I'm taking a "family studies" class over the summer and right now we're "doing" family structure. At the same time, Milly asked a question over on her blog: "What if?"
Throughout the Bible, we have a model of the husband (if there is one) as the head of the home. What if "something" happened and all the men were gone? How should we (as women) handle the home when there is no husband present?
There is a difference in attitudes, for instance, in military wives. Some step into the role of "I am the head of the home now" and some consider themselves to be the "second in command" - when the "general" is absent, the second in command is in charge until the general's return.
If a wife whose husband is absent still sees him as the head of the home, and as herself as filling in for him in his absense, the transition upon his return is much smoother. He's never lost his place, his wife has only kept his seat warm for him.
In the case of a wife who considers herself the "new head of the home", there tends to be a power struggle upon his return.
My text book says that following WWII, there was a large increase in of divorces; in the discussion group, it was said that the veterans returned home and the wives didn't want to give up their new role (although I don't have a source).
Mark Driscoll has said, "Either the husband rules the home or the dragon will." In the "dragon's" world, divorce rates have climbed, and will continue to climb. There are many reasons that divorces happen, but there are many men who would say (in moments of honesty) that it started with a power struggle.
That power struggle takes place in many different forms - in the checkbook, in the church, in the bedroom. But in all cases, it's destructive and it's against the Biblical model.
Every team has to have a leader; it's natural. If you look at any team, no matter how large or how small, a leader emerges. The Biblical model is that the husband should be the leader. The Biblical mandate is that the wife will "hupotasso" unto her husband.
Back to family structure after WWII - in rural areas or in areas where large families were in the same area (in other words, in patriarchal groupings) divorce rates did not go up significantly (this is from the professor, I do not have a source).
What this tells us is that when wives struggle for headship, marriages fall apart.
Sometimes it is that the husband is leading in a way that is impossible to follow. Don't think that the husband does not have a serious responsibility - he does.
Both partners have a part to play and the Bible describes those parts. When we depart from the Biblical model, things become more difficult. Even if "egalitarianism" works for us, what of those who are watching us? What are they learning about marriage...and by extension, about Christ and the church?