The Secret of Submission…

If you are an intellectual who needs proof that the Bible is a legitimately relevant document today… I’m happy to help you with that. And I’m excited to see your comments and thoughts today. We’re just doing this arm-in-arm, aren’t we? On the journey together? 🙂

We are told in the Bible to “submit” to our husbands in a number of places.

And I confess, when I first heard this, it made me angry. It made me doubt God. It made me angry at Him, at the leader of the class, at the Bible…I thought I was giving something up.

Can you relate?

But here’s something I’ve finally learned. Took me a little too long to figure this out, but God’s wired men differently than He’s wired women.

The average man’s brain is wired to be on the lookout for perceived threats more than the average woman’s is.

And when we treat him with RESPECT, that helps… but it still feels pretty similar to what he deals with all day at work, where he’s wondering if someone’s going to attack him, in a place where he already feels inadequate.

So yes, be respectful, because the Bible tells us to do that, too.

But also combine submission, and know that the “submit” directions are placed in front of the directions for the man.

Why is that?


Think about it. Like “submission” is a “white flag” saying, “I’m not here to fight with you.”

If he’s standing there, waiting for an attack, but we communicate with a white flag, he will relax.

So instead of putting him on the defense, we help the two of us stay on the same team.

If we are submissive first, wouldn’t that then disarm our guy?

Submission is gentle. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll talk about what it is, because we’ve already talked about what it’s not. Respect is common to men and communicates, “I’m not threatening you now.” At work, there is often an assumed, “but I might be later…” lurking in the back of a man’s mind.

But submission? Submission communicates clearly, “There is no threat here ever.”

God knows how He wired men. So He gives us great advice in how to communicate with them.

And we humans have done research which confirms what God knew eons ago. Check it out here if you like reading about brain research.

Dale Carnegie, of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame put it this way (for either gender, I might add…):

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

What’s really interesting, is when it is phrased that way, we don’t have an issue with submission. I spent 15 years watching literally thousands of people apply this principle, and not one complained about it making them feel “less than.” We have an issue as a culture with the word, “submission.” Perhaps we wives just need to call it something else or accept the semantic issue and move on.

And submission doesn’t mean you don’t have an idea or are a doormat. It’s often just the difference between:

“You should stop by the store on the way home and buy milk,” (directive) and…

  1. “Baby, if it’s not too much of an inconvenience, and if you have time, do you think you could stop by the store on the way home and pick up some milk?” (submissive-respectful), or even,
  2. “Baby, we’re in dire straights here today with a milk crisis. If you have time and it’s easy for you, would you consider running a milk rescue mission on your way home for your little guys?” (submissive-respectful-esteeming) (and yeah, I know, maybe a little corny, but some men really dig that… it will look different in each marriage)
  3. or even, if blessed to be married to a super-mature man, “Honey, we are out of milk. Could you please stop by the store on the way home and grab a gallon?” (submissive-respectful)


“You need to take me out more. We never date each other and our marriage is suffering,” (directive-complaining) and…

  1. “I was thinking about that restaurant we went to back in March? You know the one that has the Alfredo sauce you liked? I really enjoyed your company that night… and what happened afterwards… any chance we could do that again sometime soon?” (submissive-respectful-esteeming)
  2. “I just love dressing up for you and showing off my handsome husband to the world…do you think we could go out for dinner this weekend?” (esteeming-submissive-respectful)

Submission will often garner a positive interaction with the average guy.

So check your motives James 4:3 style, and check your delivery – if it’s bossy and direct, you probably won’t get very far.

Be brief. Be sweet. Be feminine (whatever that looks like for you – just don’t be masculine in your delivery).

Be different than how others communicate with him in the daily work world he’s in. Push the reset button. Be gentle.

Create the contrast that disarms him.

And if you are dealing with a man who has been taking advantage of your submission over the years, read this. And, oh, baby, I’m so sorry. Tough stuff. He’s immature. Know you may have to be stronger than you are, so you’ll need to be even tighter with God to get through it.

And if you are interested, know you are invited… Starting next week, we’ll be walking through the Bible, talking through EVERYTHING it says about marriage. Dare you to subscribe so you don’t miss anything, and double dog dare you to invite a friend!

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

What about you? What are your thoughts or experiences with submission? Would love to hear them!

Love to you,

titus 2 women leadership

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

48 thoughts on “The Secret of Submission…

  1. I feel angry on your behalf, Christine! I wish I had comforting words for you. I wish I knew the answer. I will refrain from saying all that my flesh would have me say. Instead I will say that our Savior has the answer you need. I pray that you are able to clearly hear His voice.

    • Thank you Trina. No change in things after 2 weeks… Really need to clearly hear from the Lord… He is my Only Hope…

  2. We are having severe money problems and my husband is neglecting the family to keep paying bills we can’t afford. He’s paying 70/month on a closed credit card but then we don’t have enough money for food. I’ve been holding off on my medicine for about a week so I could buy it when I get paid. He didn’t want to do that, bought them with a check, never put the money in the account, the check bounces and now I’m short 60 bucks instead of the 20 bucks it would have cost to get my meds when I got paid today. This is the tip of the iceberg. I can not get him to see that me and the girls are suffering. They need shoes – he pays the investment club cause of the future. At this rate, there will be no future with us. I’m pretty fed up with him and this reckless and thoughtless behavior with money. I’ve been respectful but then his response seems to be to make really stupid decisions when it comes to money. Not sure if anyone can help but I sure need it right now.

    • Adrienne, I can relate to your financial struggle. Can I give you some food for thought? I bought the book, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey at Half Priced Books and found this to be helpful. You can probably find it at your local library. Dave also has many DVDs that are GREAT resources that you may be able to check out at a library (you can also look for electronic web based materials so you don’t even have to leave your house).

      I would also look online at the local churches in your area and see if any offer financial counseling. The church I attend offers a 12 week series on Financial Peace University. Google it! The truth is that until you and your partner are working as a team, you will never win. You might also consider seeing if your insurance will cover a few counseling sessions to help you work through this. I pray you get the help you need with this situation!

  3. After reading Christine’s post, I wanted to ask some clarification about doing what my husband says to do. He wants me to work full-time, take care of our kids ranging in age from 17 down to 5 months, homeschool grades Prek-12, make all the food, do all the dishes, do all the cleaning and laundry, put up food for the winter from our garden, take the kids to activities, study with them for Wednesday night programs, and on and on. Until recently he was primarily staying home with our kids and doing a few of these things from time to time but never consistently. Now he took a job where he is gone completely 6 days a week, now its turning into more than that. None of these things are sin. However, I have expressed concern to him that I cannot do all of these things, I am concerned I will relapse into some physical illnesses I had before but haven’t had for a long time. After expressing this, I asked what he would like me to stop doing so that I don’t get sick. He said that he wants me to do all those things myself or have the kids do them. After 2 months of this, I have been feeling sick and needing to go to the doctor. The cure is to stop doing so much, but he wants me to do them. He had this job before and quit because it didn’t work for our family and I expressed my concern before he accepted it that I can;t make it work. Can you help me understand? I cannot do what he expects me to do.

    • Krista – So sorry to hear you are dealing with this. It sounds awful. You have answered your question, however, in that you can’t do all these things. He might want the moon and the stars and the sun. I would encourage you to take him with you to a Christian counselor or your pastor to get some help working through all these things.
      Love to you,

    • Krista:

      I hope I understand your situation enough to make an informed comment.

      If I were you, I would quit working full time. If he is gone six days a week for his job, then his paycheck should be enough to cover things, IF HE BRINGS IT TO YOU TO USE FOR THE FAMILY. Don’t ask him, just do it. Your health is at stake here. And if you continue along that path, you may not be there for your children.

      It seems to me that if he is endangering your health by what he is demanding that you do, you are not obligated by the Scriptures to obey what he is telling you.

      If you need to quit doing something else, quit that activity as well. Figure out what is the minimum that you must do in order to get the essentials done, and reduce down to that. Perhaps that level of activity would be something you could handle.

      Are you and he working together on the family budget? I’ll bet you have a far better understanding of the required minimum expenses for everything than he does. Perhaps you could ask him to sit down and together work on a budget. I would suggest that you work it all out on paper before you have that meeting, then show it to him and explain it all to him when you talk with him. And do not include your earnings in the budget, because you have to quit your job for health’s sake.

      As far as his being gone six or more days per week, try to schedule your meeting with him at a time and place that will work for him. By making it fit his schedule and itinerary, you are showing respect to him.

      As far as submission, the submission part is to allow him to make the final decision on the budget. But if you have it all worked out before getting together with him, with clear explanations on everything, perhaps he will see the value of letting you handle the money.

