What is the role of women in marriage?


#1

Hello,

I would like to know how a Catholic marriage is to be structured, and specificially what the role of the wife should be. I learned from some sources that the wife should submit to her husband, and from other sources that the husband and wife should submit to each other. What does the Church hold to be true?

Thank you :slight_smile:


#2

Spouses should submit to each other, and help each other be the best person he or she can be. A women should obey, but ony if a man is willing to do everything for her and their children i.e. risking his life to save them.

There is no “you wash the dishes, and you take out the trash” type ruling. In a regular marriage, a couple would fight over these matters but in a Catholic marriage we help the other when the other is down. No bickering and nagging is allowed.

For example, your husband calls the highway, he had another bad day at work and is now sitting in traffic. Usually it is his job to take the trash out to the curb, but instead you do it and that light that has been out for two days in the bathroom, you just change it yourself. What if the kids are sick and nothing was done around the house, the sink is filled with dishes? Your husband without a word does the dishes after calling out for pizza.

In a Catholic marriage, you are completely aware of each others feelings, and it is understood you would never intentionally not do something. People forget how to be nice to each other. That is all what the Church asks of us.


#3

[quote=Hermione]Hello,

I would like to know how a Catholic marriage is to be structured, and specificially what the role of the wife should be. I learned from some sources that the wife should submit to her husband, and from other sources that the husband and wife should submit to each other. What does the Church hold to be true?

Thank you :slight_smile:
[/quote]

I don’t know what sources you are referring to. St Paul says Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21ff) is the beginning of the best known epistle on this question (Eph 5:21-33)

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband is the head of his wife and God the head of Christ (1Cor:11:3)

The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife and likewise the wife toward her husband. 1Cor7:3ff


#4

Nice quotes, but there is one critical one I would add to, from a male perspective.

Wives are to be submissive to their husbands AND husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His Church. (Ephesians 5:22-25) Think about that for a minute.

How much is that? How far did Jesus go in His love for His Church? It’s a tall order, eh, guys? How people can have a successful marriage without any faith in this day and age is beyond me.

In my opinion, single Catholics have no business dating non-Catholics. You’re asking for trouble. Something like 90% of mixed marriages makes it to the divorce court and a lot of pain with it.

Husbands and wives are not equal, they are different. Role confusion is a bi-product of the culture of death. I cannot equally give birth, I am a man, so it’s not too hard to figure out the insanity of equality. Roles are not determined by equality but by complimentarity. Every couple is different, and it takes time to form the definition of how you compliment each other.

Those are just my opinions; there is a lot on the Catholic teaching on marriage. Find a catechism and look up Matrimony in the back index.

If your engaged, don’t be stupid, go on an Engagement Encounter Weekend, you’ll make new friends and have a lot of fun.

If your married, go on a Marriage Encounter, especially if you think you don’t need it. It’s for good marriages.

If your marriage is on the rocks, put it on the Rock, and find out about Retrouvaille. It’s about help for troubled marriages and you don’t have to be Catholic. It has something like 80-85% success rate over counseling, even if you are separated or divorced.

[retrouvaille.org/](“http://www.retrouvaille.org/”)

What is the role of women in marriage? I’ll get back to the question, but first I have to ask my wife.:smiley:

kepha1


#5

Wow… while, in a generalized view, I can understand this statement, may I offer some input from a Catholic who is married to a baptized Lutheran?

I think by far the most important issue here is the PERSON that you are considering as a spouse. My own dear husband was raised by parents who (although not Catholic) espoused the same traditions that were mentioned in an earlier post. They work together in their marriage and share in the responsibilities of the home and raising the family. As a matter of fact, my MIL jokes that she does not need to buy a fancy dishwasher since she already has the most perfect dishwasher in the world – FIL!

My DH always chips in with the chores and helps with the children. He even changed & washed cloth diapers with no complaints. He believes that when one decides to marry, it is for life & not for the “flavor of the month, year, etc.”

Now having said that, he also accompanies us to Mass every week & is active with scouting & with the children at our local parish school. He is on very good terms with the awesome priests in our parish. The only thing – he is not Catholic (which I do admit can be frustrating at times but not insurmountable).

We went through pre-Cana classes at church so he knew exactly what he was signing up for :smiley:

I guess I just had to express another opinion there… I do realize that I must be an exception but I do have to comment that some of my friends who are Catholic & married Catholics whine & complain & say they envy me so I suppose I have been blessed with my DH!

:twocents: Just my ole’ 2 cents!


#6

Oops. “Something like 90%” could be construed as a generalization. Sorry about that. Anyway, Jasmine:clapping: :blessyou: kepha1


#7

I find this question one that is difficult for me to answer.

One papal encyclical says that husband and wife are to submit to each other. A previous encyclical specifically states that the husband is the head and the wife is the heart. My understanding is that the mutual submission and different roles must co-exist in a marriage.

So the mutual submission is not the same submission. A Catholic husband and wife are not like the cartoon chipmunks, perpetually bickering over who gets the first bite of cake, or whatever. “You go ahead.” “No you can have the honors” “No, no, please. Really, you go ahead”…

I’ve posed this perplexity to several people, and even got an explanation that as “head” the husband is the provider and protector. Which I found to be baloney. True the husband is the provider and protector, but the role of headship implies authority - no way of getting around that. Worker bees are providers and protectors, but they are NOT the head of the hive.

The best I can figure is that the husband must submit his interests to the wife’s best interests (because the wife is the heart). And the wife is to submit to the husbands authority (because the husband is the head).

This was modeled in the American Revolution when Baron Von Stueben trained the soldiers at Valley Forge. He told the officers that they should put the needs of the men AHEAD of their own personal needs. This was absolutely confounding at the time. And he also had the men take orders directly from the officers, instead of sergeants doing all the work. Another completely baffling idea. And the results are history…

So the woman is the heart of the marriage. That means her needs are what matters. Her job is paramount. When choosing a city to live in, the husband must have his wife’s needs at the top of the priorities - not his own career satisfaction.

I guess this means that such decisions are ultimately the husbands. Though his wife’s councel obviously should be sought.

Of course, as men are imperfect, there will be husbands who do not consider their wives needs when making career choices. This leaves a bitter taste, and tempts the woman to bypass the authority of husband to meet her own needs.

And, as women are imperfect, there will be wives who do not recognize a husbands authority in the family. This leaves husbands feeling useless and disinterested. Just as boys who sit on the sidelines of a ball game will eventually move on to something more interesting, men who are sidelined in families will pursue something more interesting.

This is just MY OWN understanding of Catholic teaching - this should not be taken to BE the official teaching. It is based on Church teaching in the encyclicals: Mulieris Dignitatum, and Casti Canubi. But there may be more that I’m missing.


#8

[quote=Hermione]Hello,

I would like to know how a Catholic marriage is to be structured, and specificially what the role of the wife should be. I learned from some sources that the wife should submit to her husband, and from other sources that the husband and wife should submit to each other. What does the Church hold to be true?

Thank you :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Honey:

If you don’t know the wife’s role is to be help-mate------you’re too far gone. If you feel you must be an equal work-wise–if you’re a career woman, thus neglecting your kids—take heed NOW. YOUR role is to be a help mate to your husband–whoever God gave you, regardless of how and what he lacks in------(believe me --I know this one)…God ordained You, friend for this role.

Give it your ALL. There is NO better or bigger calling than to be a Mom and Wife. NONE. Despite what the world may say.

Bless You~~


#9

[quote=kepha1]Oops. “Something like 90%” could be construed as a generalization. Sorry about that. Anyway, Jasmine:clapping: :blessyou: kepha1
[/quote]

Besides, 78.6% of all statistics are made up on the spur of the moment:rolleyes: :wink: :smiley:


#10

Does anyone have any advice for my situation:

My husband defers to me too much. He places in my hands simple decisions that he can easily make for himself. When I put it back on him, he will still ask me several more times if I have any input for him. It is driving me crazy.

I really need a strong MAN in my house. I am growing weary of being in charge of everything–the kids, where or what we eat, sex, how we spend our free time, etc.

I used to think that I caused this dynamic in our relationship by having too ‘strong’ of a personality but lately I think the blame needs to be equally shared. I do believe that, on some level, my husband sought me out as a wife because he wanted someone to boss him around. This does not fit in with the Church’s teachings on marriage, nor is it very fulfilling to always be in charge.

I should say that he is 100% in charge of our finances and that is it. I have no problem with this.

