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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Egalitarian Marriage: Are ALL Things Really FAIR in Love and War?

Are Men and Women really equal in all things? - Dong and Nikka 2013


What is it? First, let us define it.

According to the All About Families Newsletter, an "egalitarian marriage" is defined as :

Mommy Nikka with Therese - 2005

"a marriage without any authority structure. Such marriages are also known as "partnership marriages" and "peer marriages."
Theoretically, everything operates on an equal plane in an egalitarian marriage. Tasks and responsibilities are equally shared. There is no "man's work" and no "woman's work." 

Daddy Dong with Therese - 2007
Co-parenting is the order of the day when it comes to child rearing and that means both parents are equally involved in the task of nurturing and disciplining children. Ideally a couple would not necessarily move to a new location if a high-earning husband is offered a better paying job and opportunities for advancement in a distant city. The decision to move or stay would be made by mutual consent. Intimacy is a major concern of egalitarians.

Mommy and Daddy with Reece - 2006
Both couples work at it equally. Each partner is equally free to initiate behavior designed to result in sexual intercourse.

Advocates of egalitarian marriage set themselves at variance with their perception of a traditional marriage. Traditional marriage, from the egalitarian perspective means a marriage in which child-rearing is basically the responsibility of wives. Husbands have the final word on all decisions including, where to live, household responsibilities, who will initiate sex, etc."

Before I became DOMINANT and CONTROLLING, or before we had a WIFE-LED MARRIAGE from 2009 to 2011, Dong and I had an "EGALITARIAN MARRIAGE."
5 months pregnant and happy in my "traditional" role - 2004 

BUT... waaaay before that, when we got married in 2004, Dong and I had a short period of a "traditional" or Godly-ordered marriage wherein he was the provider and head of the family and I was his helper and follower. (This was my happiest time second only to now.:) But that was short-lived -- only from 2004 to 2005


According to the website, Traditional Christian Marriage it is :

"when a Christian couple orders and conducts their marriage according to those standards set forth in the Bible, with husband as head of the home. The husband is to be a godly leader, loving his wife as Christ loved the Church. The wife is to be his partner and helper, graciously and respectfully submitting herself to his authority.
So happy and content being a fulltime mom :) - 2005
The feminist movement in the 1960s accelerated the erosion of traditional values in most societies. Whereas the husband was once generally accepted as the head of his home, marriages evolved into equal partnerships. Most couples today would describe their marriages as egalitarian or a fifty-fifty partnership.
 However, egalitarian marriages work about as well as having two captains of a ship or two people trying to drive the car at one time. Equal partnerships in marriage rarely work out as planned."

For most of the early part of our marriage (2006 to 2008) up till the time when ours became a "Wife-Led Marriage" in 2009, there were not much defined roles in our home. We had though an effective "EGALITARIAN MARRIAGE".
Happy and "Equal" - 2008

Dong with Andre - 2008
 Mommy with Therese - 2008
We both took turns taking care of Therese and eventually, of Andre (with some help from our yaya or nanny). We both were employed. We both shared responsibilities in the house -- he, with the electrical/plumbing/high-tech gadgets stuff; I with the cooking/cleaning/taking care of the household chores. We never discussed who was making more money (We were the type to not "care much" about money. It was a "non-issue".); it was just understood that we pooled whatever we earned together and helped each other pay the bills. We were best friends, marriage partners and equals in everything. There was no leader and no follower. Whoever was more knowledgeable about something made the final decision. Whoever was more passionate about something had the upper hand.

That went on for quite a while. We got things done and we both felt okay with the setup. Being best friends, we had "fun" putting our heads together in coming up with solutions to day-to-day problems. It was really a good friendship that also happened to be a good marriage.

In November 2008, my father died and soon after, Dong quit his stressful job. This was the period when my career was doing well and having had a windfall from Papa's insurance money, I had the upper hand in finances. My Papa's death triggered a deeply-embedded, long-standing obsession of mine of "getting my father's approval" (even in death!). All these factors tipped the scale over for us, from "EGALITARIAN" to "WOMANITARIAN" or "Wife-led"

Even the way we were seated made me look "larger" than him - 2010
As I have pointed out earlier, in an egalitarian set-up, whoever had more knowledge of a matter or whoever was more passionate about something, had the upper hand or got to make the final decision. Well, Dong looked "lost" to me and clueless as to what would happen next for our family (He was passive by nature while I was dominant.) so I took it upon myself to call the shots. I started "wearing the pants" and we were unaware of the role reversal until we found ourselves in what was to be the unhappiest period of our lives.  :(