      I have found that when I need to tell someone something without getting interrupted or side tracked by them, it is best to write it all down, and then hand them the paper. They can’t interrupt a written document.

      If he is totally an absentee father and husband, I’m not convinced that you should seek his direction on very many of the decisions. But the more you can include him in the decisions, the more chance you have of turning him around and getting him to care more about his family and marriage responsibilities.

      My heart really goes out to you.


  4. Struggling with submission for the last few days. My husband got upset with me Monday and told me that I had to move all of my stuff out of our bedroom & bathroom… that I had to move into the bedroom in the basement. I didn’t argue or question, I just did it. Don’t think he is asking me to sin by doing this so felt like I had to honor his orders. He has not said a loving or kind word to me since but has been fairly “neutral” in his necessary interactions with me. After telling him goodnight, I did softly ask him if this is the way things are going to be… his response… I guess. I told him I was very sorry to hear that and that I love him very much. Then I went downstairs and cried…
    Not sure how to act – to interact with my heart continually breaking… Praying for direction, comfort, and peace.

  5. I love the way you gave example after example of what we can do as women to respect our husbands. Is is hard to respect someone when they are loving us as Christ loved the church? NO. But when we don’t feel loved, we can still ask questions & not challenge and a few days of that and are husbands may start changing too.

  6. I found your blog via peaceful wife’s blog, and I have experimented with your submission suggestions this weekend. For someone from an European background raised by an atheist mother, a lot of what you are saying is almost counter-cultural to me….but even though the title of your blog post was off putting to me, when I carried out some of your suggestions, I felt strangely at peace….which is a long winded way of saying I have subscribed and look forward to learning more!

  7. Krista, you are not alone. One thing I have found is my trust is in God. I struggle because I feel alone and yet I know I am not. God is with me every step of the way guiding me when I will listen. I need his strength, not my own. Trust in Him!
    Love the article Nina and look forward to your new series. You are such an encouragement to me!

  8. I am very new to this. I can see how the statements are much kinder and nicer, thanks for the examples. However, I have felt like I am not a priority for several months maybe a couple years. I mean my husband spends a lot of time on the computer, facebook, on his smartphone, reading the newspaper online, reading lots of articles on MSN online, watching videos online, etc. I have been the primary breadwinner for our entire married life-18 years. I come home and am tired, but I feel like the second I walk in the door I need to be on my game to take care of everyone and everything. I have said before “Could you please come help me with the dishes” or “When you are done with your article, can you please help me clean off the table” but if 3 articles later or 2 days later I am still waiting for him to come help me, I feel like something is wrong with that. I have said that I was sick, can I please just lay down for half an hour? He either doesn’t answer me or says yes, but with the same results. The kids don’t get the help they need and I still have to help them anyway. I admit that I DO NOT respond correctly, and I am working on it…but I feel like its all my responsibility. Secondly, the topic of submission. In everything I ask his opinion. I feel bad if I don’t and spend $5. However, if I ask his opinion and give him ample time to think about it and after that amount of time he hasn’t thought about it or doesn’t have an opinion, I have to decide. He is 99% of the time happy I just decided and he will come along for the ride. I struggle with knowing then if I am being controlling or if he has delegated that to me to do and I can just not feel guilt for doing it. Most of the time he would even be happy not to discuss things at all, just tell him what to do and he will come along. He says to me I have never thought about it. The only problem is when we don’t discuss then he may want to do the task a different way than I have already discussed with the children to do and I feel upset by his wanting to do it differently and the kids are upset. Then we waste time not getting it done by arguing about how it should be done. The kids are frustrated that the plan is changed, I am frustrated that I spent all that time instructing the kids, and he is frustrated that we always have to do things my way.
    I know I could use some help here. I would like to be involved in your Bible study too please.

    • KRISTA. Girlfriend, you have a TON going on… and my heart just aches for you. I’m so sorry – you probably feel so alone, so abandoned. I want to assure you that you are not. You are here, with us, and I know that doesn’t count for hugs and literal involvement in getting your dinner table cleared or the kids’ math help, but if I could just put His arms around you through me I would. We’d sit and talk and cry together over cappuccino. And we would pray. I’m excited that you are here, and hope you’ll be joining us on the Bible study journey. Just subscribe and this will get delivered to your inbox. And know you are prayed for. And that you really are not alone, as He is with you and you have sisters who love you and there are things you can do to cling and draw near and learn and grow, just as we all are.

