Is Being a Submissive Wife the New Hollywood Trend?

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January 10, 2014

Over the last few decades, there has been a major focus on promoting the equality and independence of women but, recently, a number of women also seem ready to accept a more submissive role in their relationship.

BalancingItAll_CVR-460x700This past week, Candace Cameron Bure, who you may remember as DJ Tanner on Full House, revealed her secret for staying happily married after 17 years and three kids.  She explained that she lets her husband, retired hockey player Val Bure, take the lead.

The actress, who penned the book Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose, wrote, “I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.”

She told HuffPo Live: “I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of the family and those decisions, major decisions, do fall on him. It doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I absolutely do. But it is very difficult to have two heads of authority… I allow him to make the final choice. Obviously I will make my opinion very clear and clearly I have been married for 17 years and we have a very happy marriage and it works very well.  The definition that I’m using with submissive is the biblical definition,” she explained. “It’s meekness. It is not weakness. It’s strength under control. It’s bridled strength.”

Volleyball superstar, Gabrielle Reece, who had also been married 17 years at the time of her comments, had similar things to say. She appeared on both the Today show and Rock Center with Brian Williams and revealed that she and her husband, pro surfer Laird Hamilton, adopted a more “old-fashioned” relationship after nearly filing for divorce.  In her memoir, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper, she wrote: “to truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and –- look out, here it comes –- submissive.”

Reece explained her sentiments during the interviews: “I think the idea of living with a partner is ‘How can I make their life better?’  So if I’m the woman and he’s the man, then yes, that’s the dynamic. I’m willing and I choose to serve my family and my husband because it creates a dynamic where he is then, in fact, acting more like a man and masculine and treating me the way I want to be treated … I think because women have the ability to set the tone, that the ultimate strength and showing real power, I believe, is creating that environment. I think it’s a sign of strength.’’

On a much smaller scale, other celebrities are choosing to forego their life as a career woman in favor of putting family first.  Stars such as Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan have all but disappeared while they focus on motherhood.  In the upcoming issue of Glamour magazine, recently engaged actress, Gabrielle Union, made a revelation: “Over the summer, I reassessed priorities. I’d always wanted an awesome career with back-to-back projects, but I realized I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my relationship for it.”

Union came to this conclusion after she and her NBA star fiancé, Dwayne Wade, broke up last year.  He fathered a child with another woman during their time apart.  In the wake of their separation, the 41-year-old actress placed the blame on herself: “(The breakup) was because of distance and scheduling.  I finished filming the show. Then I flew to Vegas right away to start shooting ‘Think Like a Man Too.’ I couldn’t take time off, and I missed some quality togetherness we desperately needed.”  Presumably, his grueling basketball schedule played a role in their lack of downtime but Union takes responsibility for the problem.

Is this the key to a happy marriage?  A 2012 Norwegian study found that the risk of divorce increased for couples when the man was asked to do housework.  In fact, the divorce rate among couples who shared the chores equally was about 50 percent higher than among those where the woman was primarily responsible for housework.

It’s too early to know if being submissive or taking care of the home will change our divorce rates in the long run but it will be interesting to see how this affects relationships in the not-so-distant future.

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