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  #1  
Old Jul 2, '04, 6:49 pm
St. Ambrose St. Ambrose is offline
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Default Roles of men & women in marriage

I read Fr. Ryland's article on marriage in the latest issue of This Rock. He said that just as Christ loved the Church we men must sacrificially serve our wives even to the point of dying if necessary. And I believe this is as it should be. However, when it came to the women folks he interpreted the scripture that says they should obey their husbands as they do Christ by saying that meant they should "lovingly cooperate".

Now, of course there is the implied notion that no wife should follow her husband into sin.

However, when it comes to the responsibility of the man then the scripture is taken literally while when it comes to the woman then it's not literal and the word "obey" is not used but rather "cooperate" is used instead.

My point is not only to ask for a critique of the article, but rather the roles of men and women in marriage today. Even among non-christians the most widely held view seems to be that the man is primarily responsible for providing for the family while there is no specific societally held view of what the woman should do. If financial hard times fall on the family then the brunt of the responsibility falls on the man while the wife does not necessarily have any specific responsibility that's societally defined: she might work or not, she might cook or not, she might do house work or not, etc., etc.

As a man I feel there is pressure/expectation/responsibility that ultimately it would be up to me to provide and that is (mostly seen to be) my role as seen by society. Most women would not be happy with a stay at home hubby - yet women seem to have the privilege to work if they want or not... cook if they want or not... etc.

My point is not whether women cook or not specifically: rather that society in general still sees (for the most part) that men are expected to work while women have options and are not held to any specific role.

So... please comment on the role of men and women in marriage from the Catholic point of view and also (if you want) from societally held view (the majority view - I realize all sorts of minority views exist).
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  #2  
Old Jul 3, '04, 5:51 am
dream wanderer dream wanderer is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

I live in a world that believes unless a woman has small children at home there is no reason for her not to work. She is pressured to work because they can't 'make' it on her husband's salary alone. She might well want to stay at home but in their world they have no choice.

Unless the husband has a very good paying job, I know of no woman who can 'do what she wants' as in regards to a job or staying home. Many might well prefer to stay at home but feel they just can't.

The first question I hear whenver a man has lost his job is "Is his wife working?"

Now this might be a thing that differs from region to region. I live in a part of the country where the housing costs are unreal and the standard of living quite hight.

However the idea that a man 'goes out to work' is a fairly modern concept as well. I believe the Bible says the man should provide for the family and that the woman should keep the home. That can be left open to all kinds of interepretations. Then we get into that virturious woman of Proverbs. That woman worked all the time and even made money on her own. That can be taken all kinds of different way as well.

Btw..I don't mind cleaning and I didn't mind staying home with the kids when they were small..but I hate to cook! I'll do whatever I can to get out of it and thank goodness my husband actually *likes* it.

dream wanderer
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  #3  
Old Jul 5, '04, 9:10 pm
Mike Rainville Mike Rainville is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

on Christian Marriage by Pope Pius XI

Quote:
4. The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family.

75. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.

76. This equality of rights which is so much exaggerated and distorted, must indeed be recognized in those rights which belong to the dignity of the human soul and which are proper to the marriage contract and inseparably bound up with wedlock. In such things undoubtedly both parties enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations; in other things there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life.
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Mike Rainville
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  #4  
Old Jul 6, '04, 6:49 pm
St. Ambrose St. Ambrose is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Rainville
Wow, that was awesome. I had no idea such clear statements had been made. And (like Paul VI on contraception) I think accurately predicted what would happen if women pursued the path of employment outside the home.

Thanks!
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  #5  
Old Jul 20, '04, 1:44 pm
chimakuni chimakuni is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

St. Ambrose - I recall when I was quite young (I am over 50 now) that I thought it was wonderful that God made me female. I could stay home and tend to my home and my children and husband. Now that I do exactly that...for God is good always and gives us the desires of our hearts...I realize that it is much easier to go out and work five to six days a week. Work outside the home is defined. My vocation to marriage and motherhood is not as defined. I wear many hats and some of them slip off from time to time. I have done both - work outside the home before marriage and then work in the home after marriage. The work after marriage as a wife and mother is exhausting but totally fulfilling. Sometimes my cup runneth over and I need to go on a retreat, and fortunately, God provides for that too!


