Do you call your husband "Master?" Do you call him "Sir?" Do you and your spouse practice domestic discipline? Do you, as a woman, work outside of the home? Do you do all of the household chores? Do you wear skirts and dresses? Is your husband older than you? Is he younger? Does any of this really matter? Some would say a hearty, "Yes." However, I would venture to say, "No."
Let me put it to you another way. In the following scenario, which woman is the traditional wife? Is she the wife whose marriage does not include domestic discipline? What if she has three children from previous, non-marital relationships? What if she works outside of the home to help support her family? What if she is ten years older than her husband? Yet, this wife willingly and lovingly submits to her spouse. Or, is the traditional wife the one who does not work outside of the home, serves her husband, attempts to conform her will to his in all things, and submits to discipline regularly? The answer is, both.
The first wife is my beloved sister-in-law, my brother's bride. The other is myself. We may have different expressions of traditional marriage, but we sisters are both traditional wives.
One of the most beautiful aspects of traditional marriage I have found is that it is not one-size-fits-all. Many cultures and religions might have their own take on what this relationship dynamic means, or what it looks like. Yet, I think at the very foundation, a traditional marriage can be defined in the following way: It is the union between one man and one woman, with the male being the leader of the relationship. That is it. Simple, no? Does it surprise you?
Yes, I am a traditional wife. I am just one of many. And, my marriage may not look like yours.
What does my marriage look like? Well, my Husband and I practice domestic discipline within a Catholic framework. To us, this means that he is the unquestioned leader in our home and I am required to obey him in the same capacity as I would obey God. Any disobedience is direct disobedience to God. All paternity and all authority comes from Him. My Husband is my Superior in the same way that a monk or a nun would be subject to their Superior: he is the Voice of God in my life. We are not equals in our marriage, but we are complimentary. Marriage is a holy vocation. With it comes roles and responsibilities. Each is unique and beautiful.
According to my Husband's preferences, I am not allowed to work outside of the home. I do, however, have outside hobbies and interests which I love to take part in. I am required to wear skirts and modest tops during the day. The only exception is that, when I work out, I wear long workout pants. (I would not even do this, but finding a long "workout skirt" has been challenging!) My hair is to be kept at waist-length. I even wear a headband as a sort of nondescript head-covering.
Nearly every day, my Husband sets out a list of tasks for me to complete. I try to the best of my ability to complete the majority of things before his return home. When my Husband does arrive home from work each day, I greet him with a huge smile and a ready hug. Truly, I could not be more thrilled to see him!
At dinner, I always serve my Husband first, giving him the larger and best portions of our meal. When we go out or walk together, I try to match my strides with those of my Husband, or fall slightly behind him. At restaurants, he orders for me. I try not to speak over him, and I try to keep silence when he interjects. In all of these things, they are done quietly.
My Husband often has me kneel before him. Yes, I do call him "Sir." At the very least, I am required to use this title after a direct question or command. Sometimes, within the context of a question. Once in a while, even the dreaded "M" word is required. Although the latter is difficult for me to say, I do believe it to be the reality between us.
I am subject to my Husband in all things apart from sin, and, when I err (shamefully, I err often!), I am subjected to his complete correction. He may choose to slap me, lash my palms, spank me, whip me, flog me, wash my mouth out with soap, or subject my tongue to hot sauce. I may have to pray before him cruciform. To show my Husband my submission afterward, I may be required to kiss the hand that had slapped me, kiss his wedding ring, or kiss his feet. I may have to go about for a time with my wrists bound by a cord, with just enough slack to complete tasks. Sometimes, within the privacy of our own home, my Husband has me wear my collar-- a pretty red leather collar with a Celtic heart on it-- to teach me humility or obedience. There are many, many more things I could enumerate, but will not.
Nevertheless, does any of this make me any more of a traditional wife the first woman in the "Tale of Two Traditional Wives" scenario? No. My traditional marriage is simply different. And, you know what? That is alright! My marriage is exactly what I need for my soul's spiritual growth. It fits perfectly with who I am. My marriage might not look like yours. It may not resemble anyone else's. Regardless, it is mine, and, to me, it is the most beautiful reality in the world!
Whatever your traditional marriage may look like, enjoy it! Celebrate it! If you are fulfilled, then it is just right for you. Your marriage is yours; it is yours alone. And, it is beautiful.