Working Through Our Differences Together

Thursdays are trash days. My husband is the one that has taken on the responsibility of taking out the trash for the duration of our marriage. It’s just what he’s always done.


There are some duties we share that some couples may not: we both mow the lawn, we both kill snakes we find in the yard, we both make the bed (our house rule: whoever is last out of the bed is the one that makes it), but he has always told me the trash is something he will take care of. Except I spent many, many years reminding him to do it.

Our guys come and pick up the trash around 6:45am, which means we put the bins on the curb on Wednesday nights. After many mornings of being jolted awake by the rumbling sound of the garbage trucks and running to meet the collectors in pjs, I finally convinced my husband to set an alarm on his phone to remind him to take out the trash. It only took 14 years of my nagging, teasing, and pleading for us to reach our happy state of waste management division of labor.

“How can a husband and wife be a reflection of Christ and His church when she is so bent on telling the husband how he needs to be more like her?”

I am not telling you this anecdote to unfairly caricature my husband into the sweet but dopey Berenstain Bear father or passive and lazy Homer Simpson. I tell it to you in order to highlight the tension that exists between men and women in even the most mundane situations. This tension is part of the curse of sin in Genesis 3, when God tells the woman, “you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” (v. 16) Let me be clear: my husband is not dopey or passive, he is just different than me. But for years I despised our differences, believing the lie that if he would just do things more like me, then our daily ins and outs would be so much smoother, make so much more sense, and be so much more controlled.

Here is the pattern of my sin: First, frustration would bubble up when he would forget to take responsibility for the trash. Judgment would follow, in the form of me (responsible) versus him (irresponsible), and attempts at salvation would ensue: nagging him, fussing at him, lobbying for him to be on my side of trash theology. He was doing it wrong, and I needed to fix it. Eventually, I just started doing it for him. If I remembered before he did, I would be the one to take out the trash. Imagine how emasculating it was for him to come home at the end of the day to see the trash bins already on the curb, symbols of my disdain and disrespect of his capability.

I am often painfully aware of all the things that have to get done to the point that I take on more than I am truly responsible for. The finite energy and resources I do have goes towards plans, ideas, and goals I have for my kingdom. There is nothing left to serve God and others when I am so busy serving myself. My frustration with trash night was not because of his attitude, but because it was something he said he would take care of, and didn’t follow through the way I wanted him to. The trash almost always makes it to the curb; if it doesn’t, then it gets picked up the next week and we are no worse off. He does take responsibility, he just does it differently.

“The finite energy and resources I do have goes towards plans, ideas, and goals I have for my kingdom.”

God made man and woman in His image. He made them male and female, different but equal. One is just as able to glorify God as the other, but they each do it through different capacities. The trash-taking-out is one of a million examples I could give of ways that I fulfill that God-ordained curse for women to control men. The way my husband budgets, the way he organizes his email folders (“not at all?!”), even down to how he reads a book—they all can drive me bonkers, and I want to help him change those wrong ways. Which ultimately means I want to fix him. How can a husband and wife be a reflection of Christ and His church when she is so bent on telling the husband how he needs to be more like her?

Imagine my response when, while on a recent business trip, my husband texts me on a Wednesday evening to say: “Trash tomorrow.” So many texts flew from my fingers in response, all ending in “Delete delete delete.” Instead, the Spirit in me, after many many years of responding the wrong way, allowed me to say in response, “I love you!” Praise the Lord for His slow, steady refining of my soul in the most mundane of tasks.

In what ways do you see judgment of the differences of men affect your relationship with them? If you are married, what are some ways you can begin to let go of things you do not need to be responsible for and allow your husband to lead in his own way? If you are not married, and in light of the truth that you do not have to be married in order to want to control the men in your life, what are ways you can show respect to men in your circles that you may not be already?

Molly Burns

When her kids were little, Molly lived an organic vegetable garden and homemade laundry detergent life. In her current season, she lives a Little Caesars and Round-Up life, and only the promises of Jesus have made her okay with that. She loves learning, coffee and hanging out with her husband. Molly attends our Pelham campus.