I often think back to the day when my husband told me, “You’re not my equal.” The feelings of shock, betrayal and a bit of sadness crept into my heart. “Not his equal? What am I? A second-class citizen!?”
I’ll tell you in a minute the response I gave to my sweetheart and the conversation we had, but I first want to discuss with you 3 reasons husband’s and wives are not equal and 5 ways to promote equality in marriage.
3 Reasons Husband’s and Wives Are Not Equal
1. Equality vs Equal
But, how can you be equal in a marriage but not equal?!
Well, that depends on your definition of equality. A husband and a wife will never be equal in the sense of being the same. When two spouses demand a marriage to be equal they drive contention and resentment straight into the heart of where their love should be for each other.
Demanding equality in marriage is like focusing on all of the things your spouse isn’t doing, instead of expressing gratitude and recognizing the things your spouse is doing. There will never be an equal marriage because each partner is different from each other.
Equality in marriage is the central focus of husbands and wives loving one another, supporting each other in their endeavors, and making life easier for the other person.
Equality is recognizing that both partners have different roles and being willing to help work together as a team.
2. Husband’s and Wives are not the same.
I guarantee you don’t have the same physical appearance as your spouse. Your noses are different, hair style, and feet size (unless you’re over 6 feet like me. I can fit in my husband’s shoes, but thankfully he can’t wear my heels).
And you’re definitely not equal in characteristics, traits, talents and attributes. Wouldn’t it be completely boring to marry yourself?! (You’re probably thinking, “hey, but, I’m awesome!” Yes, you are, that’s why your spouse married you!)
3. God gave both partner’s different roles.
After my husband told me I wasn’t his equal I sarcastically responded, “Thank God!”
He then said, “That’s what I say in my prayers too. Thank God, my wife is not my equal so she can make me into a better man.”
God has inherently given both husbands and wives, mothers and fathers distinct, unique, and special roles. A husband can no more fulfill the needs of his children by “playing mother” than a wife can in taking over her husband’s responsibilities.
There is a quote by Matthew Henry that says,
“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him,
neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him,
under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”
So, the question remains: how do you promote equality in marriage?
5 Ways to Promote Equality in Marriage
There is nothing wrong with men helping their wives with the housework and childcare. And there is certainly nothing wrong with women helping their husbands with his responsibilities.
As husbands and wives work together in the mundane and tedious tasks there grows a sense of security and happiness in the marriage. When a husband takes time to help his wife with the dishes, he’s telling her, “I value your time and all that you do.”
She doesn’t feel alone in the daily household chores, and this gives her a sense of being recognized and valued. And as the wife recognizes her husband’s contribution and vocally expresses her thanks, he too feels secure in their marriage.
2. Stop “Gatekeeping”
Gatekeeping is a term that researchers created to define a partner in a marriage who refuses to allow their spouse to help. The spouse builds their self-worth on the work they contribute into the marriage and feels threatened when their partner tries to help.
Gatekeeping leads to dissatisfied relationships, arguing, guilt, and regret. Gatekeeping is also very subtle and is often expressed through criticizing work one partner attempts to do. If the spouse redos the work to meet their standards they alienate not only their spouse but their children as well.
To stop gatekeeping it’s important to meet as spouses and as a family. Assign chores, make assignments, and review how things are going. After this is done, it’s important to allow each individual the freedom to meet their assignments on their own terms before their deadline.
3. Share the work
There is a great division within a marriage of what “work” means in the home. Women are more likely to do a huge amount of household tasks while men are focusing on being providers and protectors.
Yet, research has shown that as men and women help each other and express gratitude toward one another, the spouse recognizes their contribution. This inevitably causes less contention in the marriage.
4. Childcare Responsibilities
Yet, mothers and fathers play a different role in each of their children’s life. There is no way a father can have the impact that the mother can have on the child and vice versa. It’s scientifically proven that children need both parents in order to grow and develop properly.
As fathers and mothers take the time to spend with their children, whether together, or to give one partner a little reprieve, both spouses share in this responsibility in teaching, nurturing, and rearing their children.
5. Express Gratitude
For myself, I learned early in my marriage that when I stopped focusing on the things my husband wasn’t doing (that I wanted him to do), it was then that the Lord showed me the contribution my husband was already making.
When you express gratitude to your spouse they feel recognized. And when your sweetheart says “thank you” for all of your hard work, you feel valued, appreciated, and loved.
Both partners can argue that they do more than the other. But, when this argument happens the question needs to be asked, “are you wanting things to be equal? Or are you wanting equality?” Because you can’t have both.
As you remember why husband’s and wives are not equal, and focus on promoting equality within your marriage by promoting teamwork, stop gatekeeping, sharing the work, childcare responsibilities, and expressing gratitude, you will be on the right path to a long-lasting and secure marriage.