Messages We Receive


The author, Jackie Roese, shares her thoughts on the gender roles in marriage.

The conversation was rich, snacks were good and the atmosphere cozy. At a recent event, women of all ages and stages of life gathered to dialogue about the role of men and women in marriage.

To kick things off we asked women to think about the messages, implicit and explicit, they receive(d) about what a husband is supposed to do and what a wife is supposed to do.

Women scribbled words on Post-it notes and stuck them on the windows. The list was very telling.

A wife is supposed to… Be Supportive—Not Think—Be the Nurturer—Be Quiet—Everything

A husband is suppose to… Provide—Protect—Lead—Make the Final Decision—Love His Wife

The conversation resumed… “Are all women nurturers?”

About a forth of the women in the room said they were not.

“What did it mean to be a nurturer?”

One woman defined it as “someone who can take a person from point A to point B.” Another woman had looked up the definition, “To bring up; train; educate.”

To me, this sounds like discipleship. I started to wonder, “Aren’t both man and woman, as Christ followers, called to ‘disciple?'”

I struggle with the terms we give to women and men in marriage. I am not very nurturing. I am not quiet—I know, a shocker to some of you! So does this mean I am not a woman?

One woman at the gathering said she “had more male qualities than female.” I used to say those kinds of statements too. I said them because it communicated who I was in a way others could get. But I came to realize those kinds of statements aren’t helpful to the gender discussion.

I am assertive and I am fully female, therefore, assertiveness is not only a male characteristic. It’s just a characteristic that can be found in males or females.

I know, I know. Women, at least Christian women, aren’t suppose to be assertive. When a Christian woman is assertive we call that something else, you know what we call her. I’ve been called it. I would like to suggest that perhaps we have a picture of woman (and man) that isn’t true.

Perhaps women can be assertive or quiet or….

And perhaps men can be assertive or quiet or nurturing or not….

I think it’s time we stopped putting our gender in a box.

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