How I learned to stop worrying about wifely obedience and love my husband

How I learned to stop worrying about wifely obedience and love my husband July 11, 2014

s and d wedding

Ephesians 5:22!  Ephesians 5:22! Let’s all panic about Ephesians 5:22!

Nah. I’m not afraid of it anymore. But it’s not as big of a deal as I thought it was, either.

I’m not going to tell you what a Catholic marriage ought to look like. I’m just going to tell you what our marriage looks like, now that I’ve stopped trying to make it The Catholic Marriage and started letting it be Our Catholic Marriage.


When I was first married, I was dying to leap feet first into the perfect Catholic relationship. So I took a deep breath and prepared to Ephesians 5:22 the heck out of my husband. He would tell me to do something, and I was going to obey him, by gum. (Like many couples, I yeah-yeahed my way past Ephesians 5:25-28, where the husband is supposed to treat his wife like Christ treats the Church, which is approximately ten krillion times harder than just obeying your husband.)

So I waited. And dammit, he never required me to obey him. Sure, he expected things of me — some reasonable, some unreasonable. We were just married, and we had a lot to figure out. But in general, the issue of obedience just didn’t come up. I was afraid this meant that we had a spiritually inferior marriage — that we were limping along with some kind of second rate modern system which would get us through the years, but which was keeping us from . . . something. I don’t even know what. Spiritual fruit of some kind, which I didn’t even know enough to recognize the lack of, because I hadn’t sufficiently molded myself into an obedient wife.


Where did this idea come from?  Wifely obedience is portrayed in many Catholic circles as the main feature of marriage — more important than prayer, more important that personal formation of any kind, more important than caring for children, more important than anything.  Just wifely obedience as a state of being.  Gotta submit, gotta obey, gotta be meek, gotta acknowledge your husband’s all-encompassing domination over the family with every breath, every word, every gesture, every thought, every decision. Without wifely obedience, we have chaos, we have the feminization of men, we have divorce and bitterness and unhappiness of every kind. When the wife isn’t panting to obey, marriage becomes a black hole into which, with a faint scream, the domestic Church as a whole is sucked, never to return until the Second Coming, when Jesus comes back for the main purpose of yelling at all those lippy dames.

But here’s the truth: If marriage is in a shambles, it’s not because of wifely disobedience. It’s because of a very old reason: selfishness. Sometimes it’s the woman who’s selfish, sometimes it’s the man. Sometimes it’s both of them.

When my husband and I got married, we were both young, and he would readily admit that he didn’t have any more life experience or wisdom or inside information about anything than I did. He’s better at some things; I’m better at others. There are some things we’re both bad at, and  need to hold each other accountable for. The “he decides, she complies” model? What for?  Our relationship had never been like that when we were dating, so why would it change when we started a family and things became complicated? 


We fought a lot, and sometimes still do; but gradually, we started to realize that when we disagree about something, it’s usually because we aren’t listening to each other, or don’t believe yet that the other person understands something that we don’t. Usually, when we really start to listen (and sometimes we have to have the same fight over and over and over again before we can really hear each other), it actually becomes very obvious that one of us is right and the other one is wrong. And then it becomes easy to know what to do: you do the right thing. We’ve been through enough crap together to know that neither one of us is going to push hard for something that would be bad for the family. If he really, really wants something, I trust that he has a good reason; and vice versa.

In general, the person who bears the brunt of the decision at hand is the one who gets to make the call.  So if he wants to make a career move that I’m not crazy about, it’s ultimately his call, because he’s the one doing the job. If I want to make a major change in the kids’ education and he’s hesitant, it’s ultimately my call, because I’m the one who spends more time with the kids, and the I’m one who deals most with their daily schedules.

But here’s the thing: even if there’s something that affects one of us more than the other, there are zero decisions which only affect one of us. Even little stuff. That’s how it is when you’re one flesh, for better and for worse: nothing is just about you. What is the point of joining together if you behave as if one of you is more important than the other? That would be bad for both of you.  One spouse making autonomous decisions without considering the other person is like trying to set a course if you know your latitude, but not your longitude. You’re gonna get lost.


Here’s what everyone needs to understand about the grace of the sacrament of marriage. One of the main ways you receive it is . . . guess how . . . through your spouse. It’s not as if the husband can just go about his husbandly business being a good husband by standing in a shower of Husband Graces once a week. No, he learns how to be a good husband by drawing closer to his wife.

Many years ago, my husband was going through a really rough patch. He had tons of serious problems all at once, and he couldn’t sleep for the anxiety. He lay in the dark, begging God to help him out. And then he suddenly realized that I was there, in bed, next to him. And that was the answer. Not that I could solve his problems — I really couldn’t — but I was there to help him. That’s why I was there.


Authoritarian husbands often point to Mary and Joseph to illustrate “He decides, she complies” as the true Catholic model. But what do we actually know about St. Joseph? Mainly that (a) He utterly failed to stand on his rights and get rid of that seemingly disobedient, seemingly sinful, seemingly rebellious young chit of a girl who turned up pregnant without his say-so, and instead he (b) cared for his wife and child.

And what about that idea that a husband should love his wife as Christ loves the Church? What do we know about Christ? Mainly that He served and gave and served and gave, and then He died for her, and then He came back to life so that He could serve and give some more. That’s what we know.

In our marriage, obedience is an emergency tool. My husband uses it when I am being truly insane: when I’m delirious, or exhausted, or too overwhelmed with guilt and self doubt to think clearly. Then he asserts his authority and insists on . . . taking care of me.

I can also see obedience being useful if a man simply has the kind of personality where he needs to have his way; or if the wife has the kind of personality where she simply doesn’t want to deal with things. Obedience would help the marriage survive, in the same way that a tourniquet might prevent you from bleeding to death — but it’s hard to imagine that that kind of system isn’t fostering selfishness and childishness. It’s like what Fr. Longenecker said about gender roles, only more so:

Rigid gender roles are subjugated to the law of love. Loving our spouse and children in a free and generous way is what it’s really all about. Gender roles are not law; they are there to help us achieve complementary love.

There you go. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re fulfilling Ephesians 5. If your marriage is loving, then you’re doing it right.

How does it work in your marriage? Do you and your spouse — or you and your peers — have conflict over how the issue of obedience? Have you come to understand Ephesians 5 better over the years?


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  • Anna

    You aren’t possibly baiting Issues Guy on purpose with this one, are you?

    Good point about your husband not wanting obedience most of the time. I haven’t been married as long, but both in my marriage and others in my family, I think few husbands want to make household decisions, let alone autocratically. I’ve known a few couples where the husband was dead-set on something like “Cribs are evil baby cages” or “My daughters must wear skirts and have long hair” despite his wife’s objections, but they were weird and not very masculine guys. Your normal guy doesn’t want to manage and micro-manage other people that way.

    If my husband were dead-set on something where I disagreed, it would be such a rare occurrence I probably would do it his way since I would know it must be super important to him. I wonder if you could read Ephesians 5 that way: since women tend to make most of the mundane decisions in life, a wife should consider deferring to her husband by default on the rare occasions when he feels the need to have a say.

  • Eileen

    I belong to some interracial adoption groups and there are a fair amount of Evangelical Protestants who are very into the whole “love, honor, and obey” thing. It’s bizarre to me. The vast majority of things in married life are not a question of submission/obedience. They’re more along the lines of Burger King or McDonalds? Yellow paint or green? Netflix or Hulu? I mean, really, who cares about most of that stuff? In the end none of it matters. And if you’ve got a husband who insists on pulling out the big cheese card simply so he can go to Burger King, you’ve pretty much married a giant jackass and E 5 is the least of your worries.
    For the most part, my husband and I are very non-confrontational, amenable, laid back people used to getting along in a big family. We rarely have strong opinions about trivial things and if one of us does, that’s the way we go with it. Bottom line: it simply doesn’t matter whether we paint the room green or yellow. We have evolved from young marrieds who always asked, “No really, what do you think? Chicken tacos or beef? I could buy both but whatever. I don’t care…” to a couple whose roles are more defined and if anything is said at all it’s more likely to be only when we’re deviating from the norm (chicken) and it’ll be along the lines of, “Unless you care, I’m only making beef tacos tonight because I’m jonesing for some red meat.” It’s the same when he’s picking out the color of the mulch – if I don’t have a strong opinion (and I don’t) he just buys what he likes best.

