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Submitting to Our Husbands in the “Small” Things

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FROM A HUSBAND (his response to a question for husbands earlier last week):

As to respecting me in “small things”, I have to assume you mean things that aren’t all that important.

My first thought is, that if it isn’t all that important, why not?

I don’t always know why I prefer one thing, over another. In asking me to justify my choice, it does show lack of trust, but more importantly, it makes me feel defensive.

Can’t I just have a preference? Do I really need a reason?

As to choosing where we sit anytime we’re out, my wife always asks, where I would like to sit, and I always take into consideration her needs, that particular day, convenience, in some situations I suppose security, does come into play, but this is something we are both extremely flexible on.

Something that is an extremely big deal to me, that seems to be a small thing to my wife, is our sex life.

This is an issue we still struggle with. It’s not so much a matter of frequency, or quality, but the fact that it IS a small thing to her.

Her desire for intimacy, to me at least, is a barometer of her level of respect for me.

(From Peacefulwife – I don’t know that all husbands feel this way. For those wives whose husbands are less interested in sex than their wives, this may be different. It would be interesting to know how husbands with lower drive feel about this issue.)

When my wife argues with me about small things, it makes it much harder for me to be loving towards her. It’s true that I ought to be considerate of her, and I’m commanded to love her. That does not mean I should cater to her every whim. In fact, it may be more loving, to not allow her to have her way (at times.) When a wife insists on her own way in things that aren’t that big of a deal, she is, in fact, being childish.

Not cooperating in “small things” is the equivalent of the dripping water talked about in Proverbs. It just wears you down over time, and feels like that is why they do it. To wear you down, to the point where, you don’t want to make a decision about anything, big or small. So then, they HAVE to take control.

Hope my answers were helpful.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I think that there are some really important points to talk about here.

1. What may seem like a small thing to a wife may be a big thing to her husband.

This is one reason why I believe God commands us as wives to respect our husbands and submit to them in everything as unto the Lord.

(If they are asking us to clearly sin or they are seriously trying to harm us, then we should not cooperate, we will have to respectfully refuse. If there are very serious issues in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced help ASAP! I am not ever condoning that a wife stay and be hurt physically or stay when there is real danger. I am not writing for those with serious issues like active addictions, infidelity, uncontrolled mental health issues or actual abuse.)

Sometimes it is easy to assume that my husband’s priorities must be the same as mine. But  reality is that his priorities are probably not the same as mine! We are different people. We are also different genders. We will have different ways of thinking and approaching things. That is a good thing! What I may think is something small may actually be huge to my husband, and vice versa. I would appreciate it if he desired me to be happy in things that are important to me. He would also appreciate the same courtesy.

If it is within my power to bless my husband, why would I not choose to bless him, even in “little” things?

2. What if honoring our husbands in small things isn’t oppression for us?

What if it is a way to greatly increase unity, intimacy and oneness with our husbands? What if it is a way to show we are on their team and that they are important to us, more important than anyone else in the world?

We are sending critical messages to our husbands by how cooperative or antagonistic we are. I don’t mean we have to agree or never share our opinions. Our ideas, desires, feelings, opinions and perspectives are invaluable sources of information to our husbands. We can be wise advisors and compassionate friends to our husbands. God never asks us to lay our brains, abilities, talents, personalities, ideas, needs, desires, emotions and wisdom at the door of marriage. That is not biblical submission!

We bring ALL of ourselves to marriage and we put all of our strengths, abilities and resources behind our husband in support.

My husband doesn’t “make me” do anything. I don’t “have” to do what he wants all the time.

I GET to honor him.

I GET to bless him.

I GET to do things he enjoys just because I can.

It is a blessing and a joy to me to serve this man God has given to me. It is my greatest delight to do things that make his job as the leader, provider and protector easier and more enjoyable. What if I am free to share my heart and desires with my husband – and he is also free to share his heart and desires? Then the Spirit of God in me gives me a desire to be selfless, generous, giving, kind, thoughtful, loving and respectful. If I know Greg likes a certain soft drink or a certain snack or has a favorite meal – what an incredibly wonderful opportunity for me to do something to bless my him by keeping those things on hand for him or making him his favorite meal fairly often!

Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. His Spirit is in me if I belong to Him. I am free to serve, not out of duty or drudgery, but out of the power, love, joy, peace and abundant life of God flowing mightily through my soul. I am not talking about pretending to be happy but inwardly seething with resentment or bitterness. I am talking about allowing God to radically change me and give me a new heart with new desires. I can receive that. God has a new heart and new Spirit and new life for all who trust fully in Christ.

I can say what I want, what I would like, what I believe would be best for us to do, what I don’t want, what my concerns are – but I don’t have to get hung up on the outcome of things. I can trust God in His great sovereignty to lead me through my husband, even when I don’t agree with him, even in the little things. I can hold everything loosely in my life except for Jesus.  I can be sure that I don’t let a little issue (which most things really are) to become more important in my mind and heart than my obedience to Christ and the unity and intimacy of my marriage. I can ask myself, “Is this issue worth fracturing the unity in our marriage about?” before I launch into a lecture or argument with my husband.

I can remember the command of God for all believers:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:12-15

I can remember that arguing or complaining is not befitting of me as a child of God. If I am tempted to argue or complain, I know it is time to check my motives.

  • Why do I want what I want?
  • Am I being selfish?
  • Am I putting something above Christ in my heart?
  • Is this issue truly important in light of eternity?
  • Am I right with God?
  • Am I being materialistic or greedy?
  • Am I being prideful or self-righteous? Is there any sin in my heart?
  • Am I considering my husband’s needs and preferences and being thoughtful toward him?
  • Am I doing this because of my love for Christ and for my husband? Will they be blessed by what I want to do here?
  • Am I walking in the flesh or in the Spirit of God?
  • Am I being motivated by the love of God or by fear?
  • Am I concerned most with pleasing God and having His approval, or having other people’s approval?
  • Am I walking in obedience to God’s Word?

I have died to this world and the things of this world according to Romans 6. That is historical fact. God put me in Christ and I died with Him on the cross in God’s sight. I am now dead to sin and this world and I am alive to God in Christ. This world means nothing to me now. What do I care what color something is or what restaurant we go to? This life is no longer mine to live. My old sinful self is dead in Christ. Dead people don’t care about earthly matters much. Now what matters are only the things that matter to Jesus. I am no longer friends with this world. I no longer care about the carnal things of this world and the material details of life. I am fully submitted to Christ and all I care about is pleasing and honoring Him, abiding in Him, being filled with His Spirit, doing the work of His kingdom… my eyes are on eternal things.

 

 

32 thoughts on “Submitting to Our Husbands in the “Small” Things

  1. “Her desire for intimacy, to me at least, is a barometer of her level of respect for me.”

    The context of this as physical intimacy is greatly important to our well being as men, but if it were within the context of emotional intimacy for women, then things quickly become dire for relationships.

    This “small” (subtle, more difficult for men to notice) detail can easily be the critical decision a woman makes shortly before she decides to divorce or end her dating/engagement relationship. If men don’t notice this emotional detail and do something quickly to become more “respectable” and emotionally “attractive”/”desirable,” then women often check-out emotionally and physically, and end their relationships – much to the shocking surprise of their men. Women – at least from a man’s perspective – don’t communicate these changing opinions and desires of their hearts to men very well. We often don’t know what happened until it is all over and too late to change anything. We would make changes if were to know the condition of women’s hearts and the severity of the situations.

    Does her inability or unwillingness to share her heart and concerns with her man in these situations reflect on her lower respect for him? Doesn’t it show that she is trusting her emotions more than either his history or character, and more than her vows/promises never to divorce or leave him?

    I wonder how long women typically wait from the time they don’t feel “enough” emotional intimacy until the time they decide to end their relationships. I know women vary a bit on this, but I imagine there might be a general timeline that most women would agree with, and I wonder what that length of time is.

