Dear Visible Man,
My woman and I are both in our twenties and have been together for some time. We are now considering getting married. However, I am in a serious conflict with her in that she does not want to say the words “honor and obey” in the wedding ceremony.We were both raised up in the church. I believe that as the head of my household, it is important that my spouse respects me and follow the road in life that I will walk and support the home that I will make for us.I have read your website. You seem to be a strong black man and the head of your household. Do you have any words you want to share? Maybe she will listen to a neutral person.
Still WaitingSeattle, WA
- There is conflict because your fiancée is either reluctant, hesitant, or outright refusing to utter the words “honor and obey” as a featured part of your martial vows.
- There is an internalized belief system that as the man, you are the head of the household.
- Other internalized beliefs include a need for your spouse to respect you and follow your road in life and support the home you will make for your family.
In researching marital vows that are similar to what you are seeking, I came across the Form of Matrimony, which originated in 1662 and was revised in 1928. The words to be spoken by the groom are different from those being spoken by the bride. It follows:
Groom- “I take thee (name of bride), to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance and thereto I plight thee my troth.”
Bride-“I take thee (name of groom), to be my lawful wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance and thereto I plight thee my troth.”
In 1980, the words were revised and left to be identical for both groom and bride with the exception of “to love and to cherish.” The groom now says “to love, cherish, and worship” and the bride continues to say “love, cherish, and obey.”
- Why is it important that my spouse obey me? Why do I need her to obey?
- Why am I not listening to her wants?
- What does the unwillingness to listen to her wants indicate about potential conflicts in our relationship as husband and wife?
YOUNG MAN, I would encourage you to examine your concepts regarding “leadership, strength and head of household.” A wise person has the humility to listen to the words of his/her spouse. A wise person acknowledges not only his/her strengths, but also his/her weaknesses. Furthermore, A wise person does not seek leadership based on gender; it is in one’s wisdom that leadership in the household is a shared commitment by two individuals, who have made that contract to God and each other, and witnessed by their family and friends, to honor, love and cherish until death do them part.
- If marriage is a lifetime commitment, why am I willing to obligate my relationship to a structure that is guaranteed to work towards its failure?
- As I look around my community, what are the structures that reinforce marriage instead of weakening it?
- Am I willing to let go of past teachings and seek another structure that may reinforce my relationship?
- Do I want a life of leader/follower? Or am I willing to consider a structure that is different?
YOUNG MAN, for you to be successful in your marital walk and to find the life and the security in the relationship that you seek, have the willingness to want to stop “living in fear.” Instead of walking a “road” that was created by others, have the willingness to create for yourself and your bride a new path, one that is yours and yours alone—a path that you can be proud of.
A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life
The Visible Man