Have you ever been confused by the description or interpretation of what a submissive wife should be like? Ever been told things inside your marriage fell apart because you weren't submissive enough? What does a submissive wife look like after betrayal, deceit, lack of leadership and a smoldering vow? How does one obey what Ephesians commands us to do and yet do it with joy and willingness towards her spouse? (Ephesians 5:22-33) I want to share some practical ways to submit to your spouse after deep wounds have been afflicted within your marriage.
First let me say that God designed marriage to be a partnership with each other. You were created to be a team. Marriage is not a dictatorship or meant to be controlled by one person. I was taught growing up about all the ways a wife is to be submissive to her spouse but what I've learned is that my husband is submissive to me as well - emotionally, mentally and even physically. Times where compromise was needed and grace awarded.
Secondly, if you find that you are being controlled emotionally, verbally or physically seek help from a pastor, friend or anyone that can shed light into the situation. Submission does not equal an iron fist and does not mean you become someone you're not all for the sake of pleasing your spouse.
Merriam-Websters defines submission as a condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant : an act of submitting to the authority or control of another. If you look at the Greek word submitting you will not find that it refers to being under the absolute control or authority of another, but rather to voluntarily place oneself under the authority of another. [Nelson's Compact Series Bible Commentary, 2004, Nashville, TN Thomas Nelson, Inc.] It can be easy to confuse the definition of a word when only reading a little of the definition. This has been the heated topic of debate in many churches and families, but for now, let me give context within a broken vow and how it has looked for myself.
A submissive wife is not a slave to her husband. Sex should not be a chore. Intimacy should not be dreaded. Small steps after learning of an affair are okay. It was 2 months before I was able to engage my husband in a sexual way. It was not forced. I know many who feel like engaging in the act of sex is the only way to keep their marriage alive. The reality is it's only a small part of the bigger picture. There is much healing that needs to take place before intimacy can be shared. (Song of Songs ... I'm not even going to begin to unlayer the depth in this book. You gazelles and doves can spend a night reading the PG-13 book together.)
A submissive wife is joyful, encouraging, and fun. Leave a love note in a duffel bag or computer bag. Make his favorite meal or dessert as a way of expressing your devotion to commitment and noticing the small desires of your husbands heart. A submissive wife not only encourages but she laughs alongside her spouse. You are not a slave to the dishes, the laundry and house work. My husband loves to walk into a clean kitchen but some days that doesn't happen. If patterns arise and I never clean the house then I need to manage my time more wisely and attempt to have a clean kitchen a few days a week rather then a chaotic home every day. Know his buttons and triggers and work hard to meet those so arguments or tension has no foot hold later. This is also a tag team event; husbands need to learn their wife's buttons and triggers and to pursue their spouse. This also motivates humble submission from the wife. (Hebrews 3:13, 1 Thes. 5:16-18)
A submissive wife loves the Lord more then she adores her spouse. Jesus should be her first love. I did not forgive out of need to save my marriage. I forgave because of my need to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. In an act of obedience to Christ I chose forgiveness whether I felt different after offering those words or not. My goal in life is to live for Christ therefore, I needed to extend what was freely given to me.
A submissive wife seeks deeper relationship with God. This is most important. This motivates a wife to express emotion, to serve, to love, to forgive and to want to become the most devoted mother and wife she can be. It betters her relationship with friends and family and brings clarity when trauma surfaces.
Now, will doing all these things make the pain disappear or cause the journey towards healing easier? I can't promise you that. I can promise you that God rewards obedience and desires for us to live right with Him. If that is your motivation and desire as well then yes, it will make the pain, the confusion, the loneliness and brokenness a little easier. (James 4:7)
Dear God, help me to be a humble, gracious submissive wife that, first pursues You, and second pursues healing, which leads to a deeper connection with my spouse. Show me what I need to become a stronger daughter, friend, mother and wife. Use me mightily in my family. Thank you for loving me when I was not in full submission to You God.
About the Author
Stephanie is a stay-at-home mommy to four little blessings. Married for 16 years, Tim and Stephanie find new ways to enjoy intimate time together while raising the young family.