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A Wife's Power in Marriage

We took a marriage class last winter by a man I have known and respected for 25 years.  He spoke a lot about authority during our semester: God-given authority, spiritual authority and the needs of those leaders who are in authority over us.  And I HOPE that one day I have the chance to take his class on spiritual authority.  But one thing he talked about that fascinated me was the two types of authority in marriage.

The husband has “positional authority” – God has given him spiritual authority over the marriage and family.  This is similar to the positional authority of a king, president, manager or CEO.

And the wife has “influential authority.”  The type of influence a wife has at her command in marriage is the same type of influence that a Vice President  (or cabinet member) would have over a President, that an assistant manager would have with a manager or that an advisor or queen would have to a king.  Rev. Weaver pointed out several times that influential authority is often much MORE powerful than positional authority.

MISUNDERSTANDINGS ARE RAMPANT

It is SO important for us to understand – the wife is not left without any authority or power in the relationship.  I have had some women commenting to me saying that biblical submission is slavery.  Not at all!!!!  That is an incredibly twisted and warped view of the biblical concept of marriage.  I am sure there must be some people somewhere who try to turn submission into some awful nightmare like that – and it makes me VERY sad that anyone would ever think such things.

There is NO WAY I WOULD LIVE LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!

The biblical model is not a master/slave relationship in any way – FAR, FAR from it!  And it is not a parent/child relationship, or an owner/pet relationship.  This is not a king married to a servant girl.  It is a king married to a queen.  The queen has a lot of power in her own right, too!  I don’t want there to be confusion about this!

WITHOUT GOD’S SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES, WE MESS MARRIAGE UP BIG TIME!

The enemy and our own sinful nature would love nothing more than to get us to swing to one side or the other extreme to the left or right of God’s design for us.

  • instead of loving, Christ-like, servant-hearted husbands who adore, cherish and nurture their wives and children – we end up with angry, abusive tyrants or passive-unplugged men who give up all their influence and authority in their homes – leaving their families unprotected and at risk.
  • wives go to extremes, too, unless they have the Spirit of Christ in control of their hearts – a doormat/slave who gives up all of her powerful feminine influential authority, becomes 2 dimensional, loses her voice and purpose in the marriage/family and allows her husband to be a selfish tyrant or a domineering, disrespectful, unforgiving, fearful, worried woman who tries to control her husband and everyone around her.  These extremes are ungodly, worldly, sinful and destructive!

Wives have authority over their own relationship with God, their children, the home,  their own work lives, their friendships, their bodies, health, lifestyle, priorities, hobbies, etc… usually with very little interference from her husband.  He only steps in if he believes things are unbalanced, something is wrong or she is heading down a potentially dangerous path.  He is responsible before God to make the beset decisions for his family – God will hold him accountable!

HOW INFLUENTIAL AUTHORITY WORKS

When there is a decision to be made – it is the wife’s obligation, in my view, to share her perception, feelings and desires with her husband respectfully (unless she doesn’t care about the outcome of this particular decision).   A wife’s influential authority works well with husbands unless they are violent, involved in infidelity, actively addicted to drugs/alcohol/gambling/serious porn addiction, or suffering from an untreated or uncontrolled mental disorder – then the wife needs to find godly help ASAP!

A wife’s greatest powers to influence her husband are in her smile, her respect, her admiration, her faith in him as a man, her willingness to forgive, her cooperation with his leadership, her pleasant attitude, her peaceful demeanor, her gentleness, her calmness and the way she doesn’t get hysterical, fearful and worried.  Her power is in her encouragement, her building her man up with all those amazing verbal skills God gave her, her look of confidence in her man’s abilities…

When her husband has full confidence in his wife’s respect, faith, trust and admiration:

  • HE WANTS TO SAY YES TO HER.
  • HE WANTS TO MAKE HER HAPPY.
  • HE CARES DEEPLY ABOUT HER FEELINGS!
  • HE KNOWS HE IS RESPONSIBLE TO GOD FOR HIS DECISION, so he wants to make the very best choices.

Please understand – the converse is also true.  When a husband experiences a lot of disrespect, contempt, judgment, criticism, negativity, manipulation or attempts at control from his wife – then he will not want to cooperate with her no matter what it is she wants.  He will not care about making her happy because he is feeling so disrespected.  And he won’t care much about her feelings because she has trampled his.

When a man feels respected and honored, he is hard-wired by God to want to serve the one who respects him.

So a respected husband will generally be very interested in hearing his wife’s opinion.  He knows that he doesn’t have the whole picture by himself.  He looks to her unique perspective to round out the information he has to process a decision.  And usually, he will be glad to have the opportunity to make her happy by doing what she wants to do.  Seeing his wife light up with delight when he does something for her is such a huge gift and blessing to a husband!

HOW POSITIONAL AUTHORITY WORKS

In the event that the husband believes his wife is NOT making a wise decision – if she is endangering herself or the family, or over-committing her resources, or seeking to make a rash decision based more on emotions than logic, or he believes something isn’t right – then he will use his positional authority to protect her, the marriage and the family.  The details of how each husband decides to lead his wife and family will vary widely from one marriage to another.  That’s ok!  We are all different and different couples will do things different ways.  As long as we are obeying God’s Word and keeping Jesus our primary focus and priority – the exact details of how we handle things are largely a preference thing.

Husbands tend to veto ideas that, in their view, will cost their family, wife or marriage too much.  Most husbands don’t micromanage every little decision.  But they will often step in when there is a serious issue going on:

  • another family member in the extended family is trying to have too much control over his wife/marriage/family
  • serious behavior issues with the children
  • major budget problems
  • misplaced priorities in the family
  • if the wife is giving so much of herself to others that she has nothing left for him – he will probably ask her to cut out certain activities – as well he should!  The marriage is more important than serving or ministering to outsiders.
  • if he sees that the children are a bigger priority for his wife than he is (that is not right, and he is wise to correct this imbalance).
  • if his wife is too involved in her parents’/siblings lives
  • if his wife is sinning against God

Husbands who feel respected tend to say “yes” to most things – I would even say 90-95% of things, maybe even more!  They love to see their wives happy.  Men measure their success as a man/husband/father largely by the degree of happiness they see in their wives.  Did you realize that your happiness is so important to him?  IT IS!

But he also knows that he is accountable to God for his decisions and for the spiritual/physical/financial/emotional/mental welfare of his family.  So he will try to make the BEST decision for everyone using all the information he has available at the time.  That is why the wife must give her input – without her thoughts, feelings and ideas, her husband can’t make the best decision.  He’d be missing half of the information he needs!

11 thoughts on “A Wife's Power in Marriage

  1. I think our society’s negative view of the word “submission” hurts us as a whole. Too many people bristle at “submitting” to their spouse!! Like God is wanting husbands to be tyrants and wives passive…um, no! If, when we hear “submit,” we would think “give,” our marriages, families, and lives in general would be so much more enriched. Submit isn’t a bad word! BTW – I enjoy reading your blog!

    1. Lynne,
      I love your comment! Yes, the word submission has been so twisted that sometimes I do wish there was another word! Sometimes I use the word, “cooperate”. But I like your perspective!

      Would you allow me to use your comment on Facebook, please? I can use your first name or quote you anonymously. 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing your heart on this important topic!

      1. A Good Paper on “Wife’s Power in Marriage”, and the order of authority, and husband’s, father’s authority in the family.
        The only trouble is the while most wives make thier decisions based on emotions and relationship, instead of
        God’s Word and plan.
        A situation came up in my family where a man made his motives known that he was interested in our daughter. I had a polite professional dialog with him, pretty much telling him , not now. Our daughter was 17yrs at the time he was 23yr. No, trade, no school, and permanate job. After months of deception and he met me , arranged, and stated “he had authority over my daughter, not me and his church backed him up”, he also said God told him he had the right over the father.

        While looking only for my daughters best interest at first my wife was with me, when the wedding plans, started
        she jumped to the young man’s side. The only thing that was important was the wedding.

        This caused much division in our family with husband/wife, father daughter, father and children.

        It’s disturbing that today the only thing that matters
        is “happiness”

        Everyone concern is about this young man’s and our daughter’s happiness and about grandchildren.
        All that matters is that we show love and grace so that some day they (man and daughter) will see thier sins.