    Big decisions are made by the person most affected although we always run them by each other. Since he earns the money and I handle the running of the kids and the house, most big decisions are ultimately in my hands, although as our boys get older, there are definitely some things with scouts and sports that affect him more than me and while he’ll ask for my opinion, I’m more a sounding board for him as he’s looking for affirmation that he’s making the right choices. I handle the money, and sometimes he’ll want something expensive (generally for one of the boys) and he’ll come to me and ask how much we can reasonably afford to spend or if we can’t afford it at all how long it will take us to save up to x number of dollars. Likewise, I would say to him, I’d like to buy x, here are the finances, what do you think?

    I don’t even need a full hand to count the number of fights we’ve had in the entire time we’ve been together. I trust him. He trusts me. We’re very fortunate to be on the same page the vast majority of the time.

    • anna lisa

      “I don’t even need a full hand to count the number of fights we’ve had in the entire time we’ve been together. I trust him. He trusts me. We’re very fortunate to be on the same page the vast majority of the time.”

      –Oh my gosh, Eileen, I’m in awe! I love your sweat the big stuff attitude. Haha, my menu choices depend on what I’m craving too. When you’ve been married a while you crave the same stuff. In the beginning, I needed to try a million new things. He didn’t really care if I liked what he liked (more for him, right?) I just got jealous of how much he was obviously *enjoying* that crazy looking taco with chilis and homemade salsa…
      But I think everyone could use a break from anna lisa’s personal experiences for at least a while. Even I’m sick of my opinion.
      Simcha, you’re a Boss when you’re all fired up. I love it when you write things while feeling provoked. The Article you just wrote for Our Sunday Visitor was perfect, and hit the bulls eye, but *this*–Something in your brain goes into hyper drive when you’re disgusted. It drives the point home a krillion times better than a milquetoast article from a sweet and demure wife.
      I’m still laughing. And I just realized something. THAT is why dontouchme follows your blog. A yes-man, vanilla wife would *bore* him to TEARS.

      • Eileen

        I have to be careful though because when I do express a preference, my husband bends over backwards to accommodate me.
        And you are right, right, right about Mr. dontouchme. The last thing he wants is some little wifey he can boss around. If he did, he wouldn’t be reading Simcha.

        • Anna

          I don’t know about that, sadly. I’ve known a number of guys who talked like him and I found that although they probably were naturally attracted to spunky women with brains they expressed that attraction only in friendship or flirting. They either marry the home-schooled teenager whose parents won’t let her leave home or go to college (okay, actually, I’ve only known one incidence of that) or one of those aggressive man-hunter types with a fetching girly-girl manner and perfect make-up and boobs – which of course they’re incapable of seeing past.

          • anna lisa

            Hope Anna, hope. Like I’v alluded to, I’m so on to teenagers. They can be strangely lovable even when they’re loathsome. I must have been a little bit like that –even though I lack perspective… My parents probably high fived each other when they married me off. Anyhow, I was a little more polite and accommodating than my middle sister. They *definitely* must have felt a burst of relief when she had to step up to the plate. She used to talk to me a few times a year. I can still picture her smoking with her Ray-Bans on, telling me she was going to have affairs until she was in her forties. (Not kidding–she copped such a too-cool-for-you attitude.) Hahaha she ended up being the holier-than-thou homeschooler,and had a kid every other year.. She was totally into her husband whom she married at 22. Her macho-man husband used to bait my feminist aunt, telling her he needed to get married because he needed a woman to put the milk on his cereal. Ha! Trolling is recreational sport for some people. Somehow, God makes them fall in love with the people who can bring the universe back in balance because of their complimentary tilted-ness.
            The marriage sacrament is really powerful when both parties authentically make those vows of love and service *to the very best of their ability*. –God does the rest! 🙂

  • “And what about that idea that a husband should love his wife as Christ loves the Church? What do we know about Christ? Mainly that He served and gave and served and gave, and then He died for her, and then He came back to life so that He could serve and give some more. That’s what we know.”
    This a million, bajillion times. Also, I now feel the need to go home and make my husband an awesome dinner, ’cause he is amazing.

  • Josh

    I feel very fortunate that I’ve only indirectly encountered the kind of Catholics described in the first part, mainly reading accounts of them online. Like weird antelopes living on the Serengeti, I neither know them nor doubt they exist. It seems like such a poverty to be so rule-bound.

    Regarding the obedience/sacrifice thing, our goal–as imperfectly realized as it is–is that if your spouse wants something (whether directly requested or not) and the answer can be “yes” (i.e., it doesn’t involve immorality, gross financial irresponsibility, inopportunely-timed babies, etc.) then the answer is “yes.” Obviously we discuss and debate things, that’s the end goal I try to remember. It’s a simple rule that pretty much covers both obedience and serving (things that should be done by both spouses).

    I do believe, in a very broad and general way that is full of acceptable exceptions, that such things as gender differences, natural gender roles in the family, and male headship are real things. But obedience and serving are aspects of the same love, not things to be codified and assigned to people according to gender. Any understanding of obedience that allows for someone to be a dictator is not from love, just like any understanding of serving that allows someone to be a slave. They are manifestations of the same thing. There is not a serving love and an obedient love. There is just love.

    • $1028912

      Except for “male headship,” I find myself in agreement with 99% of what you just said.

      • IRVCath

        Male headship as described here is rarely what people seem to think it is. It is not man-as-dictator, or should not be in any case.

        • $1028912

          I understand it to mean what it sounds like: man as head of the family. And I do not accept that. But to each her own!

          • donttouchme

            Were you ever Catholic or anything? I’m obviously an outlier in my thinking, but I find it weird that you and Josh agree 99%, except for his weak and caveat-ridden belief in a sort of quasi male headship, and that Josh thinks of me as a weird gazelle roaming the Serengetti. I think that’s significant.

          • $1028912

            I still am Catholic, if you believe that the sacrament of baptism is what makes people Catholic (though obviously, I have many views that don’t align with the Church, so I don’t hold myself up as an example of what a Catholic believes).

  • mel

    Yeah. My husband would seriously freak if I started wanting him to DECIDE ALL THE THINGS. He doesn’t want it. If he feels strongly about something, I roll with it, because he feels strongly about so few things. One way I’ve learned to use the whole obedience thing though is when I really can’t make a decision about something, and I’m wishy washying all over the place, I discuss it with him, and then ask him to pray about it and make a decision. And then…here’s the hard part…I shut up and roll with his decision and don’t go, “But what about….”

  • Lydia

    If you look at St. Joseph and Mary as a model, one thing that sticks out as far as deciding when to flee Judea, which, I suppose is the episode which a lot of “he decides, she complies” couples are thinking of, Joseph was given a divine revelation about an urgent, life and death matter. It was probably weird for Mary to be woken up and told to pack up. She did, and obeyed, but it’s important to remember that Joseph had already gone out of his way and his comfort zone to show her concretely that she could trust him with her life. He could have had her stoned. He probably bore with all the kinds of rumors and insults small communities are capable of. She trusted him because she had a reason to trust him. He had proven that not only was he a just man, he was a merciful and thoughtful and considerate man. It’s also important to remember that the members of the Holy Family were odd, and fully themselves, and not trying to shove themselves into little boxes proving their Catholicity.

