My lovely wife passed along this article about how motherhood is a "feminine mistake", and it's really sad to see just how deeply bitterness has taken root in the author, Leslie Bennetts. The situation her grandmother faced when her grandfather left her for another woman was certainly awful, but the lesson she took from it saddens me. Rather than blaming her adulterous, deceitful grandfather, acknowledging his flaws, and surpassing the natural bitterness that results, Bennetts embraces her bitterness and decides that the problem lay not with her grandfather (and her grandmother's rigid reaction), but instead with the concept of traditional marriage.
My grandmother spent the next forty years mourning the loss of her marriage and waiting for her ex-husband to come back to her, even though he had long since wed his mistress. Until the day she died, my grandmother clung to the illusion that her husband would eventually return to her. In all those years, she never looked at another man, politely but firmly turning away all suitors. Nor did she ever question the strictly segregated gender roles that prevented her from exploring her own potential. As far as she was concerned, marriage was â€œfor time and all eternity,â€ just as her wedding ceremony had promised, and her role in life was as a wife, even when there was no husband around.
Faced with betrayal by her husband, grandmother gave in to an unfortunately rigid conception of marriage that few "traditionalists" (such as myself) endorse. This decision, along with the grandfather's betrayal, set the author up for what I perceive to be a deep bitterness towards wifehood and motherhood and a tragic but experienced-based fear of being betrayed herself. It is certainly impossible for a husband or wife to thrive in their traditional role in a marriage if neither is able to fully trust the other.
Along this line, it is not only women who face uncertainty when they enter into marriage. I've known many men who have sworn never to get married because of the high likelihood and awful consequences of divorce that men face in our society. In contrast to historical norms, men now bear the brunt of divorce, often losing their children, their home, and substantial portions of their income, regardless of who is at fault for the divorce. In circumstances such as these, it's understandable for both men and women to hedge their bets and preserve their independence in marriage, because there's little confidence that the partner is going to really stick around.
However, within the context of a God-centered marriage, I believe it is possible for both the husband and the wife to grow in trust of each other, because of their mutual trust in God. I know that my wife, Jessica, isn't perfect, and she knows that I'm not either. Left to our own devices, it would be difficult or impossible to trust each other completely. However, complete trust is worth developing, and we're working on it. We each have faith that God has brought us into this marriage for a purpose, and that our spouse is our provision from God. Therefore, our acceptance of each other isn't based on how well we perform our marital duties or how we feel emotionally, but rather on God's will for our lives. This faith enables us to look past the problems or emotions of any particular moment and remember that our trust lies not in the other person, but in God. In this way, we are each able to give up our humanistic "rights" and instead direct our lives towards each others' betterment.
The alternative, I suppose, is pessimism, isolation, and a shallow, unfulfilling marriage like the one described by Bennetts. Nothing ventured, nothing gained....