The Key to Successful Marriages: Submissive Wives?


Marriage isn’t easy. And there are a million books on the shelves at Barnes and Noble telling us that marriage is easier if we recognize that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and we need to be multilingual in love languages

We also know that celebrities are really good at using their fame to share their own life stories, including the trials and tribulations of marriage. They write books about their personal brink-of-divorce revelations and the wisdom they reached on the other side. Whether or not those stories provide tips that are actually based in any sort of clinically proven theory practiced by marriage counselors doesn’t seem to make a difference.

One such book has recently popped up in the news, mainly for a particular comment made by the author. In her book “My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper,” volleyball star and model Gabrielle Reece shares the marital challenges she faced with her husband, professional surfer Laird Hamilton, and how they were able to work their way back to each other after filing for divorce. She believes that her marriage improved in part due to the fact that she and her husband adopted more traditional gender roles.

So what is Reece saying that’s causing so much buzz?

To be truly feminine means being soft and receptive and look out, here it comes, submissive.
Submissive. That’s not exactly a word I would use to describe the role I expect to play in my marriage. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership, and I’m not so sure how a partnership can be successful when one half of that duo is submissive.

In an interview with Natalie Morales on the Today show, Reece claims that being submissive in a marriage is a sign of power, not weakness. My first instinct when I read this was, wow, everything about the word submissive implies a relinquishing of power. How is that good for a marriage when a wife is being “unresistingly or humbly obedient” to her husband? Shouldn’t man and wife have equal footing? Why should either partner have power in a relationship?

Watching the actual interview gave me a better idea of what she was trying to get across, but I’m still not sure I’m completely on board with her theory.

“I think the idea of living with a partner is ‘How can I make their life better?’” Reece said. “So if I’m the woman and he’s the man, then yes, that’s the dynamic. I’m willing and I choose to serve my family and my husband because it creates a dynamic where he is then in fact acting more like a man and masculine and treating me the way I want to be treated."

Okay, I’ll buy into that reasoning. Don’t we all want to help make our spouses’ lives better? And don’t we want that in return? But does that necessarily mean that women have to be the ones to be submissive and serve their husbands before they can get their needs met?

Maybe it all boils down to the fact that marriage is about figuring out your spouse’s wants and needs and trying to fulfill them. Maybe Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton realized how they best compliment each other, and they’re both cool with the roles they’ve created in their marriage, including the submissive wife and the husband who communicates “through food and through sex.”

That clearly works for her. Would that work for you? What do you think of Reece’s statement about being submissive?

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