For many years we were told the three problem areas in marriage were money, sex and in-laws.
Study, personal observation and many years counseling has caused me to add three categories to this infamous trio: Husband/Wife Role Reversal, Religion and Life-dominating Sin.
When creating a list there must be a first item a last and those in between. Starting with Role Reversal and ending with Life-dominating Sin does not mean they rank in that order. Each marriage would have to be evaluated to determine the Number One problem area. Any one of these six might be at the top of a list.
We will begin this discussion with Role Reversal and over the next several sessions we will cover them in the order listed above.
First and foremost in some marriages we observe the pattern commonly referred to as the male passive and female aggressive form of Role Reversal. This description, however, does not accurately describe the situation in many marriages.
At first glance this might appear to be a domineering wife trying to boss her weak husband, but the key factor in this scenario is the passive attitude of the husband.
Through his passive behavior he could purposely or unintentionally cast his wife in the role of being in charge.
This, then, would not the case of a husband calling on his wife to do things she might be better equipped to do; if it is his general attitude of not wanting to be in a leadership role.
Believe it or not, the majority of wives this ministry has served do not want to be in charge – they want their husbands to be true spiritual leaders.
In looking at husband/wife role model responsibilities we can establish a clear-cut understanding of responsibility, fault and authority.
In an earlier study it was stated God has set forth four areas of responsibility for the husband.
Briefly stated these are: Provider, Teacher, Protector and Leader/Guide. Husbands who neglect to perform these duties in effect put their wife in charge.
God holds husbands responsible as the head of the household set forth in Genesis 3:16: “…and he shall rule over her.”
Understand, however, this does not set up a dictatorship. A synonym for rule in this context is to govern.
The husband must be involved in all decision-making or at least be informed as to what is going on.
In a counseling situation I pause and ask the husband a seemingly dumb question: “Did you ask to be born a male? It is not a dumb question my point is well taken.
Since you did not ask to be born a male, you live under God-assigned responsibilities. God determined someone had to be directly responsible to Him. He chose the man. This teaching is not an equality passage – it is a God-ordained responsibility passage.
The equality verse is Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.”
A wife must realize that just as she did not ask to be born a woman it was God who assigned gender and the corresponding gender role responsibilities.
The partners of a successful marriage will recognize this, and will work toward a united effort which will utilize the talents and Spiritual Gifts of both husband and wife, but he will realize that the final responsibility - not necessarily the final word - is always on the husband.
As noted in a previous lesson, the final word in any dispute always rests in God’s Word as directed by Scripture.
The husband cannot transfer responsibility, but he can and should grant authority to his wife. She brings talents and Spiritual Gifts into the marriage usable for the best interests of both husband and wife.
Because she is a female she is better equipped to handle many situations in the family a husband - because of his maleness - cannot perform well or at all. God knew what he was doing when He created genders.
One of the most telling statements of Role Reversal a husband makes is, “It’s not my problem.”
In truth, it might not be his direct fault, but it is always his problem - responsibility.
We learned in the session Attack the Problem and Not the Person it is always the husband’s responsibility to take the initiative to resolve every problem that visits his household. It is his because of his God-given gender responsibilities regardless of the modern trends to alter roles in the family.
Husbands don’t be overwhelmed by all of this. Remember, the God that gave husbands this position also gave these promises: I will never leave you nor forsake you; I will never slumber nor sleep; cast your cares upon Me because I care for you.
Another contributor to Role Reversal is this universal fact: A husband or a wife will take into the marriage relationship the best role model they have for their gender – best does not always equal good.
Role model sources are many and varied. Your role model could have come from your biological parents, adoptive parents, stepparents, grandparents or an influential male of female role model in your life. Any person(s) you look up to can be your role model, but best does not always equal good.
There are many good books on building a successful marriage, including mine: The Tie That Binds; but the best book written on the subject is the Holy Bible. I recommend the King James Version.
Next time: Money
Rev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy, Advisory Board Member of the Virginia Christian Alliance and Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service.