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Apr 4

To love, cherish and obey

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2011 in Marriage, Men, Relationships, Women

“So, do you think she’ll say it?” Sara said to me as we sipped our iced teas after a long ride out to West Marin.

It was a typical Sara out-of-the-blue comment. “She who, say what?”

“Kate! That she’ll ‘obey’ Prince William.”

“Oh. Well, you said it, didn’t you?”

“Of course I didn’t! Don’t you remember my wedding at all?”

I do remember her wedding, of course. It was in the mountains, we wore tie-dye and hiking boots, there was no wedding cake (although there were a lot of pot brownies, so no wonder why my memory might be a little fuzzy) and Sara and her now-ex, John, had written their own vows, as so many of us did in those post-first-wave feminist days.   

Including me (although my wedding to Rob was a little less bohemian).

We would have none of that “obey” stuff, and neither have a lot of women since then, including Princess Di, Prince William’s mom, when she married Price Charles. But not all of us — Sarah Ferguson, who married Prince Andrew, and Sophie Rhys-Jones, who married, Prince Edward, both promised to obey.

Is it so bad to “obey” your husband? (And you hubby types should probably not answer …)

It’s a super-bad-sounding word, for starters, one that reeks of subservience — or worse. Like abuse, according to Archbishop Rowan Williams, who’ll marry Prince William and Kate Middleton. He gave his OK to guidelines that basically said that a wife who promised to “obey” her hubby (and no a similar requirement that a hubby obeys his wife — “Yes dear” does not count!) is not only archaic, but could even be used to justify domestic violence.

And, of course, there is no way to justify that. Ever.

But its origins are more along the lines of someone having a desire to be unselfish than someone seeking power and domination or that someone (mostly women) is giving up her rights.

And so many of us — including Sara, when she was married — use words that are euphemisms to “obeying.” We “let” our hubbies have a night with the boys, or they “let” us go back to work.

Even the super-smart author (She Comes FirstIan Kerner offers advice that make me scratch my head:

You know the phrase that inside every man there’s a little boy? Actually, he’s a big dumb teenager, and if you let him go hang out with his friends every now and then, he’ll come home a better man.

“Let” him hang with his friends? I don’t want a man who wants me to let him do things — I want him to do things. Nor do I want a man who lets me do things.

Sounds a lot like “obey” instead of “healthy relationship.”

I want a relationship in which he and I both understand, embrace, respect and encourage relationships and activities outside the “we.”

Is that so hard?

Of course, I have no problem with a man who wants to obey my every wish and desire. Any takers?

  • Do you have a problem with a spouse “obeying”?
    Did you say the word “obey” in your vows?
  • Do you say you’ll “let” your sweetie do something?