• Wed, Jan 8 - 8:00 am ET

I Could Probably Learn Something From The School Of Candance Cameron Bure Submissive Wife Ways

shutterstock_112991386Candace Cameron Bure has come under fire during the promotional tour of her book “Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose” by suggesting that she lets her husband run the show in their family.  If you ask me the ones going after her are reaching for some low-hanging fruit.  In fact, I’m going to admit I could probably learn something from her words by choosing to sit in the passenger’s seat a little more often.

“The definition I’m using with the word ‘submissive’ is the biblical definition of that,” Bure explained. “So, it is meekness, it is not weakness. It is strength under control, it is bridled strength. And that’s what I choose to have in my marriage.”

I think this is a really important distinction.  No one is taking her power from her.  She recognizes and knows her family dynamic and works within those confines.  She’s not cowering or scared, she’s choosing to engage on her own terms.

“I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.”

Again, I don’t hear her saying that if she didn’t do what her husband said, their marriage would be over.  I hear her saying that she chooses to put her marriage above her individual preferences.  Submissive does not mean inferior.

“I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of our family,” she said. “Those major decisions do fall on him, but it doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion or have an opinion, I absolutely do.”

She further explained: “We are equal in our . . . importance, but we are just different in our performances within our marriage.”

If this works for her, I don’t know what there is to complain about.  As far as I can tell she’s not advocating that every woman bow down to her man or that this is the only way marriage works.  In fact, I’m sure my marriage could use a dose of Carinn submission every once in awhile.  What would happen if I gave in to my husband’s way of doing things for an entire day?  A month?  A year?  Would I transform from the alpha strong independent woman I am today into a meek and mindless servant, unable to think for myself?  I can’t even fathom.  And by the way, I think if I turned into a mindless Stepford wife (which for the record I don’t think Bure is), my husband would surely leave me.  He married me for my strong opinions and my passionate delivery.

For that matter, my marriage could use some doses of my husband’s submission too (what’s good for the goose, right?).  Maybe if we each wore the submissive hat a little more, there’d be more family harmony — who would say no to that?  Not me. We are equally strong-willed, educated and intelligent people.  We don’t need to worry about finding ourselves in the very real and dangerous place of being taken advantage of or controlled.  It sounds like that’s the dynamic of the child star and the hockey player — and it’s been working for them for 17 years.

(photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    This is interesting in a lot of ways. What scares me is that she is “using it in the biblical sense” which makes me think of all sorts of scary stuff, and like how if she steps out of line her husband can stone her to death. I think that everyone has times where they come be more submissive, like how you explained it above as in not having to have control over everything, but I really believe Bure is talking about some surrendered wife shit that reeks of subservience and kowtowing to a male, because penis. and to hell with that.

    • momjones

      I agree – she’s talking about the fundie biblical stuff. Marriage (going on 37 years here), in my experience and opinion, is a give and take (sorry for the cliche). It is also adapting (within reason) – to quite a bit of shit from each other. That’s all I got on why I’m still married!

    • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

      I’m disturbed by her “meekness not weakness” thing. Um, isn’t meekness still….something you don’t want to cultivate? I don’t quite know how it’s used biblically, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go around trying to be meek.

    • rrlo

      Agreed. Yielding to another person as a general life philosophy for an adult especially is disturbing.

    • ElleJai

      But why? I’m asking honestly. It’s an interesting attitude that we have; overt power is strength, while covert power is weakness, vulnerability. How strong are we really if we’re still afraid of being vulnerable?

      I find it uncomfortable to think about but it’s important to know why we feel this way as women.

    • rrlo

      All I am going by are the quotes Carinn included. Bure says she voices her opinion – but her husband makes the major decisions. To me it sounds like, in general, even when there is a difference of opinion, the husband has the authority to make the decision. And that bothers me because, in my opinion, that’s not a very adult relationship. I do that with my two year old – I take his opinions into consideration but I make the ultimate decision.

      And I get what you’re saying too and I agree vulnerability is very important in a marriage. Just in this particular case (and I know nothing about this couple’s marriage – just the bits from this post), it doesn’t sound like it is a vulnerability issue. More of a parent/child relationship.

    • Kay_Sue

      My parents had a dynamic like this when we were growing up. Honestly, I don’t think it can work unless you have absolute faith in your partner to value your opinion, which is actually the biblical model of marriage. Biblically speaking, a husband is supposed to treat his wife like a part of himself–which would mean that her opinions hold equal weight and importance with his own when making decisions.

    • Véronique Houde

      I see that… I guess to me in a balanced relationship it should be “their” decision making, not “his” decision making where he keeps her opinion in consideration…

    • Kay_Sue

      It’s a different dynamic that wouldn’t work for everyone–I couldn’t do it, for instance. I reserve veto right because I have the vagina, and they both start with v. That’s my logic. I am sticking with it.

    • ElleJai

      See, I’m not sure why we’re correlating someone else having the final vote with childhood. Is it the perceived loss of power? In our society decisions are made for us all the time. Let’s take another look at our local politicians, for example. We vote, we can air an opinion, but the final decision is not ours. Yet that doesn’t make us children.

      I’m led to believe that a loving husband doesn’t make a decision that would bring his wife unhappiness. So if he’s merely making the decision along the lines of what she’s already decided, and everyone is happy with this little charade, then who does it hurt?

      Bure is not economically dependant on her husband. She’s made a decision, each day, for over 17 years to be in her relationship. And it’s working. Isn’t that a reflection of her maturity, and possibly of her ability to stop her ego getting in the way of her fulfilling personal life, rather than a childlike trait?

    • rrlo

      I think it’s the word “submissive” that throws me off. Maybe I am taking it too literally. It’s a loaded word that can be misinterpreted.

      My parents kind of have a similar marriage – and while my father makes a lot of the decisions – he would never dream of making a decision that would make my mother unhappy. Nor would she go along with something if it made her unhappy. And they have a lovely and equal marriage and my mother certainly doesn’t consider herself to be submissive.

      I still maintain that deferring all decision making authority to a spouse is child-like behavior. If my local politician consistently went against my wishes, I would stage a protest or move.

      However, if the decision making partner is fully in-tune with his/her more laid-back partner and make mutually satisfactory decisions – then absolutely that would be more than acceptable. I would just hesitate to call it a submissive relationship – that’s all.

    • ElleJai

      The unfortunate associations I get initially when I read something like this are from a news story about the book “The Submissive Wife” (or in my head, the how-to manual for giving up your independence, self-respect and identity).

      One woman actually got a to-do list from her husband, who graded her performance and doled out rewards and punishments. Since I’m the type of person who refuses to mingle finances and am the only one in my house with every necessary detail and plan in my head (including for my mother), I find the entire concept ludicrous.

      However most people are not as extreme as those ladies showcased in the news. You make a thousand and one decisions in a day, especially with kids, and when you work outside the home, as Candace does. So I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and interpret this more as her husband being the tie-breaker. In any couple, sometimes it’s hard to reach a mutual agreement. Inevitably, in a conflict, one party will need to defer to the other at some point. The Bures have merely decided, ahead of time, who that person will be. Possibly it saves them still arguing at 3 am in the morning in order to find a compromise.

      Realistically, we don’t have enough information to make a judgement. I just don’t want to allow my instinctive fear to close me off within my own prejudices.

      … Besides, after nearly 20 years of being in and out of therapy, I would be remiss if I didn’t analyse my more uuncomfortable feelings ;)

    • rrlo

      Agreed. :)

    • Lucy

      I get what your saying, but I still find it troubling to choose one person who ALWAYS has the final say. Wouldn’t it be better to share that role (take turns if you have to). It doesn’t say much for that person’s ability to compromise. Honestly I don’t think it’s great for anybody to always get their way in any given relationship. It doesn’t seem very equal.

    • Williwaw

      A person’s relationship to the society they live in (i.e. to coworkers, neighbours, employers, other citizens, and politicians, is not comparable to the family relationship. Parents take responsibility and make decisions for their underage children because the children are not yet mature enough to do that on their own, with the goal that someday they will be adults and will have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult (e.g. holding down a job, getting married, joining the army [or in some nations, potentially being drafted], drinking legally, having a driver’s licence, being able to be sent to jail, etc.).

