Friday, May 27, 2011

Ladies, would you "obey"? Fellas, do you really need us to?


A girlfriend of mine is getting married for the first time at the age of 46. So she dated for 30 years prior to finding Mr. Seriously Right. In that time, she has lived alone. Paid her own bills. Set her own rules. Purchased her own cars and homes. Made all the decisions for her life unilaterally. One of the struggles in their relationship has been her "reprogramming" herself to be inclusive, respectful and receptive to him.

When you are used to answering to no one but yourself, it takes a minute (for both men and women) to remember to call when you're going to be late, purchase an extra six-pack of bottled water, ask someone's opinion on your vacation time, talk over how to handle the holidays and learning to share the remote (and the bed and the bathroom!).

But this week while planning the wedding ceremony, they came across one of those "interesting" moments. The pastor asked if they wanted "traditional" vows. They both said yes and then paused. "Wait, what do you mean?" These are the vows he presented to them:
Male
I, _____, take you, ______, to be my wedded wife. With deepest joy I receive you into my life that together we may be one. As is Christ to His body, the church, so I will be to you a loving and faithful husband. Always will I perform my headship over you even as Christ does over me, knowing that His Lordship is one of the holiest desires for my life. I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion, my tenderest care. I promise I will live first unto God rather than others or even you. I promise that I will lead our lives into a life of faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Ever honoring God's guidance by His spirit through the Word, And so throughout life, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a loving and faithful husband. 
Female
I, _____, take you, ______, to be my wedded husband. With deepest joy I come into my new life with you. As you have pledged to me your life and love, so I too happily give you my life, and in confidence submit myself to your headship as to the Lord. As is the church in her relationship to Christ, so I will be to you. _____, I will live first unto our God and then unto you, loving you, obeying you, caring for you and ever seeking to please you. God has prepared me for you and so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you. Therefore, throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as an obedient and faithful wife.
They both kind of winced [that "headship" is hard to take in] and decided to write their own vows. But he really wanted her to keep in all the "obedience" parts. She chafed and wanted him to add in a section about "ever seeking to please" her. They decided to peel back why they felt so strongly about these things. It's going to take a little bit of discussion.

So I ask you, Bougieland... Ladies, will you (did you) put "obey" in your wedding vows? Gents, do you need to hear it?  What do you think of these traditional vows? Would you (did you) write your own instead? Do tell... the floor is yours.

72 comments:

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

Sometimes I will Say things and they will happen.  Sometimes she will say things and they will happen.  It's the power of superior logic or a more persuasive argument.  *shrugs* 

If you out here insisting for Obeying....you got the game horribly twisted. I will pray for you. 

Lady Ngo said...

Oh, i definitely made the conscious decision years ago that that "obey" nonsense would not be in my vows. And if my hubby-to-be is insisting that it is in there, we obviously need to have a big discussion before we take that walk. 
In life, I am not always going to default to what my husband says. That's ridiculous. I have my own mind and that doesn't just fly out of the window because we got married.

tishatweets said...

This is one of those important-to-have-way-before-the-wedding conversations. I don't have a problem with the word "obey" as long as he and I are clear on what it means and, perhaps more importantly, what it does not mean.

For me, it's important that we have clarity on what Godly submission means since, in my mind, that's where this "obey" verbiage enters. I will submit to a Godly man all day long, given that he understands there is a level of submission for him, too. That me submitting to you does not mean that you wield your God-given position as some sort of testosterone inflated tyrant. That it does not mean you make decisions in unilateral form, or expect me to jump at your command. And he needs to know that once you get in these streets and start acting a fool, making bad decisions that put everything about us at risk, and start to look more like Lucifer and less like God? You will lose not only my submission but also my respect--and any man worth anything knows that once you lose a woman's respect the relationship is done but for the doing.

Having said all this, though, I'm likely going to tirelessly campaign for us to write our own vows next time. Lol.

Mykeia said...

