This week, Iowa State University released a study that shows something most women already know...that they are usually the more dominant person in the marital relationship. The study has shown that contrary to popular understandings, and even contrary to a lot of psychological theory, women typically have the stronger say in the decision-making process in families.
For quite some time now church leaders have been trying to understand what it means to be engaged in "Family Ministry." And, my opinion at least, is that we've been moderately successful in helping congregations to understand and embrace dynamics involved in non-traditional families, such as single-parent families, blended families, inter-racial families, and others. But I don't think our approach to ministering to "traditional families" has been altered all that much. Perhaps it should.
If, in our approach to families with two spouses as parents, we continue to engage them out of the long-held understanding that the male is the dominant of the household and is, therefore, responsible for making all the important decisions, then perhaps we may be missing good opportunities for ministry, or perhaps we might be just missing the point altogether.
So, if we do change our approach to family ministry in such a way as to understand that women in the relationships shoulder the larger burden of family decision-making, what do we actually change?
Perhaps obviously things like the way we approach discussion of "roles" in relationships changes in our pre-marital/marital counseling and in our parenting classes. But possibly even the way we talk to teenagers about what relationships are "really" like. We do have some responsibility to prepare teenagers for their lives in the future. Dating, relationships, possibly even marriage. And we've got some responsibility to dispell myths and give them some truth so that when they approach these major life events they can have some preparation. I'm just now beginning to wonder...
I'd like to invite a few people to this discussion: