“In the Case of Ties, He Wins.” Is This Really Submission?

by | Sep 19, 2018 | Resolving Conflict, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 61 comments

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If I were to ask you what it means to submit to your husband, what would you say?

When I’ve asked that question at marriage groups, people hem and haw and then eventually come up with something like this:

When we’re disagreeing about something, the husband gets the final say.

This month, our theme on Wednesdays is talking about submission in marriage. We’ve already looked at what Peter meant by telling wives to emulate Sarah, and how Jesus would have approached people who say that women should always obey, in all cases, or that marriage as an institution is more important than the people in it.

Now I want to move on to the more practical stuff about submission–namely, what it really means. Today and tomorrow I want to talk about two big problems we can run into when we think that submission is all about decision-making. Then next week I want to end the series with a challenge about what it means to really serve your husband.

But let’s start by looking at this “in the case of ties, he wins” mentality of submission a little bit more.

I’ve written at length on this already, and I’d encourage all of you to read more about it.


Other Resources that Talk about Submission:

My book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage talks about how our view of submission as decision-making if off base, and then shows a better way to resolve conflict.

My 3-part series on conflict in marriage:


But let’s summarize some of this.

Ephesians 5:21-22 says this:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Those two verses form one complete thought. In fact, in Greek, the verb “submit” doesn’t even appear in verse 22, because it’s inferred from verse 21. In our Bibles, we put a big paragraph break and a heading between those two verses, which inadvertently makes it look like they are separate thoughts. But they’re not.

Submission can’t mean one thing in verse 21, then, and another thing in verse 22. If we believe that submission means “letting him make the decisions”, then what does it mean in verse 21? How do we all let everyone else make decisions?

Let me suggest, as we’ll look at next week, that submission is not about decision-making as much as it is about our attitude towards one another. It literally is about putting oneself “under” someone else. It’s the same thought that Paul used in Philippians 2:4, when he said,

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

And then in Philippians 2 Paul goes on to explain what that looks like–we adopt the mind of Christ so that we become each other’s servants. That’s the message of the gospel. That’s the main thrust of Paul’s letters. We are to serve. 

I am going to look at this more next week, but today I want to ask this question:

“What effect does assuming that the husband will have to break disagreements have on people’s expectations of marriage?”

If one believes that the main thing that God wants for a marriage is that the husband makes the decisions when the couple disagrees, then there’s an underlying assumption about marriage that we need to confront.

We assume that marriage will be full of disagreements.

If, on the other hand, we assume that the main thing that God wants for a marriage is that the couple will faithfully serve each other and follow God, then there’s another underlying assumption about marriage.

We assume that unity is the norm for marriage. 

Do you see the difference? If the main thing that women must do in marriage is to let her husband break disagreements, then that’s assuming disagreements are normal. If your underlying belief about marriage is that it’s about serving one another and serving God, though, then you assume unity is normal.

What happens when you assume disagreements are normal?

Let’s picture your average couple who grows up believing that a wife’s role is to defer to her husband when they disagree. She vows this in her wedding vows. She looks forward to having a man to shepherd her. She knows that they will often be at odds, because that seems to be the nature of marriage, but she knows that she can keep the peace by deferring to him.

That’s what she’s expecting she will do in marriage.

So this young couple gets married, and soon she finds that she feels very unloved. Maybe they don’t talk enough. Maybe he doesn’t do much housework. Maybe he wants sex all the time, but it doesn’t feel very good for her, and he doesn’t seem concerned.

Whatever the issue is, what does she do? She may decide that she can’t really make an issue out of the fact that sex doesn’t feel very good. If she wants more date nights, but he doesn’t, then she figures that she needs to stop hoping for something that won’t happen. If he doesn’t do housework, she doesn’t want to bring it up or “nag” him because that’s not her role.

And so she learns not to speak her mind, not to share her heart.

Things that are simply normal adjustments to marriage, or different personalities or love languages, are framed as moral issues where she must “submit”–aka let him have his way. Simple communication issues, which otherwise could be dealt with quite quickly, are framed as issues of submission.

What if, instead, the couple believes that unity will be the norm in marriage?

Then, when sex doesn’t feel very good for her but he wants it all the time, they can sit down and have a difficult conversation, knowing that what they both want is to feel close. They can talk about how to make sex feel better.

If she feels as if they don’t connect enough, but he feels everything is fine, they can talk about love languages or about setting up some daily routines so that she feels listened to, but he has time to unwind, too.

They assume that compromise is necessary, but also that it isn’t all that hard. 

Does submission in marriage mean that the husband makes the final decision? A better way to look at Ephesians 5.

What I have seen over and over again on this b log and as I speak at marriage conferences is that all too often women feel as if they can’t raise entirely legitimate issues–like sex not feeling very good–because to do so would somehow mean that they are not submitting to their husbands.

Because disagreements are assumed to be the norm, then there isn’t that same push to “make” peace. There’s only the onus, usually placed on her, to “keep” peace. If she raises a legitimate issue, or pushes too much, then she isn’t being biblical.

(Read more in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage about how being a peace-KEEPER and being a peace-MAKER are not the same thing at all!)

Are you PeaceKEEPING or PeaceMAKING?

There’s a huge difference between the two. And if you don’t get it right–you’ll never be able to feel truly intimate in your marriage.

There’s a better way!

I’ve raised this issue before, and people have said to me, “why do you assume that you can’t have unity by her submitting to his decisions? Isn’t that the best way to unity?”

And to that I’d say–No. It isn’t. Because unity is about two people forming a new whole; it isn’t about one person disappearing so that the other gets all of his wishes met.

I find it very strange that throughout the Bible, the assumption about Christian relationships will be that there will be unity and a lack of disagreement, but then we turn around and interpret the marriage passages to be about breaking disagreements.

It’s like we believe unity is possible everywhere but marriage–and that’s why God told us to submit.

People often say to me, “Well, someone has to make the final decision!”

To which I reply, “Why?”

If Christianity is about having unity in our relationships, then why, when it comes to marriage, do we think that we need the husband to make the final decision?

