Spouses are called to love each other in their complementarity
St. Paul the Apostle. Upon encountering this passage, many a modern eye or ear might deem it a chauvinistic and unfair command that deprives a woman of freedom and takes away her personal dignity. But the Church’s teaching on this point – often terribly misunderstood by both men and women – is one that not only recognizes, but also safeguards the dignity of women.
Ephesians 5. The continuation of the aforementioned passage, which is far too often overlooked, includes the command to husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. … In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Casti Connubii, Pius XI).
From a pastoral perspective, it is probably more beneficial for couples to reflect less on the question of authority and more on St. Paul’s injunction to both husbands and wives, which comes before his individual commands to each, to be “subjected to one another out of reverence for Christ” (
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa (Preacher to the Papal Household under both Bl. John Paul II and Benedict XVI) says, “In this case, to be subject means to take into account the wishes, opinion and sensitivity of one’s spouse; to discuss, not to decide on one’s own; to be able to give up one’s own point of view. In short, to remember that both are ‘spouses,’ that is, literally, persons who are under ‘the same yoke,’ freely chosen.”
For Your Marriage, USCCB
Casti Connubii, On Christian Marriage, Encyclical, Pope Pius XI, 1930
Mulieris Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Apostolic Letter, Pope Bl John Paul II, 1988
Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage, Pontifical Council of the Family
Theology of the Body, Pope Bl John Paul II
The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Pontifical Council of the Family