Real Marriage: The 1950s, Pre-Feminism Kind

January 11, 2012

Okay, I’ve got to say this.

Because there’s a new book about marriage, and no one would care about it except that Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, wrote it.  And, as with all things Driscoll-related, Real Marriage is controversial.

On one side, you have Christian feminists who are harping on the book for attempting to return to pre-feminism “1950s” America, where women stayed home, wore pearls, and were “owned” by their husbands.

On the other side…well, I haven’t heard anyone actually defend the book.  I mean, come on, Grace used Esther as a supreme example of a wife’s duty to submit to her husband?  A girl in a king’s harem isn’t exactly the strongest case for wifely submission.

I’m not going to review the book.  But I am going to make this really easy to understand for the Christian feminists and the men who love them out there.

We do need to go back to “1950s” “pre-feminism” marriage.

And if that’s got you all hot and bothered under your housedress, just keep reading.

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands

Here is a fact: the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about marriage.  At least, not enough to write a book about it, without a lot of interpretation.

It’s just got a few verses, one of which, no post-feminism chica really wants to hear, much less try to follow.  That old chestnut about “submitting.”  Just that word makes teeth gnash and bras spontaneously combust.

Ladies, you know “submitting” doesn’t mean acting like a lapdog with your hubbies.  But if there is one thing every modern, progressive woman should do to submit to their husbands, it is this:

Stop treating him like a freakin idiot.

It’s so fashionable, it’s hard to even notice.  How many commercials feature hapless husbands and women who run the show?  You’d think men couldn’t wipe themselves without their wives’ instructions.  The typical TV family isn’t father knows best anymore.  On the most popular shows, like Family Guy and Modern Family, dad is a witless boob.

Girls, your husband is much smarter than the caricatures on TV.  So do your best to encourage him, build him up, avoid the sass talk.  If you tear him down, he will shut down, take less initiative, making you more unhappy with him.

And stop gossiping with your girlfriends behind his back about how stupid he is.  Hen houses can be toxic places for wives.  If the other girls are complaining about their idiot husbands, brag on yours, and don’t tell them it’s because you trained him so well.

Husbands, Love Your Wives

TV really isn’t any kinder to wives.  While most husbands are buffoons, wives still get treated like the old ball and chain.  Unmarried guys imagine that marriage is some kind of prison sentence.  So young guys are typically avoiding marriage to extend their “college” years of male roommates, partying and sustaining themselves on a steady diet of porn and ramen.

Guess what guys, marriage isn’t a prison.  How is going home to a woman who has your back no matter what a prison sentence?

So stop fantasizing about all the “freedom” you’ve given up.  What would you do with your singleness if you had it back?  Do you really think skanky hot chicks would be crawling all over you?  Get real.  You’d be sitting on your fat butt playing video games in clothes you haven’t washed in weeks.

If you want your wife to stop treating you like a child, then stop acting like one, and be a man she can love as her equal.  Be worthy of her respect, so you don’t have to demand it.  Be such a good husband to her that she’ll gladly submit to you.  It will come as a relief to her to realize she isn’t the only adult in the house.

Real Marriage in the 1950s

The 1950s was by no means a perfect time for marriages.  But…

Did men stick around to support their wives and kids?  Damn right, they did.

Did women make their husbands feel respected and their kids feel loved?  Sure thing.

Did men and women love each other?  Hell yes.  That’s why they’re still married.

So that means that the couples in the 50s had real marriages.  So you can just trash that cartoon version of the 50s you keep in your head as an excuse why we should never go back.  Those people had to have gotten something right.

Right?

Well, what do you think?  What makes a “real” marriage?  How do you define “submission” and “love?”  What do you think modern marriages are missing?

69 responses to Real Marriage: The 1950s, Pre-Feminism Kind

  1. Hi Matt,

    “The chief end of all human endeavor is to be happy at home”–I think it was Lord Chesterfield who said that.

    He was right.

    Ginny and I (married 43 years now and counting) developed a siege mentality; it’s us against the world. I’m happy, she appears to be happy. What else matters?

