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Does Being a Biblically Submissive Wife Mean I Can’t Say How I Feel and What I Need?



We CAN say what we want, how we feel, what we think, what our concerns are and what we need.

(Please keep in mind that when I talk about submission, I am always talking about the biblical concept, not the worldly definition. For more about biblical submission, please read here.)

We have total freedom to do this! I don’t know a healthy husband who wants a wife who has no thoughts, no opinions, no desires and no feelings. In fact, I believe it is our responsibility and duty to share these things many times – but in a way that is respectful and honoring to God and to our husbands and in a way that doesn’t involve sin. We can have pure motive as we give God’s Spirit total control in our lives so that eventually our only motives will be to love,  please and glorify God and to love, honor, respect and bless our husbands.

Do I do this perfectly?


None of us will be perfect until we are in heaven.

Can God give us victory over sin?



God is continuing to transform me. I can ask Greg for things I want and need. And I do that every so often. I do fine if I ask for what I want and then drop the issue in my mind and heart and resolve to be content with or without whatever I asked for. But, for me, if I allow myself to dwell on my needs or marinate on thoughts about what Greg “should” do, I can get into trouble and slide into sinful motives very quickly. I have to remember that I cannot FORCE Greg to do what I want him to do. Truthfully, I can be pretty insatiable emotionally and spiritually if I try to look to Greg to meet all my needs. Only Jesus can truly meet my deepest emotional and spiritual needs. (Please note – I am not talking about severe marriage issues here! If there are very serious problems in your marriage – drug/alcohol addiction, mental health issues, actual abuse, infidelity, please seek godly, experienced help in person from someone you can trust!)

I started to slip a few days ago into obsessing about wanting Greg to do something. Maybe you don’t have that problem. But I sure do. I must always watch and check my motives and lay every thought before God, shooting down any ungodly thoughts, repenting of any evil motives and asking God to purify my motives and fill me with His Spirit. I have to have serious time in prayer and in God’s Word often – to maintain spiritual nourishment.

The second I take my eyes off of Jesus and begin to expect Greg to make me happy and meet some deep spiritual need, I start to spiral downward. I know that there are some things I cannot put into my mind. Even one sentence in a book, blog or sermon about “what godly husbands should do” (that is not something my husband usually does for me) can be a trigger for me, a temptation into sinful thoughts – pride, self-righteousness, entitlement, idolatry of my husband or of being in control, selfishness, resentment, bitterness, etc…I have to catch those thoughts immediately and repent and replace them with God’s truth and set my eyes firmly on Christ alone to meet my needs. Then my feet are on solid spiritual ground again – the Rock of Jesus. I do much better if I just don’t allow myself to focus on what husbands are “supposed to do.” Maybe you can read a whole book about how husbands should be godly husbands and it doesn’t phase you. That is awesome! But for me – I know I can’t go there. I also like to avoid romantic movies and books to avoid temptation to compare Greg to some fictional romantic lead. That way, I can be content with what I actually have and thankful for my particular husband and his strengths without adding fictional or unrealistic expectations to him.

I cannot personally approach Greg  about my feelings and desires if I have my heart set (with sinful motives) on what HE should do for me. It will inevitably be a disaster!

If I realize I am getting trapped in that issue of thinking about what Greg should do for me, I have to go to prayer immediately, repent to God if I have sinned in my heart and begin to focus on all of my many blessings and all that I am thankful for and all the things Greg does do for me and all the things I do respect about him. I must focus on finding ALL of my joy, contentment, acceptance, love, identity, purpose and strength in Jesus. I know I need to concentrate on what God asks ME to do. Then God gets me back in balance – usually – before I even say anything to Greg. This time, I did say a few sentences that started drifting toward sinful motives after I asked for what I needed and wanted, then realized what I was doing and repented. I have to have God’s power to do this. I can do nothing good in my own strength!


Submission in the Bible began with the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. The Son submitted to the Father because He loved Him. They were equal in value and equally God, in fact, they are One. But, Jesus submitted to the position of authority of the Father. Did Jesus share His feelings, desire, concerns and needs with God? Absolutely!!!! He was a man of fervent prayer. Did God listen to Jesus’ prayers? Absolutely!!!!!! But Jesus said, “not My will, but Yours be done.”

When there was a conflict between Jesus’ will and God’s will, Jesus voluntarily chose the Father’s will because He loved Him and because He loved us. (Please read John 17 to read how Jesus shared His heart, needs, desires and concerns with God passionately, intimately, boldly, respectfully and lovingly.)

Submission for a believer begins with our yielding to the Lordship of Christ Jesus. Does He allow us to share our thoughts, desires, concerns, emotions and needs with Him? Yes! He already knows all of these things, but He delights in us connecting with Him and loves for us to pray to Him. (Please read “How to Pray for Our Husbands So That God Will Hear” for more about how to pray. You can also search “prayer” and “pray” on my home page for posts that may be helpful about how to approach God and how to pray fervently and effectively.)

If there is a conflict between our will and God’s will, a believer is to submit to God’s will. Ultimately, that is what we are all to seek above all else, God’s will and God’s glory.

Submission in marriage begins with a wife voluntarily choosing to honor her husband’s God-given leadership. A husband cannot force biblical submission. This is something a wife chooses to do out of her love and reverence for Christ.. Not that the husband is God. A husband is NOT deity! Some people think that if a wife submits to her husband, she is worshipping him as a god. No! That is NOT AT ALL what the Bible teaches! He is just a human being – a sinful and imperfect one – who has been given the position of authority and leadership in order that he might protect, provide for, nurture, lead and guide his wife and family. For more on all the different kinds of human spiritual authority (pastors, church leaders, government leaders, police, military, bosses, husbands and parents), please check out this post.

A wife is free to share her heart, her thoughts, her concerns, her feelings, her emotions, her needs and desires with her husband. And, she is free to share all of these things with God, trusting God to ultimately be the One to meet all of her needs through the finished work of Jesus Christ.


If a husband and wife don’t or can’t agree, then a godly wife voluntarily chooses to honor her husband’s decision, trusting God to lead her through her husband.


The key for a godly wife is that she is sensitive to God’s Spirit and His prompting about exactly what to say, when to say it, how to say it, when to not say anything and what is worth talking about vs. what is not worth talking about at any given time.

When a godly wife does approach her husband to share, she does so from a place of:

  • spiritual strength – being filled with the power of God’s Spirit and all of His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Galatians 5:22-23)
  • God’s love motivating her – I Corinthians 13:4-8
  • refusing to use sinful motives or sinful words or actions to attempt to get her way (she does not resort to humiliating, criticizing, demeaning, belittling, making fun of, bossing, controlling, being violent, arguing, disrespecting, complaining or judging her husband. She does not allow herself to be motivated by resentment, fear, bitterness, hatred, apathy, vengeance or anything that would grieve the heart of God. For more details on the sinful nature, please check out Galatians 5:18-21 or II Timothy 3:1-9 )
  • knowing her old sinful nature is dead and buried with Christ so she counts herself dead to sin and her old self but alive to God through Christ Jesus (Romans 6)
  • total submission to Christ as Lord (James 4:7-10)
  • being ready to extend the same lavish unconditional love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that she received herself from Christ (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • God’s wisdom which is much higher than the wisdom of people (James 1:5-8)
  • seeking God’s will above her own (Luke 12:31)
  • seeking to honor, bless and respect her husband and to obey God (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-6, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  • leaning on God’s wisdom and not trusting her own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)
  • meekness – this is strength under control or “bridled strength.” The picture is that of a wild stallion who has been “broken.” His will has been broken so now he uses all of his strength to accomplish what his owner/rider instructs him to do. This is what we do for God. Our will is to be broken and we submit our will to His, allowing Him to control our lives, our thoughts, our desires, our actions and our circumstances and giving Him total access to everything we possess. (I Peter 3:4)
  • no fear, because all of her trust is firmly placed in Christ, so she overflows with His peace because she trusts in God with great faith (I Peter 3:6, Hebrews 11:6)
  • faith that God will use all things for her ultimate good and His ultimate glory even if she does not receive what she wants in a given situation (Romans 8:28-29)

There are times when a wife knows God is prompting her to wait and not verbally address an issue. This is particularly true when a husband is far from God. In such situations, God’s commands for wives are to win her husband without a word by their reverence, purity and godly behavior (I Peter 3:1).

There are times when a wife knows that God is definitely prompting that she needs to say something specific right now. There is not a formula for knowing what to say and when that I know of. This is about us growing in our relationship with Jesus and learning to depend on and trust in Him and learning to hear and listen to His voice alone. This means we have to spend TIME with God in prayer, seeking His presence, seeking His truth, asking Him to change us and feasting on His Word. THAT is where our power source is. If we try to do this without the power of God’s Spirit and His Word, we will not have the spiritual nourishment and strength we need and we will be much too weak!


How have you learned to share your heart, needs and desires in a godly way in your marriage? What are your temptations that trip you up? What approaches don’t work with your husband? What approaches do work and bless both you and your husband?


Stages of This Journey

Learning to Respect and Give Up Control Is a Process

Biblical Submission Does Not = The Husband Is Always Right

Submission Means We Hold the Things of This World Loosely

The Secret of Submission

Can You Overdo Respect or Submission in Marriage?

Fear Fuels Our “Need to Control

To Speak or Not to Speak

The Frustrating Quiet Phase (this is only a phase early in the journey, it is not a permanent thing!)

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

When My Spouse is Wrong


47 thoughts on “Does Being a Biblically Submissive Wife Mean I Can’t Say How I Feel and What I Need?

  1. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. I’m guilty. One thing I’ve done to focus on the positive is I started a “Gratitude Journal”. I have my regular journal, but I have one completely separate. I try to write every day the things my husband has done that I am so very thankful for. Even the smallest of things really help change my focus. The other thing I do is repeat, “Love him anyway”. It’s a wonderful reminder that he may not be doing what I think he should be doing, or I may be feeling a bit unloved, but it keeps my focus. Thank you April. Great post!

      1. Yes! Do not delay! I did this for over a year and it made such a difference for me! To have to look for something good every day really changes the way you think. I need to start it up again, too! 🙂

  2. April, me too! If I read stuff like romance novels or Christian marriage books on how a godly spiritual man is supposed to lead, be, say or do, it breeds dissatisfaction and discontent for me, and that’s just the minimal stuff! I think those of us who are very idealistic and can fall into perfectionism are esp. vulnerable to this. Good article, esp. the line Lori quotes from it.

    1. Patricia,

      Yes! Discontentment and dissatisfaction. That is exactly what happens to me, too.

      Thank you for sharing! I am beginning to see this may be a bigger problem for many other wives than I thought!

      1. Patricia,
        I mentioned what I write about today to Greg a little while ago and how surprised I was how many other wives have the same triggers. And he, without seeing your comment, said “well that makes sense. Especially since many wives are perfectionists who tend to be controlling.” Hmm!

        Very interesting!!!

  3. Even one sentence in a book, blog or sermon about “what godly husbands should do” ..and then have to suffer through reading on your site about other husbands who say “We want to come home and see our gorgeous wives and know that we work and bust our butt for these beautiful women…” uhh…no. can guarantee my husband doesn’t think that. Maybe next time post a spoiler alert for wives to skip the post if info like this is a trigger. Other than that, thanks for the blog. Am learning much.

    1. Marked wife,
      Great point!
      I think I may need to do a survey about triggers like this for wives. And it is a very good idea for me to put a spoiler alert on posts like that.

  4. Elizabeth,
    Those things always made me cry in the past, too. Now, I don’t cry – but I still face too much temptation usually if I listen to them to sink into sinful motives.

    You know what else used to mess me up? Songs on Christian radio stations about a husband loving his wife. The one “lead Me with strong hands” was one of the worst!

    1. Oh, yes…that song (as beautiful as it sounds in theory) does not help at all. I have to skip it when it comes up on Pandora! 🙂

  5. I was in the car with my best friend and her husband one day. He was driving through NJ traffic trying to drop us off at a restaurant so we could celebrate my friend’s birthday. (my husband was home with our kiddos.) I noticed how well he handled the traffic, people cutting him off, the stress of being late. He was calm competent and even funny!!!!
    I started feeling so upset because this is a weak area for my marriage. My husband gets crazy in traffic and stressed out! He swears at other cars! I hate it and usually end up yelling at him which of course makes things worse. (fun times!) So I started feeling insecure about my marriage and wishing my husband could be more like hers.
    Once at the restaurant I commented at how great her husband is! She turned to me and said,”Yeah, he is great when you are around!!” It turns out that they had had a huge fight before I arrived at her house. He had even punched a wall! She told me that he only drives so calmly when I am in the car with them. It was a HUGE revelation to me. Now whenever I start to compare my marriage with someone else’s I keep that in mind. Things are never what they seem. Other people let us see their best parts, like their holiday snapshots. We compare their best snapshots (because really all we see of others’ marriages are snapshots) with our worst shots. I was comparing her husband at his best with mine at his worst. Not to mention I was doing this while my husband was happily at home with our 3 young children so I could go out to a fancy restaurant and celebrate my friend’s birthday.
    So I guess to the point of this post, I am always tempted by the sin of real life comparison. I am always observing other husbands and wishing mine would do this or that like them. Movies or songs don’t bother me, I can disregard that as fiction. It is the real flesh and blood so called perfect husbands that get me.

    PS: April, you posted somewhere an example of what to say when it seems like a husband is driving like a maniac. I can’t find it anymore….I meant to memorize it. It was so nice and respectful. Do you remember that post? I would love to re-read it. Now I just close my eyes and pray!!!!!My husband’s driving makes me crazy! (I drive like my grandmother, I admit!)


        1. Amy,
          Maybe this is the comment of mine to which you were referring?
          Has your husband ever caused a wreck in the past?

          If not – then reading or closing your eyes or staying busy concentrating on something else might be a good distraction. Laura Doyle, author of “The Surrendered Wife” learned to close her eyes to keep from telling her husband how to drive. 🙂

          You can also gently say something like, “I know that you have things under control when you are driving. You probably have much better reaction times than I do, so I am sure you are keeping us safe. I know that is your highest priority. I am sure I am hyper-sensitive about this, but it would give me a lot of peace of mind if you would keep more distance between us and the next car. Thanks, Honey!”

          And then, let him think about it and decide what he wants to do.

          Here is an awesome post about a wife who used to be the Professional Parking Consultant.

  6. I just want to thank you so much for this article! I have been married almost 20 years to a strong-willed, but loving man and up until a few years ago, I fought him each step of the way in his manhood. That’s what I grew up with and all I had known. Even after becoming a Christian 15+ years ago, I felt women should have say within their household and everything that entails (finances, how the children are raised, etc) almost to the point that the final decisions were theirs, not their husbands. This destroyed my husband and put us through 10 years of great turmoil and utter distance emotionally and physically even though we remained in the household. Eventually he could take no more and he left, filing for divorce. My pride blamed him for not obeying God’s wishes to stay married, for not being “kind & loving enough”, for being too distant, uncommunicative, etc, etc. The list went on and on. Thankfully, the Lord intervened after 8 months and essentially broke both of us. To be honest though, it was more me than him. Yes, he was able to see that I could be a Godly wife, but I had to give up my pride and willfulness to have my own way. Then I was able to see my dear husband for who he really was, a truly loving man, who provided unselfishly for his family daily with little encouragement from me at best, and undermining him every step of the way at worst. The Lord changed me and that allowed my husband to flourish and be who God wants him to be.

    This last year though has been quite rough as we embarked on a MAJOR remodeling project and my husband decided to leave his well-paying comfortable work-from-home job of 13 years that he hated to just take some time off. In the 10 months he was home/not working, I “expected” certain things. When the project progressed slower than I expected and I found out he was not actively pursuing another job, I found myself being snippy with him and distancing myself. I was no longer the loving, understanding, submissive wife, I was slowly becoming my old self. I didn’t take into account just how draining his old job had been on him and how the years of toll had worn heavily. We had money saved for a time such as this, so he didn’t “need” to go back to work immediately, but I didn’t want to make any changes in our lives that his staying home for any extended period might require. I also became a complete perfectionist about every aspect of the remodel, rarely taking into consideration that he was the one doing all the actual work and had all the experience and knowledge. I also rarely took into account the difficulty in some of the things I was asking for. He in return was starting to become the man “he” had been before, distant and snippy with me.

    My husband had a plan for both his career and the remodel’s progress which although not what I had planned, worked out just fine. The problem is that my insistence on getting my own way has started to cause problems once again, not as bad as the first time, but still there nonetheless. So thank you for your article, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me and my marriage. I will take it to heart and with God’s leading, make the changes I need to for both Him and my husband.

    1. Missi,

      Wow!!!! Thank you for this!! I love all the stories wives are sharing on the post today. Would you please consider allowing me to share this as a post anonymously? I believe many wives would be greatly blessed by your story!

      I am so excited about what God is doing in you! I can’t wait to see all that He has in store for you, your husband and your marriage!

  7. Loved this! Going to my husband with my needs or wants in a login way are MY DOWNFALL. Unfortunately in this area I feel my emotions lead me instead of God’s spirit, mainly because my feelings are easily hurt by my husband for some reason? Even if he is not meaning to, it can ruin my whole day, ruin my thoughts toward him and ruin how I treat him for some time after the incident. If he says Something even slightly unloving or if I request something and don’t get it I become very down and think and look down upon my husband. It almost feels like an emotion I can not control. I have noticed the FEW times I am able to respond with respect or ask with respect, my husband is completely loving. I need to spend more time in prayer about this bc i don’t want to miss out on good times with my husband bc of my sinful or selfish motives, I want to completely die to self but it’s still a struggle.. been on the respectful journey almost a year now. Anyways can’t wait to hear how some other wives do this, and prayer for me is appreciated.. I want to get off the emotional rollercoaster that sometimes runs my life!
    God bless

    1. Learning wife,
      I can so relate to you!!! I am sure most wives can! This is such a great description of the struggle and battle we almost all face.

      I invite you to search my home page for “feelings” and “emotions” and “PMS.” I think there may be some posts that bless you here.

      As you continue to allow God to refine your motives, He can help you get rid of any sinful motives until your motives are only to love and honor Him and to love, bless and honor your husband.

      I am praying for you!

  8. I love this, April. I’ve always been the sort of person who was aware of what other people (in particular, couples) have and so the roots of discontent can grow very quickly if I allow comparisons (or perhaps covetousness is a better word) to happen.

    I can tell you from almost 27 years of marriage (this month!) that:

    1. Comparisons to other marriages are never productive;
    2. The grass is never greener on the other side. Even if another couple seems to have it all, they may also have something lacking that I cannot see. Likewise, my marriage may very well be stronger in different areas;
    3. Preconceived expectations of my husband are just setting myself up for disappointments (not saying we shouldn’t expect a certain standard of conduct from each other); and
    4. All I can change is myself. It’s up to God to work on my husband. 🙂

    I very much agree that Hollywood movies and romance novels can be marriage poison. I believe they’re breeding grounds for discontent. I can’t say that marriage books trigger me, however. My husband and I read The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and the companion book, The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott together and we loved them. There was no, “You should be …” or “You should do …” because we were so busy feeling amazed, humbled and convicted by what we read.

    I do read a lot of marriage blogs and have learned a lot from them. I just think for me, it has taken a certain level of maturity and growth to get to where I am today. Do I wish I had known these things 27 years ago? Do I wish I hadn’t ignored all the marriage advice I was given at the time? Yep, but again, it’s all about maturity. I’m just thankful God hasn’t given up on me!

    1. Elena,

      I love this so much!!! I can see all the wisdom God is storing up in you. What a treasure and a blessing you are! I wonder if you might allow me to share this comment anonymously on my Peacefulwife Blog FB page, please?

      I appreciate your time and willingness to share all you have been learning!

  9. April, I don’t know how to answer the Trigger Survey. I don’t know if my trigger falls under “other” or even if it is a bad trigger I should avoid.

    My trigger is I want the man I married back. That man was sweet, romantic, and giving. I grieve for that man I lost. Now he is distant, angry and unloving. Not always unloving and angry but always distant.

    1. Daisymae,

      So, good memories from the past are a trigger for you, it sounds like?

      Many times, as God transforms us, that man we fell in love with returns. But it does take time. It is difficult to choose to accept him as he is right now even if he never changes, and to choose to respect and honor him right now, knowing what he used to be like. But – with God, it is definitely possible! I am so excited about what God is doing in your heart and life!

      1. April, I do understand all that and I take responsibility for my part in that.
        I guess my question is, Is it wrong to think about it and let it be a trigger? Is it wrong to desperately want that back?

          1. I know that for me, I can’t focus on what I don’t have right now, what I used to have or what I want to have. I do best when I focus on being thankful for what I have and content in Christ even if nothing else ever changed.

            If some thought triggers sinful thoughts in my mind – that thought for me is a trigger that I need to avoid. If I allow myself to wallow in those thoughts, I will end up falling into sinful motives and thoughts. And that quickly leads to disrespectful and sinful words and actions.

            Great comment! I am sure many, many wives have the same issue.

          1. Here is something to think about –

            Many, many wives I have met want their husbands to be the way they used to be back when they were dating or first married. Ironically, many, many husbands I have met wish their wives were the way they used to be back when they were dating or first married, too.

            Thankfully, as God changes one spouse and begins to heal one end of the marriage, our marriages can be restored and can be even more amazing and stronger and better than they were in the beginning. I’m so thankful we serve a sovereign, powerful, mighty, loving, patient Lord. As we seek Him first, and trust Him with the details of everything else, dying to self and holding all things loosely in our hands but Jesus, God begins to work miracles.

              1. Daisymae,

                Isn’t it strange that our husbands have to go on the same journey we do? Theirs is just as painful, too. But, God will use our sinfulness in marriage to refine and sanctify us all if we are willing.

                I think this insight can help us approach our husbands with a lot more empathy. To realize, they feel the same pain we feel in the marriage, longing for the time when things were better. Now, we can work together to rebuild our marriages on the solid Rock of God’s Word. And we can have a win/win instead of the same old lose/lose. AND, when we obey God, HE wins, too! And so do our children and everyone around us. 🙂

  10. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    If reading about preparing for marriage is a trigger for you, you may want to skip this one. But, I talk about some of my own triggers in this post, as well as where submission starts and what it is in relationship to Jesus and God, the church and Jesus and then wives and husbands. I think it is a good foundational post to help us have a right understanding of what submission, in God’s definition, is about. Much love to you!

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