How A Husband Should Handle His Wife’s Submission

Submit is a verb. Submitting is a voluntary action. That means it is something we ourselves do. It’s not something we make someone else do. Just as we can’t force another person to love us, we can’t force someone to submit to us either. Of course we can make that person do what we want. But then that’s not true submission.

Submission is a choice we make. It’s something each one of us must decide to do. And this decision happens first in the heart.

Shocking News

This may be shocking news to you, but an overwhelming majority of wives in my survey said they want to submit to their husbands. They want their husbands to be the head of the home, and they have no desire to usurp that God-given position of leadership. They know what the Bible says on the subject. Discerning wives want to do what God wants because they understand that God’s ways work best.

However, problems often arise in this area because a wife is afraid to submit to her husband for two reasons:

Reason #1:

Her husband thinks submission is only a noun, and he uses it as a weapon.

Reason #2:

Her husband has himself not made the choice in his heart to be fully submitted to God.

Okay, okay! I know that God did not say a wife needs to submit to her husband only if he proves to be worthy. Submission is a matter of trusting in God more than trusting in man. But a wife will more easily make the choice to submit to her husband if she knows that he has made the choice to submit to the Lord. It will be a sign to her that it is safe to submit to him. And the goal here is to help her, not force her, into proper alignment.


Many a wife has a hard time trusting that her husband is hearing from God if he doesn’t appear to be submitted to God in the way he treats her. Wives know that after the verse “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (Ephesians 5:22), the Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (verse 25).

Christ doesn’t neglect, ignore, demean or abuse the church. He doesn’t treat her rudely or disrespectfully. He never acts arrogantly or insensitively toward her. Nor does He criticize her and make her feel she is not valuable. Rather He loves her, protects her, provides for her, and cares for her. So while God gives the husband a position of leadership in relationship to his wife, He also requires the price of self-sacrifice from him.

When Wives Hold Back

The big question in many women’s minds is, “If I submit myself to my husband, will I become a doormat for him to walk on?” The answer to that question depends entirely upon whether her husband believes he should love his wife like Christ loves the church. Does he willingly sacrifice himself for her —or think that submission is a noun and that it is something owed him? In other words, does he only consider his desires and opinions, to the exclusion of hers?

A wife has a hard time giving her husband the reins to her life if she doesn’t believe she can trust him to have her best interests at heart as he steers the course of their lives together. She has trouble going along with his decisions when he refuses to consider her thoughts, feelings, and insights on the subject. And if she has submitted to a male in the past and her trust was violated in some way, it is even more difficult for her to trust now.

On the other hand:

A woman will do anything for a man who loves her like Christ loves the church. Submission is easy under these conditions. I know a number of women who are married to unbelieving husbands. The have no problem submitting to their husbands. This is because in each case the husband loves his wife like Christ loves the church, even though he doesn’t know Christ.

Too often people confuse “submit” with “obey.” But they are not the same thing. The Bible gives commands about obeying other people only in regard to children and slaves, and in the context of the local church. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh” (Ephesians 6:5). “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Hebrews 13:17). Since a wife is neither her husband’s child nor his servant, and the local church isn’t part of a marriage, the word “obey” has no application to the relationship between a husband and a wife.

Can’t Demand Submission

Submission means “to submit yourself.” In light of that, when a husband demands submission from his wife, it is no longer true submission. And his demands can become intimidating and oppressive, which breeds resentment. When a husband is more interested in his wife’s submission to him than he is in his own submission to God, then submission becomes a tool to hurt and destroy.

I have seen too many marriages between strong Christian people —high-profile Christian leaders, in fact —end in divorce because the husband demanded submission and resorted to verbal or physical abuse in order to get it. My husband has even counseled men like that, men who refused to hear that losing their family was a horrible price to pay for being “right.” How much better it would have been for the husband to submit himself to God’s hand and then pray for his wife to be able to come into proper order. This kind of situation occurs far too often.

God Frees Us

When we submit to God, He doesn’t suppress who we are. He frees us to become who we’re made to be, within the boundaries of His protection. When a wife submits to her husband, she comes under his covering and protection, and this frees her to become all God created her to be. Trust me, you want that for your wife. Her greatest gifts will prove to be your greatest blessing.

If you feel that your wife is not submissive, pray for her to have a submissive heart. Pray her heart will be first submissive toward God, and then toward you. Then ask God to help you love her the way He does. I guarantee that you will see her submission level rise in direct proportion to the unselfish love you exhibit for her. And let her see that you are seeking God for guidance. If she knows that you are asking God to show you the way, she will follow you anywhere.

Please pray for your wife that:

  1. She will understand what submission really is.
  2. She will be able to submit in the way God wants her to.
  3. You will be completely submitted to God.
  4. She will trust God as He works in you.
  5. You will take your position as spiritual leader.
  6. She will trust you to be the head of the family.
  7. Submission will not be a point of contention in your marriage.


Lord, I submit myself to You this day. Lead me as I lead my family. Help me to make all decisions based on Your revelation and guidance. As I submit my leadership to You, enable (wife’s name) to fully trust that You are leading me. Help her to understand the kind of submission You want from her. Help me to understand the kind of submission You want from me. Enable me to be the leader You want me to be.

Where there are issues over which we disagree, help us to settle them in proper order. I pray that I will allow You, Lord, to be so in control of my life that my wife will be able to freely trust Your Holy Spirit working in me. Help me to love her the way You love me, so that I will gain her complete respect and love. Give her a submissive heart and the faith she needs to trust me to be the spiritual leader in our home. At the same time, help us to submit “to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). I know that only You, Lord, can make that perfect balance happen in our lives.

This article comes from the book, The Power of a Praying® Husband, written by Stormie Omartian, published by Harvest House. This book has 20 short, easy-to-read chapters. They share how you can intercede for your wife in areas where she longs for your prayers. Stormie also gives advice, and shares personal stories from well-known Christian men. In addition, there are words from Scripture that will also help you in praying for your wife.

— ALSO —

To learn more on this subject, please read the following article, written by Dr Norm Wright:


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150 responses to “How A Husband Should Handle His Wife’s Submission

  1. I would like to share something vital here in the area of “submitting to one another in love.” That is, to understand submission, one has to grow in wisdom.

    I have a loving Christian husband and I consider myself to be a submissive wife. However, in as much as we wanted to do our part for each other, there was a period in our lives where no matter how much effort I put into trying to submit to him, I was already feeling emotionally strangled in the process. For him I was still insubordinate (it was so frustrating, I would think, what else can I do??). And no matter, how much he says he loves me, I still experienced so much thoughtlessness and lack of concern that I continued to hurt. This was difficult for us because we believed we loved each other, and were completely faithful, and yet we couldn’t understand why we just couldn’t please the other.

    Thank God for His wisdom because He found a way for us to finally connect. We discovered that we each have our unique design in the form of the 4 temperaments; and when we recognized this, we understood each other so much better. It turned out that my husband and I are at opposite ends of the personality types, so that in the most tense of situations, that’s when we unfortunately misunderstand each other’s cues. For instance, when in my heart & soul I have committed to submit, I put on a look of determinedness and resolution (I didn’t even realize I was doing that), while it turned out that the very same expression is interpreted by my husband as insubordination! That’s just one of many examples. It turned out that, in many cases, we were not against each other at all in principle, however, our differing manner of speech and behavior due to our temperamental differences is causing us to misread each other and be hurt in the process.

    In case you’re not familiar with the temperaments, there are 4: the Choleric (Achievement people – “Let’s get things done!”), the Sanguine (Fun people – “Let’s make it appealing!”), the Phlegmatic (Peace people – “Let’s stay calm.”), and the Melancholic (Perfectionist people – “Let’s do it right.”) Each type has it’s great strength and terrible weaknesses. All these types are necessary in this world, God designed it that way. However, being the limited people we are, we don’t automatically learn how to work with each other’s strengths, nor are we able to manage our weaknesses. Instead we clash, especially between opposing temperaments: Choleric vs Phlegmatic and Sanguine vs. Melancholic. And true to form I am Choleric and my husband is Phlegmatic.

    From then on, I have learned to not only want to submit (I always wanted to submit anyway) but to do so in a way that my Phlegmatic husband would understand – managing my tone of voice, choice of words, facial expression and overall body language. And my husband realized it’s not really my intention to contend with him, I just had a need to get things done and we agreed on how we were going to put that to good use to support the family. I tell you, we’re more in love now than we have ever been. And on top of that, we became better at dealing with other people too!

    (On a side note, from what I’ve seen and read, most abuse cases happen when one is Choleric (either man or woman) and he or she completely dominates the other, who is usually either Phlegmatic or Melancholic who suffers from low self-esteem. Let me emphasize that that is NOT submission. There’s usually a sinful bondage in that kind of set-up, where they both need Christ’s deliverance.)

    God truly provides wisdom to those who ask. I suggest for those who are struggling, take the 4 temperament or DISC test. There’s plenty online. You’ll see your strengths (yay!) and you’ll also see what you’re doing that drives your spouse crazy (you’ll have moments of, ‘oh that’s why.’) And then talk about how you can better address each other’s needs. I hope this helps, brothers and sisters.