        While we “forsake the commandments of God for the traditions of men”

        While I believe if my wife stood by her husband, our daughter would not have married this man, the children in the family would have witness a wife’s summission to her husband, the children would be more honorable to father . Standing up for God’s laws and commandments, the order of authority would have been
        witnessed.

        But what happened was a complete breakdown of a fathers authoirty in the home, only to make a young man
        fulfill his dreams.

        So what has happened is that a man who took a father’s authority, married a daugther with the blessings of churches and the sheepe made a example to
        other families, if the father /husband does not approve or give his blessings to one of the most important unions that God has establised. Go for it, and use
        God’s name.

        So now we have other young men thinking they can do the same thing, they don’t need the fathers/husband
        approval. They can do want they want and what’s right in their own eyes.

        1. Jack B.,

          From what you are describing – it does sound like you were sinned against. You were wronged. You were disrespected by your daughter and her boyfriend and probably by your wife. They were wrong. They messed up big time. They did not honor your authority for this particular situation.

          That must have hurt you immeasurably.

          I think that your daughter would have been wise to obey you as her dad – especially when she was 17 or so and still under your care and protection.

          I wonder – what is it that your daughter, son-in-law and wife could do NOW to make amends and “make things right” in your sight? How is it that this precious family can get past the sins of the past? Or must they pay for the rest of their lives because these sins are so grievous?

          At this point – they cannot change the past. They cannot undo their sins and mistakes from before. Divorce would be something that would be a huge sin in God’s sight and that wouldn’t fix the problem.

          Now – according to God’s Word- your son-in-law IS your daughter’s authority because he is her husband. Now, it would be wrong to try to separate them.

          You know – I disrespected my husband and his authority for 15 years in our marriage. I didn’t even see it. I was so prideful and thought that I knew best in EVERY situation. I knew better than my husband – that’s for sure. I was right that he should pray with me and be a better spiritual leader. I was right that he should not watch tv so much. I was right that he should spend more time with me and be more loving. I was so right that I felt completely justified in bossing him around, telling him what to do, ignoring his attempts at leadership, criticizing him constantly, demanding my way, acting like his ideas were worthless.

          I tried to control him because I put myself above God. I acted as if I were sovereign, not God. I didn’t trust God to lead me through my husband. I didn’t think my husband would or could lead. I looked down my nose at him spiritually. I knew I was so much better than he was. I knew that I was so much more close to God than he was. I saw his sins so very clearly and complained loudly about them to God daily.

          Sometimes I would pray for 4 hours a day on my days off – and it was all me telling God how He needed to change my husband and change him NOW. TODAY.

          SO – I was disrespectful of God and my husband’s God-given authority constantly – and didn’t even realize it. I was prideful beyond belief – thinking I knew better than GOD what needed to happen and that I always knew much better than my husband. I was committing idolatry every waking moment – putting my desire for control before Christ, holding on to unforgiveness and resentment and bitterness and cherishing that more than intimacy with Christ. I was disobedient to God’s Word to forgive. I held grudges for years and made myself sick over things. I felt that I was above having to forgive other people because I really didn’t see that I was a wretched sinner.

          WHen I saw the magnitude of my sin in December of 2008 – I was completely mortified. I thought I was the best Christian wife EVER. I thought my husband was unloving and carnal and that HE was the one who needed to change. It turns out that I had a forest of sin in my own eyes that needed my attention.

          When I asked my husband to forgive me – for ALL THOSE MANY YEARS OF AWFUL SIN AGAINST HIM AND GOD – he forgave me in 2 seconds. He never blinked. He never hesitated. He extended grace to me in a way that I had NEVER extended grace and forgiveness to him.

          I didn’t deserve forgiveness.
          I didn’t deserve another chance.
          I didn’t deserve the blood of CHrist to cover my billions of “dollars” of sin debt.
          I didn’t deserve my husband’s love.

          But my husband’s gracious forgiveness and acceptance of me humbled me like nothing else and he gave me the incredible opportunity to start over again.

          God’s kindness and grace and my husband’s kindness and grace drew me near to both of them and allowed me the chance to learn to be a godly wife – the wife I have always longed to be – and never knew how to be.