I am grateful that the documentation from the Pope was put in...how beautiful it is. God Bless -
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  #6  
Old Jul 21, '04, 11:13 am
naprous naprous is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Hmm. Is "obey" in the Catholic marriage vows? I don't think so. It certainly wasn't in mine, but I was married in France, so it's possible that things are different here -- though I know I got hold of an English-language version that didn't have obey in it from a Jesuit friend...

I'm afraid I don't have much truck with any ideology that suggests the subjugation of women to men, even in marriage (and here I clearly dissent from Pope Pius XI). It so happens that I, a woman, am the chief breadwinner in my family. My husband has followed me from a foreign country to come here, and because of the work we do, it is much more likely for me to get a job than it is for him (he is also employed, but only barely gainfully!). We do not have children (yet?), but if we do, I will continue to work, as will he.

God did not give me the intellectual abilities that I have for me to be a lousy housewife (I clean abominably!). We all have gifts, and the real crime is for us not to use them. Mine happen not to be in the home.

Naprous
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  #7  
Old Jul 21, '04, 11:17 am
space ghost space ghost is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Wait a minute............i'll ask my wife, and i will return with the answer....
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  #8  
Old Jul 21, '04, 11:48 am
Detroit Sue Detroit Sue is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Mike, thank you for posting that. Those are beautiful truths, which could aptly apply to why a married priesthood will never happen. I did have to work for many years, and missed much of my childrens' growing up. The secular world also tells women that it's okay if someone else raises their kids, just as long as the mother contributes something to society. With my conversion, I realized how much I had sacrificed at the cost of my family.

One cannot serve two masters. When my children became young teens, I was able to "retire" from that soul-sucking thing I called a career, and return to my true vocation. To me, that was complete freedom. I have never felt that I was any less important than my husband, but realistically, my role is different. It's very sad that women these days feel "unfulfilled" if they don't have a Fortune 500 job, 2.2 kids, a house, minivan and timeshare vacation home.

I have the best of both worlds now. My young men are college students, both living away at school, but home for the summer. I work for my husband, 5 minutes from home. I can be home when I need to, and still be with my husband when I need to. Our God is an AWESOME God.
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  #9  
Old Jul 21, '04, 12:05 pm
naprous naprous is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Detroit Sue,

I don't have a Fortune 500 job, 2.2 kids, a house, minivan or a timeshare vacation home. Well, actually, I have a house, but I live in a part of the world where it's relatively affordable to buy one. Nor do I think of my career as soul-destroying. I love it, and I'm good at it.

Motherhood and homemaking is definitely not MY vocation, and I don't believe that just because I was born with a womb that it should be. God gave me the gifts I have -- how blessed am I to have found a way to use them! And I think my children (should I have them) will be happy to have a mother who is content with what she does everyday, rather than a mother who resents being stuck in front of a vacuum cleaner. And believe me, I *hate* vacuuming!

Naprous

Last edited by naprous; Jul 21, '04 at 12:13 pm. Reason: forgot a nifty line
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  #10  
Old Jul 21, '04, 1:59 pm
Detroit Sue Detroit Sue is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Quote:
Originally Posted by naprous

Motherhood and homemaking is definitely not MY vocation, and I don't believe that just because I was born with a womb that it should be.

Naprous
This is in no way meant to be disrespectful, but if these are not your vocations, why would you marry? What really is the point? If you have a sacramental marriage, you promise to freely accept children. Why would you feel that you would be less happy being a 100% mom rather than a 25% "quality time" (whatever that means) parent? Or spouse? Don't be so sure that motherhood isn't your vocation and artificially limit yourself. Besides, I think motherhood is the most important vocation. Ask your mom.
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  #11  
Old Jul 21, '04, 2:34 pm
Trinitatem Trinitatem is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

