But when I read the article I got a little weirded out, becuase a lot of what she was saying seemed to me to be ... like normal relationship advice. In fact, a lot of what she was saying seemed to me to be good advice for just being a person and relating to other people.
For one thing, the author describes constantly hectoring her husband, disagreeing with him, trying to change him, and not respecting his opinions. Um -- that's not equality, that's being an annoying pain in the ass. For another thing, most of what she was recommending seemed to be about respect for others and being kind, receptive, and grateful.
Let's look at the "six principles" of being a surrendered wife. The surrendered wife:
- Relinquishes inappropriate control of her husband
- Respects her husband's thinking
- Receives his gifts graciously and expresses gratitude for him
- Expresses what she wants without trying to control him
- Relies on him to handle household finances
- Focuses on her own self-care and fulfillment
One of the more interesting items on the list is the last one: that the "surrendered wife" needs to make happiness for herself instead of expecting her spouse to magically provide the happiness and meaning in her life. This is a bit weird, because it's like the opposite of being "surrendered." It's like, "Take responsibility for your own happiness! Your relationship isn't the end-all-and-be-all!"
One of the more potentially contentious aspects of being a "surrendered wife" that doesn't come up on this list has to do with sex. Part of the idea is usually that even when you don't feel like it, you should have sex with your husband even when you're not in the mood.
Of course, there is a way of understanding this in which it is awful and sexist: that no matter how you're feeling your feelings don't matter, you just have to have sex when the other person wants it. But there's another way to think of it that seems to be completely normal and good advice for everyone, both men and women: if the person you love wants to have sex with you, and you don't feel like it, you don't have to say "no" immediately. Maybe try it out a bit. See how it goes.
In fact, recent research into women's sexuality has raised the idea that maybe expecting desire to arise "spontaneously" is a male-centric model of sexuality. For many women, desire is "responsive" and emerges in connection with sexual activity itself. To think spontaneous desire is "better" is just another form of taking women to be "lesser."
So that just leaves ... money. And no, of course partners should engage in shared decision-making about money. So that one, I think, doesn't translate over. But frankly, it seems an odd fit with the rest of the list anyway.
I don't know how normal relationship ideas got so strange that respecting the other person's opinions and being grateful and not trying to control them became "surrender" rather than just, you know, normal life, but I guess that's just another one of those insane things about the early 21st century.