    1. Thanks for sharing. You’re right that learning the 4 temperaments is a direction changer for a married couple. We learned about it years ago and it changed our marriage in many positive ways. We learned about that, and a few other important “keys” that really helped us in more ways than I can say. God is so good to have led us to them. I talk about them in an article we have posted on our web site at: I hope people will read it and take advantage of the resources that are pointed out.

      Also, for more detail on the 4 basic temperaments, one of the books mentioned in the article I mentioned goes into detail. In addition, here’s another book that goes into even more detail: Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself. I highly recommend everyone read it. It WILL bring insight into why a person will do this or that, which is clarifying and very, very helpful. Thanks again NinaTe for sharing what you learned :)

    2. More boxes to put ourselves in. I have a fair idea of melancholic. But the other three, I have no clue what they mean.

      1. She kind of explained the others (briefly) in her comment as you read down a bit further. But if you want more info, here is a link to something that explains it a bit better, plus, you can take a brief personality test, and/or download a free PDF that is helpful: Don’t look at it as “boxes” but rather a fun way to discover more about yourself and your spouse. There are no steadfast rules here, just simple insight possibilities. There’s also this one that gives a few more thoughts on this:

        We took a similar quiz to these many years ago and it really helped our marriage tremendously. It helped us to better understand each other and inspired us to look for ways to use our different personality traits to help us in our marriage relationship. Here’s something we wrote on this matter: Again, don’t let tools like this box you in or frustrate you. Just look at it like a learning tool that you can take or leave. It helped us, but it may or may not help you.

  2. A call to the body of Christ: This may come as a shock to most readers here, but the passages you quote to support hierarchical headship/submission, husband as the spiritual leader, etc mean exactly the opposite of what you think. In these passages, Paul is actually tearing down the very hierarchical thinking that many of you are advocating.

    Paul was a meticulous thinker. He was very careful with the words he used in his writings, including in these passages. He had to be. False teachings were threatening the church from every direction (Greek philosophy, Roman culture, Gnosticism, etc). Had Paul wanted to convey obedience and male authority, he would have used the Greek words with those meanings, He very deliberately did not. Instead, he used words that meant align with, respect, and love.

    As a result, his teachings literally “flattened” first century relationships. He didn’t just elevate the standing of woman, he did away with the measuring rod altogether: “there is neither male nor female,” “we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Lest you think this is just my opinion, here is a quote from Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240 AD), a respected early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, that reveals the great change Paul’s teachings had in the first centuries after the birth of the church:

    “[The men and women of the church] perform their fasts, mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. Equally are they both found in the church of God; equally in straits, in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither hides from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other.”

    The early church was truly living the oneness, unity, and mutual servanthood that Christ had made possible; the oneness, unity, and mutual servanthood that Christ Himself had called His followers to. Yet, here we are almost two thousand years later with less oneness, less unity, and less freedom than the early church!

    So what happened? Why did the church move away from this beautiful, powerful, freeing, Christ-sanctioned mutual servanthood that was a transforming model to every culture around it? In two words: Greek philosophy. By the 4th century A.D., Greek philosophy – and it’s awful, unbiblical view of woman – crept into the church (c.f. Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, etc), with devastating effects. Women were once again subordinated, men were encouraged to “lead” (i.e. insist on their own way), and HALF of the body of Christ was sidelined.

    Who did/does this benefit? Satan. We have a world that’s falling apart, billions of people who need to hear the gospel, and we’re sidelining half of the body of Christ. This has to stop. Too much is at stake.

    If you’re interested in knowing what these passages really say, I encourage you to read the book, “What Paul Really Said About Women” by John Temple Bristow. He does an excellent job of explaining the Greek texts of these passages, and the influence of Greek philosophy on the 4th century church.

    As someone who translates Koine Greek, I can tell you that you don’t need to know Greek to know that the hierarchical headship/submission model is unbiblical. All you have to do is measure it against Jesus’ actions, commands, and teachings to know that it is wrong. Jesus repeatedly pointed His disciples to servanthood. He never once pointed them to putting themselves above someone else. Anytime they tried to make it about that, He corrected them.

    Case in point: “And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Matthew 9:35

    As I mentioned below, if a person’s interpretation of any passage encourages him to nurture and justify sinful human desires (exalting oneself over others, demanding one’s own way, etc), his interpretation is unbiblical.

    I encourage everyone reading this to start lifting those around them up – male and female, encouraging them to follow CHRIST, to fulfill the calling God has given them, and to use their God-given gifts to the fullest in the service of the gospel and to the glory of God.

