There’s 1 right relalationship and 5 main varieties of dysfunctional relationship patterns that manifest between husband and wife. I got a bit of inspiration from this post, but most of it from examining the permutations of issues that crop up from the sex roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives in the Scriptures.
- Headship and submission. This is the Biblical basis for relationship.
- Inversion of roles. The wife is the head of the relationship, and the husband is the wife and submissive.
- Rebellion. The husband is acting as the head of the relationship, and the wife is choosing to rebel instead of submit. She wants things her way instead of following his lead. This is the case with Cane’s recent commentary.
- Confused husband. The husband is not acting as the head of the relationship (for whatever reason), and the wife figures that she has to make up for it.
- Confused wife. The husband is acting as the head of the relationship, but the wife doesn’t know where she fits into the husband’s plans.
- Confused husband and wife. Both the husband and the wife don’t know what the heck they are doing in the relationship.
Let’s discuss all of these for a second.
Headship and submission
We’ve been discussing this extensively, so I’m not going to go into it much further. Both parties will be at peace in this type of relationship. Not worldly peace but supernatural peace due to conformation to God’s specifically designed roles and responsibilities for the relationship.
Inversion of roles
The wife is acting as the head of the relationship, and the husband is the wife and submissive.
While this type of relationship may seem like it’s not prevalent, this is the type of relationship you get when you are egalitarian. Leadership will always default to one person in a two-person relationship, so if the husband eschews the responsibility then it will default to the wife.
This is what you usually see under feminism as well as egalitarian “Churches” and “Christians.” The wife leads her husband around by a leash either covertly or overtly.
The husband is acting as the head of the relationship, and the wife is choosing to rebel instead of submit. She wants things her way instead of following his lead. This is the case with Cane’s recent commentary.
Generally speaking, the vast majority of relationship within devoted Christians fall into the category of #2 which is Rebellion. The husband IS a good husband, has a stable job, and is devoted to his wife and kids. Yet, the wife consistently challenges his headship either through nagging, constant suggestions on what to do and what would be “better,” or wants her way on all sorts of different things. This is especially so when she is unhappy and/or her husband isn’t attractive to her anymore.
This is the state that Dalrock has talked about in his posts the most. Churches that preach headship, but then tell husbands that the measure of his headship is his wife’s happiness or pleasing his wife. This encourages wives to rebel against their husbands because they are made the measuring stick: “I’m not happy? It must be that my husband is doing something wrong… he should do it a different way instead.”
Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with striving to please your wife or do good things for her. However, when these things are performed in a dysfunctional relationship pattern it only leads to more dysfunctional results. The trap of this dysfunctional relationship pattern is that instead such things being done out of desire because you love her, they are instead done out of desire to earn her pleasure or sex. This only exacerbates the issues and ultimately leads to divorce more often than not.
The husband is not acting as the head of the relationship (for whatever reason), and the wife figures that she has to make up for it.
In general, I think that most women would assume they fall into this category. However, what actually ends up happening is that when the wife attempts to “make up” for the husband at all she is firmly placing herself into the rebellion camp.
In reality, a husband may need the support of his wife, but he does not need her to take up his role and responsibilities for him. What this looks like is the concept of bowing lower (h/t Cane). Encouragement, joy, femininity, and genuine submission or following his lead will help him rebuild his confidence and leadership in the relationship.
The husband is acting as the head of the relationship, but the wife doesn’t know where she fits into the husband’s plans.
From what I’ve seen there’s two main camps that fall under here.
One of these camps is the one where “marriage counseling” actually works. The husband is busy with his own life and tends not to have much time for his wife. He may rarely express his love for her for whatever reason. This archetype is of the “unloving alpha” where the husband is already attractive but where becoming more seemingly invested in the relationship fixes it. Thus, the wife doesn’t know how she fits into her husbands plans and wants to know how she does.
The second type is just another code word for rebellion and the most common. A wife that “doesn’t know what she wants” uses it as an excuse to do what she wants in the relationship.
Confused husband and wife
Both the husband and the wife don’t know what the heck they are doing in the relationship.
I suppose you could call this the most common type of relationship because most men and women don’t go into marriage with any sort of plan at all. In most cases, this type of relationship will devolve into some sort of dysfunction because typically they entered the relationship based on feelings without any regard for how the relationship is supposed to work.
Confusion only exists in Christian circles because many Christians don’t even read their Bible that much. However, this is compounded by the fact that there are rarely sermons on what roles and responsibilities are in marriage. This is at best ignorance or perhaps willful ignorance, and at worst systematic rebellion due to wanting to gratify the lusts of the flesh instead of seek Truth.
In general, all of the confused variations of the relationships tend to get pushed toward wifely rebellion by society as well as the Church. After you eliminate the confusion and replace it with Biblical knowledge, there are only really 3 possible permutations:
- Headship and submission
- Inversion of roles
What the Church should be teaching is headship and submission. Love and respect. However, they don’t and generally either push to 2 or 3 depending on the Church.