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Should A Woman Obey Her Husband - In This Day And Age?

Updated on November 24, 2011

In Christian marriage ceremonies, it was once common for a bride to promise to "honour and obey" her husband-to-be.

But with the advent of women's lib, it became much more of an optional thing to do, and many women now choose not to include this part of the wording. Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge both famously chose not to "obey" their future husbands.

And while nowadays this is commonplace and Kate's decision probably didn't shock or surprise too many people, back in the early eighties' when Charles and Diana got married it was a lot more controversial, and was no doubt quite a brave decision.

I have recently been reminded of this subject not by Christians, but by two friends, one of whom is Muslim and the other Jewish. Both are part of religious families, and have traditional beliefs according to their respective religion.


I met my first friend, who is Muslim, at my daughter's school. Our girls are in the same class, and we have lots in common. We have the same kind of personalities, sense of humour, and have similar outlooks on life. We get on very well, and often meet for coffee and visit one another's houses.

Recently another friend invited us both out for a meal in a pub to celebrate her birthday, along with some other (girl)friends.

Excited to be going out somewhere, (with a small child, it's not a common occurrence!), I asked my friend if she could come. And she told me that her husband doesn't let her go out at night.

I was so dumbfounded I didn't know what to say to her. So I didn't say anything for a while.

Sensing my shock she said that because of her religion she had never been out at night without him.


I was also recently talking to my other friend who is Jewish. I've known her for years. We met at a youth club in the days before she was religious, but when she married she decided to become orthodox like her husband.

She was feeling dissatisfaction with some of the things in her life, including her children's school and how mundane her own day-to-day life had become. I suggested that maybe she could look into some other schools. And now her children were all in school, why didn't she look for a job or do some voluntary work, and perhaps spend some time doing some things that she enjoyed?

Her reply was that her husband liked the children's school, even though it was very strict and they were not happy there. It had been his school. He also didn't want her to work and thought that her place was in the home. When I scoffed, she said that maybe I didn't understand as I wasn't religious, but a wife is supposed to support her husband's views.

Am I wrong to be feeling a little uneasy?

Now while I can disagree with their views and know that it's not how I would choose to live my life, my friends are both firm in their beliefs that this is how life must be.

Whatever dissatisfactions they have are overshadowed by their wish to act according to their respective faiths, (or at least what they interpret them to mean). So what their man says, quite simply, is what goes.

I know that there are a lot of women (from all different religions and cultures) who believe that men should make all the important decisions in life. And everyone's entitled to their views; the world would undoubtedly be a very boring place if we all thought the same thing!

But despite knowing these things I was deeply shocked by these two conversations. And trying to think about why I was so shocked, I have come up with the following.

Naively, I didn't expect any friends of mine to hold these views.

How could they have such different views to my own? Both friends are very intelligent, highly-educated women, and in my mind these views belonged to uneducated women, brought up in old-fashioned families.

My gut reaction was that they were unreasonable to think like this and accept their man's domination. I thought we lived in a more advanced age, and that we had come further than this.

A child of the 80's, I had been brought up to believe that I was equal to a man and could do everything that they could if I tried hard enough. And that I was entitled to the same rights, and equal powers of decision-making in a relationship.

I suppose I had expected that all my friends would have the same views as me! After all, our opinions on so many other things were the same. How could we have such different feelings about such a fundamental subject? I thought I knew these women well. They were close friends - how did I not know this about them before?

Who am I to judge?
Who am I to judge? | Source

But being realistic, why should I expect my friends to hold all the same views as me? We are different people who have had non-identical backgrounds and different life experiences. And I guess this topic has just never come up before.

Women's lib gave women increased choices and opportunities. But only if they wanted them. There was nothing to say that women had to take up those opportunities. Some religions argue that men and women have "different but equal" roles in a marriage. (I'm never sure about this argument, which sounds a bit like a justification for men doing what the heck they like!) But as long as women aren't being forced to take a certain role within a marriage, then to do so is a choice too.

And is old-fashioned and traditional always bad? Of course not. On reflection, who am I to assume that my arrogant western views are the "correct" ones to have? Doesn't respecting other cultures mean respecting others' points of view? Just because we have been conditioned to think that something is right it doesn't mean that it is. Really, who am I to judge?

Would I criticise somebody so harshly for not eating certain foods, or not using electricity on a Saturday? These are rules I wouldn't want to follow myself as I feel they would be unnecessary to my life and somewhat irrelevant. However, I unquestionably respect the opinions of friends who choose to do these things. So shouldn't I do the same for my friends who choose to obey their husbands?

My own gut feeling is that it's wrong to blindly obey anybody, including your husband. To me, each adult individual who is capable of making decisions should have the right to make his or her own decisions.

But when an intelligent woman makes her own decision (with no pressure from anyone else), to delegate her decision-making to her husband, how can this be wrong?


Did you choose to obey your husband?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      If you are willing to surrender the freedom of free will you didn't deserve to have it in the first place. In this life , we always have a choice. The fact that your'E a woman doesn't mean you should be automatically ,and indefinitely submissive and do whatever your husband wishes. Do what makes you happy, don't forget that ultimately if your partner isn't cohesive with what you truly desire can always find a person who will accept you. It's not like you want to murder people, you want to go out and have fun

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      6 years ago from London

      Thank you for your comment daisydayz. I agree that marriage should be equal, and a woman should be listened to as an equal. Sorry for replying so late to your comment.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      6 years ago from Cardiff

      I did actively have the 'obey' taken out of my wedding vows as I think in a modern marriage most couples do think of themselves as equals. But I understand and respect those who decide to 'obey' their husbands, what I dont agree with is them doing it to the detriment of themselves, their children or their happiness. Life is to short to be constantly unhappy because you are letting someone else dictate your life.

      And I truly feel if the men respected the women in these religions enough they would allow an equal marriage even if she is still expected to obey him, he should at least take her point on board and discuss things with her.

    • Brinafr3sh profile image


      6 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi, women should obey men that 'walk in the ways of God;' righteous men should be obeyed. Image obeying an alcoholic husband, or a man that is morally wrong. Voted up.

    • aslanlight profile image


      6 years ago from England

      From scholarly research it seems apparent that women were respected far more in our far distant past. Even the early Christians had women of leadership in the first churches according to Paul the Apostle.

      I can't condone men dominating woman in any way, shape or form! Look what men have done to the world. If they'd followed us everything would be so much better. Strong views? Yes, and with damn good reason.

      We don't need wars, corruption, violence, rape, greed etc, etc. No offence to men with good spirits, and there are many of you, but for the sake of life on this planet women should be respected and listened to. Also not treated as possessions.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I would never in a million years expect my wife to obey me. I think it is very disrespectful and demeaning on a woman's self worth. Compromise is a better term. We have raised out daughters to be independent ,self reliant. That doesn't make the domineering. That just let's them help being better partners and mothers!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think that a woman's place is to obey her husband, but it is also the husband's duty to treat his wife with the respect she deserves. She is the one that bears his children and cares for his home. Men are the king of the castle but they must never forget who runs the goings on of said castle while they are away. I think that if both parties are well in their place then no problem should arise. It is when one party starts to neglect their place that turmoil is sure to begin

    • Ivona Poyntz profile image

      Ivona Poyntz 

      6 years ago from UK

      Great hub. I'm not sure the concept is 'obey' though as much as compromise. If your friends husband doesn't want her to go out at night, she is giving in: but maybe there are other areas where she feels strongly and he compromises.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      6 years ago from India

      If a woman is smart, she will - obey her husband, I mean :) Of course, it's up to her to make sure her husband thinks the way she wants him too. Would that be being manipulative? Of course! Most of the women in marriages that last, are! Men are rather simple creatures - they love to roar and lay down the law - but they can very easily be controlled - and it works fine as long as they don't realise it.

      And in the marriage ceremony, 'honour and obey' is followed by 'honour and cherish' which really is such an ideal recipe for a happy marriage.

    • profile image

      Timothy Bolofinde 

      6 years ago

      The one who started marriage should have the last word on this. When God brought then woman to thhe man, she was assigned to help him carry out assignment. The woman was never brougt in to take lead but to follow leadership of her man. There is no such thing like modern day women. Divorce is other of the day because many homes are not built around the word of God. Marry the man you can call your lord and submit to. It is true a man should listen to his wife but where there are conflicting opinions, the woman shuuld joyfully and willingly let the man have his way. Every institution must have a head. In the marriage, the man is the head. We have les divorce rates in the third world, this clearly shows that modernization of marriage concepts have failed. Many whites are in their forth, fifth or sixth marriages, what a shame. The bible is very clear, the wife shuld submit in all things, not just reasonable things but all things. Regards.