    There are literally billions of people who need the gospel and to be discipled. We need the entire body of Christ on the battlefield. It’s time to jettison everything that holds us back – including false teachings – and start doing what Christ called us to do: Be a light to the nations.

    1. Hi Not My Own Anymore. VERY interesting!! I cannot write any more right now, but thank you for this text! I would like to read the book you recommend, “What Paul Really Said About Women” by John Temple Bristow. Can you forward the name of the publisher? I would like to order it locally, I may need that information. I hope to hear from you!! WP (Work in Progress)

      1. Hi, Not My Own Anymore, I read your text again (I am a husband married 36 years, with 2 adult children) and I continue to find your position intriguing. I am happy your wrote this text, it’s good!!
        You say, ” Women were once again subordinated, men were encouraged to “lead” (i.e. insist on their own way).” I will agree that men have attempted to subordinate women (bad idea) but I do not equate “leading” with “insisting on your own way.” It IS true that decisions need to be made in any household. SOMEONE has to take a stand at some point in time. This is true in many settings, on a ship, in a business, in a household and family unit. I believe Paul taught that God places the man in that position. NOT because men are “better”, no, but rather because for some reason, God wants it that way. (Don’t ask me why:) (If men were “better” then God would not have written in Genesis 2.18, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.”)
        This does not mean that “the leader gets his way.” Rather, the leader’s job is to ascertain, with the help of his wife, and considering his wife’s needs and wants, the best course of action to take. I believe this is a good summary of Paul’s writing in Eph 5:21, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. And Eph 5:22, Wives be subject to your husbands as unto the Lord. Eph.5:25, that the man should love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Christ did NOT get His own way here). These words seem pretty clear to me.
        When I read Proverbs 31, I read about very a competent women who knows how to engage in business, who knows how to manage, who is honest, etc. Deborah was a very competent leader (Judges 4)
        My wife tells me that I am the leader of our home. Sometimes, to be honest, I do not like being in that position. It carries immense responsibility. But that IS my position, like it or not. I find often that I do NOT get my own way, because my wife’s ideas are often better than mine. But that’s OK for me. I do find that when I listen carefully to what she has to say, and consider her viewpoint, that either she has the better option, or a combination that turns out to work very well. Sometimes, but not that often, is my standpoint the best option.
        Would you agree with the above?
        I would be interesting in hearing from you. Take care. WP (Work in Progress)

        1. Matthew 9.35 is not far removed from Ephesians 5.25. Good point of yours. Not My Own Anymore, a few additional comments. Your text: “As I mentioned below, if a person’s interpretation of any passage encourages him to nurture and justify sinful human desires (exalting oneself over others, demanding one’s own way, etc), his interpretation is unbiblical.” is also very true. I cannot disagree with this at all.
          Your last two paragraphs, Again, very true. Good that you took the time to put this together. Thank you..!:))
          WP (Work in Progress)

        2. Your comment was a very well articulated one. It warmed my heart. Tell your wife that I am glad that she has such a rare jewel. Not many husbands are humble, loving, and wise.

          Spread that to other men please.

        3. Dear WP, I am disappointed that I never saw your posts to me. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss this issue with you at length. On the off chance you find your way back here too, I will go ahead and post my responses to your questions.

          The idea of “leading”: Do you find it as interesting as I do that every time Jesus addresses the idea of “leading,” He literally turns it upside down? And, not only that, but nowhere does He give any credence to the idea that “leading” is being the final authority/decision-maker.

          Excerpt from your comment: “It IS true that decisions need to be made in any household. This is true in many settings, on a ship, in a business, in a household and family unit. I believe Paul taught that God places the man in that position.”

          1. I have also been married for a long time (over 30 years), and have never seen a situation where the husband HAD to be the final decision-maker. God is a God of unity. He would never lead a husband and wife, which He has made one flesh, in two different directions. Given this, I would have to say that if one’s marriage REQUIRES the husband to be the final decision-maker, then one or both of the marriage partners are not following God. Rather, the non-decision-maker is following the decision-maker, which is not biblical and really becomes an issue of idolatry.

          2. Marriage is unique in all of creation. It is not a ship or business. The husband and wife are one flesh. This is not true of shipmates, nor co-workers. As one flesh, marriage partners are united in Christ, and led by Him. See 1. above.

          3. Where did Paul teach that “God places man in that position”? Specifically, point me to a verse that clearly says the man is to be the decision-maker in the marriage. I think you will find that the verses traditionally used to support this do not say that, at all.

          As for the Ephesians 5 passage, it’s very helpful to know that verse 5:22 does not have a verb in it. It’s verb is in verse 5:21, such that the Greek text actually reads, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ, wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” And, the verb is in the reflexive middle voice, which means that it is something one chooses for himself, not something anyone else makes him do. Paul’s use of it in the preceding clause (v.21) tells us how we’re suppose to interpret it for the following clause (v.22). Paul is obviously not calling believers to “obey one another in the fear of Christ,” i.e. always let the other person be the decision-maker. That would be silly and untenable. Nothing would ever get done. Rather, he is calling for us to respect one another. Which, not surprisingly, is how he ends the passage in 5:33b: “and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” This is classic Greek construction where you begin with a point, and end with that same point. The point is respect. Not authority. Not decision-making.

          As for the rest of what you’ve written, you sound like a wonderful person all around. You’ve probably done the best that could be done with the traditional view. That said, for the reasons I state above, I have to stand against that traditional view. The best marriages I have ever had the privilege of witnessing are based on mutual trust, mutual appreciation, and mutual decision-making. The husbands and wives of these marriages kneel side-by-side seeking the Lord for guidance with open hearts and minds, truly wanting to know the will of God, truly willing to let go of what they think, prefer and desire, and thus, truly exemplifying the witness of “one flesh” that we’re called to. Imagine if all Christian marriages operated this way – what a testimony that would be to a lost and disappointed world.

          I do hope that you find your way back to this site. I will check back occasionally to see if you have. May God bless you richly, WP. In Christ, NMOA

      2. Hello WP, I apologize for not responding sooner. I just found my way back to this webpage. Obviously, it’s been a very busy year. Anyway, the publisher is HarperOne. I hope you were able to find the book long before now. It is an excellent read. Another excellent read is Why Not Women by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton (published by YWAM Publishing). I’ll respond to your other comments below.

    2. With all due respect, if you got a “hierarchal” interpretation from this teaching from scripture you missed something. It’s about roles. If male and female were meant to be wired the same; they would also look the same. There is nothing in this world worse than a man who won’t/can’t lead properly, (a fool), or a beautiful woman without discretion. (gold ring, pig’s snout). The Fullness of the God-Head in The Person of the Trinity is complete in BOTH the male and female, but neither gender holds ALL God’s attributes.

      It is neither uncommon nor sexist to acknowledge that they each have distinct traits and gifts. Inward evidence represented by the difference of the outward appearance. Or why bother to have made Eve different from Adam in every way? The fullness of God was first in Adam; and the God too half of it away from him and created Eve and put the missing half in her. There are clear differences physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

  3. The reason why we have these issues in the church is because of that thing called self. Most who claim to be followers of Christ arent trully born again. The Bible speaks of those that have a form, but no power. In other words, there’s no Holy Spirit and Paul says that without Him, you’re not of Jesus. Anyone can be religious and claim to have Jesus, but the Bible says that it’s only those that are born again that are truly saved. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away, all things have become new.

    If you don’t love your husband or wife, how can you love Jesus whom you’ve never seen. Self is our worst enemy. That flesh must be crucified. We spend someone time trying to emprove self, when God commanded us to crucify it. As long as self is alive, we can never obey God. The church doesn’t pray anymore and that has caused the church to be weak. Prayer and fasting are the ultimate weapons in this spiritual warfare. Satan uses people, that’s why Paul says that our war isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the power of darkness.

    Pray and if the situation gets worse, pray more until you have the victory. Things might get worst before they get better, satan isn’t going to give up without a fight. The bible says to submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. We must not lean on our own understanding. Today the church has used human psychology to deal with things that should be dead. Die to everything that isn’t Christlike. The Bible tells us what the deeds of the flesh are and it also tells us how to deal with that flesh. The Bible says to crucify it. That’s the only answer.

    1. Your comment was a very well articulated one. It warmed my heart. Tell your wife that I’m glad that she has such a rare jewel. Not many husbands are humble, loving, and wise. Spread that to other men, please.

  4. What can a wife do to help her husband not hold back from her in regards to intimacy? He’s great in so many other areas but other than a kiss good night, he avoids physical intimacy. Won’t even go there verbally.

    1. We have many articles posted throughout this web site that may help you. Please go through the Topics provided –going into the ones that may help and read what you have posted. Prayerfully read what God leads you to read, glean and see if you can find a way back to having a more intimate marriage. I hope so, and pray for you that it will be so.

  5. I am not really sure where to start, but I feel I am certainly in desperate need of God-centered advice. My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years and I can honestly say that neither of us had a clue of what marriage entailed. We were both what I would call lukewarm believers in the beginning and we never really discussed what marriage looked like for us, let alone the outline God has provided through his word. We have had many obstacles in our marriage, including him hating my family and friends, dishonesty regarding money, selfishness, and what I think any person would consider verbal and emotional abuse.

    For years, I was so disconnected from God and my family that all I really had was him and his family. In the past year or so, I have really reconciled with my family and reconnected with my relationship with Christ. I have started attending church with my family and have really tried to deepen my understanding of what God desires for marriage. In this, I have started to see things clearly for probably the first time in my married life and have started to try to work these issues out with my husband.

    I love him very much and he has many wonderful attributes, I also believe that he is a believer of Christ – just lost a bit at the moment. Anyway, I have started to communicate my needs with my husband and reading this article was like reading words I have spoken to him verbatim. He demands submission, yet I have no idea how I haven’t submitted to him. He makes all of the decisions for our lives, often times without any input from me. He is dishonest with me often, especially in the way of finances or anything that could bring conflict, often lying by omission. I do anything and everything he asks of me, I always back off when he says he has made the final decision – even if it is to our detriment. This is especially true with finances. He is very bad with money and often spends everything we make.

    We both work full time and earn a very good living, but we are strapped with unbelievable student loan and credit card debt. I work diligently on budgets and provide them to him, he agrees to look them over and never does. We even went through the Dave Ramsey program and nothing ever changed. And often times, the money he is spending is on unnecessary items that are used by him alone like music gear, tools/items needed for his hobbies, and clothes. I’m really concerned about our financial future, especially since I am the only one in the marriage that is saving even a small amount of money for our retirement. Aside from that, our other big issue is that he has a bad temper and often says hurtful things in anger. He calls me some very disrespectful names that I couldn’t even post here during arguments. In the past, these names and hurtful statements would usually get me to retreat and breakdown because it would be so upsetting. But in recent months, I have begun to see my value through God and they no longer have the effect they used to on me, much to husbands dismay.

    I have tried everything I know to get to a place where we can connect and glorify God with our marriage, but he says that he will never show me the love I desire until I submit to him. I feel that I have done this in every way and tonight when I asked, “what does submission look like to you” – we had a huge fight that resulted in more name calling and terrible things being said to me. And what’s worse, I still don’t know how I’ve been unsubmissive. What can I do to mend this marriage with my husband and identify what it is that I’m failing to do in the way of submission? I’m at a loss and despite continual prayer, I feel things are only getting worse.

    1. Hi BNW,
      Very difficult ….. I am shaking my head as I re-read your account. (I am a husband married 36 years with 2 adult children)

      Right now, all I can say is…. perhaps you need to “pin him down” and ask him in detail what he really means with “submission.” I know you have done this, but perhaps you need to stand up for yourself a little more. Your words are just right, “What it is that I’m failing to do in the way of submission?” Perhaps he needs to be confronted? He needs to see that you are willing…but obviously have missed the mark in his eyes SOMEWHERE. “You demand submission, yet I have no idea how I haven’t submitted to you! Tell me!!”

      You want to mend this marriage, but it seems that he is just getting away with whatever he wants to do. It is VERY good that you are seeing your value in God’s eyes, and that his hurtful names and accusations are having less effect on you.

      Your words, “much to my husband’s dismay.” are key here. This tells me that he is used to running over you with no resistance from you. You ARE valuable in God’s eyes, and you do NOT have to put up with this.

      Of course continued prayer and your Godly behavior are essential. Surrounding yourself with friends who will support you and help you is also essential.

      I know this is is far from a complete answer….but your account really struck a chord with me. I hope to hear from you again….
      WP (Work in Progress)

      1. Another thought, “Husband, what are you going to do about our financial situation? You are the leader of our home. I submit the budgets to you… are these OK? Do they need to be changed? What do you want me to do? I am leaving this issue in your hands.”

        Leaving the thing completely with your husband will have to wake him up to the fact that he nees to take charge in a responsible. way Perhaps step out of the scene entirely and let God deal with him.

        I recall a similar situation where the wife did just that. Her husband did not want to work, and she was shouldering the entire financial responsibility. Finally she gave up and said to him “I am exhausted! I cannot keep my job for the both of us! I’m tired!” She cut back her hours, even though she was not making enough. He was forced to find a job and their situation finally stabilized. Her comment later, ” I was holding up the financial ship, and in so doing, I was sinking my marriage.”

        I am really thinking about your situation…Just some more ideas for you. I really hope to see some imporovement with you! Take care, WP

        1. Sorry- I posted to the other comment before seeing you wrote this one as well. I actually have given our finances completely over to him. I actually did this several years ago after an argument where he said that he could manage the money better. That is also where more money troubles began.

          Previously, neither one of us had any credit cards as I paid them all off and closed them. Since he took over the money, we both have gotten multiple credit cards when we have had to have things done in an emergency because we had no savings (car breaking down, animal getting sick, water leak in the basement, etc). We probably have about 15k in credit card debt since he began doing the finances- and still no savings. I know it’s just money, and I’m very far from being materialistic. But I think that’s why I have such an issue with it. He generally buys very expensive stuff for himself and for hobbies that he is interested in. I can’t remember a week that he hasn’t received at least one package in the mail from things that he he bought.

          It’s not the money that upsets me- I think it’s the selfishness and immaturity. That, and this is the area that he often lies by omission, thinking that it’s not being dishonest to spend almost everything we make without first consulting with me. If I bring it up, I’m told I’m not the man, he is.

      2. Thanks for the reply. I can’t say that things have gotten any better, or any worse for that matter. I’ve tried on more occasions than I can count to ask how I’m failing to be submissive in his eyes, but he can never answer my question. The last time I mentioned it, he pulled out his cell phone to google submission and I stopped him, saying “I want to know what submission looks like to you, not the definition” which only resulted in more of an argument.

        If I’m being honest, I think his biggest issue is my getting closer with my family. He has made several comments that since I’ve gotten closer to them, I’m becoming a feminist and not being a humble, meek wife. I think I mentioned in my initial posting that my relationship with God has grown closer at the same time as my reconciliation with my family. I think he believes I’m pulling away because if my relationship with my family, despite it actually being from seeing that God didn’t intend for marriage to be this way and realizing that I’m valuable and worthy.

        I am beginning to believe that my marriage isn’t a partnership, but more a relationship based on how well I meet his needs. For the entirety of our marriage I’ve worked outside the home full time and have been the only one to do anything within the home (I mean everything- laundry, dishes, animals, cleaning, cooking, lawn care- everything). I’m starting to think that our relationship is based on how well I meet his needs, rather than anything else. As I said before, I really just want a marriage that glorifies God and I’m not sure how to bridge the gap between the two of us right now.

        I try to talk to him, but he often gets defensive and angry. I know that I’m not a perfect spouse and that there is plenty that I could work on too, I just don’t know how to help him see that I’m for our marriage and just want us to both experience the joy and love God intended us to. I also don’t know how to make him understand that some of his actions (name calling and verbal abuse) is unacceptable. Maybe that will come later, but every time it happens, I trust him a little less. I feel like it just adds another brick to the wall between us.

        I would love if you could pray for us and that God will work within us and within our marriage.

        1. Hi BNW, Sorry for this very late reply…yes, I will pray. I am confident that other readers here will do the same. Perhaps with the improved relation to your family, he feels by default that you are pulling away? How are things now? Where is your husband in his faith now? WP (Work in Progress)

  6. This is teaching that “only if you can see a man submitting to God then it is safe to submit” (It will be a sign to her that it is safe to submit to him). The problem is we are choosing when to listen to God and when we should not submit. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

    1. Hi James, Good point. However, I can imagine that this is a very difficult charge for women who do not feel safe submitting when the husband is clearly being irresponsible. Please see my text above, (April 23, 2016 at 11:25 pm), which was written before your reply above. Thanks, WP

  7. When my wife does not submit to the word of God and I’m a leader, as the Bible says – if you can not control your house do not preach; what can you do?

  8. I am in totally concur to this article…demanding one to be submissive can cause resentment. Submission is a voluntary act and it works on both sides of the coin, which is a sacrifice on both parts.

  9. Recently me and my wife always argue. I feel she is not submissive because whatever I say she will not listen and we both always think we are right.

    Example 1:
    We just had a baby and we are working. I always told her that she must pick up my call or reply ASAP whenever I call or text her. Because my mother-in-law is taking care of our baby, if something happens, when she calls my wife, she able to settle it. Because my office is far from my house, approximate 1 hours driving distance and hers is around 15 minutes driving distance. But when I text her or call her, she will reply or call me back after few hours. I always need to remind her, if something really happens to our boy which is urgent, I need to take 1 hour to go back from my office.
    p/s: she is a sales person.

    Example 2:
    She has a car and wanted to get a new car, but I’m planning to get a house.I told her to save the money and plan for our house but she says she is confident she’ll earn more, therefore she wants to buy a new car and a house – she will get more income to get a house. To me, I agree that and also believed that our income will get higher and better. But I also believed that saving money for urgency is a must. In case of an economic crisis, we can sustain for 1-2 years with the emergency fund. But she is more into why need to cut down the expenses since we can earn more in future?
    And she says since she is not using my money to pay for car payment therefore I don’t have the right to control over this.

    This makes me feel that she is not prioritizing our family at all. She’s always gives me the blank promise and did not take care of her own finances. She is in her 40s yet not even have 15,000 saving in the bank.

