Male and Female Roles

Western societies tend to be more egalitarian than others in their views of the roles of men and women, but gender inequalities remain in every society. Tradition, religious beliefs, politics, social class, and caste also may influence a couple's understanding of male and female roles.

In most areas of the U.S. and in many Western countries, the class system is less pronounced, but other cultures (such as the Indian culture) adhere to a strict class and caste system that greatly influences each person's interactions with others. Intercultural couples must explore this issue to form a better understanding of each spouse's attitudes toward roles and class. As husbands and wives engage in open discussion, they will learn to sort out cultural stereotypes, personal expectations, and biblical principles in order to reach a workable, God-honoring partnership in which each individual respects the other's roles.

According to Scripture, the husband is commanded to show submission to the Lord Jesus Christ by loving his wife and showing her honor (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). The wife is responsible to submit to the husband (Ephesians 5:24) and to respect him. In addition, all believers are commanded to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21). This means that as Christians, both men and women are to model submission, as Christ did.

Together with your fiancé or spouse, read Ephesians 5 and discuss the marriage principles that you find. How does your culture interpret the roles of men and women? How did your parents interpret them? How were these roles modeled (or not modeled) in your family of origin? Be sure to ask your loved one the same questions.

One book that will help you define and create workable marriage roles is Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks.  

Marital Intimacy

A man falls in love through his eyes; a woman, through her ears. —Woodrow Wyatt5

Before a couple commits to an intercultural marriage, each partner should discover the facts about his or her loved one's intimate past as well as his or her attitudes toward sex and intimacy. This can be a difficult task, as sexuality is still considered a taboo subject in many cultures, especially among Christians.

Some questions to ask before marriage are:

• What is your culture's view toward intimacy before marriage?

• What is your culture's view toward intimacy after marriage?

• What are your personal beliefs on these issues?

• What did your family teach about these issues?

• What has been your intimate or sexual involvement before our engagement/marriage?

• What do you expect our intimate life to be like after we are married?

• What do you expect our intimate life to be like during pregnancy? Does your culture have certain traditions or rules about this?

• What do you expect our intimate life to be like after we have children?

• What will we do to keep our love life strong?

Christian resources, including books, videos, and conferences, like the Intimate Issues Conferences and FamilyLife Conferences, can help couples expand their knowledge and improve their intimate relationship. For more information about the Intimate Issues conference for women, visit www.intimateissues.com. Linda Dillow has a book for women also called Intimate Issues that I highly recommend. For more information about the fantastic, truly life-transforming "Weekend to Remember" marriage conferences sponsored by FamilyLife, please see www.familylife.com.

QUOTES for reflection

The Shulammite Woman: