Sunday, January 26, 2014

Power Imbalances In Marriage

I recently read some interesting articles about power inbalances in marriage, and understand why we shouldn't judge those who leave marriages when emotional abuse is concerned....

You grow up, dreaming of the day your going to get married, create a home filled with love, family, and happiness.
Only to realize, as time goes by that you are in a marriage with a power inbalance. In a healthy relationship, power is shared. Both partners take responsibility for themselves and for the relationship. Decisions are made jointly, and they feel safe and valued enough to be vulnerable. They’re able to say what they like and don’t like and what they will and won’t tolerate. However, if we’ve been brought up, or taught to not express ourselves (sometimes co-dependent), it’s natural for your spouse to fill the powerful role, which leads to a marriage with a power inbalance.
Some marriages with power imbalance's survive, if the one with the power feels responsible, to make good marital decisions based on both persons interests. A lot of traditional marriages, and biblical marriages accept this responsibility.
The Bible says:
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
-Ephesians 5:28-32     
Andrew Loomis family at church
Andrew Loomis
Marriages, where the power inbalance doesn't work is when the partner with the power abuses it, this  seemingly gives them greater power within the relationship, but can leave their partners feeling a sense of unfairness. 
You see;  
When our feelings and needs are ignored, or we don’t feel listened to or that our input matters, we tend to feel especially unimportant and resentful. A complete loss of influence, makes us feel disrespected and utterly powerless.

On the outside, your family looks happy, you put on a front for the sake of your children, and over time, you eventually become so undeserving in your own mind because of this form of emotional abuse. I found this article, but please note I understand this happens to both men and women.
The statistics in the article show that in the United States, 55% of divorces were due to psychological abuse (1996). That's a surprisingly high number. Many of those divorces, are from both traditional marriages as well as biblical ones.
Sometimes, the fear of divorce, or being alone is so strong that many don't leave their inbalanced power relationships. Many, who do divorce end up being the 'scapegoat' for their marriage. Sometimes, this makes the powerless one feel suicidal. They may have family members or friends who don't understand 'why' they got divorced, or could never see themselves having a divorce...
But, we must not judge, based on our own marriages. You may be fortunate to have a husband who adheres to Ephesians 5:28-32, or have a balanced power relationship. So unless you walk a day in that persons shoes, follow what the Bible says:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
-Matthew 7:1-2


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