The concepts of the husband being the head of the home and the wife honoring his God-given leadership are big concepts. They are kind of like the words, “love,” or “respect.” There are a lot of ways we can live these things out and may ways to define these ideas. There will be differences in different marriages, with varying personalities, circumstances and cultures.
- For some, a husband may be very involved in lots of the day-to-day decisions in a family.
- For others, the husband may have more of a “hands-off” approach and give his wife wide spaces to handle most things as she thinks would be best with minimal intervention.
- For some families, one spouse may be away for work for extended periods of time, so there may have to be different “modes” of how authority is handled depending on who is home and who is away.
- Some couples may have a very regimented, formal way of handling decision-making or disagreements.
- Some may be calm and laid back with a lot of give and take about decision and may be very collaborative.
- Some couples may have an unspoken understanding about that the husband is ultimately in charge if they can’t agree but they don’t say that in words.
AT OUR HOUSE (This is how things are now, but it took at least 3.5 years into this journey before they began to look this way, some of these things have happened just in the past year, and we are both still learning and growing and always will be. Anything good in us is totally a Jesus thing, not an “us” thing.):
Greg’s Personality –
Greg is very easy going, pretty introverted, and needs some time to himself to recharge. He never micro-manages but trusts me to handle most things on my own. He doesn’t really like for me to ask him what I can do for him or for me to fuss over him a lot. He mostly just loves for me to be content, peaceful, stress-free, and happy. The other details aren’t usually a big deal to him. I used to ask him, earlier in my journey, to give me more feedback, more direction, and lists of things I could do for him to show him honor and respect. But that is just not what he likes. So now I accept what speaks respect and honor to him and his style of leadership and don’t try to respect him in ways that aren’t meaningful to him.
Division of Labor –
He now handles the finances (I gave that to him about 4 years ago because I realized I was being too controlling and OCD about it) – although I have access, too, and can look at things whenever I want to. We talk to each other before making big purchases. He also handles all of the house, car, and yard maintenance like he has always done. Sometimes he helps me out, without me even asking, with laundry – especially if I am working extra or if I am sick (that didn’t happen before I learned about respect). He works a full-time job and I work a part-time, usually about 12 hours/week. I also do ministry online about 30-35 hours/week that is unpaid. He takes the kids to school on his way to work every day. He helps our son, especially, with his homework and studying.
I usually do the shopping for groceries, the cooking, and most of the cleaning around the house. He goes to the flea market almost every Saturday and finds great deals for us. Interestingly, I used to try to keep the house spotless, but Greg prefers for me to do less housework because if I get too perfectionistic about cleaning, he feels that is stressful for him and for the kids. I usually pick up our children from school. I usually help them get ready in the morning and at bedtime and tuck them in (although as they get older, that won’t be as necessary). I share spiritually with our children often and they listen to the Bible on an app as they fall asleep each night. I pray with them at bedtime. Greg talks with the kids informally about biblical principles now in conversation. And he started doing a devotional book after supper that he picked out recently which has been great.
Making Decisions –
We have a very collaborative relationship now. We think of ourselves as a team knowing that we each bring strengths and weaknesses and we are better when we are together. Usually, if there is a decision to make that involves both of us, I will present my ideas, feelings, concerns, and wisdom to Greg and let him marinate on it for awhile without pressuring him for an answer. He needs time to process and research certain things. Then he will share his ideas and we will talk through the pros and cons. Usually, we can arrive at a decision with which we both are happy.
We don’t argue. There is no raising our voices (I was the only one who really raised my voice before God changed me). I can’t recall experiencing much tension for the past 3 years. We both feel safe with each other now. There is never any name calling, character assassination, complaining, or even anger now. If there are ever hurt feelings, we deal with it very quickly and before we allow ourselves to think that the other has malicious intentions, we seek to understand and we seek to assume the best. We trust each other now to know that we both love each other and wouldn’t purposely try to hurt each other.
I also understand now that the issues and decisions we make are not nearly as important as our obedience to God and our marriage. (This may be different for different couples, and at different stages of this journey) I have no need to fight or argue anymore. I simply respectfully share my side of things. He respectfully shares his. We have a discussion and we talk through anything about which we disagree – hashing through the pros and cons and our unique perspectives. We each value each other’s point of view.
Greg Defers to Me Often:
Sometimes we disagree about something that means a lot to me but isn’t as important to Greg. There are many times when he selflessly concedes to what I think is best or to what I or the kids need, even if it is not his preference. He is quick to try to do anything he can to meet my medical needs and even many of my preferences. He loves to see me healthy, happy, and content.
