a few days ago, my wife and i had the opportunity to observe two couples during a week-long trip. one of the couples subscribed to marital complementarianism, holding that the bible teaches that husbands, as "heads of the household," have the final decision-making authority in a marriage. the other husband and wife considered themselves to be equal partners, and during the trip this couple talked over decisions and agreed on mutually acceptable resolutions. both couples seemed quite happy, but it bothered both me and my wife that the wife in the "complementary" couple seemed to be subservient, even in matters like what meal to order in a restaurant or what gift to buy for a grandchild.
i don't condemn the couple who have ordered their relationship so that the male in the couple has all the power. the wife appeared happy with her role and seemed to feel free to voice her opinion, even if it was ultimately overruled by her husband. my wife and i treat each other as equals in all matters, as the second couple in our party did, and i believe that our egalitarian relationship is more satisfactory that our friends' "complementary" relationship.
again, we face the dilemma of "me versus an 'other.' " when one partner in a marriage is in control, the other partner becomes the "other" who is less intelligent, less talented, more likely to make the wrong decision. there is no sense of "two heads being better than one;" rather, it is my well-being becoming more important than yours so that i-writ-large can control the outcome. this attitude carries over into other areas of life; we heard both partners in the "complementarian" couple speak ill of minorities, often ridiculing them.
as i sit and write, i am more convinced than ever that the best way to live is to remind ourselves over and over of our common humanity, to remember that we are all one and the same. may we join hands as partners in marriage and in life instead of trying to contol others when the opportunity presents itself. shalom.