This is a guest post by Lucinda Hancock.
Several years ago, Constanza Miriano wrote a book with the title “Get Married and be Submissive.” I was intrigued by the headline, and I watched a news interview of her. The first thing that struck me was how beautiful and fashionable she was. The second thing that struck me was, “Well, maybe it works for her, because she’s a kind of woman super-hero, but I can’t see it working for me.”
“Submit to him (as long as you think he’s right)”
Like many people, I grew up in a home lacking in important aspects of marital harmony, mostly because of bad decisions made by my father. When I was young, my mother talked to me about how a wife is under obligation to submit to her husband insofar as her husband is righteous in his commands. This made sense to me, and I wondered why anyone would think a woman had an obligation to submit to requests she found unrighteous. I mean, that just sounded dumb.
So when I myself married, my understanding of my covenant obligation was that my husband and I would be a team, and we would counsel together in everything. It should surprise no one that we had many arguments over the years about who was right. Indeed, when your submission is tagged to your understanding of rightness, how can you not fight tooth and nail over every little decision about who has “rightness” on their side. After several years, I came to the unhappy realization that my husband, for all intents and purposes, was endeavoring to submit to me. He had wearied of argument, and felt I wasn’t to be reckoned with.
I was upset at his betrayal of our “team” understanding of marriage, but I could understand since he was not raised to debate, and I had been trained in logical argument by my education in mathematics. So at that time, I decided to just “sleep in the bed I’d made” and try not to insist on our genuinely agreeing about decisions. Counseling with each other had been tried and found wanting, and it was fine for me to just be in charge.
But it wasn’t fine. It was extremely taxing on me to feel the full responsibility for every family decision. And to avoid tensions, I mostly found ways around having to confront the disunity in our marriage. For example, I went ahead with ‘family’ scripture reading when my husband was at work because it was too stressful to involve him, and it made me feel so naggy, and besides, while we shared broad goals about scripture-study, I had my own ideas about HOW to go about it. I read the entire Old and New Testaments with my older children. Now I could check that off my list of righteous deeds. But as the teachings of the Bible sunk in, I was forced to realize there was something really off in my approach to my marriage.