      Adults who voluntarily give up the ability to make decisions about their lives are in a way choosing to remain childlike. However, it’s not a perfect analogy, since obviously many people who are subservient to their spouses still hold jobs, and society still treats them as adults even if they choose to defer control to their spouses.

    • Momoffour

      But you also CHOSE This person to be married to? He is also supposed to love you and respect you as well.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I was raised religiously and am SO familiar with this marriage model. I don’t want to directly bash it because some people may make it work for them. I do appreciate the balance my husband and I have because he treats me like his best friend, not inferior in any way.

      I will say that meekness is a Biblical catchphrase that is considered an excellent quality in church communities. Again, not bashing the Bible because I appreciate it. I guess it’s up to people in those situations to reexamine what they’re taught and make it relevant to them, which is what I did.

    • pixie

      I remember learning the Beatitudes in grade 9 religion class (Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..etc) and I can’t exactly remember why but one of my classmates at one point decided to yell out “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth” in his movie-announcer voice.

      It probably had something to do with that one line being constantly repeated by our teacher because, like you said, meekness seems to be a catchphrase.

    • whatlight

      I was thinking that maybe the issue is with the use of the words meek and submissive specifically. Those words to a lot of people conjure up really negative scenarios. And can be used or interpreted to mean something that I don’t believe the Old or New Testaments really mean them to. For example, some guy can just assume it means that his wife is put here to literally serve him via his interpretation while another person would view the same related scriptures as meaning that a relationship does involve compromise on the part of both partners? Basically, people can twist it to fit whatever view they personally prefer. If different language other than meek and submissive was used to explain the idea, I think a lot of people would respond differently. (Side note: Like you, religion was a huge part of my life growing up and still is for many of my close friends and family members. But unlike you, that was entirely my parent’s choice and now I just… have nothing to do with it. Because that is what is best for me! Nothing against religion, I just think it is wrong to be going through the motions when I don’t really believe. Disrespectful even to those who do actually believe).

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is a really good point. I also looked up a verse after reading this post where “meek” was translated as “humble,” so there ya go. The whole thing probably isn’t an issue if a guy isn’t treating a woman like shit!

      I respect your POV on religion. I really don’t have much use for religion any more, but I enjoy the Bible because it means a lot to me.

    • whatlight

      Humble is a far, far better word for it. Definitely.

    • Ddaisy

      First of all, I want to say that I can’t remember where I read this, and I am by no means an expert, so take it with a grain of salt.
      But I seem to remember that the English word “meek” in the Bible came from a Greek or Latin or whatever word that could also be translated as “gentle.” They went with meek, which has way different connotations, at least now, so sounds a lot worse to our ears than how it was originally meant.

    • ElleJai

      I think there’s certainly a fine line, but I’m not getting the sense that she’s necessarily advocating her family dynamic for others, and more than I get the sense that it’s unhealthy for her.

      Where it crosses the line for me is when someone wants to interfere in my marriage, or where it becomes domestic abuse.

      For a start, my husband can’t plan anything, doesn’t have a clue how to juggle bills and priorities, and couldn’t commit to anything like moving house or job unless shoved violently towards a decision you’ve already made for him (he just doesn’t care enough about little things like houses, although he’s good at other things). It is not a dynamic that would work in my family for me, but DH keeps trying the “happy wife, happy life” submissiveness and it drives me spare.

      On the other hand, submissive wives and spanking, no matter how “consensual”, is abuse.

      What I’m trying to say is that I think there are degrees, and she seems to be on the healthier end of the spectrum.

    • Lucy

      You sound a little judgemental of BDSM. In that context, if both partners are comfortable and agreeing about their limitations on it, I definitely wouldn’t label it as abuse.

    • Kay_Sue

      She isn’t talking about BDSM, I believe. There’s a new fundamentalist movement that advocates for punishing wives like children–i.e., they do something wrong, they get a spanking. Not in a sexualized way at all. While it is technically consensual, the wife is, in my opinion, infantilized by the whole thing. It’s not on the same level as BDSM, where you have two consenting adults enjoying each other.

      I have no problem with BDSM personally, and CDD still makes me feel icky.

      Here’s a link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/21/christian-domestic-discipline-spanking-jesus-marriage_n_3479646.html

    • EmmaFromÉire

      ew ew ew ew. How utterly degrading can you get?

    • SusannahJoy

      Oh, in that case I take back my down vote. I took that to mean BDSM and if that was the case, elle, I totally disagree. But spanking your wife as punishment? That’s…. creepy.

    • Kay_Sue

      It really, really is.

    • ElleJai

      Kay_Sue got it in one. It’s the most awful trend. At least with BDSM each partner is getting something they want, there’s safe words and a contract. A Christian wife doesn’t get a safe word. It’s just outright abuse.

    • ElleJai

      Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I meant to refer only to this unfortunate trend within the Christian submissive wife movement.

      BDSM is a different beast entirely, and one I hold different opinions on.

    • Carinn Jade

      It’s a fine line for sure. But I found her explanations far more palatable than Gabrielle Reece who specifically said “female” and “male” roles. I heard her more on the lines of “humble” and “for the greater good.” But hey, to each his own. That was something else I appreciated — she wasn’t telling anyone else to do what she does (again, unlike Reece).

    • thefluter

      Eh, I definitely don’t read her comments that way. Meekness is praised for men and women in the bible, and people I know who believe in this family dynamic don’t denigrate or belittle what they see as the woman’s role (though I guess there probably are people who do). Men and women have equally important roles in marriage, but they are different.

    • CMJ

      It’s really going into some Sunshine Mary stuff and I just can’t with that. It all seems reasonable until you start reading about what this stuff is really about.

    • Blueathena623

      I wish there were more examples instead of just general stuff. Like, please describe 5 actual scenarios that support/explain your way of thinking. Because there are ways of allowing someone to make the “final” decision when really you are making the majority of the decisions. Like if you ask your husband if he wants beef or pork for dinner, he gets final say, but you’ve already eliminated pasta, scrambled eggs, cereal, whatever.

    • Cassieleigh

      I think the thing about “Biblical” marriages (or rather “Christian” marriages) and “secular” marriages that people often forget is that both are two way streets.

      “Wives submit to your husbands” is quickly followed by “Husbands love your wives.” (Love here, being an active verb.) (Ephesians 5:22, if you’re interested.)

      This direction was written after Jesus – who really was the first man to get credit for being a feminist – came and so in no way would it be acceptable to “stone her to death.” In fact, Jesus stopped that very thing from happening.

      The Bible and Christianity acknowledge that women are awesome and can take on the world, which is why the direction is given to go above our awesome nature for ONE man. Not “a male” or any male, but one: the husband. And it’s not “because penis,” it’s because Christianity is all about reconciling people to God in overcoming our HUMAN nature to become apart of something better and bigger than ourselves, which often means going against our nature. (I naturally want to gorge myself on donuts, but I don’t because I know there’s a better way.)

      If it were “because penis” I’d agree with you. To HELL with that. But there’s a lot more going on here in context that I thing you may be missing.

    • CharChar

      Having grown up in the church, and a christian household, and subscribing to the protestant faith myself in adulthood (though married to an atheist), I’ve always understood the concept of “biblical marriage” to be one of mutual servitude. Like cassieleigh says above, women are called to “submit” to their husbands and men are called to “love their wives like Christ loved the church” (not like traditional culture dictates marital relationships be conducted..through stoning and stepford-esque loss of individuality). Christ’s relationship with the church was one of service and meekness. So, essentially the husband and wife are playing the same role. Submission and meekness, or flexibility and gentleness, are not negatives in this instance. Entering into a committed, lifelong relationship of any kind requires a relinquishing of independence to a certain degree. But, the thing is, you are both relinquishing that independence to each other, by choice. Also, the concept of ultimate decision maker is kind of a moot point. Eventually a decision needs to be made, and often partners can be at odds with each other over what decision is best. One person eventually needs to say what is going to happen. Frankly, I don’t think it matters whether that be the man or the woman. But, in each relationship there is going to be one partner that plays that role more often than the other. It sounds like, in Bure’s relationship, they decided to avoid the kerfuffle and just lay it all on her husbands shoulders. That’s not to say that she has no say, but that they recognize that decisions have deadlines and he plays the role of editor. One would assume that in a healthy relationship, one where selfishness is avoided on both parts, that if a decision was made and ended up being bad for the family, that it would be more of a learning experience and the next decision would conducted in an increasingly mutual manner. I would suspect that humility would be a necessary trait for the one who makes the final decision, in order for this scenario to play out well…

  • EmmaFromÉire

    Yeah, that’s lovely and all, but did she also not mention that she lets him have the final say on decisions that may negatively impact her family? There’s a distinction between letting your husband lead, and letting your husband fuck everything up.

