You & Your Family

UNEQUALLY YOKED

Nov 2009    

THE VERSE “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor: 6:14) may be familiar to some of us. The metaphor of the yoke, a farm tool linking two animals together, so that they may pull a plough or a cart, conveys the importance of finding synergy in a marriage between the two partners.

When the two animals are not equally matched, in terms of their pulling power, then there is not only the difficulty of harnessing their joint strength, but also the tendency for them to be pulling in different directions.

In counselling, I sometimes meet couples who are unequally yoked. Many are Christians but they do show signs of being mismatched. They either pull their marriage and family in different directions, or some have a disproportionate sharing of responsibilities. Herein lies the challenge. How should the marital pair share the load of supporting and nurturing the family? This question perhaps vexes today’s couples more as the traditional model of the man bringing in the bacon and the wife managing the household is less and less applicable.

As more families become dual-income households, the old areas of relative strength and competence have shifted. Yet some husbands still expect their wives to carry the same load of managing a household on top of helping with the family expenses. The home remains the wife’s domain regardless of the fact that she may be having a full-time job. There are, I am pleased to observe, more and more enlightened husbands who do help with some of the household chores. But even in such instances, it is worth noting that the presumed “Minister of Home Affairs” always seems to wear a skirt.

This state of affairs may not be deemed as undesirable by all couples. Many wives do pride themselves and take joy in running the household. And some men appear to be rather inept when it comes to domestic matters. I have also seen instances when even if the husbands do try to play a bigger role, their efforts are rebuffed or ridiculed by their wives.

This article is not about proposing an overturning of the traditional sharing of domestic responsibilities. But it seeks to remind us not to take each other for granted. It also underscores the fact that a woman’s place is no longer just the home.

There is one final thought about the yoke. In Matt: 11:30 Jesus said, “Take My yoke and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I am reminded of this verse when I remember the Godly women who lament about how difficult it is to submit to their husbands. These are usually women who are aware that in some areas, they are more talented and gifted than their husbands.

They struggle with the call in Eph: 6:22 for wives to be “subject to their husbands”. The Apostle Paul has given wives a difficult injunction to follow and, as if to be fair, this is matched with an equally exacting call for husbands to “love their wives” (Eph. 6:25). But what is difficult, as we are reminded in Mathew, can be rendered light when we draw our strength from God.

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