The focus of this study is on women's socialization in terms of their position in society and the church, and their roles in the marriage relationship. A brief historical overview is given of how the understanding of marriage and sexuality has developed, with a specific focus on marriage and marital roles in the Afrikaans cultural context and religious communities. The influence of the understanding of women’s place and role in marraige on the self-understanding of women, is demonstrated. Changes in the understanding of marriage and marital roles in contemporary postmodern context are explored. The changing context has caused a crisis in the modern institutional church, which has lost touch with the context in which people work and live. The crisis with regard to the institution of marriage specifically in the context of the Netherdutch Reformed Church of Africa is investigated by means of the 2008 work of Theuns Dreyer, “Die kerk , die huwelik en seks – ‘n morele krisis?” (The church, marriage and sex – a moral crisis?). He demonstrates how cultural traditions often influence the interpretation of biblical passages regarding marriage. Classical pastoral care models are examined for their transformative potential for women’s lives. Rosemary Radford Ruether ‘s eco-feminist family ethics is presented as an alternative to the ethics of hegemonic patriarchal heteronormative monogamous marriage. Because of the fact that patriarchal heteronormative ideology and theology determined (and often still determines) women's place and role in society and in marriage, the phenomena of patriarchy and hegemony are investigated. The place and role of women in biblical cultures are examined from a social-scientific perspective in order to determine the extent to which their lives were influenced by patriarchal hegemony. Finally it is demonstrated that the way in which this kind of power is exercised had and has a negative influence on the self-worth and self-esteem of women. This is one of the reasons why marriage can become a negative experience for women. Life story research was utilised in order to listen to the experiences of six women. Within life story research, the stories of people's lives are reopened, re-evaluated and retold. The social context of the person's life is important for understanding her experience. By means of life story research it becomes evident how the narrator understands her position within the social context. This study focused on women's understanding of marriage, the roles that are prescribed to them and the impact it has on their understanding of marriage and family relationships. The transformative pastoral model of Elaine Graham is applied to the results of the life story research. This demonstrates how practice can be transformed in order to correspond better with the purpose of the faith community, namely an authentic life before God for all people - including women and others who are marginalized on the basis of race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, or any other such category.