This article is about a practice at wedding ceremonies
that some marriage officers and couples are still doing.
It is an indication of how many still view females in
society. Read with an open mind.
You are about to attend a wedding ceremony of Robert Silver and Susan Hickly.
I have one question for you to ponder. Could a Bahamian wedding ceremony be
evidence of maladaptive traditions in our society? Walk down the aisle with me
and letís find out. Walking through the doors of a beautifully decorated
church are two eager lovers. After the hymn and opening prayer the congregation
is seated waiting for those precious moments. Something is about to happen. The
minister conducts the exchange of vows. Then he says: "I now pronounce you man
and wife." These words speak directly to our concept of the marriage
relationship. What am I taking about you may be asking?
It always intrigues me when I hear ministers commenting during wedding
ceremonies how loving a man and woman should be toward each other in marriage.
They quote verses from the love passage - 1 Corinthians 13, then the couple
ritualistically recite their vows. With deep anticipation the congregation
gleefully listens to the thrilling voices, though nervous, of the groom and
bride as the minister articulates these words: "Will you have this
man/woman to be your wedded husband/wife, to live together after Godís
ordinance in the sacred estates of matrimony? Will you love, honor, and cherish
each other, in sickness, and in health, in prosperity or adversity; and
forsaking all other, keep yourself only for each other, so long as you both
shall live?" Of course one can see the movement of hundreds outer ears as
everyone anticipates the words "I do." How beautiful!
The excitement builds. Hearts throb until the pastor throws the bombshell:
"I now pronounce you man and wife." Whatís wrong? The pastor did not
say "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Is this just
a slip of the tongue? Is it ignorance? Am I just pulling teeth here? I can
assure you that in most cases it is an expression of our concept of who is
really getting married: the woman. She becomes the bride and the man remains a
man. He does not become a husband. "She is getting married to him, he is
not getting married to her," said an old-fashioned Bahamian father.
True, these husbands are not planning to be unfaithful to their marriage
vows. At least 30 percent will remain faithful. Here is the problem. It centers
around who is in charge. Traditionally, the word "man" signifies
control, in-charge, strength, and leadership. Therefore, even during a wedding
ceremony, the pastor attempts not to take away his leadership responsibilities.
He must remain a man. On the other hand, as a way of showing the bride's
dependence on her man, she is called the "wife." Thus, we have
"man and wife." Then to make matters worse the womanís loving
character and personality is lost when the pastor flies in the final scare
tactic with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in the
Bahamas I proudly present, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Silver." Then we hear the
But where did the wife go? I thought she had a name? All through the
ceremony the pastor was addressing the bride directly by using her name. After
the legal and religious ceremonies are over, all of a sudden she does not exist.
She loses all identity. At least that is how it appears. How pitiful!
We must put an end to this. At the end of the next wedding ceremony when a
pastor does not call the first name of the bride, letís refuse to clap. Letís
be silent. Letís begin an Island-wide "identity-in-marriage
protest." No man is called to be the boss or ruler over his wife. He is
called to be her partner, lover, friend, and companion. Brides, insist that you
are equal in the marriage relationship and it starts at the altar when the
pastor says "Ladies and gentlemen I proudly present, Mr. Robert &
Mrs. Susan Silver.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and a
board certified clinical psychotherapist (USA). Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 242 327 1980
or 305 767 4976 or 242 477 4002