      Thank you for bravely sharing your situation, and for being willing to learn new things. Where there is life, there is breath. And hope.

      Love to you,

  9. Just to offer you ladies a word of encouragement. I was feeling so overwhelmed this morning thinking of all the things I am not – having trouble with “my mouth” by not saying things correctly, or speaking when I should be silent. Also, thinking “I am not a very good sex partner, I am not submissive enough, and the list can so on and on. I told my husband I was feeling overwhelmed. He said: “Just be yourself.” Wow, THAT is a million dollar comment. And I thought about it and realized that the Lord knows most of us are trying to do our best. Perhaps we just need to give ourselves, and our husbands, some slack. Anyhow, it certainly took some of the pressure of from me.

    • GORGEOUS! 🙂 He wired us to be the way we are, don’t you agree? 🙂 Thank you for your encouraging words, lovely!
      Love to you,

  10. Nina – thank you for this instruction. I am learning and it’s working. It matters “how” we say things to our husbands. Are we setting discussion up for healthy communication, or does he feel attacked and right away needing to defend himself? I am SO glad my husband gave me The Respect Dare 2 month ago…So glad the Lord has blessed you with this gift to us women in hard marriages!

    • Whenever I read the more submissive/respectful replies, questions, etc Here or on other articles, I find them wordy and flowery. When I share them with hubby, he finds them annoyingly manipulative. He’d rather I speak to him straight. “Hey, hon. We’re out if milk. Can u stop by the store and get a gallon of whole, please?” None of this, “if you”re not too busy….if it isn’t an inconvenience…blah blah blah.”. To him that is whiny and manipulative. I give him a simple yes or no answer and respect his reply.

      Why do these submissive/respectful examples sound so doormatty and beggy?

      Why do disclaimers and caveats have to put added to a simple question?

      It is stuff like this that has my husband and other men he’s spoken to complaining about the “head games” we women play. Don’t hint and blab about the restaurant you want to go to….just straight out ask! Or arrange the date, yourself.

      To my hubby, asking straight and allowing him a yes or no response is respectful. Backing him in a corner with words is condescending. Whether or not that is the iintent, that is how it comes across.

      • Libl –

        I don’t disagree. Disclaimers and caveats. Not necessary for those in healthy relationships.


        For the too-many women dealing with extremely overbearing or domineering or controlling men – they are a necessity.

        Because, even a simple “Good morning” can cause a defensive (even aggressive) response in some of those guys.

        I’m glad you are in a relationship where you can talk plainly with your husband. Submission and respect are not usually issues for women in those type of relationships. Their husband is loving, caring and sees them as a person of value.

        The other men don’t look at their wives that way.

        I’m not fond of “hints,” either, regardless, but with men who have so much insecurity that they need to shove their authority down other people’s throats, we see wives trying to live out the scriptures that tell her that as much as it is up to her, to live peacefully.

        And we have compassion for them, because there, but for the grace of God, go us.

        Thanks for your comments.

        Love to you,

  11. Last night I felt convicted to bring up a past (few months ago) hurtful comment he made towards me, which has been weighing me down from doing anything extra nice for him. He took it completely the wrong way and walked away from me saying under his breath he should just lie and tell me only what I want to hear (he is not a believer). I read this this morning and Leah’s comment. I’m working on learning to speak in a gentle/respectful way – it’s hard because I was not modeled this at any point in my life so it’s definitely not natural for me (I want to do it! But I’m struggling with ‘what’ to say). So I sent my hubby an email (sign of the ages…) with the remark Leah made saying “I love you, and I am trying to get better about my words but I’m not good with them yet. Could you please give me the benefit of the doubt that I am communicating out of love and working to get better?”

    And that cut through whatever he thought my intentions were by bringing up the issue and saw it for what it was – a growing opportunity for me (I was asking him to clarify what he said months ago that the little things I do as a wife mean nothing – was he saying it months ago out of malice/frustration or did he mean it? If he meant it then I’d look for different ways to show love or affirm him).

    This is definitely where I am – learning to talk the talk. Thanks Leah for the example phrase above….the way I would have worded it would have likely been defensive for me and put him on the defense, which is not what I wanted.

