A discussion broke out in the comments of Are You Making These Marriage Mistakes about submission.
Should you be submissive to your partner in marriage?
Or more specifically as the comment thread went: should a wife submit to her husband’s leadership?
This has been a common discussion in several comment threads throughout the years here at Simple Marriage. So let’s dive deeper into this, shall we?
As we begin, let’s tackle the religious aspect often associated with this topic.
While I personally believe in the concept of the husband is the head of the household, this is a spiritual head and a physical presence, not a lord over or king of or dominating leader. The husband is looked to for the physical protection of his family, as well as to provide an overall life direction and purpose for his family.
If the man is to be the head of the household, it is done in collaboration with his wife, utilizing and incorporating her strengths for the benefit of all the family members. A marriage is a partnership, where both members operate from their strengths and defer to each other when necessary.
This is all part of a grown up relationship.
But religious connotations aside, we submit to things all around us, every day.
If you drive a car, you submit to the other cars around you. If you walk in the city, you allow others to go before you, you may hold the door for others, or move to the side to let them by.
Point is, submission is part of life in community with others.
In relationships, we submit to our spouse’s preferences on things. Come on fellas, you mean you would have plants and nice pictures on the walls and potpourri in your house if you were a bachelor? We also submit to one another in conversations, date nights, parenting, and even during sex.
To be clear, there is a difference between submit and obey.
Our world is brought into order through submission. It’s part of God’s design and creation of the world and society.
Submitting however, is based on choice. And choice can only come from an inherent equality within the relationship. Obeying is based on a hierarchy within the relationship.
Let me explain.
At the core, I believe relationships, especially marriage, are choice. And this choice has a foundation of love.
If a relationship is based on love, choice must be part of it. If there is no choice, it’s manipulation. It’s control. There has to be a way out of the relationship for there to be any presence of love. If there’s no a way out, there’s no love.
So, in choosing your spouse, if you hope to have love as part of the marriage, in essence you are submitting to them. Because you must give them the opportunity to choose you, just as you do them.
Submission also is often thought of as something negative.
It’s reverence, respect, honor, or choice. And each of these things begets itself.
For example, respect begets respect. Want more respect in your relationship? Give more of it. You can’t make your spouse give it to you, that’s up to them. Same thing with choice. You can’t make your partner choose you, all you can do is present something that’s worth choosing – making it all the more important that you grow up in marriage.
Back to the Scriptures that talk about submission a moment: submit to one another out of reverence for Christ; wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord; and husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church. If a husband is not loving towards his wife, how can he possibly expect her to be submissive towards him?
For things to function at an optimum level in our world, there has to be an order to things.
Parents are to be the parents, not the children. Other rules and laws are in place for communities and nations to flourish. In the same way, there is a structure and order to how households and relationships operate.
Every aspect of life offers the chance to lead or follow. To love or manipulate. To submit or follow your own desire.
So, should submission be a part of marriage? Absolutely!
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