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Unlearning Complementarianism as an Egalitarian Newlywed - Printable Version

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Unlearning Complementarianism as an Egalitarian Newlywed - Workin' Mama - 08-29-2018


Unlike the author of the article, I'm no longer exactly a newlywed, and Workin' Papa and I were still a complementarians when we got married, while that author had become an egalitarian prior to marriage. Still, this article resonates strongly with me, because it reminds me so much of my own experience as a married ex-fundamentalist, complementarian-turned-egalitarian.

The author uses the phrase "complementarian guilt" to describe how she felt about not being able to live up to the "traditional" gender roles that she had internalized growing up in the Baptist church. This phrase hits the nail on the head.

When the hubby and I were fundies, I suffered a severe case of complentarian guilt, and still raises it's ugly head at times. I often felt like I wasn't a good enough wife, not because my husband made me feel that way (he swears he's the happiest man alive), but because of the teachings of the church compounded with my low self-esteem.

It started when we were engaged. We met with our former pastor and his wife to discuss wedding plans and undergo premarital counseling, and the pastor rebuked me for not speaking respectfully enough to my now-husband. For the uninitiated, fundy premarital counseling involves making sure that the bride-to-be is thoroughly brainwashed in the doctrine of wifely submission, and therefore fit for marriage. I had written out a long detailed story, but decided it was too personal to share.

I'm not trying to start a debate here -- just reflecting on my time spent in Fundyland and its ongoing effects.

RE: Unlearning Complementarianism as an Egalitarian Newlywed - James33 - 08-30-2018

What about in terms of pastoral leadership?

I think its quite possibly to hold a complementarian position for church leadership but hold an egalitarian position for the home.

RE: Unlearning Complementarianism as an Egalitarian Newlywed - Dr. Jezebel - 08-30-2018

I relate, Workin' Mama. But in my case, my ex & I were soft comps when we married, although I eventually moved to egalatarianism. He did not; in fact, he seemed to retreat further into a hard comp position.

My current partner is a solidly egalatarian atheist. Our "gender roles" are reversed, I'm the primary income-earner, & he takes care of the vast majority of household tasks. The number of times I've dissolved into tears because I'm not the perfect 1950s housewife for him (not for me - I found that role to be almost without any type of fulfillment whatsoever) is EMBARRASSING. Fortunately, he always reinforces that it's not my job to take care of the house just because I have a vagina. He reassures me that he appreciates every contribution that I do make, and that chores are assigned by who has the time & energy. Working 50+ hrs/week leaves me with precious little of either time or energy to accomplish things like laundry & dishes, and it makes logical sense for him to do those things. Furthermore, he assures me he's happy to do chores, because he knows it takes the stress of doing them off of me.

But yes, feeling the weight of society's expectations still is an issue for me.

Unlearning Complementarianism as an Egalitarian Newlywed - EnlightenedMK - 08-31-2018

Trying to be an egalitarian after being raised complementarian is really really hard. Our personalities don’t fit the traditional gender roles at all and I am the more financially minded person. The biggest thing I have struggled with is that most marriage books retreats ect focus on the marriage from a complementarian view so we’ve been struggling for the last couple of years just because two humans trying to make things work, and every time we try a marriage class or retreat the advice ends up making things worse because it comes at it from a complementarian perspective and blames any problems on the wife not submitting enough. I’m scared to go to a Christian counselor because I’m afraid they’ll try and put us in the traditional boxes, and I know that won’t work. The secular councilor that we went to was anti-Christianity and only sat and listened to us and never offered any help at all!

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