Why unity in marriage has more to do with the wife than the husband

Contrary to popular teachings about unity in marriage, the Bible teaches that unity in marriage is primarily dependent on the actions, reactions and attitudes of a wife toward her husband and only secondarily on the behavior of the husband.

There are a lot of concepts that are given in marriage books today to try and help couples achieve unity.  Some of these concepts, like unconditional love and forgiveness would even be supported by the Bible.  But unfortunately, as with many other things – most teachings today on how to have unity in marriage mix truth with error.

God wants couples to unify by becoming one flesh in marriage

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The Bible tells us about the unity God expects there to be in marriage:

“10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;”

Psalm 45:10 (KJV)

“7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Mark 10:7-9 (KJV)

When a husband and wife come together in marriage – this new relationship takes precedent over all other earthly relationships.  Before they were married their greatest earthly relationship was with their parents and now it is with each other.

There are three important concepts about this unity in marriage that Christ talks about:

“And they twain SHALL be one flesh”

 “so then they ARE no more twain, but one flesh”

“What therefore God hath joined together, let NOT man put asunder.”

Biblically speaking in marriage, a husband and wife are one flesh from the moment of their marriage covenant, yet they are to be becoming one flesh more and more the longer they are married and they are not to stop being one flesh as long as they both live.

In a way, this concept of being one flesh in marriage mirrors our salvation.  From the moment, we are saved we receive Christ’s righteousness and are declared justified by God.  But the Bible tells us “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) exhorting us to progressive sanctification.  In essence the Bible is telling us “You are holy, so be holy”.  In the same way, the Bible tells couples in marriage “You are one flesh, so be one flesh”.

In the next section I will talk about how we can practically make our marriage a true “one flesh” relationship as God desires it to be.

5 Steps to becoming one flesh in marriage

Below I have outlined Biblical concepts that I believe will bring the true unity that God desires for all Christian marriages.  As I outline these steps you may see some things you have never seen in a marriage book or article and you will also see some things missing that you often see in books and articles on unity in marriage.  At the end of these steps I will compare and contrast the Biblical model of unity in marriage with the modern-day model of unity in marriage.

Step 1 – A husband and wife are to have sexual relations on a regular basis

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

The act of marriage or the consummation of marriage is sexual union.  This is the most literal meaning of the Biblical phrase “one flesh”.  Sex is to occur regularly in marriage.  An interesting biological fact of sex is that it releases two bonding hormones (oxytocin and vasopressin) which God designed to draw a couple closer together.

On this subject of sexual relations in marriage Christian and non-Christian counselors are usually in fully agreement.  The regularity of sexual relations is the first indicator of how healthy a relationship is. While it is possible to have regular sexual relations but still have disunity in a marriage – it is impossible to have full unity in a marriage without regular relations.

Step 2 – A husband is to know his wife

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

For husbands this is the first step in cultivating oneness with their wife. A husband cannot love his wife as God intended without knowing her and this involves him talking with her and spending time with her.  God thought it was so important for a man to get to know his wife that in the law he gave to Moses for Israel he gave this rule for newlywed couples:

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”

Deuteronomy 24:5 (KJV)

God literally forbade men from going off to war or going away on business trips for the first year of their marriage.  Couples literally had a one year honey moon in Israel!

So, this leads us to another question – why does a husband need to know his wife? The answer is found for us in the last part of I Peter 3:7 “that your prayers be not hindered.” What God is basically saying is “Husbands if you do not hear the concerns, needs and requests of your wife God will not hear your concerns, needs and requests”.

God wants all authorities whether they be Kings, governors, parents, masters, or employers to hear the concerns, needs and requests of those under them. This does not mean that a husband must give his wife whatever she wants or makes the decisions the way she wants him to.  Sometimes God answers our prayers with a “yes”, sometimes he answers them with a “no” and sometimes he answers them with a “wait”. It is the same with a man and his wife.

When a man hears the concerns and requests of his wife and truly knows how she thinks, even if he does not act as she would like after hearing her this helps to build unity in the marriage.

Also, when a husband knows his wife he knows her passions and her interests.  As long as those her interests do not conflict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home he should encourage her in these things.  For example, maybe his wife likes to paint or to sing in church. Maybe she has desire to write for a woman’s blog, maybe she likes to write poetry.  Perhaps she has a desire to run in home daycare.  None of these things would automatically contradict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home.

However if a woman has a passion to be a mega news giant superstar and wants her husband to stay at home and take care of the home and kids(like Fox News star Meghan Kelly for example) her passions and ambitions are at direct odds with the role for which God designed her.  This is by definition an example of selfish ambition on the part of a woman.

See “I wanted a wife and so did she – Ex-husband of Megyn Kelly speaks out about his marriage to the FOX News star” for more on this feminist superstar.

Step 3 – A wife is to learn how her husband thinks

“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

Not only in spiritual matters, but in all matters of life a wife is to learn how her husband thinks and what makes him tick. A wife knowing how her husband thinks is critical to building the unity God desires for marriage between a man and his wife.

Step 4 – A wife is to submit to her husband

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)

The inevitable result of a woman getting to know how her husband thinks is that she will discover ways that he thinks that she disagrees with.  Now a woman has two choices when she realizes these differences.  One is to try and correct or change her husband’s thinking and the other is to submit.  God calls women to do the latter and submit even when they disagree with their husbands.  As long as a husband does not directly ask his wife to sin she must submit to him everything.