We are both cradle Catholics and in the last 7 yrs or so he has really become devout. He is a hard working, good Catholic man who loves me and loves our children.

But I would like to see him truly grow into his head of the household role.

Any advice?


#11

Check out the Catholic Family Ministry called Couples for Christ (CFC) at www.couplesforchrist.us


#12

We’ve just had this discussion at our monthly ‘Patricians’ discussion group. The topic was ‘Is the man the head of the home?’ The paper was given by an African man and was truly enlightening. He quoted from the CCC and certain Papal writings, the result of which was that all the women present were delighted by what he said (I think they were expecting a fight). Headship, in this regard, is about fulfilling your obligations before God and man, not lauding it over someone.


#13

[quote=carrieloon]Does anyone have any advice for my situation:

My husband defers to me too much. He places in my hands simple decisions that he can easily make for himself. When I put it back on him, he will still ask me several more times if I have any input for him. It is driving me crazy.

I really need a strong MAN in my house. I am growing weary of being in charge of everything–the kids, where or what we eat, sex, how we spend our free time, etc.

I used to think that I caused this dynamic in our relationship by having too ‘strong’ of a personality but lately I think the blame needs to be equally shared. I do believe that, on some level, my husband sought me out as a wife because he wanted someone to boss him around. This does not fit in with the Church’s teachings on marriage, nor is it very fulfilling to always be in charge.

I should say that he is 100% in charge of our finances and that is it. I have no problem with this.

We are both cradle Catholics and in the last 7 yrs or so he has really become devout. He is a hard working, good Catholic man who loves me and loves our children.

But I would like to see him truly grow into his head of the household role.

Any advice?
[/quote]

As a man who has a wife who would like to see a lot of changes in me:

  1. Don’t insist on what you want. (We cant help it but it turns most of us into stuborn mules)
  2. Don’t try to get him to take on too much at the same time. Get him in the habit of taking charge in one area before moveing to the next.
  3. Always reward even the slightest improvemnt with praise that shows him how this makes you happy (your happiness is what he wants most):love:
  4. Don’t complain when he takes charge of something. My Wife used to complain about a lot of the things I took her to do and then she wondered why I always wanted her to decide what to do.:banghead:

If your already doing these things then; I don’t know. I’m just a stupid guy.:wink:

Good Luck.


#14

[quote=Black Jaque]The best I can figure is that the husband must submit his interests to the wife’s best interests (because the wife is the heart). And the wife is to submit to the husbands authority (because the husband is the head). …

… So the woman is the heart of the marriage. That means her needs are what matters. Her job is paramount. When choosing a city to live in, the husband must have his wife’s needs at the top of the priorities - not his own career satisfaction.

I guess this means that such decisions are ultimately the husbands. Though his wife’s councel obviously should be sought.

[/quote]

This is very interesting. Sounds fine if the husband has the career and the wife is home raising the kids (the ideal situation for some - maybe most, I’m not really sure).

The waters get muddy though when both spouses must work to support the family. Women don’t have as easy a choice anymore to quit their “professional jobs” and stay home with the kids. Some wouldn’t choose this even IF they could afford it. So, say husband and wife both work…husband gets a job offer in a different state, wife just loves her job and doesn’t want to relocate. I think this is a decision they must BOTH work through together.

I know the Church recognizes the changing demographics in our world and the need for more women to work outside the home and thier changing roles in the family (i.e. breadwinner, single parent etc…). What you’ve described above sounds very nice and can be applied beautifully to the traditional roles husbands and wives once had (I’m thinking ‘June and Ward Cleaver’ here). It’s tougher to view a marriage as a hierarchial relationship today when so many men and women juggle the same load of careers & families.

I’m a stay at home mom with three kids and quite frankly couldn’t imagine juggling a career outside the home. I’m more than happy to have my husband carry that load of the family responsibility. I have a great deal of admiration for women who - for whatever reason - find themselves in the dual role of “income provider” and “heart of the home”. God bless them all!


#15

As my children often quote:
If Mama aint happy, aint nobody happy!!!
If Papa aint happy… nobody cares… LOL


#16

I don’t know where my husband and I fit into this discussion… :confused:

He is a SAHD. He’s far better at staying home with the children than I ever could be (I know, because I used to stay home). He can keep track of sports, dance lessons, PTA, and school functions like nobody’s business, and is a far superior cook than I am. I pay the bills and we both go over the finances because two sets of eyes are better than one.

