From Michelle Obama to Kate Middleton to Victoria Beckham — the 'surrendered wife' seems to be making a comeback. If you're not au fait with the plot here goes — a decade ago Laura Doyle wrote The Surrendered Wife, a step-by-step guide to marital romance and harmony. Doyle's book urged women to relinquish control to their man and to refrain from baiting or provoking him. Allow him to solve your problems, she urged women, so he never has a sense you might be cleverer than him.
SO asked six women to comment.
A Surrendered Wife Without The Enemy Or Opponent...
By Nicole McLaren-Campbell, MSc
AIM Educational Services
The traditional definition of the term surrender is to "stop resisting an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority". Hopefully no wife sees her husband as her opponent or enemy, and certainly this is not the way I see my husband. So I think "surrendered" is a misnomer based on what the tenets of the "surrendered" wife are (according to Laura Doyle, the best-selling author of the book of the same name). Doyle does highlight some aspects that are critical to a happy marriage — for example, I think respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship (which definitely goes both ways). Also, we both require support from each other to achieve our goals, for ourselves and our family. To be honest, because I have to be in control, so much in my work life, I am relieved to 'surrender' to someone I trust and believe in —- so I am 100 per cent happy with my husband having 'control' of household finances and major things, like building our house, for example. It's the best feeling ever!
I always express appreciation for him, to him, and I don't have the time (or inclination) to attempt to control him. I do trust him.
I think my disposable income however, has little to do with whether I am surrendered or not since I work very hard and love having control over my personal finances. I also absolutely love focusing on my children and my own 'self care and fulfilment' ... so I guess you could say I am a very happy, 'surrendered' wife — without the enemy or opponent!
The Surrendered 'Dance'
By Melanie Schwapp
I have never heard my husband laugh so hard as when I asked him if I fulfilled the requirements of a 'surrenderd wife' as listed by Laura Doyle. After the laughter had subsided and I took my bruised 'great wife' ego to a quiet place, I reflected on Doyle's theory. I realised that I had indeed changed from that starry-eyed bride, 21 years ago, when I had not for once taken into consideration the challenges of marriage. There were confrontations through the years, but the most binding aspect of those differences was that we began a sort of dance, and we learned the steps together. We learned when one partner was to take the lead, and when the other was to follow. I truly believe that in many aspects of my marriage I have become a 'surrendered wife', acquiescing to my husband's lead because I learned that he was wiser in those areas. However, in the same respect, my husband has relinquished many aspects to me, and as much as he may not like the term, he has in many instances become a 'surrendered husband'. But marriage is just that - two lives trying to fall into step with their own dance. To the world, they are swirling happily to the music, but only they know the many practices they had to endure to fall into mutual rhythm. So I say to Laura Doyle — I am enjoying my dance, even though we are still learning the steps. And I say to my husband, 'he who laughs last...'
There is one important aspect that Doyle seems to forget in her theory of the surrendered wife - husbands are human, and very capable of making mistakes. What then of the balance that a wife's guidance and intervention may bring? There is the risk of wrong financial decisions, alcoholism, infidelity, even abuse. If she is surrendered, she will not interfere with her husband's decisions, and the whole aspect of a marriage, of combining the strengths of two individuals is therefore lost. In my opinion, a 'surrendered wife' is one who has chosen to take the easy way out. Marriage is challenging only because it requires individuals to learn compromise and respect, sometimes in the worst situations. It is only when each party opens up about their needs, their beliefs and their vulnerabilities that intimacy truly begins - and isn't that what sharing your life with someone is all about?
A Woman Can Have It All
By Jackie Stewart Lechler
Director, Stewart’s Auto Sales
With public figures such as Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama, it is hard to differentiate between their private and public personas as image and positive publicity are functions of their husband's profession.
I do not think for the average woman the 'surrendered wife' is making a comeback. However, in pursuit of harmony and balancing our desire of having a family and a career, a woman constantly seeks that fine balance between being an individual and being a nurturer.
I believe that a wife respects her husband's opinions whilst cherishing her own, receives his gifts graciously and returns the favour, expresses gratitude for him and thankfulness for herself, appreciates his intelligence without concern for her cleverness.
There is a place for being a trusting, respectful, grateful and faithful wife when these attributes have been earned. I believe that household finances are best done by the individual best suited to the task.
