Building off of the some of Donal’s thoughts.
Generally speaking, there are some ‘systems’ that other people have built before. For example, Dr. Harley who wrote His needs, Her needs has systematized most important emotional needs.
One of the ironies, I think, is that His needs her needs is often marketed to conservative Christians even though the author is not a Christian (to my knowledge) and does not advocate Biblical principles. The same is true with Doyle’s The Surrendered wife. She is not a Christian, but it’s a recommended book to Christians.
These are the areas Dr Harvey recommends.
- Sexual Fulfillment
- Recreational Companionship
- Honesty and Openness
- Physical Attractiveness
- Financial Support
- Domestic Support
- Family Commitment
This is not unlike the 5 love languages and other potential ‘systems’ to try to identify what is important to marriage. However, these ‘systems’ that are not built on what the Scripture defines as important can be dubious.
Generally speaking, any such system should be built directly off of Biblical principles based on the roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife respectively along with the concepts of covenant marriage (no divorce, kids, etc.). Some of the above but not all are what the Scripture defines as necessary such as admiration (e.g. respect), sexual fulfillment, financial support, and whatnot.
The main problem(s) that you would run into are namely that people change their minds all of the time and are subject to the whims of their feelings. A Christian woman wants to submit… until she doesn’t. She’s in a bad mood. Her friends or family convince her it’s a bad idea. Her husband was ‘being too harsh.’ She’s not getting her ‘needs’ met. In general, men are more apt to do fulfill their commitments even when they’re not happy about it.
Now, there is a minority of men and women who take things seriously. Their yes is yes and their no is no. The problem is that it may be quite difficult to separate out these serious Christians from the lukewarm ones. You can build all the systems that you want, but if the people are not interested in taking God and/or the Scriptures seriously then you get someone who will eventually go off the rails in the future. Not if but when.
In general, consequences are more effective in deterring bad behavior. No fault divorce increased rates of divorce. Mother custody of children increased instances of divorce. When there is no penalty for bad behavior you get more bad behavior. When you can’t call out bad behavior there is more bad behavior. Bad behavior breeds from selfishness. Incentives matter, as much as we like to admit it or not.
Thus, a good marital competency index would identify:
- Covenant marriage requirements (no divorce, kids, sex needs, etc.).
- Roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife to each other.
- Personal, family, and community interaction(s) that incentivize good behavior.