I was recently handed a worksheet being used by a well respected marriage counselor in our area. It identified 5 types of troubled marriages and listed characteristics of each as talking points to help couples in crisis identify and address specific failings in their own marriages. The first 4 types dealt with communication, physical intimacy, conflicting values, and finances. The 5th type of troubled marriage addressed was called “the misaligned marriage.” Here is the list couples were to use for a misaligned marriage:
Failure of the husband:
- to be a spiritual leader
- to be financially responsible
- to make wise decisions
- to seek to solve
- to be attentive to his wife
Failure of the wife:
- by not having a gentle spirit
- by trying to control her husband
- by becoming involved in power struggles
- by withdrawing emotionally
- by being bitter and sarcastic
The supporting scripture given was Ephesians 5:22-25.
It was offensive to me on several levels. For instance, even if one were a complementarian, why are the husband’s implied roles overwhelmingly stated as positives: to be a leader, to make wise decisions; while the wife’s are negatives: to not control her husband, to not withdraw and not be bitter? To me, this list seems harmful even for a complementarian couple in crisis. While it might address the power hungry wife, it does nothing to protect a woman from a power hungry husband. It’s also difficult not to see this as a sad waste of what even a complementarian wife could add to a marriage. Isn’t she also required by scripture to make wise decisions, seek to solve problems, and be financially responsible? And what husband wants a foolish, contrary, financially irresponsible wife!
How could this list be re-written ?
How could marriages which are truly misaligned be corrected?
How can these issues be identified and addressed in counseling without resorting to artificial roles?