When I stumbled across TLC’s Submissive Wives’ Guide to Marriage while channel surfing over Mother’s Day weekend, I almost didn’t stop to investigate. After all, reality television shows tend to be zoological in nature: find strange or exotic people, preferably naive if at all possible, film them in their natural habitat, and televise it for the amusement of your viewing demographic.
In the American context, this means finding some rubes in flyover territory whose personal habits, religious practices, accent, social circle, or means of employment can serve as ready pablum to boost the flagging self-esteem of the urbanized, sophisticated, left-leaning cable TV viewer (e.g. A&E’s Duck Dynasty, or History’s Axe Men or Swamp People).
Fearing more of the same, I was initially reluctant to tune to the channel, but nevertheless, I did. I’m glad I watched the episode, because truth was being ladled out by the bucketful for those with eyes to see, truths that RoK readers will readily recognize and likely appreciate.
Truth #1: The optimal marriage structure features husband as leader and wife as deputy
Whether it is the dreaded “s” word (submission) or the slightly more palatable Captain and First Officer (FO) model, the hierarchy is clear: the husband is the captain of SS Family. This is not to say that the wife is a doormat—if she were, she would be a poor FO. The captain needs a capable FO who can be trusted to independently run the ship while he’s away, and a passive FO simply cannot fulfill this role.
Instead, the FO consults and advises while recognizing that the Captain has the final say. Much social science data supports this hierarchical ordering, finding that when men and women fill the traditional roles of male leader, provider, and coverer, with woman filling the roles of follower and homemaker, both men and women are happier and are more likely to report greater emotional fulfillment in their marriage and enjoy more frequent and more satisfying sex.
The concept of submission encompasses much more than just who gets the final say in decisions, and extends instead to a broader attitude of mate-centered service, care, and meeting of whatever needs one’s spouse has. The FO’s objective, her job description as it were, is the mission, and helping and supporting the captain in guiding the SS Family to that destination.
Truth #2: The job description of “wife” entails meeting your husband’s sexual needs, as well as any others he may have
One would think this would be a no-brainer, in that why would men and women marry if not to fill some otherwise unmet need? For most men, one of their primary needs is sexual fulfillment, and for some reason, the idea of having sex with their man when he wants it seems to be either a complete surprise, or worse, borderline repulsive to many wives or would-be wives.
This is a significant yet completely avoidable error, for not only does scripture inveigh against regularly denying yourself sexually to your spouse, but the evidence suggests that women who do so interfere with getting their own relational needs met as well. In other words, not only should she “give it up” because it is best for her husband, but she should do so because it is in her own interests as well, even if she doesn’t feel like at the time.
Truth #3: Male self-improvement efforts to become better leaders are value-added
In the episode, one husband advises another that a man must “give his wife something to submit to,” as an enabler, if not exactly a precondition of her submission. This counsel, while quite contra-Biblical from a theological standpoint, is beneficial nonetheless.
A man who is focused on improving himself harnesses the forces of hypergamy in his favor, and by extension, becomes someone to whom a woman would more willingly submit. Thus advice such as “get a job,” “get in and stay in shape,” “acquire hobbies,” “dress better,” and “clean up a little” take on greater utility.
Since men are the gatekeepers of commitment and, if fathers, the parent capable of granting to their wives and children the gift of civilization, you, my male readers, are the prize. So develop yourself to the utmost as the captain of your ship so that you respect yourself and (as a nice side effect) your crew finds it easier and more “natural” to respect and follow you.
Truth #4: Wives should be shovelling the gravel too
Let us return to the wife who shared the marital bed more often with the labrador than with the husband. As the stay-at-home-spouse with school-age children attending public school, there was no apparent excuse for the family home to be in the disarray shown in the episode. Yet it was.
Soiled clothes were everywhere and family meals a rarity, despite (or perhaps caused by) the fact that the wife slept long hours as a general rule, ruminated frequently on the couch for hours on end, was unconcerned about her appearance and fitness, and frequently enjoyed midday naps. For whatever reason, she was failing to discharge her share of the division of marital labor, and seemed to have little concern about the negative effects her neglect was having on the family and her husband.
Ironically, her sloth was both a symptom and a cause of her steep marital dissatisfaction, causing her to complain on air in her own zaftig ennui that her and her husband were on the road to divorce if nothing changed. Happily, based on what was shown in the episode, it appeared that her experimentation with “submission” as a wife was bearing positive fruit–the laundry was being done, and the house was being made a home.
She was becoming more equally yoked to the domestic plow, her efforts to support SS Family becoming incrementally more on par with that of her husband. He was “shoveling his gravel” without complaint, as men are wont to do; she needed to do so as well.
Although clunky in places–I think this show was the first time I’d ever heard the phrase “dress like a “hoochie mama” not uttered perjoratively–every once in a while the Cathedral’s media stream inadvertently subverts the culture it aims to propagate.
Thus, while this show was intended to be ready-made red meat for the liberalist-feminist majority, and had some success in this regard judging by the comments at various lefty message boards, it also served as an evangelizing platform for those who hew to objective Truth.
Read More: Housewives Are The New Battered Wives