 

Anniversary Trip to Ireland

Marriage is about unity–and it’s not hard to decide things together when you prioritize serving each other.

When Keith and I disagree on something, we work it out. We talk about it. We pray about it. We wait on it. We seek counsel from others. And then we end up making good decisions together.

If two people have the Holy Spirit in them, then they already have the power for unity. They don’t need one person to break the tie; they simply both need to submit to God.

I hope we can change the way we talk about marriage so that we’re not expecting disagreements as much as we are expecting unity.

People live up to expectations. So, please, let’s stop framing marriage as this endless war that needs someone to win, and let’s start framing marriage as a journey you take together as you strive to be more like Jesus and to follow Him.

If we assume that marriage will be about unity, then when we had disagreements, we’d work to honestly solve them, rather than just paper over them because they’re inevitable. And I think that would lead to much healthier relationships.

What do you think? Have you seen marriages where she won’t speak up about normal things because she feels that’s “not her place”? Let’s talk in the comments!


More in our Submission Series:

And check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–which has all of this and more in it about submission!

 

 

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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61 Comments

  1. Susanna

    I’m mostly with you. 🙂
    Two questions (one I asked on another post but didn’t get an answer):
    1) Many people acknowledge that the verb in Ephesians 5:21-22 is only stated once, as you mention, but interpret it this way: “submit yourselves one to another [in the ways described following]: wives, to husbands, slaves to masters, children obedient to parents, etc.”
    2) The submission called for by wives (and servants, children, etc.) all seem to be different versions of mutual submission in Christ. If Paul/Peter/other NT authors only meant that we all seek each other’s best interests, why are certain people groups told something specific? Why are wives told to be in submission nearly every time they are mentioned in the NT, but husbands seldom receive similar directives?
    I like your version so much better than what I grew up with (which was not abusive or anything!). But I want to handle scripture carefully and discern what it means.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ll likely be fleshing it out for you a little bit more tomorrow, Susanna, but I think everything needs to be read with Jesus in mind (as I talked about last week), and what Jesus was concerned about, always, was whether or not we were serving one another. In fact, whenever someone tried to be in charge, He rebuked them for it. Our attitude is to be one of servanthood, so everything needs to be read through that lens.
      Also, you need to remember the culture at the time. It was extremely male-dominated. And one of Paul’s main concerns in his letters is making sure that the fledgling Christian church was not so repellent to the culture that people rejected it for those reasons (see his thrust in the entire book of 1 Corinthians, for example). So what does Paul do? First, he makes women submitting to men optional (in the sense that he is telling women to CHOOSE to submit, which is funny, because in those days women didn’t tend to have a choice. So he’s saying to women, submit because you choose to, not because you have to). Then he goes on, in many, many more words, to explain what this means for men–that they must actually love their wives and lay down their lives and sacrifice for them, as Jesus did. That was very radical, and I think we forget how radical that would have been at the time for men to be asked to think of their wives. But Paul does ask them–and goes on quite a bit about it. If you read the instructions, what you see is unity. They each serve one another. Marg Mowczko explains it well in her take on submission. I hope that helps!
      One more thing–Paul does talk about slaves to masters, but we know that Paul (and God) did not approve of slavery. But Paul is saying–in the culture that you’re now in, here’s how you’re to act. Choose to serve. Choose to love. But that didn’t mean he was endorsing slavery; only that he was trying to teach us to see the bigger picture of servanthood.

      Reply
    • Terri

      It’s important to note, along w/what she already said, that people are really careful to say “all those verses about wives say to submit, but the verses to husbands don’t say that”–without ever noticing this fact:
      The verses to husbands don’t tell them to be in charge. Or to lead, take charge, make the decisions, be the boss, or be the “head” in the modern sense. Not one verse directed to husbands ever says that. It’s worth looking at what those verses *do* say.
      It’s interesting that people have created a whole theology around female submission without ever acknowledging that Biblical instructions directly to husbands don’t back this theology up. The language to husbands is always–always–about love and self-sacrifice.

      Reply
  2. Bethany

    I love this and especially love your final point that marriage is not something one person “wins.” My husband and I had amazing community support as a dating and engaged couple, and we got a piece of advice that have been really transformational for us: “one of the most important things is that you are on the same team.” I’m weirdly competitive and love to win, and to go in to marriage with the mindset that, instead, we are both on the same team, have each others’ back, and win together, has been so big for us.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, totally! That was another point I made in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–it isn’t about one person winning; when one wins, the other loses. That means that if you win all the time, you’re married to a loser! And no one wants to be married to a loser. 🙂
      It should be about both of you winning, and the only way to do that is to work to understand each other and serve each other, while listening to God. That sounds like EXACTLY what God wants!

      Reply
  3. Kim

    My husband and I have come up with a way to make final decisions that has really worked for us. The final decision comes down to the person who is the most affected by the decision. My husband has to make final decisions regarding his work and where we live because he is the one working while our 3 daughters are little. I make the final choices on child rearing because I’m the one doing 95% of the work with the kids. My husband put me in charge of our finances because he knows he’s not good at doing budgets so I get the final say on money. He gets the final say on where we go to church because he has stronger feelings about where we go. We always ask each other before we make a decision and if there is a conflict we make a decision based on if there will be a negative impact on the other person and how it will impact the family as a whole. I don’t think it’s healthy for one person to have a “final say” in every part of the marriage because they won’t always have the knowledge and insight that the other person has. That gives the husband way too much power over his wife or vise versa.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That sounds great, Kim (assuming, of course, that you’re also praying about if it’s something important. 🙂 ). That’s very much what Bill and Pam Farrel recommended in Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. If it matters most to you, then you know more about it!

      Reply
  4. Melissa

    We started our marriage believing this way. What happened over time, though, was that we both found this system to cause more stress than harmony. My husband began to feel burdened and stressed by the responsibility of having the final say in all the decisions. I began to feel like why did God give me a brain if I’m never going to be allowed to use it? So who has the “final say”?
    God does. If we are trying to make a decision and one of us feels hesitant about it, we listen to each other and we both pray about it. God has never failed to show both of us the direction to go. And it’s not always the way we thought it would go, sometimes it’s an entirely new direction! And we never would have had that if we had stayed within the “the husband has the final say” model.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s beautiful, Melissa!
      That’s actually very similar to what Larry Crabb was talking about in his book Fully Alive, which I talked about a few years ago. When they started marriage, he thought he had to make all the decisions. Finally he realized he didn’t have to, and it was a huge weight lifted off his shoulders to know that his wife was there for him, too, and that she had great counsel. It was like he finally understood what “ezer” meant in Genesis. So true!

