Quite a few articles are cropping up here and there about Traditional Marriage. A disturbing number of them focus on the Wife’s obedience to her Husband, and our submission. I’d be a liar, though, if I didn’t say that many of these articles lately are putting a sour taste in my mouth.
My Husband and I have similar yet different views about what it means to be the head of a household and submit in marriage. In his mind, the concept of a Head of the Household is a stupid one that inherently implies (or develops into) a total dictatorship prone to disregarding the wants and wishes of your partner- something that is inherently antithetical to the teamwork we both believe to be necessary for a marriage to function.
I, on the other hand, view being the Head of Household not as a dictatorship position where one person has all the say and everyone else must obey without question. Instead, I view it as a leadership position within the family- and a good leader, in my opinion, acts as gentle guide and reasonable voice; someone who actively listens to and considers the desires of those they lead- and not only works daily to earn the authority they have, but also consistently works to ensure that they continue to be worthy of it.
I view my Husband as the head of our household… Not because I believe that God ordained it to be that way; I was raised Christian in some regard and was an active member of several Churches for many years, that’s true. But I’m not a Christian anymore- though my Husband treads the shallows of it. Nor do I do so because I believe that, as a Man, he is better suited for it due to some mythological biological nature; Science has long since disproven that personality traits and reasoning skills of any sort are inherent to a single, specific biological Sex- and they’ve disproven that a thousand times over now.
Instead, I submit gladly to my Husband as the Head of our Household because we have a true Egalitarian Marriage. Unlike what people believe, though, a true Egalitarian Marriage isn’t about both people wearing the pants so to speak. Nor is it about each person doing exactly 50% of everything like most people- Feminists and Traditionalists alike- like to focus on. No, it’s not about any of that at all.
It’s about recognizing your partner as your equal- and a true Egalitarian Marriage requires that you acknowledge and actively play on each other’s strengths as a team… And simply put? My Husband’s just better at making decisions than I am.
I’m an incredibly optimistic person, and that optimism tends to get in the way of my realism at times. But I’m also an incredibly high strung, skittish individual that’s easily stressed out or frazzled when faced with large decisions; I have tendency to overanalyze my decisions and have anxiety every time I’m faced with making one. All of it often leads to me being incredibly indecisive unless I know exactly what I want (which, I’ll admit, is rare).
He, on the other hand, is more pessimistic and pragmatic than I am. And while we balance each other in that regard, my Husband does have an amazing ability to know what the right action is at any time. He sells himself short on his abilities in this area rather frequently, but because of it? I often trust him far more than I trust myself when it comes to making the best decisions for us.
In general, I submit to my Husband and the decisions he makes; I give him, willingly, a measure of authority over me, or family, and our Household. But an ability to make better decisions on average, however, does not mean that I don’t put my foot down about it when I think his decisions are wrong, or that he could be doing better.
A good leader doesn’t demand unquestioning loyalty or obedience.
My Husband’s job is not to lead this family as he see’s fit. As the person I willingly submit to, his job as the receiver of that gift is to lead in a way that reflects the best interest of the family; not by personal whim or fancy, but by taking into account both our desires and leveraging them against what is realistic or necessary to accomplish our goals and dreams as a team.
A good follower doesn’t follow and obey without questioning.
Likewise, my job as his Wife is not to submit to and obey him without question. That is a privilege he earns daily by continuing to make decisions that do not need to be questioned in the first place. And when he fails at that and I step up? It means that I am acting as his wife, as I have the obligation and duty to do. And he trusts me to use my voice, and my equal status in this relationship as a team member; to step up when I believe that a decision isn’t in the best interest of the family; to make my voice heard when I disagree.
Submission in a marital sense to me means submitting to the needs of your partner before your own. Its sacrifice at its smallest, but most necessary. Because without that, acting only on selfish impulses, no marriage would survive. I think we both do. We both daily do things we would rather not, and probably would not without knowing that it would improve the quality of life for our other half. – My Husband when I asked him what Submission meant to him
Being submissive to a spouse… Being the Head of the Household… It’s not about wholly denying your personal feelings, desires, expectations, and dreams in favor for the uncontested whims of another. It’s about mutual love, trust, respect, and responsibility; it’s about being capable of recognizing when the individual must take a back seat to the group, and vice versa.
In my mind, submission and Head of Household are two concepts that aren’t antithetical to the true Egalitarian Marriage and consistent teamwork. Arguably, I think that a true Egalitarian Marriage (and really, any sort of partnership at all) demands submission in many ways- not of one person to the authority of the other… But from all people to the wisdom, knowledge and even needs of each other; the willingness to give up or temporarily suspend personal desire (not needs, but desires; they are different things entirely) for the benefit of the whole as opposed to the individual when necessary.
But not all decisions are the right ones; anyone has the potential to be heavy-handed and even unloving in their attempt to be the guide of the family, regardless of who it is that fills that role; leaders sometimes make bad choices even if they are great leaders. But that’s what the other partner is there for, too.
All parties in a relationship have to be dedicated to creating something they both enjoy and find fulfillment through- and that means compromise and sacrifice; a system of checks and balances; a game of give and take from all sides. That inherently requires submission to me in many ways. But as a system of checks and balances, I fully believe that it is the moral and marital responsibility of all parties to keep the other party in check, too.
That means putting your foot down and saying no on occasion even if you’re the one that takes on the submissive role; it means questioning- and sometimes even being disobedient– because submission isn’t about uncontested, unconditional obedience without question.