    • LiteBrite

      THIS.

      A lot of people would be surprised to hear that I let my husband run the show most of the time. I am by no means a self-effacing, naive little flower. I have a supervisory position at work and make my own money that goes into my own bank account. I’m smart, educated, and not afraid to speak my mind. Trust me; I will cut a bitch if I have to. (Well, not really….)

      But most of the time I let him have the final say, and I found that once I started letting him take the lead our marriage went much smoother. He’s a natural born leader -it’s where he feels most comfortable- is smart and practical, and I trust him to put our family first in whatever decision is made. In ten years of marriage, he’s never let me down in that area.

      But if I thought he was going down a path that was going to fuck up our lives, you can be damn sure I wouldn’t just sit back and say “Whatever you think is best sweetheart.” Instead my reaction would be more on the lines, “What the bloody fucking hell do you think you’re doing? Oh HELL NO is that gonna happen!”

      I should also add that we’re not religious in anyway, so this arrangement is not based on biblical dictations but more on our personalities. He likes to be in charge; I like the freedom not being in charge affords me.

  • rrlo

    I don’t have issues with the idea of what she is saying – especially if it works for her.

    In our family, our roles are divided according our strengths and preferences. From a day to day perspective, I take a more leadership role – my husband is not much of planner (but executes plans very well). And many friends and family have the opposite dynamic. And if my husband wanted to take over all decisions and made them consistently well – I would back off and spend my time eating bonbons or whatever.

    However, I do have some concerns about how she phrases it.

    I never studied the bible so have no idea what submission mean in a biblical sense – but in the dictionary it is described as ” yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” And meekness is pretty much displaying a submissive behavior.

    To proudly say that as an adult she is generally yielding to the will of another person sounds somewhat unhealthy and child-like.

    I would also imagine it would get exhausting as a partner to always be the “leader”.

    • Kay_Sue

      It’s important to remember, and a lot of fundies overlook this, that the Bible has been translated from multiple languages. The words “submit” and “meek” had different connotations in their original Greek, and you can see this by using a concordance and referencing different terms with it to see how they are used in context. Which is exhausting.

      A great example of this is actually the verse quoted by Phil Robertson against homosexuality. While in English, it is translated to “man with man” the actual Greek uses two separate words–one that means “soft man”, or a boy child, and the other means “man”, as in an adult. As I am sure you can imagine, that completely changes the interpretation of the verse on the whole.

  • keelhaulrose

    I don’t like saying someone else is doing their marriage ‘wrong’ because if it works for her it works.
    But I can’t imagine not being an equal partner in my marriage. It would feel demeaning to me to have him say “this is the way I want it, so this is the way it is”.

    • Carinn Jade

      She does specifically say they are equals — for what it’s worth.

    • keelhaulrose

      I’m not buying it. Being submissive in a relationship means giving all, or at least the majority, of power to your partner. By definition you can’t be both submissive and equal.

    • Williwaw

      I agree. Submissive is not equal. Power corrupts. Maybe I am just cynical about humanity, but if you tell another human being that they have the final say in your life and you will submit to their decisions, even if you don’t like them, no matter how much that person loves you and wants to make you happy and no matter how decent that person starts out, that power is going to change them. Eventually they may come to see themself as superior (and may even start to feel contempt for you, the “inferior” half of the partnership), and this attitude may start to show in how they relate to you publicly and in front of your children. Is the message you want to send your kids: “Dad’s opinion matters more than Mom’s opinion?” or “Dad is more competent then Mom at everything?” or “If you don’t like something Mom does, go to Dad, because he’s the final arbiter anyway?” (And you would also be sending the generic messages: “Men’s opinions matter more than women’s” and “Men are more competent than women”.)

      This is not the same as a work relationship, where men and women may both be bosses or underlings, and may have both male and female bosses and coworkers throughout their working lives…this is the central relationship of your entire life. How you run it is a pretty important statement.

      I have seen several marriages where the balance of power was in the man’s hands and I saw a lot of contempt and unnecessary pushiness, even demeaning remarks and verbal abuse. Neither men nor women are saints. If you give someone power, they will very likely eventually assume it is their due and that they are superior, and will probably behave accordingly. This is not a road I would ever risk going down.

    • Kay_Sue

      I guess it depends on the relationship, but I never saw this in my parents’ marriage. First off, when it came to making decisions for our family, they were never made in front of us–all of that was during “adult times” when my parents could talk about it without fear of us overhearing. Since they were a united front on parenting, whatever Mom said was law–there was no going back to Dad to try to get around it. He would say, “What rule number one?”, to which the answer was always, “Keep Mom happy.”

      Other than that, we were always taught to respect my mother, period, and her lively debates with my dad over politics, religion, social issues, etc, are legendary. It was clear in their marriage that there were many things about my mother that Dad admired, including her mind, spunk, and independence, and despite the fact that their belief system led them to a surprising marital dynamic, the love and respect was (and has always been) very visible and mutual.

    • meteor_echo

      Agreed. I’m the same way – either both of us have equal power, or he can GTFO. I didn’t come out of an abusive monstrosity of a relationship that nearly broke me to just sit around and relegate my own power to someone else.

    • CMJ

      But he makes all the final decisions. He does. She’s equal up until that point.

    • Tinyfaeri

      That bothered me, too. There are some decisions that you really have to make together in a marriage, and if one person always deferred to the other you either end up with resentment, or with someone who can’t tie their own shoes if the other person is no longer there.

    • Rachel Sea

      Riiiight. And her husband is the first among equals in their house.

    • Kelly

      Yeah, they’re all equal but some of them are more equal than others. I’ve heard that BS before.

    • brebay

      Its not worth much. You don’t get to re-define words to make them mean what you want. Saying you’re equal and then defining it in terms on inequality is nonsense. Equal already has a definition, and this isn’t it.

    • ElleJai

      Equal but different is however a thing, which I think you’ll find this fits under the category for.

  • jane

    You know, I want to be all “whatever works for them…” but the feminist (i.e. someone who believes people should be equal regardless of gender) just keeps coming up with a big ole

    NOPE.

  • Williwaw

    This is kind of disturbing because of the example it sets for children (do they even have any?). Kids are not going to understand the fine nuances of letting dad run the show. They will just see that dad is in charge, and may take that as a given when they start families themselves, which is definitely not okay. Also, the Biblical undertones are even more disturbing.

    Every marriage is a bit of give and take, and it makes sense for each partner to alternately take a lead in whatever they’re best at…but for one partner to cede control in everything, however voluntarily, just feels wrong. Ceding authority is also ceding responsibility…so what if the dominant partner dies? Or decides to be unfaithful? Or develops a drinking/gambling/other problem? By voluntarily surrendering power, it just seems like you are putting yourself in a position where you are not mentally or emotionally (or possibly financially?) prepared to deal with challenges either caused by the dominant partner or that you have to face without the dominant partner. To each her own, I guess, but I’m not giving up my power and my autonomy for anyone.

  • Byron

    In the end this boils down to trust I think. If you have a good partner and you can trust them to not cause you harm and mind you more than themselves, why not let them handle all the difficult things. It’d both let you worry less and it’d make him feel like he’s taking care of you by lessening your load which any good man would be the happiest ever if he was allowed to do more of in daily life. Chivalry isn’t dead but it’s not allowed to flourish enough either I think.