We thought we were egalitarian.Well it was more wife-led than anything! - 2010
Irony of ironies, this was the time too when we got interviewed in a TV show on Godly marriages!!! (2010) Amongst all the couples in that show, we were the youngest (three couples were in their 60's or older) and we were the only couple with such a "non-traditional" setup. We found them "weird" and "old-fashioned" when they started talking about having the husband as the head of the wife; and the wife submitting to her husband; and that the children followed only after the relationship of the husband to the wife, etc. We felt awkward to say the least, with their faith-sharing. I could not relate and Dong couldn't too. :P

With our 3rd child, Reuben - 2010
When it was our turn to share about our marriage, we were dumbfounded. What were we to say? We did not agree with any of those antiquated couples with their archaic modes of thinking! They were stuck in the past! We were so modern! Truly, what applied before (to Jurassic people like them) did not apply now to young people (like us), right? So, we evaded the "outmoded submission topic" and just focused on sharing about our "vows of chastity". (Dong and I made separate vows to God to be chaste till marriage as teenagers, back at a time when we did not even know the other existed.)

Dong with our second child, Andre - 2008

That did it for the host of the TV program and the other couples too. They loved our story. We did not have to pretend we were practicing the whole Biblical submission hullabaloo! Whew! Those were loud sighs of relief from both of us! We were already having unspoken frictions between us at the time (and I was exhibiting controlling tendencies already, way beyond a level Dong was comfortable with), but we had to appear very Godly before the eyes of the other guests, the program host and the viewing public! We were able to fake it, but God saw through our restless hearts... :(

It is believed that:

"In egalitarian marriages, the wife often ends up acting as head of the marriage in actual practice. Men fear to be too forceful, lest they be thought as insensitive, and the women step in to take over the leadership void. Many times men have only half jokingly made the comment, “I’ll have to ask the boss.” Men have a natural tendency toward leadership, and most men in this type of marriage have resigned themselves to living this way because they simply know no other way. Not only that, but more and more women are discovering they aren’t happy living like this." - Traditional Christian
I was constantly worried when I was leading the marriage..

...Dong got himself in hot water with my controlling ways.
Usually, as in our case, an egalitarian marriage, more often than not, tips over to being a wife-led marriage. Why? Because all things being equal, the wife usually thinks that she is "right" most of the time, although she may never verbalize it. She will "lead" simply because it is her fallen nature to do so. Wives like "ruling it over" their "passive" husbands. The power struggle started in the Garden of Eden and continues to happen in the present. It's part of Eve's "curse" and of all the other fallen women after her. :(

Genesis 3:16

English Standard Version (ESV)
16 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

    in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be for[a] your husband,

    and he shall rule over you.”

"Desire" here does not mean, "sexual passion" for her husband, but desire for his positional authority. She wants to be "in charge" over her husband. She wants to "lead" the marriage... but the man was "designed" by God to be the woman's "leader", thus the power struggle. 

Usually, an egalitarian marriage where roles are not defined leads to
I was perfectionistic and take-charge. 2011
a wife-led marriage.
Women can be really hard-headed and motivated when they set their minds and hearts to it!

As I have mentioned earlier, when Dong and I were "equals" in everything, we had an "okay" relationship. We were good partners, best friends and fun pals. The egalitarian setup works for some marriages and I believe things can and do get done in such a set-up, and the couple can be fairly happy and contented.

But from someone who has experienced ALL kinds of set-ups (traditional, egalitarian, wife-led), I can dare say that nothing gives pure joy and peace than a Biblical or Godly-ordered one wherein the husband is the leader and the wife is the follower! :)

But, didn't the Bible say we are all equal in the eyes of God?! What is it with these role-playing games? Why can we not be equal in EVERYTHING?! Nobody should be the leader! Nobody should be the follower! Both should submit to one another!

                                         Galatians 3:28
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

                           Ephesians 5:21
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." 

However, practically speaking, in a country, what would happen if there were two Presidents? In a company, what would happen if there were two supervisors?  In a ship, what would happen if there were two captains? In the Marine Corps what would happen if there were two Commandants? In an airplane what would happen if there were two pilots?

There is a saying that: "two heads are better than one" -- but in any government, company and commercial air flight -- although it helps to have a vice president, assistant supervisor and co-pilot to assist, there should only be one leader. It makes for an easier command structure and we all know whom to put our faith in or to put the blame on, when things go awry. That's where we got the term "command responsibility." Whoever was in command was responsible for how a particular decision turns out. No fault-finding. No blaming others. The leader takes full responsibility for everything that will happen under his watch. Remember the maritime tradition of the "captain going down with his ship"?

According to Wikipedia, this is what it means:

"The captain goes down with the ship" is the maritime concept and tradition that a sea captain holds ultimate responsibility for both his ship and everyone embarked on it, and he will die trying to save either of them. The concept may be expressed as "the captain always goes down with the ship" or simply the "captain goes down with his ship." Although often associated with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and its captain, Edward Smith, it predates the Titanic by at least 11 years.[1] In most instances the captain of the ship forgoes his own rapid departure of a ship in distress, and concentrates instead on saving other people. It often results in either the death or belated rescue of the captain as the last person on board."