      Reply
  5. Melissa

    Thanks for this Sheila. This is what my husband and I have always believed and it has worked well for us for 21 years. It has always puzzled me how people could take Ephesians 5 & 6 and split it all apart instead of reading it as a whole and see what Paul is really saying here. Paul repeatedly tells us in his letters that Christ is the fulfillment of the law and therefore we are no longer bound by the law. He even corrects those who are trying to add things to the gospel by requiring gentiles to follow Jewish customs like the cleanliness laws surrounding the eating of meat and circumcision. So, in light of all that Paul has written about not adding to the gospel why would he go on to add “new laws” to the gospel by requiring certain things with in a marriage? It just makes no sense. What does make sense is that Paul is telling them what living out the gospel looks like within the time, place and culture in which they are living. It isn’t condoning the culture but showing that they can still live out the gospel within it while also not discrediting the gospel by moving completely outside of their culture. It is why Paul tells women not to wear jewelry. Not because the gospel requires this of them but because culture says that only prostitutes wear jewelry so don’t discredit the gospel by doing something you are free to do but won’t give you opportunity to share Christ with others. So in looking at Ephesians 5 & 6 as a whole it is clear that Paul is telling them what it looks like to live a life in the spirit. The last part of living in the spirit is to submit yourselves to one another and then Paul goes on to show what that looks like in three specific relationships. What is interesting though is the relationships he doesn’t address. He doesn’t show how we should submit ourselves to our neighbors, or within the church or with our siblings or in the market place in the exchange of goods and services. They already knew what it would look like to submit to one another in those relationships and that is doing what Jesus said and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. What they wouldn’t know and what Paul addresses here is how to live that out in the three relationships types within their culture where there was a power imbalance. All three of these relationship types are relationships of possession. They all involved one person being the possessor and the other person being the possession and Paul is telling them that even in these relationships you can submit to one another and this is what it looks like. It’s hard for us to see this because in our day wives and children aren’t possessions and we most certainly don’t condone slavery. Paul isn’t condoning the possession of another person by telling them how to submit to one another within those relationships. He is simply telling them that even in the mist of a culture that is evil in so many ways you can still do the right thing towards one another and still live within that culture. How any of this ever became about who makes the decision in a relationship or who is in charge completely baffles me as all I see in these passages is how to put others ahead of yourself and how to fulfill what Christ commanded of us which is to love God and love people. The only explanation is that we are incredibly sinful and the sin of wanting to have power over others and live selfishly is always lurking in our hearts.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is brilliant, Melissa. I never saw that about the power imbalances vs. your neighbours, etc. I really like that. Thank you!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        By the way, not that it matters, because it sounds like they pretty much agree, but this is Melissa #2, and up above is Melissa #1. But it doesn’t really matter.

        Reply
    • Amy

      Wow Melissa this comment is amazing! Thank you so much for putting this into words for others to read and learn from! I feel like God has had me on a journey lately to understand His heart behind his word. It’s not about all these rules but about how to truly love others and what that looks like. I think it’s so easy to get hung up on the cultural situation they were in at the time and try to apply it to our culture (jewelry, slavery etc). It doesn’t work well (women shouldn’t wear jewelry now. Uh why? What does that have to do with loving God and people?). I think the more we can dig into scripture, understand their culture, and understand the root of what Paul was trying to teach, the more we can actually apply Jesus’ heart to the reality of our current lives. There is SO much freedom in that! And we get closer to the ideal of living our lives to the fullest like Jesus wants for us!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, the comments have been amazing today! So enlightening.

        Reply
    • Samantha

      Melissa, your comment was a delight to read. Such great insight!

      Reply
  6. Kim M.

    I don’t subscribe to the comp idea that husbands should always be allowed to make the final decision or tiebreaker.
    We have 2 powerful examples in scripture where the wife made the final decision instead of the husband.
    Sheila referenced this in a previous post. In Genesis 21:12, God told Abraham to obey his wife, Sarah, concerning a very important household matter. In Genesis 21:12, God allowed Sarah to have the final say and make the final decision. Our sovereign God could have given the message directly to Abraham, but God gave the authority to make the decision to Sarah and told Abraham to obey Sarah instead.
    12 But God said to Abraham: Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. OBEY Sarah, no matter what she asks of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name. (New American Bible Revised Edition)
    The Hebrew word (shama – Strong’s 8085) used in Genesis 21:12 is defined as obey and listen obediently.
    Strong’s Bible Concordance and the New American Standard Bible Concordance both define the Hebrew word (shama 8085) used in Genesis 21:12 as obey.
    We also have the example of Abigail and Nabal. Nabal’s servant went behind his back and informed Abigail about his decision to withhold bread, water and meat from David and his men. The servant obeyed Abigail rather than Nabal and took David and his men food and wine. The servant disobeyed Nabal’s wishes. Nabal almost got himself and all the men in his house killed, but David spared Nabal’s life and the lives of the men in his house because of what Abigail did and said (1 Sam 25).
    The Bible says that wives should submit to their own husbands. However, that does not mean that husbands always or automatically know best in every given situation. There may be times and seasons in a marriage when the wife knows best like Abigail and Sarah.
    There are some wise men in the Bible. On the other hand, scripture is full of examples of men in authority making poor decisions that had devastating effects on their families and subjects. Nabal is just 1 of them.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true, Kim. I talked about the Abigail/Nabal situation in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, as well as the Ananias/Sapphira example. The key thing in both stories is that what God wants is all of us doing HIS will. So women are supposed to pray and follow the Holy Spirit, too. And following your husband is not the same as following the Holy Spirit (as I’ll talk about in tomorrow’s post!)

