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Honour and obey?

By admin on December 19th, 2006 9 comments

Vows I’d always assumed that most brides these days would choose to drop the "obey" part from the traditional wedding vows, so I was surprised at a couple of recent weddings to hear the respective brides dutifully promise to "obey" their new husbands.

Is "obeying" coming back into fashion? For myself, most definitely not. Promising to obey my fiance? Er, pass. (Well, I’ve never obeyed him before, so I see no reason to start now!). I’ve always found "honour and obey" old fashioned and – in my opinion – slightly demeaning, so needless to say we’ll be choosing a more modern version of the vows. What about you? Will you obey?

More wedding debates

  • Laura

    I didn’t promise to obey, but I doubt the officiant (who was a family friend) would have let me. 🙂 She knows me too well!

    The “obey” thing is not a new debate — I remember first running across the issue as a child, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series of semi-autobiographical books. She told her fiance that she would not promise to obey him, and he said he didn’t know any decent man who would hold a woman to that promise in any case. Then he went and talked to the minister, who (as it turned out) preferred not to use “obey” in any case. This would’ve been sometime in the late 1800s, on the American frontier — I’ve no idea when the debate started, or how widespread it was, but that’s more than a hundred years of discussion on the issue, at the very least.

  • It’s still in a lot of traditional vows and whilst this debate may be ongoing, it’s definitely worth discussing for current thinking.

    I for one shan’t be obeying anybody.

  • Marisha

    I will use honor and obey. Just as your parents would not doing anything to harm you, cause distrust, etc. Your husband, if you married an upstanding gentleman will not tell you to jump off the bridge or do or say anything disrespectful to his wife.

    I agree that there are many fools that you should not “obey”, but that’s another story on being with a person that you have no business being in a relationship in the first place. But you should allow your husband to be the man, let him take his role. And you, wife, perform your role as “wife”.

    All of this, “not going to do this or that” or “I thought marriage was going to be different” is because people live in fantasy dream land. They expect their husbands to do x,y, and z but have not commited to anything themselves.

    Not pointed at anyone, but marriage is about giving, respecting, honoring not being selfish and wanting whomever to do for you. It’s not about what you are going to get. Because your spouse will be looking for the same. It’s about giving of your self.

  • Oh, I know it’s not a new debate, Laura! It’s one that comes up for every bride and groom, though, and as Camilla says, it’s still included in traditional vows, so I think it’s still a relevant discussion.

    Interesting poiny of view, Marisha. I don’t really think it’s a matter of women being selfish by not wanting to promise to “obey”: I think for many women these days it’s more a case that we don’t see ourselves as inferior to men any more, and therefore don’t subscribe to the “a woman should obey her man” idea. Or maybe that’s just me 🙂

  • Aprille

    I did not use obey. I refused. To me it connotes subservience and I don’t want to lay that groundwork. We’re partners – neither one lower than the other.

    My husband struggled with this a bit, because he felt obey meant something closer to “heed”. He came around in the end.

  • Philipos Polonis

    I married an English girl in London and I insisted that she obey me in the wedding service. Cypriot men expect their wives to be submissive and obedient. I told her plainly that I am the boss and that I don’t accept any of this women’s lib nonsense. My word is law and she is subject to my law.

    A husband who does not dominate his wife is no man. A woman who does not submit to and obey her husband is acting in a masculine way unbefitting to her gender. I said to my wife before marriage when we were arguing over “obey”, do you want to marry a man or a woman. She said a man of course. I then asked her if she expected me to marry a man or a woman. A woman of course. Then we agreed that I am the boss and she must obey me. She is an heiress but I control the money and decide how it is spent. She may be the mistress in her house but I am the master.

  • leahchristensen

    My husband and I work as equal partners. Our genders have nothing to do with one of us dominating the other. If any man ever gave me an ultimatum like you gave to your fiance, I’d walk out on him! I deserve a lot better than to be treated like a child.

  • leahchristensen

    If “obey” meant “need” then both partners would vow to obey! Good for you for standing your ground.

  • leahchristensen

    I totally agree!!!! When a man is so determined that his wife is going to obey, it says that he is not confident enough to have an equal partner in ife.

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