“The Real Housewives of Atlanta” sparked a debate about submission in marriage on last Sunday’s episode. Here’s a brief synopsis of the controversy, for those, like me, who don’t watch reality television. The ladies decided to venture to a strip club during an all-girls trip. Porsha Stewart, wife of former NFL star Kordell Stewart, declined to participate in the excursion. Porsha cited her husband’s displeasure in her being in the strip-club environment as her reason for not throwing dollars with her fellow housewives. The other ladies, including fellow married gals Cynthia and Phaedra, pounced on Porsha, alleging Kordell is controlling and treats his wife like his daughter instead of his equal. Nene threw the final grenade by referring to Porsha as “submissive” and incapable of forming her own decisions.
Porsha defended her husband on the show and has also responded to the incident in an interview with The Grio. She claims she submits to her husband because that’s the role of a wife. “It’s not a bad thing. That’s a great thing,” she explained. “We’re supposed to be submissive to our husbands and let them be the leaders. That’s just what I do. I’m old school in the way that I think about that.”
I don’t agree with reality television starlets often, but this time, I’m siding with Porsha.
Submission is a complex concept in all relationships, including organized religions and marriages. When some of us envision submission we see an abused, battered and co-dependent woman submitting to her husband’s unhealthful whims as he berates and belittles her physically, emotionally and psychologically. Some of us equate submission with absence of individuality and independent thought. To be clear, submission can be dangerous if one party is demanding while the other is meek.
However, positive submission requires minimal pain, unless it involves BDSM, which I have little knowledge of. Submission in relationships indicate an elevated level of trust between partners. Whether it’s trust between a husband and wife or trust between God and servant, submission requires it. Faith is developed from trust. You have to trust your husband is leading the marriage in a positive direction so you can have faith in his abilities to lead the household. All submission isn’t negative. Husbands and wives should submit to each other in order to develop the oneness successful marriages require.
Being submissive does not strip a husband or wife of independence and it does not indicate co-dependence. It is simply an aggrandized trust and faith that allows a marriage to prosper by keeping both parties in-tune with the will and desires of the collective unit.
In Porsha’s case, adhering to her husband’s preference was more important than bending to the will of her television costars. It should be. If her husband prefers she isn’t in strip clubs, she should adhere to that and the same standard should be set for him. That’s how marriages are supposed to operate.
Should other women follow Porsha’s lead?