I was just brainstorming about some of the biggest hindrances to submitting to my husband for me in earlier years in our marriage. I am going to share some of my mistakes and sins- to show how imperfect I am and how desperately I need God just like every person does. I am thankful every day that God has opened my eyes to His ways!
I think that young wives or single women might especially want to perk up their ears and guard your hearts against things that might creep into your mindset and contaminate your understanding of Scripture and that might encourage you to disobey God’s Word and create a great deal of pain in your marriage.
WHAT IS SUBMISSION IN THE BIBLE?
It means that one person is designated by God to be the authority in the relationship – to be the one responsible to God for the decisions and well-being of those entrusted to him – and the other person empowers the leadership of the one in authority and cooperates with his decisions. It is a military term that refers to answering to one of a higher rank. It has NOTHING to do with value as a person. God values all people the same! See Galatians 3! And it has NOTHING to do with being a slave or subservient or having no brain, no thoughts, no opinions and no ideas.
You actually get to have MORE power when you respect your husband because when he feels respected – he will CARE DEEPLY about your feelings and desires! So all you have to do is briefly tell him what you feel and want and let him consider your feelings so that he can make the best decision for the family.
If he is asking you what restaurant you want to go to – tell him politely and respectfully where you would prefer to go. If he is talking with you about moving or y’all are discussing having another child or home schooling or private school or changing churches or buying a major purchase – then you tell him your feelings and desires, but if you cannot agree – you can tell him, “You know that I believe we should do X, but I trust you to make the best decision for our family. I know you are accountable to God for this and I trust you to do what is best for us.”
Submission is a gift that you give to your husband out of reverence for Christ and obedience to scripture. It cannot be forced or coerced. And a husband who feels respected and who knows his leadership is supported will generally respond by wanting to serve his wife and see her be happy. The happier his wife is, the more successful he feels as a husband.
Some Factors that Encouraged Me to be “In Charge” of My Marriage Instead of Submitting to my Husband:
- the general culture of feminism that discourages real godly femininity and masculinity and is DEEPLY ingrained in almost all of us whether we are aware of it or not. It says that women and men are basically the same except for “plumbing” and that they should be equal in marriage and their roles are basically interchangeable.
- being a straight A honor’s student all through high school and pharmacy school left me with a huge perfectionism streak and made me feel very in charge of my own destiny. I was probably a bit of a control freak. I also believed if I worked harder, I would be successful. But that didn’t translate in marriage. The harder I tried, the lonelier and more frustrated I was.
- Making more $ than my husband did for the first 15.5 years of our marriage gave me a feeling that I “should” be in charge of spending “my money.” We always had our money combined in one bank account. But I was in charge of the money from the time we got married. I paid the bills. I made a lot of financial decisions on my own. We made large decisions together, and I never spent over $200 without checking with him. But I had a lot of freedom and earning power and I believe that was an insidious combination that undermined my husband’s authority in my mind. I knew I was the primary breadwinner. I didn’t like being the main source of income. In fact, I hated it. I wanted to be loved for being myself, not because of a paycheck – and that was always a doubt in the back of my mind. And when we had children, I went part-time, but I still was the primary breadwinner and I think that really affected how both of us viewed ourselves. We both WAY underestimated how profoundly my being the main monetary provider would skew and affect our marriage. God designed men to be the providers. Something happens that is just kind of emasculating to a man’s spirit when he is not the primary breadwinner. Women are designed to handle being indebted to a man. Like the Church is indebted to Christ. Christ is not indebted to the Church, and a husband is at his best when he is the one doing the giving and providing, not when he is indebted to his wife for financial support. This is an increasingly common issue. I am not sure what the solution is. I am so thankful that my hours were cut dramatically a few years ago and for the first time I was home more and making less money. That dynamic has been so much healthier for our marriage. I am much more frugal when I know the money is “his” hard-earned money not mine. I gave my husband the finances over a year ago- we BOTH love it that way now. It works so much better for me to not be in the position of telling him what he can or cannot spend. He is actually handling things much better than I did. He is super responsible and finds wonderful deals and ways to save money. And I love the freedom of having all that burden off my shoulders!
- I grew up being the dominant twin in a set of identical twins. I was used to being the “leader” and “in charge” since I was little.
- Being an identical twin and constantly talking to my twin sister about every single thought and feeling I had all day long was not the best preparation for marriage! A husband is NOT a twin sister!
- I thought of myself as responsible for my siblings almost like a parent from the time I was about 5 years old. It was a childish and prideful mindset. I had both parents, but for various reasons I felt like they “needed” my help. So I had a TON of pride and had learned that I was in control of a lot more than I really should have been. I didn’t see the sovereignty of God as much as I saw that I was in control and responsible for myself and I thought I was responsible for a lot of other people, too. That was a lot of pressure to try to “make” things happen the way I thought they should.
- Until my little brother was big enough to be my Daddy’s son and do things with him, I was sort of a son-substitute. I went hunting with my Daddy. I did anything my Daddy wanted me to. I was a Daddy’s girl- but in some ways I related more to him than to my mother. She was very respectful of my Daddy. But I took on a mindset of being the decision maker and being in charge.
- Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church I became very sensitive to guilt messages about me being responsible for other people going to heaven or not. I certainly didn’t want to be the reason that someone didn’t get to go to heaven. But that is also a lot of pressure and discounts God’s sovereignty and the power of His Spirit working through me, not my own efforts.
- I saw myself as being a respectful wife. I didn’t yell, call my husband names, throw things or look nearly as bad as a lot of other wives I had seen. I wasn’t a Bridezilla! Compared to the culture around me, I thought I looked pretty respectful. I didn’t know that my husband was not able to voice how disrespected he felt. I didn’t understand the intricacies of respect from a man’s point of view and glossed over my own failures to be the wife God called me to be. I thought that my husband needed to change.
- My husband tended to be quiet and need time to process. I took his silence as inaction and would eventually feel that “I had” to take over and make decisions. I was extremely impatient. If I had given him more time, and wasn’t demanding a quick answer, I believe now that he would have done a lot more leading in those early years.
- I was extremely prideful. I thought I knew best. I thought I knew better than he did. I don’t know that I consciously voiced that to myself- but it is what I believed. It was a big shock when I realized just how much pride I needed to confess to God and to my husband. Seemed like I needed a heavy duty com dump truck every day just to dump it all into.
- Being a pharmacist, I was used to advising people all day about their medications and health. I was used to telling my technicians what to do. I didn’t know I needed to turn that off at the door of my marriage.
- Being a mom, I was used to telling my children what to do. I had done the most research about parenting and baby’s health issues and made most of the decisions about the children. I easily slid into telling my husband what to do, too.
- I was afraid to not be in control. I didn’t like group projects in school because I had to depend on people who wouldn’t do the quality of work that I expected of myself. I didn’t like depending on anyone. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t want to be seen as irresponsible or weak. I couldn’t turn off my over-responsibility for anyone, much less my husband. Things might not be “done right” if I didn’t do them myself.
- I had an inadequate understanding of godly femininity, God’s pattern for marriage, and my role as a wife despite my extensive knowledge of the Bible and wonderful upbringing. The culture’s messages about dual income marriages being normal and necessary and that a woman has to have a career had deep roots in my heart. I didn’t even know to question a lot of things about marriage and how much things have changed over the past few generations. I almost felt like I had to start from scratch figuring out God’s design for women, marriage, wives, and moms. What freedom and joy there is in His design!
- I didn’t know the power a woman has to influence her husband in her respect and submission. I had no other tools at my disposal! I didn’t know what I didn’t know.