by Cathy Haynie
(As published in Jackson Christian Family Magazine, June 2004)
Managing a busy home requires various tools such as a calendar, a to do list, various organizational products, cleaning supplies, and lots of time and energy. A marriage is much the same way. Married couples have to clean out and plan and set target areas, and give lots of time and energy to their marriage as well. A recent discussion along these lines turned into a challenge on the concept of submission and its role in marriage. Submission has various connotations, but let's look at it from one angle, preferring someone over yourself.
Submission is certainly a Biblical concept, and we are instructed to submit to authority, wives to submit to husbands, and in Ephesians 5:21, to submit to each other. This preferring of someone over ourselves is difficult to live out, but it is managing our marriage in the finest sense. Though the ideas that follow are geared toward women, men, you aren't off the hook! Our marriage is to be a picture of the relationship that Christ has with his bride, the church. Christ gave up His life, the ultimate act of preferring someone over ones self.
When a Christ-centered marriage places the man in the headship, it is not un usual to see the man in service to his family, just as Christ was seen serving the church. In a true reflection of Christ's relationship to the church, both wife and husband are serving. Therefore desiring to be a Biblically submissive wife, you will want to consider ways to prefer your husband over yourself:
1. Make decisions with his counsel if he has left the decision up to you.
I don't mean what to serve for dinner, but decisions that will have ramifications on your family should be made with his input.
2. Surrender to him as the last word.
You are probably quite capable of being in charge and of making good, wise decisions. In fact, you might even be accustomed to being in charge. When first married, Jack would jokingly refer to me as "Julie, the cruise ship director" (you may remember her from the Television show, The Love Boat.) In various roles, such as teaching, I was used to being in charge, and with my clipboard in hand I liked being in charge. As I learned to let my husband lead and learned to defer decisions to him, he accepted the lead and made good decisions. Perhaps you think your mate just could not be the leader or does not even want to be, but have you continued to defer to him anyway as the head of your home?
3. Fulfill your responsibilities with him in mind.
Homemaking responsibilities, such as cooking, keeping house, and doing laundry can be done with thoughtfulness towards your spouse. This thoughtfulness can usurp any drudgery these tasks may have for you.
4. Never Nag.
We often want our husband to accomplish our agenda. We want him to get rid of annoying habits. We want his help with the baby or the dishes or the yard. We want him to pick up his clothes, spend his free time with us, and be the perfect father, husband, church member, and employee. It can be hard to relax those expectations! Accept his imperfections just the way you want him to accept yours. God's word speaks to a woman's nagging in the following Proverbs:
Better to live on the corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. (21:9)
Better to live in a dessert than with a quarrelsome wife. (21:19)
A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. (19:13)
5. Don't make the house all yours.
So many times we are frustrated with our spouse for leaving his belongings on the table, on the floor, or on the sofa. Most of the time, however, the home seems to be all ours. We do the decorating, set the pretty things on the side tables, frame photos for the sideboard, and hang curtains from the windows. Make sure your home reflects his personality too. Make sure he has places that are his (without banishing him to the garage!) and places that he can in fact, leave his keys, his glasses, and his briefcase. This is another simple way to honor your husband, accept his input, and consider his needs.
6. Don't hold back affection or praise for your mate.
I Corinthians 7:5 says it is wrong for us to ever deprive our mate of our physical love without mutual consent. Proverbs 3:27 tells us not to withhold the good that is in our power to give. As wives, we have the power to build up and encourage our man with kind words, affection, and good deeds (love notes, little happies, or doing small tasks for him). I remember my mother saying even when I was a teenager that the best gift I could give to my future children was to love their Daddy. Praise your man in front of your children and save your disagreements for private. Look for ways to affirm your husband in front of your children and in front of others.
7. Catch those little foxes.
Song of Songs 2:15 says, "Catch for us those foxes, those little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in full bloom." Solomon is likening marriage to a vineyard and marriage's problems to foxes. Young foxes would burrow passages under the plants during the spring and break their support just at the time when the grapes became tender. There are foxes that try to creep into your tender marriage and slowly break its support system. Some of these foxes are rather obvious (gambling, alcohol, pornography, etc.) but others are much more discreet and do their work slowly. Perhaps your fox might be an attitude, a time consuming hobby, or an indulgence. Every marriage has different foxes. What foxes might you need to shoo from your vineyard?
8. Finally, consider several resources for reflection. You may find yourself delighting in this preference of your mate!
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
Pillow Talk: The Intimate Marriage from A to Z by Karen S. Linamen
Simply Romantic Nights by Dennis Rainey and Family Life
Cathy Haynie is the Children's Ministry Director at Pear Orchard Presbyterian
Church in Ridgeland.
For the last 6 years Cathy has been a motivational speaker to women on
Honoring God in the Home
through HomeWorks seminars, retreats, and special events.
Cathy and her husband Jack, of 14 years, and their 3 children live in
She is a longtime Jackson resident, a former English teacher and
or 601-956-3283 ext. 106