    • Praise God. 🙂 We’re all learning – and will be forever! So glad you are here!
      Love to you, beautiful~

  12. When in doubt think about cows . To eat grass their necks need to reach the ground not stretch for the trees. For an inch in either direction they would not cows, as that they would be unable to complete the tasks of eating grass and being cows- they would be giraffes or goats. We are all perfectly suited to the tasks of our being. Even when we don’t know what we are meant for yet Sounds wonderfully convoluted, yes? Simplicity is the root. Our talents are diverse, but they all share the common purpose of being the gift that we were given to give back to the world. No other creature was gifted with this purpose or this ability. Our purpose then becomes clear, to give gratefully, receive gracefully and to be in alignment with what we were created to do.

    • Okay, Mandi, I love your writing and your heart…

      And I’m from Montana, so I can’t think about cows. Horses, yes. Cows… I just can’t. 🙂 (This is my attempt at being humorous…btw… hope it works. 🙂 not that I am anti-cow, btw, I love to eat them.) SO at any rate, I’m going to think of horses. 🙂
      Love to you,

  13. Hi Nina….I have been married for 3 short but hard years. We are on our 4th separation. He is 700 miles away and emotionally exiled. I didn’t have good modeling of respect and submission, and have always been blamed for all our problems. According to him, he has nothing to change. He is a believer, but not broken…yet. I agree with biblical submission, but have struggled with its application. I always thought if I could do better, be “just so”, things would change, but that was in my own strength. I have since learned the word narcissism and what controlling, emotional abusive behaviors look like. I have also learned that biblical submission is not blind obedience, but requires Godly, responsible leadership, and that its ok to set healthy boundaries and maintain self-respect in marriage. In this time, I have prayed for practical teaching on submission, literally, what does that look like in word and deed? I only came across your blog and peacefulwife yesterday, and can’t get enough. Its just what I asked for, and am praying God uses this time to mold me into the wife He wants me to be. I trust Him to heal and restore, and for opportunities for my husband to see where I am growing and becoming more like Jesus. Thanks for allowing Him to teach and speak through you.

    • I’m so glad you are here. 🙂 I’m glad you are on the journey with us – and I can’t wait to see how you grow and change with us along the way. Know that your husband has his own walk with God, and your focus should be on pleasing the Father first. Your husband will need lots of prayer in the coming months. 🙂 Hang in there, beautiful. I’m so sorry for what you are enduring. You are not alone.
      Love to you,

  14. Dear Nina, where to begin! I love your blog…looked for the Respect Dare last night. I have a hard marriage. Watched my mother in a hard marriage. My father was an alcoholic. My husband has had problems with pornography, he’s very immature, he calls names. I struggle with submission. I’ve felt like I’ve had to protect myself from this man (who is supposed to love honor cherish). I have been w/out hope so many times and have wanted to give up. I’ve shut down emotionally, sought counseling, prayed, fasted, etc! But I feel like I need to learn to respect and submit to my husband. I haven’t done that…thank you for the blogs, the honesty.

    • Any good you see is Him in me, Winnie. SO glad you are here. You are NOT alone! 🙂 We are learning and growing together, gorgeous! And God is so very good all the time. I’m so excited about what lies ahead for you! 🙂 CBD has the book for cheap as does Amazon if it’s not in a store locally for you. Prayers for you this morning, lovely!

      Love to you,

  15. I think so many people mistake the connotations of being ‘submissive’ with the actual act of ‘submission’. Subtle yes, but only one allows for mutual and respectful changes in posture, language and approach. That is submission. That is what we do when we speak to each other with softer faces and voices, with gentle postures.

    • OH.
      Nice catch. I’m going to go back to the original word in Hebrew and get my study on… 🙂 There’s probably even more nuggets here. 🙂 Thank you, Shanyn. Our culture is lamesauce sometimes.
      Love to you,

  16. LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE THIS. We are too scared of the “s” word because it makes us weak. And people will read those questions and say that that is “manipulation”. If we are seeking God always he will lead you in this. Submission won’t be weakness and questions won’t be manipulation – they will just be the tools to a happy marriage. And if you mess up, you can say to hubby “I love you and I know that you need these things from me, but I’m not good as it yet. Could you please give me the benefit of the doubt that I am communicating out of love and working to get better?”

    • YES.
      Agreed. Thank you for this – and I love the coaching for when we err! It WILL happen!
      Glad you are here, Leah!
      Love to you,

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