Rashbam seems to say that a son is less subservient to a father than a wife is to a husband, and therefore the son is obligated to recline and a wife not.
If in a family where the opposite is true, would the wife have to recline and the sons not?
Dear Alex Lebovits,
If the wife is less subservient to the husband this may indicate that she is the "ishah chashuva" -important lady- mentioned by the Gemara. If so she would be obliged to recline. (However see REMA OC 472:4 that our custom is that no women recline)
On the other hand, even in a family where the son is more subservient to his father he is still required to recline. This can be proved from the fact that TOSFOS DH BIFNEI concludes that even though a father usually teaches his son Torah nevertheless the Gemara states that a son is required to recline even though any other pupil should not recline in the presence of his teacher. Tosfos does not explain the reason for this distinction between a son and every other pupil but the reason is in fact given by MISHNEH BERURAH 472:14 -that one can assume that a father is "mochel"-i.e. he foregoes his honor and does not object to his son reclining. According to this reasoning it follows that even if the son is more subservient to his father than the mother is , nevertheless he is obligated to recline because this does not offend his father.
(Incidentally see BACH to TUR OC 472 DH ISHA who writes that the subservience of a wife to her husband is certainly not as great as the subservience of a son to his father. However BACH's explanation does not conform to the position of RASHBAM himself but rather follows the explanation of SHE'ILTOS D'RAV ACHAI, cited by RASHBAM)