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I know what you’re thinking. You hear the word submissive wife, and all these things start going through your head. “I need to be submissive to my husband, basically be his slave?! Let him push me around and do everything he says?! That’s abuse! I refuse to be a submissive wife!”
Let me say this now; you are not your husbands’ slave. That’s not what being a submissive wife is. To be submissive means a number of things, but none of it means being physically, emotionally, or mentally abused. There’s a whole other part, and it’s a wonderful and beautiful one at that.
Being a Submissive Wife in a Modern World
What Being a Submissive Wife Looks Like
One way of being a submissive wife is to place yourself under your husband’s authority. Ephesians 5:22 & 24 says,
“Wives, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority as you have placed yourselves under the Lord’s authority. As the church is under Christ’s authority, so wives are under their husbands’ authority in everything.”
Now let’s break this up into simpler terms. This means that the husband is the leader, the head of the relationship, and you are under him. He makes the final decisions and is in charge of the family. However, just because you are under his authority, does not mean he is not under his own authority figure. Just as we as wives are under the authority of Christ, our husbands are also under the authority of God. It is all connected.
Love Each Other
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” – Ephesians 5:25.
This means that the husband is to love his wife the same way he loves the Lord and the church, just as how the Lord loves His people. In return, the wife will focus the love she has for Christ towards her husband. This, in turn, means the marriage is full of love and harmony. So no, you are not a slave to your husband. There is no abuse involved at all, just lots of love, trust, and respect from both parties.
Created to Be Helpers
We were created to be helpers for the man, not the other way around. It is natural for us as a wife to listen to our husband, assist him when needed, and to let him take the lead.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.” – Genesis 2:18.
This is the way men and women have been created to be – the man provides and leads, the woman helps and follows. When you have this balance in a relationship, you are more likely to succeed when you know what your role is within the marriage.
As a submissive wife, the bible does say that we may confront our husband when the need arises, but to do so in such a way that we do not overpower his authority.
“Some husbands may not obey God’s Word. Their wives could win these men for Christ by the way they live without saying anything.” – 1 Peter 3:1.
This means that we shouldn’t keep quiet, and to use not only our words but also our actions. If we follow the path of Christ, our husband will see this and follow suit. We can, and should, speak our mind and share our thoughts. But we should choose our words carefully, and speak kindly. Pray for him to find guidance if he strays.
“She speaks with wisdom, and on her tongue, there are tender instructions.” – Proverbs 31: 26.
What a Submissive Wife Is Not
Being submissive does not mean changing who you are to please him, to mould into someone you are not. You should never change who you are for anyone. Over time, we do grow as individuals and mature, and that is natural and healthy. If your husband is not supporting your growth or pointing out that he does not like the changes being made, discuss together that you are still the same person he fell in love with, and that over time, people do change. You should not feel guilty or forced to stay as you are.
It does not mean you allow him to abuse you emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you are experiencing any of these within your marriage, please seek counselling or consider whether it’s worth giving up your happiness and your life to someone who does not treat you well.
It also does not mean you need to do everything he says, especially if it is illegal or immoral. You should never feel pressured or forced to do something you are not comfortable with. You should NEVER be or feel forced to do anything, period. It should be your choice, your decision, and because you want to.
A note to future wives:
It is wise to know ahead of time that your potential husband is one who is willing to listen to you and communicate. When submitting to your husband, and allowing him to make the final decision, you are trusting him to make the correct judgement on behalf of the family, while also taking into consideration your input. If for some reason he does not listen to you, then this possibly means that you do not have open and honest communication during the courting/dating phase. This will not suddenly change once married, so think whether or not he will be a good husband when the time comes, or seek counselling to sort out the communication issue. Communication is vital in a relationship, and without it, your marriage has the potential to fail.
Do You Have to Be a Submissive Wife?
To be submissive is a voluntary choice. We as wives want to please our husbands’, just as Christians’ want to please and serve the Lord. When we find the right guy, we will WANT to please him. Whether it be making him a cup of coffee when he asks for one or getting him a pair of socks because his feet are cold, you do not do it with resentment. You do it because you love him and want to make him happy.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I do something kind for my husband – the smile I put on his face, that look of love and pure adoration in his eyes, and the kiss I receive as a thank you – I know that it’s because of me and no one else. I feel encouraged to continue pleasing him if it means making him happy, and I feel happy in return. And yes, he has returned the favour, many many times, because that’s what you do when you love each other – putting the other person before yourself.
Do not feel as if you HAVE to do these things for your husband. He is a grown man, so you may say, “He can make his own coffee!” Of course, he can, but he will be so thankful that you took the time and effort to do that for him. And when you want something, I’m sure he will do the same when you ask for something.
It is an Old Tradition
Yes, times have changed. Roles have reversed, and women have been taught that we should never let a man control us. However, the Bible and God will never change! Husbands are still the authority figure within the marriage and family. And while he is under the authority of God, wives are under their husbands. And since both of you are under the Lord’s authority, and obeying his Word, you will both succeed as a couple, because you have God at the center of your marriage. Also, the wonderful part of being married is that you are now a team and both equal in the relationship (just with different roles, hence your husband being the leader). One person does not overpower the other.
In conclusion, what does a submissive wife do?
Support whatever your husbands’ decision ends up being (even if at times you do not agree).
Following his lead – physically and spiritually.
Wanting and willing to satisfy and please your husband.
So then what does a submissive wife not look like?
Not being physically, emotionally, and mentally abused (if you are experiencing any of these, please seek help, this is not a healthy relationship).
Being forced to do anything you do not want to – illegal or immoral.
Turning away from God if your non-believing husband tells you to.
Forced to change yourself, to be what your husband wants you to be only to please him.
Whether you consider yourself a submissive wife or not, or do not agree with what I have written about submitting to your husband, I wish you all the best and bless you to succeed in your marriage.