Tuesday, June 28, 2005

TODAYonline- I say: To love...is to obey

Summary of article: For a successful marriage, the wife should submit to her husband.

*Ahem* will engage in a full critical analysis of this article when I return from dinner. But my first reactions were:

a) This is not new
b) Why the gender bias
c) If not for the gender bias, this would actually make a good article
d) Where the hell if this lady getting her assumptions from.
e) I actually agree with her...if not for the gender bias.

1 thing to note before we continue with the remainder of this article is that as Uncle Ben of Spiderman fame once said, with great power comes great responsibility. This presumably being derived from the idea that the conferring of rights is premised upon attendent responsibilities. Even the Bible and Confucian values emphasised the obligations that the husband had to his wife BECAUSE he was in a position of power over her.

I Say: To love ... is to obey
by Frances Ong Hock Lin

Seventeen years ago, my unhappy father walked me down the aisle in a Katong church. He was about to hand over his daughter to a man who eagerly grabbed her arms, as if to make sure the bride would be given away.

My father left midway through the ceremony — to drown his sorrows at the famous Marine Parade Satay Stall.

> Is it me or is this a very disturbing personal annecdote. Now I'm wondering what the father knew that we don't.

But it was my grandfather who had the greatest impact on our marriage.
He told me that people used to marry to fall in love, but that people now fall in love to get married. He saw marriages going up in smoke after the initial passions burned out. He believed that a wedding is only a day, but a marriage is a lifetime.

> Spurious argumentation. After all, in his time with arranged marriages and all, one could only hope to fall in love once the couple had married. Anything else was simply setting oneself up for a heartbreak. Another spurious argument is the whole marriages supposedly breaking down once the initials passion had faded. While this argument might have credence if one accepts that all marriages are about passion (dubious even in the best of times), nevertheless it's a highly fallacious argument because it is premised on a assertion and multiple assumptions that might be untentable.
> Has the rates of divorce increase? Even if it has, why has it increased? Maybe because the economic function of marriage has drastically changed? That the laws with regards to divorce has relaxed with reforms to protect the interest of the women? That women are gaining a measure of economic indepedence thereby not making them bound to the marriage? That women will no longer accept double standards the stupidity of men who fool around or are general wastrels? Lots and lots of questions.

He was match-made to my grandmother, a great cook, and he surmised that she would support him in whatever he did. I have never seen them quarrel.

> I think the operative word is SEEN. Anyway, I've know of couples who have fallen in love and stayed that way and couples in arranged marriages who are desperately unhappy with the man taking to a second wife or fooling around outside. Isolated examples don't make the argument. The supposed substantiation from above has already been shown to be fallacious.

From her, I learned how to make a husband happy. She saved the best meat for him, and would eat only when he was at the dinner table. Even after slaving the whole day over a hot stove, she would be bathed and powdered when he returned from work. And his slippers and a glass of water were always there to welcome him.

> What about her happiness? Unless the wife becomes an extension of the husband, this system can be unsustainable. One can only pray that her husband appreciated her.

My grandfather, who knew I was an outspoken and stubborn child, worried that having a university education might make it difficult for me to submit to my husband.

> Another indicment of her grandfather's time, a time which would force women into subservience just so that they could stay alive. Well, things have fortunately changed for the better.

Growing up in the 1970s, with women fighting for equal rights, I was at first shocked by what he advocated. I fought a good fight at university, debating with my male tutorial mates.

> That's precisely the point. It's because of these women (Liberal Feminist fighting for equal terms with men) that she even can make the choice that she has made. Don't see what debate has anything to do with it though.

At work, I do not believe in the glass ceiling for women, and do not see myself as weaker then men.

> Why the difference between home and the workplace? The personal is the political. What happens in the house translates and transcends into society.

But it was in the home context that I realised my grandfather's foresight and wisdom.
A marriage is not an equal partnership, where a couple are looking constantly to ensure that everything is divided 50-50. That makes us calculative and mean, and reduces the marriage to a conditional clause: As long as he lives up to his end of the bargain, so will I.

> Strawman arguement. Successful relationships are based on compromise. Seldom are there relationship that can trive on such tensions and competitive behavior (though there are such people).

Instead of looking for the right person to be our spouse, we have to be the right person for them. We have to give 110 per cent without any conditions or strings attached to the marriage contract — which, hopefully, we enter into with our eyes open.

> Something that I agree with actually. But it's still way too submissive for my taste. Alternative is to accept that which cannot be changed in your partner and try to work with it.

The marriage vow basically says that even if a husband turns out to be a scumbag or a couch potato who cares more for Man U than for his mother-in-law, we still have to accept him.

> It's a bad vow then. Where's the attendent obligation on his part? And you would be lucky if that's the extent of his bad behavior. By extension of her highly dubious logic, I wonder if physical and sexual abuse would be grounds for a divorce. I think acceptance is not the same as condoning and there must be a limit to what can be condoned. On the guys part, I guess that means grinning and bearing the inevitable excusions to the shopping centre and various boring family gatherings.

My husband and I have demanding careers, but when we come home, I give him a sponge bath even if I am tired. I prepare supper, and yes, I do peel prawns for him. I do so without asking for anything in return.

> ?!!! *Sigh* well I do peel prawns for Her. I seriously hope that her husband appreciates all these.

He is the head of the household. When it comes to any major decision, his vote counts for 60 per cent, and mine for 40 per cent. My grandfather was right. This is difficult. I find it challenging to submit to my husband.

> Gender bias aside, it's not a bad principle. There must be someone who actively decides and if necessary act as a tiebreaker.

But I discovered that once I learned to obey him, it gave him a greater sense of responsibility, of wanting to take care of the family even more. In addition, when my children see that I obey him, they learn to obey him and respect him as a father.

> Eh? So by her logic, her children don't learn to obey and respect her? Maybe as a 'mother' i.e. submissive woman. ACK!!!! Talk about giving housewives a bad name.

Being the heart of the family, my role is to complement, and not to compete with, his. I never challenge his views in front of others, which would make him feel small, insignificant and disrespected. We try not to fight or quarrel in front of the children.

> If he's being stupidly foolish it might be a good idea. However, the premise is sound, what's in the family stays in the family. But there's no need to link this to this whole obey nonsense.

Yes, we have thought of walking out of this marriage many times, but then we remembered that we started out with the belief that divorce was not an option.

> Good for her. But that option is not available to everyone.

We will continue to fight, and our marriage will be a rollercoaster ride. Given a chance, would I walk down the aisle again to the same man? Yes, I would, but this time I would obey him the minute he married me.

> La di dah.



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