    One of our children goes to court tomorrow for a divorce hearing. That’s sad–but it is not us. We are not involved. We’ve given out children an example of how it works for us, but that’s as far as we go in teaching them about marriage. No one knows what goes on inside except the couple themselves.

    Do we always glow in love? Usually. But sometimes we say, “I love you forever, but I can’t stand you right this second! Check with me again tomorrow”.

    When you can’t kiss and make up, then kiss and move on.

    Our tiff is temporary, our marriage is permanent–maybe. Even after 43 years together, we can’t take that for granted. We’re aware of folks married longer than we’ve have who split up.

    My policy is to never put Ginny down–Never. Never. Never. Not in public. Not in private. Not seriously. Not in joking. The whole damn world tries to put you down, you never need to hear that crap from your beloved.

    Of course when we have disagreements, I have a sure-fire defense: “Don’t blame me. I’m not the one who married an idiot”.

    Besides all that , Matt, what do you have against lapdogs, ramen, and skanky hot chicks?

    John

  2. Loving v. Virginia ended racial miscegenation laws in 1967… “Marriage in the 1950’s” wasn’t all about submission for some people, some couples couldn’t even get married back then, isn’t that wild?

  3. I think DC Talk got it right – “Love is a Verb.” When our commitments are based on our feelings (which are bound to change), then they will not last (like the feelings). When we choose to love the person every moment of every day (and by that I mean that we choose them over all others), then I think (I hope – 6 years next month) it will last.

    • I haven’t thought about that song in a long time, but you are right. And congrats on 6! We’ll have six years in March.

      • We’ll be 6 years on St. Patrick’s Day! I was raising my hands and saying “YES” to pretty much everything you wrote. Husband and I have been through some difficult times lately. We’ve really had to stick to the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows as he’s had two surgeries and four hospitals stays in the last 12 months. Not to mention the mental exhaustion that comes with that. And if we hadn’t vowed to love when we don’t feel like it, one of us would have been gone by now, I’m fairly certain.

        Good stuff. BTW, who has anything against pearls? This southern gal has several sets. :)

  4. I’m fine with submitting to my husband, because the verse doesn’t start there. Ephesians 5:21-22 says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to your own husbands ….” So Pete is instructed to submit to me, too. And we both submit to God.

    Actually, after 32 years of marriage, we find we usually agree on things anyway. All our “loud discussions” have been on stupid trivial stuff that we end up laughing over. And if we don’t agree on a major issue, we pray about it until we both hear from God.

    • That’s the beauty of it. When both people are submissive, everyone gets what they want; and even better, they don’t have to demand it.

      • This seems to me like a meaningful redefinition of the word “submission.” If two people in a relationship are both trying to submit to the other’s desires, no one ever expresses their own desires. (I imagine it like two people bumping into each other in a small hallway, each politely stepping aside to let the other pass but accidentally always ending up stepping to the same side. “Excuse me!” “No, excuse me!” “Oops, pardon me!”) The best arrangement IMHO would be compromise, in which each partner gets to express their wishes but is also considerate of the wishes of the other. No one has to “submit;” both work together.

        • That is a funny picture, NFQ. However, it usually doesn’t look like this. First of all, submission doesn’t mean silence. It means both people discuss the issue but one person makes the decision and the other person submits, knowing that their mate has their best interests at heart. It will look different in each situation. For instance, there are some issues that my husband decides upon and some where I make the decision. In fact, before we married one of the things our pastor had us do was discuss what we considered “our domains of expertise” which guided who would be the decision maker. In trivial matters, like what movie to watch, we sometimes have gotten into a “no, its your decision this time…No, really, whatever you want dear…” :-).

  5. The “witless boob” in commercials and TV shows drives my husband crazy too, and it has affected the way women talk about their husbands, I think. (Though I’m willing to bet husbands and wives have always complained about each other in the stereotypical ways.)

    You suggest some chicken-and-egg issues: women, stop treating men like children; men, stop acting like children. I guess we just need to remember that we can control our own behavior and change begins with us, whichever party we are!

    • Exactly, and it’s like submission. It doesn’t matter who does it first.

    • My guesses as to why men are portrayed as adolescent goofballs on TV is twofold:

      1) Some are. Hear me out! Our grandfathers had a definite life timeline. Many had been to war, married and started a family by their mid 20’s. Now it’s normal for guys to delay becoming part of the adult world even into their 30’s and 40’s, and the extended adolescence doesn’t always end after marriage. It’s now normal, even cool, to spend the day playing Call of Duty and calling his friends “Bro!” while skateboarding off into the sunset. Guys who marry and step into responsible manhood in their 20’s are considered are considered real finds.

      2) Some women find it comforting to think of you guys as children. You’re stronger and can easily harm us if you choose. By buying into the man-child stereotype for all guys (even when it doesn’t apply), we feel safer and less weak.

  6. TV has it depicted it like this; the children are the grown ups with the brains, the mothers/women are the ones who hold things together after taking counsel from the children, and, like you said, men are the buffoonish airheads who haven’t got a clue. Maybe that is the way hollywood is but that certainly isn’t real life! Men have been emasculated and attacked so harshly that our identity is confused. I think that is why things like promise keepers became popular. The Bible may not say a lot about marriage but it says enough and certainly mutual love, submission, patience, kindness and respect are keys to a long term relationship. Someone asked Rick warren why he had been married so long and he said, “because we never got a divorce.”

  7. I love this, but I do have to take issue with including Phil Dunphy in the “witless boob” category. He’s a big kid, but he’s also a responsible provider and a genius with technology. At least most of the time. When the show’s hankering for cheap laughs, he becomes too whiny and insecure. But even then, he’s no Peter Griffen. You’re right on about respect, but sometimes I think we (men) want that to equate “all men walk on water”. I think it’s more of a matter of acknowledging the good with the bad.

  8. Thank you for a great post, Matt.

    The problem with modern marriage and even “Christian” marriage is that the focus has always been on finding your “soul mate”, finding a person to “fall in love with”, or finding someone to “spend the rest of your life with.” The point of the relationship is NOT the relationship. God created marriage to show us who He is, not to show us who we are.

    God-intoxicated marriage is not about fixating your eyes on your spouse, but about fixating your eyes on Christ. Every scripture passage about marriage is always, at it’s root, centered on the gospel. If you want to be a better wife – look to the gospel. If you want to be a better husband – look to the gospel. If you want advice on marriage, don’t start in Ephesians 5 – start in Psalm 84.

  9. Real marriage never started with a “test drive”. Men and women respected the institution of marriage and each other and waited for intimacy. That marriage was for life. Divorce wasn’t ever an option for an escape. My husband and I (married 22 years) said that divorce wasn’t an option. It was spoken out loud and a promise we made to each other before we got married. Real marriages are worth fighting tooth and nail for.

  10. I hate to take issue with a post that has so many good points, but your description of the 1950’s marriage is a bit of a fairy tale.

    “Did men stick around to support their wives and kids?” Not always – plenty of men abandoned their families, temporarily or permanently. My father’s father was one of them.

    “Did women make their husbands feel respected and their kids feel loved?” Not always. My mother’s mother showed no love to her children.

    “Did men and women love each other?” Some of them did. Others got married out of a sense of social obligation, because of family pressure, or because they “had to.”

    The divorce rate may have been lower, but that doesn’t mean the marriages were better, or happier, or more God-honoring. It just means fewer people got divorced.

  11. so, some of this comes from the notion that i really think Driscoll can be very toxic, but i am trying real hard not to focus on that.

    while i agree with some of your thoughts (on what submission really is and the idea that we should not forget the husbands love your wives part) i totally disagree with premise that 1950’s was a better time for marriage.

    have you seen Midnight In Paris? i think every generation is chasing a golden year in which they think things would be better, which they never are. i believe things were just as bad then, it just looked different.

    however, my main point of contention is your assesment of TV relationships. i will use Modern Family as the example since thats what you used. Phil nor Jay is a witless boob???? do you watch the show? Phil is a good father, a man who really loves his wife and kids. he is just quirky. he is the “dreamer” and she is the “realist” (according to the show). and Jay, is a strong Driscoll mans man. he may do silly things…but both of them are good parents, and good husbands. i think its a great show and promotes great family values.
    other shows that do: The Middle, Up All Night, and apparently that new Tim Allen one, but i havent watched it.

    shows that dont: Everyone loves Ramen, they are horrible spouses and even more horrible parents. King of Queens, Carrie is a really horribly selfish person.

    just food for though.

    • So the Phil who put his wife’s picture on a van with the phrase “I cannot be satisfied” isn’t a hapless boob? Don’t get me wrong, I love the show. Plus, this discussion provides an opportunity for excessive use of the word “boob.”

  12. I was sorta tracking with you until that last part. Gotta go with Ellen Di Giosia on this one. Families in the 50s were no different than today. My father abandoned us after abusing mom for several years. My step-dad abused us as children. Our mom submitted to all of these transgressions. Multiple other adults were aware of how broken our family was but did not intervene. Man and his castle complex.

    Today broken families are no longer hidden. In some cases, broken marriages get therapy and heal. In other cases, divorced. I would argue that we have improved on past generations.

    Are you speaking of the 50s from experience?

  13. Love this blog. Jesus said that the problem with bad marriages is hardness of heart. IE: Being easily offended, insecure, power and control hungry, not committed, and immaturity in life and in the Spirit. That’s my condensed version.

    Well, what do you think?
    We have a warped sense of submission. It says like we submit to Christ. In that submission is freedom. There are also rules for submitting to Christ. Immature people just want to do what ever the hell they want. Submitted indiviuals, operate in sacrificial love. It doesn’t mean stop being yourself, it means stop being so freakin’ selfish.

    What makes a “real” marriage?
    The real test of marriage is intimacy; spiritual (partner knows your prayers), emotional (partner knows your thoughts and values them) and of course sexual (partner knows and satisfies your personal needs).

    The litmus test of this is the over quoted verse from 1 Cor 13 which is all about action and not about Hollywood emotional love.

    How do you define “submission” and “love?”
    Submission is trusting your partner to have your best interest in mind at all times.

    Love is always acting on their behalf.

    What do you think modern marriages are missing?
    Strong role models in the media and church. It’s like oops, I don’t like this today, I don’t feel like I did when I watched Pretty Woman, I am looking for someone else.

    God has created each one of us for a destiny, and for some it is at home, and others it is in the work place. Submission is not about roles, it is about attitutde.

  14. Stuff that popped into my head after reading this–

    1) When I was a teenager, I asked my dad to explain the “wives be submissive” bits of the Bible to me. (Incidentally, he’s a card-carrying Promise Keeper and all-around pretty conservative guy.) His take on it was this: “It also says that husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Christ loved the church enough to die for it–any guy who can’t do the same for you isn’t worth submitting to (or marrying).”

    In the end, I’ll take my dad’s marriage advice over any book about “real marriage” on the shelf. It’s served me pretty well so far.

    2) Just to echo what Ellen and Ric have said above–“1950’s pre-feminism” family life was hardly ideal, if that ideal even existed in the first place. Shoot, I saw an episode of “I Love Lucy” where Ricky got mad and Lucy actually flinched like he was going to hit her (it’s the one where she forgot to pay the electric bill and can’t make the waffles, BTW.) So, apparently back then not only was smacking your wife around considered acceptable behavior, but I guess it was supposed to be pretty darn funny.

    3) As annoying as the whole “stupid dad” trope is, it’s actually not that new a development. Subverting authority has been a basis of comedy for years–it goes all the way back to commedia dell’arte characters and possibly before. It all centered around someone in a lower position getting the upper hand–so you’d have women outsmarting the men, kids outsmarting the parents, servants outsmarting the masters. Having the lord of the house ordering around his underlings is just everyday life. But, if the lord of the house is a doofus that Harlequin can mess with–that’s comedy.

    It does make you wonder if the “stupid dad” stereotype might actually fade away as the status of women improves.

  15. I’m glad I think my husband is smart. I love being able to be the one that reminds him how smart he is, especially when he does something just the opposite of smart. Fyi, the first 25 years of marriage are the toughest. More people would find that out if they just stayed married. :)

  16. Why are the 1950s where we stop when we’re looking for the definition of “real” marriages? If older is better, why stop there? The people who romanticize “traditional” marriage are rarely willing to extrapolate from that principle and advocate marriages in which the husband literally owns his wife as property, or marriages in which the wife’s family had to pay the husband a dowry to take her off their hands or the husband had to purchase the wife from her family as though she were a commodity.

    For that matter, if you’re into God’s laws as revealed in the Bible, why not go back to Deuteronomy? In those traditional marriages, if the wife’s father (!!) couldn’t produce bloody sheets from the consummation of the marriage, the husband could assert that his wife wasn’t a virgin and she would be stoned to death. Ah … the good old days …

    My point is just that maybe it shouldn’t be about what the “old ways” were. The whole idea of “real marriage” (as an appeal to “marriage how it was meant to be” back in the day) is a red herring. It should be about what’s good, fair, and just.

    • Funny you should mention that–ironically, even during the 1950’s there was this big push to “return to the old days” (you know, so the womenfolk could give all the guys their jobs back) but it was the victorian era/turn of the century that was held up as the ideal.

      Never mind the fact that during the Victorian era housekeeping was a far cry from the 1950’s “ideal”–women that were poor had to take on work “outside the home” to support the family income, while rich women delegated most of the housework and childrearing to servants and nannies. The whole situation where a woman did nothing but clean the house and raise the kids very rarely existed in a pure sense, even when it was supposedly common.

      • Yes … I think it’s similar to how older people of every generation gripe about “kids these days” and reminisce about how things were so much better when they were young. When they were young, they were too naive to look at the institutions of the day with such a critical eye. Of course everything looked better to them back then.

      • Interesting point, and I think it illustrates that we can’t make a lot of hard and fast rules about who does what, but we need broad principles that can apply to any married couple, anywhere.

    • I’m with you NFQ, let’s go back as far as we can. In fact, let’s go back to before the first married couple messed up. When Adam first saw Eve, he said she was of his own flesh.

      If I wake up each day and remember my wife is one with me, and we are to submit to one another – and I’ll argue that submission begins with the husband, not the wife – then I have given myself a great chance to be a loving husband.

      Of course, I fail regularly.

      • I can’t tell if you were being intentionally humorous or misreading my comment, when you said “I’m with you NFQ.” I don’t think there’s anything magically better about “the first” of anything necessarily.

        But if people defending “traditional marriage” (against whatever the impostor du jour happens to be) want to change their tune and argue for marriage only between nudists who are genetic twins with each other, that would indeed be satisfying. 😉

  17. Matt, I’m SO with you, on the need to treat one another with respect, although I do think the 50’s (as others have already pointed out) swept a lot of nasty stuff under the rug.

    Women want and need partners who are worthy of respect, it matters a LOT who you marry (Hollywood “just falling in love” movies do us no favours here. It is so important to choose wisely!) But a big part of growing together is building one another up. You can’t expect your partner to be confident and admirable, if you constantly pull him (or her) down!!

    Having said that, I’m currently going through a divorce. There are some things that can’t be covered up by love, and some behaviours that shouldn’t ever be tolerated.

    Maybe, instead of a return to the 50’s (which I realise was only a metaphor anyway – well done on the controversy :) we can actually achieve something real and solid, and honest too.

  18. I think what is missing are the Externals of this topic. what was discussed were the inside fundamentals of Marriage Structure: Respect and Submission. part of the title is “..the PreFeminism Kind” so were losing (or its being stolen) gender distinction between male and female, two parents working to afford lifestyles above their means, suffering the family; no True esteem for Motherhood even in the churches, lack of True Christ like role models, seemingly. Time for the men to esteem a Saint who was trully like Christ and the women to look to the Most Blessed Woman of all ages???????? we dont esteem Virginity or any Virtues anymore. We need the True Religion of Christianity back. the historic Church…

    • The funny thing about feminism to me was women seemed to be convinced that they needed to be more like men, who were the enemy of women.

      • Actually, the really “funny” thing about feminism is that so many people have bought into your definition of it.

        To me, being a feminist means wanting equality for both sexes–equal pay for equal work, equal status in a marriage, and equal educational opportunities.

        I’m personally not ashamed to call myself one.

        • Oh absolutely. I’m afraid I’ve miscommunicated. I think you’ve just given the true definition of feminism – which if pursued is very beneficial. The false version – women becoming more like men – has been quite harmful.

          • Well, I think I just jumped at it because I think the whole “man-hating feminist” trope is about as overdone as the “doofus husband” one.

          • The common feminist these days is one like that which you described, Matt – women who not only hate men, but also women, and want to be like men. In their view, there is no such thing as a good man – unless he is a demasculinized wimp who apologizes for every imagined or real misdeed committed by any man against any woman EVER. (There is a YouTube video of just such a thing, believe it or not!) They actively campaign to reduce the rights of men, painting all of them as abusers, child molesters and oppressors of women. A bit of reading at sites such as Feministing.com will enlighten anyone who still believes that feminism is just about equal opportunity and rights for women.

      • Crud. I just reread what you wrote and I think I might have kinda missed your point. Sorry about that. Not sorry for what I wrote regarding feminism, just sorry for going off topic.

  19. This is dead on. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  20. Love your take on marriage issues, Matt. I was worried that I might see a tirade about the support or rejection of specific sexual practices (as that seems to be what this book has everyone talking about), and was relieved that it was actually some practical, Biblical advice. Thanks.

  21. This post made me stand up and cheer. :)

  22. In so much of Evangelicalism, the onus always falls back onto us, and ‘what we do’.

    The whole thing starts with them, it continues with them, and the ‘project’ never ends.

    In these churches, no one ever really arrives. There is no rest in Christ. There is always another book to read, another seminar to attend, or another gimmick to try.

    Whatever happened to preaching the law and the gospel and to administering the Supper?

    Too boring. We must continue to ramp up the ‘experience’.

    • I’ve often felt the same way. There always seems to be so much attention thrown at what the latest trendy pastor is up to.

      Meanwhile, a significant portion of Christians around the world seem to do just fine without all the extra crap.

  23. As a college student who’s never been in a relationship, I tend to go from extremes of wanting everything and nothing to do with marriage. Since my parents never had a good relationship (divorced, but their marriage fell apart for over half of its 16-year duration), I figured I’d go to the Bible first to understand “submission.” I come from a Southern Baptist background, so my mother, pastor (who is my uncle), and family, all have told me to “submit,” because that’s my calling as my husband makes decisions. But to be honest, I think that whenever they gave me advice, they spoke as if marriage and their lives with Christ were separate entities of their lives as individuals.
    What I’m beginning to understand is that just like any important relationship with another person, their needs should be just as (if not slightly more) special to you than your own, and that Christ always comes first. If God calls me to be married, I think my husband and I will have to agree that all we can do is tie for second.

    • You’ve got it! That’s why I say that when both partners submit as they are commanded, both get what they need because each one is putting the others’ needs first. What many people leave out when discussing your duty to submit is that you should find a husband to submit to who is there to look out for you, not selfishly lord over you.

  24. My Rant: My Mother was and is a huge feminist she has also been married 6 times ( yeesh) and I grew up in the generation of ‘Girl Power’ and ideas like ‘ I don’t need a man’, ‘ I can do anything a man can do’ and somewhere along the lines, as if to prove it- a lot of girls now women in my generation have abandoned anything that might be labeled women’s work. Which is why Im surrounded by woman who cant seem to cook and I mean really cook and not just follow the directions on the box, or sew, or iron, raise babies and sometimes by the looks of it clean. And really its our family’s and marriages that loose out. I know it sounds like I must be a house wife supporting my position but in this economy I work two jobs just like everyone else and I was educated for those jobs and I do them well and I know that I have a feminist somewhere to thank for that BUT sometimes it gets pushed to the extreme and we start to lose more than we gain. As for submitting to your husband, If he wasn’t worth submitting to then why did you marry him in the first place? We choose who we marry ( another vote for the feminist I’m sure) so make your choice count if your so worried about submitting to another person, make sure they are worthy of that submission. But make no mistake once you’ve chosen and said ‘ I Do’ submission on both parts is what makes a marriage work. IMHO

    • I dated a girl years ago. When I was invited to have dinner with her family, I was appalled at the lack of housekeeping. It was a combo of hoarding and outright laziness. I didn’t see how they could live that way and I realized that’s what I could expect from this girl.
      I got out as soon dinner was over.

