In the tradosphere, we talk about wifely submission quite a lot. We talk about it so much that it can get to be its own idol, a goal in and of itself. But perfect submission is not external. Perfect *anything* is not external.
When I first set out to be the best wife I could possibly be (because I wasn’t happy with my marriage, and sensibly enough, decided to change me) I decided to turn myself into the Perfect Stepford Wife. Upped my housecleaning. Upped my personal service (coffee-fetching). Started cleaning myself up and greeting my husband at the door with a smile and a kiss… well, I tried. He found that annoying and he’s too tall to kiss if he doesn’t want to cooperate. See, I didn’t ask HIM what he wanted. I read what some other woman said was Perfect Wifeness.
I could keep going on this… it was lame, and the despair that came after I worked this for a year or so and my husband didn’t sweep me into his arms with delight was extremely injurious to me, my spiritual life, my emotional life, and my marriage. You might say my view of the whole External Submission is a weeeeeee bit colored. (You’d be right).
The thing was, I wasn’t being perfectly submissive, I was acting a part. Oh sure, I excised any contrary opinions… surgically if necessary. But I took away what my husband truly wanted from me – ME. And instead of acting from a fear of God, I acted from a fear of my husband. Would *you* want the pressure of being someone’s god? No? Yeah, neither did he.
So, I’m not writing this to the women out there who haven’t tried fixing their marriages by being nice, respecting their men, and acting like decent people. Just – if you’re being mean, stop. Okay? I’m not talking to you. Go read 99% of the submission advice out there. I don’t disagree with it!!! But you don’t put out a fire by adding sunshine and you don’t dry up a lake by adding water. Maybe this is chapter two in the submission handbook for some ladies. I don’t know, but I know someone needs to say this.
Being right with your husband means that you’re right with God. The first thing you have to do is spend time with God, talk to God, rely on God – get that relationship right and tight. You get the habitual sin out of your life, you get your heart-motivation right. “If you love Me, obey My commandments”. Well, do you love God? If not, stop reading and work on that.
The second thing you need to do is get communication open with your husband. Find out what he wants from life. From your family, from your kids, from you. If you’re a stay at home mom, you have a lot under your control. You need to know where your ship is going so that you can plan appropriately. Your husband might not have a plan, but let him know that you’re there to make it happen when he does. Find out what he wants just day to day and what’s NOT important to him. You don’t need to obey Dolly’s husband, you need to obey yours. You’re not more holy because you look perfect on the outside.
Third thing – you need to dump that whole, “less than the dust beneath his chariot wheels” right back into the pulp novels. Your husband married you. You reflect on him. Therefore, he does not want you to be a doormat. He wants you to be the best you can be – and take all that goodness and put it at his back and to the service of your family. That’s what the guys do, after all – they work their tails off to advance the family.
Proverbs 31 says that a good wife is valued above rubies. Do you act more valuable than rubies? Are you working to increase your value? Do you work at whatever you’re good at to get better at it? Do you take your responsibilities as a wife and mother seriously, putting energy and thought into your work? Different seasons in life call for different work and different skills, and that’s normal, but we should keep moving. Develop yourself. Get smarter, get more skilled. Learn better ways to manage your household, grow in wisdom and in knowledge of the Word of God. Mentor others, get in mentorship for yourself.
People who tell you to stay dust-like are people who are under the impression that you are not loyal. That is regrettably common in this life, but it does no one any good to chain yourself down because the woman next to you can’t be trusted. If you are the best you can be, and then you turn around and offer all of your best to your husband, to support what he wants for your family, how have you done anything but made his life better? Humans, as a rule, are unpleasant creatures. Fortunately your Lord and God has washed you clean and given you the Holy Spirit within you, enabling you to be something other than the lowest common denominator.
A strong man doesn’t need a weak wife. A strong man needs a strong woman so that HE can go do what he wants to do – so he can be free to work harder and pursue his dreams. He doesn’t have to worry about repeating instructions fifty times a day – he can trust his wife to have his back. I’m not saying you have to be good at what your husband is – I am *certainly* not. I’m saying you have to be the best you can be.
Read Proverbs 31. Who was the husband? Where was he? He was at the gates, which means he was an elder/judge for that town. His wife was handling his home life, and that freed him up to do more for his community. His heart could safely trust in her.
When we talk about submission, we talk and talk and talk about making ourselves smaller. Instead, let’s start talking about making ourselves better. Instead of “how can I avoid offending my husband” can we talk about “how can I bless my husband today”. Instead of following some other man’s ideals for life, how about finding out what our husbands dream of, and putting our good minds to work thinking of ways we can support those dreams?
Let us throw away our stubbornness, our ideas about what the outside “should” look like and let us give our deepest hearts to our beloved husbands. We trust them with our lives, with our honor. Let us give our *best* to them. Let us give our husbands good gifts when we give ourselves, and let us daily strive to make ourselves the best gifts that we can be.
And let us not forget that in giving ourselves as we are commanded to give, we are giving the gift of obedience to our eternal Lord and King. Let us strive to be the servant with 10 talents, not the servant with one.