    Is it really my problem of being over controlling? Or does she really need to be submissive? I told her I don’t have the feeling to go back home if she is still not submissive but she seems to not care at all. Please advise.

    1. Hi KT, Tara’s point is very well taken, demanding submission doesn’t work… working as a team is far more effective. It sounds like you are two islands living in the same house. Nowhere in your text do I perceive a real “we.” “She has a car, I’m planning to get a house.” “My money, her money.” “Her finances,” etc.

      I am a husband married 36 years with two adult children. I was the main breadwinner, while my wife worked part time and looked after the children. We have 3 accounts: hers, mine, and ours. All the big things, like cars and houses come out of “ours.” Personal stuff comes out of “hers” and “mine.” My wife also gets an additional amount from me for food. We each contribute to “ours” and we don’t worry about the proportions. I never see “hers” and I don’t know what she does with it. If she needs more, there’s a good reason and we work it out together. This arrangement has worked well over the years. Sometimes when I am feeling cramped, I ask my wife for a little help, and she extends it…

      As soon as you two become more and more a “we,” many of these discussions just do not take place.

      I do see your point about saving for the future, I am certainly in your camp in that respect. You need to prioritize your family together. You need to find a way to pool your finances together. You sink or swim together. (This is true anyway, but working as a team is far more efficient and frankly, much more fun!)

      It seems that you are not so much over controlling as you are sensing a problem down the road, but finding it difficult to row your boat in a sychronized fashion. I would have the same in your place I think. If you can talk with your wife about a whole different approach as I have tried to describe, perhaps you will prgress better? Clearly repeated arguments along the lines you are describing is not working… I hope this helps… Take care KT. WP (Work in Progress)

  10. Excellent, interpretation, you spoke everything that I have been facing and it is exactly the case. It’s as though you were reading my mind.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. You are in a simlar situation? Oh, I hope this helps for you… WP (Work in Progress)

  11. My daughter’s husband is from a Muslim background. He is now a committed Christian but still acts in their marriage as before. He tells her what she can and cannot do, who she can be friends with, what he wears etc. He says she must submit to him because it says so in the Bible. What should she do? She still loves him and wants the marriage to work. They have been to a counsellor but he thinks it’s all her fault.

    1. Hi Joan, From what you are saying, it seems that more of the “fault” lies with the husband. If he is a committed Christian, then he needs to see and ponder the Scriptures which speak to this subject. He needs to understand that his way of approaching their marriage is very unbiblical. I would like to make the following suggestions- Genesis 2, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 7, and 1 Corinthians 13. Perhaps you can best go through these passages with your daughter only, and then let her absorb them, and then let her prayerfully handle the talks wth her husband on her own.

      You write, “He says she must submit to him because it says so in the Bible.” Yes… that is found in Ephesians 5. v23 and 24. The same Bible tells husbands in the following verse to “love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” This is even repeated in verse 28. Paul does not repeat the position of the wife, whereas he does repeat the position of the husband. This in itself is significant, don’t you think? If your daughter’s husband is really open to what the Schipture says and means, then he needs of course to consider his own side just as carefully as he is claiming his wife’s submission. True submission can never be demanded, it can only be earned, I think.

      I’m sure you know the last thing you want is an argument over Bible doctrine, but rather a coming together of your daughter and her husband. Perhaps a good approach would be to find a Christan man to whom your daughter’s husband will listen, and whom he respects… and have him talk with your daughter’s husband. In the meantime, your daughter’s continued walking in prayerful obedience to Christ, with the support of Christian friends and family, can only benefit as well.

      I hope these ideas help… btw… I am a husband married for 36 years- my wife and I are both Christians… just for your reference… Let us know here what happens? Thank you in advance!! WP (Work in Progess)

      1. After reading all the comments, I can certainly identify with the frustration and confusion by those in “submission” and still not seeing Godly results. After 20 years of this emotional roller coaster ride I have come to the conclusion that I cannot make my husband submit to God or change him by my”submission.” I have submitted to the One God, through Jesus Christ, only. That is what He told us to do and we are not responsible for them (our spouses). I will love him and live life with him in as much peace as possible, and the rest is out of my control. Over the years I’ve listened to so many in the Church, and now I don’t. Read and “do” the Bible for yourself, not as a married couple.

  12. This is so interesting. I am pleased to discover life in marriage and am pleased to grow in life. I like it. God BLESS you, thank you.

  13. See I Peter 3:6 “obey.” Also, God is a perfect husband but that didn’t make his wife submit. Sometimes, when a woman is doing something wrong, it isn’t a man’s fault. God bless you as you consider this.