So far, it works for us. But then, because I work and he doesn’t, we’ve had to endure some rude remarks and stares at our parish. I’d like to find a more charitable worship environment but it has youth activities in which the kids are involved that no other nearby parish offers.


#17

[quote=carrieloon]Does anyone have any advice for my situation:

My husband defers to me too much. He places in my hands simple decisions that he can easily make for himself. When I put it back on him, he will still ask me several more times if I have any input for him. It is driving me crazy.

Any advice?
[/quote]

I’m married to a deferrer too.:slight_smile: And I do have a strong personality where as my husband is laid back and doesn’t like to rock the boat. Is it possible when by some miracle he made a decision on his own and it went bad that you were very critical? I’m not blaming you for your husbands lack of back bone, so please don’t take it that way.

With myself I have been critical and rather than risk me getting upset he just wants me to make the decision. He is a people pleaser and likes to keep the peace. He has a good heart and means well so I’ve tried to accept that I’m probably going to have to be the head decision maker in most things, although I always ask for his input.

If he does happen to have a preferrance on something unless it’s totally off the wall which it hasn’t been I’ll go along with it it even if I’m not thrilled about it. If he actually says the restaurant he’d prefer to eat at that’s where we’re going. I’ve noticed him starting to become more active (slowly) in the decision making. I do think my strong personality has played a role, I really wasn’t aware of it earlier in our relationship.

If he’s a good guy other wise try to make peace with it, he may never change and ya can’t force him to. I know it can be frustating but it could be worse he could be a dominating jerk. I would also recommend marriage encounter, it is so great for communicating feelings.


#18

[quote=Meghan]I don’t know where my husband and I fit into this discussion… :confused:

He is a SAHD. He’s far better at staying home with the children than I ever could be (I know, because I used to stay home). He can keep track of sports, dance lessons, PTA, and school functions like nobody’s business, and is a far superior cook than I am. I pay the bills and we both go over the finances because two sets of eyes are better than one.

So far, it works for us. But then, because I work and he doesn’t, we’ve had to endure some rude remarks and stares at our parish. I’d like to find a more charitable worship environment but it has youth activities in which the kids are involved that no other nearby parish offers.
[/quote]

newflash, your occupation does not define or depend on your masculinity or femininity. earning the paycheck is not the definition of headship and authority.


#19

[quote=Jim ov Cov]Headship, in this regard, is about fulfilling your obligations before God and man, not lauding it over someone.
[/quote]

I agree. Recall our admonition to not be like the pagans, lording one’s authority over others; instead, one must take on Christ and become a servant. The husband’s responsibility of authority is not an opportunity to kick back and live on Easy Street, but rather to diligently serve and sacrafice for the good of the family.


#20

[quote=carrieloon]Does anyone have any advice for my situation:

My husband defers to me too much. He places in my hands simple decisions that he can easily make for himself. When I put it back on him, he will still ask me several more times if I have any input for him. It is driving me crazy.

I really need a strong MAN in my house. I am growing weary of being in charge of everything–the kids, where or what we eat, sex, how we spend our free time, etc.
…Any advice?
[/quote]

I can only recommend open and tactful communication about what your needs from him as a husband are. After all, spouses are to be help mates to one another. This is not about the “traditional” roles (although they should not be rejected out of hand), it is about knowing each other enough to understand each other’s strenths, weaknesses, needs, and wants. Both parties in a marriage are responsible for trying to meet the needs and wants of the other.

A thought on Ephesians: Ever notice how much focus is given by some speakers on what Paul says about the role of wives when he wrote about twice as much to husbands in that letter? As was mentioned before, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Everything He did was for her well-being. In regard to authority; Christ entrusted the Church with His own authority - does this not mean that Christian husbands are required to entrust their wives with their authority?

Hermione, to bring this back to your original question, wives are to support their husbands by lending them their own strength and not denegrating them to others - even when the husbands are not around. Husbands are to support their wives by regarding their wives as the center of their lives - second only to God. Each should help each other in their weakness and should allow their strengths to be used for the betterment of their marriage. :thumbsup:


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