Marriage is a social structure and a social contract. Social structures have functions in society, but are not necessarily to be understood as static, as any healthy relationship grows with the people involved. Social contract is the communicated and agreed upon expectations about the marrage.
I find that those who adhere to a traditional conservative view of marriage, sometimes do not allow freedom to the individuals to formulate their own roles within the marriage, as they are defined in static form by the text of scripture. These make no allowance for individual conscience or identity apart from the marriage unit. In psychological terms, identities become "enmeshed", or "enabling" or "authoriatarian" and "overbearing", instead of functioning in a healthy dynamic way.
Communication is key to the continued intimacy in a changing relationship, as otherwise, there will be no ongoing understanding. Some think that there is no need to communicate, as their expectations of their marital partner is already understood, because of the "role" the other is to perform. Performance of any function is a de-humanizing way to "be" in a relationship. The standardization of marriage leads to a suppression of individual differences in talents as well as conscience.
I have used Jenny Sandford as an example of a healthy individual. She has not defined herself by her role, but understands that her person is not defined as Gov. Sandford's wife, but as a separate identity with a separate career. She also gives her husband room to choose what he will be and what he will do. This is why she can say she will forgive him, but reconcilliation is dependent on him, not just on her part. He must respect her, as well as co-operate in the relationship as an "equal partner". This is common sense, but some Christian marital counselors would condone an unhealthy union, as long as there is no physical abuse.
I think that whenever there are certain prescribed expectations that become formalized, then there will definately be an unhealthy relationship, as relationship is not about the "formula" but about the individuals involved. Their distinct uniqueness as individuals is impossible to define within a " roles or functions" understanding or mentality.
Expectations that are defined universally and not specifically, are a hinderance to the relationship. There is no form for marriage, in regards to roles and functions, just as there are no "formulas" that define what universal parenting should look like, except that the parent is interested in the best for the child.
Good parenting takes wisdom and makes room for the child's individual differences. Bad parenting does not allow the child to develop properly as it is overbearing, indifferent, or hovering. These bad parenting models are more about the parent's needs, than the child's. So, it takes a mature adult to raise a child and to be a good parent.
And it takes a mature person to be in an intimate relationship that is healthy and growing. Fortunately, our country allows diverse views and opinions. This is healthy for the individual, as well as the social structures.
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