22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
I’ve started to attend a church that meets every Sunday in a highschool. It’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t quite say I’m a member, nor do I go consistently, but I started to make my mom happy. My boyfriend attends with me, because it makes me happy to be able to tell my mother that he supports me fully, despite our conflict in religion.
But that’s not the point of this post.
The Bible verse above is the one that was read at my own wedding over 6 years ago. I remember asking my very modern and progressive aunt to read it, in English and Korean, and she initially suggested I look for a new passage since this one is so outdated. I stayed firm, and kept it. And looking back, while my soon to be husband and I liked the verse, I don’t think either really thought about it.
To be perfectly honest, there is an aspect of being the “submissive” wife that really appealed to me. I grew up in a traditional patriarchal home. My parents were married due to an arrangement. Same with my grandparents. I grew up witnessing my mother and my grandmother being the ever submissive wives, doting on their husbands, even when they were ungrateful. It angered me, but I did feel a joy when I took care of my man. I always did. I was always that way with my other past boyfriends. And when they started to take advantage of my good will, I dumped them.
I especially liked this Bible verse because it also gave the husbands a responsibility. They were commanded to LOVE their wives. My thought was, if my husband really loved me, he’d value me, if I submitted or not. He’d see that bending my will to meet his was done in love, and in return, he’d really love me and take care of me. It was read at our beautiful wedding ceremony. Vows were made. I thought this would be true forever.
I don’t know why I thought he’d be any different than he was before we were married. He had an abrupt way of saying things. Hurtful and mean, but sometimes I felt like he didn’t even know. I felt unappreciated, and sometimes when he did thank me for something (“Thank you for doing the laundry.”) felt more like condescension, in the manner of “Well, of course you should’ve done the laundry.”) Maybe it’s an unfair generalization to make about his behavior, but I did point it out a number of times, and he never changed.
The last few years, as I realized I deserved better, that I needed to be loved, I bent over backwards more, hoping he’d change. I became the quiet, submission, mousy wife. Instead of him changing to be a better husband, I changed and became a worse person. When I look back on who I was the last few years, I get disgusted. Everyday, I’m thankful that it was not a permanent change and it was easily reversible. I just needed the courage to stand up for myself. And I did, and it was hard; it was painful, it was loud, it was pathetic, it was sad, it was incredibly freeing and it was empowering and wonderful.
Last Sunday, I find myself sitting next to my new partner, listening to the pastor say, “Your husband should be dying every day for your love, just like Christ did for us.” While religiously we don’t believe the same thing, I looked at him and I said, I know you die for me everyday. And I do too. We struggle together, we celebrate together, and for the first time in my life, it doesn’t feel like I am a slave to a relationship but a true partner in which we both wholly love and submit to one another.