    • Sheila C.

      It seems to me that their “rule” of submission is, when one of us gets a revelation directly from God, the other one goes along with it. Which, heck, my husband and I follow that one too! Or we would, if it ever came up. But we’re never told who decided on the stable when the inn was full, whose fault it was they never checked they had Jesus with him when they left Jerusalem, and so forth. I think it *is* safe to assume that whoever made those decisions didn’t get blamed for it by the other one when things went south. I can’t imagine Mary saying, “Really, Joseph? It didn’t occur to you Bethlehem would be crowded and you should make other plans?” Or Joseph saying, “What kind of mother are you, that you never even checked to make sure Jesus was with us?”

      It kind of takes a lot of imagination to guess at their marriage, because we aren’t told much. But it’s still worth learning from.

  • KL

    My husband and I, while we do have our struggles and differences, defer to each other and seek out each other’s input because we recognize that we have very different strengths and weaknesses. I primarily handle finances and practical house-/car-/life-maintenance issues because I am more analytical, love doing research to make decisions based on The Best Evidence, and generally am more future-oriented (this also means that I’m the Worrier in the relationship!). He, on the other hand, has incredible social and emotional intelligence and always has fabulous insight into interpersonal situations, whether in the workplace, among our friends, or at home. And this is, frankly, no less vital to our happiness — both individually and as a partnership — than all the logistical stuff. We each contribute to the health of our marriage according to our gifts and the needs of our partnership, not necessarily according to pre-determined gender roles. (And, as you may have noticed, our areas of “expertise” are flipped from the stereotypical image of man and woman.)

    Of course, if either of us put our foot down on something that is typically the other spouse’s ‘realm,’ because we feel very strongly about it or because it disproportionately affects us, we submit to our beloved out of care and love. Maybe we disagree about the wisdom of the decision, but the happiness of our spouse is the primary good which both of us are pursuing. If we didn’t have a deep, abiding trust that we each desire the greatest Good and Happiness for the other, the natural balance would fall apart. That’s when the ledger sheet comes out.

  • donttouchme


    • MC. D.

      Funny you should mention Titus 2… that whole “teach slaves to be subject to their masters” thing? Somehow we’re willing to not take that part at face value. The Bible is very much a culturally limited work. Why wouldn’t we apply the same amount of though to their views of gender roles and marriage as well?

      This is the beauty of having a living Church which can continue to interpret and refine its understanding of the truths in the Bible. Marriage today looks a whole lot different than it did in the 1st century Mediterranean. We look to the Church (and yes, as much as it apparently chagrins you, that includes the more recent encyclicals) to help us see the truths beneath those cultural limitations.

      What Simcha is so beautifully getting at is the truth about marriage as a relationship of mutual respect and love and putting the other first. It’s a lot more complicated than “husbands make the rules, wives are subservient”, but it’s a whole lot richer and more beautiful too.

      • donttouchme

        BTW, I didn’t delete my comment because your well-intentioned apology for gynocentric marriage makes a lick o’ sense. It don’t. At the rawest, natural law level, which is the foundation for everything else we’ve built, it really isn’t any more complicated than that. You can’t kick out the bottom barrel in the stack because you’ve already used it without knocking down everything else.

        • Anna

          We who are actually married have the same problem: your idea of marriage is so obviously uninformed by any actual experience of marriage that very difficult to argue with you – beyond saying something like, “If you’d ever tried being married for more than 30 minutes, you’d never say the things you say.” It’s not that anything you say makes “a lick o’sense”; it’s just that it’s so juvenile and uninformed that there’s really nowhere to start a meaningful argument. Try a little living and come back and maybe we can have a real argument.

        • I don’t know how you can read the experiences of all these married women and still, *still* insist that your purely theoretical and and inexperienced view of marriage is The Only Possible Way. What you describe as marriage is not anything at all like all the successful, loving, strong marriages I have witnessed and continue to witness on a daily basis.

          • donttouchme

            Tried to delete first comment before anyone replied but couldn’t then couldn’t resist a rejoinder. Probably should have left the first comment since it contained a little new content. Oh well. I’m done now. 😉

        • $1028912

          Unless Beadgirl altered her comment, I don’t see any reference to “gynocentric marriage.” Am I missing something?

          • If you are, I am too. I’m not even sure why his last comment was in response to mine.

          • MC. D.

            From comments on earlier posts it would appear that he sees anything that isn’t explicitly androcentric as automatically gynocentric. Like the white people who cry ‘racism’ at any effort to help marginalized minorities.

            Of course, this all ignores the fact that marriage should be Christocentric, and family-centric, and that if it revolves around either of the individuals in the marriage, it’s a recipe for disaster.

            I like thinking of “My White Knight” from The Music Man. “I would like him to be more interested in me than he is in himself, and more interested in us than in me.” Add in a bit about God, and I think it’s a really beautiful summary of how all married people should orient themselves.

          • $1028912

            Well, there are plenty of well-married non-Christians in the world — like my Buddhist in-laws — and even many who don’t follow any religion at all. No matter what the creed or culture, mutual respect/consideration is a good place to start.

  • I have to say “obedience” has never been an issue in our marriage. We really are equals (not the same!), and treat each other as such. We are partners in our marriage, and work together to do what is best for the family. Who’s obeying whom is just simply not on our radar.

    Which is not to say we don’t fight a lot — we do. But I’m realizing that our arguments are almost never about who is right or who should get the final say about something, but rather because we have faced so many external trials in our years together that sometimes we are too wounded to comfort each other. It’s something we are working on, and fittingly, as things get more difficult recently, we are actually getting better at it.

    I will say that Simcha’s recent writings on the topic, plus the silly article at Slate about a parenting contract, have made me really think about my marriage rather than just experience it.

    Oh, one other point. I’ve occasionally seen a “modern” take on the obedience thing holding that women should be spiritually subservient and obedient to their husbands, because the husband is the spiritual head of the house and in charge of religion. This cracks me up — if I left religion up to him, we’d be attending a local Episcopal church with a female priest every Sunday. Seems like I’d be a bad Catholic either way!

    • $1028912

      I read that Slate article, too, and my first thought on it was, “This was clearly written by someone who hasn’t had any kids yet.”
      But I do think the premise behind it is sound: Before a couple has kids, they need to stop thinking about “kids” in the abstract, and think about the very real changes that a baby is going to bring to their lives. Sitting down to make a formal agreement isn’t required, but it’s certainly one way to do it — it forces both of them to really set forth what’s important to them, for the other person to see.
      For example, in my own case, I told my husband right from the start that I was open to having a baby with him, but that I wanted to continue working. Somehow, he only absorbed the first part of that, and thought to himself, “Ah, when the baby’s here, she’ll love him/her so much that she’ll want to be at home all the time, instead of going back to work and leaving our son/daughter to be raised by strangers.” It all worked out in the end, but it would really have been helpful if we had been on the same page from the beginning.

      • Certainly people need to discuss these issues thoroughly before marriage, but I’d be wary of any attempt to make rigid plans, or get too fixed a notion of what life will be like. There are so many variables — infertility, hyperfertility, special needs/medically fragile/high maintenance kids, job loss, job relocation, financial problems, injury and illness, childcare problems, extended family issues, and so on. You can’t even rely on what you are absolutely sure you want, because that can change, too. One friend during her pregnancy lined up a new job, only to realize after her child was born that she couldn’t bear to leave her; she hasn’t worked a day since outside the home. Another friend was sure she’d be a stay-at-home mom, only to find herself desperate to get back to work three months into it.

        In short: we all need to stop thinking we can control and micromanage every aspect of our lives.

        • $1028912

          That’s very true — people change their minds all the time. And that’s why communication is so important. We certainly can’t control everything, but we can make an attempt to understand everything (or at least almost everything — some things are simply inexplicable).

