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Submitting to Your Husband: The Basics

Faith, Marriage
Submitting to our husbands in marriage can be tough! It's not something that is widely talked about, and it takes some practice to get it right. If you've ever wondered how in the world you'll be able to give into submission in marriage as God intended, this post is for you! Click through to read some of the basics I have been learning on how to submit to my husband!

I’ll admit it…when I first thought about submitting to my husband, I immediately dismissed the idea.

 

That’s for those crazy, pioneer women!”

“It’s the 21st century!”

“My husband and I are equal. Why on Earth should I submit to him??”

 

I bet you can relate to at least one of those statements in some way. Becvause of our sin nature as humans, it doesn’t usually come naturally to us to submit to our mate, and the age we live in doesn’t help much either. Everywhere I turn, I see women pushing boundaries to be “equal” or prove that they are able to do anything a man can do and probably better. And while that is probably true in a lot of cases, the urge to push boundaries and become the quintessential “independent woman” seems to be a cry for purpose and stability. (in my opinion)


Okay, let me back up a bit. What are we talking about here? What does it mean to submit to our husbands anyway? Where am I even getting all of this? Check out the verses below. I’ve added 3 different bible translations to make it a bit easier to understand!

 

(1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, whenΒ they see your respectful and pure conduct.

(NIV) Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,Β when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

(The Message) The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearanceβ€”the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothesβ€”but your inner disposition.

 

These verses seem to ruffle a lot of feathers in our modern world, but let me tell you something…submitting to my husband in our marriage has only changed it for the better. I think that when we hear the word “submission” it brings up thoughts of being a slave to our husband or spending all day cooking and cleaning for a man that doesn’t appreciate us. Am I right? Well, that’s what I thought, at least. πŸ˜‰ I was forgetting who I married, though! I didn’t marry a man that would see my submitting to him as something that he could take advantage of. I didn’t marry a man that views submission as a way to tower over me with power. I married a godly man who views my submission to him and respect for him as a beautiful thing, and he returns the favor with his unconditional love.

 

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.Β Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. -Colossians 3:18-19

 

This verse right here is how it all fits together to create a marriage that works. I wouldn’t feel comfortable submitting to my husband if he didn’t value that act and love me with his whole heart in return. My deepest need, as a woman, is to be loved unconditionally and cherished wholeheartedly. His deepest need, as a man, is to be respected and valued by me. By submitting to my husband and being a noble wife to him, I am fulfilling that need!

 

Related: Β 13 Things to Know Before Getting Married

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Okay, let’s get to it. What the heck do I mean byΒ submission?

 

To me, submission means…

  • respecting my husband’s desire to lead our family and allowing him to do so
  • sometimes asking permission for things that, normally, I would do without a second thought (we are in this together)
  • praying for him when he is struggling to lead
  • praying for myself when I am struggling to allow him to lead in his own way
  • acting in modesty in everyday life and striving to reflect him in a positive light to others
  • thinking of his needs before my own
  • making the choice to make intimacy a priority
  • seeking unity with him over individuality and ambition in the world
  • not criticizing him, speaking badly about him to others, or thinking negative things about him
  • encouraging him and uplifting him as much as possible

 

Wow! Even just typing that all out makes it feel like being a submissive wife is impossible! There is no way that I accomplish all those things every single day. I am definitely not the picture-perfect wife…no woman is. The key is that we remind ourselves of these things, and try our best to do them. In a nutshell, being a submissive wife means stepping aside a bit so that God can show our husbands how to lead our family in the way He intended. It’s about giving grace and respect to our husbands on a daily basis. It’s about being obedient to God by embracing the roles of marriage as He outlined them in the Bible!

 

“Okay, I get it. But how do I get started? This is all so foreign to me, and I’m not sure about this submission thing or how to implement it.”Β 

 

Give up some things

Hear me. You do not have to do everything. I know that as women, we often feel like if we don’t do things, they just won’t get done right. Now, that may be true πŸ˜‰ but that doesn’t mean that we need to be in charge of every little thing! It’s time to hand over the reins to our husbands. When we stop micro-managing and nagging, we create an environment much more conducive to a happy family. When we allow our husbands to take charge of things instead of saying, “No, honey…I’ll just do it so it gets done the way I like it.”, we make them feel valued and strong. If you’re “wearing the pants” in your marriage (I’m talking to my old self, here), take them off, and hand them to your husband. Let him take the lead, and watch your marriage flourish.