Good question again!
My first wedding ceremony was a civil service and due to my husband's sense of humor at the end I do not recall the vows.  We held a re-commitment ceremony 11 years later and wrote our own vows which were so much more meaningful and there was no mention of obey, just love and trust, etc.
Language is so loaded, and the words obey and obedience are at the top of the list in my opinion.  Do away with the words in the ceremony--the new princess Catherine just did at age 29 BREAKING  over 200 years of tradition.

L.P. said...

As a catholic, our vows go something like this::"Groom: I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife. I promise to be true
to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love
you and honor you all the days of my life.
Bride: I, (name), take you, (name), to be my husband. I promise to be
true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will
love you and honor you all the days of my life.

So the "obey" doesn't really come into play... But in my opinion, "obey" could mean "honor" and "respect"... The idea being that there should be an understanding that when the situation calls for it, only one decision maker's opinion would be followed... Each member of the couple shares their opinions and they try to reach a consensus. In the case a consensus can be reached and a decision still has to be made, someone will have to make that decision... I usually think the person with the most expertise in whatever subject it is should pull the trigger and the other should follow suit even if begrudgingly. But that''s an extreme case IMO... In real life, most intelligent adults who want to grow and flourish together will be able to reach a consensus 95% of the time... The other 5% one would have to trust the "decision maker" to lead them where needs be. That's what marriage is about, isn't it?

CaliGirlED said...

"That me submitting to you does not mean that you wield your God-given
position as some sort of testosterone inflated tyrant. That it does not
mean you make decisions in unilateral form, or expect me to jump at your
command. And he needs to know that once you get in these streets and
start acting a fool, making bad decisions that put everything about us
at risk, and start to look more like Lucifer and less like God? You
will lose not only my submission but also my respect--and any man worth
anything knows that once you lose a woman's respect the relationship is
done but for the doing."....This is what I'm talking about!

And also this, "I don't have a problem with the word "obey" as long as he and I are
clear on what it means and, perhaps more importantly, what it does not mean"

Rob said...

I don't need to hear the word obey, it's not going to happen anyway. Double up on the honor and respect, I'm all good.

blackprofessor said...

I have no problem saying the obedience vow as long as he says the same. I expect to have a relationship with mutual deference where I defer to him on some situations and he defers to me on some situations.
IMO, this has to do with trust. If I trust that you have common sense, that you have my back and really do have OUR best interest at heart then I can trust you to make decisions that you may be more knowledgeable in.   I fully expect my future hubby to do the same for me.  

CaliGirlED said...

Good answer, Good answer!

tiffanyinhouston said...

My uncle married us and we used traditional vows (because I ran out of time to write any) that were similar to the ones LP mentions in her post. They did not contain the word obey at all. But in all seriousness, even if they did, I probably wouldn't have cared because I know who I married. He's not crazy, he knows that he wouldn't get very far telling me to obey him. The furthest he'd get would probably be the couch.

CaliGirlED said...

If a man insists on the word obey because it's "biblical", then I expect him to "perform my headship over you even as Christ does over me, knowing that
His Lordship is one of the holiest desires for my life. I promise you my
deepest love, my fullest devotion, my tenderest care. I promise I will
live first unto God rather than others or even you. I promise that I
will lead our lives into a life of faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Ever
honoring God's guidance by His spirit through the Word, And so
throughout life, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my
life as a loving and faithful husband."

I have no problem submitting to a man who has my best interest at heart. Who will love, honor, respect and protect me above ALL others. Who in his decision making consults me, before all others, taking into account my thoughts and feelings, and then deciding what's best. A lot of men don't realize the great responsibility that comes with someone truly submitting to them and trusting them with their lives. It's not about power, it's about RESPONSIBILITY. I am confident that me and Mr. Seriously Right will be in agreement on this because his proposal and my acceptance will be wrapped up in this premise.

You promise, I promise, we're all good!

Man's World said...

Those vows are a little hardcore, I would write my own as well. Words like obey and submit just tend to get folks riled up. I'd go kinder, gentler.

maureen palmer said...

I'm a big proponent of folks writing their own vows. Something about the above vows  that seem very 15th century. Obey and respect should be a two way street among many things.