Step 4 – A wife should offer her advice in kind way, not in a contentious way

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 31:26 (KJV)

In the previous step, we discussed that in order to maintain the unity in marriage that God desires for couples to have a wife must submit to her husband especially when she disagrees with him. But this does not mean that wives are forbidden from sharing any wisdom they have with their husbands.

But the attitude and method in which a woman shares her wisdom with her husband is very important. The Bible warns against wives being contentious with their husbands:

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)

Even if the words of a wife to her husband are wise, if they are delivered in a contentious or angry manner to her husband they will lose their intended effect and will cause the unity in the marriage to decline rapidly.

Also, a woman should always understand the position from which she offers advice.  She is not her husband’s mother, his teacher or his authority. He is her authority and Biblically speaking his authority over her is even greater than that of her father’s.

A woman should view herself as a subject which gives counsel to her King and remember the Scriptures exhortation to wives to be “in subjection unto their own husbands”(I Peter 3:5).

Step 5 – A wife is to be her husband’s crown

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 12:4 (KJV)

The Bible tells us that a wife should be a crown to her husband.  What is a crown? A crown brings glory and honor to its recipient. So, what the Bible is saying is that a wife by being her husband’s crown is one who should bring him glory and honor.  She is to be his greatest cheerleader and supporter. The unfortunate truth is that many wives today are more of a dunce cap than a crown to their husband.  Just as a wife being contentious with her husband breaks the unity of the marriage so too a wife failing to honor her husband for the man that he is will quickly break the unity of the marriage.

But there is another interesting aspect of a crown – especially that of a king. It was very common in ancient times that when a King conquered another land he would take the crown of the conquered King and put it on his head to show his ownership and authority over his newly conquered lands.

But what if a King liked the crown of another ruler and wanted to wear it more often but it did not fit his head well? Perhaps it was two small and would almost fall off his head or maybe it was too large for the diameter of his head and it would slide down in front of his face.  So, what would the King do? He would give the crown to his craftsman and have them resize the crown to fit his head perfectly.  Perhaps he would have them add some additional gems and take some gems away that he did not like.  The point is that the crown would be molded to the King’s liking and made to fit his head perfectly.

In the same way wives need to move beyond mere submission to their husbands in their quest to truly be one flesh with their husbands.

Wives need to mold themselves over time more and more to their husbands likes and dislikes and to his various positions on the issues of life.  They need to support and understand his passions whether it is his passion for his job, his ministries at church or his hobbies. This even more just mere submission – will bring the true unity that God desires to the marriage.

This does not mean that a wife may ever come to love everything her husband loves or hate everything her husband hates.  There are some passions he may have that she will never be able to bring herself to share.

But a wife should pray hard each and every day that God would help her to mold herself and fit herself so that in the same way a crown needs to fit the head of the King who wears it – so to a wife needs to fit herself to her husband.

Putting it all together

So, when we look at Biblical principles for unity in marriage we see that unity comes from a husband and wife having regular sexual relations, talking to one another and knowing how the other person thinks, the wife submitting to her husband and the wife molding herself to her husband.

Why does Biblical unity put so much more responsibility on the wife than the husband?

When we take an honest view of the concept of Biblical unity in marriage, truly becoming one flesh with one another, we see that God places a much greater responsibility for unity on the wife than the husband.

In six different places in the Scriptures (Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:24, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, I Peter 3:1, I Peter 3:6) God tells wives to submit to their husbands.  Contrary to Christian feminists and egalitarians reading in “husbands and wives” to Ephesians 5:21,  the Bible NEVER EVER calls on husbands to submit to their wives.

Instead in Ephesians chapter five we are told that marriage is to be a picture of the relationship of Christ and his Church.  Christ does not submit to his church; his church submits to him. Christ and his Church are not equals – one is subordinate to the other.  Does the Church mold itself to Christ’s image or does Christ mold himself to image of his Church?

The point in all this is while a husband bears some responsibility for unity in his marriage as God requires him to know his wife – the bulk of the responsibility for unity in marriage comes from a wife submitting to her husband and then trying over time to mold herself more to her husband.

What are some practical ways a wife can mold herself to her husband?

When we discussed a wife being her husband’s crown I brought up the idea that a wife should mold herself to her husband.  Does a King change the shape of his head to fit his crown or is the crown shaped to fit the head of the King? We know the answer is that the crown should be made to fit the head that wears it.  In the same way, God has made a woman’s husband her head and she is to fit herself to him.

Here are some practical ways that a wife can mold herself to her husband:

Take an interest in what he likes to watch on TV

If he likes watching certain types of TV shows – try and find some that you cultivate an interest in.  You may not be able to cultivate an interest in everything he likes to watch and that is ok. But you should try and find some common ground with him in this area. Even if you just don’t like certain shows he likes – never shame him about things he is passionate about.

Take an interest in his extracurricular activities

If you husband likes to play on the church baseball league or he involved in a bowling league – try and cultivate an interest in these things.  Support him and be his greatest cheerleader.

