Christian Marriage 301: Structure (1 of 2)

“The Structure of Love”, part 1 of 2

Per the introduction in CM 300, we’re beginning to consider ‘power tools’ for marriage in Jesus Christ. And one of the most powerful – for good or bad – can be the structure of the relationship. In the video below, I describe the beautiful structure of love in God Himself, so I won’t duplicate that here. It may be helpful, however, to describe some structures explicitly that are often only lived implicitly. After counseling hundreds of couples, I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen some problematic themes.

The Hero and Sidekick – roles are seized or assigned by ability or inability. The spotlight of ‘abilities’ may be on strengths in personality, education, titles, resources, reputation, prowess in parenting, skills with budgeting, etc. As in each of the other warped ‘structures’ that I outline below, this one has a fundamental biblical problem: it does not reflect what it means to be created us in God’s image. Thus, it has major practical problems: e.g., they can never grow truly close due to power differentials.

The Tag Team – the leader for the moment is the one who’s least exhausted. Because this is entirely subjective, it leads to arguments about who should take the next fight. And it breeds a confusing history over who had primary responsibility for past battles and for the wounds that still remain today.

The Culture Clash – who does what depends on their surroundings: his office picnic or hers, her family of origin or his, a conservative or liberal setting, a “man’s world” or “woman’s world” (however each might define those), etc. The couple functions more like actors trying to please an audience with constant wardrobe changes than soulmates who know who they are no matter where they are.

The Carbon Copies – one or both simply relive the lives of their parents, grandparents, and so on. This is a variation of the Culture Clash. But in this case, both individuals come from similar families in which the roles of husband and wife were set in stone but never discussed, much less questioned. Therefore, doing anything differently could risk alienating everyone on both sides. That can be scary.

And there are other ways husbands and wives organize their relationship. In other videos you may remember my reference to “roommates” and “cell mates”.  In the former, there is no structure.  Each lives their own life with little regard for the other person. In the latter, both fight to impose structure on the other person, again, as they see fit. But the Lord God calls us to love in His image as soulmates.


Describe the possible ‘structures’ in these marriages by any metaphors that may come to your mind.

  • Isaac and Rebecca in Genesis 27:1-46 in light of Genesis 25:28
  • David and Bathsheba in 1 Kings 1:5-31
  • Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 21:1-16
  • Xerxes and Vashti in Esther 1:1-19
  • Joseph and Mary in Matthew 1:18-25


You can see other articles and the embedded videos in this series here.


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If you’d like to know more about who publishes the articles, videos, and other materials on tools4trenches, you can click on the picture of me and my wife.


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