Shakespeare’s story “Taming of the Shrew” tries to teach a message that grates on every feminist movement today; that women should obey their husbands blindly. But in Shakespeare’s defense, he lived in a time, when women were not considered equal beings to men, but were instead their husband’s property. They were taught that their sole function in life was to marry, have children and look after their homes and husbands. Girls were taught that God had commanded them to be obedient to men – be it father or husband. Times have changed since then, thankfully to the better, but the question still arises to what extent should women obey their husbands? Obviously we need to reach a middle ground for the both the wife’s interests and the good of the marriage relationship.
In an open discussion between three couples, wives obedience to their men took on a very specific term. Everyone agreed that rules don’t apply unless the husband is a reasonable and average man. Crazy, unreasonable, neurotic men don’t fall into the equation. But when it came down to reasonable, fair men, the ladies all agreed that marriage was a give and take, and most decisions would be a joint discussion between both parties. Their husbands would generally be willing to discuss and take their opinions into account, but when it came down to disagreements they would obey their husbands for the sake of not rocking the boat, and then try to bring up the issue at a later date. The tone of the request would always be a factor on how they would respond. If it was a direct order, they would still follow it, they wouldn’t be too happy about it, but they’d follow it nonetheless.
There was a general consensus between the ladies and the men about the limit in which women had a right to blatantly disagree and disobey their husbands; on top of the list was if his request was demeaning, humiliating, or in any way affecting her dignity. Close after that was if he requested that she sever all ties with her family, and if it was something prohibited or wrong. The women added to the list they would disobey extravagant and illogical financial purchases and commitments. Like the husband wanting to buy a home entertainment system for 20,000EGP when they have a perfectly good one at home. One of the husbands said that a wife had a right to disobey her husband if his request was going to cause her, him, or their family any harm; physical or psychological.
Both the Islamic and Christian religions require that the wife be obedient to her husband. The Qur’an says that the “Men are in charge of women.” (An-Nisa’: 34). While the bible says “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Eph 5:24 But both holy books can be taken out of context if looked at the wrong way, which has actually been happening for thousands of centuries. When God requested that women be obedient to their husbands, he did not mean that a husband is superior to his wife, but that he is responsible for her. He is responsible for her well-being, health and happiness, just as she is responsible for his well-being, health and happiness. In the end both parties are equal in their stature, responsibilities and duties.
So back to Petruchio and Kate, had Shakespeare been a woman, she would have Kate give us the following advice:
Your husband should be your harbor, and the only person in the world whom you trust explicitly. Conflicts will arise that will need to be dealt with. If after constructive communication and compromise, you cannot reach a mutual decision, then the final word should be left up to the most informed party-It would be completely illogical for your husband to insist on painting the living room yellow if you are an interior designer. When all else fails, you have to have a standing agreement, on who gets the final word when it is impossible to reach a common decision.
Now all of this depends on the type of man you married. There are two scenarios here:
1- You are a lucky girl who married a man who understands that women are truly equal and appreciate them for what they really are; intelligent companions who will share burdens and joy on their mutual life journey. If this is the case, then you probably won’t even need this article. Hopefully, the only time your husband will be asking you to obey him is when he insists on buying you that extremely enormous diamond ring that you’ve been drooling after against your wishes.
2- You are the unlucky type of girl who is married a stone-age mind man, like the remaining 95% of us, then you are facing the following problem; you want to preserve your marriage without being made to feel like a unpaid 24hr full service maid/nanny/assistant/wife. In that case, it is time to stand up for your-self girl! Start small and simple, and understand it is not about proving who is right or wrong, but about reaching a compromise. Sometimes all that it needs is some clear, simple words. If you feel that your husband is requesting your compliance on situational basis, then try to see his point of view. Giving into the other side in an argument to solve it does not lessen you. You are not changing yourself or becoming someone’s puppet, you are in a relationship and working on its success.
If your husband is still asking for your obedience on trivial and major issues with no justification and no logical ground. Then maybe it is time you obtained, professional help through a marriage counselor. Sometimes men need to assert their presence due to low feelings of self esteem and inadequacy. A trained psychiatrist will help him deal with these issues and understand that having a wife who speaks her mind and judges for herself does not make him any lesser or weaker.
Any thriving marriage is built on truth and successful and constant communication. This means that under no circumstances should you agree to follow your husband’s requests and then do what you want behind his back. Lies like these cause cracks in your relationship that keep growing until the whole structure collapses.