Editor’s Note: This ongoing series of articles entitled, “My Awesome Egalitarian Husband: #LoveGrowsMutuality” was inspired by blogger Rachel Heston Davis, who shared her and her husband’s story here and invited other egalitarian women to do the same.
As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby’s pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight.
I had one foot out the door when my husband, Ryan, stopped me and reminded me to calm down and enjoy my trip.
“Don’t feel guilty,” he said, in spite of the baby’s ill-timed sickness. “If I was leaving for a work trip, I wouldn’t feel bad and neither should you.” (I should mention that I was out of town only two months before for six weeks of military training!)
With just a few soothing words, Ryan eased the burden of caring for our sick daughter off my shoulders and onto his, allowing me to focus on my work. When I would have felt guilty about leaving our baby at home, he reminded me of our commitment to support each other’s callings and share equal responsibility for our family.
Our commitment to live out egalitarianism, share responsibilities, and reject traditional gender roles has always been central to our relationship. My husband and I are equal partners. We are on the same page in seeking to live that conviction out. Still, it isn’t easy to undo cultural messaging and social assumptions about gender roles in the church and home.
Ryan and I are both strong, first-born, type-A personalities, so we’ve had our share of run-ins. But Ryan’s default stance is always: do what you are called to do.
We’ve been married for over twelve years, so we’ve gotten used to mutually supporting each other’s gifts, callings, and ideas. But at times, I still struggle against gender expectations and stereotypes as we work to construct a life consistent with our goals and gifts as a couple.
For example, I had major anxiety about having kids, partly because most of the mothers I knew were stay-at-home moms. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I had a great experience growing up, but I knew that wouldn’t work for me. I couldn’t reconcile the two callings in my mind: having kids and working outside the home.
Ryan reminded me that our family could look however we wanted it to. We could create a system that worked for us. And that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do–and not just as it relates to having kids.
After all, we were married for almost a dozen years before our daughter, now a one-year old, was born. We had a lot of kid-free time to create our own system for doing life together. During that time, we learned that our ideas, dreams, and callings take flight in an environment of mutual support. And that’s what we’ve worked to build.
It was my husband who first suggested I go to seminary. He was also the one who suggested I pursue military chaplaincy. Ryan came along for the ride when we moved across the country so I could study for my MDiv. He embraced living in seminary housing (in spite of the green parquet flooring).
Ryan picked up the slack when I was working, going to school full time, and doing clinical pastoral education at the Veteran’s Hospital. He was alone for months at a time while I completed my Air Force chaplain training during the summers (though, let’s be honest, he enjoys the bachelor life every now and then).
And I haven’t even mentioned that he is also a web developer, runs his own business, and juggles multiple projects, interests, and hobbies. I also have multiple projects and pursuits in addition to my Air Force career. I launched my latest ministry endeavor, The Acropolis Project, last summer. Ryan frequently helps me clarify my goals, brainstorm new opportunities, and think of ways to reach people.
My husband’s support in both the theoretical and practical aspects of my calling is a unique gift and a reflection of his commitment to an egalitarian marriage. But the thing is, Ryan doesn’t think that he’s doing anything remarkable by simply encouraging me and supporting me as I pursue my calling. In his mind, that’s just what you do for a partner. It’s just what you do for someone you love. And that, to me, is exactly what makes him so remarkable.
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