Egalitarian marriages can be found among progressive Christians as well as secular society. The strict egalitarian view is that husbands and wives submit to each other in an equal manner, partners mutually supporting one another.
Ideally, both husband and wife strive to equally divide every aspect of their responsibilities. That includes earnings and family-related decision making, housework and parenting, spending and saving.
None of these roles are to be considered the purview of one gender or the other.
Some folks worry that practicing equality means the end of chivalry. In an article, “6 Things Egalitarian Marriage is Not,” Robin Rhine McDonald writes, “[Egalitarianism] means that wives are considered equal partners with their husbands, capable of making decisions, collaborating, and using their God-given talents and gifting. None of this negates the kindness that is extended by holding open a door.”
My marriage ... egalitarian?
Frankly, I can’t imagine my own marriage, which I’ve always considered to be egalitarian, to operate in this manner. In fact, it would seem that, if partners attempt to follow this strict definition, the results would be confusion and hurt feelings. They might even need a spread sheet to make sure their tasks remain equal!
Finances might be an especially difficult area to achieve equality.
A recent article by Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times describes a 2017 Pew Research Center survey in which 71 percent of people believe that good husbands should be able to financially support a family. A new study by the Census Bureau showed that when wives earn more, they tend to under-report their earnings and their husbands tend to over-report their earnings. There are a number of other respected studies that show the impact of wives earning more than husbands. Unfortunately, most of them seem to be negative
For me, an egalitarian marriage is...
For me, an egalitarian marriage is one in which both of us divvy up responsibilities according to our individual strengths. From the outside, my marriage looks pretty traditional. My husband is a semi-retired mathematics teacher and takes care of our finances. I excel in the home arts and enjoy the creative side of cooking. I like creating a garden, but my husband is stronger, so he does the heavy work. Other roles are fluid and depend on the circumstances of the day. We take turns making breakfast, and my husband often helps me with our evening meals. We both iron!
In spiritual matters, we’ve been mutually submissive in choosing our place of worship. We enjoy bible study together and learning from each other’s perspective. In our previous small home group, I led a study on spiritual gifts. My husband leads our current group’s study. Who knows? We might change that up again; it depends on the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
My personal view...
My personal view is that learning about different styles of marriage helps to facilitate a discussion between partners. But putting a label on one’s marriage may be counterproductive. I’ll stick with the goal of being mutually submissive out of love and respect — with God’s help.
What about you? What's your marriage style and how is it working? I invite you to share in the Comment section below.
Further reading: Why Conventional Marriage Wisdom Is Wrong
John Gottman, Ph.D.
Do you have a divorce experience to share? Have you been shamed by a church because of your divorce? There are hurting people who need to hear your story, who need to know they are not alone, and who need to be encouraged. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Linda for guidelines: Linda@LindaMKurth.com
Linda M. Kurth is a writer and a divorced and remarried Christian. In going through the divorce, she experienced a dichotomy of responses from the Christian community. After sharing some of those experiences in her upcoming memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce, she's heard many stories of divorced Christians who have struggled with the same issues. This blog invites divorced Christians to tell their stories with the goal of encouraging churches to resist condemnation and become a source of healing and grace.