Did God Create Us Equal, But Different?

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This article is part the final part in the “What’s Really Going on Here?” Series. Over the span of six articles, we took a look at twelve different stories and begin to ask ourselves, what is really going on in this story? Is the husband overlooking his wife’s need for love? Is the wife overlooking her husband’s need for respect? How can they ever get off of the Crazy Cycle? Don’t Miss These Other Parts in the Series:

  1. She Needs Love, He Needs Respect

  2. Can Apparent Lack of Love and Respect Offend?

  3. God’s Simple Revelation to Stop the Crazy Cycle

  4. The First Sin after Adam and Eve Sinned

  5. Can We Come Across in a Way that Our Spouse Doesn’t See Our Goodwill?

The Word: Did God create us equal but with different needs, which creates normal tension?

1 Corinthians 7:4—“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

I asked the Lord who has the final authority here, as it pertains to the husband’s and wife’s bodies. He spoke in that inaudible voice, Yes. This passage reveals God’s intention for some tension. We know from research that some tension is needed to keep the passion alive. As a bridge needs tension, so your marriage needs some tension. Don’t be freaked out by some conflict.

Why does God do this? Apparently God intends for the husband to become a more loving man during a conflict over sex. If he does, this will result in a happy marriage. God intends for the wife to become a more respectful woman during a conflict over sex. If she does, this will result in a happy marriage.

“Who moves first?” someone asks. The one who sees himself or herself as the most mature.

Paul says, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21). Technically, though, that’s impossible. If you both give in to the other’s wishes you just reversed yourselves and are back where you started! You cannot both have your way. Decisions aren’t made that way. This isn’t Paul’s point.    

So, what is Paul’s meaning? God has designed some degree of conflict that calls the husband and wife to submit to the other. How so? A husband is to be subject to his wife’s deepest need—his loving attitude. A wife is to be subject to her husband’s deepest need—her respectful attitude. If these two attitudes are present, that marriage will last. It will be satisfying and stable. There will not be divorce but happiness.

When she needs love and he needs respect at the same time, look out! Things can get crazy real quick!  

Story 1

Ken was feeling the pressure to generate more money for Christmas gifts. Kelly had expressed concern about this at Thanksgiving. “I don’t know how we’re going to pay all of our bills plus get the kids what they are secretly hoping to receive.” Ken immediately volunteered for “overtime” at work. For two weeks in a row he didn’t get home until after 10 p.m. He had to leave the house in the morning before 7 a.m. One evening Kelly broke down crying. “You missed three of Bobby’s basketball games, Susy starred in the school play but you were absent, and Jeanne’s home room is having a holiday party for the parents but you’re working.”

Point: Who is wrong? Kelly’s burden to work harder in the family is in keeping with her motherly design. Ken’s burden to work harder in the field on behalf of the family is his fatherly design. He seeks to provide for the family, and so does she. But the ways of achieving this can create honest tension. Neither are wrong. But couples can easily spin on the Crazy Cycle, reacting to the other as wrong. In a case like this, your husband is not wrong for needing your support at the same time you need him. Given respect is his primary need and love is yours, there will be moments when he needs respect in the same way you need love in the family. Accepting this can keep the Crazy Cycle from spinning too many times. Ken is trying to respond to Kelly’s request on one front, only to hear he is failing. He could exclaim, “I can’t win or lose.” Or, he could understand she isn’t attacking his good motive and choices, but is ventilating her desire for a change in course, though she does so with an alarmist approach. She, on the other hand, in recognizing a need for a shift in schedule, should realize her mixed messages. Do you want him to work for Christmas gifts or not? If you do but want a more balanced schedule, then approach him in a balanced manner. As you need love, so he needs respect. Don’t be disrespectful in expecting him to be more loving.

Why does the Crazy Cycle happen? We do not appreciate the honest tension between needs, but dismiss the others in favor of our own.

Story 2

Luanne always wanted to be a wife and mother. With her three teen boys, though, she was feeling like a complete failure. This was burdening her. She was feeling like her poor mothering would end up hurting Larry’s position on the church board. Maybe he wouldn’t be qualified as a deacon because the family wasn’t godly enough, and it was her fault. That evening she wanted to talk to Larry about her inadequacies and insecurities. He found it hard to listen, and didn’t. That morning, his business proposal had been shot down by the vice president who mocked, “The timing of this proposal could not be worse. In fact, the goal is unrealistic. We won’t fund this project.” Larry had been humiliated in front of his peers. He had never been treated like such an insignificant human being. When she surfaced her distress about being a mother, he shot back. “Your problems are so easy compared to mine. Don’t you realize what I’m going through? Why can’t you be more supportive of me?”

Point:  Who has the greater need? Both have appropriate burdens. In fact, later Larry’s teen boys may show him contempt and Luanne’s boss may demote her. The role is secondary to the underlying need each has for the other’s attention. Each needs the other’s support at the same time. Neither are wrong. But couples can easily spin on the Crazy Cycle, reacting to the other as selfish. In a case like this, your wife is not wrong for needing you at the same time you need her. Given love is her primary need and respect is yours, there will be moments when she needs love in the same way you need respect. Don’t be unloving in expecting her to be more respectful.

Why does the Crazy Cycle happen? We do not appreciate the honest tension between needs, but dismiss the others in favor of our own.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a husband, can you accept the normal tension that comes between you and your wife? Can you see that God allows some tension to create a more loving and respectful marriage? Can you accept that she needs your love in the same way you need her respect? Can you appeal to her to be more respectful without coming across to her in an unloving manner? If she is coming across disrespectfully, can you trust her goodwill that she does not want to undermine your need for respect?

  2. How could Larry have handled better the situation when Luanne approached him about her concerns, though bad timing for him it may have been?

  3. As a wife, can you accept the normal tension that comes between you and your husband? Can you see that God allows some tension to create a more loving and respectful marriage? Can you accept that he needs your respect in the same way you need his love? Can you appeal to him to be more loving without coming across to him in a disrespectful manner? If he is coming across unlovingly, can you trust his goodwill that he does not want to undermine your need for love?

  4. How could Kelly have more respectfully shared her concerns with Ken about all that he has been missing due to his recent overtime?