3 Things Submission IS and 3 it is NOT

Submission in REALITY

“Just give me the rules! When do I HAVE to submit to my husband and when can I just ignore him because he is being a butthead?”

Raise your hand if you have ever said (or thought) something to that effect? I can’t actually see you, but if you are a wife who desires to honor God by submitting to your husband, I would suspect that something along these lines has crossed your mind at least once during your marriage. And if not, you are a WAY better woman than me! HAHA

So you understand what biblical submission IS but how do we wives know if we are getting it right? What does submission look like in reality?

(If you haven’t already, you may want to read Submission – Context is EVERYthing and Submission – Meekness is NOT Weakness so that what you read in THIS post makes sense.)

The truth is, submission will look different in every marriage.

It really depends on your husband’s personality. Is he high strung or laid back? Confrontational or peaceable? Super involved or stays in the background? A natural leader or a natural follower? A big-picture guy or a detail-oriented person? He is likely some combination of these traits. Regardless, God calls wives to submit to their husbands no matter what his temperament.

YOUR personality doesn’t factor into this calling, it just may make it easier or harder for you. Personally, MINE made it much harder. Since I’ve done submission WRONG more than I’ve done it right, I’m going to start by sharing what I am most familiar with…

What Submission does NOT look like:


All humans are capable of manipulation, but females do seem to have an extra special knack for it. Again, the details of what this looks like varies from marriage to marriage. However, you are manipulating your husband ANY time YOU get what YOU want without HIM having any real choice in the matter.

My husband has accused me of manipulating him in the past. My defense was that he couldn’t point out exactly how I had backed him into a corner BUT, I knew he was right. Even if circumstances “happened” to turn out in my favor, there was often a point at which I intentionally tipped the scales. THAT is not okay!


This can be sticky because some men want to know everything that is going on and some don’t really care all that much. Some husbands are particular about certain things that go on in the home, but not others. For instance, my husband completely trusts me with our personal finances and rarely asks me about them. However, since he is a homebody himself, the who/what/where/when of our social calendar matters a lot to him. I do not make plans for myself, the kids or our family without consulting him first. Seriously think about what your husband cares to know and what he doesn’t to make sure that you are communicating effectively.

There is a saying, “It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission,” but that is not Godly wisdom. There have been times in my marriage when I intentionally did not bring something to my husband’s attention because I knew he would not be okay with it. I knew there would be a fight later, but since I still got what I wanted, it was a cost that I was willing to pay. THAT is not okay!


“Don’t let him push you around!”
“You don’t deserve to be treated that way!”
“Show him who he is dealing with!”

Essentially, when all else fails, FIGHT! FIGHT TO THE DEATH! That’s what we are taught and are teaching women today. Why sacrifice what YOU want for the good of your marriage? Keeping the peace just means being unhappy yourself, right? So fight until he gives in!

I am sooooo guilty of this mentality and it was the biggest challenge I had to overcome. Now I do happen to be married to a very stubborn man and I justified a lot of our fights to his personality flaws and not mine. However, the fact that neither of us planned on backing down from the fight meant that our marriage was rough for a long time. THAT is not okay.

Here is what I have learned…

What Submission DOES look like:


God created wives to be their husband’s HELPMATE. I naturally approach situations differently than Joel. He needs my input to lead our family well. Submission DOES NOT mean that I can never share my thoughts and feelings. It DOES mean I should be RESPECTFUL, not condescending, and share without criticizing him in the process.

I have actually found that when I don’t just blurt out my opinion, my husband is more likely to ask for it. If he doesn’t ask, then I just don’t share! By his own admission, if he doesn’t ask for my input and things go wrong, he CAN’T BLAME SHIFT!! (I know I’m not the only woman with a husband guilty of that one!)


My days are full of places to go, people to see and things to do. Sometimes, there is an opportunity that I would like to take advantage of that my husband believes is a bad idea. Whether it is for financial reasons, time management or personal conflict, there are times when my husband just says, “NO.” Submission DOES NOT mean that I cannot have ideas. It DOES mean I may need to ACCEPT that I won’t always get my way AND I don’t need a reason for it. Does Joel ever say no out of selfishness? Of course! BUT I can still submit because I trust that a sovereign God has laid that on his heart for His reasons.

(TIP: When I want to share an idea/opportunity with Joel and maximize the chance he WILL agree with me, I give him a heads up that I have something I want to talk about. Then I give him a time frame in which I would like to address it. “Hey, there is something important I want to share with you. At some point this weekend, let me know when you are up for talking about it!” Then I SHUT UP until he brings it up OR the predetermined time is coming to an end. If he hasn’t approached me, I bring it up again. My husband loves me and he does want me to enjoy things. This has been a great way for him to prepare his heart to LISTEN to me and respond well.)


The fact is that sometimes my husband is wrong. Early on in our marriage, I asked Joel how I should disagree in a way that would not make him mad. His unGodly response at that time was, “You don’t.” Obviously, that wasn’t going to work. Submission DOES NOT mean ignoring a sinful or irresponsible attitude/behavior. It DOES mean gently, humble and wisely confronting it. I have no desire to fight with Joel. In fact, I thrive when I can joyfully follow his lead. But I can’t follow him into sin, nor enable him to continue to live in it. As much as I honor his leadership in our marriage, I first must honor Jesus.

Sometimes it is a bad decision that needs to be confronted. So what should I say? “Joel, I know that you have given this a lot of thought and I love that you take responsibility for our family when you make plans for us. In this case, I really don’t have peace about what you want to do and I think we need more time to pray and then discuss it again. Can we maybe talk some more tomorrow?” Then I PRAY and I go back to SHARE MY OPINION and ACCEPTANCE.


My natural inclination is to put my head down and plow through any obstacles standing between ME and WHAT I WANT. At times, my husband has been that obstacle. I may have been able to bulldoze through him, but there was always a cost to our relationship when that brick wall came down. It got so bad, that we had both admitted were considering what life would look like if we just called it quits. That is when God got a hold of me.

So what does submission look like in reality? It is realizing that I don’t need a better husband so that I can be a better wife. I just need God to show me how and give me the ability to change.

Need help on how to make that change? Check out this fantastic post by Lisa Yvonne at Graceful Abandon – Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman in Today’s World.

If you liked this post or it help you in some way, please share it! There are other women out there who need to read it too!

While I am not opposed to different views and opinions, I do insist that all comments are respectful to myself and other readers. I reserve the right to delete any comments on a post that I deem disrespectful. Thanks for your cooperation! 


4 thoughts on “3 Things Submission IS and 3 it is NOT”

  1. I absolutely love this! So much beautiful truth here that Christian women need to read; thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: