The Sweet Christian Bride

Guest Post from Reverend Danny Hall: The Other’s Role

by admin on April 19, 2012 in Family, Pre-Marital Counseling, Relationship, Spouse with No Comments

If you haven’t already read Rev. Danny Hall’s post on Family of Origin and How the Apple Falls, check them out!


The Other’s Role

Sitting in my office was another young couple, full of excitement and anticipation. We were beginning the process of pre-marital counseling, and like many, if not most engaged couples, they felt reasonably sure they were ready to be married.  As committed believers they both were eager to explore what the Scriptures had to say about marriage, and as an ethnically mixed couple (he was Chinese-American and she was Caucasian) I knew they needed to look carefully at the expectations they were bringing into this marriage. So here’s what we did.

I asked them to look at Scripture passages dealing with marriage roles, examine the commands given to the other party, and write out what they thought they meant. I thought it would be interesting, for instance, to see how the husband-to-be would describe what Paul’s command for wives “to submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” meant to him. How would the bride-to-be explain her understanding of the command for husbands to “love their wives as Christ loved the church?” Each was to do his and her homework without input or reaction from the other, and then we would review it together.

What followed was a fascinating discussion that proved to be extremely helpful to this couple.  The groom had come from a fairly traditional Chinese-American family, which practiced structure, hierarchy, and some clearly defined roles. The bride’s family had had much more loosely defined role expectations. Since they had met in college in an atmosphere that was fairly progressive, to say the least, it was somewhat of a surprise for the bride to find out that her groom assumed he would be “head of the home.” I don’t actually think he had a clear picture of what that meant except that, minimally speaking, he would have final say on most critical matters.  And the groom was a bit surprised at his bride’s more egalitarian views.

Their differences came less from settled conviction than they did from assumptions based on their family models. Because understanding what the Scriptures teach is important, it was crucial for this couple to hear their partner’s ingrained expectations that framed their understanding of Scripture.  The conversation generated by this exercise gave them a forum to discuss these differences and hear each other’s concerns. They were able to grow deeper in their understanding of some of the expectations each was bringing into their relationship.

One of the themes we have been looking at in these posts is how our families have played a significant role in shaping who we are. It is such a profound phenomenon that our families even influence how we interpret Scripture.  The familial patterns we have learned provide lenses through which we see the world and process input, even Biblical input. These may be good lenses or they may be bad, but they will nonetheless color how we see things. Because this is true, it is important to do all you can to address it head on.

I would like you to give this exercise a try. Each of you study the following passages: Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7.  Look specifically at the commands given to the other one. Brides look at commands to husbands and grooms at those to wives. What do those commands for your spouse mean to you?  After you both have completed your study, spend some time sharing your thoughts. Give particular attention to those areas where you have some differences of opinion. As always, listen well and learn from each other.

Serving as a missionary and pastor for 35 years, Danny Hall has had many opportunities to provide counseling for brides and grooms. A native of Atlanta, Danny has been married to his wife Ginger for 37 years. They have one son, Chris, and a daughter-in-law, Lindsay. He is currently Sr. Pastor at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, California. He loves to read, ski, and support his beloved Atlanta Braves.

By Lindsay

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