Three weeks to go. Three more weeks, and Maria would be walking down the aisle to start her new life with Anthony Capello. The man she’d met and fallen head over heels in love with, only nine months ago. He was perfect – tall, broad shouldered, dark, intelligent, wealthy. And she’d been delighted when he’d proposed, on one knee, with the most exquisite diamond ring, when they’d been going out a mere three months.
Sure, Maria had been surprised at some of Anthony’s traditional views on things to do with marriage that had come out as they’d been planning the wedding, but his take on life was hardly surprising when you considered he’d grown up in an big Italian Catholic family, the youngest of five brothers. For now, she was willing to go along with his ideas, even attending church with him regularly, something she hadn’t done since she was teenager. She figured once they were married, she could start to mould him more towards her more relaxed way of thinking.
But there was the wedding to enjoy first, and all the festivities and excitement that comes with it. And tonight, her mother-in-law and four sister-in-laws-to-be had invited her for a special “family only” hen’s night – a family tradition, they’d told her. A chance for them to welcome her properly into the Capello family. Maria smiled to herself as she knocked at the ornate door of her future parents-in-law – she did love to be the centre of attention.
“Maria, do come in”. Stella, the wife of Anthony’s oldest brother Mario, beckoned her into the house. “The others are all waiting for you in the sitting room. It’s going to be quite a night.” Stella smiled, knowingly.
Maria followed Stella, feeling good about her choice of dress for the evening. Stella was, as usual, very put together – her silky slip dress showed off her curves, although Maria felt it was a shame that the longer hemline didn’t show off her legs as much as she could have. Maria had also chosen a silky dress, bright red, although her own dress finished well above the knee, leaving plenty of her long, shapely tanned legs on display. She knew she could feel proud to take her place amongst the other beautiful women that the Capello boys all seem to have chosen.
“Welcome, Maria… sit beside me.” Anthony’s mother, Gabriella, gestured to the empty spot on the couch beside her. Gabriella was in her late 50s, and very much the matriarch of the family. Gathered around her were Bianca, Isabella and Natalie, her other daughters-in-law, and now joined by Stella.
Maria took her place next to Gabriella and smiled at each of the others. She was a bit surprised by the appraising looks they seemed to be giving her in return.
“Maria, in only a few short weeks, you could be joining our family as Anthony’s wife. With that role, comes certain expectations… certain duties. You know we are a traditional family, with traditional values.” Gabriella paused, looking around the woman gathered. Maria noticed that the others were nodding in agreement as to Gabriella’s assessment of the family’s approach to life. “The vows you will exchange with Anthony will include the words ‘love, honor and obey’. It is your vow of obedience we want to explore the meaning of with you tonight, to make sure you are properly prepared to be a good wife for Anthony.”
Maria was puzzled – she thought this ‘hen’s night’ was going to be all about her – a few drinks, some pampering, perhaps even some special gifts that she would be given to start her marriage off with. She’d hardly thought she’d come to discuss marriage vows. And what was all this talk about obedience? She’d almost laughed when Anthony had said they’d be using such traditional wedding vows, but he’d looked so serious she hadn’t challenged him on it at the time. Now she was beginning to wonder if that might have been a mistake.
She snapped out of her reverie to focus again on what Gabriella was saying.
“In our family, we believe it is the husband’s role to have dominion over his wife. It is his duty to discipline his wife, to ensure she leads a pure life and learns to be obedient. It is the wife’s duty to do as he commands and to accept whatever punishment he chooses for her when she misbehaves. We need to know you are fully prepared to submit to this arrangement, when you marry Anthony. And so this evening, to prove you are worthy and ready to be a good wife, you will submit to the discipline we have planned. Do you accept?”
To be continued...
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