When I was a teen, my father told me it would take a special kind of man to make me submit. I was headstrong, you see. I was opinionated and bossy. I sometimes envied those quiet, demure girls to whom submission came naturally. That wasn’t me.
My father couldn’t know, then, that the man I would ultimately marry wouldn’t expect me to submit to him. I didn’t know, then, that I would reject the entire idea of wifely submission before I walked down the aisle. My life changed a lot in the four years between age 17 and age 21. At 17, I believed wives were called by God to submit to their husbands. At 21, I married an openly and proudly feminist man—Sean.
Sean and I have been married for over half a decade now. Things haven’t always been perfect, and in some ways we’ve had to grow into each other over time. My parents were so opposed to the match that they very nearly didn’t come to the wedding, but Sean and I have been incredibly happy together, and over the years I have come to appreciate more and more what it means to have a feminist husband.
I love that Sean supports my dreams and ideas. He believes in me! He is impressed by me—by what I have accomplished and what I can do. He loves that he is married to a go-getter, a woman who knows her mind, a woman who is not afraid to know what she wants and reach for it. I love that he doesn’t see my career as a threat.
I love that Sean doesn’t see housework and childcare as my job. I love that he strives for parity, and that when we don’t make it he feels bad and works to correct it. I love feeling like we’re partners—actually really partners—in parenting and homemaking.I love that Sean puts an emphasis on spending one-on-one time with the children. He’s the farthest thing from a distant father. I love hearing the children giggle when he chases or tickles them, or watching him play games with them. At night he reads aloud to them. In the morning he helps dress them for school.
Sometimes I feel guilty when I ask Sean to watch the children while I go out and do something, or get some work done, because of everything I was taught about motherhood growing up. But Sean tells me that he is happy to watch the kids, and reminds me that caring for the kids is our job, not my job. Little by little, over time, I’ve found myself able to let go of the guilt.
I love that Sean approaches me as an equal partner in decision-making. It’s not a concession on his part, either—he wants and values my advice and ideas. He respects me as I respect him. We make financial and occupational decisions together, but each without micromanaging the other. It’s a beautiful balance I never imagined when growing up in a world where male headship and authority is taken for granted.
My father was right that I needed a special kind of man as my partner. It’s just that he got the details wrong. I needed a partner opinionated enough that I wouldn’t bulldoze him, but not so headstrong that we would butt heads and clash rather than actually working through disagreements. I needed a partner who fit me—and I him.
Sean asked me to marry him almost exactly seven years ago. I closed my eyes, took the plunge, and said yes. Over half a decade and two children later, I’m glad I did.