Monday, January 23, 2006

Rights and obligations of husbands and wives

Ptr. Alen and Sis. Ruth The Family Code mentions the word “love” only twice and the first mention of the word is found in Title III which covers Articles 68 up to 73. The second mention of the word “love” is in Article 220 which states the rights and duties of parents towards their unemancipated children. Paragraph (2) of the article states that among the duties of parents towards their children is “to give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding.”

Anyway, let’s proceed from this romantic, mushy (this is redundant, right?) stuff about “love” and get on with the nitty-gritty details of the rights and obligations between husbands and wives.

As “Insight for Living” Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll once said, “The basis of a good marriage is not love; it is commitment.” What he's saying is that love is not a matter of the emotions, but of the will, of volition (this is really redundant, right?) You might want to review my article "Love Potion No. 9" where I wrote about dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin. These chemicals produced by the human body and which some people have termed as the “cuddle chemicals” are believed responsible for that mysterious thing called love.

After the Family Code primer immediately below, I will discuss what the Bible says about rights and duties of husbands and wives, okay?

What are the rights and obligations of spouses under the Family Code?

The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support. (Art. 68, Family Code of the Philippines)

What if one spouse refuses to comply with his or her marital obligations as provided under Art. 68, can the offended spouse legally compel him to come home and comply with such obligations?

The Supreme Court in the case of Ilusorio vs. Ilusorio-Bildner (G.R. No. 139789 July 19, 2001 and G.R. No. 139808 July 19, 2001) stated among other things that “consortium” or “coverture” (the obligation to, live together, observe mutual, respect and fidelity) is prompted by the spontaneous, mutual love and affection between husband and wife and cannot be enforced by any legal mandate or court order.

The Ilusorio decision written by Justice Pardo revolved around this issue: “May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with her in conjugal bliss? The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and living in conjugal dwelling may not be enforced by the extra-ordinary writ of habeas corpus.”

The Supreme Court as a final note in the Ilusorio decision stated, “No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to the man and woman’s free choice.”

Who decides on the family domicile?

The husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case of disagreement, the court shall decide. (Art. 69)

Article 68 states that the spouses are obliged to live together. Are there exceptions?

The court may exempt one spouse from living with the other if the latter should live abroad or there are other valid and compelling reasons for the exemption. However, such exemption shall not apply if the same is not compatible with the solidarity of the family. (2nd paragraph, Art.69)

Who is responsible for the support of the family?

The spouses are jointly responsible for the support of the family. The expenses for such support and other conjugal obligations shall be paid from the community property and, in the absence thereof, from the income or fruits of their separate properties. In case of insufficiency or absence of said income or fruits, such obligations shall be satisfied from the separate properties. (Art. 70)

Who manages the household?

The management of the household shall be the right and the duty of both spouses. The expenses for such management shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of Article 70.

What if the husband or the wife neglects his or her duties to the family?

When one of the spouses neglects his or her duties to the conjugal union or commits acts which tend to bring danger, dishonor or injury to the other or to the family, the aggrieved party may apply to the court for relief. (Art. 72)

Under RA 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004”, the wife can petition the Family Court where she resides for a Protection Order.

Can the wife exercise her profession or engage in business even without the permission of her husband?

Either spouse may exercise any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity without the consent of the other. The latter may object only on valid, serious, and moral grounds. (Art.73)

What if there is disagreement between the spouses?

In case of disagreement, the court shall decide whether or not:

(1) The objection is proper; and

(2) Benefit has occurred to the family prior to the objection or thereafter. If the benefit accrued prior to the objection, the resulting obligation shall be enforced against the separate property of the spouse who has not obtained consent.
If the husband refuses unjustifiably to allow his wife to exercise her profession or engage in business, what are the rights of the wife?

RA 9262, under paragraph (4) of Section 5 lists this situation as a act of violence against a woman. The said paragraph penalizes the man (husband or live-in partner) if he “prevents the woman from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controls the victim's own money or properties, or solely controls the conjugal or common money, or properties.”

Rights and obligations of husbands and wives from the Biblical standpoint

Ephesians 5:21 up to 33 outline the rights and obligations of husbands and wives:

21. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
I Peter 3: 1-12 also state the rights and duties of husbands and wives toward each other:

1. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2. While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6. Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
8. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11. Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
In the area of relationships and marriage, there cannot be a more explosive and divisive issue than that of the headship of men and the submission of women. Sometime in the late 1990’s, I think, the Southern Baptist Convention issued an official statement asking women to “graciously submit” to their husbands. Needless to say, that statement was greeted with controversy, scorn and ridicule from different sectors and even from within the Convention itself. Feminist groups have been saying all these time that the Biblical injunction for women to submit to their husbands is an open invitation for spousal abuse.

If you want a thorough discussion of the Biblical doctrines of the headship of men and the submission of women, I recommend the following books to you:
1. “Strike the Original Match” by Chuck Swindoll; Multnomah Press © 1980; specifically the chapters entitled “Let’s Repair the Foundation” and “Bricks that Build a Marriage.”

2. “The Grace Awakening” also by Chuck Swindoll; Word Publishing, ©1996; specifically the chapter entitled “A Marriage Oiled by Grace”

3. “Together Forever” by Anne Kristin Caroll; Zondervan, © 1982 by Barbara J. Denis); specifically the chapter entitled “Who Wears the Pants?”

4. “Rocking the Roles” by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks; NavPress, ©1991; specifically the chapters entitled “The ‘S’ Word” and “The Masculine Counterpart to the ‘S’ Word.”
I have previously written about the headship of men and the submission of women, and you might want to re-read it. Part of that article reads as follows:

Lewis and Hendricks, while maintaining the traditional view of the headship of men and the submission of women, clarify however that submission is not a wife’s role. Rather, they say, submission is the wife’s loving response to her husband’s loving and sacrificial headship.

“Roles” and ‘responses” may sound like only semantics to you, but I encourage you to read “Rocking the Roles.” The most striking statement in this book about submission is found in page 135: “A biblically submissive wife’s focus is not on enabling wrong behavior, but in empowering her husband to pursue right behavior – to become the man God wants him to be, and the leader God wants him to be.”

I remember something Dr. James Dobson wrote in his classic book (highly recommended!) “Love Must Be Tough” about submission. Dobson said, “Being a spiritually submissive wife doesn’t mean being a doormat.”

Caroll, who writes her book out of the crucible of the pain of her divorce (and remarriage to the same guy) says on page 126, “Submission is freedom.”
During the wedding reception of a Filipino missionary couple bound for a Creative Access Nation, the groom wished out loud that his wife would submit to him. That brought about a lot of laughter among the guests. Well, Sir, please do keep in mind Lewis and Hendricks’ definition of submission and I’m sure your marriage will turn out okay. What’s their definition again? “A biblically submissive wife’s focus is not on enabling wrong behavior, but in empowering her husband to pursue right behavior – to become the man God wants him to be, and the leader God wants him to be.”