Thursday, June 01, 2006

Avoiders and controllers

Day 2 of Couples Counseling was excellent. The professor presented a helpful way of seeing how sin has affected men and women in different ways, distorting our masculinity and femininity and causing problems for marriage. I've spoken quite often about the effects of the Fall upon man and woman in relationship to each other. But this class gave me a new grid to see the potential damage husbands and wives can do to each other when they are unaware of these effects and are not well grounded in the grace of Christ.

I'll generalize by saying that both men and women have inherited certain dispositions and insecurities thanks to the curse that followed Adam and Eve's sin. Women were hit hardest by the curse in the area of their calling to nurture relationships. They lost a sense of relational peace and security, and ever since have compensated for that loss by control. To avoid the thing they fear the most - loneliness, abandonment - women tend to control those with whom they are in relationship, either passively or actively (i.e., by being either helpless or emasculating).

We men, on the other hand, were hit hardest by the curse in the area of our calling to achieve, to make a difference. We lost a sense of significance, and ever since have compensated for that loss by running from responsibility and relationship. To avoid the thing we fear the most - failure, insignificance - men tend not to engage. We are tempted to be either passive avoiders (the typical distant male) or aggressive avoiders (the typical macho or even abusive man).

What's interesting is what happens when a man and a woman get together in a committed relationship! She's seeking control, he's seeking safety and disengagement . . . they both need grace! That's why any human relationship - but especially marriage - is a partnership of grace in which both people are constantly repenting and humbling themselves before each other and before God, realizing the damage they could do to each other if not for divine intervention! Paul says in Galatians 5:15, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." How true this is in marriage and in any community, because of our sinful propensity to escape the curse through some means other than Jesus Christ!

Do your observations of men and women (and yourself) line up with the above?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your asessment of men and women. Unfortunately I think this could be one thing that leads to married singles. With a controlling wife and an avoiding husband, the couple eventually stops trying to get along and go their own ways, doing their own things.

I'm enjoying your post's of what you're learning from this class.