 

Get intimate

Speaking of taking off pants…get intimate! Are you tired of hearing about this one yet? Well, if you are…get used to it. I have said it once, and I will say it again…

 

Opening my heart and allowing God to work on the intimacy in our marriage has been the best thing I have ever done.

 

Men NEED sex. Now, I know that’s blunt, but hear me out. Intimacy isn’t just something in our marriage that we can wave off and discredit as, “Oh, he’s just being aΒ guy.” Sex is very much tied to the emotional part of a man’s brain. I’m not going to go way deep into it, but if you haven’t already, check out the experiment I did in my own marriage! (Read: Β My Intimacy Experiment)

 

Now, how exactly does getting intimate = submission in marriage? When we submit to our husband’s desire and NEED to have an intimate, emotional connection with us in the marriage bed, we are showing him that we respect the ways in which he feels love. Each and every time that we have sex with our husbands, we are validating the marriage vows said on our wedding day. We are saying, “I care about you, and I want to prove it.” It’s not about getting it over with or just doing it because that’sΒ allΒ that men want. It’s about acknowledging his need for intimacy and deciding to be obedient to God by submitting to our husbands.

 

Ask more questions

I know that for me, it’s really easy for me to to just go ahead make A LOT of the decisions regarding our everyday life and spending habits without really thinking twice about Alex. I mean, I’m the one who does all the shopping for groceries, I do a lot of the cleaning, and I generally am better at remembering the events we have coming up or the things around the house that we are running out of. I used to use this excuse all the time when justifying why I made the budget without really consulting Alex or why it was okay for me to make plans for us without asking him how he felt about them.

 

It was only after gentle prodding from the Lord and a few comments by Alex, that I really got convicted about submission and what it would mean for my marriage. I now realize that, even though I probably do know better what we need for our home or what events are coming up, it still means a lot in my marriage when I ask my husband for his opinion. I know that when I discuss the budget with him he probably won’t have a single thing he wants to change, but that’s not the point. Each time that I make it a priority to include him and show that I value his opinion and guidance, I am reaffirming that he is the leader of this family. I am reaffirming his position as the head of this household, and I know it’s what God demands of me!

 

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Encourage him to lead in prayer

Oh, how I love when my husband leads us in prayer! First, because I’m a little shy about praying out loud in front of him and second, it’s so nice to hear the things he asks the Lord for and to hear how his faith is growing each and every day. And Alex has expressed that he enjoys doing it and feeling like he’s really leading us in a good direction. The moral of the story? Encourage him to lead the two of you in prayer! The more that you ask him to pray for the two of you in the middle of tough situations, the more second nature it will become for him (and the two of you) to turn to God in times of trouble! This kind of leading on his part may be the most important of all.

 

Where does submission come in here? Well, I’m a talker. I used to always talk my husband to death after an argument or a tough marital decision-making session. I would poke and prod until finally he gave in and told me all the things I wanted to hear to soothe my worried heart. It could last for hours…no joke. I finally submitted to the Lord and my husband instead of my own desires, and it’s made a huge difference! Instead of leaning on words of affirmation aimed solely at me, I’m now encouraging my husband to speak to God on behalf of our marriage to receive affirmation and grace from God! I’m submitting to the Holy Spirit by allowing Him first dibs on helping us through our situation. And I’m submitting to my husband by respecting his need for space instead of hours of conversation and softly encouraging him to lead us in prayer. Give this one a try in your marriage, and see what happens!

Related: Β 5 Ways to Guard Your Marriage

 

Don’t leave him in the dark

One of the easiest things you can do to get started is to talk to your husband about the changes you’re trying to make in your marriage! Don’t leave him in the dark! If you’re not sure how to get started in submitting to your husband, try talking to him about it and see what his suggestions might be. Chances are, not all of the things on this list will work for you. I’m hoping that at least one things does, but I hope this at least sparks interest for a conversation between the two of you! Telling your husband about the new things you’re going to try also gives him a chance to back you up + give you some grace if you start to slip a bit. The main thing is to find what works for the two of you!


