As Christian wives, we will be making decisions each day that affect our relationships with our husbands. Here is an example of the simple interactions that occur and often cause us the most difficulty. Susie (not her real name), a wife and mother, writes:
What should we as wives expect in the way of being a part of decisions made in the home? I wholeheartedly agree that our husbands have the final say in all matters, and they have the right to consult us or not. My question is mainly: is it unbiblical to request that my husband come to me before he announces to the whole family a decision he has made? This is not necessarily so I have the opportunity to change his mind but because he will often make changes to plans or make decisions, and I feel like an outsider. I don’t have a chance to work through any feelings or problems I see with a problem before he has already told the kids and me. It feels insulting to me that he would tell them and me at the same time.
Recently my husband made an abrupt change of plans. The children were disappointed, and I was too. I reacted improperly, and the whole night was miserable. My contention was that if he had made me a part of the change from the start, I could have gotten over my problems and been on his side much easier. Seeing their disappointment coupled with my own and the fact that he didn’t bring me in on it was totally overwhelming.
The next day we had another major situation that he wanted to take care of in a certain way. He brought me in private and told me what he wanted to do “so I wouldn’t have a fit in front of the kids.” I had something different in mind, and we were able to discuss it. He gave in to me because he saw my point. I don’t expect him to give in to me every time nor do I think it is feasible to do this every time. But this is the way I would prefer things to work. Is this biblical or not?
I think for Christian women, what Susie described here is a very real situation that many, if not most of us, have faced. It presents us a great opportunity to delve into the husband-and-wife issues at hand here. These are not the extremes of abuse but rather the kinds of everyday happenings that occur in Christian marriages. As wives, we must biblically decide how we will respond. I write this Mom’s Corner because the area of submission is still a regular battle for me with my flesh. Right now I need the reminders I will write in this article. I think I make two steps forward only to soon find myself at least one step back again.
First, let’s look at Susie’s situation where her husband sprang a disagreeable change of direction on the children and her without discussing it with her beforehand. Certainly, the key to a loving, growing husband-and-wife relationship is communication. Generally, decisions will be discussed by a husband and wife and agreed upon. However, it certainly isn’t beyond reason to expect times to arise where prior discussion hasn’t happened. It may be that the time for talking wasn’t available. It could be that the husband doesn’t think the situation is major enough to warrant taking communication time. He may feel sure his wife will be in sync with him, so he doesn’t see the need for prior discussion. But if she is unhappily surprised, then what?
This becomes our opportunity to test our hearts. It is easy to submit when we agree. It is hardly submission at all, is it? The crisis comes when we disagree. What kind of response do we want from our children if they don’t care for what we have asked them to do? Of course we prefer a happy smile and cheerful compliance. We have the chance to model this for our children in these everyday situations with our husbands.
I am ashamed to say that my displeasure, which is evident to both my husband and my children, is seldom, if ever, necessary. It generally rises from my personal biases. We aren’t talking sin issues here, but rather preferences. My reactions show my pride, not my meek and quiet spirit. They are a reflection of my continued selfishness and need to control to get my own way.
In Susie’s story, she tells us of her reaction to her husband’s decision: I reacted improperly, and the whole night was miserable. As I read her story, though, rather than repenting of her unsubmissive attitude, I see Susie wanting to blame her husband for her sin—trying to make it his fault rather than hers. I struggle with this so much. In my pride, I don’t want to be wrong and, worse yet, to be at fault. I want to find a way to pin my failure on something Steve didn’t do right. Then I don’t feel so bad or view my wrong reaction as sin. I have an excuse for it.
I would encourage us to accept our responsibility for our failures and not put the blame elsewhere. It is nothing more than my pride that won’t let me simply say, “My reaction was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” I want God’s grace in my life to help me be a wife that honors, respects, and submits to her husband. What does God say about pride? “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). I want and need God’s grace. This verse tells me that His grace is given to me through my humility—saying I was wrong and asking for forgiveness—and that He resists me when I am proud—making excuses for my sin or blaming it on someone else.
We want our husbands to be strong, godly leaders. However, we often encourage the exact opposite tendency by our own words, attitudes, and actions. Consider the second situation Susie describes. Her husband does what she asks him to do by sharing his plans with her privately before he tells the children. Rather than using this information to help her have a positive attitude in front of the children, she expresses her disagreement with his direction. Wow, could I relate to that scenario. My own words don’t match my actions. Instead of putting up a fight, Susie’s husband goes with what she wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt he was in a situation where no matter what he did, he couldn’t please his wife. Steve has told me that when we were in the midst of a similar situation. We wives seem to struggle so much with letting go and truly letting our husbands lead.
Scripture seems to be full of admonition and warnings of what happens to us, who are wives, and those around us if we choose this path of controlling:
“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing” (Proverbs 9:13).
“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Proverbs 21:9). (Proverbs 25:24 says almost the same thing.)
“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19).
“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).
Then we have these verses, which give a wife a picture of an obedient walk with Jesus Christ:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5).
“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” (1 Peter 3:1).
We have a choice set before us each day. We can be wise women who build our houses, or we can be foolish ones who pluck them down. I pray that we will consider well how we can build our houses to bring joy and peace to those who live there. Who do we want to please? Jesus Christ? Our husbands? Ourselves? It is our decision. May we be women who take joy in obedience to Jesus Christ through submission to our husbands.