      Reply
  7. Anon

    So I need help since my husband shuts off once I have needs he doesn’t get or want to do anything about. I’ve just shut up. It’s easier not to make a fuss than to ask for something I know he’s not going consider. And I’m not talking expensive jewelry or a new dishwasher I’m talking help with the kids, talking more. He’s very good to me otherwise. His mother was very controlling and I feel he’s never recovered or dealt with that. I have a hard time with this.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry! I know that must be really hard. I find that when couples just aren’t communicating, and there’s so me major breaches like this, what really can help is increasing the fun quotient in the marriage. Like finding a hobby to do together. I know it seems strange, but when we’re having fun and laughing together, it’s much easier to talk about, “hey, you know what would make me feel great? If we did this more…” Because the tension level is lower in your marriage, it’s easier to bring up the big things.
      But when the whole relationship is tense, you each sense that, and you each tend to withdraw in your own way. So it’s almost important to try to have more fun before you can address the big things. Bring the tension level down, and then those bigger things are easier to talk about.
      In terms of talking more, sometimes it’s an introvert/extrovert problem, where the introvert gets overwhelmed by the thought that they have to talk. If you ask, for instance, “what did you do today?” That’s an overwhelming question. Or if you say, ‘can we talk after dinner?”, that’s intimidating. But if, instead, you say, “what was the one highlight of your day today? And what was the hardest part of your day?” It’s two questions. Much easier to talk about, because you don’t have to go over EVERYTHING that happened today. And then you can share the same thing. Then you each know emotionally how the other one is doing, and it keeps you closer without feeling so intimidating.
      I hope that helps!

      Reply
    • Henna Maria

      Hi Anon,
      Sheila gave you some advice already, but I wanted to comment on the controlling mother comment. Our childhood families have a HUGE impact in how we are able to love our spouse and receive love from our spouses. A controlling mother is definitely a disastrous relationship for a young man.
      It is clear from Bible that men desire respect in their relationships (and as wives we are told to respect our husbands), but obviously with a controlling mother a young man grows to resent the most important woman in his life. This will carry on to his marriage…not because he wants to, but just because that’s how we humans function.
      If you google “controlling mothers and sons” you get lots of resources that hopefully will help you to understand your husband, and perhaps even help him towards healing and growth in this area.
      A WONDERFUL MARRIAGE BOOK is “How We Love’ by Milan and Key Yerkovich. It is so eyeopening to read about our vulnerabilities and how we were formed by our childhood families and experiences in ways that will affect the rest of our lives. Marriage is one of those “hot soup” situations where you will come face to face with all your issues and are forced to change…hopefully to become more like Jesus!

      Reply
  8. Jessica

    My husband and I don’t disagree much so we don’t tend to need these principles much, but I really liked something you (Sheila) wrote on this maybe a year ago. No promises on quoting exactly, but something like, if the two disagree on something that matters, then one or both of you isn’t hearing God’s direction accurately, and the goal should be to get to the point where both of you are, not just have the husband make the final decision (or you could say ‘get his way’).
    I also tend to take the view that the one who’s right should be the one who “wins”, which isn’t always me. 😉 So if we don’t agree, then maybe we need to figure out if one of us has flaws in our ideas. But like I said, we don’t disagree much, so it doesn’t tend to come to that.
    Something else relevant to this that you (Sheila again) wrote years ago, which I quoted in my MOH speech when my sister got married (that was 4 years ago, so it’s been awhile), is “In marriage, it’s either win-win or lose-lose. There is no win-lose. If you both don’t win, you both lose”. When you don’t agree on something and you ‘win’, but you bulldozed your spouse to get there, did you really win, anyway?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true, Jessica! You’re basically quoting from 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, too! 🙂 And I’m so honoured that you quoted me in a MOH speech! 🙂 I don’t think my daughter even did that…. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Dan

    I don’t necessarily disagree with what you have to say Sheila. But another aspect to this that may need to be covered is the whole concept of submission within the trinity. For example in the Garden of Gethsemane I don’t see a whole lot of discussion in terms of a final decision. I don’t see Jesus or the Holy Spirit ever telling God what to do. I don’t know how this adds to the conversation but I do know that the Trinity is supposed to represent the marriage relationship. This is a very difficult topic. 1st Corinthians 11 does make comparisons between marriage and the trinity

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point, Dan, because the whole point of the Trinity is that they are in union and equal to one another. Unfortunately, some theologians have said that Jesus is in eternal submission to God as a way to justify women needing to be under men’s authority. That’s a new doctrine, and is actually a heresy, since we believe that Jesus is equally God, not subordinate with God the Father in authority. If the Trinity is our model, we see three persons working together in unity, and marriage is to be two people working together in unity. That’s what “one flesh” is, after all!

      Reply
      • Dave

        That is not correct Sheilah. The trinity is three equals where Jesus is in submission to father. Dan is right on the money. Careful with the heresy judgement. It is an unnecessary error to say that unity must erase hierarchy. You have a lot of great points that I have enjoyed, but I believe that one is just sloppy. Jesus is subordinate to God the father. How did you miss that in Gethemane? It gets uncomfortable when you start messing with norms that affect the trinity because it seems that you are heretical not the interpretation you criticize.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Dave, I suggest you Google “eternal subordination of the Son” heresy, and see how many have denounced it recently once they’ve been called out on it. This is a heresy. I don’t use that word lightly, and books have been written about this particular heresy in the last few years, because it has spread so far, largely because of Wayne Grudem. Considering that Grudem is now admitting that he was wrong on other things, perhaps he will one day repudiate all of this.

          Reply
    • Kay

      “Trinity,” though the word does not appear on Scripture, literally means “Three in Unity.” Why would marriage be different? My husband and I are a united front. We have never once needed a tiebreaker because we have always worked through an issue until we were on the same page. Is that not what is demonstrated in the Trinity?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, beautifully demonstrated!

        Reply
    • Lisa

      Jesus or the Holy Spirit telling God what to do?
      Jesus is God.
      The Holy Spirit is God.
      You can make some comparisons between the Trinity and marriage but they are not the same.