    If you can trust being that way without fear of it being abused by your partner and if you can expect your views and opinions to be taken into account, even without your firm voicing of and advocating for them, I don’t see how that is negative in any way. If anything, being submissive and STILL having your notions being shown to matter by your partner’s descisions should be one of the biggest relationship-affirming situations ever.

    Him doing something cause you tell him to can just mean he doesn’t wanna make you mad, him doing it without any urging means he actually agrees and wishes to do it, which I can’t see as the inferior thing.

    • rrlo

      The way you have phrased it – it can be a recipe for a good marriage if both parties agree and if both parties are thoroughly decent human beings. And perhaps Bure means it that way… I don’t know.

      With this model, though a few things need to be decided:

      1) That the “dominant” partner is completely in tune with the submissive partner’s wishes and desires.
      2) That the “dominant” partner has 100% track record of showing good judgment.
      3) And if for some reason, the dynamic were to change (illness, death, divorce, natural disaster), that the “submissive” partner have enough experience and knowledge to carry on.

      Also, when the dominant person is regularly minding the submissive partner’s wishes more than or equally over their own – then I would hesitate to call that a dominant/submissive relationship. To me that sounds more like one person is just more vocal about their wishes than the other person – that’s all.

    • brebay

      This model just sounds to me like a legal guardian. They get to make decisions for an incapacitated person or child because they have that person’s best interests in mind. Which is fine if you’re incapacitated…or a child. In a marriage, people change and grow. The notion that any one person would have each nuance of the other person’s wants and needs in mind at every juncture through 40 years of life changes is nonsense.

    • Williwaw

      Exactly. Even if your husband-in-charge loves you more than anything and is 100% devoted to making you happy, he is not a mind reader. His actions, however, well-intentioned, can never be fully informed of all your complex and changing hopes, fears, beliefs, dreams, etc. Fully mature adults, however in love with each other, also have the right to keep some things private, and some things, whether you want to share them or not, may be hard to clearly put into words in a way that your husband can understand. I love my husband and believe he has my best interests at heart, but he also has not lived my life inside my head, so his idea of the best way to deal with a problem I have may not be the same as my idea. If I ceded authority to him, I might be stuck facing a solution to my problem that I hated simply because he genuinely believed that his solution, not mine, was in my best interests. This is the problem with ceding authority to your spouse – you and he will not always agree on what best serves your interests, even in a loving relationship.

    • Byron

      I guess the issue is what is actually right and true.

      Of course you won’t be in 100% sync all the time, that’s impossible. What the important part is is just merely knowing what is at the heart of your husband and dealing with things in that way.

      Even if you hated the solution, it might just have been the correct one. Maybe it was one of those “not what you want but what you need” type deals which you were too invested in to be able to judge correctly.

      In th end, no matter WHAT makeup in the relationship, there’ll always be some times where wrong things get chosen, where mistakes are done. To say this approach has room for these errors to happen doesn’t mean anything because so does every other approach, due to the nature of humans and relationships. What matters is how you recover from those errors when they do happen.

      I believe recovery is possible through knowledge that the mistake happened with good intentions that were aimed to help and do good for you. It’d certainly be easier to deal with than if it had been due to your own personal miscalculation.

      Thinking about it that way, the husband actually faces the brunt for all the failures, he protects you of the risk of blaming a bad choice on yourself and assumes the risk of being blamed for making the wrong chocie for you. I feel this is the ultimate gesture of protection and affection a person can make in a relationship. You no longer have to worry about these issues and you just get to enjoy a care-free life. I think that’s worth the price being payed here and only a control-freak would mind it.

    • Williwaw

      “Even if you hated the solution, it just might have been the correct one”? “A case of not what you want but what you need”? Those statements, and the whole husband-as-boss concept assume that a husband knows better than a wife what is best for her, which is an insulting and patronizing idea. Yes, everyone makes mistakes and sometimes exercises poor judgment. Yes, in a marriage, one person will sometimes have an opinion about something that in retrospect is shown to have been better for the family…but that doesn’t mean anyone should give up their right to be the final arbiter in decisions about their own life. In general, I think every adult of sound mind should make decisions about their own life. In a marriage, what this probably means is that sometimes one partner will decide, sometimes the other will decide, and sometimes a decision will be made as a couple.

      It is ridiculous for an able-bodied adult to give up the freedom to make their own life choices. For one thing, you don’t stop being legally and morally accountable: if you run over someone with your car, beat your child, use illegal drugs, or default on a loan, you will be held accountable, not your spouse, even if you decided long ago that they were in charge and they stood by while you did those things.

      Having someone else make my decisions would not be the “ultimate gesture of protection and affection” – it would slavery. And it wouldn’t free me from worry – quite the opposite: I would worry if hubby was mismanaging the money, or choosing a lemon of a car, or picking a house that was a bad investment, and I would still worry about all the non-husband-related stuff: crime, the environment, my kid’s future, my aging parents.

      If not wanting to be a slave makes me a control freak, I am happy to be labeled as such (but that’s just silly – I think the control freak is the one who wants to run the household without any interference from his wife).

    • ElleJai

      Aren’t we assuming here that you’re so far down the spectrum as to have your outfits chosen for you and the grocery list written out with exact change?

      What if the “leader” stuck to actual leadership type decisions? Schools, house, maybe new car, but wasn’t micromanaging every aspect of your life? And if your voice has equal weight, and you are equal to him, you’re still in the loop so if he’s considering financially stupid ideas, you have the chance to express concern and talk him around.

      I think we need a group definition of what we visualize when we hear “submissive wife”, because we’re working at cross purposes here with our individual interpretations. Especially given the emotive kick attached to such a loaded term.

    • Williwaw

      What you describe doesn’t really sound that submissive to me, if you’re still part of the decision loop…though I would still consider not getting to make major decisions like schools, jobs, and houses as being submissive, and would find it an unacceptable situation for myself. I note that if my mom had been a submissive wife on the subject of schools, my older brother would have gone to an expensive private school while we girls were dumped in public school. Fortunately, my mom said that all her kids would have the same educational opportunities…so we all went to public school. Whether it’s micromanaging my diet and wardrobe, or deciding what school my child goes to, I refuse to submit.

    • ElleJai

      Clearly most of us on Mommyish are not submissive. Which is great! I’m just not convinced that denigrating those who are is the right thing to do, which is why I’m advocating moderating our stance a little x

    • Williwaw

      I should also add that “It’d certainly be easier to deal with than if it had been due to your own personal miscalculation” makes no sense. If my husband ruined us financially, it might be his screwup that was the proximate cause of the disaster, but my own personal miscalculation in trusting him to handle the finances alone would still be part of it. You can pretend all you like that adults aren’t responsible for themselves, but they are, even if they pretend not to be.

    • ElleJai

      I am under the impression that you would be communicating. Hopes, fears, preferences, what decision you want him to make… He’s not guessing blindly. You’re in a partnership discussing the options.

      I’m nominally the leader in my house (I’m am alpha type, DH is more comfortable as beta due to his religious childhood). I want another child. DH isn’t sure. In his scenario the balance of power goes to DH.

      I think we’re forgetting the difference between normal Christians and the Westboro Baptist Church (not literally, it’s my favourite analogy). Submission doesn’t automatically mean “at all times, in all things, in all places”. That’s WBC level “crazy”.
      Normal Christian level takes that down about a thousand notches, and acknowledges that the woman is independent and meant to be; thus the man “makes the decisions” after the same process of discussion and compromise we all go through.

    • Williwaw

      If you talk things through and make a decision together, you’re not really being submissive, and I am okay with that. (Actually, I’m okay with whatever you do; it’s none of my business…I just don’t like the idea of submitting myself.)

      That said, I do get that often there is submission in marriage (e.g. I picked our most recent day care, my husband picked our second car [used]). It just wouldn’t be my thing to submit all the time.

    • brebay

      I get it, I just think it’s awful and weird, but that’s obviously how it feels to me, not everyone. I still don’t like a pre-determined final decision-maker. That’s the whole point of the discussion part. I get that there are more and less extreme examples, it just creeps me out to the core to have an adult in charge of another adult in the absence of some type of brain injury.

