I hesitated on the point of writing/posting this entry for the world to see because I wasn’t sure which end result I sought by doing so. Am I speaking in a persuasive voice? Am I trying to sell you something? Not necessarily. Am I trying to parcel out some gleaned knowledge upon readers looking for advice in their marriages?
Um, definitely not.
Turning it over in my head, I’ve decided that this post is categorized as an explanation. I feel that many who read this would need an explanation for the way I choose (a better word might be try… 95% of the time…) to approach my marriage.
Because it has (once again) come to my attention that I’m in the minority.
I’m not talking about being the only female at the house. I love that.
I live in a culture that is decidedly counter-intuitive to the way I was raised and indeed, the way I try to live my life. In years past I’ve noticed this from time to time – I won’t be one of those people who laments ‘what this world is coming to’ or one who fondly reminisces about the ‘good old days’ (I’d need a separate post to enumerate all the reasons thinking like this is wholly unhelpful and frankly, inaccurate) – BUT I will share with you a moment that made me laugh to myself a few nights ago.
My mother-in-law shared via Facebook this interview that aired on Rock Center. If you don’t feel like clicking the link (but you should), I’ll sum up. A world-class female athlete admits that in her house and family, her husband is the leader and she is the submissive wife. (And interestingly, never refers to a spiritual reason to do so.)
Is your foundation shaken? Are you offended and up in arms? Is your very mind shattered by this sensational idea? If you grew up like I did, probably not. Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, Ephesians 5:22 – you can probably recite them with me. Or at least paraphrase this way: Wives, submit to your husbands.
I don’t mind telling you that for most of my life, I was not looking forward to being a wife. At least, not a submissive wife. Nevertheless, I knew that this, for some reason, was the model multiple writers of the Bible had encouraged others to live by.
This won’t be a post on marital advice. The idea is laughable – there are VERY few arenas in which I’d consider myself equipped to teach: give me Harry Potter trivia or a lesson on complimentary colors, and I’d be your girl. Marriage? I’d be the one signing up to take the class. Bringing paper to take notes.
No, this is a voice from the other side of the story for you readers who cannot comprehend a woman in the year 2013 gladly taking a submissive character role in one of the most important relationships of her life.
I understand the other side. I understand the women who are offended and outraged by a fellow female encouraging others to let the man (ugh) play the dominant role in the marriage relationship. Maybe fighting to be taken seriously in society, in the workplace, has steeped itself as an autopilot mode so deeply within us that we can’t comprehend ‘losing ground’ at home. I get it. I respect it.
I’m a fiercely independent person. I need to lead. I do not seem like a submissive person. (I have to convince my husband that I have been submissive.) I love to be right. It takes
every. single. ounce. of. my. self. control.
not to correct someone when I hear them make an error. I mean, we’re talking about overheard conversations between two people in line ahead of me at WalMart. It’s a problem, it’s a battle, and lots of times I lose. I know it, I hate it. (Are you praying for my husband?) So when I tell you that I have chosen to be a submissive wife, I hope you take it within context. (And just help a girl out and refrain from updating your Facebook status with grammatical errors.)
For a long time, my mind told me that ‘submission’ equaled ‘loss’. Losing an argument, losing an identity, losing independence. Losing control. (Yikes!!!) Submission meant a clear winner and an equally clear loser. Superior and inferior. When Koby and I were dating in college, I considered us to be separate entities, yet ones who had chosen to be together. (I am NOT saying here that this is wrong – dating and marriage are completely different playing fields.) But I would have balked at the very idea of Koby leading me anywhere. What I did not realize is that he was already setting the tone for our relationship: where he went, I went. What he did, I did. What he said, I said. His friends became my friends.
I don’t think this is an example of the ‘losing your identity’ thing that happens when girls with issues get into unhealthy relationships. I think it’s just what happens (to varying degrees) when you get into a relationship. My friends became Koby’s friends too, and wherever we went, we went together. But for better or for worse, Koby was the natural leader of our relationship (although I would have punched you in the face for saying that to my 21 year old self).
But eventually we got married. And that whole ‘submit to your husband’ thing suddenly applied to ME. Because I was the wife, and I was supposed to be submissive, whatever that means.
Here’s what I ‘ve learned about being submissive (because I have to work at it
1. Being submissive does not mean that I am less intelligent than my husband.
2. Being submissive does not mean that my husband makes all my decisions for me, and now, for our family.
3. Being submissive does not mean that I do not voice my opinions. It doesn’t mean that my voice isn’t valued and considered and respected.
4. Being submissive does not mean that I have lost my identity.
5. Being submissive doesn’t mean I am incapable.
I have found that I can settle (and I mean this in the peaceful sense, not in the ‘losing’ sense) into a submissive role more easily than I ever could have imagined.
It was hard for me to pinpoint areas in which to be the ‘submissive’ and ‘dutiful’ wife in the first few months of marriage because Koby is not a ‘commanding’ person. Nor did we encounter many cataclysmic, core-to-core differences that would require me to utterly submit to his stated will. And to me, a submissive wife was always a counterpart to a commanding husband.
Basically, it’s embarrassing how little I knew about marriage. Like, 365 days in to the marriage.
-See also: how much I knew about babies before having one.-
Koby and I naturally found a ‘flow’ that suited our needs: we both cook, clean, and take care of the kids. Koby tends to the dogs, home repairs, the vehicles, the yard; I tend to the finances, the laundry, and take the kids to and from school. These roles suited our skill sets and schedules and for awhile the whole ‘submissive wife’ thing never seemed as if it would surface.
Then I saw this video:
And I realized that submission had little to do with commands and obedience, and much more to do with service and support.
And in marriage I learned that I want to be led.
Let me say here that a wife’s submission brings her peace when her husband is functioning from a place where he considers her interests as well as his own. (This spans any culture, any spiritual foundation. I don’t care, it matters.) And once they have children, theirs as well. When he cares deeply about her well-being, she can freely voice her opinions and allow him to make decisions for themselves or their family knowing that he will do so with their best interests in mind.
My submission looks like this: daily service and encouragement. I suck at it, mostly. But I’m trying. Our biggest ‘wife-submission moment’ looked like this: Koby had a job opportunity that would potentially us take away from our home and (my dream) job(s). He asked (I think this is vital) and I gave him my honest and supportive opinion in favor of the move, but ultimately left the final decision up to him. And I slept peacefully knowing that whatever choice he made had been weighed and measured carefully with Knox, me, and unborn Hayes in the balance.
Gabby Reece’s words may echo mine, I’m not sure, I haven’t read her book, but the fact that her admission to a choice to live in yield to her husband has caused such an uproar makes me giggle. Because the notion is thousands of years old.
And so I say to any who may think me weak, why should I be ashamed that I am submissive to my (caring, loving, loyal) husband? I would be proud to hear him say that he craves my support and relies on my encouragement.
Isn’t that the same?
|Photo by Brooke Ogilvie|