Lastly, I just want to make one last point that hopefully gives you the extra boost needed to get started on this journey with your husband. Sometimes, our husbands can be big ol’ brats. πŸ˜‰ I totally understand what it’s like to be frustrated by this whole submission thing because you feel like your husband is the one that needs to change. At first, I resisted this whole thing because I felt like my husband needed the extreme marriage makeover…not me. Both of us needed to start making changes. If you’re having trouble mentally giving your husband grace so that you can start making changes on your end, I encourage you to think of how many times God has offered you grace when you didn’t deserve it. It’s on a daily basis for me! God loves us and is so patient with us even when we mess up time and time again. If you’re getting irritated by the things your husband is doing, don’t let that deter you from embarking on the journey to be the wife God designed you to be! We aren’t called to respect our husbands because we feel they deserve it. We are called to respect them because we made a marriage vow. It’s all about asking God to help us offer grace and respect to our husbands just as God gives us grace time and time again!

 

Let’s chat! How do you feel about the topic of submission in marriage? Is it something that you struggle with as well?

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45 Comments

  • Reply
    abby
    July 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Wow. Just wow. I love this so much. It is wrote so well, so true, so practical. Thank you for writing and sharing this. I relate to this. Me and my hubby are newlyweds & I long & desire to learn more about what submission REALLY means AND looks like. This helps me a lot!! <3

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      July 17, 2017 at 6:46 am

      Congrats on your marriage! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    March 13, 2017 at 7:38 am

    This is beautifully written! What a wonderful and gentle reminder for us wives of the precious role that God has intended for us! Love this! Thank you πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      March 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Yay! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Sam
    January 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I am soooo struggling with this right now. My husband doesn’t want any more children, and I really want another one. Nothing I’ve said has changed his mind, and I’m hurt because I feel that space in my heart for another baby. But I’m going to pay that God will give me a submissive heart, and work on hubby in His time. It’s so hard! Please pray for me.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      February 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      I will absolutely be praying for you! I know that it can be tough, but we must trust God to work in our marriages in the way that is best for us. Prayer is the best course of action always!

      • Reply
        beadthing16
        February 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm

        It is sooo AMAZING what changes have been made since submitting to my husband in this. After making this (very public) commitment to giving my desire for another baby to God, I have been at peace. My husband has asked me several times “do you want more kids?” and I’ve replied each time that it is between him and God. They can hash it out. I am content, and happy with my family. I have even started letting go of clutter that was in the hope of another child, content in the knowledge that if another comes we will be provided for. It took a lot of guts to submit, and it’s soooo tough on the pride! But it has given me so much peace and helped me in my marriage too. I would encourage anyone else thinking about this to give it to God because you can only reap peace.

        • Reply
          Carisa Alford
          March 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

          What a success story! God is so good! Thank you so much for sharing what God is doing in your life!

  • Reply
    April
    December 6, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    thank you so much for this it has opened my eyes and my heart for god to move on my marriage.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      December 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. God bless you!

  • Reply
    Rachel Stewart
    November 27, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I have an amazing husband that makes it easy to submit to on most occasions. However, i have a friend that is struggling with thoights of separation and divorce. Her husband has become addicted to pain killers, and stays in denial about it: caught in many lies, doesnt want to work on thier marriage, and claims that every problem is nonexistent and she should just ‘get over it’. I know what the word says, but I lack the wisdom to guide her through her situation.

    How can I give her practical ways and steps toward possibly submitting her marriage to the Lord?

