Who said cleaning and cooking is only the woman’s role?


The roles of husband and wife should be complementary.

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What you need to know:

  • Some people are clear about who does what in a marriage.
  • The idea is to focus on each other's needs and best interests.

Recently, I was caught up in an interesting debate online. It centered on the roles of a husband and wife in a marriage. 

“Marriage no longer comes with a job description or manual as it did in the older days,” Ann Wambui, a reader said. 

“Husbands went out to work and provided for the family while wives stayed at home and raised children. Everyone was happy,” she went on.

But things have since changed, it was noted.

Another reader Kenneth Sang’ weighed in: “Today, things are different. You will die hustling if your wife has no income to complement yours. And there is also the harsh reality that women are bringing home the bigger bacon!”

While Kenneth insisted that the traditional roles of a husband and wife were no longer tenable, Neema Njeri disagreed.

“Nothing has changed. A woman is a nurturer and gifted with homemaking skills. Only a lazy man depends on his wife for provision,” Neema said.

Struggle with adjusting in marriage

David Muema, a self-proclaimed marriage counsellor, had a sober argument.

“After more than two decades of what I consider a happy marriage, and after counselling many couples, I have concluded that, other than the obvious biological distinctions, such as who should breastfeed a child, the other roles are purely manmade. Each couple should craft the roles that work for them, and not what society dictates,” he said.

Silus Wanjala, a reader, shed light on why couples, especially the newlyweds struggle with adjusting in a marriage.

“They are trying to figure out their respective roles,” he said.

He noted that submission was misunderstood by husbands and wives.

“Some husbands take advantage of the submissive wife. Marriage is about teamwork, with each partner playing their part,” Silus said.

While Silus expounded on the Biblical meaning of submission, he cautioned wives against mistaking it to mean being subservient.

“Some women mistake submission to mean being a ‘yes’ woman, which makes it an unappealing idea. No human is inferior to the other.”

Roles of husband and wife

Silus explained that submission simply means, “Allowing your husband to lead, as you remain the greatest team player.” 

Silus noted that there are roles that come naturally to either of the couples, which means that they automatically fall into a routine.

“Women are good at planning and organising finances and stuff. Men are not. That’s why you will see a man always asking where his socks, boxers, and shirts are,” Silus says.

Some people are clear about who does what in a marriage. Woe unto them when they get married and discover that their spouse has a different worldview on such roles.

Simon, a blogger once posted, “I have moved houses and now need a wife to sort the curtains and other house matters.”

And the response from readers was swift and brutal.

“Is a wife a maid? A curtain fundi or tailor?” said one reader.

What came out clearly from the debate is that the roles of husband and wife need to be complementary.

Complementarian principles

Focus on The Family, a platform dedicated to strengthening families, defines the complementarian principles thus, ‘it means that husbands and wives embrace roles that are intrinsically equal in worth and value but distinct and unique in design, role, and function. One isn’t better than the other; they complete or complement each other.’

To avoid unnecessary power struggles, the complementarian teaching advances that, ultimately, each should strive to serve the other.

The idea is to focus on each other's needs and best interests.

Complementarians view marriage as a team effort.

The husband takes on a servant leadership role, using his strength to love and protect, while the wife uses her nurturing strength and wisdom to advise and encourage. 

Complementarianism considers the submission of each spouse to the other.

Biblical submission never dominates, demeans, demands, or abuses another person. It does not require spouses to deny their gift or personality or shut off their intellect. 

Biblical submission is about treasuring the other person.

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