Husband & Wife Articles


To Love, Cherish and Obey – The Wedded Way

Kate may not have promised to obey her Prince – but I did

By Heather Keimig

I, Heather, take thee, Bill, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and OBEY, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law.

The Keming Family

Bill and Heather Keimig have a young family with five children, "thus far," they say.

Those are the words I vowed at our wedding nearly 15 years ago. Bill vowed almost identical words to me – with the exception of “obey.”

Why? Why don’t we both vow obedience or why don’t we just reject the promise of spousal obedience as the royal couple did recently, with much media hype?

The answer is to be found in the sacred Scriptures that the Lord gave us, particularly in Ephesians 5:21-33. There we see how marriage is to be the natural, tangible sign of the relationship between Christ the Bridegroom, and his Church the Bride.

Does Christ obey the Church? No. Does he sacrifice himself consistently and completely for her? Yes! Does the Church get to turn away from her Bridegroom in disgust or disagreement? No. Does she carefully, steadily and completely surrender to his perfect will, knowing that his commands are given out of perfect love and for her well-being?  Yes.

But, you say, my bridegroom leaves his socks on the floor and can’t remember to get the trash out on the right days! Why do I have to obey someone like that?!

Well, first of all, are you perfect? Probably not! Me neither. Our husbands have to love us sacrificially – even to the point of death for us – while we continue to sin (see Ephesians 5:25). On the other hand, our obedience to them ends at the point they ask us to do something sinful, against reason, impossible to achieve, or harmful to ourselves or someone else. I would say that we definitely have the easier role to play in this duet.

Secondly, it has been my experience that when I give the gift of my obedience to my (definitely not without sin) husband, I help him become holier! I think only God could set up something like that! And here is the secret to marital obedience. I do not obey my husband because he is worthy of obedience, although he happens to be a really great guy. I obey my husband because he is the man the Lord has given to me to be the head of our home and life together. He is a gift from the Lord to me! I obey him because I love the Lord first and best, and it is he who has asked me to live with and obey my husband.

My “yes” to follow my Lord in faith has now expanded to include my life with my husband. My gift of obedience to my husband is actually a gift of obedience to the Lord first, although because it is acted out in our marriage it appears to be given first to my husband. This gift given to the Lord is returned to me in greater measure by the graces poured out on my husband. These graces help his heart to conform more perfectly to Christ’s Sacred Heart and mimic Christ’s love for the Church, represented in our home life by me.

This circular gifting and growing in grace is what is possible when marital love is allowed to blossom in the rich soil of sacramental graces. This is the sort of home life that surely Jesus experienced with Mary and Joseph! And he makes it possible for us, too, if we draw fresh grace from the sacrament of Matrimony every day to be used to bring new life and love into our homes.

St. Catherine of Siena said, “Oh! How sweet and glorious is the virtue of obedience, by which all other virtues exist, because it is the offspring of LOVE!” 

Let us read this passage with open eyes and hearts:

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5: 21-27

Bill & Heather Keimig obey the Lord together, submitting to one another, in the DC Metro area of Maryland. Their kids generally need more practice.