  • $1028912

    This is the kind of post — and comments — that makes reading Catholic blogs worthwhile for me, and makes me realize that the equal (not meaning “the same!”) partnership I have with my non-Catholic, non-Christian spouse, who is currently living thousands of miles away for his job, is more alike than different from people whose other values don’t always align with mine.

    I live in a culture where traditionally, wives were expected to “obey” their husbands, and yet they managed the family finances, because the grubby, monetary details of daily living were considered household drudgery. It’s always interesting to look at my in-laws (whose parents were all born in the 1800’s, so their values are sometimes anachronistic) and see how the “obedience/submissive” thing just doesn’t always naturally work out that way.

  • Sheila C.

    Thank you for this!

    When we got married, we had the idea that we would practice “headship” in the sense of my husband having the final say about those rare decisions we really couldn’t agree on together. It would be a few-times-in-our-life sort of thing, we figured, and only when we really both felt so strongly about something that we couldn’t agree otherwise.

    Only problem: those rare cases where we both felt extremely strongly about something turn out to be exactly the times when it would be most damaging to overrule one another! I realized, the first time a decision like this came up, that I would resent it for years if I caved in out of “obedience.” I also felt that as a mother I had just as much responsibility to the kids as he did, and therefore it would be failing in my vocation if I *knew* something was bad for them and did it anyway just because he said so. So …. we just kept talking. We kept talking and talking and talking and eventually came close enough to a decision that we could actually work with it. It took a long time and a lot of work, but so worth it. And I can’t imagine any future decision where this wouldn’t be the right choice. If we really strongly disagree, all the more reason to work with it and fight a bit if necessary and pray about it until we have some better idea what we should do.

    I agonized over all this for years, thinking I was a bad, rebellious wife and unbiblical and so forth. A priest even recently said in the homily one Sunday that trying to be equal in marriage was like being a two-headed monster; it couldn’t be done. He said “the Church teaches” wives have to obey, period. But I did a ton of research, read a ton of Biblical criticism, read every encyclical ever written on the subject, and I think he was wrong. I found that first, there’s nothing in there that rises to the level of a definitive proclamation, and second, there’s such variety in what the popes have said on the matter that there’s nothing at all you could call “universal magisterium.” I choose to go with JPII and mutual submission, because it is *one* Catholic interpretation of those verses.

    And my husband? He’s quite relieved to know he’s not on the hook for everything. He feels I’m better at making him a better person when I’m equal in every way.

    • donttouchme

      This is the most delightful endorsement the JPII revisions I’ve ever read. And what a horrible fate for the “man” involved. You should really get your story out. It needs to be heard: woman agrees to be obedient on some rare occasions; they marry; first time she needs to be obedient–after he’s locked in–her true colors show; ultimately she rationalizes that her lie is actually God’s will, and she has the moral high ground; but it’s ok because after years of talking and talking and talking and fighting, she finally broke her “man’s” spirit and he’s actually happy about it, like Winston in 1984.

      Lord deliver us from the hideousness of modern marriage.

      • $1028912

        I predict you won’t need the Lord’s help to prevent you from marrying. 😉

      • Sheila C.

        Wow, so you know my husband’s happiness or otherwise better than me now, eh?

        Statistically speaking, men in relationships with feminists are happier than men in relationships with non-feminists. Go figure.

        Maybe it’s that halfway decent guys don’t like bossing people around?

      • anna lisa

        I’m just thanking God my husband isn’t penilecentric. If he wasn’t Catholic, he’d probably be so gynocentric he’d have trouble concentrating.

        • Josh

          I remember studying the gynocentripital force in a Catholic physics class. If I remember correctly, its pull on a husband can be calculated by:

          F(g) = (W(w) * P) / (A * C(1st))


          W(w) = Wonderfulness of wife (possible range of 1-94)
          P = Wife’s Popcak factor (i.e., approach to sex generally comports with Greg Popcak’s book Holy Sex: How to O with the Angels, whether she’s read the book or not. Possible range of 3-21.5.)
          A = Husband’s Age
          C(1st) = Husband’s obedience to the first commandment (possible range of 4-1736)

          • anna lisa

            I remember the day when I realized how beautiful math is. It explains everything without lying, bad attitudes or hysteria. I bet it can even explain pms effeciently.
            “How to “O” with the angels”?–How did I miss that one??
            Looking it up right now.

          • anna lisa

            That math epiphany was fairly recent.

        • donttouchme

          If he weren’t so penilecentric or phallocentric no way would he find himself so gynocentered and satisfied all the time. That’s the difference: your husband is gynocentered, not gynocentric.

          • anna lisa

            I just cut and pasted that, and sent it into his in-box at work (without any explanation.) Now he’s going to know what I do all day when he’s at work.
            I hope the IT dept. doesn’t monitor company emails.
            (they would already have a thick file on us anyhow).

          • donttouchme

            Let me know what he thinks

          • anna lisa

            I already know what he thinks. He’d say he’s 100% whipped. But I’d never abuse all that power because that would make me a jerk.
            Go ahead, blame it on Saint John Paul.
            (my husband has me 100 % whipped too…)

          • donttouchme

            I’m like 95% untroubled by that coming from you because you live Casti Connubii an it’s palpable in everything you say and do. It’s like how men used to joke about having to “check with the ‘boss'”. Sheila above might say that same thing about her husband and it would mean almost the exact opposite. She lives Mulieris Dignitatem which is also palpable in everything she says.

          • Josh

            What is your first name?

          • donttouchme

            don, why do you ask?

          • Josh

            Because the Internet is a weird mix of intimacy and anonymity (plenty of both in your exchanges here) and it’s good for people to know names. Helps humanize the whole thing.

          • anna lisa


            The word feminism comes with the thoughts of such loads of garbage, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I can see how traditional Catholics would hate to give the word any credence at all. Perhaps it was a wrong choice of words to speak of a “new feminism”. If we can get rid of our preconceived grudges, St. JPs message comes through much, much better. Mul.D. is clear about gender roles, and an all male priesthood. There is nothing nontraditional about it. Marriages based on love and respect have *always* functioned with that dynamic. What is changing is *culture*. The Church has always helped her children to function within the norms of culture, inviting us to a higher way of thinking, as culture evolves *hopefully* for the better–while suffering some MAJOR setbacks. So while I understand why Paul speaks about the dignity of slaves I understand why, given the times, and the task at hand, he didn’t call for a revolution to outlaw slavery. (No, I’m not alluding to marriage being slavery!–But has it *ever* been something akin to this.*anywhere*..???)
            My children will often ask me questions about the way the Church handled certain matters in the course of history. There were/are enough scandals to keep us talking. My kids are smart enough, that if I used the iron fist-ed revisionist approach, insisting: “No Indians were abused at *any* mission! Nobody died during the Spanish Inquisition! Columbus is canonizeable! The crusades were romantic like Camelot! Nuns are always lovely! –They’d rebel.
            –If I did *that* they’d probably end up Agnostic at best. I’d probably have them under my thumb until they turned about 15, and then they’d shake the catholic dust from their shoes. We have great conversations (fights too) about human nature, and that WAR Jesus spoke of, when He said He came to bring a sword (the one we slay the *old* man/woman with).
            Every generation is at a cross roads. We struggle, we make great strides forward–
            We flounder in entrenched ideas that need a new gaze and a new vision.
            Have you ever watched an Indian couple taking a walk, and the wife is walking several paces behind her husband? It gives me a pang of loneliness just to absorb what the language of their bodies *mean*.
            It took me forever to realize why an Indian *doctor* at our university would regard me with a HOSTILE look in her eyes. She felt that I appeared *vulgar*, holding my husband’s hand at mass every day.–Even she, with a PHd, living and working in our culture, couldn’t get over something so innocent that she had been steeped in.
            Cultures in India, China, Africa, and the Middle East simply can’t hold a changing culture back forever –even with violent fundamentalism trying it’s iron-fisted *best* to do exactly *that*. Any soul of good will, recognizes that what they are doing (in the name of religion no less!) is *evil*. The devil knows how to dress up like God better than anybody else. His favorite trick is to use *dogma* to trick people, so they are enslaved by fear.
            So what do the *atheists* do? They throw the baby with the bathwater. Evil laughs, knowing that this is the obvious reaction any sane person would have to the evil caricature of God, that he gleefully created.
            I think even *holy* people have been tempted to turn God into a hell and brimstone tyrant, to keep an erring and unruly flock in check. I’m not saying that sin isn’t horrifying, but *love* means so much more than being held in check and subject to a taskmaster.–It doesn’t negate that there are tasks, but it converts them into acts of *love* rather than acts founded in a lack of freedom.
            St. John Paul knew that an *opportunity* to grow could be found in the upheaval of culture. With exquisite intuition, and the love of a shepherd for his flock, he eagerly encouraged us to go higher into the mysteries of love and service. He sought to root out a kind of Jansenism that had infiltrated our culture. (Ah yes, the devil in his god-suit again, who convinced us that the only good sex is bad sex, while holding your nose…)
            I don’t think that this new call to love, which delights in the complementary nature of the male and female body and spirit is anything less than *sublime*. Mul. Dignitatem in no way negates the call to strength, and leadership etc. that comes with being male. It celebrates the *differences* between Maternity and Paternity. Males shouldn’t have a chip on their shoulder about the language. Traditional woman shouldn’t have a chip on their shoulder that good sex is going to push them that much further away from Mary who said “fiat!”
            The actions of good men instruct good women, and the actions of good women instruct good men. Strength and protecting from the outside is not higher in the moral order than receiving and nurturing from the inside.

