Updated: Nov 28, 2019
In marriage there are expectations that we have of each other in various areas of the marriage. This includes protection, provision, intimacy, parenting, etc…
However, these expectations sometimes cause us to fall into a rut of becoming a certain type of spouse.
Below are a couple of spouse types to avoid becoming.
The Obligatory Spouse:
The word obligation is defined as:
The condition of being morally or legally bound to do something
A debt of gratitude for a service or favor
A binding agreement committing a person to a payment or other action
This spouse usually does things in the marriage more out of a sense of obligation rather than genuine desire. My alternative name for this spouse is a “chore spouse”, meaning their interactions with their spouse is primarily based on an invisible check list of things that they feel they “must” do.
The challenge with being this type of spouse is that you will largely go with your needs unmet because you are overly focused on “checking the box” for your spouse, that you either do not allow opportunity for your box to be checked or you do not communicate your needs.
At some point this spouse will feel unappreciated and blame their spouse when the reality is they have done little to communicate their needs. This spouse will also make their spouse feel as they are only a part of the routine, hence my “chore” designation.
The spouse who feels like a chore will eventually resent the efforts of the “obligatory spouse” and long for someone who actually meets their needs out of intimacy and sincere desire and not robotic programming.
The spouse who feels obligated will eventually look for someone or something that shows appreciation for their efforts to not feel taken for granted.
The truth is that there are some things that we are obligated to do for our spouse and that is ok, but don’t feel this way to the point where your actions lack passion, spontaneity and sincerity. While your spouse deserves to be served, so do you. The Parenting Spouse:
The word parenting is defined as:
To be or act as a mother or father to (someone)
This spouse carries, often unnecessarily, a tremendous burden to lead and guide their spouse as if training or raising a child. They can come across as desiring perfection from their spouse often to include reward and punishment when expectations are achieved or failed.
The danger of being this spouse is that it often absolves the parented spouse of responsibility for their actions and/or provides a built in excuse to their lack of accountability.
The parenting spouse can be temperamental as they vacillate between being just a spouse and being a parenting spouse. They long to be just a spouse but have often played the role of parent so long that when the parented spouse is expected to “grow up” they resent the parenting spouse.
In the spouse who tries to resist being parented, conflict is the norm as the spouse seeks to assure and remind the parenting spouse that they are a fully functional adult and capable of contributing to the marriage in their own way if the parenting spouse allows it.
The bottom line is parenting children is challenge enough, trying to parent an adult will lead to implosion of your marriage and likely explosion by one or both of the spouses as they are simply seeking to be a viable member of the team.
The Indifferent Spouse:
The word indifferent is defined as:
Having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned
Neither good nor bad; mediocre
Neutral in respect of some specified physical property
The indifferent spouse tries hard to show an external exterior of being calm and unbothered, but actually comes across as unconcerned to their spouse or passive aggressive.
This spouse is a ticking time bomb primed to do something hurtful because they will not allow themselves to show concern or expression when it comes to their spouse. They often have fooled themselves into believing that their lack of external emotion is somehow an expression of control, with opposite is actually true. Their lack of control renders them silent and unable to respond to adversity normally, but rather in extremes.
The indifferent spouse slowly causes their spouse to abandon emotion and attachment because they present as cold and callous, although unintentionally in most cases.
This spouse needs to reconnect with themselves and allow themselves to feel the emotion of their spouse and their spouse to feel their emotions.
Conclusion: While I have laid out only 3 spouse types to avoid, there are components of each of these that are important, but when overly exercised/demonstrated or as the primary spousal personality, marital problems will follow.
There will be times when you need to honor your vows out of duty and loyalty, but never obligation. There are times you need to nurture your mate, but not parent them.