Marriage is hard. There is just no way around it. Different personalities, family backgrounds, and life experiences mean that at some point, there will be disagreements and work will need to be done in your relationship.
And that work is best done together. While hypothetically it might be easier with one person making all the decisions, experience tells me that all that does is lead to resentment and buried feelings. When one person is always forced to give in, a tension builds that is hard to overcome. It can build for years before it comes bursting out at the seams. And that is often where a team ends up as me and you, in separate spaces, in separate houses, living separate lives.
But being a team is amazing.
You always know that someone has your back. You always know who you can turn to in hard times. You know your partner in a way that no one else does and they know you. As your married life stretches out, that person not only finishes your sentences, but empties the dishwasher because they know you hate it, or cleans the cat box when they know you're sick. And then you mow the lawn when they've had a hard week, and clean up around the workshop so they have space to work. And those are not activities that come with a gender. They can be done by any grown adult (and even some older kids) when they need to be done.
- I clean the cat box. My husband has a bad back and that's an uncomfortable job.
- He does laundry. He likes doing laundry.
- I tend the garden - I do most of the prep, planting, weeding, care, and harvesting.
- He does the dishwasher. I hate mangling things into the dishwasher.
- I mow the lawn, 70% of the time. He mows the lawn when I forget.
- He is great at keeping the kitchen clean.
- I tend to do more of the cooking. He runs the grill.
- We cook for our house church, and he general cleans afterwards, while I lead the discussion.
So, if you don't see a theme yet, we share things. We've learned over the years who is better at or prefers certain tasks. And we do our best to honor that for each other. And, in return, our house runs more smoothly and things get done on a more regular schedule.
When we have to make big decisions we talk about it. Who has the most to lose? Who has the most to gain? Who will be impacted more? Who will it be harder on? And then, whoever is impacted the most has a significant say in the decision.
During our last move, I had to leave a job I loved. But, we also had an opportunity to do something we never imagined. So we talked about it and made a choice together. When we fostered a kid in our home, we had to decide to do that together. When we chose our house, we had to come to a consensus about where we wanted to live.
When I first typed the title to this post, I thought maybe it was too much. Joy. Really?
But it is joy. There is deep joy in being known by another. And knowing another. I'm not a servant, or a housekeeper, or a voiceless member. I am a partner. I am me and he is him, and we make a whole family. We stand united in the face of disappointment and hurt, in joy and opportunity. We walk side by side, both with a full view of the horizon, knowing that God goes before us and draws us into Himself.
We walk together, into a future that we create, nurture, and choose. We stand together in thankfulness. We worship God together even as our own spiritual journeys ebb and flow. We trust each other. We cling to each other and give each other space to breathe. We respect each other deeply and sometimes wrinkle our faces into a question mark. But we are whole, and we honor the wholeness that is found in each other.
For either of us to bow down out of a misguided sense of purpose would warp and wound our union. But to bow down by choice, to lay it down for each other intentionally and purposefully, reflects the Christ we both serve.
Egalitarian marriage, a marriage of equal partnership, is really awesome. It takes work, it takes time, it takes trust and commitment, but it's a beautiful thing. And I wouldn't have it any other way!
If you are looking for other resources that talk about egalitarian marriage, don't forget to look here. 60+ Marriage Resources (for Egalitarians)