Jubilance said...

I'm not big on tradition in general, and I'm very uncomfy with the connotations that "obey" bring to mind. But as @tishatweets noted, a convo about the verbage of the wedding vows & what those vows truly mean & how they will manifest in the marriage should be had before it comes time to actually decide on the vows. But I'm sure that's easier said than done.

maureen palmer said...

L.P. , thanks, I'm  Catholic too and I knew the above vows  sounded different.

Pure Choco said...

When I was engaged (whole other BougieTale), my pastor gave us a choice of 5 vows, this set was one of them and we rejected them immediately. We wrote our own - not that it mattered, he broke half the vows during the engagement period anyway. :-/

SingLikeSassy said...

Obey was not in my wedding vows. But then we didn't use traditional wedding vows either and we're more spiritual than religious, so those vows up there would never have worked for us with that Lordship this and that going on.

Our vows talked about respect, laughter, support, friendship, commitment. I actually pulled them out last year to remind my cheating husband what he had promised and vowed to me in front of our friends and family.

I think in any marriage there times when one mate will take the lead because in that particular area, they bring expertise or experience, but why would any adult need to obey another adult? But hey, if they like it I love it, it just aint for me and mine.

Kim said...

Although  i beleive in husband headship,  obey in marriage vows is a bit archaic. I could go for traditional vows with a little modern remix.

CaliSlim said...

This right here! Perfectly said, Soror!

Gods_Man said...

Oh Bougieland, how I have missed you during my work-induced hiatus.I think that these 2 sets of vows, when taken together, complement each other as God expects us to.  If the man is submitting himself to God and displaying that submission through his love, honor and service to his wife what is the problem with submitting to him.  He has shown that he has your best interest at heart.  He recognizes that he is ultimatly accountable to God for where he leads the family and he approaches that with due reverance.  Could you obey a man who sees his headship in the correct way?When we went through counseling with out Pastor years ago he made it very clear that, over a long period of time (12 months) what being a husband means biblically.  He did the same for my bride.  We both understood what it meant and the gravity of getting married.  It is not for the weak...So it was in our vows and we strive to live up to what we promised to each other.

CorettaJG said...

This.^^^

And the breakdown of the scripture (and several books on the topic), is that men need respect, women need love.

When you're dealing with a team things are fine when you agree, but when you disagree there has to be some mechanism to break the tie.  Ultimately, I've got to be able to trust the God in Him (that's why I personally must have a man who has real relationship with the Lord, a disciple, not a casual visitor).  And if he's doing his "servanthood" part right, things should be balanced. (i.e. he's getting up to check strange noises in the dark or treading water after the Titanic sinks so I can have the floating piece of wood, and I'm closing my mouth after I've said my piece and praying about it when he says we can't get the house I think we're ready for).

Jasmin said...

I've never heard these vows, but I wouldn't use them--they're too stuffy to me. I think it would be nice for me and the man to write our own vows, but he's a published author so I don't think mine would be good enough! Lenny/Ninja Nouveau, what do you think? ;-)

OneChele said...

Welcome back!

CaliGirlED said...

"And if he's doing his "servanthood" part right, things should be
balanced. (i.e. he's getting up to check strange noises in the dark or
treading water after the Titanic sinks so I can have the floating piece
of wood, and I'm closing my mouth after I've said my piece and praying
about it when he says we can't get the house I think we're ready for)."...All day long!!!

Major props for the Titanic reference! I love that movie!

Expresso said...

May I submit that the Bible too was changed, revised, re- written to meet the cultural, political, hierarchal needs of the society and power structure.

But obey for me would mean following and adhering to mutually established rule, gudelines for my union with my husband and household.

Angel Blanca said...

Those are not the traditional vows I've heard before, but of course I've never been married either. When I do wed, and I will, I don't mind saying I will love, honor, and obey, but those sentiments--those vows--will refer to the union. I will love, honor, and obey the union, those tangible and intangible commitments we've made to each other and to our union. That, I believe, would be sufficient.

If asked by my mate to say anything other, then I would hope I was open to the request, that my perspective was considered, and there was reciprocity in the vows we take toward each other.

Many if the vows we hear about come from a culture and time when women were little more than property and considered only in relation to the men in her life (father, husband, other male relatives). Women could not enter into contracts, hold property, etc. The vows based upon those societal constructs, so we need to communicate well in advance about what they mean in modern constructs, particularly given many women are self-sufficient prior to entering into marriages.

Ruth said...

We vowed to "love, honor, and cherish." In the traditional Anglican service, which used with a few modifications, that's a traditional male version of the "love, honor, and obey." My husband said he didn't want "headship" or obedience, just partnership and we agreed that cherishing sounded like what we really wanted from each other. We also kept in the "with my body I thee worship" because that's hot.

(also, I don't know what tradition he's coming from, but the traditional Anglo-Catholic vows, which are much older and which are the basis for a lot of other denominations' vows, are quite different...)

Bethany Showell said...

Should I ever marry (shudder) any sort of traditional vow wouldn't be appealing.  Nor would "obey".  I don't "do" religion, so something offbeat would suit me best.  And as for the invisible S.O. I'm assuming we would have covered all that before we go to that point and he would agree with the non-traditional take on vows.

sol_dier said...

I submit to no one but God. period.
The obey vows were written when women were pretty much treated like chattel property.

The way I see it is this: If I chose to share my life with you, it means we have reached a place of mutual respect, understanding and indeed support of each others goals, spirit and well being.
It doesn't matter to me how invested anyone is in any religious text, YOU are still human, thus fallible. 
To me marriage is a partnership, not a second childhood. I can't imagine being with anyone who would seriously consider having me obey them.

Why is it that most of the time, it seems society looks for ways to subjugate and regress women into a childlike state. I find it quite scary. 

JohnKinPDX said...

I consider myself old school but these vows are a little Victorian even for me. I want to write my own and say things like : I'll listen to you even if it's game 6 of the NBA finals. I'll try not to fall asleep right after stirring the cocoa. She can say things like: I'll never ask you if I look fat in these jeans. I'll laugh at your jokes even when I've heard them 237 times. Now that's reality.

DesertBlack said...

Well said!

thinklikeRiley said...

Two words: Vegas. Drivethru.
Think I won't?
Nip all dat lengthy-azz vow ish right there.

Leon X said...

"You know, when you say your marriage vows, they're supposed to be for real. I mean...
if you think back about what you really said, you know, about, honor and loving and
obeying till death do us part and all. But it shouldn't be that way, it should...it
should, it shouldn't be lies because it turns out to be lies. If you don't honor what
you said, you lie to God. The words should be changed." --Marvin Gaye

Grace said...

I want to shout out your friend for sticking with it and finding The One after all this time!

JaymeC said...

I have all my pre-marital couples write out their vows, even if they don't use them at the ceremony. I want them to know what they are promising each other and to cosign each others' thoughts.

C Nelson said...

I won't promise to obey. I didn't in my first marriage (which means that even as a dumb twenty-year-old with a newborn I wasn't that hormonal, depressed, or sleep-deprived!)  and it's already been discussed and dismissed this time around too. Nor, at either event, would I allow myself to be "given away". A woman is her own until she gives herself, and when she takes herself back, she's her own again. I never belonged to my parents, and I don't own my children -- the attitude that children and wives are possessions is what brings us things like that mother trying to sell her 13-yr-old daughter's virginity to some man, fathers pledging to "guard" their nubile, cleavage-baring daughters' "purity" at purity weddings, and far too many other abusive or just plain creepy situations. Pledge love, faithfulness (defined however you two define it) and mutual support instead, and have done.

C Nelson said...

 You'll actually listen during game 6 of the finals? 'Cause, y'know, that's a promise before God, and all.  Be realistic.  ;)

SingLikeSassy said...

When did you stop loving me, when did I stop loving you?

