Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Changing Roles: Making Marriage Work After the Golden Anniversary

By Norman & Ann Bales

    Shortly after we got married more than fifty years ago, all the trash containers began to fill up. One day Ann said, "Honey" (Both of us would agree that she said it kindly), "the trash needs to be carried out." Norman questioned the need to point out such an obvious fact. Ann said, "Well, it's the husband's job to take out the trash." Norman's response was immediate and definitive. "Where does the Bible say it's the husband's job to take out the trash?"
    Looking back on it, Norman said, "I thought that would surely put an end to the discussion. It didn't. It actually took a very long time to sort that one out. As far as I was concerned, the Bible was my trump card, and I played it with confidence if not arrogance. I had to come to grips with the fact that every issue of married life can't be settled by citing a Biblical text. In no way does that lessen the importance of 'thus saith the Lord.' I had overlooked the fact that the Bible doesn't specifically address certain issues that arise in a marriage."
    Within the last two or three years, we've both had to make some adjustments to the way we go about domestic living. When Norman had brain surgery in 2007, Ann had to take on several new responsibilities, at least temporarily. At the present time Ann is suffering from a degenerative disease, which severely restricts her mobility. Norman is taking up some of the slack. To make that work we have to do these things.
    1. Be flexible. We accept the fact that there are no hard and fast rules about what's the man's job and what's the woman's job. Asking for book, chapter, and verse on that one is not going to cut it.
    2. Stay in a learning mode. Old dogs can learn new tricks. If the husband has never cooked, he might need to learn how if the wife can no longer handle meal preparation.
    3. Expect less. Norman says, "I do a lot of cooking these days. My culinary skills don't begin to match up to Ann's, but she keeps telling me it's wonderful."
    4. Practice the Golden Rule. That principle is addressed in the Bible and we can be assured that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

    If we want marriage to be golden after the golden anniversary, then we're going to have to practice the "Golden Rule." It's that simple, and it's that complex. Sometimes the Golden Rule means giving more than you've ever given to the relationship.

- Norman and Ann Bales, All About Families, January 2017,; Norman is Associate Minister for the Central Church of Christ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website:                   

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