Take an interest in his passions

Maybe your husband is passionate about history or politics. Maybe he is passionate about science or science fiction.  Maybe he is passionate about art, literature or music. Whatever your husband is passionate about – do your best to cultivate a passion for what he is passionate about.  Now there may be some times where differences in intellect or preferences just make it impossible for you to cultivate a genuine desire for your husband’s passion for certain things.  But even in these cases you should still support him in his passions and never shame him or nag him for being passionate about these things.

Cultivate a desire for his sexual preferences

In most cases men and women have very different sexual preferences because we approach sex from very different angles.  A wife should cultivate a desire to dress inside and outside the bedroom in a way that pleases her husband.  As long as what he is asking to her do inside or outside the bedroom is not sinful she should do it. But again, she should not just submit, but over time attempt to truly understand and embrace her husband’s sexual preferences.  Ladies this is probably the single greatest way to instill passion in your husband toward you when you truly cultivate and embrace his sexual desires and this will help to truly unite you and your husband.

Accept and understand his spiritual positions

It is one thing to know and even submit to what your husband thinks on various doctrinal and philosophical positions.  It is quite another to cultivate a desire to truly understand, accept and fully embrace your husband’s positions on various issues.

So, what this means practically speaking is that when a couple is first married a wife may have to submit first and understand later. But as a couple goes on in the years in the marriage and they grow in their unity – a wife should not be having to submit as much because she truly understands and embraces her husband’s positions.

For instance, if your husband is stricter on discipline with the children that you would be if you were leading the family, you need to find a way to not just submit to his methods but truly understand and embrace them. If your husband has different doctrinal beliefs or applications of Scripture than what you were raised with you need to find a way over time to cultivate and appreciation for and fully embrace his positions.

Should a wife lose herself in her husband?

In our culture, today it seems that the greatest sin a person can commit is to not be true to themselves or lose their identity in another.  Our identity as a person comes from the combination of our likes, dislikes, passions and beliefs. So, if a person changes their likes, dislikes, passions and beliefs for another person they are said to be giving up who they are or losing their identity and this is wrong in the view of most people in our culture.

I don’t think a wife has to give up everything she likes to do, her passions or her preferences as long as those things don’t cause disunity in the marriage.  If a wife loves to sing in church but her husband cannot sing at all that does not mean she should have to give up singing unless somehow it was causing a conflict in the marriage.

However, over time while she may not have to completely give up her identity – it will change if she truly strives for the unity in marriage that God desires.  This is similar to how when we become Christians our identity changes, yet we all as Christians are still individuals.  We can see in the Gospels 4 very different individuals who wrote those books so we know the Apostles did not lose their identity by becoming Christians.   But they all changed! They started conforming themselves to Christ and there were changes in their identity so they could become more like him.

In this same way while a wife may not completely lose her identity in marriage, she certainly should go through big changes in her person over the years as she is married to her husband.  If a woman has been married to a man for 10 years and nothing has changed about her likes, dislikes, beliefs, or behaviors I can guarantee you that she is not united with her husband in their marriage as God desires her to be.

I remember years ago, I had a female relative come to me while she was going through a mid-life crisis.  She told me “After decades of marriage to my husband I feel like I lost who I was with him.  What he likes I like, what he dislikes I dislike.  I lost myself and I don’t even recognize the person I am any more with him from who I used to be”.

My response to her was “good – that is exactly what God wanted you to do.  Your husband is a good Christian man.  Even though he is imperfect like we all are – there is nothing wrong with the way you have molded yourself to him over the decades.  What you are listening to is the world telling you that you need to be your own person.  But you need to listen to God who tells you that you need to mold yourself to your husband – keep doing what you have been doing and God will bless you. Stop listening to world.”

What is missing from Biblical unity that the world says marriage needs?

There is a word that you may have noticed that is missing from all the Biblical advice on unity I have just given.  That word is compromise.

The world teaches that unity in marriage is all about a man and woman compromising with each other.  “I will give in to you on this and you will give into me on that.” Now don’t get me wrong – when it comes to things that have nothing to do with morality compromise in marriage is a good thing.  Like when we choose where we go to dinner that is not necessarily a moral decision.  How much is spent on dinner is a moral decision, but whether we have a hamburger or pizza is not.

But I think in most cases what we call compromise on these no moral things is just us being selfless and putting the other person first and that is a good thing.

But when it comes to moral decisions, including financial decisions, career decisions, what church is attended, religious beliefs, discipline and teaching of the children, decisions about sex and other things like this there can be no compromise. A husband is always called by God to do what is he believes is right before God.

A husband should hear his wife and know how his wife feels. But knowing how his wife feels and compromising on moral issues with her are two very different things.

But what about him?

If your first instinct when you started reading through this article was to think “what about him?” then you have revealed that you have an unbiblical view of yourself and your marriage.

Before I continue – yes I did write an entire article last year on this subject entitled “10 ways to know your wife” which you can check out later.

But if you are the “what about him” woman I want to give you the following passages of scripture to mediate on.

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Romans 12:3 (KJV)

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

1 Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)

After letting the truth of these two passages penetrate your heart I suggest you re-read everything I have written and do not worry about your husband’s part in the unity of your marriage.  Worry only about your responsibility for unity as the wife knowing that you bear the greatest burden in making your marriage truly unified by submitting to your husband and molding yourself to him.

120 thoughts on “Why unity in marriage has more to do with the wife than the husband

  1. >But the abuse of a principle does not make that principle any less true.

    bgr – that is really all I am saying here.

    >I do acknowledge that there are some who will take that 0.01 and abuse it.
    >Plenty do.

    Sadly you are right. I wish every wife had a good Godly husband to lead her. Like you, I do want to commend the wives in this thread for having the right heart. They don’t even know how much of a blessing they are to their husbands.

  2. Anonymous,

    There are commenters on this blog who’ve used the Bible to argue that threesomes involving two women and one man are biblical and that husbands can require their wives to participate in these. Yes, most doctrinal disagreements between husband and wife will, in practice, be over less clear matters, and the wife is, I believe, safe and right on deferring h to her husband’s interpretation because he is her primary teacher. Furthermore, most of the time, the husband’s sins will not require the wife to sin. Because she is not his spiritual authority, she is not sinning if he does not change his ways, nor can she refuse to submit to him unless he tries to get her to participate (or if she allows him to continue harming another by not going to other authorities to stop him). And of course, she still has to generally continue to submit to him in all sinful matters as long as he does not do something that gives her cause for divorce.

  3. @Alex Either you mis-typed something at the end of your comment, or were wrong as wives are not to submit to their husbands in sinful matters at all(Acts 5:29), only unsinful ones(Ephesians 5:22-24).

  4. Hey Anna, thanks for inviting me to join in! I understand that it’s confusing… it’s confusing even for me to explain and one would think I’d be able to explain things like this by now. I hope your little cutie is doing great and growing well! It goes by so fast but I know you’re probably extra tired and it doesn’t feel like it’s fast for you now! Taking out the IUD worked! We’re 3 months pregnant tomorrow!!! So we’ll have our third child here in June God willing. 🙂 😀 ❤

    Anyway… in trying to kind of explain how a wife goes from "understanding" her husband's different viewpoints, to maybe getting to the point where she actually "adopts" them as her own, I think Larry said somewhere up in the comments above that she really may **never** get to the point where she fully adopts his viewpoints on some issues. There is something weird about trying to fully embrace your husband and all his thoughts though – even if it's just respecting that "well, we think slightly differently on this…" when she makes that decision to fully embrace him totally as a person (which to be honest, hopefully they talked enough BEFORE marriage like Anonymous pointed out above somewhere – meaning … she should have fully embraced him as a person including his beliefs she didn't agree with, as an engaged couple), once she does that, it really does have a weird affect on your mind and heart towards your husband. I'm sure you've heard of the term "wife goggles" in the manosphere, where a husband doesn't really see his wife as harshly or critically as another man would (thinking her face, body, bone structure). They've even kind of proven that husbands seem to have this affect of "wife goggles" when rating their wives appearance versus other women. They're actually "kinder" towards their wives on rating them (and they really believe this!) and they are more critical of other women – there's a double standard they have in their minds that makes them easier on judging their wife's flaws or imperfections like a little extra weight, stretch marks… things like that.

    So it's a little like that when a wife truly fully embrace the man she's marrying, she is hopefully accepting him at what is called "Face Value." This is in that book I wanted your daughter to get Larry, it explains fully how a woman needs to be able to accept her man at face value – as he is already – before getting married. But once you've done that and are married, fully embracing him and all his opinions (whether they line up with yours or not) I think has an effect overtime much like "wife goggles" does for men. For me, it has made me much more attune to take his thoughts or different opinions very seriously, making me reconsider if I'm really looking at everything presented or not. Overtime, we now have very very little that we disagree on, probably because I knew before marriage that I needed to "accept him at face value," and this meant being certain I married someone without major flaws or doctrinal beliefs I *wouldn't** be able to live easily with.

    So yes, I guess if a wife came to me complaining about something that she felt like she just couldn't agree on together with her husband (that he was a conservative or liberal, or a Catholic/other religion, or wanted their children raised a different religion, wanted them disciplined differently etc.) I'd probably try to get her to come to see that this was an issue they REALLY should have discussed and made a firm decision on, BEFORE getting married at all! Those things should be worked out in marriage counseling, and if they can't be worked out, you break off the engagement. A lot of women are terrified of breaking off their engagment though… I've met quite a few that seem to act like this is the only man they'll ever have a chance with – which is a bad place to come to marriage at. There could be a whole post there warning women not to just get married out of fear, but to make sure she knows what her own beliefs really are and what she's willing or not willing to change due to her conscience and convictions. BUT once she's married, I'd firmly stress that she needs to put that aside and like Larry is saying here, she needs to TRY to come to agreement with him. I mean the only other option is turbulence in the home, disunity, negatively affected children because their parent's *aren't* in unity, and probably later on a divorce and breaking apart of the family unity.

    So I guess the next step for a wife that's still in disagreement over something is just to continue on loving her husband, fully embracing him and becoming one over time, and focusing on accepting her decision to marry him – she may even need to come to a point of realization where she accepts that she made a mistake in not really making sure she agreed with everything before she picked him. I think really accepting things like that are healthy and keep people sane longterm. She needs to take responsibility that she didn't find out all these critical things before jumping into something so important. That doesn't mean it's something she should divorce over, but accepting her part in picking him without accepting him at face value as an engaged couple, is important for her mental and spiritual growth. It will help her understand and take responsibility like an adult should, and force her to look at the reality of her future – that the only other option really is a miserable marriage continuing forward, or divorce. Larry mentioned the only advice really in the Bible concerning things like this is for the wife to win her husband over without a word. Basically as long as it's not real abuse or adultery involved, fully embracing him as her husband and honoring the promise she made to him will probably help her overtime, especially if she understands this practice of "accepting him at face value" and realizing whether or not she truly did that before marriage.

    Hope that makes sense… 🙂

  5. Anna this video is so awesome and something I think you’d probably like! It’s long, but you can take time to watch it in portions. I think Elisabeth Elliot mentions some of these things we’re talking about in this interview/teaching video. There’s another one and maybe another even after that. I wish she had done more! But yea, thought I’d share it, hopefully the link works out.

  6. Stephanie,
    Congratulations! I was wondering (and hoping!) if that had worked, but I felt weird asking you about it. 🙂 Are you feeling well? I know weeks 6-14 were extremely difficult for me. My baby is definitely growing well! He does have a (potentially insignificant) hip click that we’re taking him for an ultrasound tomorrow. So I’m hopeful that he’ll cooperate, it won’t be a traumatic experience, and that everything will be fine! It doesn’t seem to affect his mobility at all at this stage, but my niece had a hip tumor that required her to be in a wheelchair and a leg cast for a bit; (she actually just got out in time to be our flower girl), so I’m extra nervous about those areas now.

    I agree with what you say about embracing all of our husbands. For the minor theological differences we have, I do still believe that I can (and I try) to do this. I have immense respect for him in swimming against the stream on certain issues even if I don’t see eye-to-eye on them, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he may very well be correct. We spent a LOT of time prior to engagement hashing out certain differences. But, I guess I see a belief as something that you either believe or don’t, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground there, but I definitely would encourage wives to put positive energy into adopting their husband’s way of life into their home. Like my sister’s friend I referenced above, she doesn’t believe in infant baptism but she attends those services with her babies enthusiastically and is pleased to take part in whatever way her husband wishes. I think that that’s a very unifying approach…he at least seemed happy!

  7. BGR,
    I agree with a good deal of what you’ve said. Just to clarify, in the four scenarios you offered, did you have the husband asking his wife for her opinion in each and every situation (aka, ‘babe, what do you think about what so-and-so just said?’), or would you allow for a blanket offer and even encouragement to engage provided it’s in a respectful manner. I have not once publicly (or privately from what i can recall) told my husband ‘no, you’re wrong’, or ‘i don’t agree with that’, or ‘that’s silly/dumb/etc’…all of which are statements I could see your wife saying (based off of how she is described here). I think if I started doing that publicly, or if I already had a habit of doing that privately, he would be much less inclined to extend the blanket offer, and I can see why you give your wife no such offer.

    Just like with alcohol, I agree that if a wife has a serious issue with this, her husband should be gracious and kind in his response. I certainly can’t imagine my husband forcing me to speak in situations I wasn’t comfortable with (outside of some extreme situations like if I adamantly refused to apologize to someone, etc.) He told me of a conversation he had with his best friend once where the friend commented that he wished his wife would have the kind of conversations that he saw us joining in on. It was an extremely proud moment for my husband. I really do believe in that moment I was like a crown to him (and that’s not me trying to take credit for it because it did fly against my personality and has only developed under my husband’s consistent encouragement and acceptance). He felt tremendously blessed. If your daughter as a wife decides not to, she should be aware that she may very well be voluntarily choosing to opt out of an opportunity to bless her husband and that is something that should give every wife extreme pause and analysis. She may be giving up a crown moment because of how she pursues her crown, and she may invite disunity because of how she pursues unity. I find it ironic, but if she still decides against it, I won’t tell her she’s wrong as I get this is her trying to follow her conscience. The Bible’s only command here is to submit to our husbands respectfully and without sin, which gives lots of leeway for how a husband wishes to run a family. But if within that, a husband or wife (like your daughter someday) has tightly held beliefs, I think they should be respected.

  8. @Anna,

    It sounds like your husband really enjoys respectful theological discussion and debate. Because of that, I’d say that you are unifying yourself with him by expressing your thoughts at a time and in a manner that he appreciates. While I’d guess that you were already pretty adept at expressing yourself spiritually before you got married, it seems as though you’ve adapted to become better at engaging with your husband in a way that he would most prefer.

    It also sounds as though your style of debate is very different from the style that some women use. As you explained, you don’t insult your husband’s ideas, publicly or privately, and you don’t tell him that he’s wrong. Instead, you accept that he could be right, even when you disagree. I’m guessing that what you actually do is ask questions about scriptural passages that you think contradict his position and ask him about differing teachings that you’d learned earlier or beliefs that you’d formed based on your own readings.

  9. Alex, you make a very good point, because come to think of it, most of my contributions are questions. This probably helps keep me from coming across as contradictory or rebellious.

  10. Thanks Anna 🙂 . How did the ultrasound go? Everything like that is scary and stressful for parents, but especially new parents! We had to have an ultrasound on my firstborn’s head just to make sure it was ok… the doctor was a little worried it was growing too fast, but everything turned out normal, but wow was it scary having to wait like that.

