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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)

Such a teaching is so unpopular these days that to abide by it seems to warrant a guilty-like confession of some antiquated wrongdoing: 

Hi. My name is Tanara McCauley. And I submit to my husband.

I haven’t always done so, and I certainly don’t always do it well. In fact, sometimes my behavior is such that my husband deserves an early morning disclaimer, “You may as well head on up to the rooftop because it’s gonna be one of those days.” (Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 21:9)

Over the years, however, I’ve learned some crucial and sometimes hard lessons about what it takes to make my marriage persevere, to make it joyful, fulfilling, and something beautiful. And part of that is abiding in the role that God ordained for me as a wife–not one that He reduced to me to, but one that He made specifically for me to thrive in with the gifts and qualities He imparted to me.

  1. Lesson 1: It’s not a competition~
    Marriage does require give and take, but it shouldn’t be executed with a tit-for-tat sort of justice. Often the scales are unbalanced. A wise woman recognizes that the shift is sometimes in her favor, so that she can be gracious during the times when it is not. A wise woman builds up her husband instead of using his mistakes as an opportunity to usurp his role at the expense of his dignity.
  2. Lesson 2: It’s a oneness~
    This is a complex and mysterious concept, but its acceptance is vital in a healthy marriage. Whatever benefits my husband benefits me, whatever harms him harms me. We are individual people, but we are not separate. And our individual roles serve to magnify the greater bond that exists between us, making us one.
  3. Lesson 3: A submissive wife is precious~
    There is an “incorruptible beauty” which is “very precious in the sight of God” that exists in the “gentle and quiet spirit” of a submissive wife (1 Peter 3:4-5). She is not pitiful, she does not have low self-esteem. To the contrary, her God adores her and watches very carefully how the man who leads her is treating her.
  4. Lesson 4: Role confusion can rob you~
    We recently faced a major life decision that we couldn’t make heads or tails of. At one point we were ready to leap before we had true assurance of God’s will. We knew God wasn’t going to punish us if we didn’t get it right. Yet, before we acted in haste we came to the realization: What if option A is like being on the lake, while option B is meant to be the beach? (My husband’s dream is to live near the beach someday). Swapping roles in marriage kind of works the same way. It can function, but it’s a much lesser version of the grand plan God designed for it. The fireworks dim to a candle’s flicker, the masterpiece painting is replaced with a copy.
  5. Lesson 5: The end goal is eternal life~
    I’ll admit I have a wonderful husband; and I know this is not something every woman can say. Submitting to someone who’s not only less than perfect, but even less than our idea of barely competent seems like more of a burden than anyone should be asked to bear. But consider this: Christ, perfect and worthy in every way, submitted Himself to a humiliating death on the cross for an ungrateful, unloving, and unworthy world. Whether my husband is at his best, or, God help him, about-faces and walks contrary to the Word of God, what is my life, my happiness, my rights, compared to the salvation of the one whom my soul loves (Song of Solomon 3:4)? If for this reason alone, I accept my role gladly, submitting to my husband as unto the Lord, to the glory of Him who called me to do so.

Your turn: What are your thoughts on marriage roles? How have they worked in your marriage?

Guest Blog Opportunity: If you are a man who would like to guest blog on the Christian husband’s role, with some examples of how the principles work in your own marriage please send an email to tanara@tanaramccauley.com.

Click here for Marriage Part I: The Model, Click here for Marriage Part II: The Choice