Why Do I Rebel Against the Rules of Femininity or Masculinity?

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I can't stand rules like being told to be kind, loving, and respectful. I'll be anyway I wish to be! Some rules are more like realities. They are the fixed facts of life that govern the essentials of living. They are immutable. Rebel against them and look like the village idiot. For example, we can rebel against the command of nature to eat, drink, and breathe, but why? Worse than looking like an idiot, we’d simply die.

When rules reflect reality, why rebel against them?

Some of us declare, "It's my life. I make the rules. Keep your nose out of my affairs." At one level such independence is commendable and noble. No one wants your co-dependency. But what occurs when you say to another, "If I wish to communicate what is untrue, unkind, unnecessary, and unclear to you, I will, and it's none of your business"? Soon enough it becomes my business. You are not the only rebel in the world, and when you rudely lie to me and do not tell me what I need to know, remaining vague and ambiguous, you cross a line; you violate a basic rule of life. Hayden Fry, football coach at Iowa, said, "In football, like in life, you must learn to play within the rules of the game."

But rules are not bad. I have four for communicating: Communicate what is true, kind, necessary, and clear.

Today, let me show you how inviting the rule of kindness is in marriage.

I define kindness as being a loving and respectful human being. Good things happen when a husband loves and a wife respects (Ephesians 5:33). We might say God’s command is a rule and we need to think twice before rebelling. What if this is a rule of life to guide and guard us? What if this rule works and that’s why it is a command? Are all rules given by God due to Him being a Cosmic Killjoy or due to Him preventing us from killing our joy?

For example, God did not design a wife to respond sexually on the heels of feeling hated by her husband. This is a rule of femininity. A wife needs to feel loved in that special way, as the only one who captivates his heart, and then she will welcome and enjoy sex with him. But a rebel husband dissents against this rule of kindness. He tells his wife, "I am not going to jump through your hoops on all this love stuff to get sex. I want sex. If you don't give it to me, I'll go elsewhere." He bullies her and kills the joy between them.

On the other side, God did not design a husband to respond emotionally on the heels of feeling his wife's contempt for who he is as a human being. This is a rule of masculinity. A husband needs to feel respected for who he is as a man. He is not requiring her to respect bad behavior; he doesn't respect his own bad behavior. But when a woman rebels against the idea of respecting her husband or showing respect when addressing those matters that feel unloving to her, she predictably will appear disrespectful and disdainful toward who he is. At that juncture her husband shuts down emotionally. He won't connect with her heart to heart. He pulls away. In fact, at that moment no husband feels fond feelings of love and affection toward a wife he thinks despises who he is as a human being.

Yet there are mutinous women who scream at this idea of respecting their husbands, rebelling like sailors ready to throw the captain of the ship overboard. Instead of accepting that a man softens and moves toward his wife to connect with her as his best friend when he senses she believes in him and respects him—the rule of masculinity—she kicks into a mantra of rebellion. "I don't feel respect and won't be a hypocrite in showing respect when I don't feel it. Respect is earned, not given” She kills the joy between them.

Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame has a question for you as a wife or husband who is rebelling. “If you don't like their rules, whose would you use?” For a husband to rebel against the reality of his wife's femininity to be unconditionally loved only deprives him of sexual connection. For a wife to rebel against the reality of a husband's masculinity to be unconditionally respected only deprives her of emotional connection. In living by one’s own rule, each cuts off their noses to spite their faces.

Such rebellion not only hurts a spouse, it hurts oneself. Such rebellion is not only pointless, it is painful.

Perhaps it is the word rule that ignites your ire. What if we quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are"?

When we consider as sacred the telling of the truth, the commitment to be kind, loving, and respectful, the refraining from saying what isn't necessary and edifying, and the decision to be well thought out and clear, we are operating on sacred principles. Does that lessen your rebellion?

It is one thing to wear a T-shirt that says, "Question Authority." Some authority needs to be questioned and when unjust that authority needs replacing. But doesn't it make sense to speak the necessary truth kindly and clearly to those in authority who need to be questioned? The truth, more so than a rebellious attitude, will expose the authoritarian person. The rebel needs to put the energy into telling the truth well, not flipping the bird.

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your natural instinct concerning “rules”? Are you more of a rule follower or a rule resister?

  2. Why do you think you are that way? Are there exceptions?

  3. What conflict in your marriage could’ve been avoided or lessened if you had been better about the “rule,” or principle, of loving your wife or respecting your husband? How did your rebelliousness blow up in your face?

  4. Wives, can you remember a time when showing disrespect to your husband caused him to connect emotionally with you? How about when you made the conscious choice to respect who he is as a man despite his disrespectful actions? Husbands, can you remember a time when refusing to touch the heart of your wife and love her as she desires led to an intimate sexual encounter? How about when you showed unconditional love toward her and captivated her heart? Which “rule” would you prefer to follow from here on out?

  5. Does it lessen your rebellion to consider the term principles instead of rules? Why is that?

  6. What if a rebellious person said to you, “Fight Gravity!”? How would you respond to this, especially when he urged you to step out the window of an apartment on the tenth floor?

  7. Years ago in a heavy fog a navy battleship detected a colossal object in its path sending out radio waves. The admiral informed the unidentified object to move. Over the radio came a voice saying, "You need to move and change course quickly." The admiral replied, "I am a battleship with nuclear weapons. You move." Over the radio came back this message, "With all due respect, sir, but you move. I am a lighthouse." Your thoughts?