Years before we got married, whenever we attended a wedding together, the wife would always make it a point to huff, puff and almost roll her eyes out of her head whenever the bride knelt down for her husband.
In Yoruba traditional engagement ceremonies, you’ll often find brides kneeling to place a cap on their husband’s head. The groom typically reciprocates by spraying her with money and then lifting the bride up in the air. During the church ceremony you’ll find a “remix” of this same act when the bride kneels before her husband to feed him wedding cake.
Nothing drives my wife crazier than this practice. If you make the mistake of engaging in a debate with her she’ll ask you “WHO decided this should be the custom?” “Why should a wife be forced to kneel before her husband… someone who she has sex with, like an elder? Is he her father or her mother?” Why are we forcing women to act as though they’re ‘under’ the person who is meant to be their life partner?”
Obviously, I never noticed it enough to have a real stance on the issue. I figured if a man has to kneel to propose, why not the woman? But the wife made it very clear to me, even though we weren’t engaged yet, that she wouldn’t be kneeling before me at either our engagement or white wedding. Now, the typical Naija man might have taken this to be a sign that he would in trouble if he decided to marry her, but I wasn’t bothered.
Why you ask?
- I didn’t care about the kneeling. “Submission” in the bible does not mean that any woman must be forced to kneel before me. While Yoruba custom might find kneeling to be a way to express that submission, and though she was happy to do it for our parents and other elders, I fully respected her wishes not to do such with me. I’d realized a long time ago that a happy wife, means a happy husband and this just wasn’t a big enough deal to me to warrant an argument.
- As long as she was willing to kneel in private for um *cough cough* other things, why would I care about public kneeling?
- She agreed not to let me carry her at our traditional engagement. Maybe she was worried I’d drop her (Maybe she was right to) but I figured she’d spared us both a major public embarrassment, so how could I refuse?
So at our engagement, instead of kneeling before me, she sat on my lap, leaned in with a kiss and “crowned” me. Not a beat was missed. Not a single person noticed the difference.
And we’re still happily married.