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

i've never heard this version of the vows...but. so long as the people taking them, understand the gravity of the words spoken, i have no problem with 'em.

for me, a guy, trying to be a better Christian man (no i aint perfect, no one on this Earth Surface is, just work with the kid) but i would take being the 'headship' as...someone that is thinking and operating with the best interest of the unit. if the decision needs to be made that is that the wife wanted in the first place, and that's the best course to go, then wouldn't it be my obligation, nay, it would be part of my vow, to go with that decision, right? i'm not going to be right 100% of the time, and i will need to depend on my wife to help me on what i don't know. that being said, if i am right, i'mma need to her to respect that, and roll with the decision, and not try to undermine it. in essence, both egos (husband's and wife's) need to be in check, IMO in order to fulfill the vows.


but thats just my non-married, super single opinion. *shrug*

OneChele said...

"super single" <~~ been there.

OneChele said...

Not the Vegas Drivethru?!

OneChele said...

*snickers* Good luck with those.

OneChele said...

A friend of mine used "with my body I thee worship, solely and completely" and had him add the same clause. Umm-Hmm.

jake said...

I like vows that make sense. That are keepable.

Nicole said...

Especially these Heat vs Mavericks finals. King Le Bron and Miami#winning

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Gotta agree with Riley on this one. I'm a 'straight to the point' girl myself. I don't even gush over the whole wedding planning shebang the way some other girls/women do (it's more like I'm ready to run for the damn hills!).

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Sorry, I hear 'obey' and images of meek pink, blue, yellow and/or green dress wearing long-haired-wives-following-behind-their-husband comes to mind. Even my dog has a mind of her own,man, and we've learned to compromise on certain things.

Then again, I'm coming from a background where marriages either 1) failed, 2) continued for decades with 24/7 misery or 3) never happened and Ol' Boy bounced with babies in his wake, so let's say that my opinion is far from unbiased.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

"Pledge love, faithfulness (defined however you two define it) and mutual support instead, and have done." - I can get behind this.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

:( *hug*

Nicole said...

Hi, fellow Catholic!

GrownAzzMan said...

Until I saw it with my own eyes I thought the Vegas Drivethru thing was a myth. SMH

Stank_0 said...

I'm more concerned with the other side of that "obey" part, the leading.  Heavy is the crown and all that. Being the "leader" is an enormous responsibility. It's not a dictatorship more an oligarchy power is collected in a few hands (two).

What concerns me with marriage is will I be an effective leader?

JAMES MCCOY said...

The lady needs to stay single and keep it moving,in the wise words of a old man,"what you see is what you get"!

AndreaPlaid said...

Thanks for clarifying this, L.P. I've been a Baptist most of my life before converting to Catholicism then finally settling into Buddhism.  In my time, I've never heard wedding vows stated as in the OP. (I've heard the word "obey" in wedding vows, yes. But again, not like in the OP.) Which Protestant faith(s) do(es) these vows come from?

AndreaPlaid said...

I'm going to risk sounding unbougie (and OneChele may throw me in Bougie Jail for this): unless I'm a dominatrix marrying my sub and my new partner and I want to acknowledge that aspect in our wedding vows...then no on the word "obey." 

As other commenters said, the word "obey" institutionalized in marriage vows--especially from a woman going into a hetero marriage--comes from a time, as Angel Blanca perfectly stated, "culture and time when women were little more than property and considered only in relation to the men in her life (father, husband, other male relatives). Women could not enter into contracts, hold property, etc.". And, as others have stated, that "obey" word can come back and bite those who utter that word in the booty, like when a man starts screaming that his wife promised to "obey" him if she confronts him about an affair and he tells her to shut up about it.  I've seen quite a few pastor's/elder's/deacon's wife feeling stuck with her cheating spouses because they feel the need to fulfill their marital obligation to "obey." (I don't think they caught that Biblical verse of God being cool with divorce if the spouse commits infidelity, but hey...)

Reggie said...

My sister got married last Saturday, she is 47 and this is her first marriage.  She and "James" had been dating for the better part of 15 or 20 years.  Although neither has any children, they're in the process of adopting a brother and sister, the oldest is 18 months.  Their vows were short and simple, the minister did most of the talking.