          • donttouchme

            Well, I thought about it and slept on it, but I don’t think it’s going to work. It won’t go, intellectually. And after reviewing Casti Connubii I think St. JPII definitely falls into Pope Pius XI’s designation as a “subverter of society.” I think that’s probably the main reason for the whole “santo subito” thing. Mul.D. explicitly says in the text that it’s breaking with tradition. It’s not clear about gender roles, which is why Sheila’s understanding of it is the prevailing understanding.

            I’m not sure you understand my perspective. It’s not a word I have a problem with, it’s the philosophy the word represents. I used to think incidentals like abortion and man hating were essential to feminism. I don’t think so anymore. I think feminism is essentially the lie that the sexes are equal. It’s a lie whether one says it openly like Sheila above or covertly, dressed up in the word “complemetarity” which means “the sexes are different, yes, but still equal.” Pope Pius XI points out the inequality of the sexes in Casti Connubii and warns that denying that inequality will not work out well for women. If you think Western society is advancing for women, I don’t know what to say. I see them being “reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in
            reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.” (paragraph 75)

            Pretty regularly you hear things like “where have all the good men gone” or like Fr. Longenecker asked, “Why are young men such layabouts?” My opinion is that what Pope Pius XI warned would happen has happened, the conjugal life has “lost it’s luster,” or as I have put it, the incentives are gone. There’s nothing to work for.

            So that’s the big picture as I see it. I think the future for most women will have more in common with present-day Pakistan than 1940s America.

            Why that affects me personally, well, I’ve seen it up close and personal. Other than that, I recognized the inequality of men and women by just looking at the world, thinking, and reading about the origins of civilization. Then I saw what I had observed articulated in Casti Connubii and implicitly denied by St. JPII and almost universally denied in society, even though it’s as obvious as the sky is blue.

            And now the men who go along with all that are like the gay daddies on Tide commercials with spaghetti strainers on their heads and stuff, or like this guy who knelt by his wife while she peed on a stick and then freaked out:
            That’s the new Catholic understanding of men, whose primary function it is now almost universally agreed is to be a servant to a daughter of the king (i.e. a princess).

            What I’m going to do with all that solidified knowledge, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll go back to being a west coast hippie bum.
            Edit: alright I was just joking about going back to being a bum, but it wasn’t a bad life for a while anyway…

          • anna lisa

            These ideas you have about male superiority must be on your “blueprint”. My guess is that your father disrespected/abandoned your mother. I’m really sorry about whatever happened. The sins of the parents are visited upon the children.

          • donttouchme

            Whatever happened, it must have been a man that caused it. Because men are either servants or villains. these are the only options in our gynocentric world.

            Or maybe I’m seeing something objectively real.

          • anna lisa

            Why would I even want to see men like that?
            Several of my kids have gone to counseling for various reasons. I noticed it gave them all a measure of relief. Why don’t you go talk to someone about your beliefs? It might help you strengthen the good ideas and mitigate the alienating ones.

          • donttouchme

            I have no idea why women see men that way. Except for feminism and its quislings like I’ve been saying. Because they resent the ontological reality of the sexes, maybe, and want to mitigate the essential inequality.

          • anna lisa


            Look at what my tender hearted 23-y-o son just sent me. He warned me that it would make me cry.

            Most people are good–maybe even *all* people are. Evil, and pain trick them into giving up and lacking hope–it distorts their humanity, and makes them see others in an inhumane way.

          • donttouchme

            You can only have that kind of tenderness rarely. That’s the son who got his heart shattered or whatever right?

          • anna lisa

            The one who looked into being a priest.–But all of my kids are tenderhearted about babies, even the grump. They complained about things but they loved always having a baby around. When my daughter was away at college the first year, she admitted to going to a grade school carnival near her apartment, so she could at least sit next to families. She was dying to hold a baby, but she knew they would think she was strange if she asked.

          • anna lisa


          • Sheila C.

            Look, it’s obvious it’s become personal for you now. I can leave the conversation for days and you’re still obsessing over me. You actually have no idea how our marriage works practically; if you watched it you’d probably think it was very traditional. One year I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday, and he said “How about you do what you always do?” Because of course I *always* make his favorite food, I *always* try to do things the way he likes, etc. And it means more to him because I do all this because I *want* to.

            But since you are so obsessed with me and my husband, DTM, let me tell you what my husband had to say to you. He said that if you are so concerned with power and so afraid of being “beaten,” Christianity is not for you. He suggests you try Islam. Christianity is about defeat, about lowering yourself, about making the other more important than you. If you can’t grasp that, you have missed the entire point of the religion you claim to profess.

            If my husband is “beaten,” it is because he has conquered himself. If he serves more than I do (which I really have no idea about; we’re not keeping track), it is only because he is holier than I am.

          • donttouchme

            It’s not personal, it’s an illustration. Feminism is about turning men into servants or villains, and it’s not beneath it to use Christianity to achieve that.

          • Sheila C.

            Christianity is about turning everybody into servants. We’re doing our best with it. It’s not my job to put my husband down, but it is his job to humble himself and serve the rest of the family, like it is mine. We both do it.

          • donttouchme

            Feminism is about turning men into servants or villains, and it’s not beneath it to use Christianity to achieve that.

          • $1028912

            It isn’t, though — your straw-man version of feminism seems to say so, but feminism is about giving men and women equal treatment and opportunities based on their preferences & abilities. Sure, lots of bad things are done in the name of feminism (and in the name of Christianity, for that matter), but feminism is about equality, not domination.

          • donttouchme

            Politically forcing a non-existent in reality equality amounts to servitude. Since men and women aren’t equal, feminism is about cutting men down and artificially elevating women. I don’t think another argument about that essential inequality of the sexes will go anywhere, though.

          • $1028912

            You’re right — if all of the devoutly religiously traditional people who commented here couldn’t get anywhere arguing with you, someone like me doesn’t have a whisper of a chance.

          • donttouchme

            Don’t you remember that argument we had a long time ago?

          • $1028912

            Of course I do — it wasn’t that long ago. And again, I can understand why you’d disagree with someone like me, but your disagreement with others here perplexes me.

          • donttouchme

            They believe basically the same things you do. You were 99% in agreement with Josh, remember, except for his incredibly weak and apologetic assertion of male headship.

          • $1028912

            It’s true — I consider myself an ardent feminist, and I’m not religious (in fact, I might be among the least spiritual people you will ever encounter). And yet, when it comes to equal dignity, worth and opportunities, I see eye to eye with most of the devout Catholics who comment here.

            I also like what Sheila said above, that Christianity is about turning EVERYBODY into servants. Know, love and serve, regardless of gender. This also works on a secular level: Do your best, for the benefit of both yourself and others. Equality does not mean “sameness,” since no two humans are alike. Therefore, no two relationships are alike. I suppose in a religious marriage, the ultimate goal is to serve God, while in a secular marriage, the ultimate goal is to lead a constructive married life — and I imagine that couples doing both the former and the latter appear very similar.

            The funniest part is, I don’t know either Sheila or Anna Lisa personally — just from what I read here. And yet I have to say, their marriages/relationships with their spouses sound very similar. I don’t understand why you see any difference.

      • R3dP1ll

        Yes, the hamster is strong with this one.

  • mjdmom

    Oh my gosh. “In our marriage, obedience is an emergency too. My husband uses it when I am being truly insane: when I’m delirious, or exhausted, or too overwhelmed with guilt and self doubt to think clearly. ” That is so me it’s crazy! I could barely stop laughing when I read that!

    I have a friend and mentor who has really helped me understand Ephesians 5. He says it, like much of scripture about the roles of men and women, is about the struggles we tend to have. This verse reminds me of the book “Love and Respect”. The authors talk about how men need unconditional respect, but that’s hard for women to give. And at the same time, women need unconditional love, but that’s hard for men to give. (Generalizations, of course.) It’s somewhat contrary to our fallen natures. So the Scriptures try to teach us how to be better people by showing us the faults in our natures. Many scripture verses apply to all of us – we all tend toward greed, selfishness, etc. But as men and women, there are things we struglge with differently, and some verses, like this one, try to help us in those areas.

  • Thank you for this post. A lot of what you write is common sense, but honestly I have not been around many good examples of marriage and so I really appreciate reading things like this.

  • Ezbs

    Love ya Simcha!

    I come from a Lebanese background. My husband is also of a Lebanese background but like me, was born here in Australia. Although we embrace our background, we choose not to embrace the heavily male oriented thinking of our culture. That is, that a man does not lift a finger at home or change a diaper. And that a woman stays home and the man goes and works. Some second generation couples still adopt this thinking, under the pressure of their families. Blah!

    We have adapted this traditional thinking to- the man is the primary bread winner (because my husband will always have the ability to earn more than I ever will), but still comes home and helps with the children.
    My daily responsibility is the children- homework, discipline, activities- and the cooking, cleaning and washing. But I also work part-time.

    My father, who was born in Lebanon but has adapted to the Aussie way of life, never changed a diaper or cooked or cleaned. It was my mothers responsibility. And my mother never went outside the house to work. It was a very clear division of duties. It worked well for my parents. A loving marriage and a happy family life.

    But there were times when my father took on the stress of work and finances without consulting my mother. It was these times that my father looked back in hindsight with regret at the decisions he made by a) not consulting my mother or b) not taking her advice.

    My father, now on occasion will feed his grandkids, and the other day, I caught him vacuuming around the birdcage. Of course I teased him about it all day!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    My husband never would have allowed total subservience–which is good, because I would have failed miserably at it (and been miserable too). He talks about how man being the head of the household means he is the head servant–to serve us in our journey to Heaven. He had a failed marriage in his past when I met him, and he knew the only way for marriage to work was for both of us to keep our eyes on God, not me with my eyes on him.

  • Bil Carter

    Kudos on the proper use of the word “krillion”. Well done.

  • Rebecca Cherico

    I find the Holy Family to be a bizarre example if you’re going for the rule of submission. A regular guy married to a perfect woman with an adopted son who is God? I suppose it’s easier within a Protestant tradition, but a really tough sell for us Catholics (or, at least, for me!). Plus the lack of info on their life together….

    • donttouchme

      You could look at the other way too which is that the world’s only perfect woman was subject to her regular-guy husband and probably called him “lord” judging by 1 Peter 3, so why wouldn’t a regular-gal wife do the same? Does she think she’s better than the Blessed Virgin?

      • Barbara Fryman

        First of all, you are being purposefully obtuse. A woman wouldn’t call her husband “lord” because that is a word currently reserved for Jesus, and otherwise not in use in our day and age.

        As for the rest of what you write, I find it curious that a devout Catholic can’t understand that we are a diverse bunch whose families may look different. For heaven sake, yeah, I obey my husband when circumstances require it, but for the most part, they do not. We each have our gifts, we communicate about the ins and outs of raising a family and we love each other. Why does my husband need to assert his authority in the minutiae of life? I am an adult. Our children are the ones who need parenting. We treat one another with respect, trust and understanding. It is enough. There is no need to map out who has the most authority because we do not have a contentious relationship.

        When Paul wrote Ephesians 5, women were treated as property. When he told them to be submissive to their husbands he was also telling them that Christian men can be trusted as they will be a servant-leader as Christ himself was.

        As for “gyno-centeric” v. “penile-centeric”, I reject both. We work at keeping our marriage Christ centered.

        • Sheila C.

          The whole “who’s the center” question is so odd to me. Who was the “center” of the Holy Family? Joseph? No, obviously it was Jesus. And we do in fact model this in the Christian family — the smallest and weakest members are the ones served by the rest. Jesus spent a LOT of time trying to explain this — trying to teach his disciples to be like children and wash feet instead of jockeying for the best places at the table or the spots at the right and left hands of Jesus in the kingdom of heaven. I don’t understand how a person can be Christian and not grasp this basic point.

          • Barbara Fryman

            I am not sure I understand if you are saying the children are the center of marriage or not. I simply mean that each of us in the family, whether we have kids at home or not, needs to have Christ as the center of all our lives.

        • PGMGN

          Women used to refer to their husband as ‘my lord’. That is not the same as equating them with the Lord. But there are those who confuse the common form of address as some cowering term of a serf to overlord. (They forget Proverbs 31:10-31 telling of the Valiant woman. Translation – an excellent wife. No slave there.)

          You are absolutely correct in that a husband does not need to assert authority in the minutia of life. The husband is called to lead which translates into not micro-managing. Those who micro-manage are usually those who are incapable of leading and make their jobs impossible for everyone.

          • Barbara Fryman

            Just to clarify; My point re: use of the term “lord” is that it is not in common practice. DTM seems to wish we women behave exactly as The Virgin Mary, except for being available for sex 24/7. He is purposefully ignorant of what the church has and continues to teach about marriage and roles.

          • PGMGN

            DTM would likely have us dress in robes and sashes, too. All part of the ‘fantasy’ that has the woman bound to imitate the perfect woman without any obligation for husband’s to behave like a saint.

            Thanks for responding.

          • donttouchme

            I wouldn’t mind if a woman called me “milord” sometimes. It would be funny and also communicate respect the way I’m picturing it. “Your bourbon, Milord.” I’m definitely on board with skirts/dresses and nice long hair, too, fir the record. It’s more attractive than jeans and a buzz cut.

            Women are always wanting men to “take me as I am!” and love them regardless of their insanity, which men do. All I’m really talking about is men getting actual respect for being men, building civilization, and carrying women and children along with them while they did it. And for maintaining civilization, too, which the female sex isn’t capable of doing. You ladies don’t seem to understand that Christian and Christian-influenced men are the only thing standing between you and a burka.

          • PGMGN

            DTM, I’m a stay at home, home schooling, skirt wearing, long hair for umpty years Traditional wife and mom. That said, you do not seem to understand at all that men didn’t carry women along while ‘they’ created civilization. Women help men to reach their potential and actually give a durn about civilization by giving them something to care for and protect in the manner Our Lord has outlined. It is an exchange, dtm. If you do not understand that then you will likely never be called ‘milord’ except as a joke.

            That said, Christian men are called by God to respect and love and honor their wives, not treat them like slaves or hirelings. You are called to love your wives as you would love your own flesh. So don’t tout the so called attributes of men as if ‘men’ came up with these ideas of Christian living all on their own.

            The guidelines came from God Almighty, my friend, not from the ‘He-man-woman-haters-club’ as did the helpmate that can help you to carry out God’s commands. Wise Christian men understand this and do not tout their male horn that would otherwise lead them straight back to Sodom.

          • donttouchme

            Right, by merely existing and being desirable to men, women contributed just as much to civilization as men, and men really don’t deserve any special respect. I Heard it before, from “traditionally-minded” women and hardcore feminists alike. Actually I read that exact same idea on a secular feminist blog not long ago. It was about how interest in marriage isndeclining among men for some reason DESPITE the fact, she wrote, that marriage has made men wealthier (essentially by making them work way harder than they would otherwise need to work). So that’s the basic principle. Women and children are a burden a man accepts and works to provide for and they all benefit: “But don’t go thinking you’re Special, man, or deserving of any unique respect that doesn’t EQUALLY fall to the woman, even though you’re the motor pushing the entire setup. A woman, just for existing, gets half the credit.” Even traditional women are infected with feminism.

          • PGMGN

            You obviously do not have a woman in your life, dtm, and likely will not until you learn to respect yourself. (Remember, man is called to love his wife as he loves his own flesh.) It is by virtue of a woman that you exist. That is God’s design, not mine.

            That said, you may want to look to Him for advice and find a helpmate not your twisted image of parasitic hangers-on. Try following God’s plan instead of your own angry vision of what He meant just because you’re bitter and uninformed.

            You may not believe it, but the fruits of home and family are quite a motivation, DTM, and a comfort worthy of love and respect. Don’t let anger blind you to that which God Himself intended you to have for your own benefit. Accent on benefit.

          • donttouchme

            The whole point is that the fruits of home and family are diminished and unreliable today, SO for a lot of men they are insufficient motivation. This isn’t hard to understand. “Parasitic hangers-on” is your phrase, not mine. But it’s absurd to say that men aren’t the source and sustainers of civilization, and it’s tragic that women today are too proud and deluded to recognize that.

          • PGMGN

            The whole point is mutual respect in traditional roles, dtm. If the idea of a woman taking on a traditional role weren’t marketed as ‘doing nothing’ or ‘hanging on’ as you so disgustingly put it – a man supposedly interested in living Godly principles – then women who have more options today wouldn’t be afraid of relying on someone like…. well, you.

            You may not like the term parasitic hangers-on, but how else to understand YOUR words, dtm:

            “…Women and children are a burden a man accepts and works to provide for and they all benefit.”

            Newsflash for you is that men are a burden to a woman, too, in ways you cannot comprehend. In a society increasingly bent on showing women what they can be without a man and children, positions such as yours only cement the narrative that only a fool would sign over her youth, beauty, freedom, and self respect to be attached to a man who expected her to be his perpetual ego booster.

            For while men may go out to build, they won’t do diddly unless properly motivated. Just look at the video game generation, living with mom and dad, having fun with the guys and having sex when he can get a woman dumb enough to lower her standards. Feminism is a fruit of men not looking to their job of being Godly husbands, for if there was no disparity between the way men behaved and the way women should be treated, there would have been no rejection of family life. Satan tempts the man to behave like a tyrant or idiot as a reward for his so-called headship and then tempts the woman with the seeming good of ditching him.

            So keep pointing to Eve and saying it is the fault of the woman YOU gave me. It’s an old story, dtm. And one that won’t change until men also pick up the mantle of true headship, not mindless dictatorship that is anything but the example of Christ. What is tragic is that men such as yourself in order to seek an imagined superiority refuse to claim your part in the breakdown – even though you are supposedly such good leaders.

            In other words, dtm, the crew has mutinied, every last one? Gosh. Now there’s no one to man the ship. A good leader would find the means to at least lure back the crew if only to save himself, not raise a fist at the retreating boats and say it is all your fault you proud, proud sailors. I am a leader. Now that is absurd. And that is what you’re attempting to portray in your self-defeating narrative.

          • donttouchme

            You’re just absolutely bent on placing woman at the center of everything. But she isn’t. Sorry that offends your pride. Men and women aren’t equal in the natural order. Women are objectively “hangers-on” as you disgustingly put it. I do understand why you would want men to lure back the mutineering women with supplication and submissiveness. It fits with your other nonsense. But men are willing to let the ship of civilization sink. They really aren’t too worried about it for themselves. It’s women who really stand to lose. You’re deluded. You should humble yourself and accept your place in the world.

          • PGMGN

            If you truly desire women to humble themselves then set the example by humbly submitting to God’s will for man, dtm. Lead already. Humble yourself before the reality that God Almighty gave man a helpmate because it is not good for man to be alone. Despite your absurd take on life, God is at the center of His plan that needs to be followed if mankind is to be truly happy and fruitful. You are only hurting yourself by clinging to this it’s-their-fault mentality. True leaders take accountability when things fall apart.

            A ‘leader’ who doesn’t recognize that he would be nothing without followers who support him is deluded. A leader is actually shown by the way in which he attracts others to follow. That is why actions speak louder than words. That is why your comment regarding men being willing to let the ship of civilization sink is so telling. Men need help in remaining motivated to civilize themselves. That may be why Our Lord gave us the plan.

            So go ahead and sink yourself, dtm. You’ll be the leader of your own demise. As for me, I’ve been faithfully married for 27 years to an exceedingly traditional man, one that has learned the wisdom of leading in a Christ-like manner. Often without, yours truly, having to utter a word as the fall out of poor leadership and/or boorish behavior is self evident.

            Call that feminism if you’d like. I call it learning to be a true leader. God bless you in your endeavor to find a life partner.

          • donttouchme

            If men need incentives to do their singular work, which is something I’ve said iver and over in these threads, then let’s follow Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3. Also Your Joan of Arc fantasy is completely misguided.

          • PGMGN

            When men refuse to lead or insist on being poor leaders then women will rise to fill the empty places out of necessity. So remove the need dtm instead of seeking excuses by blaming those you seemingly believe are beneath you. That’s cowardice and the negation of:

            “…Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

            So I’m not sure where you get the Joan of Arc fantasy narrative, except perhaps as a fallback to assuage your own pride, dtm. The message is men need to behave as men and women need to behave as women and respect the tasks that each are called to perform, not so rudely deride the female sex as to provoke rebellion which is no leadership, dtm.

            Again, set the standard of humility. Unless, of course you are an unbeliever that needs to be convinced of the value of the Word. If, however, you already are of the Word and still behave like a boor you’ll be the one with trouble.

            God bless.

            p.s. You may not want to dismiss St. Joan of Arc…. If anything, let her be your inspiration to become a true and benevolent leader.

          • donttouchme

            We’re Catholics. We all need conversion. I’m thinking of the quiet and gentle spirit that had been excised by our “strong, independent women.” The female sex is beneath the male sex in the natural order. It is the “weaker vessel.” Women today don’t understand that, even traditional women like you who insist on parity with men, somehow, some way. I humbly accept that man is superior to woman in the natural order. Do you?

          • PGMGN

            When did I say that I wasn’t the weaker vessel, dtm? I do not insist on parity with men in the realm of what men are called to do and be. (If I did I wouldn’t be married 27 years.) But neither do I give men a complete pass for the mess of modern society. The anti-Christian demeaning of all that women are called to be and the contributions women make in the establishment of civilization is very much responsible for giving cause for rebellion, dtm. Do not provoke. And yet men very much did and still do as evidenced by your prideful posts.

