The Trouble with Marriage

Others, Marriage

My darling husband generally only gets to see me during my least-shining moments. Before he leaves for work, I am tearing apart the kitchen to feed my hungry horde and make lunches to send to school, to the soundtrack of, “Mom, can I have more milk? Mom, I spilled cereal *everywhere.* Mom, she’s chewing with her mouth open. Mom, what are you giving me for snack? Mom, I can’t find my shoes. Mom, Mom, Mom…” When he gets home from work, I am tearing apart the kitchen once again, making dinner, while simultaneously quizzing spelling words, conducting piano practice, reffing fights, and decoding long division. Unlike June Cleaver’s famous ability to greet her husband wearing pearls and a smile, hand him his pipe and slippers, and present the children (clean, pressed, and smiling) while she puts the finishing touches on dinner…I generally say, “Welcome home. DO SOMETHING!”

I know how good I have it. My husband helps and affirms me. He shows me love and respect and insists that our children do the same. Lately, when the children leave messes, he reminds them, “The maid isn’t coming in today (or any day).”

But what if he smacked me around for not having dinner ready?
What if I could expect a good kick while I cleaned up the spill?
What if he called me names as I tried to juggle everyone’s needs?
What if he walked in and demanded a foot massage?

The truth is, that’s the reality for many women that we meet in our work. They are treated as servants in their own homes. In Uganda, when we asked women to role-play healthy marriage, they crawled on the ground in the presence of their (pretend) husbands. In fact, a Christian development worker explained that this is biblical, because Genesis 2 shows God creating Eve to be Adam’s “helper.” Helper = servant. So, there you go. After Anna’s heart restarted, she pointed out that there are many verses in the Bible that refer to God as our helper. The men left with lots to think about, I’m sure.

Servitude is only one symptom of the problem, though. In most of the countries where we work, it is normal—expected even—for a man to beat his wife. I remember years ago, as we were piloting the TCT program, Anna was telling me about changes they were seeing in the communities where we had been training. She mentioned, “There’s been a decrease in deacons beating their wives.” Ever the fact-finder, I asked, “How prevalent was it before?” She said, “One hundred percent.”

In India last year, we asked a group of twenty Christian doctors if any of them had ever hit their wives. Eighteen raised their hands. RAISED THEIR HANDS without shame or hesitation. We asked them if it’s okay to hit your wife if she shames you. Every single person raised his hand.

Physical violence is rampant, but there are other abuses that wives face. It is painful to watch the sheer contempt and disdain that many men show for their wives, the way they demean and degrade them with their words. In the role plays I mentioned in Uganda, when demonstrating how they typically speak to one another, one man shouted at the person pretending to be his wife, “The tea is too hot! You’re a stupid, stupid woman!” Another said that, when reprimanding a child, he might say, “You’re stupid, just like your mother.” These words aren’t coming from their imaginations; they’re repeating what they say all the time.

It’s heart breaking. Not only for the women experiencing abuse, but for the husbands too (and don’t get me started on the children. We’ll talk about that another time). Both husbands and wives are missing out on all that God has for them—the joy that comes from marriage as God designed it, where spouses submit to one another, husbands love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and wives respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:21-33).

And yet, there is hope. In India, where we are partnering with churches to do healthy marriage training, we are seeing change, one family at a time. Some women, newly convinced of their value as image-bearers of God, have boldly told their husbands, “You are not going to beat me anymore.” (Surprisingly, this seems to have the desired effect). One man, after helping with chores for the first time ever, said, “I found such joy in sharing the work with [my wife] and talking with her that I never experienced before.” In TCT, as well, we’ve seen thousands of marriages healed, as people have come to know the truth of God’s word.

Yet, this problem remains a huge issue around the world. Intimate partner violence is deeply rooted in many cultures and belief-systems. Satan has deceived too many people for too long. He has destroyed too many lives. Please join us this month to pray for God to break this stronghold and to heal marriages.

Written by Glynka FritzMiller
Originally published by Reconciled World, October 3, 2017. For more information about their organization, please see the Reconciled World website.