    • Couple of things–

      1) I think it would be more logical to think of cooking, sewing, and cleaning as “life skills” instead of “women’s work”. As such, I’m of the opinion that they ought to be taught to ALL children regardless of gender. There’s no reason why a boy can’t be taught to do his own laundry, sew a button, or cook for himself. I have a boy myself, and while I love him a bunch I do want him to move out of the house eventually.

      Plenty of feminists have no problem with houskeeping and the like–they have a problem with being told that it’s something that ONLY WOMEN are supposed to do.

      2) Personally, I don’t see much wrong with the whole “I don’t need a man” idea. Not in the sense that I don’t think men are necessary (they are), but I think there is too much of a tendency among evangelical girls to rush into marriage because they’ve been taught that it’s what they must do.

      I say this because I saw this going on at the church where I grew up–most of the girls basically went directly from living under their parents’ control to living under their husband’s control. I was kind of the “odd” person because I left home to go to college and then moved out of state to live by myself. A lot of churches have a tendency to treat single people like they’re “incomplete”, if they recognize them at all, while some seem to keep young adults in a state of perpetual childhood with marriage held up as the only feasible “way out”.

      I think it’s much healthier to go into a marriage with at least some experience of functioning on your own. That’s why “not needing a man” is not necessarily a bad thing.

  25. I’m not saying that those ideals don’t have their merits, I owe my generations myriad of choices to woman who valued those same ideals. I think they are awesome! But I also believe that sometimes…not always it gets pushed to an extreme. We just don’t live in a society that doesn’t see gender. I think that all of those skills are life skills but oddly I see both genders avoid them for the same reason: Its woman’s work. As a woman I don’t want to be told that it is solely my job but to prove that I don’t have to avoid doing it. You cant just opt out and say I wont learn or do these things because I refuse to wear a label. Its the old adage that to much of anything is bad As for marriage….well you and I must have an age/ economic gap because girls in my generation don’t run into marriage they do the opposite only not in the I’m an independent educated woman kind of way but in the I don’t have to get married, I’ll just pop out a bunch of kids from several different ‘baby daddy’s’ and then despite being a mother still baulks at the idea of using those ‘life skills’ let alone retain any ability to pass them on.

  26. Yup…

    This was pretty much a post that wanted me to stand up and cheer. I’m not married yet, but I’m tired of marriage stereotypes and if your husband/wife is your best friend and you know each other (and each other’s expectations) to the core, then I honestly believe it’ll work fairly smoothly.

  27. When I was a young woman coming out of a bad situation with a boyfriend, whenever I read passages about submission, I would get a mental picture of a woman submitting to a man abusing her. One day, God cleared up that picture by telling me that if I married a man who was abusive, it meant that I hadn’t been listening to Him when I chose my husband because the husbands He chooses are not abusive. So for me, part of submitting means submitting to God on who you are to marry. My personal experience is that He is the Best Matchmaker EVER.
    The other thing that I took away from those verses is to evaluate the person you are dating to determine if you really could trust them with your life and if they seem to respond to God’s direction. If you can’t trust a person with your life, you have no business marrying them. What I have learned in the thirteen years that I have been married is that submission is as much trusting God to work in your spouse’s life as it is trusting your spouse. I don’t always submit to my husband and I don’t always willingly submit to my husband. The times I have submitted, however, even if it has been a teeth-gritting, grimacing submission, good has come of it–either his idea was right and the current problem is solved or he came to me and say, “You were right. Let’s do it your way this time.” and the problem gets solved :-).

  28. I used to be a feminist.

    I’m not sure what a Christian feminist is.

    But anyway, if a married woman can’t submit to her husband, that means she’s not even submitting to God. And that’s the whole problem.

    I’m not married, so I probably won’t be getting this book anyway, but if somebody can write an intelligent book on being a single Christian woman and courtship, I’m all ears.

  29. Charts show that marital happiness tends to be high right after marriage and starts to decline, hitting bottom when the kids are younger then starts to climb again. Was definitely true for us. 20 years later, our kids are now in their teens and all those sleep-deprived, exhausted, vomit-on-my-shirt-again arguments seem like a bad memory. (Kids are totally worth it, but they do a number on your patience sometimes.)

    • Amen Gina…Thats exactly how it feels. My husband and I got married over a decade ago and it was bliss, we had kids and it was not so blissful but now that they are getting older its return of the bliss. Yay :)

      • Wait, are you THAT Shelby?

        Seriously, before the kids are born, so many people (including me) envision these Normal-Rockwellesque images of laughing together at their children’s adorable dinner antics while holding hands in a spotless room enjoying a calm, happy meal without tantrums, spaghetti covered walls or the appetizing smell of dirty diapers. So wrong.

        So many issues – division of labor, the wife’s resentment over how the husband’s relaxation schedule doesn’t seem to change, the husband’s resentment over how the wife’s sex drive does, years of sleep deprivation taking a toll on your patience, how unromantic vomit soaked shirts are – they all impact how we see ourselves and our marriage.

        We need to tell spouses in the midst of it that it gets much better, and you will reach a day when you have the house to yourselves for the night and feel like newlyweds again. When the kids are more self-sufficient, life becomes easier and calmer — and you love your kids and you love your spouse and wouldn’t change a thing. Just hang in there through those sleep deprived years.

  30. My wife pretty much wrote a slam dunk post about this here: http://thecormierfamily.org/Brandy/?p=385

  31. I think Leann made a very important point when she said if they couldn’t agree they prayed about it and waited to hear from God. People today don’t seem to have time to wait to hear from God.
    I personally can’t fall back on my growing up experiences, because it was my father who submitted to my mother. She put him down often, and nothing he did was right. He loved her though, and kept on trying. They were married until death did them part, because that is what you did back then. My in-laws were married until death too. He was a mean alcoholic to whom she submitted, but they stayed together. There were six kids in my husband’s family and five in mine. Only one kid in his family, and one kid in my family are still married. I think that is because our parents didn’t have good “partner skills” we didn’t learn what we needed to know. My marriage lasted 16 years. Thank God that I have two wonderful children from that marriage, so it wasn’t a complete loss. I should say, to put the time line into perspective,that I was a child in the fifties. I am 65 now.I have no regrets, and I blame no one. We should never have gotten married in the first place. Sorry, I tend to be long winded.

  32. I don’t know that it can be said any better than you’ve said it. The Bible speaks more on how men should be husbands than it does how women should be wives; however, the submission thing gets beat in the ground until there is no life left in it! In the beginning of that entire area it says to submit to one another… please people get over the whole submission thing! It’s not that big of a flippin deal! If you respect one another as human beings submission comes naturally! If there is no respect in the marriage submission is the least of your problems! JMHO! :0)

    I think your summation of the 1950’s is brilliant and is way overdue for being said! Thanks for speaking you mind!

  33. Artemis tha pagan godess was worshipped in Epheso… Women were very powerful within their religion… Because their bodies were used to “worship”… Through orgies…
    Paul gives a temporary instruction for them to submit and “ask their husbands at home” … Because the husbands had converted first to Christianity… I we read the whole chapter and, better yet, the whole book, we see women ministering… Rom 1 Paul mentions Phoebe and others….

    • Josh – thank you for adding this perspective – Something I hadn’t heard – & adds some sanity and balance to the debate – amazing what a little bit of context can provide!!

  34. Love this post! So very true!!! I have made it a point in my 18+ years of marriage not to speak negatively about my husband ever. The few times I’ve slipped up I did my best to make it right. I love how you wrote about the wife always having the husband’s back. This world is too cruel for us spouses to be at each other’s throats. We need to be what this post talks about.