            That said, you do not humbly submit to the reality that your so called superiority lends itself to your duty to die for woman even as Christ died for His Church. Your heel crushing attitude is hardly that, dtm. You do not submit to God and God’s plan in that attitude, dtm, which is why your testosterone fueled proclamation of male superiority is empty – for it is not based on that which God calls leaders to be.

            As for being weaker in the natural order, obviously females are weaker. I surely am. That’s why NFL teams typically won’t allow women on the team, even though society pressures would have them lower standards to allow women to play. Same reason why I think it is absolutely foolishness to insert women on the front lines in the military. It is a negation of the natural order.

            You are a very confusing individual seemingly bent on being slighted and marginalized. God bless you and good luck to you with that attitude. But you should know you are not setting a very good example for those you are seemingly called to lead, dtm.

          • donttouchme

            You do insist on parity with men in the natural order “somehow, some way” which is what I said. Though you have to read through your obfuscation to see it. It isn’t anti-Christian or demeaning to point out that man is the source of civilization. It is anti-Christian and demeaning to say that women are equal to men in the natural order (even “somehow, some way”) or that man isn’t the source of civilization. It demeans both sexes. It isn’t “so-called” superiority (further evidence of obfuscation). It isn’t “seemingly” called to lead; it’s a natural fact. It doesn’t have to meet certain conditions to exist. It is what it is. It isn’t a heel-crushing attitude. Maybe it feels that way because you’re defending a lie. I could probably say the same thing in sweeter words, but it’s still the same thing and you’d still come up against it because it’s the essential tenet of feminism. You can mix and match and pick and choose all the superficial aspects of feminism like the immorality of abortion, contraception, even women’s suffrage, as long as you don’t violate the essential principle, the lie of equality of the sexes. No man I know denies his obligation to die for woman like Christ died for His Church. The problem is that even that is now filtered through a gynocentric, feminist lens. The contributions women made to founding civilization are principally biological. They had kids, bonded with them, and kept them alive through infancy and childhood. That’s not civilization. That’s the continuation of the human race on a biological level. Civilization is patriarchy, basically. Patriarchy, therefore FATHERS, therefore MEN, are the active ingredient.

          • $1028912

            Question — what is your definition of “feminism?”
            It seems to be something along the lines of, “failure to acknowledge male superiority.”

          • $1028912

            You’re right, I don’t understand this — but it’s probably because I’m no “lady.”

  • jenny

    Excellent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Did it ever occur to you that the reason obedience hasn’t come up in your relationship, is because obedience isn’t quite what you thought and you are ALREADY as obedient as is necessary?

  • The superiority of love applies to the whole law, not just the teaching that wives must obey their husbands; let’s not be deceptively partial in our application of that.

    And I also find it very deceiving when people refer to this as “The Ephesians 5” thing, as if that’s the only place it’s found, and if we could only refute that, we’d be done with it. It’s also 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 11, The Council of Trent, Leo XII Immortale Dei, Casti Connubi, Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (just to name a few)


    Why folks have such a difficult time with the hierarchy of family is interesting as we do not seem to have the same difficulty when it comes to taking a job out in the world. That is, there are many times that we know a better way than our boss, and we often express that, but when it gets down to it, the boss makes the decision and we go with it. Sometimes the bosses way surprises us. Everything rolls on smoothly. At other times, when things don’t turn out that well, the boss, if he/she is a good boss that wants what is best for the company (what he’s paid for) will look again at our suggestions when decision time rolls around. That is the boss learns how to be a better boss and take advantage of those assets within reach, including the very solid advise of trusted subordinates.

    That’s all Our Lord is asking of us. To work in unison, each respecting the role of the other, not lording it over each other, but looking to benefit the whole project.

    Much goes wrong, however, when bosses let their position go to their head and look to their egos instead of their actual duty. The same thing occurs when those in a subordinate/advisory role tear down the boss for purposes of ego, not really motivated for the good of the whole. That is wanting to assert their intellectual superiority in a given instance instead of teaching subordinates that sometimes making mistakes will teach the group more about working as a team than fighting over who gets to play chief. But much like the ‘submission’ we offer our bosses, wives submit to their husbands for good reason and personal gain as rowing a boat in opposite directions makes for little progress.

    • Barbara

      I don’t think you can compare the two. One obeys a superior in a job situation because the superior has more experience and has been in the field longer. But take a man and a woman, of equal age, intelligence and education level who marry. What is it about masculinity that automatically puts the man in the superior position? I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to that question. I know that the natural instinct of love is to serve, and I have no issues about serving my husband, but that’s because I love him, not because he has a Y chromosome. I think when love and grace are at the center of a marriage things tend to gravitate to the best possible setup for both involved. I just don’t think about the “who leads” question much.

      • PGMGN

        There definitely is a gravitation of the best possible setup for both individuals in marriage. No doubt. But the natural inclination for a man is to be a protector/provider. The more natural inclination for a woman, especially when children enter the picture, is that of nurturer. On some occasions it doesn’t work out this way. But at some point in every marriage, there has to be a delineation of leadership and or agreed upon cooperation.

        As grace builds upon nature and the natural arrangement usually tends to see women pregnant and bearing children, not men, this would leave the man responsible for providing. Protecting. The woman, in the natural order of things, would be the one caring for the children. That’s not a diminution of your dignity in any way. Not at all.

        That said, one does not obey a superior in a job situation because they are more experienced or have been in the field longer. that is an ideal. If that is your only experience with bosses, however, then you haven’t been out in the work force long enough or haven’t had to take a position where you actually know more than the boss and often have a higher IQ. That happens quite often. One obeys their boss because that is the nature of the relationship they have entered into and they obey in order to maintain order and get paid.

        But it does abrade one’s pride to have to obey one that is not as experienced or one who is less experienced or capable. That’s why I advise young women to court those men that they can look up to, respect, rely upon (not like a child), but marry a man who will enable you to take the role of wife and not have to compete or, at some point, take on the role of being mother to your husband as well as your kids. The more children you have the more annoying and exhausting that becomes.

        That said, don’t let your husband’s Y chromosome upbraid your sensibilities too much. If he didn’t have one, you’d have no marriage right now. It’s about complementary roles and working with the nature God gave us. Not the stumbling block of modern pride that gets an increasing amount of women lamenting over why men won’t behave like men anymore.

  • LiveOaksandSpanishMoss

    Yes!! The only times my very feminist husband has pulled the obey card are when I decide to not take care of myself, and he insists I do. This post was so on point. The whole wifely submission thing often leads to a one size fits all solution, as if we just take a pill to instantly fix our marriage. Turns out, reality is much more complicated. Much of the time, what’s called for is inconvenient, time consuming communication.

  • catholic apologist

    The challenge (it seems) is in identifying (and aggreeing upon) what “male headship” is, rather than what it is not.

    Or put another way,

    When searching for something….anything, knowing what it IS, seems more critical than knowing what it is not………

    “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments”


  • Tammy Ruiz

    Primacy of authority is a HUGE responsibility and anyone with it needs to have their priorities in proper order. When I was married to my late husband, I was pretty submissive which worked well until he got to a place where neither I nor the marriage nor family was a high priority to him. Allowing him to maintain decisional authority would have wreaked havoc. I was morally obligated to mutany (and I did).

  • afrosam

    Two things.
    2) I can’t help but notice the image of Animala on the right side of your blog. under the “Donate” button. Never noticed it before. Nice.

    That’s right… I have absolutely nothing productive to add to this conversation. God bless!

    • afrosam

      tip tip tip tip tip tip

  • Denki Demuerto

    Taking marriage advice from a celibate first century Jew? Paul is the last person you want to take marriage advice from.