Do Gender Roles Cause Unrealistic Expectations for Relationships?

I wrote a guest post for Kevin Olenick about how the gender roles I learned in a Joshua Harris book put an unnecessary amount of stress and pain on a previous relationship.

When my last boyfriend and I started getting more serious about our relationship and were wondering “Where do we go from here?” we decided to seek some counsel from books. So I went to the Christian bookstore on my Christian college’s campus and picked up Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.

Now, my ex and I had both grown up in fundamentalist-learning churches, so we’d heard the basics about gender roles before. But never had we heard about gender roles with an emphasis as strong as what we found in that book. So, thinking that we had been doing everything wrong for our entire relationship, we attempted to follow the rules that this book put forth.

He would be the strong, masculine leader.

I would be the vulnerable, feminine, helper.

Instead of being ourselves, instead of continuing the journey we’d already started toward learning who the other person was, we both tried to see the other (and ourselves) as Man or Woman, as defined by Joshua Harris.

Read the whole post here!

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  • Elizadean

    Totally right! This is similar to my complete annoyance with “Mother’s Day”. It assumes that all mothers like chocolates, roses and household items or foot spas. But the having of children doesn’t make me a carbon copy of every other woman who has had children! Anyone who gets me a foot spa or blender is in deep trouble… My husband instinctively knows this – last Mother’s Day he got me a complete set of Star Trek DVDs. That’s a present for me, from someone who knows what I like. That’s a personal relationship between people who *see* each other for who we really are.

  • L. A. Howard

    That man really needs to stop writing books. -_-;;;; I know he means well, but he’s really doing more harm than good.

    “Do gender roles cause unrealistic expectations for relationships?”

    I think they can, if approached incorrectly. The Bible actually never says “And the woman shalt do all thine cooking and cleaning whilst thou leadeth her and goeth out to hunt the boar and the bear.” However, over time, it’s gotten interpreted that way entirely too often. I don’t believe that “Helper” was ever meant to be interpreted as “slave” or “servant”. It also didn’t mean “your wife does everything, and you don’t have to do ANYTHING.” Yet, it’s gotten psychotically interpreted that way. (Oddly enough, this idea has developed worldwide, in cultures who supposedly developed completely independent of each other.) As someone who grew up as far outside of a church as one can get in the Deep South (which turns out to be pretty friggin’ far somehow), a lot of church interpretations of the Bible have vastly confused me. This is one of those cases.

    Moving along, if, as an independent woman, I refuse to do ANY household chores (especially while being unemployed), then that’s not good. However, if a husband expects his wife to do ALL of the cleaning and cooking, with or without a job, then that also isn’t good. It’s better to have a balance, to look out for each other, and help each other with chores.

    • L. A. Howard

      …or finances or injuries or whatever. :)

  • Joy Felix

    Haha – yeah, I remember reading that book – I thought for a long time that I just wasn’t cut out to ever get married – I was so terrible at following the “rules” of gender. Screwed up. Thankfully, I eventually realized I didn’t have to follow those rules to have a Christian relationship with God or men. What a mess! :)

  • karenjo12

    This is slightly off-topic, but I finally found a conservative Christian admitting that he thinks women are absolutely inferior to men here, BaylyBlog.