    • Kay_Sue

      I agree. The trust is important in these dynamics when they are functional. It’s about knowing yourself–if a husband tries to impose this view on his wife, it’s probably not functional. Even if a wife tried to impose it on her husband, I’d say it wouldn’t be totally functional–not everyone wants to be the end-all-be-all leader, you know?

      But when you know each other, you trust each other, and you choose this dynamic? I don’t personally see anything wrong with it. I’ve seen many marriages that were long and happy that had this exact set up. It’s a personal choice between partners, I think.

  • momjones

    It’s the plot of a cheesy Hallmark movie (don’t get wrong, I love a good Hallmark flick), in which she is the star!

  • Kay_Sue

    Having grown up in a conservative Christian community in the US, I have seen this dynamic in a variety of ways, and I will say this–it absolutely can work. And it can also go horribly wrong. It depends on the people and the family involved.

    First and foremost: There has to be consent. You have to enter into this arrangement with the clear expectations and boundaries, and the ability to discuss those as the marriage progresses and changes.

    Then, as some folks have already mentioned, you have to be able to implicitly trust your partner not to tread on those boundaries.

    The concept of biblical marriage has been greatly corrupted, both by those within conservative circles and those without. It’s not surrendering your whole being and every opinion and idea. It’s a more complicated arrangement. The basis is that, yes, wives exhibit meekness–but also that husbands treat their wives as a part of their own person. That means respecting her boundaries, opinions, and desires the same as he would his own. It means her opinions hold the same weight and value as his own, and that they bear the same amount of consideration. There’s also the concept of “help mate”–that Eve was created to be Adam’s help mate and that women are invaluable in that role, as both emotional and mental support during decision making. Men that accept this view of biblical marriage wouldn’t dream of going against their wife’s wishes unless they truly felt, down to their core, that this was best for the family and she couldn’t see it (which happens, I know my husband and I have had many arguments because he just couldn’t see what I could see…). Submission isn’t domination in these set ups–it’s a mutual arrangement, and is often divided by the couple’s strengths.

    For instance, in Proverbs 31, which is often hailed as the How To Guide for men to identify a good wife and women to be one, the woman has a job (she sells in the marketplace things she has made), she makes financial decisions for the family (she considers and buys a piece of land without her husband’s input at all), and her husband brags about her general awesomeness.

    For those who have raised the issue of how do children perceive it, typically, they don’t see it. My parents lived in this manner for many years during their more fundamental days. And I never knew it, and it had very little impact on me as an adult…because I can tell you, this is NOT the marriage structure my husband and I have chosen, nor would it work for me, personally.

    In the end, it’s a personal decision based on the people involved. If it seems scary to you, it isn’t right for you or your marriage, and that’s okay. But please don’t think less of these women that choose this arrangement–they are often still strong and amazing people, powerful presences to be around. The men are not domineering assholes waiting for an excuse to beat their wife or ignore her opinions–they value her as they value themselves, and they typically do put her welfare above their own, based on the idea that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And what did Christ do for the church? He died for it. For this dynamic to work, it requires sacrifice and selflessness from both partners.

    • AnotherMel

      Thanks for this explanation I was going to write something
      similar. This is what I was taught growing up as well and it’s significantly
      different than what many commenters are taking from it and I understand why
      they feel that way – we have a very different idea of submission in mainstream
      culture. My marriage doesn’t follow this model but my parents’ marriage did and
      it worked. My Mom probably had more real power in the relationship than my Dad
      even though she was “submissive”.

    • Lucy

      This makes the original biblical meaning sound a lot better than any way i’d ever heard it, so thanks for explaining it all. Unfortunately, I think often the explanation you gave is an ideal that is not accomplished. Also, as much as it sounds better than my previous interpretation, I still cannot get on board with the whole “help mate” and Eve and Adam thing. It ends up going back to the idea that men are the default and women the other and also that women’s worth is measured based on their relationships to men. I love men, but the feminist in me rejects that idea. Probably why I’m not religious.

    • Kay_Sue

      Which is totally valid. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t subscribe, despite having seen it successfully in many marriages (and so not successfully in just as many others!). I’m not particularly religious either.

      I just hate that people seem to default to deciding that women that are in this type of marriage are weak or in an inferior relationship or have poor self esteem or don’t value themselves or aren’t independent. So many of them are strong, smart, and very independent women. Their faith just leads them to organize their homes differently, and that’s not something to be looked down on, you know?

  • CMJ

    I think there’s a huge difference between being submissive in certain situations and being a “submissive wife” as Candance does….Especially in the biblical sense. There are times when I let my husband make a decision (What do you want to eat for dinner, babe?) but any large decision we make together, using both our input and agreeing on the final decision. I might not always like that final decision (nor he) but we came to it together without a specific person having the final say.

    I went through a crazy period where I read some anti-feminist, submissive wife blogs (I was curious!!) and the stuff I read curled my toes. The second she said she was submissive in the “biblical sense” I knew this was not something I could get behind. If it works for her, great. For me, I would much rather have conversation with my husband and make the decision together.

    • momjones

      Perhaps it’s the word “submissive” which sets me off. Both the denotation and the connotation of the word are negative.

    • CMJ

      Yeah. Makes me feel like a dog.

  • Afton

    I think that it’s important to look at the scripture she is referencing (Ephesians 5) because yes is does say wives submit to your husbands, but then right after that it is all husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.

    Now the way this was explained to me growing up in the church was if you are going to be the submissive wife you better make sure your husband loves you enough to want to unselfishly and put you first to the degree of being willing to die on the cross for you. It was also made clear that the two of you do talk things over and the husband shouldn’t just consider the wife’s opinions and feelings, but should make them the priority. To me nothing seems wrong about it if both people do their part, but if your husband takes this as reason to control you GTFO.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      It would be easy to submit to someone if at all times they were considering you and were willing to put you and your needs first, loving you like you described.
      However, I think that is beyond most people to do for their spouse. Everyone is a little selfish. So, if you don’t advocate for yourself, you could be a doormat at the whims of your dear leader.
      And considering that submission of wives is talked about way, way more than loving wives like Christ loved his church, that leads me to think a bunch of dudes want to boss around a bunch of ladies.

    • Afton

      There are a bunch of dudes that want to boss around a bunch of ladies and we call them douche bags.

      I was just saying that in my marriage this is how we operate and it works for us. I’ve never felt like a doormat and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we are both pretty easy going people and are really thorough when we talk things out. The way we practice this whole “submissive wife” thing is that if something huge comes up we will of course talk about it and then we will talk about it some more. Then after much discussion I let him do his own thing and like 60% of the time he comes up with a great plan, 10% of the time I think he is dumb or selfish, and 30% of the time his decision is just to let me decide. So yeah I don’t actively make the final call all the time, but I am totally a part of the process and I am willing to just shake my head at the 10% and let him learn from his mistakes.

      I do realize it is not for everyone though. Like I said a lot of it just has to do with how my husband and I operate anyway because of our personalities, but clearly not everyone is the same.

    • Mel

      “His decision is to LET me decide.” That makes me sad. Not suggesting that your life is sad, b/c obviously happiness is subjective. This kind of thing just really irks me, like the concept of men wanting praise for “helping around the house.” It continues the tired concept that it’s women’s default responsibility, and they’re doing us a “favor” by participating in home maintenance or childcare. What I see is are very dangerous precedents…

    • Afton

      I’m not sure if you are making assumptions about my marriage or just speaking in general terms so let me just say this. We both work full time jobs, we both do pretty equal housework, and we don’t have kids yet, but we have already decided (I say we because it was one of those things we automatically agreed on) that when that day comes whoever is making less money is the one who stays home until our kids are in school. It’s not as extreme or sad as you are making it out to be.

      If I don’t feel like he is making decisions with our best interest then obviously I can step out of the submissive role and stand up for myself, but that hasn’t happened yet because so far we are both happy and 9 times out of 10 I can see that he is really putting me (or our relationship) first. The other 10% is just him being a human being, but you know what we are both growing in our roles and becoming better at understanding each others needs. I don’t see anything dangerous about a couple deciding what is best for both of them and living it out as long as everyone involved feels loved and valued no matter what that decision may be.

