Updated: Jul 27, 2022
When I got married one of the things that was prayed over me by a few old-school family members was that I would be a submissive wife.
If you’re a woman that’s grown up in the church I’m sure this is nothing new for you. After all, how many sermons have we heard the verse “wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord”, preached to us, or even felt hit over the head by this verse that feels so out of touch with the equality we women so dearly value today.
If you cringe at scriptures that tell you to obey, submit to and reverence your husband, I hear you. I once used to feel the exact same way while I was engaged. And when I finally got married I started to wonder, well what exactly does submission look like in marriage? I respect my husband the same way I expect him to respect me, and we’re best friends, so isn’t that enough?
It wasn’t until I started to observe and get wisdom from some of the older Godly women in my life, and read a book on my role as a wife, that God opened my eyes and I witnessed how truly beautiful marriage can be when God transforms a wife’s heart to be submissive.
The tips I will share with you might seem archaic, offensive, sexist, or “overly traditional”. They are probably things you’ve never heard spoken of at a church on Sunday morning or in women’s groups because of how afraid so many pastors and teachers are to teach the Word of God even if it disagrees with our current culture.
But these tips are biblical wisdom made practical for us Christian women. And even if it rubs you the wrong way, I’d ask you to pause, ask God why, search the scriptures yourself, and if you see no contradictions, try it out. Practicing these tips has been hard (and I’m still learning!), but I’ve seen it slowly change and transform my marriage into something amazing.
1. Call him “lord” - 1 Peter 3:5-6
“For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror."
The terms you use to address someone usually signifies what they mean to you/the kind of relationship you have with them. For example, in many cultures, calling your parents by their first name is seen as incredibly disrespectful because they hold a position of authority in your life. So you call them by their titles: mom and dad. In most professional work environments you would never call your CEO by their nickname. You would either address them as Mr. or Mrs. or you would call them by their first name. Because of the position certain people hold in your life, there is a certain level of respect you give them when you’re addressing them.
So, how do you address your husband?
If you’re like most women, you probably use a term of endearment such as, “babe”, “love”, “sexy” or another nickname you have for them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I do the same thing. But if you’re wondering what a practical step is in submitting to your husband, the Bible gives us a very clear one: call him “lord”. Go above and beyond in showing him that although he may face a lot in the workplace or in any other sphere of his life, when he’s with you, he is the king, the master, and the ruler of your home, heart and body. Whatever word he prefers, practice referring to him in a term that denotes high respect.
When you call him “lord”, or “king”, you aren’t just reminding him of who he is in your eyes, but you’re also reminding yourself.
2. Stop nagging him - Proverbs 27:15-16
“A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”
This one was probably the hardest thing for me to learn (and I’m still learning), but made one of the biggest improvements in my marriage.
Like I said in the point above, your husband is your lord. He is both the leader and master of your home and for you to stop nagging him about small things around the house, you truly have to see him as such. Your husband is not your little brother that you can boss around, and he’s definitely not your son that you can dictate orders to and correct like a child. If your husband wants to eat on the couch instead of the dining table because he finds it more comfortable, then stop nagging him about it. If he constantly leaves his underwear on the bedroom floor, pick it up, put it in the laundry basket and tell God how grateful you are to have a husband that loves you.
If you really don’t like something he does because it makes the place seem untidy, or he consistently forgets to fix something he’s supposed to take care of, bring it up to him once, and express your concerns kindly and graciously. But after that, don’t constantly complain about it day after day. Again, if it bothers you so much, then there’s a very simple way to fix the problem: do it yourself.
Ladies, trust me on this. Do not let your voice become like a “dripping faucet” in your husband's ears. From what I’ve seen, he will do one of two things: try and avoid being around you as much as possible, or simply tune you out (I’ve experienced this first-hand lol). What I’ve found is, if he sees you struggling to do something that he’s supposed to do, his drive as a man will kick in and he will take over and try to do it himself.
3. Be his joy - Ecclesiastes 3:3
“Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your futile life which He has given you under the sun, all the days of your futility; for this is your reward in life and in your work which you have labored under the sun.”
I know so many women that have amazing husbands. They have husbands that work hard, love the Lord, and treat them right. But the wives may not always cherish their man as they should.
And I get it.
