’90 Day Fiancé’: Debbie, Kalani, Angela, Tania, and Elizabeth Discuss Submissive Women, Dominant Men

Of all the cultural differences between 90 Day Fiancé newlyweds Angela Deem and Michael Ilesanmi, the most prominent has to be Angela’s total rejection of the idea that wives should be submissive to their husbands.

On the 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After Tell-All Part 3, hosted by Shaun Robinson, Angela and Michael’s argument about power differences and gender roles in marriage got heated. Tania Maduro (Syngin Colchester’s wife), Debbie Johnson (Colt Johnson’s mom), Elizabeth Potthast Castravet (Andrei Castravet’s wife), and Kalani Faagata (Asuelu Pulaa’s wife) all chimed in with their thoughts.

Shaun Robinson
Shaun Robinson | Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Michael’s aunt demanded that Angela be ‘submissive’ to her husband

On the recent 90 Day Fiancé Tell-All Part 3, an argument broke out between Michael and Angela about their ongoing fertility issues. At one point, Angela cursed harshly at Michael and yelled at him to “shut his mouth.”

But while Michael backed off, his Aunt Lydia wasn’t willing to be so accommodating. Michael’s aunt told Angela, “You need to be submissive.”

“We are Nigerian,” Lydia reminded Angela. “Our culture is different. You have to respect him.”

Naturally, Angela didn’t take to the word “submissive” very well, especially given that it was a major point of contention so often in her three-year relationship with Michael. Angela flew off the handle in response. When she calmed down, the 90 Day Fiancé star argued that her husband should have to adapt to her idea of equality and gender roles in marriage, not the other way around.

“I’m so sick of hearing about everybody’s culture but the American culture,” Angela exclaimed. “Why ain’t Michael asking what my dad taught my mom?”

Imploring her 90 Day Fiancé castmates to see her point of view, Angela explained further that she’d always promised Michael she would be respectful to his family – but never subservient, obedient, or submissive.

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Kalani and Elizabeth offered their opinions on gender roles and cultural differences

Robinson turned next to Kalani, whose husband Asuelu is from Samoa, and Elizabeth, whose husband Andrei hails from Moldova, to broach the subject of a wife’s “submission” in marriage. Both Kalani and Elizabeth had often clashed with their own partners when it came to cultural differences around gender, power, and dominance.

Kalani believed that Michael and Asuelu were very similar in some ways. As such, the mom of two argued, she thought she and Angela sometimes encountered similar challenges in their relationships.

“I think they both come from cultures where men are esteemed a lot higher than women,” Kalani said of Asuelu and Michael. “In America, women don’t really put up with that s*it.”

Elizabeth agreed, arguing that men from male-dominated cultural backgrounds sometimes “had a hard time handling it” when women demanded to be heard. Andrei, who’s gotten some flack himself for being “a chauvinistic alpha male” (according to his wife, at least) at times, smiled knowingly as Elizabeth seemed to direct her comments toward him.

“I think that sometimes guys can’t really handle if a woman is super strong and has opinions,” the 90 Day Fiancé star asserted, “and if she wants things a certain way.”

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Tania and Debbie also chimed in as the argument continued

Tania, too, joined in with her own views about gender equality (or lack thereof) in relationships.

In her husband Syngin’s home country of South Africa, Tania insisted, “Gender roles are still very prominent. Women stay home. They raise the kids.” The 30-year-old argued that Syngin sometimes “struggled” with the idea of being fully equal partners in marriage.

“American women are feisty,” Syngin assented, agreeing with his wife’s assessment.

But Aunt Lydia went on to say that her beliefs about women’s submission weren’t going to change. Moreover, Michael’s aunt worried that Angela thought she could treat Michael as subservient to her because of their age difference of more than three decades.

“Even if she’s older than Michael, she’s supposed to be submissive,” Lydia reiterated.

Tania challenged Lydia’s views a bit, wondering if that concept went the other way around, too.

“Should men be submissive to their wives?” the 90 Day Fiancé star asked Michael’s aunt pointedly.

In response, Lydia explained that only women were meant to be submissive to their husbands. She also argued that Angela shouldn’t be shouting at or raising her voice to Michael, no matter their respective cultural backgrounds.  

Even Colt’s mom, Debbie, joined in to scoff at the idea of a submissive or obedient woman. She argued that, if Michael wanted to be the dominant one in a relationship, he shouldn’t have gone outside of his own cultural context to find a wife – and certainly not Angela, for that matter.

“He stepped out of that culture by marrying an American,” Debbie pointed out. “Once he stepped out of that culture, all bets are off.”

Michael once more tried to assert himself as “the man” in the relationship, but Angela interrupted him again to claim that he acted entirely differently around his family than he did around his wife.

“You’re two people,” she accused him. “Around me, you’re the Michael that I fell in love with. Around your family, you want to be the bold, alpha, African man.”