          Thankfully – in the power of the Holy Spirit – these sins are not unforgivable.

          I can’t wait to see how God wants to use you to lead this family for His glory. I am praying for Him to give you His wisdom.

  2. Dear April,

    I just wanted to say thank you. My heart can’t thank you enough for starting this blog. I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for leading me to this place (the peaceful wife blog) I am thanking you because:

    – I feel like I have a place where I can come to read/meditate on godly principles about my role as a wife alongside my bible. To know what God expects of me and It is good to know when I read some of the comments, that I am not the only one who is going through this process.

    – I have been incredibly blessed by this blog and your videos on you tube; there is a change in me that I have noticed. I can feel something different in me; not perfect but something different. When I watch your videos on you tube, I feel like you are talking to me. All the practical examples you give are the same ones that I have. I am now more conscious of what I say, how I act, I find something inside of me searching my heart, correcting me swiftly and convicting me strongly when I do something wrong.

    – I didn’t realize that so many things I thought were nothing/not a big deal were actually very disrespectful. Most importantly, I didn’t realize how our disrespect could actually hinder prayers and separate us from God. From reading this blog, gaining more insight of the word and what my function is, I am growing more in my understanding of Gods design for marriage.

    – You have allowed yourself to be used by God to bless me and so many millions of women around the world. You have been honest and open about your personal experiences, you have shown vulnerability, and you have shown a clear example. Even when people leave comments that are not nice or friendly on this blog and on you tube, I read your response. I notice your tone in your responses and it has thought me so much. God really holds us accountable to the way we act regardless of how we were approached (Proverbs 15 Vs 1; A gently response…)

    – I am focusing more on God and knowing that the source of my joy is him. I am learning to trust God for the things I am waiting on him for by getting to know him. Not idolizing my wants before God. I am focusing more on what I ought to be as a wife and as a woman; not worrying about if he deserves it, if he recognizes what I do, or expecting any feedback. I now know that it is not and shouldn’t be about my husband but it should be and it is about GOD and what he has commanded us to do.

    – I have known God all my life but I have never knowing him like I am doing now. I don’t know how to say thank you to you. I am so incredibly excited; I come to this blog every day to read a post. I have started the Respect Dare Challenge. I don’t know what else to say. When God wants to use someone, the glory is ALWAYS more than whatever happened in the past. If you didn’t have 14 years of not knowing what your role was, this blog would have never been born.

    – I have a wonderful man as a husband, he is exceptional, he is everything I could ever want in a man and I’ll marry him again. When God blesses us with a child and if it’s a girl, I would be rest in Joy if she found a man like her dad. Through this blog, I am looking at him with a different eye, I am falling even more in love with him, I choose to focus on his strengths instead of petty things, I am looking for ways to please him and let him know that he is respected. I love him so much, and I thank him for loving me and allowing me to be myself.

    God bless you & your family richly and eyes have not seen, ears have not heart, no mind would ever be able to imagine what God is about to do through you.

    THHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNKKKK YOUUUUUUUU

    Have a wonderful day.

    1. I Choose to Respect Him,

      You could not have known that yesterday was a tough day spiritually for me. A woman to whom I have been trying to minister is in great spiritual pain and lashed out at me with much hatred. She cannot hear my heart of love. Her ears are stopped and her eyes are blind. I know that she is in a very dark place. I want so much for her to experience the healing Christ can bring!!! I am not taking her words of condemnation and abuse to heart. But I am concerned for her. Her very life hangs in the balance.

      It just makes me smile and cry tears of joy and thanksgiving to God to see what He is doing in your life!!

      Thank you for taking so much time to reach out to me and to bless me. I cherish your words and thank God for you! 🙂

  3. Dear April, I would love to be on your prayer team if there is room for more people. I believe women all over the world who desire to work along Christ need to stand together and seek Gods face. The enemy is really using wives to destroy their homes while making them believe that they are winning in some way. I am still in my journey, had some slip ups but i am not giving up. I know God can radically change me if i spend more time in his presence. God bless you.

  4. Hello April, please try again. I think i made a mistake to type in yahoo.com. it should be fine now. Sorry about that. Thank you

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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