You live with this guy. You see him at his worst, his unhealthiest and his most annoying state possible. But remember my first point: it’s up to you to decide how you want to view this man. You can either see him as a messy louch of a guy, or you can choose, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to actively see and praise the good and honourable things in him. Ultimately, it is your choice to be an ungrateful miserable woman to be around, OR you can be his joy and delight.
The truth is, men love to be around lovely women. Women that praise them, serve them happily, make them laugh and forget the stresses of life are extremely attractive to a man. But unfortunately, sometimes us women do the exact opposite and become their source of stress.
When you do this, you are going directly against what scripture calls you to.
As a wife, you are your husband's reward (or some translations say “portion”) given to him directly from God in this hard and brutal thing called life. When he’s in your presence or at home with you, he should feel like he can leave his burdens at the door, and laugh and play with you like you guys are silly schoolkids in your own little world. His favourite part of the day should be when he gets to put his head on your chest and watch movies together because you make the atmosphere burst with peace and joy.
This is something that is personally so so easy for me to struggle with. I can be an extremely emotional and high-strung person, especially before I get my period (if you have hormonal issues that severely affect your mood, don’t hesitate to get help). But I had to realize that the only way for me to be my husband’s joy, was for me to continually keep myself in God’s presence because with God there is fullness of joy and at his right-hand pleasures forevermore.
So ladies, when you wake up in the morning, smile at your husband. Tickle him during the day and get excited about getting to be his best friend and wife. Remember, there are so many women begging God to give them a husband. You have one so be grateful.
4. Be his helper - Genesis 2:18
“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
I think if you’re to ask most modern women what the role of a wife is, most would say something like “to be his partner in life”. And while that’s not necessarily wrong - a great marriage should consist of two people that compliment each other - the scriptures are abundantly clear on the role of a wife.
A wife is to be, as the Hebrew word states, an “ezer”.
When God created Adam he said that it’s not good for man to be alone so he made a helper suitable for him.
Unfortunately, our English language doesn’t properly give us a full understanding of what is meant by “helper” in this passage. But if you go to cross references of the word “ezer” in the Bible, you’ll see that the same word is frequently used to describe God.
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” - Psalm 33:20
All throughout scripture we see this very clear theme of God being our helper because he helps us to achieve, conquer and subdue what we are completely unable to do on our own.
This is the exact same model that is given to us for marriage.
God didn’t create wives to be leading and directing their husbands, or for marriage to be like two CEO’s constantly bucking heads with one another.
He specifically designed you as a wife to have the divine privilege of helping your man to complete whatever mission God has given him that he is totally unequipped to complete on his own.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you may be saying to yourself, “what about my gifting, my calling, and my dreams?”
But let’s go back to the garden again. After God created Eve do you think she was telling Adam, “I know God called you to work the land and all, but dirt under my nails isn’t really my thing so I’m going to focus on becoming a dancer because that’s what I feel God is calling me to.”
Or, do you think that Eve would’ve said something like, “I’m still getting accustomed to this farming thing since we got married and all, and I’m not yet that good at it, but I see how much work there is to be done here… You know what, I have a passion for essential oils so I’m going to see how I can help turn this into some sort of business for our family.”
Now, I know there’s much more nuance to this topic than this blog post can cover, but I hope you see the difference there. Step back from all the indoctrination that modern feminism has shaped you with, and have some more faith in God. If God in all of his goodness and majesty, took the time to form you into a woman and therefore the crowning glory of creation, and then gave you as a heavenly gift to your husband, don’t you think he already thought about how your skills and talents would perfectly fit into everything your husband is lacking?
So take some time to pray about it and then lean into the gaps that are waiting to be filled by you. Instead of making your career or job your primary mission (which it shouldn’t be if you’re a Christian, and especially so if you’re a wife), make your husband your mission. Look for ways to outdo him in serving him. Commit yourself to becoming such an indispensable helper that because of you, he ages like fine wine; strong, full-bodied and in high demand.
And so ladies, my hope is that these tips will be a blessing to your marriage the way they have been to mine! Although much of this advice is so counter-cultural, and it’s extremely hard to humble yourself and be submissive to an imperfect man, I challenge you to simply try it. With the current divorce statistics and the lackluster marriages that seem to be at every corner, what do you have to lose? Drop your feminist arguments at the door and mold yourself into being such a valuable wife that your husband literally kisses the ground you walk on.