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      December 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      First, prayer! I think that’s the best advice I can give on the situation. God guides us through everything, so give your concerns to Him and ask for guidance. Keep searching for articles, devotionals, videos, podcasts, etc. that might be helpful, and pass them along if she is willing. She is so lucky to have a friend like you!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    November 6, 2016 at 12:43 am

    This is nuts.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      November 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

      I would love to know why you think this πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rosanne Jimenez
    October 23, 2016 at 1:53 am

    “I wouldn’t feel comfortable submitting to my husband if…” I appreciate your post and also your attitude about this whole subject. This particular part of your post though, doesn’t work for everyone-doesn’t for me. Maybe I missed/overlooked something so I give you the benefit of the doubt if that is the case πŸ˜‰ I just want to say that quite often I am not at all “comfortable” submitting to my saved husband. Although he is saved he doesn’t spend time with the Lord in quite prayer and I don’t great response or much cooperation when I ask him to pray with me (plainly, nice as can be, just requesting). He doesn’t say anything nice except in bed. He has said Thanks for dinner, etc. about 10 times…ever. Never compliments me. I am not trying to complain…here’s the point. NONE of this makes it okay for me to not submit’ I am accountable for how I treat others, not how they treat me. 1 Cor 13 makes it super duper clear that my love for God will make it completely possible, through God’s grace, to love and serve my husband respectfully even when in a disappointing and discouraging situation. My comfort is not God’s concern but rather being conformed to the image of His son. I know some will probably think my husband isn’t really saved or I was a fool for marrying him. We weren’t saved when we met but had 2 kids together. I came to the Lord separated from him since we weren’t married. Prayed and waited and after 3 years he was truly saved, I waited anther year. We married. He grew to a toddler age (spiritually) and then stopped. I know it is my duty to pray more and that with God all things are possible. Jesus is my best friend and I rejoice to think that someday I will have eternity with Him…all I want is to be with Him and know Him more. His grace makes each day and everything we face possible; doable; victory is already won! πŸ™‚ God speed.

  • Reply
    Elise
    October 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

    The thought that popped into my head as I read you talking about men’s emotional needs in having sex is how many times we do it just because we’re supposed to and because we all know men need sex, and so on. And we may (sometimes even resentfully) submit “physically” to him, but are not even an ounce submitted to him in that crucial, way more important area of “emotionally” being submitted to him.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      October 6, 2016 at 1:50 am

      I totally know what you mean! I just read a blog post today that might help if you’re feeling this way! http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2016/09/move-beyond-obligation-sex-real-freedom/

      • Reply
        Em
        November 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        I can relate to this the only thing is I get angry with him over checking out other women. Never cheating though and I have an issue with resentment towards him because he spends so much time doing for his parents when they 3 other kids who could help. So am I to just sit back shut my mouth and allow him to act this way

        • Reply
          Carisa Alford
          December 31, 2016 at 1:06 pm

          I know how you feel when it comes to submitting when we know our husbands aren’t perfect. It can be tough. It’s not up to us to change them, though! I think communication about the thoughts you’re having and turning to God in prayer will help immensely!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I’m so glad I came across this article! Although I’m not married, I often feel like it. I’ve been in a relationship for over a year now and we share a child together, we have our differences but our number one goal is always trying to keep God as our foundation. If it wasn’t for the man in my life who’s introduced me to a whole other level of spirituality, I don’t know where I’d be. After reading this, I find my self doing almost exactly the same exact tendencies and we’re not even married but now I see that if I can fix this now before our big day then that will be awesome this is so encouraging! Thank you! ❀️

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      October 5, 2016 at 12:13 am

      That’s a great goal to have, and if you keep Him as your center, everything else will flow a bit easier in your upcoming marriage! xoxo!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 15, 2016 at 10:36 am

    This was so well thought, well spoken and well written. And to those who automatically turn their nose up at it when reading the title are definitely missing out. This has nothing to do with feminism; its about love and validating your love to your partner. Those who reject to see this in that way are just sheep following the leader that is social media. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      September 18, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      You are TOO kind, and I appreciate your comment so much! Let’s keep spreading God’s design for marriage!