I have been blessed with a soul mate whom I love. That being said, when we were married, I vowed to serve my husband and God. I serve them both by raising my children to the very best of my ability. In no way am I a "slave" to my husband, but we, united together, serve God and each other. I am CEO of Household Affairs. It is the hardest job I've ever had. I went to college, then graduated to work professional jobs. When I married, I lovingly made my vows. I've been blessed with the ability to stay home and raise my children. I could work as well (it would be easier), but I feel that our sacrifices for the "good of the family" unite us to God. Some days, I feel I don't have a name, (Mom, usually) but that's O.K., God knows who I am. The temptation of pride rears it's ugly head at times, and I have to squash it back down so I can cook dinner. I love my family. If my husband lost his job, I would do whatever we needed - wait tables - sell shoes, and he could figure out what we needed to survive. I think it shouldn't be thought of as individual (man/woman) but as family (united with God). I feel a woman's instincts are better for child-rearing (anyone who has children will understand this), but we do what a situation must merit, and we do it in a sacrificial spirit for the family. A family led in faith by God.
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  #12  
Old Jul 21, '04, 8:05 pm
naprous naprous is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Detroit Sue,

When my husband married me, was his exclusive vocation expected to be that of husband and/or father? No. I rest my case.

Or at least part of it. Yes, I have freely promised to accept children, and will do so, if that comes my way (and I hope so). At my age (40), that's a little less likely than it might have been, but my mother (a nurse) had me at age 45, so I'm not closing any doors yet (I've only been married five years, and actively "trying" for much less than that). My mother still initially describes herself to anyone as a nurse (at 85!), though, so asking her about her vocation would probably not yield the results you seem to expect.

Trust me, I'm a disaster with a vacuum cleaner or a duster (though I am a great cook). I haven't the slightest interest in "keeping house." I read "Home Comforts" and thought "who IS this lunatic who gives a sh*t about whether her bed linens are properly aired!?" I truly believe that children are happy when their parents are happy, and for me, being happy is certainly going to involve teaching, researching, and writing. I left a successful high school teaching career to go back to grad school and get a PhD because I missed the research part so much that I was jealous of my students writing research papers. I can't imagine what I'd be like if I was asked to sit on the sideline for ALL of it! Besides, to be frank, I'm better at it than my husband, and it's my job that gets HIM a job.

I also believe that a career (or at the very least MY career, though I have many other friends in other careers who are successfully balancing these things) is fully compatible with motherhood (and fatherhood). My husband and I will share parental responsibilities, and I hope that my children will learn from me that there are many options open for women, and that women are not prisoners of their biological "function."

If God didn't mean for me to be what I am, then why on earth or in heaven did He give me this passion for what I do? And don't tell me that I should devote myself to a celibate life as an academic. Been there, done that, worn the habit (literally). I devoutly hope that we've moved beyond that kind of misconception

I know that there are women who are grateful for the opportunity to stay home and be mothers and wives, and who find in that life a true vocation. I am not one of them. But I hope my children will enjoy the richness that I think I can bring to their lives as a woman who loves them, but also has commitments to a world outside of them.

Naprous
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  #13  
Old Jul 22, '04, 12:12 am
Andreas Hofer Andreas Hofer is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

While I was pushing him in debate (as I often do) one of my liberal friends conceded to me that he felt a woman who stayed at home to raise children was less of a woman. So much for liberating women from societally defined roles, huh?
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  #14  
Old Jul 25, '04, 1:02 pm
Minerva Minerva is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

you tell 'em naprous! Would someone please tell me where in the Gospel Jesus says that part of being a good Christian is adhering to 1950s gender roles? I have never understood why conservative Catholics get so hung up on enforcing traditional gender roles on everyone. Jesus never spoke about such things. If a woman wants to stay home with her children, wonderful, more power to her. If a man wants to stay home wtih his children, more power to him! If a woman feels called to work as well as be a mother, great! Why can't people see that cookie cutter gender roles don't fit every family? Every family is different - why is it so hard to comprehend that a family can function just fine with a working mother?

as for obedience, it's not in Catholic wedding vows, nor is wifely submission in the Catechism.
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  #15  
Old Jul 26, '04, 8:48 am
naprous naprous is offline
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Default Re: Roles of men & women in marriage

Thank you, Minerva. It's nice to see that other people think it's possible not to have to live back in the 1950s. And especially thank you for the confirmation that obeying and submitting are not canonical.

Naprous
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