    • Mel

      I’m not making any assumptions about you. I’m commenting on a direct quote and how it makes ME feel. I would not presume to say how it does/should make you feel. That’s why I used the words “make me sad” and “irks me” and “what I see are….” and why I specifically said that happiness is subjective and I wouldn’t suggest anything about your life. I was purposefully very clear about that, so if you feel attacked or judged, then that’s on you. My comment was about me, and yours was about you.

    • Afton

      Sorry for being offended by something that wasn’t meant to be offensive. I just get worked up about this topic, but that’s no reason for me to be bitchy and snappy in the comments.

    • Mel

      You were not bitchy and I’m sorry if I accidentally did offend you. I just wanted to be clear that it was sooo not my intention to judge you personally, and it threw me when it seemed like I wasn’t doing it right. Let’s call it a draw, shall we? :)

    • Afton

      Sounds good to me! And sorry again.

    • jess

      Damn you guys! This isn’t the way to behave on a forum! Where’s the name calling , the capital letters, and finally someone calls someone else a Nazi and then the whole forum gets shut down?
      Too nice. Way too nice. :-)

    • Mel

      Sorry! You’re right. What I obviously meant was that Afton should EAT SHIT AND DIE!!!!!

      (hehehehe)

    • blh

      This, exactly. Nobody really puts other peoples wishes above their own all the time and this would inevitably end up with the guy just doing whatever the hell he wanted all the time. Power corrupts.

    • Sara610

      So, my husband’s family involves a lot of marriages that work this way. I have three brothers-in-law, and for two of them, the “submissive wife” dynamic works really well BECAUSE the husbands care deeply about their wives’ happiness, and genuinely make all decisions with an eye to their wives’ well being–not what the husband wants for the wife, but what the wife genuinely wants for herself and the family.

      The other brother, not so much. He’s divorced and got re-married a couple of years ago; we’ll see how things go this time around.

      My husband is no longer part of that religious movement, so our marriage is far, far more equal. We make all decisions together, which honestly strikes my BILs and their wives as a little strange, but none of them give us grief about it. It’s just a different way of doing things.

    • Mel

      The idea of husbands making decisions with their wives’ need in mind gives me the creeps. Did you marry a partner or a parent?

    • Sara610

      Was your question directed at me, or was the “you” more of a generic “you”, meaning women who are submissive wives? I’m not involved in one of these marriages. But just because it’s not what I want for myself or what you want for yourself doesn’t mean it’s not a valid choice for anyone.

    • Mel

      Agreed. I didn’t say it was invalid. That’s certainly not my call. I just said that it personally creeps me out. I guess that’s why I’m going to make a different choice and leave Sara to make hers.

    • Mel

      I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. It was a collective/vague “you”

    • Sara610

      Oh, okay!

    • Williwaw

      I respect anyone’s right to practice whatever religion they choose, but I am uncomfortable with the Biblical arguments about women submitting to their husbands. Yes, Colossians and Ephesians tell men they should love their wives, but there is a lot of really ugly stuff about women in the Bible too, e.g. Genesis 3:16, Exodus 22:16-18, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Job 25:4, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, and many more passages. Candace Cameron Bure says “meekness not weakness”, but in fact, the Bible says that the woman is the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7).

      I don’t want to rag on Christians here and don’t want to offend anyone – most of my Christian friends who have talked at length about their beliefs have said that they feel that many parts of the Bible were written long ago in a different culture and that they do not reflect the views of many modern Christians, who focus on Christ’s message of love. I am not a Christian but I think that is a pretty sensible attitude. If I were to choose to defer my autonomy to another person, it would definitely be out of love and trust, not because of Biblical recommendations or because I thought I was the weaker vessel. (However, I love my autonomy and I love having charge of my own life, and I would never give that up.)

  • Lackadaisical

    I am reminded of my nan who always claimed that the husband was in charge but was really only paying lipservice to submissiveness and was actually very much in charge but passing over blame for any decisions that she told him to make. Something about publically telling everyone that you are submissive and he is in charge (but he is not the one doing I interviews about it) while being proud of being strong minded reminds me suspiciously of that “he’s in charge because I tell him he has to be” attitude

    • Kay_Sue

      “The man is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck.”

      Or as I say, “He may seem to wear the pants, but I tell him what size, color, style, where to shop and how much to spend on them.” ;)

    • ElleJai

      I come from a matriarchal line. And the way I always understood it, the woman told the men what to do in such a way as to convince the men that it was their own idea all along…

    • Mel

      Sorry, but I can’t support the idea of having to play a game in order to keep your man happy. If he can’t handle the idea that you came up with the solution to whatever or the idea for whatever, you should really question what kind of human he is. By playing those types of games, you’re contributing to the continuation of the myth that the “man should be a man” and “men are born leaders” and “wives, submit to your husband” and all such nonsense.

    • ElleJai

      Really? You can’t support the idea that for generations that was the best way to get shit done, because everyone had a role and a man would, at least overtly, make the decisions?

      A monk back in the first century AD wrote that the best marriages involved the two people on a horse, with the man responding to the “quiet whisper” in his ear. So clearly it’s also a tactic that worked for generations of your foremothers.

      I’m not suggesting we return to that domestic arrangement en masse, but acknowledging our collective history gives us somewhere to begin moving forward in a healthy way. Not this knee jerk reaction. I get the impression a lot that we’re not actually aiming for equality, we’re aiming for dominance. But is it really any better if we find our voice by silencing that of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons? Or is there a middle ground available with compromise not driven by ego and fear?

    • Mel

      Yes, I can’t support that just because that’s the way is always been done is the way it should still be. Just because it worked for cavewomen who didn’t have a better option, doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be in 2014. I’m sorry if some people you know are trying for dominance. It’s not my way or the way of any of the women I know.

    • ElleJai

      I repeat, I am not suggesting we go back.

      And after reading all your comments on this article, I’m left wondering why you feel so strongly. The constant down voting, the vehement disagreement with any position other than your own (and a huge amount of both implied and outright disrespect for any woman or couple in that domestic arrangement) all make it obvious that this is something that makes you uncomfortable.

      I feel equally strongly that a woman’s strength isn’t measured by how loud her voice is. Some women prefer to take over the world quietly, preferably from behind someone; and some are comfortable in the world of their family without needing more. All of these women are strong, even if they make choices and live lifestyles I wouldn’t. And I instinctively brindle when you dismiss anyone who has a different opinion and/or domestic style than yours.

    • Mel

      I clearly wasn’t trying to be secretive on the topic, so your detective work was entirely unnecessary. Yes, I posted replies, and yes I downvoted those with which I disagreed. Busted! But nice work, though. Yes, I feel very strongly on the topic. Yes I’m uncomfortable with those who disagree with me on the topic. I’m pretty sure that’s just a part of being human. No, there was no “outright disrespect” just a different take on things. I could argue that you are disrespecting me by suggesting that I don’t view different types of women as “strong” and that I’m “dismissing” their lives, but that’s neither here nor there. You feel strongly about your view, and that’s cool. We are simply worlds apart on this topic.

    • ElleJai

      Yeah, my brilliant “detective work” was me reading every single reply here anyway; however yours seem to stand out for me. I don’t know whether that’s just the way I’m interpreting your tone or whether your tone is that abrupt over this issue.

      At no point anywhere in about 10 replies have I suggested that I would be (or am, necessarily) comfortable with the submissive wife. Usually because I panic that someone will expect it of me if we returned to that societal norm.

      I do however want to examine the discomfort and I recognise that just because it doesn’t/wouldn’t work for me isn’t a reason to exclude it as a valid lifestyle choice. And I want to be very clear that I believeall relationships have a more equal partner – it may fluctuate with time and tthe issue, but someone usually feels more strongly. I’m not convinced that an institutionalized first equal partner is a horrible, misogynistic idea. I do agree that power corrupts, but I’m not sure we truly have enough information to judge. Certainly we don’t see into each marriage conducted along these lines.

      It’s just interesting to watch the “them” vs “us” – “they’re” making choices that threaten us, so they must be children or imbeciles. Yet aren’t we then guilty of undermining women in the same fashion that we deride men for?

      The whole thing is pretty complex when you factor in the history of oppression, and the lingering fear that possibly we’re not out of the woods yet.

    • Mel

      I’m flattered that my posts stood out to you as worth replying to. That’s not snark, I mean it. I’m all for discussion, and my instincts tell me you’re an intelligent and thoughtful person. I have to say that this recent post seems to be rambling, but I’m not discounting you as a person, I’m just saying I don’t really get where you’re going. So, I’ll sign off by saying that while I wouldn’t and haven’t presume(d) to dismiss another woman’s choices, I admit that I wholeheartedly disagree with them. I will say that while I think they contribute to a patriarch-dominated world, I’m certainly not placing the “blame” the women who go along to get along. I guess that’s really all I have to say about it. I wish you a lovely night.

    • Williwaw

      How can one partner be “more equal”? Sorry to split hairs here, but two things are either equal or they aren’t. I think the word you want is “dominant” or “controlling” (they just don’t sound as nice as “equal”). To say one partner is more equal sounds very orwellian.

    • ElleJai

      By utilising the word “equal” as opposed to “domineering” I’m trying to suggest that one party isn’t necessarily lessened in stature by the other party making the decision.

      As an example, I have recently decided to move house; when I floated the idea, my husband said (and I quote) “It doesn’t matter to me where we live, home is wherever you are.” But it does matter to me. I am not dominating him with that decision.

      On the other hand, if he had been opposed to it and I chose to go ahead anyway, that would have been domineering.

    • Williwaw

      Still, two people cannot be more equal or less equal. They are either equal or they aren’t. They could be nearly equal, however, or they could be alternating decision-making, or one person could be doing most of the leading while the other person has veto power, or one person could entirely defer decision making to their spouse, or whatever…you could describe the situation in a lot of non-pejorative terms that still agree that they are not equal in power – because if one person has the final say, even if the other one gets to voice their opinion and have it considered, whether it is for petty things or important life choices that may negatively affect the family, the two people are not equal in power. This is an accurate but neutral statement that doesn’t try to hide behind misuse of the concept of equality.

      I would not raise a protest over other people choosing inequal power marriages, even though I think they are not a great idea and have a much higher probability of the less-power partner being abused or taken advantage of, and have a higher probability of the more-power partner becoming domineering (and also becoming stressed and resentful from having to make all the important decisions and then blamed when things go wrong). I also don’t think children will interpret the subtleties of such a relationship correctly – they will know which parent holds the real power, and that will start them off in life thinking that is the best way to organize a family, and possibly set them up later for a bad relationship.

      All that said, people can do whatever they like, really. I’m not sure how I got so invested in this debate, except that I have witnessed some nasty power inequalities in married couples I have known. I suppose the setup works for some, but so far, I have only personally seen the downside. I want to teach my child to be independent and to expect to be treated as an equal partner in future relationships, and to treat future partners the same way.

    • meteor_echo

      No-one should have to stand behind someone’s back to feel strong. I’m not loud, but I’d rather stand for myself than just peek from behind my man’s shoulder and give directions.

    • ElleJai

      I think that different choices can still be valid. One size doesn’t fit all; we shouldn’t all be forced to submit but neither should we all be forced to be bold when that isn’t who we are or what we’re comfortable with. Someone else’s life choices don’t take away from your own.

    • meteor_echo

      Standing on your own isn’t being bold. It’s just a part of being a person and living a life. you can’t hide behind someone’s back forever because eventually you might run out of backs to hide behind. And that means that you have to at least know the basics of having your own back covered.

    • ElleJai

      Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you’re comfortable doing it. Having basic life skills is obviously necessary; choosing to allow someone else to be the front man doesn’t magically reduce your own capability.

    • meteor_echo

      I think that, if you constantly delegate making decisions to another person, your own decision-making skills get rusty. I don’t even need a front man or to be the front man, but I want to be absolutely equal in the process of making decisions. It allows both people to hone their skills and to make sure that their opinions are equally accounted for.

    • ElleJai

      I can see merit in that. I tend to view it as similar to riding a bike – if you haven’t done it for years you might wobble a bit at the start, but it will come back to you before long.

      Again, I’m working off the presumption that the mythical lady we’re discussing actually does make the majority of her own decisions.

      Ladies who are micromanaged by their husbands, for whatever reason, make my flesh crawl and are one of the few areas of the human psyche I have no desire to understand.

    • Williwaw

      An elderly uncle of mine once lamented that he missed those past days when men were men, women were women, and everyone knew their roles. His wife snapped back with: “Yes, back then, all women were closet drunks!”

    • meteor_echo

      And a lot of men were closet abusers, too.

    • ElleJai

      I’m aware. A great uncle of mine was still hurting my gentle, amazing great aunt into their 70s.

      I will read his obituary with great pleasure; and it’s because of him that her death to cancer some years ago was the greatest kindness.

      I haven’t presented my preferred master plan for abusers because at this point, I’m discussing the moderate version, rather than the abusive, controlling version (which is a separate beast).

    • Lackadaisical

      No idea why the down votes when you are only reporting the dynamics of your family. I have seen marriages like that but in my nan’s case she was a lot more direct.

    • ElleJai

      I believe several relatives were more direct (my great Nana would chase people making her unhappy around the block with a broom, for example). But then we’ve also had several abusive husbands as well as one or two who worship the ground their wife walks on.

      I’m personally more of the broom type, but I’m aware there are other options if that fails me.

    • Joye77

      My grandmother is the strongest, smartest woman I know, and she was married to my grandfather, who was extremely religious and convinced that men were the leader and all that crap. She led the household much in the same way you are stating. Not a way I would prefer but back in 40s and 50s it was the only way to get stuff done.

  • Ghoulfriend

    If he makes the final decision, that is *not* equal. My husband and I make all decision together, unless it something that is only going to affect one of us and that decision is left up to the person it will affect. I could not imagine making the final decision on a matter that would affect my husband, I know I would not be able to accept him making a final decision in a matter that affected me.

    Unless she is one of those wives that is really good at convincing her husband to magically come up with the decision she wants while he thinks it is all his idea…

  • Rachel Sea

    The whole Cameron clan is bugnuts crazy, and I look forward to their fading into much deserved irrelevance.

  • brebay

    I think both partners should “submit” at certain times, basically just choosing your battles, but when it only works one way, that wouldn’t work for non-biblical me. If one issue is more important to one partner, the other could probably defer, but that’s utilitarianism, not submission. The whole “Oh, I’m so strong for being able to be weak/meek” reeks of BS to me, though.

  • MerlePerle

    I can’t imagine how this even works, honestly. They talk about an issue, but he gets the final say. So she knows that her opinion is being heard, but ultimately less important than his. Is he an expert in everything? Does he get to decide which vaccuum to buy or weather or not they should get a cat? If he considers her opinion and not makes decisions without having talked them through, they are equal partners, no? It’s just such a foreign concept to me! In our relationship we ackknowledge that my husband is better when it comes to money but I ultimately make most decisions concerning the kids.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    I don’t like this. That is all.

    • Blueathena623

      The thing is though . . . What if it is the other way around? If a wife makes most of the decisions, and her husband isn’t challenging her and seems generally content with her decisions, is he considered submissive? Meek? Or does society just view him as easy-going?
      I seriously make most of the major and minor decisions of the house because either my husband doesn’t care, is clueless that there is actually a decision to be made, or, rarely, won’t make the effort to actually educate himself to make a decision, and I am decisive by nature. I think he would bristle at he idea of being considered submissive.

    • Gangle

      Good point! I think it all comes down to individual couples, their personalities, and what works for them. My ex parents in law have a marriage where the wife takes the reigns, particularly in big decision-making etc while her husband is happy to go with the flow. Of course, he had input into decisions, opinions, responsibilities within the marriage etc, but he is an artist in his heart and soul, and if his wife had left making decisions up to him, he would be happy to just coast along and procrastinate. In my own relationship, I am pretty easy-going and am happy to go with the flow. I have strong opinions on aspects of our marriage and the running of our lives, and if I felt really strongly against a certain decision, it would definitely be negotiated. But my husband is decisive, while I am not – I am better at dealing with the details, while he just powers through with the main points. I don’t like the terms ‘submissive’ or ‘meek’, or ‘dominant’. I just see it as recognising your strengths and weaknesses, and realising that sometimes having too many people butting heads and trying to run the show isn’t the best way of doing things.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I think there’s a difference between being content with someone running a household and feeling the need to label yourself as “submissive.” I find the labeling strange. And I totally agree with you about household dynamics – I think it’s common that one person slips into the “alpha” role – but it has nothing to do with the other person being submissive.