    Likewise, there may be a standard length of time between when men feel their needs for physical intimacy are ignored until they decide to check-out emotionally. I’m not married, so I don’t know.

    There must, then, be a length of time between when women feel their needs for emotional intimacy are ignored until they decide to check-out physically. How long is that length of time?

    1. “Her desire for intimacy, to me at least, is a barometer of her level of respect for me.”

      It is an important way for a wife to show her husband that she still values him and is still committed to their relationship. It shows him the same level of love, respect, care, acceptance, appreciation, understanding, value, and commitment that long, deep, emotional conversations give women (to be heard, understood, loved, and cherished deeply).

      When women sow good physically to their husbands, they reap emotionally from them. When men sow good emotionally to their wives, they should reap physically from them. But we don’t give to receive. We give to give!

      1. RG,

        This is so helpful. I think if women could grasp that physical intimacy for men is very comparable to emotional intimacy for women, we could look at physical intimacy as a wonderful way to bless, nourish and invest in our marriages.

        I believe God gave different priorities to husbands and wives so that we would have motivation to focus on physical and emotional intimacy and so that we both learn to stretch and grow and become more like Christ.

    2. RG,

      Hmmm…

      I don’t know that there is a particular time frame for women when they feel emotionally disconnected before they disconnect physically or begin to contemplate divorce.

      Hopefully, women who are submitted to Christ are not going to look at divorce as an option even if they do feel their husbands are very emotionally distant.

      I believe that most wives would say that they do communicate their discontentment and feelings of being ignored, not a high enough priority and feeling emotionally and spiritually disconnected to their husbands pretty early and often.

      Women tend to say things like:
      – I feel like we are just roommates.
      – you don’t spend time with me anymore.
      – turn off the TV and let’s talk for awhile.
      – can’t you stop watching TV and listen to me?
      – I’m trying to share my heart with you.
      – work is more important to you than I am.
      – I feel unloved.
      – why don’t you get excited about being with me the way you do about being with your friends?
      – I’m not your highest priority. Your family/your children/work/your hobby/TV is more important to you than I am.
      – we haven’t been on a date in 11 months.
      – you never listen to me.
      – you don’t care about me like I care about you.
      – I feel like a piece of meat to you. You want my body but you don’t care about knowing me as a person.
      – do you still love me?
      – you don’t love me do you?
      – if you really loved me, you wouldn’t need porn. How can I be vulnerable enough to trust you with my body when I know you have been lusting after other women?

      If a woman is trusting Christ, she can find contentment, peace and joy even when she feels unloved and disconnected in the marriage. But if she doesn’t have the power of God, there will be big problems.

      1. PS,
        I am not saying these things are the best way for a wife to communicate her pain. But these are the kinds of things many wives say she they are hurting and feeling very lonely and disconnected emotionally. And if these methods don’t work, a woman who is not Spirit-filled will begin to become quite resentful, angry and bitter if she continues to feel that her legitimate needs are going unmet.

    3. What if your husband makes you submit to him in all decisions and he doesn’t take your wants or preferences into account, ever?
      He decides everything big and small- where we live, what cars we get, where we can shop for groceries, when we can have kids, etc etc. I would’t mind this if I felt like he made at least some decisions with some consideration for what I prefer too (and I do tell him), but he doesn’t. All decisions are made 100% based on what he thinks is best, and if I don’t like it, I just have to tough it out… always. My input doesn’t matter at all. It is a really tough position to be in.

      1. A,

        Goodness! That would be so frustrating. What do you do when he does this? Do you believe he feels respected by you? Are you dealing with any mental health issue, abuse, addictions, infidelity or severe issues?

        Has he always been like this?
        What was his parents’ marriage like?
        What was your parents’ marriage like?

        What is your relationship with Christ?

        What is his relationship with Christ?

        Much love to you!

  2. April, the Holy Spirit spoke to me mid-conflict and I listened!!!! We’re in the middle of a house project and was helping hubby hang drywall. He was getting very upset because I wasn’t getting the screws right where he wanted and wasn’t doing it fast enough (I’m not horrible and super slow at it, I just don’t work the power tools as efficiently as he does). He was speaking with such a hateful, mean, condescending tone. I was doing my best, but let’s face it, I’m not a professional :). I was just about to say, I just LOVE working with you (dripping with sarcasm of course), but the Holy Spirit stopped me right after “just” and told me that sarcasm would only do harm at this moment. I said instead, I feel so pressured right now. If I don’t do something good enough or quick enough, you’ll be so harsh and mean. I dread working with you so often because of your reactions and so does our daughter. I really don’t enjoy working with you because of this……..
    He apologized 3 times! sincerely! In the past, my sarcasm would’ve just made things worse and set the tone for the rest of the day! I’m SO THANKFUL to God for showing this to me today! His way was SO much better than my way.

    1. Gottaletgo,

      WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!

      I’m so excited that you listened to the prompting of God’s Spirit. You don’t “lose your voice” or “lose power” when you do that – you gain power for good and everyone wins. That is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. You made my day!

  3. Another great post. This sentence really struck me because one thing I want is to live with an eternal perspective: “I can hold everything loosely in my life except for Jesus.”
    If we are able to live with eternity in mind, then I think that can make a huge difference in out we act towards those around us.

    1. Jeanne,
      Absolutely! When you realize that in a very short time this life is over, and you focus on what will matter when you stand before Jesus, it completely changes our priorities!!!

  4. I like what you said about the fact that we don’t “have” to listen to our husbands or obey them, but rather we GET to bless them and do the things they want to do and honor their choices and decisions. That’s a great way to look at it!

    1. M,

      So many women think that this is a burden. But it is not! When we obey God and are filled with His Spirit and power to walk in obedience – that is REAL power, freedom and blessing. God is able to completely change our “want to’s” and our desires to match His own. And when His Spirit is empowering us – His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And all the “sacrifices” we make for Him turn to joy.

  5. Maybe we can talk more about some practical ways we can compromise or submit in the sexual arena. “For Women Only”, “For Men Only” and the “Love and Respect” books say that men don’t want their women to just go along to get along, they want their wives to pursue them. But honestly, when I’m not feeling loved, I don’t feel like making love. I will go along with it anytime my husband initiates but I won’t go out of my way to bless him in this sense. Also, he says don’t bother going along with it when I’m not feeling it because he wants enthusiasm. Granted, my enthusiasm took a nose dive after I found out about years of infidelity and I’ve never really recovered. I don’t feel bitter anymore (thank you Lord) but I also have just about zero interest in any romantic and/or sexual scenario. Feeling so stuck. How does one generate enthusiasm that just isn’t there naturally. I really want to show my husband I care about his wishes/needs.

    1. Brooke,
      Goodness, I can understand that you have been through a lot of pain because of the infidelity thing. 🙁 I am very glad you are not bitter. But if you don’t feel like you can trust your husband, that would put a huge damper on your desires, I would imagine.

      I wonder if reading Grace Filled Marriage by Dr. Tim Keller might be a great place to start?

  6. Brooke,
    Your experience resonated with me! I have been exactly where you are.

    Frequent fulfilling sex is extremely important to my husband. Without it, he feels completely unloved. I felt just as you said, “when I’m not feeling loved, I don’t feel like making love.” So my husband acted unloving to me and I responded by not wanting to have sex with him or just doing it with no enthusiasm, which to him was wasn’t much better than not doing it at all. A vicious circle of unlove. 🙁

    I really wanted change in our marriage and decided that it would start with me. I had read many of the books April has suggested which are so very helpful, but the change really began when I with God’s help adopted a merciful, forgiving attitude towards my husband. I actually prayed that God would renew my sexual interest in my husband! I began to concentrate on all the things about him that I liked and admired, like his muscular arms, his loyalty to his job, his sense of humor, etc. I wouldn’t let any negative thoughts about him ruminate in my mind. Just as Jesus said about plucking out your eye if it causes you to sin, I recognized these negative thoughts and discarded them immediately. I prayed and prayed and concentrated on this thought: “How can I bless my husband today?” I decided that I would become a willing sexual partner to him whether I “felt like it” or not.

    God changed me and my attitudes through learning how to respect my husband and stepping out in faith to do the things God commanded me to do as a wife.

    I made myself sexually available to him by smiling and touching him when I’d pass him in the house, a caress on his head or hand etc. When he’d reach for me, I’d consciously respond by leaning into him and really enjoying his attentions, all the while keeping all negative thoughts at bay.

    Our marriage is healing daily and our sex life is rejuvenated! God is so good.

  7. I’ve been an observer on the site for a while now. I’ve commented a few times only to feel bad that I even said anything mostly from male commenters who think I don’t have a clue and probably feel sorry for my husband. I appreciate April and all she does and since she’s not receiving emails anymore I have to ask this question. How do you submit to a man you don’t trust? How do you get over all the little things he forgets so you can feel like you can trust him in bigger things?

    Since I took more hours at work this school year my husband has offered to help more around the house. Problem is if I ask him he forgets and I end up doing it which gets so old. It’s been that way our whole marriage. He changing jobs soon which I’m not supportive of. I’ve kept my true opinion to myself only asking once if he’s not just settling because he’s miserable at his current job. He says no. So I have to go with that. But I’m afraid it could be a bad move. It’s a small company and he will be working from home all the time. That is requiring us to sell some furniture to make one of the bedrooms an office for him. This year has just been the year of change for our family.

    1. Hi Tiffany,

      I am by no means an expert, but I have a couple of observations/questions/suggestions for you…

      When you ask him to do things around the house, are you expecting him to do them when you want them done, or does he have the freedom to decide what takes priority? In other words, are you *sure* he’s forgetting, and it isn’t just that he has different priorities and hasn’t gotten to those particular things yet?

      If it’s things that must be done at a certain time (such as having the garbage cans out in time for the garbage truck), and he has admitted to or apologized for forgetting, it might be helpful for you to ask if he would like you to remind him somehow (texting him, leaving a note, etc.). My husband forgets things sometimes and tells me that he appreciates gentle reminders. I have to guard against nagging, because I could easily go in that direction!

      Another option, for larger projects, is a list. Most husbands don’t appreciate a honey-do list; they find it incredibly controlling. My husband, on the other hand, asks me each time there’s something I need done to put it on his list. He loves being able to see exactly what needs work and being able to cross it off when it’s complete. Granted, there are times when weeks and months go by without a single thing being crossed off – but – we have a place to live. 🙂

      As far as his job: change can be really difficult! I think the underlying issue here might be whether you feel you can trust God to lead you and your family through your husband. You may worry it’s a bad decision for him to change jobs and work from home, but this could be something God has been preparing him for, or it could be something God is using to prepare your husband for something even greater in the future. And I know from experience, even if we try to “go with it,” our husbands can tell whether or not we are truly supportive of their decisions. Sometimes I wish I could hide that more easily, but perhaps God uses that to refine us so that we are able to sincerely support our husbands’ decisions.

      I know there have been a LOT of times when I wasn’t sure I could trust my husband to get things done (like last night – we just got a new puppy and my husband promised me that he’d take him out one last time for the night, rather than fall asleep on the couch – and sure enough, the puppy didn’t go out. But I had to trust that my husband truly meant well, he had pure motives and is simply human and different from me – and falls asleep a lot easier! 🙂 ). Sometimes I just leave them undone and allow him the space to get to them. Sometimes I give a “gentle reminder” (only because he says he appreciates that!). Sometimes I decide if my priorities are different and I want it done right now and my way, then I will go ahead and do it with a thankful heart that I am able to do it.

      It’s HARD. Learning to trust God to lead us through our husbands isn’t easy at all. Giving up control to our husbands and respecting the ways they’re different from us isn’t easy at all. But praise God, we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us!

      I hope this helped a little bit!

  8. Thank you M for your insight. Yes my husband has freedom when I ask him to help. And he’s the one who volunteered to help this year. I never asked. I’m sure the job will be ok.

    I’m just not sure I can ever be a submissive wife. I just can’t stand the thought of never having a say and of possibly being taken advantage of. I know that a lot of the ladies here really see it as complete trust in God to lead you through your husband but I also think there’s tremendous trust in your husband. And I just don’t have that. If I can’t trust him in small things how can I trust him to lead?

    I don’t feel his life is as miserable as I’ve read on here by some husbands. Although I guess he might disagree. I don’t micromanage his life. I try not to nag. I don’t place any demands on him. Through an argument yesterday he did say I don’t respect him sometimes and I told him he’s right because it’s hard for me to trust him.

    1. Tiffany,

      Submission isn’t about you not having a say. You get to share your feelings, desires, needs and ideas. But you will do it under his leadership and protection. When he knows you trust him, unless he is a drug addict or involved in infidelity or mentally ill, most men respond to a wife’s trust and faith by becoming more responsible in time and by desiring to see their wives be happy. Once they realize we aren’t completing with them, but that we are genuinely admiring them, we have more power and more influence than we ever did when we were trying to control or disrespect them.

      Please check out the posts on biblical submission and respect at the top of my home page. 🙂

    2. Tiffany,

      May I ask what you don’t trust about your husband? Is it that you don’t trust him to do what he says he will because he forgets, or are there deeper issues such as past infidelity, repeated lying, etc.?

  9. No deeper issues M. I’ve just had plenty of experience that things will never get done in or out of the house, with our kids, and just general responsibilities unless I get it done. I can’t rely on him. He constantly forgets. I understand men can’t multitask. But if it’s not in his routine, he will forget. He almost forgot to take the kids to school last week because his phone wasn’t down by his computer with an alarm that goes off everyday. I guess luckily he looked at the clock and saw the time. I leave for work before he takes them every morning.

    April, I did read the articles again you suggested. I just cannot be in a marriage where there’s a chance my feelings and thoughts will never be considered. Again I appreciate all that you do. I’m happy that submission works for you. I realize you’ve accomplished something major in your marriage that was a long process.

    1. Hi Tiffany!

      I’m very glad there are no major trust issues happening.

      From a completely objective point of view, it doesn’t sound to me that he isn’t considering your feelings and thoughts. It sounds like he is simply forgetful and needs reminders, and maybe some extra grace? If he asks what he can do to help, I am guessing that he does care very much about your thoughts and feelings.

      What would have happened if he’d forgotten to take the kids to school? They would have missed a day, or arrived late, and maybe God would have used that to speak to your husband about paying more attention?

      I know it’s incredibly frustrating when someone asks if they can help, and you tell them how, but then it doesn’t get done. I know that feeling well! 🙂 So our choices are to either do it ourselves in the first place, allow them to do it when and how they see fit, or give them the grace to fail and experience the consequences of that – but we have to appreciate their HEART in wanting to help, regardless of the outcome.

      There has to come a point when we appreciate our husbands’ hearts more than whether tasks get done.

      What would happen if you didn’t do any of the things you asked him to do…and they just didn’t get done?

      Have you asked your husband if he would like gentle reminders, is that something that you think might help?

      1. M,
        I know your comment here was meant for Tiffany, but I just wanted to say it spoke to me. My husband is very forgetful and doesn’t get things done when he says he will. Its definitely a strain and while I’ve been better at dealing with it lately there area always those days where some bitterness tries to sneak in. I think what you said about how we need to appreciate their heart more than if the tasks gets done is really true. Thanks for this!
        Jeanne

        1. Jeanne, I’m glad it spoke to you! It’s definitely something I struggle with, because I’m very Type A and need to have all my ducks in a row! My husband and I have had a lot of things thrown at us this year, and he’s mentioned being so scattered and unable to focus to get things done. I just have to hear his heart in it and realize when he falls asleep on the couch rather than cleaning up after the dog, he’s simply in need of rest and it’s an opportunity for me to bless him by offering grace (and cleaning up after the dog so he didn’t have to!).

          Praying for both of you, Jeanne and Tiffany!

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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