Submission is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.”
Growing up, the mentality that women were supposed to submit, obey, and be under the rule of their husbands was very prominent in our small community.
I always thought that we had received the unfortunate lot in life, that men were considered somewhat more valuable in the sight of God. After all, didn’t men have the freedom to make all the rules and decisions?
After getting married, I did my best to be a sweet submissive wife. However, I also learned that I wasn’t very good at it. I tried to be quiet and go along with my husband’s plans, but inwardly I was bitter that my husband only thought about himself.
He was able to have all the freedom he desired, while I felt that I was under a ruler who didn’t care a lot about my interests and concerns. Because of my lack of submission, I became a bitter, unforgiving woman.
Does a Wife Truly Need To Be a Submissive Wife?
Submission is something that goes against our carnal nature. We want to get our own way, be heard, be the one in control, and refuse to bend to our husband’s will.
What about when a Wife’s husband isn’t a Christian? Does she still need to submit?
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:22, NIV, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” and Colossians 3:18, KJV, says it again, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”
Nowhere do we see a reference to submitting only when your husband is a believer, but from the day that Eve decided to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, we have struggled to go ahead of our husband and make the decisions.
God told Eve in the Garden that her husband would rule over her (Genesis 3:16), so we knew it would be a hard thing for her.
In 1 Peter 3:1 we read that wives should be in subjection to their husbands so that if any do not obey, they will be won by the actions of their wives. Being a submissive wife can lead our husband to Christ.
God’s Word very clearly states that wives should submit to their own husbands. But what exactly does the submissive wife look like?
How to Be a Submissive Wife
1. Submit to God
Walk closely to God and make him the top priority in your life. James 4:7 tells us that we should submit ourselves to God.
2. Let your Husband be the Leader
God created your husband to be a leader. The Apostle Paul likens our husband’s leadership to Christ’s leadership of the church. Therefore, as the church is subject to Christ, we should be subject to our husband.
“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Ephesians 5:23 ESV
3. Let your Husband make the Final Decision
When faced with a difficult situation, share your input (opinions and thoughts), freely talk about it, pray together, take time to decide, and let your husband make the final decision.
4. Be Helpful
In Genesis 2:18, God said it was not good that man was alone. Therefore, he made a helper for him. Wives, we are called to be a help to our husband. That includes telling him certain viewpoints you might have, that he might not have considered. However, we should always do this with a quiet and humble heart.
5. Accept your Husbands Decisions
When our husband makes a decision that is contrary to our preference, we accept it. Not only in outward appearance but also inwardly. If you disagree, tell him kindly. Then go into your prayer closet and ask God to show your husband the right way.
Don’t interfere with the Holy Spirit. He will guide your husband, even if at times letting him fail. I think there are times that a woman attempts to keep her husband from failure because of bitterness and strife. If we wives can let go of the need to control, we will become more at peace and our husband will learn just as much.
What Being a Submissive Wife Does NOT Mean
Submission does not mean muteness. It does not mean that I am always quiet, never sharing my helpful opinions. In almost every situation it is better to clearly and kindly say it like it is. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love.
An example of this is Esther in the Bible. Her speaking up to her husband saved her people from much distress. In a loving and meek spirit, share your thoughts and opinions with your husbands.
Submission is not servility. It does not mean that we are not allowed to have any interests outside the home. The Bible clearly states that a woman’s primary role is to raise the children, guide the house, and be a keeper at home (Titus 2:4).
However,the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman is a powerful example of a virtuous woman, who uses her gifts and abilities to be a help to her husband. She looks well to the care of her household, and also reaches out her hands to the poor.
Not only is she a caring person, but she is also very industrious and causes her children and husband to rise up and call her blessed.
It does not mean that wives are loved less by God. In the sight of God, we are all equal, for God created us both in His image.
It does not mean we ever tolerate abuse, physical or psychological. We should never submit to sin. Matthew 18:15-17 tells us exactly the steps to take when someone trespasses against us.
Submission does not mean I submit to any other man as I do to my own husband. Both Colossians 3:18, and Ephesians 5:22 tell us that we are to submit to our OWN husband.
The Submissive Wife
Thankfully, after my husband became a born again believer, we started working on our marriage together. As I learned more and more about what it means to be a submissive wife, I found freedom in allowing someone to lead, to take care of me, and someone to take control of situations.
I found freedom in giving up control and placing my trust completely in God. My husband will at times let me down, but I know God never will.
I like to think of submission as putting my mission under the mission of my husband. When we are operating in the right role that God has for us, we are happier and have a better relationship with our husband.
Throughout the years, I have realized that when I am submitting to my husband, it becomes a blessing to me as well.
Submissive Wife Bible Verses
Here are some submissive wife Bible verses to help you remember who you are serving in your submission. God honors obedience (James 1:25). These verses are from the NKJV.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives” 1 Peter 3:1
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
Books on Being a Submissive Wife
Here are some book recommendations about being a submissive wife.
HI! I’m Marilyn, the writer behind Keepers At Home. Having a godly marriage is my passion, for I know that God intended marriages to be a blessing for us, a holy thing that is likened to the church’s relationship with Christ. My husband and I have been married since 2009, and have encountered many joys and trails along the way. With each one, I learn something new about what it means to be a wife after God’s heart. We have been blessed with five children, two boys, and three girls. Together we live on a small farm in Alberta, Canada.