  • BeBr

    This is not a dynamic that I find appealing in my own marriage; my husband and I consider our partnership equal as far as decision making and organize the household and life management according to ability and aptitude. But I know people who use this dynamic in their marriages and it seems to work fine for them so I consider it just another thing that goes on between consenting adults that isn’t my business.

    I am curious, though, what about the “biblical” part of it causes so much discomfort with so many. A good college friend of mine is a submissive in the BDSM sense, married a long time to her dom. I don’t know if theirs is a “typical” such relationship, but the level of submissiveness that exists in their daily life is much greater than what Bure is talking about and has been for many years. They are happy and it’s consensual, though I personally feel slightly uncomfortable with it, it’s not my call. I’m assured that theirs is a beautiful and valid lifestyle choice that I should respect. A commenter was down voted because of a perceived BDSM slight, even. So I’m curious…why is consensual submissiveness OK when it stems from sexual proclivities, but not OK when it comes from spiritual ones?

    • Rachel Sea

      Probably because conservative religions are often tools for social control wielded to make people think they are avoiding eternal punishment by an infallible father figure by obeying people in power, whereas BDSM is just a kink.

    • Bebe

      But, at least in the case of my friend, it’s a “kink” that makes her call her husband “master”, clean the house naked while wearing a dog collar, and other things that I’ll be honest, I personally don’t care for. But I don’t do those things, and she does, and the dynamic makes her happy, so it matters fuck all how I feel about her choices. So why can’t it be possible that someone could subscribe to the “submissive wife” dynamic in the same way; a way that fulfills her in some way within her relationship that, while I might not understand it, is worthy of the same respect for her choices as someone in a BDSM sub lifestyle? Why is it OK to call the husband “master” if it makes your pussy wet, but not OK to see him as head of the household if that worldview fulfills something within your soul? Maybe we should all get over the notion that we get to have judgements about other people’s relationship dynamics.

    • Mel

      I think it’s perfectly natural to judge. Especially when they put them in a book they publicly promote for people to purchase. Judging is not the same as trying to outlaw or make “illegitimate.” Legislating it is wrong. Commenting on it is human. if you want your relationship to be private and personal, keep it that way and don’t try to make money off of it. If you want to put it out there, that’s great – be out and proud! But people are entitled to disagree.

    • Bebe

      But plenty of people comment on, advocate for, and write books about BDSM. My friend and her husband teach classes within their community to teach other couples how to safely practice. If someone were to make the same negative assumptions about them as you and other commenters are making about Bure, or dare to say something negative about the culture itself, it would be “judging” and “shaming” and all those other butthurt buzz words that we’re not supposed to participate in. Because we live in a country where whatever anyone wants to do in their lives related to sexual desire, even if it carries over into daily behavior, is wonderful and beautiful and can’t be called “wrong”. But people making choices based on their own deeply held spiritual beliefs does not enjoy the same respect? I still haven’t heard anything approaching an adequate explanation why that makes any sense at all, just a bunch of “that makes me personally uncomfortable, therefore it is wrong.” Which, if I applied it to almost anything else regarding relationships, would be seen as unacceptable to the majority of everyone commenting.

    • Mel

      I’m not attacking BDSM, and I’m not attacking submissive wives. I’m judging them based on my opinion and life experience. I’m allowed to do that and so is everyone else. This is the comments section for exactly that purpose. As I clearly said, I don’t want to legislate or punish choices. I’m just disagreeing with them.

    • bebe

      So really, your responses are without actual merit. You still have not answered my question, you’re just justifying your own feelings. You don’t seem to really be able to articulate why exactly you have them, but it makes you uncomfortable enough that you’re in the comments section of this thread days after it was posted, expressing that opinion over and over again.

      So, your friend is in a BDSM relationship in which she is a sub. They live the kind of lifestyle in which the sub/dom relationship colors just about every aspect of their life together because this is how THEY want it. She calls him “master”, and she means it; he calls the shots, she follows his will. She tells you, when you ask, that she is able to do this because she 100% trusts him to make the right decision for both of them. This, apparently, is OK. It does not harm our valuable feminist sensibilities. Because it derives from sexual desire, it is a valid choice that must be respected. Does this relationship bother you? Do you feel like you are allowed to express your “opinion” about how wrong it is? Do you feel like other feminists would share this opinion with you?

      Your other friend is involved in a relationship where she considers herself a “surrendered wife”, or a submissive one. She and her husband share deep religious convictions and their marriage is the way it is because it is what THEY want. Their relationship dynamic is similar to the ones described by other commenters, not some bad stereotype that you obviously have in your head. When you ask her, she tells you that this is able to work for them because she can 100% trust him to make decisions that are right for both of them. This, apparently, is not OK. Because it derives from spiritual beliefs instead of sexual ones? Even though the rhetoric is similar, and the former relationship is in many cases MUCH more extreme than the latter?

      In your world, does someone who judges gay people based on their “opinion and life experiences” get the same pass as you? Or is it only OK to judge things if they are somehow derived from Judaeo Christian beliefs? Do we feel the same way about submissive Muslim wives? Or is it just the Christian ones that are bad?

    • Mel

      Okay, you’ve really gone off the deep end here so I’m gonna wrap it up with a few points: I keep replying b/c we are having a conversation, not because I’m up all night worrying about this. I also have no idea why you are so focused on this BDSM concept and I really don’t have thoughts on BDSM at all. I couldn’t care less either way. Yes, people have the right to judge things even when they disagree with me. Judging is not the same as legislating or regulating. I’m not going to play your game of BDSM vs Marriage, so get over it. I’m also not going to presume to speak for other feminists. Just because you disagree, doesn’t mean I’m without merit. Grow up. I’ve articulated clearly, you just don’t like it. So, with that, we’re done here. Take care, and I wish you well.

    • Bebe

      That was my original question, you know, the one you chose to start replying to? Why is submission OK in a BDSM framework, but not a Christian marriage? You don’t want to play my “little game” now, but you chose to attempt (badly) to try to respond to my question without actually giving it a moment of thought beyond “that makes me feel icky, so it’s bad.” in the first place. Maybe it went over your head. I don’t know what kind of conversation you thought you were having…but obviously it has made you so uncomfortable that you have to huff and puff and take your little toys and go home. Yes, you are by all means entitled to your feelings. However, that “feeling” that you’re having about the women you’ve never met? It’s called “prejudice”. Just because your “opinions and personal experiences” allow you to justify it in your mind does not make it any more OK than any other kind of prejudice.

    • Mel

      Oh good grief! Yes, I’m obviously ignorant b/c I’m not going to ingest every point of your 3-paragraph rants on BDSM. Yes, I’m pouting by choosing to move on from a fight that is not getting anyone anywhere. Yes, I’m lame and you rule. There, is that better? Really, we should both be don’t with this. I’m tired of playing “you hang up first, not you hang up first.”

  • KaeTay

    The only issue I had was she makes it seem like she’s ALWAYS submissive and submissive is just a horrible word to use in the first place. What my husband and I do I like to call “sharing”. Sometimes I take lead and sometimes he takes the lead. A healthy relationship is one of both give and take and mutual understanding not “you can make every decision for me and our family regardless of me disagreeing”. I’d prefer communication and middle ground.

  • Ranch mom

    I’m not sure how many truly balanced/equal power marriages there are out there. I think an honest look at most of our marriages would show that one or the other of us is in charge more often or has more control over particular aspects of the marriage/family. Some marriages divide into his/her departments of responsibility. Some marriages seem to be equal but are not, and this illusion can be very dangerous for the weaker partner. Some marriages try so hard for equality that a true balance and peace is lost. I give Candice credit for seeing the imbalance, embracing it’s existence, and working happily with it.