    • Cortezmeow profile image


      6 years ago

      I am going on the limb here and disagree with the women. I think women's lib took away how a women should be treated, with respect, love, kindness and all the things that make a woman gentle, women should not be treated like one of they guys. I think many women lost their class because of these beliefs.

      Men are simple creatures, treat them like they are the king of the house and they will treat you like the queen of the house. When a couple gets married they exchange the same vows honor and obey. Couples need to communicate decisions because it will affect them both. I have been married for twenty one years. I show my husband the same respect I want to be treated with. Too many women disrespect their husbands and treat them as they were stupid. Many sitcoms and commercials portray this. I don't believe women should do all the same jobs men do, especially certain physical ones. Its not that we are capable, we can do anything we set our minds too. But we should stay ho e and raise our own kids with our own beliefs, not what a nanny believes. I also think that is why kids are so disrespectful these days. I appreciate the fact that my husband has provide for his family and I didn't have to work. I am educate and I think it is the smart women that Are still married and obey they husbands wishes.

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      I believe that in our society today, women are equal partners with their spouses. There should be total agreement in major decision making. But when there is a disagreement, there should be some sort of compromising solution. Compromising is good...absolute control and power is bad.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, this was an interesting subject, I believe that whichever religion people follow, they should never have to do what their husband says, I think that many of these men use their religion to keep their wives under lock and key, if you study the Bible, Koran Or Torah, it never really mentions that women in these modern times should do everything that the man says. In fact when women have been interviewed say in Afghanistan or other Muslim Countries, and in Israel too, all they want is freedom like the western women. I have watched this many times, and feel sad to think that the women who live here have to watch other women have freedom and they can't. If they are happy, then fine, but sadly I don't believe they are, cheers nell

    • tamron profile image


      6 years ago

      I agree with what Lady says! Women in a lot of cases have a better education then there husbands and lets face it they are not always right. Vote Up

    • Lady_E profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting Article - Women should obey their Husbands (within reason). If my hubby tells me to do something that does not confine with God's will - I will not.

      Likewise, men should cherish and respect their wives and not take advantage of the fact that Religion says we should "obey them".

      I have to admit that I hate it when Men use this as emotional blackmail to women, for intimacy reasons.... If she can't do "it" everyday, they shouldn't drum in her ears "you are to obey me"..... I'll just leave it there for now... :)

      Just being practical. Nice hub.

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      6 years ago from London

      You're right Daniella, she doesn't sound very happy, except for her being happy to be led - which seems to override all the other decisions she could make.

      Luckily my husband would react like yours. Not that I go for many nights out these days - but I take for granted that I have the choice!

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. :)

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez 

      6 years ago from Spain

      I agree with you Moon. Women are equal to men and we shouldn't be "forced" to obey our husbands. However, if your friends are happy then that is their choice. Although, it doesn't sound as if your Jewish friend is very happy. I definitely couldn't imagine my husband trying to tell me I couldn't get a job or go out at night. He would probably expect me to laugh at him and do it anyways.

      Regardless, great hub. Voted up! :D

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      6 years ago from London

      Thanks for your kind comments SubRon. I'm glad you'd discuss everything with a future partner, and I really hope you find one soon. :)

      That's interesting that you expected the Jewish friend to have opposite views to the Muslim one. I guess that people aren't so different from one another, and as I'm discovering from my Muslim friend, Jewish and Muslim people especially have lots of things in common, despite what we see on the news.

      Thanks again for visiting my hub.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 

      6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      "Arrogant Western views" kind of hit the nail on the head, Moon Daisy. I share your views and I would never expect my woman (if I only had one) to simply "obey" me. I'm sure we would always discuss everything, for sure any major decisions. When you mentioned your Jewish friend I kind of expected her to be the opposite of your Muslim friend, but I guess, if she is Orthodox. Anyway, a really good and thoughful hub.


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