We know that Hollywood’s Cameron family, Candace Cameron Bure, who was on “Full House,” and Kirk Cameron, who was on “Growing Pains,” are both evangelical Christians. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Candace informed HuffPost Live that she takes a submissive role in her marriage to Valeri Bure, a retired National Hockey League player.
Candance was speaking about her new book, Balancing It All, particularly a passage about her husband’s “desire to have the final decision on just about everything”:
“My husband is a natural-born leader. 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.”
HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd commented that in 2013, the word “submissive” is a “powerful choice.” “Sure, it is,” Cameron responded, continuing:
“But the definition that I’m using with the word ‘submissive’ is the Biblical definition of that. It is meekness, not weakness. ‘Meek’ is strength under control. It’s bridled strength. That is what I choose to have in my marriage. Listen, I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of our family and those 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. It doesn’t work int he military. You have one president, you know what I’m saying? Then you have the vice president. Then you have all the people under, working with him. When you have two heads, that poses a lot of — can pose — a lot of issues. In my marriage, we are equal in our importance, but we are just different in our performances.”
Nancy Redd then gave her some pushback, saying that even if they disagree on something, Cameron’s husband is “right.”
“No, it doesn’t mean he’s right,” Cameron replied. “I allow him to make the final choice.”
“Even at the detriment of your family?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she replied. “But obviously, I will make my opinion very clear. Clearly, I have been married for 17 years and we have a very happy marriage and it works very well. I trust my husband. But that trust has been built. I know because i trust him and I build him up and give him the respect he would like to have within marriage that he soooo listens to everything I have to say and takes my opinion very seriously. And many of the times, he will sway to what I would like, even if he doesn’t see eye to eye with me, because he values my opinion. So I use that word, but I feel like it’s taken so strongly, when I’m, like, ‘everyone just calm down.’”
All of this can sound nauseating to modern, feminist women. Alas, Candace’s statements are very par for the course as far as Christian submission in traditional relationships goes: as decreed in the Bible, the husband submits to God and the wife submits to them both. It is seen as a Biblically declared role, although not all women who submit are Christians, or even religious, or gender essentialists. Some, in fact, are kinky folks who let it lead into the bedroom, while others are simply seeking a way to make a marriage function. What Candace said about how submission to her husband is “strength” echoes what volleyball player Gabrielle Reece also said about submitting to her husband, pro surfer Laird Hamilton. Both of these women use the word “strength” referring to submission, it would seem, because they feel they are supporting their husband in his role as leader/decision maker and thus feeling more secure in the marriage.
Of course, I have the concerns about how a wife and their children could be abused when the husband is the head of the household. What if he is a complete dick? Or a meathead? What if the couple exists within an insular evangelical culture that pressures her to do this more than she would like? That’s all worthy and necessary for feminist critique. But I also reject the notion that such women are inherently being abused or dumb or simpering wallflowers because they submit. Of the women whose stories I’ve read about who seem supportive of submissive relationships, they seem to want the man to take a leadership position so they aren’t constantly butting heads. They seem to want him to lead because, for whatever reasons, those traditional gender roles work for them. I can understand that. I also think we have to let couples make decisions about how they conduct their private relationship and respect what they chose, even if it’s note what we would chose. There are many, many couples for whom wifely submission seems to work happily, according to their own reports. If they are both happy and their marriage is functional and fulfilling to them both, who am I to judge?
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.
[Image via Getty]