      Reply
  10. Kay

    Thank you for this. The view of submission that means that a husband leads by making all of the decisions (or in the case of a tie) and the wife submits by deferring to her husband in those decisions has never made any sense to me. And what’s worse, if your husband is not leading in this [alpha male] way, it is still your fault as a wife, because you must not be submissive enough.
    I remember when a women’s Bible study leader said to us (using this decision-making definition), “Submission is hard; if it’s not hard, you’re not doing it right.” I asked my husband that night what submission meant to him, because I didn’t find it hard, but then again, I couldn’t think of even one example of when I had ever submitted in this way:
    Him: *shrugs* I don’t know. That I get to break the tie if we disagree on a decision, I guess.
    Me: So if that has never happened, does that mean I am not a submissive wife? Do you see me that way?
    Him: No, not at all. I care about what you think, and you usually have stronger feelings about most stuff than I do. You have a good intuition. It wouldn’t make sense for me to make decisions for our family without your insight.
    Me: But doesn’t that mean that technically I am making all of the decisions?
    Him: No, we’ve always made our decisions together. I guess we’ve never really disagreed on anything major. So maybe how Paul summarizes submission at the end of that section as love and respect is a better way to look at it. You are both loving and respectful as we make decisions, so no, I’ve never felt that you are unsubmissive or disrespectful. Your passion is why I married you!
    Whatever submission means, it has to work for all personality types, and any man who is not an alpha male is NOT a #manfail. I am an Enneagram type 4 with big feelings about nearly everything, and he is a Type 9 peacekeeper who doesn’t know what he wants half the time because he wants what is best for everyone. And you know what? We make a GREAT team. Me trying to pretend I don’t care about things that I very much so care about so that he can pretend to care about things he does not care about in the name of headship and submission is just plain silly. We work through it until we are on the same page.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So great, Kay!
      I just want to highlight especially this part in your comment:

      Him: *shrugs* I don’t know. That I get to break the tie if we disagree on a decision, I guess.
      Me: So if that has never happened, does that mean I am not a submissive wife? Do you see me that way?

      Exactly! The view of submission that says “in the case of ties, he decides” means that for my entire marriage I’ve never submitted (which is how I opened that particular thought in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage). It makes no sense. It means that the wife is only able to act as a godly wife if they disagree! That’s nonsense.
      It’s like saying that God wants unity, but knows that we wont’ be able to, so He wrote this whole part of the Bible to tell wives what to do when they don’t actually achieve what they’re supposed to.
      So then, if they do achieve it–they don’t get to be a proper wife.
      Nope. Submission is not about him breaking ties. It’s about an attitude that you have, as we’ll talk about next week. Because this kind of argument really does make no sense, as you and your husband showed! And absolutely, too, about the personality types. If it’s real marriage advice, it can’t only apply to a very small portion of the population due to personality.

      Reply
  11. Emily Vega

    My heart sang when you said, “If two people have the Holy Spirit in them, then they already have the power for unity. They don’t need one person to break the tie; they simply both need to submit to God.” The number one thing that I tell wives is take their conflict to God in prayer. The hardest part is when God tells us that our husband can have “his way.” I can think of at least three major instances in my marriage where God intervened because of prayer (either my husband’s or mine). Only once did He “side” with me. I say this a little jokingly, because God doesn’t take sides, I get that. He’s on the side of marriage. It doesn’t make it any less hard when His will clashes with yours. That’s where humility and trust come in: the two hardest things on earth to handle in real life.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s very true! And when I’ve taken things to God, there are times when I’ve heard, “this isn’t that big a deal. Let it go.” And I have. But God has changed my attitude, and that’s the important part. We need the Holy Spirit!

      Reply
  12. S

    I was very confused by this when we for married. I thought being a virtuous wife meant that. A lot of damage was done when someone “highly” recommended that I read Fascinating Womanhood. I thought I was such a bad wife after reading that. But putting those principles to work led to me being silent about one of the biggest and possibly worst decisions of our married life so far:( Have you read that Sheila? My guess is you wouldn’t be a fan!:) lol!

    Reply
  13. Henna Maria

    Hi Sheila,
    I asked you already few years ago if you have ever read anything by Elisabeth Elliot. I wonder what you think about her views and how you differ in your opinions about submission?
    I love the way she commented on the fact that people always ask HER to explain submission in marriage, and she said that it was not her idea (she would have not planned it that way herself, she said), but it was God’s idea. I have found all of her teaching sound and Biblical, so I have no reason to believe she was mislead in this issue. But was just wondering what you personally think of her writing.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Actually, I have only read one book of hers (I forget which one it was, but I read it when I was 16), where she was adamant that a woman must never approach a man; that he must always make the first move; that she must always be deferential to her; and that she must never, ever kiss anyone until they were engaged.
      I found that rather difficult. I was used to having open and honest relationships with boys (not sexual ones, just ones where we honestly talked about things and debated and shared things), and the thought that I would have to become something other than what I was scared me. Everything she talked about was about being so careful around boys, and that wasn’t how I operated. They were simply my friends! In fact, my best friends at the time were guys (and we still are friends with them & their wives today). I genuinely enjoyed them as people, not romantic interests. But even to my 16-year-old mind, she seemed to be sexualizing everything, and I remember thinking, “Did Elisabeth Elliott never just have a guy who was only a friend?”
      I also had already kissed someone, and didn’t like the feeling that I was somehow damaged! I don’t know what else she wrote, but I do know that that one made me feel like I was somehow “less than”–and we certainly didn’t do courtship the way that she said we should. I did speak up!

      Reply
      • Henna Maria

        Thanks for your answer! I think you mean her book Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control. My husband recommended this book for me, its really helped him to be brave enough to be the man in the early stages of our relationship. In general women like that.
        I was just interested what you thought of her views on submission. She had a very no-nonsense, unsentimental view of following Jesus and obeying God.
        She quoted Mark Twain, when she talked about submission, who said “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
        Anyways, I am waiting for the last part of this series to really understand your view of submission. But the explanation that submission means that if you cannot come to an agreement, then the husband will decide is just plain ridiculous. But I am not convinced I agree with your view either, so I’ll wait for few more days before commenting again 🙂 Enjoy your weekend!

        Reply
  14. S

    Hi Sheila!
    I tried to put in this comment earlier but I think I accidentally lost it! I just wanted to say I was very confused on this when we got married 11 years ago. A few years after we were married someone “highly suggested” I read “fascinating womanhood” …..hmmmm….well reading that I decided I was a terrible wife. I took all the author’s advice which lead to me not voicing my heart’s feelings and wise instinct in a decision I put on my husband. This was 4.5 years ago and it was arguably our biggest most important decision to date and very likely the stupidest thing we’ve ever done. We are still facing the consequences of it, and I did not speak up, thinking I was a virtuous wife. 🙁
    Curious to know what you think of that book, though I’m sure you are less than a fan! Lol! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I haven’t actually read that one! But I have heard from other women similar things, especially with “Created To Be His Helpmeet.” Women stop voicing valid concerns, then they feel lost, husbands feel great (often), wives get angry at husbands for feeling great when they are so sad, distance builds, and it’s all a big mess.
      We were meant to live in intimacy, which means sharing our feelings. It’s important!

      Reply
  15. Heather Westropp

    Yes yes yes yes yes. Thank you yes!! I’m so sick and tired of the weird way Christians often view marriage. In my marriage, we are equals, and I’ve never really felt marriage was hard. We are a team, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. How is that not a good thing? The idea that women should disappear into their husbands in marriage is just sad. Thank you for sharing such a detailed and well supported view of what marriage can be, in terms of the idea of submission.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Glad you liked it, Heather! And I agree–how is being a team under Jesus a bad thing? Jesus, after all, said that we cannot serve two masters. So let’s just serve Him, with our husbands right there with us!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      By the way, the thing that often surprises me is how many people simply don’t believe that a husband and wife CAN function as a team, because “well, obviously someone needs to be in charge!” I wonder, “what must their relationships be like if they honestly believe that somebody must be in charge?” Do they not understand compromise, prayer, waiting on God, listening to one another? It’s just kind of STRANGE.

      Reply
  16. Kathleen Bailey

    Thank you for this. I have agree with this from the start but am not as eloquent as you so I can’t explain it to others. Now I can just direct them to your post. I think that is why my husband and I have a great relationship and others around us struggle. Although I submit to my husband I don’t disappear and let him take the lead on everything and I’m not afraid to bring up issues that are bothering me. However I have let him “have his way” before if it’s something I don’t really care about either way because I want to make him happy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s very healthy! If it’s something you don’t care about, by all means, don’t make it an issue! Me, too. That’s what being giving and unselfish is. I’m glad you liked the post!

      Reply
  17. Ashley

    I feel like I can’t bring things up with my husband because he talks his way out of it and makes me feel bad for accusing him. He turns it around on me. When we were first married I fought him and spoke my mind. I didn’t give up easily. We’ve been married for 2 and a half years and I’d rather be miserable than tell him I have a problem. He tells me I am not submitting to him and that’s why we argue all the time.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Ashley, if you can’t talk to your husband about real issues that’s not a submission issue. And if he’s using that as a weapon against you, he’s not following what Christ wanted for a marriage.
      Have you considered talking to another couple in your church community or some family to make him realize what a healthy marriage is made of? Because one person getting the final say without the other being able to safely state their opinion doesn’t lead to a healthy, happy marriage.
      I hope that your husband is able to see what he is doing, and you’re able to find your voice again!

      Reply
  18. Nkosi Moyo

    Iam an African , South Africa i think the way westerners like you read bible differs from us . To us in Africa we have a literal reading while westerns have egalitarian reading . Example , when we reaad Ephisians , when bible says wives submit , to us Africans that is final but to a western they try soo hard to fit it into equally . Same thing with demons , if Jesus cast them out to us that is real but to western they try to explain that away ,when bible says no to same sex to africans that is final and to western you find a way to label it as the culture of that time . I have realized westerner have moved far away from bible while we Africans are atlist close . At times i wonder why God keep using westerners to preach gospel to Africans . What do we do if westerners and africns claash in bible reading . I like to hear from you

    Reply
  19. Blessed Wife

    I absolutely LOVE this article!
    My grandmother attacked me in front of my cousins a while back, trying to shame me for “disobeying the Bible” because I disagree with my husband about how to build our house. I drew up a floor plan and house style based on minimal cleaning and maintenance, which I feel is very sensible, since I am a SAHM to 3 small, rather messy and destructive children. My husband is more concerned with perfect exterior symmetry, the approval of other people (who aren’t going to clean it or live in it!), and is far less concerned than I am about the ultimate cost and debt. Yet in her mind, I am disobeying God because I am not caving to my husband on this.😂
    I also love what you said about the Biblical passage in the context of assuming unity is the norm! In our marriage, it really is! In 8 years, we’ve had roughly 5 major disagreements, all about things with long-term, potentially life-altering consequences for the family. I think that’s a pretty good record! I haven’t been happy with the outcome on all of those, but we both agree on compartmentalizing what we don’t agree on so that we don’t sour on other aspects of our relationship. That helps us maintain love and good feelings about each other, so that we work our differences out in the context of a loving relationship!

    Reply
  20. Laura D

    I was just reading your bio. That is awesome! That you are doing the RV lifestyle thing! I love it!
    I’m going to have to sign up for your blog.
    Do you do blogs on your RV adventures?
    By the way, may I please just add? Jesus never one time used the word “submission”. Do you know that “submission” means “Islam”?
    Jesus actually FORBADE submission!! Because Jesus Christ forbade ANYONE ruling over another believer. Meaning, Jesus Christ FORBADE submitting to one another [the flip AND conjoined side of ruling over one another; exercising authority upon one another]. You cannot have submission – without the exercise of authority upon someone. Because you are submitting: to the exercise of authority upon you by another believer. In other words, you are giving up your own will to be dominated by the will of another. It’s not the same as agreeing together in love and unity.
    It’s an entirely different religion.
    It’s Islam. That’s how I see it. Factually speaking.

    Reply
  21. Julianne

    I’m really enjoying your posts on submission and totally agree that we need to be assuming unity will be the norm and strive toward that.
    However, I was raised in the typical “Wives submit always” mindset. One thing that is always brought up is that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. So, we as wives, should submit to our husbands (i.e. follow is leading, serve him, respect him), just as the Church should submit to Christ as her head.
    I guess I’m not really sure how to square all of that. Obviously, we shouldn’t worship our husbands like we as the Church are called to worship Jesus, but from what you write, it seems like you don’t see any place for the husband to be leading the family.
    My husband and I have been married for over 6 years and have a wonderful relationship. He values my opinion and we always discuss major things before taking action. We rarely have actual arguments. However, I usually allow him to make the final call on things (unless I feel strongly on the issue or that one course of action is morally superior to the other), because I trust that God will lead our family through my husband.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    Reply
  22. Kimberley

    Growing up and in my high school / college days, I didn’t care much about drinking alcohol. I wasn’t sure how God really felt about it and didn’t have a desire anyway. Fast forward to now, and for the last 10 years or so, I’ve felt the freedom of choice to drink a glass of wine on occasion. My husband doesn’t like it, he grew up very fundamentalist, but I usually only do this if I am out with my girlfriends or something like that. He has stated plainly that he doesn’t want it in the house and doesn’t want me buying it. I respect that he doesn’t like it and so out of that respect I choose to keep alcohol to a minimum. I do personally feel that it is within my right to have a glass of wine when I want to however. I am an adult. He doesn’t seem to have a problem when other people come over and bring it or when my parents are visiting from out of town and we have a glass with dinner every night. Recently he went out of town with the kids for a weekend and I decided I’d really like to have a glass. I shouldn’t need to ask permission but I did, and his answer was no. In a counseling session regarding this, he said I am free to do what I want regarding wine, but it just comes with a consequence of sacrificing a Biblical marriage, and if I choose this path there will be ramifications of him disconnecting from me emotionally. So if I submit to this because of this “threat”, I’m not really submitting am I? Also if I choose to do what I want, it translates to him that I’m choosing alcohol over our marriage and I must have a problem. Honestly I just want to be a free adult and I can keep it away from him. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. There are lots of things he does that I don’t like but I wouldn’t dream of telling him “no more video games” for instance. I am not his parent and he is an adult too. Am I wrong to fight submitting to him on this issue of alcohol?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a hard one, Kimberley. I’m curious what the counsellor said about this, and what the counsellor’s reasoning was? If the counselling session left you this confused, you likely may need a different counsellor. I think your point about video games is a good one–you don’t tell him what to do, and so you should have freedom as well, especially if you do it away from him. I’m wondering if a better counsellor could help?

      Reply
      • Kimberley

        Sorry that was confusing regarding the counselor. That was my husband that said those things in one of our couples therapy sessions. My husband was the one that said if I choose freedom to have a glass of wine, that comes with ramifications. I am now doing individual therapy with my counselor and my husband was getting individual as well. My counselor really felt that joint therapy was not helping, and was on my side completely with this issue. Joint sessions seemed to always be about him winning and me being reluctant to submit and do what he asked.

        Reply
      • Kimberley

        I guess the issue is just a little confusing for me because it’s the issue of alcohol where a lot of Christians disagree and get up in arms about it. He’s put me in a position where fighting for my right and freedom on this also means betraying my marriage and if I’m willing to betray my marriage over this, what does this say about my priorities and my love for him, especially my willingness to submit? That logic seems like total manipulation to me, and my counselor agrees. She’s told me it’s perfectly within my right to enjoy a glass of wine when he is not home… though she advised me not hide it… and to let him be mad about it. That I don’t need permission. I still feel afraid to do this. 😭 If you were to ask him, he would tell you that this is the one she only thing he asks for my obedience on, but there are many other more subtle ways he treats me like a child. I’m learning to have more of a voice in these issues but this particular issue is hard because my husband equates my disobedience with disobedience to God.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Kimberley, you do NOT have to obey him. It is wrong of him to ask obedience of you. You are his partner, not his child. If he sees you as his child, that is HIS problem, not yours, and he similarly has to bear the consequences of that. If you read the rest of the posts in this series that are linked here, I go over what submission actually means, and how we are never asked to obey. If he is asking that of you, he is putting himself in the role of God in your life, and that is idolatry. He is asking you to betray the second commandment.
          This is not about alcohol; this is about his idea that he has the right to control you, and that isn’t right. I’m glad your counselor is helping you find your voice. Jesus gave you to your husband to be a warrior wife (which is really what help meet means), so don’t be afraid to fight for what’s right!

          Reply
  23. Kimberley

    Thank you so much for your reply. I love your blog and your podcast. Your content always applies to me and helps me daily!!!! ❤️

    Reply
  24. Emmy

    Thank you again Sheila for your interesting and helpful article.
    This final-decision-submission stuff destroyed the first 15 years of our marriage. It destroyed our friendship and it destroyed my love for my husband. I have no idea how to ever get that back. What’s left is some kind of, I don’t know how to call it, a general charity, wishing the best for him and doing my best to contribute to his happines. Doing him good, no evil.
    This idea of “biblical” submission was marketed to me when we were dating, or courting, whatsoever, and I was young, naive and very much in love. I believed it all and he took advantage of it. And it never was enough. There always was another final decision he was entitled to make. And another. And another.
    And when I gave him the final say, he was not satisfied either because I was not respectful enoug. Talked with the wrong voice. Had the wrong face. Used the wrong words. Had the wrong attitude.
    Little by little I was not sure anymore if I even existed.
    Things are better now because I finally got enough and started to take matters in my own hand. Now I have become the type of woman he always abhorred and warned me about and lectured me about: “The Scandinavian type feminist who has a working career of her own because she does not want to be financially dependent of her husband.”
    The weird thing is: this does not seem to bother him at all. He treats me much better now and does not seem to have any problem with me earning my own money and paying my own bills and buying my own clothes and books and house equipment and OUR groceries, without asking for his permission first. He even seems to like me better now and thinks me being much more fun to be with than before. Can you get it?
    Even though I honestly am much happier now and much more pleased with myself, I can’t say our relationship is what you’d call intimate or passionate. I don’t even know if we are good friends. It is hard to be friends with someone with whom ou can’t honestly discuss what has happened. He lives in denial. He does not see he has done anything wrong. He has always done his best. At least, he did not MEAN to hurt me. It were all just a misunderstandings, and who does not make mistakes, anyway? I don’t expect him to be perfect, do I?
    Every attempt to make him understand my point of view ends in a quagmire like this, so I have given up the idea of us ever really understanding each other. I pick up my work instead. I call my sister. I spend time with my children and my friends. Better for us just to be good room mates and not let my happines depend on him.
    Much of this would not have happened were it not for all those books. The infamous Helpmeet-book or Love and Respect were not even written yet when we married, but there were others. This Fascinated Womanhood , I learned about it just today for the first time. We read books like Christian Family by Larry Christenson, and True Discipleship by Winkie Pratney. They were damaging enough.
    Sheila, I really would be interested in doing some deep stydy on Christan marriage manuals together, if you are planning to do something like that and if you’d have me on board.