We are mindful that there still exist cultures and religions where women are marginalised, where education and independence are withheld, and the role of a woman is to please her husband and elders. We are mindful that the small pleasures that we take for granted, such as driving a car, are forbidden or a privilege.
The concept that a 'Surrendered Wife' would lead to abundance and more satisfying, connected sex is an insult to the hardships borne by our mothers, grandmothers and forebears in their quest for equality.
Our Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is a standard bearer that women can have it all - a family and the highest career in the land.
Women Have Evolved
Tamara Scott Williams
Founder/President, The Second Wives’ Club (Jamaica)
Doyle's tenets for finding intimacy, passion and peace with your man - relinquish inappropriate control of him, respect his thinking, receive his gifts graciously and express gratitude for him - rely on him to handle household finances; express what you want and focus on your own self-care and fulfilment.
"Surrendered" implies yielding to the possession of another, abandoning oneself entirely to a powerful influence. The fact of the matter is that women have evolved - from chattel to concubine, from wife to partner, from independent or corporate professional to country leader. We're powerful, too, but we just haven't figured out how to accommodate two bulls in a china shop.
Women can have it all: powerful jobs and perfect homes; toned bodies and killer wardrobes; well-adjusted children and time to serve our communities and amidst all of that is woven the relationship with our husbands which should sustain us emotionally, physically and spiritually.
A more appropriate term, then, would be the "empowered wife": a wife made stronger and more confident about claiming her rights as a woman because of the choices and opportunities given to her and created by her and by the women who came before her. And if she chooses to love her husband in a way that supports him and fulfils both their needs, then so be it. For that is her choice.
And if it ain't working then she can find a new husband, for that is her choice, too.
Unruffled By The Image The Title Portrays
By Nicola Melhado
Special Projects, American International School Of Kingston
I am in every sense of the author's definition, a Surrendered Wife; passed her quiz with 100 per cent! All the results of being a Surrendered Wife are ours as a couple, and particularly so after over 22 years of being together. However, the word surrendered in the context of a marriage conjures images of passivity and the persona of a 'submissive' (50 Shades of Grey), leaving no room for the wife's self-expression and independence. While I would have chosen a less dramatic turn of phrase to describe my happily married life, my ego nevertheless (and that's all it is, really) is unruffled by the image the title conveys.
The couple portrayed in the book has rather unique characteristics. The Surrendered Wife's profile requires an emotionally mature, confident woman who chooses her battles wisely, while keeping her ego in check, and her "A" chess game on at all times. Hubby, on the other hand, becomes the perfect male - once wifey plays the game. It leaves the success or failure of the marriage up to the wife, which, when examined, is passive- aggressive, controlling and manipulative; the very characteristics the author advises against! Oh well, all roads lead to Rome but my particular path was not achieved using the Surrendered Wife tactic.
An Instruction Manual For Relationship Salvation...
By Odette Dixon-Neath
The quiet power behind many a powerful Rock brand
Surrendered Wife? This is great, I say to myself. A filler to pass the time until the return of my TV crush Homeland. Well, not so fast. The Surrendered Wife turns out to be an instruction manual for relationship salvation, in which the woman does all the saving. At first blush the subtitle should perhaps be On Becoming a Milquetoast, but there is some common sense, though buried like truffles deep in the forest of dribble, first name-only anecdotes and gilded quotes (Churchill and Henry David Thoreau? Forsooth, methinks that is too much.)
Take what you want from the so-called principles, but does one really need to be told to "receive his gifts graciously..."? That's nursery school etiquette, for sure. Perhaps most women will bristle at the idea that surrendering brings the proven results of peace, joy and feeling good about you. There is some confusion on Laura Doyle's thesis that women take control out of fear and while not all of it makes sense, when it's right, it's really right. Take, for example, the idea that when you trust you are anticipating the best outcome. Makes sense, yes? Or even this gem, "Be the VIP instead of the chauffeur". Which right-thinking person doesn't want to be on the receiving end of indulgence?
The thing about The Surrendered Wife is that for every protestation that it is an insult to women, there are ways in which the movement (and movement it is -books, blogs, coaches and self-care circles) has offered a well-needed life buoy. I'll take it all as they say, "under advisement". For now, I'll stick to Homeland, which for me is a more informed study of the complexities of human relationships, in all their brilliant and messy incarnations.