When my husband and I got married 18 years ago I proclaimed in my vows, “I joyfully submit my life to yours”. I know I raised my voice a few decibels so everyone in the church would hear my intentions!
At 20 years of age, I didn’t understand the full ramifications of what I was agreeing to do. I thought submitting to David would mean letting him win if we had a disagreement, always giving him the biggest brownie and generally letting him have control of the television remote.
Over the years I have come to realize that submitting to my husband means so much more than that. To be a submissive wife means honoring his wishes even when they conflict with mine, seeking to meet his needs before my own, and crucifying my pride. In short, it means loving him more than I love myself and proving it in word and deed.
It has not been easy for me to become a submissive wife. A gentle and quiet spirit is not really part of my nature. If only the holy women of the past had made themselves beautiful with a passionate and opinionated spirit. Then I would have it covered! Choosing to yield to this man feels risky. What if he doesn’t do things my way, and I think my way is clearly best?
The command to submit to my husband is difficult because it brings me face to face with so many of my sins. I am prideful, thinking I know better than my husband does. I worry he will make a mistake, instead of trusting God’s sovereignty over our lives. I often want to be served, rather than to serve.
It helps to remember that submission to my husband is also submission to the Lord. We are encouraged in 1 Peter 3 to be like the holy women of the past, who put their hope in God. Let us be known as “Sarah’s daughters”, women who “do what is right and do not give way to fear,” 1 Peter 3:6.
The heart of submission is not found merely in letting my husband make the important decisions. It is much more radical than that. The heart of submission is in choosing to lay aside my right to “be all that I can be” in order to help him “be all that HE can be”. It was a real turning point in my marriage, and in both our lives spiritually, when I began helping my husband implement his vision for our family instead of trying to get him to implement mine.
Many times when we think about our own marriages we are tempted to consider which excuses we can raise so as not to heed God’s Word on this matter. Each woman reading this is married to a sinner, so surely excuses abound. Our heart, however, needs to be bent in the other direction. We should be considering how we can do more to follow this teaching, rather than less.
What is one step that you can take toward being more submissive? I highly recommend Martha Peace’s scripture-filled book The Excellent Wife. This book is a valuable aid to the Christian wife. Mrs. Peace addresses common struggles faced by all married women, as well as difficult issues such as what to do when your husband is in sin, how to live with a non-Christian husband, handling anger, and much more.