Monday, June 16, 2008

The Roles of Men and Women in Marriage

Okay, so DH's class has got me all riled up this morning. I was reading some of his textbook (I can't help myself, this stuff is interesting to me!), and came across this:

Contemporary models of intimacy stress gender equality in marriage and other types of partnerships. Egalitarianism is the trend among many couples making a serious commitment to each other. But if women continue to make less money for the work they do outside the home and if men continue to avoid child care and household labor, the fabric of intimate relationships is threatened. The fragile bonds of intimacy can easily be damaged when one spouse is subordinate to the other, has more power than the other, or receives less respect and dignity in society." (Marriage and Families: Intimacy, Diversity and Strengths, David H. Olson, John DeFrain, and Linda Skogrand, Chapter 7, p 188, italics added)

This suggests that work outside the home is more worthwhile and meaningful than work inside the home, and that if a husband works but the wife only cares for the children and the home that she somehow has less value than he does and is therefore "subordinate" to him. I'm not arguing that we shouldn't try to be equal partners. That is definitely what the Church teaches about marriage and families.

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, italics added)
Doesn't that paint a different picture than what the textbook paints? The rest of the chapter that this segment is taken from discusses more about "gender inequalities" between men and women and their determined roles, which is influenced by the Feminist Framework, a family science framework that is based on the notion that women are exploited, devalued, and oppressed and that society should commit to empowering women and changing their oppressed condition.

Now, I'm also not here to argue that the feminist movement did not improve some things about women's lives. But I also know that the Church was opposed to the feminist movement of the 60's because of how it devalued motherhood! We went from devaluing women to devaluing mothers, and, in essence, destroyed the natural inclination most women have to bear and rear children by making it seem wrong.

When you evaluate a couple's marriage based on these principles (the ones mentioned in the textbook), it sounds that a marriage like mine, for example, where my husband is the breadwinner and I stay home to care for the children, is very un-egalitarian and that I'm the lesser of the two people. Just because I choose to stay home and fulfill my obligation as a mother.

I wish that the world could understand that men and women have equal but different roles in a marriage. Our purposes are united and we need to work together to raise our family, but I primarily care for the children while my husband goes off into the workforce to provide the "necessities of life". That doesn't make my contribution to the marriage less meaningful or important! The thing that these secular social scientists fail to notice, I think, is that you can have different roles but still have equality in marriage, if you are committed to helping and supporting each other in those roles! Yes, those gender roles that the world also views with such disregard (gender is, after all, according to this textbook, merely the stereotypes that the world places on men's and women's roles in society, not anything inherent and important to your "premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose," as the Family Proclamation explains).

We can have a whole other discussion on the world's view of gender roles versus the Gospel's understanding of the "eternal identity and purpose" of gender (more than just a stereotype imposed by backwards thinking).

Oh dear. I think I've rambled. These assigned chapters he's had to read this week about gender roles and sexual intimacy and even gay and lesbian lifestyles have me all churning inside. It's very scary what has become the acceptable norm for the world. Very scary indeed.


Making Our Story said...

I appreciate this post! (forgot to look when you posted it). As of june, the end of the school year I will be a stay at home mom of a 2 year old and a 4mo old. there are frequent comments said to me about staying home. so many time i come home with my blood boiling. I WANT to stay home, its my choice, my desire. not some brainwashed thought put in my head by my husband! (anyway sorry for the ramble)
thanks for the post, very well put.
(i took a family and marriage class in college and dropped it i couldnt handle the information being taught about motherhood, stay at home mothers and the need for women in the workforce0.

Royalbird said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm just grateful that I was able to take a marriage and family class at BYU. What a different perspective!


Related Posts with Thumbnails