I've been married for nearly 22 years and I don't think the vows really matter that much, provided you respect your significant other.  I've seen some pretty extravagant and expensive ceremonies where the two parties wrote out short story vows....and divorced 6 months later.

To me the vows are irrelevant, it is what it is.

rikyrah said...

obey?

um, no.

the only man I ever 'obeyed' was my father. if I ever get married, OBEY will be nowhere near the vows.

rozb said...

We are writing our own vows using something relevant and unique to us as a couple.

Natasha Hunter said...

#BOOM.

mutemia said...

My gut says no, even if we're both saying it. Sure there will be some things I'd defer to my hypothetical husband on and somethings he'd defer to me on.  Love, honor and respect yep, love honor and obey no bueno.  Then again I'll avoid this issue by writing my vows instead, problem solved.

Only The Tall said...

I trust God and only Him with my life, not any man on this earth. I am the only person responsible for my life and happiness and I would never let anyone have authority over me. Marriage is a partnership not a jail sentence.

Tonda Williams said...

LOVE.LOVE.LOVE this... WHY? Because I fully intend to obey the man that IS an effective leader..

Tonda Williams said...

YES I will obey and LOVE it!   

Nadette said...

the alpha female in me just tripped, stumbled and fell over the words "headship" "submit" and "obey". I'm sorry, but those are all words that are used by the dog whisperer, and the last time I  checked, we are all grown women who need not answer to the beck and call of anyone. Sorry, but new husband to be is getting an epic side eye from me right now. The commentor below hit the nail on the head about institutionalized vows being representative of a time when women were treated as property, and every cell in my body is calling BULLSHIGGITY on that. It's 2011, my president is black, and the only thing I'll vow to do when I get married is to share my life with "him" in relationship built upon mutual love and respect, and fully acknowledging of the fact that I heed to no one other than myself. ::rant over::

Nadette said...

preach!

JP Stunner said...

I have no problem putting "obey" in my vows as long as he puts "obey" in his... 

Evansaw said...

Did not have "Obey"  nowhere up in the room during my wedding.  That "Headship" thing is creepy. We are walking this path TOGETHER, I am not hardly walking ten paces behind. Seriously though, to be fair, if obey is in the vows, I think both parties should say it. I am just as worthy to be obeyed as my mate.

Evansaw said...

Eighteen years says you are right on the money, John.  That is exactly what it is. Obey is nowhere in the equation these days...

Velinda Evans said...

obey wasn't even in my vows and I put them in there. I am an old fashioned kind of girl and I believe that my husband is the head of my household, the king of my castle, and because he is the head and the king and I said yes to being with him for the rest of my life I am willing to obey him because I trust him. He will not ask me or tell me to do anything that is not good for us. He will not abuse me or use me so obeying him is not a crime. Obeying him does not degrade me or make me less of a person. Obeying him actually says I trust you and love you and I know in turn he will respect me and consult me with decisions that need to be made. We are partners but he has the final say. We are 51/49 and that's fine by me.

Lady4Real said...

obey wasn't even in my vows and I put them in there. I am an old fashioned kind of girl and I believe that my husband is the head of my household, the king of my castle, and because he is the head and the king and I said yes to being with him for the rest of my life I am willing to obey him because I trust him. He will not ask me or tell me to do anything that is not good for us. He will not abuse me or use me so obeying him is not a crime. Obeying him does not degrade me or make me less of a person. Obeying him actually says I trust you and love you and I know in turn he will respect me and consult me with decisions that need to be made. We are partners but he has the final say. We are 51/49 and that's fine by me.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

:( *hug*

NOLA_Shawn said...

I love your honest answer and I think that your opinion is very respectful of marriage - kudos to you. I am happily married and I have no problem with "obeying". I feel that someone has to be the head of our household unit and since my husband has the responsibility for taking care of us, he should have the recognition as head. I get really annoyed when people make an assertion that vows/tradition is automatically antiquated. Marriage is the cornerstone of all human societies and it is absolutely necessary that people come together and get married. Single people, please don't lose the faith.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails