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a pic I took of a "wedding cake topper at Wal-mart

"My Husband Can't Make Me Submit to Him or Respect Him!"

a pic I took of a
a pic I took of a “humorous” wedding cake topper at Wal-mart

Oh how the picture above makes me cringe and breaks my heart!

Sadly, this was me for the first 14+ years of our marriage. 🙁

Note: This post is not for wives whose husbands are violent, or who threaten violence, who are actively addicted to drugs/alcohol, who are living in major unrepentant sin, or who are experiencing uncontrolled mental health issues right now. If this is your situation, please seek God and seek godly, biblical, trustworthy counsel in person to help you walk through these extreme situations. There are times when a wife may not be able to submit to her husband in such situations, but may need to reach out for help. (For a bit of clarification on the difference between an abusive husband and a decent husband who is trying to lead his wife in the right way, please see the bottom of this post and also please read last Saturday’s post – Husbands May Not Force Their Wives into Biblical Submission.)

HUSBANDS HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBLITY TO LEAD (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:22-33, Col. 3:18-19, Titus 2:5)

If my husband has the courage to say to me, “You are being disrespectful.” Or “You are not honoring God’s Word,”  (whether he is a believer or not) – I need to take his rebuke seriously.

  • Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31
  • Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Prov. 15:32

If my husband’s rebuke/criticism has merit according to Scripture, then I need to repent to God and to my husband and ask God to help me change and stop my sin. God wants me to live a life of obedience to Him in holiness by the power of His Spirit regenerating my heart, mind, and soul. I have no excuse to continue on in sin if I belong to Jesus.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3:7-10

I cannot cherish sin in my life and be right with God. I cannot embrace rebellion against God and be God’s friend at the same time. I must choose sin or Jesus. I cannot have both!

If my husband tries to lead and I say, “You can’t make me submit to you!” What does this reveal about my character and my walk with Christ? Who is in charge of my life? My flesh or God’s Spirit? 

No, my husband cannot violently force me to submit to him – that would violate my free will. I cannot violently force my husband to do anything either or violate his free will. But if Jesus is my Lord – my greatest desire will be to seek to submit fully to Him and to obey Him – out of gratitude for all He has done for me. If I refuse to obey God’s Word, I am destroying my fellowship with God and my marriage. I will answer to God for this and He will be rightly displeased. I tremble at that thought! I long only to please Jesus with all my being! Let’s imagine for a moment that a husband is being unloving, passive, or dominating and harsh  – walking in disobedience to God’s Word. How would a wife feel if her husband said one of the following things?

  • You can’t make me love you!
  • You can’t make me lead in our family. I don’t care what the Bible says.
  • You can’t make me stop screaming at you and going into a rage. I’ll be harsh all I want! I’ll treat you like a slave if I want to.

My husband is right to point out my sin. That is the loving, godly thing to do!

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

How I WISH Greg had confronted me about my sin during those first 14 years of our marriage (disrespect, control, pride, self-righteousness, selfishness, bitterness, resentment, gossip, etc…).  Perhaps God would have used his leadership and wise rebuke to wake me up and spare us both the pain of my sin. A godly man or woman does not ignore sin. God does not ignore sin – and God is Love. God is also holy and God speaks truth. His followers are to speak the truth in love and to warn our brothers and sisters if we see them heading down a dangerous path away from the Lord. Wives also have the freedom to respectfully confront their husbands about sin.


As a husband who was married to an unsubmissive wife for many years, I was taught that submission was voluntary so leave your wife alone and just love her. Unfortunately, I was not taught the full truth that many wives will not voluntarily give their submission or respect to a husband because they have a sinful desire to remain in control. It is not until a godly wife is confronted with her sin that she can begin to see clearly that her submission is indeed to be voluntary to her husband, but such submission is a mandatory act demanded of her Lord and Savior. It is in no way optional, except if a Christian wife wants to live in sin.

Don’t get me wrong. The same is true of a husband who is doing or saying unloving things to his wife. He too must understand that loving his wife, no matter how difficult she may be, is a mandatory demand made by His Lord. But a Christian husband should not be ashamed or bashful to ask a Christian wife to consider what her Lord asks of her – as it unlocks a marriage to far greater joy and happiness. A Christian wife may do the same in asking her husband to love her and treat her gently. Neither must live perfect lives to be able to point out to the other their sins. (Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17)

There are many wives who desire to be far more submissive and respectful but are seemingly incapable of moving fully forward because their flesh controls them. It is here that a Christian husband should show leadership in discussing with his wife the Biblical roles and point out to her the times she is being unsubmissive and disrespectful. Calling her out on her willful disrespect in private is vital to helping her overcome her fleshly sins.

Awareness is the road to change and when husbands are afraid to ask their wives to obey Jesus, they are not displaying the headship role God has given them.

Three times I reminded my wife that the God asks her to be submissive, and she said, “Yes, but you can’t make me!” My response was, “You are correct, but you need to talk to God about this.” The Holy Spirit inside spoke to her and convicted her that, indeed, even if her husband was not perfect himself, she had no choice but to obey the Word of God is she wanted to walk in righteousness.


Sometimes husbands demand more than a wife can possibly do. There can be times when a wife may need to say, “I want to honor your leadership. I want to respect you and follow you as leader in our marriage. You have asked me to work full time, have the house perfectly clean every day, lose a lot of weight (which requires me to have time to shop for healthy food, cook healthy food, and exercise for 30-60 minutes 5 days/week), take better care of the children, and have time and energy for sex. I’d love to be able to do all of the things you want me to do. But I think this is too much. What can we take off of my plate so that I have time to do the things that are most important and do them well? I would like to step down to part time at work so that I can take care of these other important things.”

A wife does have freedom to share her concerns, needs, desires, ideas, and her perspective!


God does not force us to submit to him.

Also, if is forced it is not submission, it is coercion. Submission means nothing unless it is an act of a person’s free will. It would be like forcing a person to love you – it would not really be love.



Husbands May Not Force Their Wives into Biblical Submission

Responding to Our Husbands’ Constructive Criticism – VIDEO

What Is Godly Spiritual Leadership?

My Husband Won’t Lead

I Wish My Husband Would Pray with Me More

Is Respect Optional for Godly Women?

Why Do I Have to Change First?

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sins

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

Overcoming Bitterness



  • demanded 100% unquestioning obedience even if he asked his wife to clearly sin against God, i.e.: “You will do everything I say or else!”
  • said, “You have no right to any opinion. You may not speak at all.”
  • said, “You may not talk to anyone but me ever.”
  • threatened or carried out physical violence.
  • forced his wife to cut all ties at church, with her family, with her friends, and with everyone but himself so that he could completely control her all the time.
  • demands his wife to worship him in place of God.

I would like to encourage wives who are truly being abused to find appropriate help and to get somewhere safe ASAP!

What is much more common is that wives have decent husbands (Christian and even non-Christian men), but if the husband attempts to lead – the wife accuses him of being “abusive” and/or refuses to honor his leadership. Some Wives Claim Their Husbands Abuse Them If Their Husbands:

  • don’t agree with them.
  • ask or tell them to do something they don’t want to do.
  • confront them about their sin.
  • are firm about that their sin is unacceptable.
  • tell them they were being disrespectful or unsubmissive because the wives actually were being disrespectful or unsubmissive.
  • ask them to keep a record of what they spend.
  • ask them to spend less time at church (i.e.:  a husband may say, “I think that our family is suffering because you are spending 4 nights/week helping at church. I want you to cut back to one weeknight at church and be home with us the other evenings.”)
  • don’t have the exact same personal convictions.
  • get upset with them about legitimate concerns.
  • ask for their wives to meet their needs sometimes that may be different from a wife’s needs.

These things are not abuse, my dear sisters!

29 thoughts on “"My Husband Can't Make Me Submit to Him or Respect Him!"

  1. If I may, you should probably confront your husband with pure logic and leave the emotional things for another time. Here are a few points you could consider, but please note that most/all of them will still require effort on your part to make them work properly:

    – Point out that a wife that works at home can often more than compensate for the loss of income by doing things at home that you would normally need to pay for (i.e. cooking, cleaning, repairing/maintaining clothing, and other home maintenance.) Proverbs 31

    – Point out that you will have more time to cook/grocery shop, which will reduce the food bill, improve the health of everyone in the home, and help with the weight loss.

    -Point out that you will also have the additional time to exercise etc.

    -Point out that working one job and progressing along that career path is likely to be far more lucrative financially than working multiple jobs, which will leave you burned out and unable to progress in your career.

    -Ask him why the responsibility to support the family financially is falling on your shoulders. That is the husbands responsibility.

    1. I didn’t read this right until after I answered again above, but I would REALLY suggest that you and your husband go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program. It will really reconcile these disparate financial goals. He needs to lead, but it needs to be servant leadership, very mindful of your needs and desires. Could you get him to go to that with you?

      1. That’s really the truth, money problems and money fights are often symptoms of deeper problems, not problems intrinsically of themselves. This money program really might help unpack those issues and get the money fight out of the way so the roots of issues can be handled. I don’t want to disclose too much personal detail, but we got on the program, things shifted. Where my wife used to complain about superficial money things, those problems were resolved, and it shed light on the systemic problems of sin in both of our hearts. Pride, envy, contempt, etc.

        Well God bless you. Persist!

    2. Well, there isn’t much you can do with that, I’m afraid. I would suggest that perhaps you could try to see things from his perspective, not to condone it, but to understand it better. There may be some key component of his attitude that you are missing.

  2. Anon, I really hear you when you say,

    “I don’t know if you have ventured into the manosphere, but it’s pretty much a place where, if you’re a woman, you want to find the nearest Jim Jones Kool-Aid and end it all, because there is no way these folks can be pleased, and if your husband is that type of man, you, frankly, are screwed…”

    That is the truth and it needs to be spoken. I’ve ventured into the manosphere a few times and one of the hidden benefits is that it sure did compel me to appreciate my own husband more, to be be filled with much more gratitude about having been so blessed. He may not be perfect, there may be challenges, but it could clearly be so much worse.

    Often it seems like men there want submissive wives, but they do not grasp that they must provide the safety and the framework to help make that possible. Being gifted with a wife’s submission is not permission to pile endless responsibility upon her, to fail to address her emotional needs, her sexual needs, to make the entire marriage a marriage of me, myself,and I.

    My only suggestion for you is to calmly and logically explain to your husband, with no emotional investment, that your burden is too heavy, that your hands are too full, that you desire more time with him. I don’t know if it will work, but I do know my own husband often overestimates my capabilities and genuinely does not always recognize that he is expecting far more than I am capable of giving him. Children can so easily become a replacement for marriage and before you know it we are investing everything we have into them rather than into each other.

  3. Anonymous,

    I know exactly that experience of no right time, no right words, no right delivery, etc… And I eventually found myself shut down, too. It’s a sad place to be.

    There are too many details to explain what we went through, but that’s no longer an issue for us. By God’s grace, through many prayers, and God’s working in our hearts through various means, He restored our marriage. I pray this may for you, too. I’d lost hope at one point but I kept clinging to Jesus. He became dearer through my pain.

    I’ll be praying for you throughout today for God to do far more than you ever imagine, in His time.

    Sending you love…

    1. But I hasten to add that there was never any violence or threat of such in our marriage. April’s comment above posted while I was typing. In a case where those things are happening, that’s a complete game changer.

  4. All,

    Wives need the freedom and safety to be able to share their needs, ideas, concerns, suggestions, and perspectives. A dynamic where a wife says nothing and gives up all of her influence is deStructive to the marriage just as much as a wife becoming controlling and disrespectful. And a dynamic where a husband is passive and gives up his leadership is also destructive, just as much as a dynamic where a husband is a harsh, selfish, and controlling.

    All of us, men and women, in our sinful flesh, tend toward passivity or control. There is this place in between those sinful extremes where we soar on wings like eagles by God’s power. We are neither too passive, nor too controlling – but we reflect the character of Christ. That is the goal! And none of us can do it in our own power.

    1. I agree April, and had added to my second comment before your last one appeared, but it went “poof!” and disappeared when I hit post comment. 🙂

  5. I’m sorry to hear about that struggle.

    As a man, what I would like to hear is something like this, and it doesn’t need to be an accusation of his behavior, but instead an assertion of your needs and desires.

    Say, “I want X” and list the end game you want to accomplish with him. Whether it be home full time, part time, or whatever blend you desire.

    Then ask him what you two can accomplish as a team to make those things come true. Ask him what financial goal you want to accomplish when he’ll bless and be in agreement with you cutting back. That way he still has his input, but you also give him the opportunity to come toward you by asserting your needs and letting him provide.

    Does that make sense? Perhaps agree on an amount to save in a ‘rainy day fund’ (5 grand, 10 grand, whatever reflects your needs) and get certain home maintenance goals accomplished (roof, windows, etc), and then once those goals are accomplished, you can stay home?

    It is really great for men to have a target we can focus on instead of constantly living in a static state. The other great part is that you can quantify exactly at what point you’re in agreement (ahead of time – no surprises) and that when you DO accomplish that goal (together) then he has the opportunity to give you grace, and it’s not done in a coercive way, so he still feels like he’s leading.

