The thought of being a submissive wife might be troubling or uncomfortable to you. Many women don’t understand what it means to be submissive while others struggle to give up their independence or authority.
If you want to live the principle of submissiveness, having a deeper understanding of what it entails can give you clarity of mind and purpose.
Today I want to share more about being a submissive wife and how living this way can improve your marriage and help mold both of you into better versions of yourself.
What does a submissive wife mean, anyway?
Before you can be a submissive wife, you need to understand what it means.
Your initial understanding of being submissive might be negative or incomplete. Diving into the origins of the phrase “submissive wife” can help us understand more fully the meaning and responsibilities.
The phrase “submit” is found over three dozen times in the New Testament. In Bible stories, a submissive wife is one who follows the lead of her husband, just as the church follows the lead of Christ. In Ephesians, Paul gives instructions on what a Christian household should look like.
In Ephesians 5:22-24 it says, 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Another helpful way to understand the origins of “submissive wife” is looking at the Greek meaning. When the New Testament was written in Greek, the word used in place of submit was “hupotassō.” Hupotassō is defined as
- to arrange under, to subordinate
- to subject, put in subjection
- to subject one’s self, obey
- to submit to one’s control
- to yield to one’s admonition or advice
- to obey, be subject [Thayer’s Greek Definitions]
This definition shows the intent of submission as found in the Bible is more gentle and loving. Submission or hupotassō is an act of respect and admiration.
Men want to be loved, feel respected and occasionally feel special. Women want to feel loved, adored, and safe. A woman choosing to be submissive to her husband by following his lead and yielding to his advice will result in both men and women having those needs fulfilled.
5 Ways to Becoming a Submissive Wife & Have a Thriving Marriage
Now that we know what is meant by being a submissive wife, let’s talk about five actionable ways you can be submissive to your husband. Remember that becoming a submissive wife is not a one-time decision. Being submissive to your husband requires work and sacrifice as you bend your will to his.
1. Show Appreciation and Gratitude
The world would be a better place with more appreciation and gratitude, and a great place to start is in your marriage. As a submissive wife, you should spend time each day reflecting on the things your husband did that you appreciate. Tell him you are grateful and/or show him that appreciation in ways that are meaningful to him.
Ask him what you can do to make him feel appreciated and then try to do that in some small way each day.
Not only will an “attitude of gratitude” make your husband feel appreciated and bolstered as a leader, your example will encourage more appreciation and gratitude throughout your whole family.
2. Realize and Accept Your Supporting Role
For many women, one of the most challenging parts of being a submissive wife is fully accepting your supporting role. The world tells us we need to be in charge, but the bible tells us that we can do just as much good by letting our husbands take the lead while we offer support and love.
Work on adjusting your mindset by recognizing the ways that being a submissive wife builds harmony in your home. Let your husband know you are there to help and focus on being his rock and supporter.
Prayer and humility will also go a long way as you try to accept your role as a supporter to your husband. Pray for patience and wisdom in your role.
3. Be a Great Listener
Listening is an important tool for a submissive wife. Not only does it help you understand your husband’s reasoning, it also helps him to feel supported, heard, and strengthened as a leader.
Practice “listening to hear” not “listening to respond.” As you listen more and speak less, your husband will feel more comfortable sharing his concerns and problems. It is super important for wives to lend a listening ear whenever needed.
4. Let Him Lead
Another challenging aspect of being a submissive wife is following your husband’s lead. When he makes decisions you agree with, letting him lead will be easy. However, if you don’t necessarily agree 100% with a decision, following his lead will require humility and grace.
Being a submissive wife doesn’t mean that you never offer your opinion. Your husband can counsel with you before making a decision and take into account your feelings and thoughts However, once the decision has been made it is important for a submissive wife to accept it with a smile.
As you let your husband lead, it is important to keep lines of communication open and most importantly to be slow to anger. Disagreements will happen as you make hundreds of decisions together, but listening to understand as well as deferring to his leadership will help make your relationship stronger.
5. Give Him Room to Breathe
Allow your husband to take the time he needs to process his thoughts. Let him come to you when he is ready. Sometimes you might feel anxious to solve a problem, but it is important to let your husband lead by giving him room to breathe.
It can be hard for men to open up and talk about their feelings with other people, especially when they are responsible for making decisions. You can encourage an open dialogue by being a good listener, but let him come to you instead of pushing for answers or decisions.
Misconceptions of Being a Submissive Wife and Having a Thriving Marriage
We can’t discuss the concept of being a submissive wife without addressing the dangerous and dark side of submission.
In its purest form, the relationship between a submissive wife and her husband includes love, respect, and godliness. In fact, the verses prior to the instructions of Paul state, “ Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Also, husbands are instructed to “love his wife as he loves himself.”
Unfortunately, some men misunderstand or abuse the idea of a woman being submissive to her husband. Some misconceptions of being a submissive wife include:
- Abuse: Being physically, emotionally or verbally abused should not be tolerated in marriage.
- Breaking the Law: Being a submissive wife does NOT mean that your husband can force you to do things that are immoral and/or illegal
- Complete Obedience: If you are submissive you can still say no to things that you believe are morally wrong or against your religious beliefs.
- Intimacy: Some people have the misconception that a submissive wife=sex slave. Even in intimacy, the role of a submissive wife is to follow her husband’s lead and defer to his decisions out of respect and love. If a godly husband has a submissive wife, decisions in the bedroom will be more about each other’s mutual happiness and fulfillment than just the husband’s sexual needs.
Final Thoughts on Being a Submissive Wife & Having a Thriving Marriage
Truly understanding and accepting your role as a submissive wife will not happen overnight. However, when women understand the meaning behind the word “submissive” and work to show appreciation and gratitude to their spouse, accept their role, listen, let their husband lead, and give him room to breathe, the process will mold and shape both of you into the people you are meant to be.