The Blog

The Spiritual Death of the Evangelical Wife by Megan D. Owen

Apr 28, 2024

Disclaimer Straightaway: I know that there will be someone out there who will tell me that they do not feel this way, that they uphold the traditions of the classical evangelical, complementarian spouse and that they are crazy, super-happy. From me to you: This blog post is not for you, ok? Be at peace and live happily. 

For those who were in abusive complementarian marriages (or are), this is for you.

I have recently worked with a woman whose "negative cognition" for the EMDR we were conducting was this: I don't deserve anything. I swallowed hard because I hear this too often. And it reminds me of how I felt, as well. Your hopes have been dashed so many times, (often) so diabolically, hope hurts.

My needs don't matter.

I need to sacrifice all of myself, all of the time.

I need to be quiet.

My dreams will never come true, so just don't think about it. Stop trying.

And the worst one is when you think he really does hear you and acts as though he is going to support you and you get those hopes up and then, when the time comes for fulfillment, the crushing blow . . . 

"I didn't think you were serious." "There's no way we can do that." "I don't remember that." "Why do you take everything I say so literally?" 

I remember countless times, in my marriage, where I thought maybe we would have an actual partnership. I would present my case beautifully and eloquently. I want to try something new. Or maybe, I just want to be a part of his life, instead of always being so isolated. Stay at home moms are often looking for meaning and hope in the midst of the loneliness and isolation. This isn't what we thought it was going to feel like. 

Poor complementarian dogma presents in such a way to women from men: Your role is to stay at home and raise the kids. Your role is to cook and clean and launder clothes and support me in however I choose to follow my own dreams. And, if you are not happy with that, there is probably something inherently wrong with you. So put on a happy face because this is FULFILLING! You're the puzzle piece I was missing, in my life! See? You fit perfectly right HERE. Your gifts of cleaning and child-bearing complement my gifts of leading and succeeding and chasing my dreams! (But, we're totally equal.)

After so many years, how many of us lost our aliveness? What if being a SAHM wasn't our dream? But now, it is seemingly God's dream for us? Ah . . . . we are entering the land-of-losing-our-selves.

I have two daughters -- one wants to be a wife and a mother and wants wants to be wealthy. Fabulous. They are both pursuing the best versions of themselves as God made them to be. I support them both, whole-heartedly. They have choices.

Why can men choose their career and a woman is told she is fulfilled as a wife and mother and nothing else -- just this one thing? Aren't women just as faceted as men are? Just as brilliant? Just as heroic and life-changing?

Being forced into a role will make you a shell. You die on the inside.

It is a spiritual death. It is anti-Christ to die, spiritually.

Further, this crazy umbrella business makes us even more separated from ourselves and others. 

It doesn't feel like an umbrella. An umbrella is fabric, waterproof . . . sometimes one can see glimpses of a bright, celestial light. Complementarianism feels like 10 feet of concrete. There is no sparkle, no thriving, no fluid river of life. There is heaviness -- "this little light of mine" is completely snuffed out. A woman becomes a robot. She stops smiling -- there is no shining eyes or luminosity in her loveliness. It really does feel like the assassination of the essence of who we are. Separation from God and connection only through the husband. That's death. That is the death of the most eternal part of ourselves. It is flat; it is emptiness. There is no more creativity and you feel it. Listen -- you feel darkness in your soul. As a counselor, have heard it described as, "That part of me is just laying on the ground, starving, pale and weak." 

And in the name of God.

This is not the vibrant Christian life to which we were called. 

Women are supposed to have the same dance with the Holy Spirit that men are. They are supposed to be involved in the mystery of the Trinity and the ways-in-which-God-works as anyone else. On her own and with her spouse. Gosh . . . . talk about a POWER COUPLE.  

With so little biblical support, is this a hill the 'c'hurch really wants to die on? Can you imagine the church history books synopsizing this craziness someday? 

The good news is that, of course, no one has to stay a complementarian. Jesus didn't say a WORD about it! And, at our practice here at MCCC, we are about the business of undoing this nonsense, creating pathways apart from it and giving space for women to be all they are supposed to be in Christ, for God's glory, however that looks for her. 

Join us! Sign up here for SOURCE information for the Fall and watch for our next retreat that is coming up next year! 

Love to all of you beautiful, divine, Imago Dei women out there, Megan 

Art Credit: Elle Renee Arters