  6. Praising God for how He has redeemed your life, April. And using the things He has taught you and continues to teach you to help so many women. I love how your website is filled with scripture, testimonies and bold prayers. The Lord is helping me be a more submissive wife through your testimony. The wedding topper is a sad representation of much of our culture, and a good picture of what we as Christ followers do not want to do. God bless your ministry!

    1. Amber Paulsen,

      Thank you so much for praising God with me! I am so thankful for what He is doing in your life and marriage. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers!

    1. “I am just very, very lonely…”

      Anon, we are never alone. Christ sees us and loves us and even collects our tears in a bottle. He knew persecution Himself and loneliness. You may feel lonely, but lean into Him, you are never alone.

      I say this not because your husband is right, but to help you protect yourself from the hurt that is happening. If you can detach emotionally from what is happening, try to take yourself out of the picture, and recognize that this is not about you. Pretend as if this situation has nothing to do with you at all. Don’t take it personally (even though it probably sure feels personal.) Put yourself in his shoes, empathize, try to imagine what it might be like to be him as lovingly as possible. Try to discern what motivates him, what do you imagine he needs. His words may simply be glib or thoughtless or he may be actually seeking your attention in an inappropriate way. Perhaps he’s feeling insecure and trying to pick a fight, so he can feel better about himself, so he can dominate you

      I don’t have any of the answers to any of those questions, I just know that sometimes we can get so raw and wounded, we really have to pull ourselves out of the situation emotionally in order to see it more clearly. Toss aside any thoughts of blame including self blame, and just try to observe what is happening. Sometimes that can help.

  7. April,
    Some of these conversations have me thinking about things I haven’t thought about in years.

    It would help clarify my thoughts if you could talk a bit about where the lines are drawn between thinking we need to play Holy Spirit, and then when it becomes necessary to respectfully confront sins in our husband’s lives.

    And as always, we are not talking about violence issues, which is a whole other topic.

    1. Julie,

      This is where much prayer and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is most necessary. Two wives can be in similar situations, and God may prompt one to say nothing, pray, wait, and seek to respect and honor her husband. God may prompt another to confront her husband or to set limits. And there may be different prompts from God for the same wife at different times, even.

      I have a post, “To Speak or Not to Speak” that may be helpful.

      The post, “Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin” may also be helpful, as well as the post on Righteous Anger and Jealousy.

  8. From a brother in Christ, Jack:

    God does not force us to submit to him.

    Also, if is forced it is not submission, it is coercion. Submission means nothing unless it is an act of a person’s free will. It would be like forcing a person to love you – it would not really be love.

  9. I have seen that when husbands have felt disrespected by their wives for a really, really long time – they may react to even the smallest hint of disrespect as their wives try to change. I think of it as they have a spiritual/emotional “sunburn.” I think the same is true with wives. If we have felt disrespected and/or unloved for a long time, a situation that might not normally be a big deal can feel like a big deal, or like “the straw the broke the camel’s back.”

    Praying for God’s wisdom for those who are suffering and hurting – and for Him to give each of us His heart, His mind, His eyes, His love, His power, and His perspective. May He empower us to be faithful to Himself!

  10. Thank you soooo much for this post!!! I am in tears… I am a young (25) Stay at home wife/mother who desires Strongly to be obedient to my husband and most of all to God. It has been difficult these past four years I’ve been married to relinquish control, love and respect my husband as the head home. I was raised by my father who taught me to be dominant and not allow a man to rule over me. Although I know that that is not biblical it was still implanted in me to not let a man control me or take the lead in any way… I was saved when I got married however old habits die hard and our marriage has suffered because of my extremely dominant ways. I have been looking for different ways to get help with this. It has been a true struggle and I’ve done everything! Prayer, fasting, seeking the Council of my pastor and His wife. I am now at my Breaking Point and this article has helped me in more ways than one can imagine. Praise God for you and your husbands Ministry. And thank you again for choosing to submit to your husband and ultimately to God.

    Forever Grateful!!!

    Dj. P

    1. DJ,

      I am so glad this was a blessing. I have lots of posts here in this topic. Please search “the Pendulum Effect” on my home page and “Godly Femininity,” perhaps those might be a blessing, as well. And, of course, you can search “disrespect,” “control,” “fear,” “submission,” and “idols,” as well.

      Let me know how you are doing!

      Much love!

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