful, for her continued support, for the example I was set.

And so I got a bit grumpy when it was implied to me a couple of weeks back that the fact I have only been wed 3 months means I don’t yet get to have a valid opinion on marriage. I’d be interested to know from which anniversary I’m allowed to voice thoughts that will be considered valid.

Ok, that’s reactionary and dramatic, but I get itchy when people try to tell me what I should and shouldn’t have an opinion on based on ‘how long’ I’ve been doing whatever it happens to be. It seems to imply that I only came into existence the moment of my marriage. I have the example of my parent’s marriage as well as my sister and brother’s, those of friends and colleagues and strangers. I have 34 years of life experiences, other relationships, friendships, successfully and otherwise to lean on. Rob and I were best friends for a few years before we married, that experience of each other hasn’t disappeared.

And so I fight the urge to emphatically state that we’re not so arrogant to believe we know it all 3 months in but I’m not a newborn. Rob and I try our hardest to look to God, then to our friends and family to support and nourish us in our marriage and we willingly weigh their advice. We look to the examples we have been set, and to the Bible which describes how a mutually submissive, loving partnership should be. We don’t live in a bubble that was formed on 10th December 2011! My hope for my marriage comes from God, from Rob and from the people surrounding us. Thank you to everyone who has prayed, loved and helped us so far – we’ll need you forever!

I also love honest and open blogs like the one Bekah wrote. Thanks to her and all the people out there who enrich us as we start on this journey.

Here’s another great one:

Perspectives on egalitarian relationships: Ruth and Nick Wells

When people have been able to move on from the fact that we both work, and believe that Jesus, not one of us, is the ‘head’ of our marriage, the inevitable discussion is around ‘but who makes the final decision?’ This question goes something like ‘but the buck has to stop with someone doesn’t it?’ Well we are happy to report that there have been no occasions at which one of us has had to ‘pull rank’ so to speak, and at which we could not reach a decision through negotiation and that mysterious art-form ‘talking to one another’.


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