    Reply
  25. Nancy

    Sheila,
    I can’t even begin to tell you how much your podcast and blog has helped me over the last year. I have found myself in what seems like an impossible situation with my husband. When we first got married, I thought I believed what I was told from my church around the idea of submission, and submitting to a man as leader. That’s how any church I went to interpreted that scripture for me and so that’s what I thought was true and didn’t question it. At that time it was an non-issue anyway and I truly believed if my husband loved me, this idea would never be a problem. Fast forward to today – 20 years later. This idea of submitting to my husband has begun to take on a very unhealthy and destructive dynamic. It has forced me to really find out and search the Bible to see what I believe about complementarianism vs egalitarianism. I have listened to you, I have read Leslie Vernick, Natalie Hoffman, tons of blogs and websites and books that offer a different, and much more healthy way of looking at submission being mutual. I am confident now in what I believe. I am egalitarian, and my husband is very much complementarian. In the past, when I would disagree or push back, he would give me a consequence or a punishment, tell me I wasn’t being respectful and that I needed to follow his lead. If you were to ask him outright if he did that, he would completely deny. Consequences, usually in the form of emotional distance or neglect, would keep me coming back and just obeying and asking God to forgive my disobedience. I kept praying that God would help me be a more Godly wife. Today, I am seeing things much more clearly. I am more confident when I make decisions for myself that he doesn’t always agree with, I do not need permission because I am an adult. I no longer go running back because of a consequence and while it is a VERY lonely time, I believe I am doing what is healthy. Also, I want to mention, it isn’t like I’m being contrary in everything. I still believe in kindness and respect (not the unconditional kind), and just being courteous to him just like I should be courteous to everyone. However, there are things that I feel like I do get to make a decision on for myself and am taking those steps. Things like deciding I don’t need to tithe on that financial gift my parents gave ME, or the decision to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, or having the freedom to enjoy lunch with a platonic friend (while my kids are with me!) I’m reading Leslie Vernick again, and am focusing in on the section of her book (The Emotionally Destructive Marriage) that talks about “When Trying Harder is Destructive.” I’m at a place where standing up for myself and my freedom means he is distancing himself from me emotionally. There’s really nothing I can do beyond just praying things will change, and that he changes… but I am powerless to change him. I guess my question would be, do you have any advice for someone in my situation? As a doer, is there anything I should be doing?? Is there hope for us??

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Nancy, that’s so rough! I’m so sorry. Yes, you are an adult, and he should not be trying to control you.
      I don’t know if things will get better for your relationship. It really depends on whether he loves you or whether he loves the idea of you and the idea of marriage. If he loves being married so that he has someone to control, then it isn’t likely to get better. But if he genuinely loves you, then this could be a wake up call.
      But things can get better for you as you learn how to have your own relationship with God without your husband being the mediator. That is something important. And you’ll learn how to really lean on God and listen to Him, and that’s important, too!

      Reply
  26. Emmy

    Something totally different now, and I don’t know where to put it exactly so I guess this post might be just as good as any. It is a purely practical thing.
    Sometimes I find it hard to find my own postings back. Especially when I have reacted on a blog or a podcast advertised on Facebook and I wish to check if any useful discussion has grown out of it, it’s very difficult to find the right chain of postings back.
    I have realized afterwards how the blog posts linked on Facebook were not the most recent ones. Some of them have been several years old. They were still worth reading and responding, though.
    I wonder if there is a way to search for your own old postings or if a system for that could be created. I understand it may be complicated.

    Reply
  27. CM

    You describe exactly what I could have fallen into, if my husband was buying into the hierarchical view of marriage. I struggle with self affirmation, having grown up with an abusive mother. So it’s easier to hide whatever is bothering me, until I began ranting and being mean to my husband.
    If he said something like “Shut up and submit, woman”, I would figure the problem is only mine and growing hopeless.
    Fortunately, he’s a … quite normal man, with common sense and also a convert who did not grew up with such toxic views on gender roles.
    So instead we talk it out, pray over it, and most of the time we come up with a convenient solution. When we don’t … well we still work on it. And hold each other accountable.
    I remember one time while we were dating, he suddently stopped the conversation and asked me “do you really agree with what I say ? Because if I wanted to marry myself, I’d remain celibate”. It stuck me because, yeah … I did nod while disagreeing for fear to displease him.
    Actually, before getting married, we identified this behavior of mine as #2 or #3 problem in our relationship, #1 being this toxic relationship with my mum. And also stong prejudices against men (they’re like children, not to be trusted, to be manipulated because too selfish to take care of anything …)
    Thankfully, we had premarital counselling with a wonderful priest who supported this analysis.
    He did told us something like “man is the head of family so in case of grave dissent on an important matter he should prevail”, but he strongly warned me against leaving my husband alone to do the job.
    And he also told us (about Eph 5) that Christ is the only and true head of a marriage. And that if we don’t strive together towards holiness, marriage is purposeless.
    That’s why I also can’t figure out why so many Christians assume church is a woman’s stuff while expecting believer women to obey they non(really)believer husbands …

    Reply

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