    And about this issue, it sounds like y’all are fine and know how to communicate well… that’s really all it takes and it surprises me how many adults don’t know how to do that in their marriages 😥 We also talked about everything in our engagement, I’m glad to hear y’all did too! I KNOW it helped us immensely, we started out already on the same page on many different potential arguments/trials/misunderstandings etc.

    People really need better pre-marital counseling these days. So many of their “issues” or problems could have been worked out or avoided through just being honest up front and before marriage.

  11. AnnaMS,

    Sorry it took a couple days to get back to you on this but I was 100% dedicated to my annual Calendar making duties. About 5 years ago I got elected to be the family calendar maker(apparently some family members thought I was creative 🙂 ). So I get to collect all the photos from family via email and Facebook and I organize them in various calendars so everyone can hand them out at Christmas. Just finished late last night trying make sure they all get shipped before Christmas.

    Your Statement:

    “would you allow for a blanket offer and even encouragement to engage provided it’s in a respectful manner.”

    I think the trick here is that sometimes the respectful thing to do is for a woman to remain silent. That is why I can’t see a man giving his wife a blanket offer to pipe in even with respectful questions at any time, anywhere any place.

    “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”

    Ecclesiastes 3:7 (KJV)

    Now don’t get me wrong – I think the Bible also shows women speaking spiritual wisdom as well with men outside of an official church assembly meeting like here:

    “24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
    25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”

    Acts 18:24-26 (KJV)

    So here we see Aquila and his wife Priscilla teaching Apollos the way of Christ. I have seen many Christian teachers try to use this to falsely justify the concept of female pastors. Well since we know the Bible never contradicts and it says the Bishop is to be the husband of one wife and it also tells women to remain silent in the assembly and ask their husbands questions at home we know this is not the case. This tells us this type of encounter was a private setting, perhaps at the home of Aquila or Apollos where Aquila and Priscilla shared the good news of Christ with Apollos.

    So here is my point Anna – I don’t think a Christian wife must remain silent at all times and that she can never ask questions or share the blessed truths of God’s Word. But there is a place and time and it must always be done in respectful way that acts in unity with her husband.

    You made a great clarification as to how you use the freedom your husband has given you when you stated that “most of my contributions are questions”.

    In many cases a question, rather than an assertion, can be done in a respectful way so that there are settings both in private or even in public where I could see respectful questions from a wife not being a problem at all.

    But what about when a father is dealing with a disciplinary issue with one of his children and he prescribes a punishment to the child and the wife in front of the child asks “Don’t you that might be a little bit of a harsh punishment for this?” or perhaps on the other side she asks “Do you think that is a strong enough punishment for what they have done?”

    What a wife should do in this scenario is hold her tongue and present a unity with her husband and the child’s father. Then later she may ask the husband those types of questions in private away from the child. Obviously if there was a physically abusive situation going on that would be different scenario and she may have act differently. But let’s say the husband decides to ground his teen for a week for doing something and the mom thinks that is too soft or too weak for the offense – I do not believe a husband should give her a blanket right to question him in front of the child in these scenarios.

    This might make more sense for you when your children are older especially as they reach the pre-teen and teen years. Teens often challenge their parents(which is natural). So if your husband is having some intense conversation with your teen trying to build his case to your teen on some moral subject and you come along with an assertion or even a question(even if you think it is respectfully given) that seems to contradict or pull the rug out from under him I don’t know how well he is going to take that. He may think he will be perfectly fine with it now – but your child is young and they aren’t exactly at that age to where they can really challenge you on moral spiritual issues.

    Again this is not only related to children but I can imagine other scenarios where your silence will be what your husband needs in that given moment.

    And finally going back to your husband’s friend’s compliment of you. I have a feeling what he was complimenting was your ability to speak with wisdom(as a virtuous wife does) and your ability perhaps to ask questions and frame things your husband is talking about in a different light. It sounds to me like what this man witnessed was a woman who complimented her husband(added to the conversation in a unifying way) and not a woman who contradicted her husband.

    This is what my daughter wants to do. I think you may have gotten the wrong impression that I have taught my daughter or she believes that she must be some silent little woman in the background and never speak a word except to her husband in private. That is not the case at all. She believes(and so do I) that a wife should compliment her husband and be unified with him as she speaks. Sure she may take some things he states and come at them from a different perspective and word them differently. She may even under the right situation ask him a question that may cause him to question something he has stated and that is OK provided it truly is bathed in respect and it is the right time and place.

    I think after reading your followup comments that we are far closer on this even if not 100% in agreement. So let me leave you with these questions that I am curious as to.

    1. Do you think there will be times when the respectful thing for you to do in a given situation would be to remain silent?

    2. What do you think you husband’s friend admired about the conversations he saw you engaging in with your husband? Was it a debate between you and your husband? Were you both talking to another person or couple and you were tag teaming with your husband?

  12. “I think the trick here is that sometimes the respectful thing to do is for a woman to remain silent. That is why I can’t see a man giving his wife a blanket offer to pipe in even with respectful questions at any time, anywhere any place.”

