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Obedience Struggles II- Adults

alec vanderboom

So my dear priest gives us this marriage advice from Ephesians 5:22 "Wives should be subordinate to their husband's as to the Lord." The citation was just written down on his notes to us. We didn't have time during rosary group to go into detail. I assumed Ephesians was just similar to the "love is patient" quote. When I actually looked up the verse three days later I had a jolt.

Oh! The whole submission/ obedience to your husband deal. I hadn't thought about it since my husband and I decided it was so hopeless out of date in a modern marriage during our Pre-Cana class seven years ago. In my mind, it was the same thing as promising to haul water by hand from a local creek instead of using modern plumbing fixtures. In our marriage we were going to be partners, equals. There wasn't any room for the husband as head-of-the family nonsense.

Well, then of course, everything changed. My sacramental marriage started doing its work and pulled us both towards heaven. I figured out a lot of the ideas I'd picked up from my 1960s Mom and feminist sister college were at best, misrepresentations of the truth.

So this passage is there to be wrestle with now. I can't use my past "oh this doesn't apply to me" dodge. Instead it is "Wow, this is hard but I still have to figure out how to follow this impossible sounding advice." During the 12 hour trip to my in-laws, my husband and I had a long discussion on this topic while all three kids were asleep. We sort of hashed out this idea that men have the ability to make quick decisions, so if we find ourselves in a fire or other emergency than the family needs to respect Dad's ability to lead us out of it. Meanwhile, Mom runs most of the day to day decisions in the household. She leaves room for Dad to make a few big decisions.

I'm not explaining this clearly because while I cheerfully agreed to start implementing it in my own life (after all, how helpful for our children to see Mom model happy obedience) I didn't understand one important caveat I'd made in my mind. Yes, I'd cheerfully practice submission to Jon, in all his decisions that I actually agreed with-- which of course, is not practicing submission at all.

I found this out during a painful 12 hour homeward Odyssey. You see, marriage can be an attraction of opposites. My husband and mine opposing nature comes out in our traveling pattern. I like to lay out all of our clothes, pack the car the night before, and get an early start. My husband likes to take his time in the morning, eat a good breakfast, travel with many stops, and generally enjoy the trip. Monday morning, by my biased calculations, we get an 1 1/2 hour late start. 90 minutes on a trip that will take us at least 12 hours. So for that last painful 90 minutes of the journey, when everyone is cranky, the baby is fussing, the older kids are slugging each other, our i-pod has run out of steam- I'm totally fuming. "We should be home by now! If we did things the way I wanted to, we be in so much better shape."

Due to my practice in the virtue of meekness, I manage to chew my cheek after letting out a few biting comments. This practice does not actually end up with my calming my anger with generosity & forgiveness. No, I stay mad. My anger culminates with a disagreement over how to best unpack the car. My husband wants me to take the kids inside, feed the baby, and let him handle the unpacking alone. I want to ignore the fussy baby who has needed to nurse every 30 seconds of our trip, unpack together, and get to the point where we can all relax inside sooner. I left the baby in her car seat. Took the older kids inside. Slammed my big suitcase around. Finally, my submission was "I'm following your wishes because I have to, not because I think that you are right!"

Whew! A pretty big failure on the whole, "wives submit to your husband's" request from the Church and my blue bird oath "to keep my temper most of the time." This is way harder than I thought it would be. My husband and I are able to compromise most of the time. There are just a few of these issues like either we leave at X time or Y time, where there isn't a clear compromise. When that happens, gosh, do I have a hard time following him just because he is the husband in our relationship.

I need some help. If you are a man, why do you think that wifely submission is a good goal? [And I know the rest of the bible verse talks about husband's loving their wives as Christ loves the Church. My husband handles his charge very well It's my part I struggle with] If you are a woman, what is your take this this issue? Is this an easy thing for you to practice or do you struggle also?