Monday, August 6, 2012

A Submissive Wife?

I was surprised to learn a couple years ago that my family thinks I'm the dominant partner in my marriage.  As far as I can tell, they have two reasons for thinking this.  1) I don't let my domineering mother control me.  If she takes things too far, I push back.  Hard.  2) Physically, I resemble said domineering mother, who does wear the pants in her marriage.

It seems nowadays if you aren't a pushover who submits to any and everyone, people assume you're a typical modern woman who dominates her husband.  They don't realize that submission can be both selective and subtle.  A woman can follow her husband's leadership, while refusing to be controlled by her mother, her friend, her coworker, etc.  Her submission to her husband may not take the form of jumping to obey barked commands.  He may lead, and she may follow, without this being noticeable to an outside observer.  Really, the couple may not think of it as domination and submission at all.  He may just be the one with more of a vision, a plan for their family, their relationship, and their future.  She follows because she trusts his judgement, not because she is a frightened doormat.

Is this still truly submission, or has the term been so distorted by the extremes of the BDSM community as to be irredeemable?

I don't know.  I consider myself to be mildly submissive because I do follow my husband's lead, and I feel more comfortable and at peace when he is clearly in charge.  Would I do either BDSM or an excessive, religious version of submission that denies the woman a fair say in the course of her own life?  No.  I have too much self-respect for that.

Maybe what you call it doesn't matter as much as the fact that it works for your relationship.


  1. This post is such a breath of fresh air. It is difficult to mention submission in reference to a relationship because of the automatic idea of religion or kink. I spent more than two decades in churches trying to live out what was called a submissive wife, but it really wasn't. I believe I had tendencies all along that my husband points them out to me lately, but what I was taught by first a domineering mother (I love that term; wonder why it never occurred to me) who taught me how to use and control men, then by what I saw of the relationships in the church that were called submission. I defer to my husband's leadership within the past couple of years and we are in a much better place, but I hesitate to use the 's' word around people; some don't like it, especially some of the church ladies.
    Thanks for writing this. I'll have to stop in more often.

  2. Yes! I don't know what else to call it besides submissive, but when I talk or write about being a submissive wife, it doesn't really look quite right. I'm not a mindless drone, but our relationship works so much better if I let him take the lead... And isn't submitting to his lead "submission"? I dunno, it's all semantics, but it's such a loaded word these days.

  3. I could have written this post, too funny. I don't personally mind the term submissive, and I think it hilarious that my family views ME as the leader in my marriage! It probably starts that I too "physical resemble a domineering mother"!! But also, I am capable and I can be independent. I choose to defer to my husband and not challenge what we view as the "natural order" of a marriage. My mom challenged EVERYTHING and it was (and is) a terrible environment.