    I think Larry’s right here. Even recently, my husband announced a plan he had for our family concerning something within the next few weeks, and my immediate thought was “oh, but it’d be so much better and more effective if we did it THIS other way…” But I did not say anything right then because he had just announced it to our kids and I didn’t want to bring up the subject like that and in that way, even respectfully there would be something disrespectful about bringing it up right at that moment. It would not be bad at all to do it the way he was planning anyway, but I knew he may want to do it the other way (that we had done before) so that’s why it immediately came to mind that his announcement may not be what he *really* wanted to do once he was reminded what worked before.

    It’s kind of embarrassing for people when you try to immediately “correct” them or suggest something else when they’ve already announced something they’re planning to do. Correcting them or suggesting immediately something else in public just isn’t the right time and place for that. It’s much better if wives do something like that later on and in private. So I think what Larry’s trying to express here is that sometimes it really is the respectful thing to just wait and remain silent at that moment. It only would have confused our older son and caused us to have to discuss it RIGHT then, which would have been possibly annoying or disruptive to the whole family.

  13. Oh maybe I should add.. I guess technically we weren’t “in public” it was just us and the kids inside the car… but it was still in front of the kids and he said it so confidently it just didn’t feel like the right time to bring up something *I* thought was better. There really is a time and place… and Larry’s right that women can and should speak up about certain things – every case is different. But even though husbands can be different, there may still be moments when it’d be better to just wait and bring it up when you two are alone.

  14. Stephanie,

    That is exactly what I was saying. Place and time. I am not saying a wife cannot offer her husband alternatives or disagree with him in a respectful manner. But sometimes those alternatives, questions and disagreements should be reserved for a private setting.

    And you are absolutely correct that sometimes a wife can do what I call “taking the wind out of her husbands sails” by correcting him in public on some issue – even if he is wrong and he may come to realize that later.

    You made this statement earlier to AnnaMS and I just wanted to respond to that as well:

    “And about this issue, it sounds like y’all are fine and know how to communicate well… that’s really all it takes and it surprises me how many adults don’t know how to do that in their marriages”

    I agree with your assessment that AnnaMS and her husband seem to have good communication as well as what I have seen from you and your hubby that you and he seem to have good communication as well.

    The key to a wife having good communication with her husband is for her to bathe all her words in respect, gentleness and kindness and also knowing the place and time to speak and the times simply to remain silent.

    If a woman can master that skill – then of course if her husband is a godly man he will want to hear his wife’s opinions and concerns. He will be asking her what she thinks and he will enjoy conversations with his wife.

  15. Baby is fine, thanks Stephanie!

    BGR, the blanket offer I referred to was limited to respectful contributions. I don’t remember if my husband specifically stipulated that or not, but ik it was implied and he trusts me not to abuse it. So disrespectful applications would not be included in such an offer. My guess is a disrespectful wife will speak up wrongfully regardless (as you have personally experienced), so I don’t think that’s a legitimate argument against making a blanket offer.

    As for your questions, I absolutely believe there is a time and a place for both a husband and a wife to remain silent. I’ve mentioned that times where it would be disrespectful to contribute would be a good time to say nothing. If my husband or I have a personal issue with each other, we save it for private.

    As for his friend, he’s seen us a lot, so I’m guessing it’s a combination of a lot of different things. I think he appreciates that I engage in topics my husband enjoys instead of just talking about us or our baby.

    Also to clarify, I often ask more than just clarifying questions but to encourage a new viewpoint to be considered. It’s mostly an open question to anybody at the table and not specifically to my husband. It often takes the form of “ok, but what about…..?”

    Your daughter reminds me a lot of me at her age. I had the same ideals which saved me a bunch of heartache and poor decisions. Overtime, God has overridden some of them and helped make me a woman my husband needs and wants.

  16. Hello! This was a good read and I agree with all your points you made here as to why wives should submit themselves to their husbands and all the steps you gave on how to achieve a more unified marriage. The only thing i really question is your conclusion to all these steps you mentioned pointing to the unification being more on the shoulders of the wife. My conclusion on my studies would be the exact opposite. While wives are called to submit to their husbands in several places throughout the Bible, we have to ask ourselves what are we supposed to submit too? Ephesians 5:22-33 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.

    25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.”

    So we see wives submit to their husbands but the verse goes on to explain the major responsibility a husband has to his wife marriage and family. It says husbands love your wife as christ loves the church. How did christ love his church? He gave up his life for her. Husbands lay down their life for their wife, and he shows her this self sacrificing love and wives then respond in submission. We as wives only submit to love. We submit to the love and direction the husband receives from the Lord. The burden is often put on the wife to keep her marriage together but I think Biblically the husband is the one who lays down his LIFE for his wife, washing her with the word, praying over her, building her up in different ways so she can become this beautiful crown. I believe what the husband puts into wife shows the world what kind of man he is. He loves her like his own body as in everything he does for her and to her is a reflection on who he is as a man. I whole heartedly believe the main glue in the family, besides Christ obviously, is the man. Several times throughout the bible the man of the home is compared to Christ. And if we look at Christ, he gave up his life for the church, his bride, and made her holy and blameless to present himself with a holy church. My opinion is if we look at the relationship with Christ and church, thats how we should be in marriage.

  17. Miranda(aka Blog),

    Your question:

    “While wives are called to submit to their husbands in several places throughout the Bible, we have to ask ourselves what are we supposed to submit too?”

    God does not call wives to submit in response to their husbands emotional kindness or affection toward them, he does not call women to submit to their husbands only when they believe their husbands are obedient to God in their various actions or in their life in general. God calls on women to submit to their husbands POSITION.

    In the very passage you site women are told:
    ““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.”

    She submits to his headship – his position.

    Now you are correct that husbands are called to sacrificially love their wives – but this is never given as a precondition for a wife’s submission to her husband. In fact I Peter 3:1-2 exhorts women to win their husbands who disobey God’s Word by being in subjection to them respectfully following them.

    Then we must answer the question – what does the sacrificial love of a husband toward his wife look like? Again this same passage you quote shows us this. What is the driving force behind a husband’s sacrifice for his wife:

    “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

    It is to make her holy, not necessarily to make her happy. A husband sacrifices himself in many ways for his wife. Sometimes it might mean putting her needs before his own – like when a man does not ask his wife for sex when she is sick or temporarily unable to for medical or other reasons. Sometimes it might be little ways he sacrifices himself – like when he gives up watching his favorite sports team to spend some time with her. Perhaps he takes some money he was going to spend for something for himself and he spends it on her instead.

    But there is another extremely important way that God calls husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives. When a husband washes his wife – it is helping to expose and remove her sinful behavior. For instance there are times when a man may have been thinking about sex all day with his wife while he was at work. He can’t wait till they put the kids to bed and get to have sex. But when he gets home he realizes that his wife has been lazy once again and not prepared dinner. For the 3rd time this week she again asks him to go get take out instead of her making dinner. So he can take the easy way out and go get dinner so he can keep her in a good mood for sex. Or he can SACRIFICE himself by confronting his wife and asking her what she has continually not been making dinner. This may mean the mood is destroyed and no sex will happen that night. This is his sacrifice.

    A husband and father’s discipline of his children is great sacrifice on his part – but God calls him to this.

    Biblically speaking – if a wife only submits to her husband when he emotionally makes her feel loved(by whatever means that takes place as it is different for every woman) that woman is direct contradiction with the Word of God and God’s commands toward women.

    You also make a great error in assuming that women always submit to loving husbands. What that translates to is “happy wife – happy life”. This is the philosophy that our pagan feminist world has toward marriage. There are millions of marriages around the world where men have bent over backwards and done everything their wives wanted – waited on their wives hand and foot and in the end they had failed marriages. Even if the marriage did not end in divorce and if they are still together these marriages are still failed in God’s eyes. Because a marriage where husbands do not wash their wives with the Word(which involves confronting sin their wife’s life) is a failed marriage by Biblical standards.

    This why I stand by my conclusion in this post that Biblically speaking the success of a marriage falls far more on the wife and her submission and service to her husband than it does on the husband and his sacrifice for his wife.

  18. Thank you for your reply! I love reading your blog and i agree pretty much with everything you state. I do not agree with our feminist society when it come to marriage and the roles of the husband and wife. I did not mean to portray in anything that I posted that a woman is only supposed to submit to her husband when he makes her happy. I think what I was trying to say got lost in transition. I agree submission goes way beyond just how the husband makes us feel due to the fact that God has placed him to be the head of the home and us wives need to submit to him even if we do not agree with their decisions at the time. My intent in posting what I posted was that I feel the success of the marriage and the responsibility of the marriage is on the husbands shoulders more then the woman’s. Obviously the woman has to submit and the roles of both partners have to be in proper balance for everything to go smoothly, but biblically man is responsible to be the head of the home, the leader, and the one who ultimately bares the responsibility for the marriage by loving his wife and giving himself up for her as Christ did for his church.

  19. Miranda,

    I appreciate your kind words and I have looked at your blog and I do think we agree far more than we would disagree. I agree that a successful Christian marriage takes both Godly leadership from the husband and the submission of the wife to her husband. I don’t lay it all on the wife as the husband has his part to play as we agree. The husband is responsible to spiritually feed his wife and teach her the Word of God. He is to wash and mold her with the Word of God.

    It is sort of like a general and his commanders and his army. If you have a lousy general the army will fail its mission. But the army it’s mission if the commanders do not faithfully execute the vision of the general.

    If a woman is in rebellion against her design as the help meet and constantly bucks her husband they will not have a successful marriage. I find it interesting that God always addresses those under authority first then those in authority. He tells wives in Ephesians 5 to obey their husbands before he tells husbands to wash their wives. He tells children to obey their parents before he tells fathers not provoke their children to wrath. He tells wives in I Peter 3 to be in subjection to their husbands who disobey the Word and to win their husbands by their respect, gentleness and obedience.

    Again – I agree that has husbands we have a spiritual responsibility to love our wives and wash with them Word. But just as we as individuals must submit to the Holy Spirit for God to work in our lives – so too a wife must submit to her husband for him to be able to wash her and mold her and shape her to what he believes she needs to be as godly wife. A husband can be the most godly man in the world and try to love his wife as Christ loves the church – but if he has a stubborn and uncooperative wife who will not mold herself to her husband there will never be unity in the marriage as God wills it.

    One of my main points in this post is that a great deal of the success of marriage comes down to unity between the husband and wife. God calls men to mold themselves to God. He calls women to mold themselves to their husbands(to the extent that this molding is not sinful). Every man is unique and different and the wife needs to try an mold herself to her husband as much as is possible.

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