In an egalitarian marriage, there are seemingly "two presidents". In a peer marriage, there is no fixed "leader". In a partnership marriage, there is no "structure". Everything is a case-to-case basis. Whoever is better at something leads the other. Whoever is weaker just follows the one with a stronger character. 

Our "Angry Birds" family - early 2011
I am all for co-parenting (Dong and I are hands-on parents); sharing thoughts and opinions (We brainstorm a lot together and exchange points-of-view); and being partners in everything (We do practically everything together, plus we are really BEST FRIENDS!) 

BUT if all institutions have an "organizational structure", why should marriage not have one too? 

Doesn't it make more sense to have "order" in marriage, than to go "by feel" on every issue? Wouldn't it be easier (less fights and less verbal/non-verbal pushing and shoving) if there is one "Captain" who is willing to lay his life down for "his ship"? 

In this case, wouldn't it be more honorable if the husband, as the God-ordained authority of the home, was willing to lay down his life for his wife, just as Christ was willing to lay His Life down for the Church?

                       Ephesians 5:22-33

Surrendered Wife, Nikka :) - Feb 18, 2014
22 "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy,cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church 
 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

Most married couples nowadays due to feminism and modernism adhere to the EGALITARIAN
My best friend and our family's leader, Dong :)
 type of marriage. I see nothing outrightly "wrong" with that per se. It's actually quite "cool" to be equals in everything, like "bosom buddies". :) 

But, if a wife wants the type of marriage wherein she not only feels protected but also very feminine and most loved, the only kind of marriage that can give her all those lovely feelings is the Biblical one - God's ordained order in marriage - where the husband is the leader and the wife is the responder.

In any organizational structure, a leader will only be successful if he has followers. What's the point of leading if nobody is willing to be led, right? 

Dong and Nikka - Dec 2013

Same goes with marriage. When the wife has submitted first to God and then to her husband, she is freed from all the "manly responsibilities" that she was not equipped to carry in the first place, so she can just focus on her God-ordained roles of nurturer and helper. In humbling herself before God and before her husband, she is now "lead-able". The "success" of their marriage depends on how willing she is to bend her will thereby empowering her husband's leadership, and allowing him to make (hopefully) selfless decisions for her and their family. 

When we follow what God wants, it feels just right. :) When we focus on our Godly roles, things may not be perfect (and will never be!) but they are a whole lot easier to bear than when we are burdening ourselves with heavy loads we were not "built" to carry! 

                                     Matthew 11:30

30 For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light."
Playful Daddy Dong - his "burden" is heavy :)  Hehe. - 2013

Dong may be my "leader" but when the kids wet the bed at night and I am already asleep, it is he who removes the wet blanket and changes their clothes. Just because he is my leader doesn't mean he never gets to do the dirty, not-so-fun stuff. We are still "equals" in this marriage. I am in no way inferior to him! And together, we share in the joys and "burdens" of family life! (We are still "egalitarian" that way.) ;)

By the garden - Feb 18, 2014
However, when it comes to the most important decisions , it is Dong I now acquiesce to. After saying my piece, I allow him to make the final decision/s. The buck stops with him. I trust that God is leading me and will continue to show His Will for me and our family, through my imperfect but loving husband, Dong. 

At the end of our lives, it is Dong who will have to answer to God if he had loved me and led me the way God wanted him to. I, on the other hand will be asked if I respected my husband and submitted to his leadership the way He commanded me to do.

I love having clearly defined roles. It just makes perfect sense and gives both parties so much freedom! :)

To the question, The Egalitarian Marriage: Are All Things Really Fair or Equal in Love and War? My answer is YES and NO. 

Equal in God's Eyes in essence and worth? YES. 
But equal in roles? NO

Girls are really different from boys! :)
Why? Because God made man and woman so uniquely different from each other and yet so complementary too, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, psychologically and spiritually. In short, man and woman are mirror images of each other! One was designed to lead, the other to follow. One was created to initiate, the other to respond. 

Based on my experience too, when push comes to shove and when conflicts arise, an egalitarian marriage (which almost always leans towards being a wife-led marriage), breeds more war (bitterness and resentment) than love (peace and joy). Not "fair" at all...

 * * *

Just like the Holy Trinity Who are Three Unique Persons in One God Who have Clearly Defined "Roles" but are EQUAL in Every Way....

The husband and the wife are also two unique individuals who are considered as ONE by the Sacrament of Marriage; have clearly defined God-ordained roles; and are equal in God's Eyes. :)

God is really, truly Amazing!  I am awed by His Wisdom! WOW, just WOW. :) 

Our grown and happy family, EQUAL in number -- 3 girls vs 3 boys! :) - August 2013

May we all be richly blessed! :)

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