What Does Submission Look Like in Real Life?

Many Christians agree with submission because they see it in the Bible: ‘Wives submit to your husbands’ (Eph 5v22). Yet how that belief works out in people’s marriages can vary so much!
I have to say at the outset that I can’t give much Biblical backup for my view of how it should work simply because the Bible says to submit, but doesn’t give that much explanation of it. So this is my opinion! However I have gone into more detail on what it means Biblically in another post, and also why God has put it in place as well as how to do it in another one, if you want more in depth information with Biblical backup. 
I also should say that I am not, by any means, a perfect example of a submissive wife, even though I try to be 🙂 Having said that, here are a couple of things which I think are key to it working properly in real life:
 It starts in the heart
I believe true submission should start in your heart. That means that you’re not just waiting for your husband to get to the point of making a decision as head of the home, but you’re looking for what he wants, way before that.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we always do what they want in every situation, but it means that we are aiming wherever we can to please them. Which makes sense anyway, if we are loving them as we should!
Sometimes my husband will make little comments that make me think he doesn’t entirely like the idea of something. And if it is something that I am quite keen on doing, what I then do is try to sit down with him and ask him what he really thinks about it.
This gives him a chance to talk seriously, and I can find out how much he is against it. Sometimes I find that  it’s not really a big deal. Other times I find out that he really isn’t keen on it and often then I will give up the idea.
Obviously if he told me I must stop doing something, I would, but usually he won’t do that so I try to discern what his wishes are and endeavour to please him the best I can.
Give your input, then let him lead
With big decisions that we feel strongly about, the temptation can be to keep on talking about it till we get our way. And only give way if our husband actually says, ‘No, this is what we are going to do.’
But I think submission goes further than that. What I try to do with big decisions is to give my input if I feel strongly or if my husband asks for it. Then after that I pray that God would guide him and leave the decision to him, unless it is something where he really wants to make a joint decision.
I am blessed to have a husband that is wise and has loads of common sense, and makes good financial decisions. So that does help a lot! And I understand that it may change things somewhat if you don’t have that.
But in reality, when you disagree is where the rubber hits the road. And that is where I have tried to get into the habit of saying, “This is what I think… but it’s up to you” in the majority of things.
I try to give my input, and then let him lead. It can help if you think, ‘What’s the worst that could happen if…’ because usually it’s not that bad! 
You also really need to trust God because in submitting to your husband you are submitting to the Lord. So when you are worried about how it will turn out it really helps to remember that God will honour your obedience and will work out everything for good.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Rhoda,

    I’ve always though Ephesians 5 is a really fascinating passage. Quite key in many ways to our lives.

    Paul writes in verse 21 ‘submit to one another’ (I think he means not just husbands and wives here, but all of us). It’s always struck me that this is impossible if we take the normal English meaning of the word ‘submit’. Doesn’t submitting to one another suggest infinite debate? After you. No, after you!

    So I’ve tried to understand the Greek word ‘ὑποτάσσω’ (hupotasso) in a bit more detail. ‘Submit’ is certainly a fair translation, and the root meaning is to ‘arrange under’. It seems to me that we might legitimately see ‘submit’ as meaning that I must always put the other person’s interests ahead of my own, ‘arrange’ my needs ‘under’ theirs.

    In this case it’s not so much about obedience as it is about caring and loving.

    In verse 21 we care for and love one another as brothers and sisters, putting one another first.

    This also fits with verse 25 where husbands are told to love their wives.

    So I think there’s a balance here, where husbands and wives are to put one another first by loving one another, as are all of Christ’s people, just as Christ and the church love one another and put one another first.

    For husbands and wives it’s truly a head/body relationship where neither can exist without the other. And this is the mystery that Paul mentions.

    What an awesome passage!

  2. Rhoda says:

    Thanks Chris, there was so much more I thought about saying, as it is a big subject! Yes we are supposed to all submit to one another, and I like the way you’ve put it of putting each other’s interests ahead of ours.

    Also as you pointed out, love has a lot to do with it, which is why I used a valentine’s cookie for the picture – I think if we really love each other as we should then submission won’t be so hard. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Susan Evans says:

    I love how you said that you need to know your husband and what he would want, and to not disregard small statements that he might make that shows how he really feels about something. I try to understand my husband’s heart so that it’s easier for me to submit to what he would want.

  4. Rhoda says:

    Yes, understanding their heart is a big help! So many problems come from misunderstanding.