A wife and mother of four children ranging in age from seven to 14, Costanza Miriano works as a journalist for Rai (Italian public television). She’s a freelance writer who covers education and relationships, and she has worked with the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
The native of Perugia, Italy, has written four books, including “Marry Him and Be Submissive” and “Marry Her and Die For Her” (forthcoming from TAN Books). Her books have sold some 70,000 copies in Italy and have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish Slovenian — and now English.
“You can learn to love a person so different from you, and so full of flaws, just as you are, if you remember your spouse is God.”
Miriano latest book, “Marry Him and Be Submissive,” received backlash in Europe — especially in Spain. The book is based on biblical principles, but feminists are up in arms — and that includes Spain’s health minister, Ana Mato, who said, “I think it is inappropriate and disrespectful to women.”
But Miriano disagrees. She has argued she’s simply expressing marriage advice from a biblical perspective.
She talked with LifeZette about the new book and the positive and negative reactions she’s received.
Question: You’ve had considerable backlash concerning this book, but what has been some of the positive feedback?
Answer: I received thousands of emails and old-style letters from people, mostly women, but even men, too, saying their lives had been changed from my books. And gifts — both simple and precious things! — to tell me that my books are doing something useful: They help to change the way we look at our relationships.
I also receive many announcements of weddings, and I know at least five little Costanzas who were born after the reading of my books — this is the reason they have my name (and many other kids with different names). I think it’s the best result a writer can dream of — much more than a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, isn’t it?
Q: What negative feedback have you received?
A: The most serious was the denunciation from a government minister in Spain. The charge was instigation to violence against women, but it was just based on the title of my book. Other negative feedback has been negative articles in newspapers and insults on social networks, but I never read them. I block — or ask someone else to do it for me — negative people on Facebook, and I’m unsubscribed from Twitter. It’s not useful to know. I’m sure about what I write.
Q: What do you think is the key to “being submissive” and why is there a negative connotation?
A: To be submissive, as far as I understand from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and from my personal experience as a wife, is to resist the temptation to control and manipulate men, and, on the contrary, to learn to sustain them so they can become who they are — not who we want them to be.
It’s an expression of strength, not of weakness. I think it has a negative connotation because we instinctively rebel against the idea to obey, to be “under” someone else. It’s an old story: the original sin. We think we know what is best for us. We can learn to obey only if we know we have a Father who loves us. And contemporary men and mostly women have forgotten it.
Q: What do you say to people who think that “being submissive” is negative toward women?
A: I say it’s the highest expression of strength and greatness. Think about parents and children. Parents serve children — they care, they nourish, they protect them — because they are bigger. A woman stays under a man to make him be himself. She is under not as a doormat, but as a column.
Q: What is the key to a successful marriage — and how is prayer involved?
A: Sure, it is involved. It’s the key. You can learn to love a person so different from you, and so full of flaws, just the way you are, only if you remember that your spouse is God. The only path you can walk through to go toward God is your husband or your wife.
Q: What would you to say to a young woman who wants a successful marriage?
A: To start a serious and true and living relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe now it doesn’t seem necessary — you are young, you are in love, and everything seems to be easy. But Jesus Christ is the only one in the universe who can say, “I will love you forever,” and if you trust Him, you will be able to say it, and to do it, too.
Q: How do you think strong Christian marriages strengthen culture?
A: I think that a stable family is the most convenient realm to transmit culture through generations. Moreover, learning not to live along emotions is a way to a more orderly interior world, where you can develop choices and judgments. Culture is basically having the ability to judge the world, not following emotions.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you learned when researching this book and interviewing people for it?
A: That the Gospel is true. It works. It is a scientific text! We are used to thinking about religion as a sentimental thing. But it’s not true. The words of Jesus are true, in the scientific meaning of the word. If you follow them, you get results. If you lose your life, you gain it.