  • Reply
    Casey Capra
    September 14, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Oh my goodness, thank you for writing this. As a newlywed, I am always looking for godly role models of wives who understand biblical submission. This is so beautiful, and convicting, and makes me so excited to learn greater submission!
    Thanks again:)

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      September 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting girl! It can be overwhelming as a new wife, but we can surround ourselves with other wives who love God!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 5, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    What a joke

  • Reply
    Mila
    August 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Carisa!
    I have a little dilemma that I would love for your advice on. My mother is such a godly woman. She somehow manages to be so humble and submissive to my father, who does not respect her as much as I think he can. This in turn is scaring me from getting married because my father was raised in a household where the women were not respected. My brothers take after my father and treat me the same. We were all raised as Christians but sometimes I don’t see this in my father and brothers. Is there anything I can do to make this change and stop scaring me from my future?

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      September 2, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Hey girl! Thanks for taking the time to comment! First, I want to say that I am no expert in this area, so this is just my opinion. Take your concern to God! At times, those in our lives don’t act the way they should, and it sounds like your mom is doing the best she can to love her husband regardless of the faults he may have. That’s all we can do! Just pray that God sends you a man that respects and loves you, and move forward in love for those that maybe aren’t on the same page yet. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    August 24, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    I loved it. It is very helpful. Keeping god in the picture is beautiful.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    August 24, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Excellent post! Much needed! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    August 23, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Ugh. So what if our husband isn’t a picture perfect Godly man? What if he does take advantage of your submission and you end up spending all your days cooking and cleaning and giving up your goals for his? What if he has ADHD and his executive function occasionally checks out and he can’t manage finances or stay attentive to the children to keep them safe? My hubby was a Godly church leader and I prayed hard for him and don’t doubt God brought us together, but this advice just doesn’t work for every marriage. It actually nearly ruined us for me to defer to him as often as I was being taught at church, and it wasn’t until we sought Christian counseling and realized what was going on with him, only then did I have “permission” to step in where my husband couldn’t perform. It is pat advice about marriage that just makes church feel so irrelevant to us now. We love God too, even if we do.things a little different.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      I definitely don’t doubt at all that you can love God just as much and do things differently. I think there are exceptions in every circumstance, I just try to show what works for us and how it lines up with the bible!

  • Reply
    Dawn
    August 23, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    This was a wonderful post. I loved seeing this from a “younger wife” standpoint. (I’m a little older than you are. LOL) It gives me hope for the generations to come that there will be more Godly marriages. I blog about marriage as well and love reading others’ perspective. keep up the great work.

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      I’ll have to check out your blog as well! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Pam Millis
    August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

    The ultimate example of true submission is our Lord Jesus in going to the cross! This was NOT an easy thing for Him. in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46) three times He prayed both asking for the “cup” to be removed and yet yielding / submitting to the will of His Father. The Son – Who is equally God with the Father – submitted to the The Father’s will for the fulfillment of Salvation’s plan!! (“For the joy set before Him…He endured the cross!” Heb 12:2) As wives, one together with our husbands, we can find ultimate joy in our marriages by doing it God’s way! Great post!

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for reading, and I agree with you completely!

  • Reply
    Vicki
    August 21, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Hello. I loved what you said. Sadly, I wasn’t aware of what he Bible taught wives 25 years ago. My husband and I are separated and he is with somebody else. Since the introduction of someone else, obviously, I was devastated. In searching for comfort, peace and guidance I started attending church. I read and study the Word to the best of my ability. Anyway, my point is, if you are married, treat your husband as the Lord intended. Don’t be unforgiving, don’t hold grudges and communicate! Bless you all πŸ™πŸ»

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      This is great advice, and I’m so happy to hear that you are back in church! Keep praying and keep improving, and I know that the Lord will bless you in your new journey!

  • Reply
    Alisha
    August 20, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I loved this advice so much… This will make for great marriages if we fulfill our roles as wives!

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’m so happy that you took the time to read it!

  • Reply
    HeavenOnEarth
    August 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Such a great post Carisa! I love learning more about submission for the day I get married – it seems tough to do but praise God through Him He will help us live out His perfect plan for marriage! The way He knows it works best! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Carisa Alford
      August 8, 2016 at 7:12 am

      You know, it is tough…but what is tougher, is having a failing marriage! This has been such a blessing for us, and I know that it will do the same for you in your future marriage!

    What are your thoughts?