I Defer to Him Often:
If we can’t come to agreement – I willingly and voluntarily choose to honor Greg’s decision and trust God to lead me through him. Greg never has to say anything to me about it. He never demands his way. It is not a big dramatic thing.
I would usually just say something like, “I think X would be best, but I trust you. If you think this is best, I will support your decision.”
We have unity, love, honor, and respect during the entire process even if we disagree. I simply release the issue to God and to Greg once I realize that I have shared all that I need to share and if we do not agree. Greg knows that I trust him like this and it causes him to desire to really seek to do what is best for all of us and to not fail me. He cares very much about my perspective and my feelings. If he does decide to do something he knows I think is not best, it is only after much careful consideration and prayer and the sense that this is truly something God desires him to do. I pray for God to give Greg His wisdom. Then we move forward together.
Spiritual Issues –
If I start to have negative thoughts, feelings of disappointment, anxiety, fear, bitterness, or anything else – I try to get to my prayer journal ASAP and hash through those things with God, asking Him to expose any sinful motives or thoughts in my heart. This helps me be spiritually prepared for conversations and helps to prevent me from lashing out or saying anything sinful. It is much easier to address sin in my life when it first begins or when it is even still a temptation than to let it fester and then begin to flow from my body language, words, and actions. My goal is to immediately repent of any sin the moment I recognize it in my heart.
If Greg was asking me to sin or to condone sin, then I would have to stand against whatever he was asking me to do. Thankfully, that has never been an issue so far since I have been practicing biblical submission. But wives do need to be prepared to stand against sin if necessary (for more on that, please check out Spiritual Authority and Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin.)
Submission to my husband is infinitely easier when I am fully submitted to Christ.
When I have laid down all that I have and all that I am before Jesus and am dying to self and taking up my cross daily and following Him, I don’t really care about getting my way or my will. My goal is to have God’s way and His will far above my own. So I am able to hold things of this world loosely and not get caught up in every little (or even big) decision, but rather I am able to allow God to work in my life to bring about His will in whatever way He wants to do so. Because I am not clinging to my own ideas, my will, and my desires, it is not a painful stretch to allow my husband to lead if we disagree. I am able to yield that issue to God and wait with anticipation to see what He is going to do through my husband’s decision. It is exciting to watch God work!
Greg’s Perspective Now –
Greg seeks to lay aside his will and seek God’s will so that he does what God desires him to do for our family and doesn’t lead us into a foolish, ungodly, or harmful choice. He tries to look at what he believes God desires and will most honor Him, knowing he is accountable and responsible to God for his decision. He wants to do what is best for our family. If I disagree with him, he takes extra time to really prayerfully consider things and takes my counsel very seriously and conscientiously.
Note – Our children do have tension with each other and with us at times. We try to help them work through that in godly ways. And we seek to be united in our approach to them which has helped tremendously. We still have lots to learn about godly parenting and godly marriage and will continue to seek to grow as spouses and parents.
I love hearing everyone’s stories. We are not all created to be cookie-cutters. God loves variety and uniqueness and we can walk in obedience to Him and yet still do things differently from other people. If you have begun this journey to be a godly wife and you are seeking to honor your husband’s God-given leadership in your home – I’d love to hear what headship/biblical submission look like in specific situations in your home, or what it looks like in a general description.
Please check out the post Spiritual Authority for more information on biblical headship and submission. It is not at all the world’s definition of dominant/submissive in Fifty Shades of Gray. And it is not BDSM or CDD. God’s definition of submission and authority are completely different from the world’s ideas on these words – so it is important that we understand what God means if we want to obey Him and submit to His Lordship.
Learning to Respect and Give Up Control Is a Process– by Nina Roesner
My first stage – The Frustrating Quiet Phase
Spiritual Authority – a foundational post for men and women by a minister at my Southern Baptist church about God’s design for spiritual authority in every area of our lives. What it is (humble, selfless, servant-hearted, loving shepherding) and what it isn’t (tyranny, abuse, selfishness). And how we, as believers, are to trust God to lead us through those in positions of authority. Also Rev. Weaver describes the times believers in Christ should not submit to those in positions of authority in the government, church, at work, and in the family.
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage – a husband has positional authority and a wife has influence authority, both have an important voice and both work as a team ultimately to accomplish God’s mission
The Danvers Statement – by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – the best summary of biblical manhood, womanhood, submission, and headship I have seen.