Weddings and marriage have been on my mind lately. In June, I went to a beautiful wedding on the side of a hill in Ramona, California. It was soooo pretty. The backdrop of the wedding was absolutely Eden like,
as was the idealic love of the couple who were over-the-moon excited to be marrying each other.
I have included several pictures sprinkled into the article and at the end. This was a very rustic, nontraditional, classy wedding (and Pinterest worthy too). Even the dishes were one of a kind, none of the gorgeous antique patterns were replicated.
Interestingly, there was a part in the wedding when the minister gave his sermon. Within this sermon was an overview and recommendations on how to have a happy, God-centered marriage. I was enjoying it. Then, as soon as I heard the words “wife” and “submit to her husband,” I knew we were in for trouble. Most people, Christian or not, have heard this quote from the Bible, and everybody has strong opinions about it.
This adorable preacher (he was super cute!) kept bringing up the “submit” thing over and over, at least five times! Five times.
The rest got really predictable: He brought up the ole’ rib story; the garden of Eden; that evil Eve babe, you know the drill. Then, he described how important it was that she (again) submit. Clearly, he was obsessed with the whole idea. (To be fair, he looked to be somewhere in his 20s. He still has a lot to learn about he world, relationships and marriage.)
When I was in my 20s, I would have gotten so upset over this repetitive, over and over, pushing the “submit” thing. Now, I feel differently. I now understand that this preacher’s over focus on a wife subjugating herself to her man is this preacher’s own belief and his own ego struggle.
Why Do Some Men & Women Seem To Want This Unequal Role?
As a therapist and social worker, I now understand that a man who feels truly okay in the world and who is comfortable with himself has no deep need to have a woman (or anyone) beneath him. Men with deep-rooted discomfort within themselves or men with pain and trauma rooted in childhood often feel the need to be better than other people. Women are often the object of this need. These men struggle with low self-esteem. Therefore, making women to be less powerful helps them to feel alright and worthy in a world where they often feel inadequate. To challenge this is to challenge their own unaddressed fears and inadequacies.
Aside: Watch this episode of Naked and Afraid to see this dynamic unfold. It is the Season 2 show that takes place in the Bahamas. When a self-proclaimed chest beater finds that he is incapable of “providing” for the female partner, he gets severely depressed and agitated. He admits that he is the man and she is the woman, and that if his role isn’t kept up, he can’t handle it. Cutely, the girl just kinda’ ignored this and went along catching fish and crabs, and doin’ her thing.
Back to the point …
This preacher may think that this belief is solely a reflection of his religion, but, as with most of our spiritual views, his beliefs are partially a reflection of his own psychology, his fears of inadequacy, his youth and his desire to see marriage as a goal that can be achieved with this simple dictum: submit. If only it were that easy.
Live and let live.
I am confident that there are probably many happy marriages out there where the couple follows this line of thinking. Live and let live. However, whenever I have met couples who state they follow this “belief,” I have noticed something extraordinary. The wife verbalizes that he, the Man, is in charge. She is open and proud of her non-leadership status. Yet, she is the one doing a lot of the leadership, in-charge stuff. She is the one managing the money, going along with the decisions she likes, and somehow managing things behind the scenes. She really is in charge too. Meanwhile, the husband is feeling like he is the leader. It is an interesting management style and submission is not really a part of it at all!
What about all the stress “submit” puts on the guy?
The biggest reason I don’t think women should buy into this dictum is that I worry about the man in this situation. It just doesn’t seem fair. After all,
- He has to hold up the responsibility for the entire family?
- He has to make all of the decisions?
- He gets to be the one blamed when everything gets messed up?
It just seems like a ton of stress. Don’t we already know that the men are the ones that are supposed to die first? And suffer from alcoholism and addiction? Is it really a good idea to pile on ALL the responsibility in the relationship and for the entire family on the guy? Not fair.
It Is The Balance That Makes Couples Strong
I have been married for 17 years. If we did things completely my way, there are a lot of messes we could have gotten ourselves into. In addition, if I had allowed my husband to make all of the rules and decisions in our lives, we could be in some major pickles as well. I can’t even stop laughing when I think about some of the funnier, minor disasters we could be in if I had allowed him to be in charge. (Remember, hon, how you wanted to use our lsavings to buy that little piece of property in the Carribean? On an island that no one can get to? Including us?) And I know we would still be lost in Italy, if I hadn’t taken over picking the train to jump onto.
I just think that people are too fallible, too full of hubris, too blind to our dark sides to let any one person have control over what we need to do or how to live our life.
Hopefully, in a good couple-hood you balance each other out, and you bring out the best in each other. I submit to this task and to the goal of growing and learning from my relationship. I have learned about compromise. I have learned when and where to set boundaries and so much more. Spiritually, I have been strengthened and enlightened through my relationship and marriage. I am grateful.
What do you think about the submit verse? I want to hear your opinion. Tell us about your experience.