Wives: Submissive Helpers


I was chatting with a friend recently about the unique role that wives have within marriage of being a submissive helper to their husbands. Of course, there are many other roles that a wife takes on in marriage (i.e. lover, friend, homemaker, etc.), but the submissive helper was the topic of this particular conversation.

I like to think of submission as shutting up, while being the helper as speaking up. Many of us have skewed versions in our minds of how a wife is to relate to her husband, especially when it comes to headship and submission. It can easily get out of balance either way, but we have to recognize that the Bible clearly sets husbands as the head of the household, while wives are called to submit (Ephesians 5:22-24). And we also see in Genesis, with the first couple, that God decided Adam needed a helper, and so gave him a wife.

Submission

But what does it look like to be submissive? I admit that I've always been a little confused about the idea of submission, because I've never really had to submit to men much in my past. I had plenty of guy friends that I wasn't submitting to, nor was I called by God to. But now that I'm married I can understand it better. I can see that submitting involves trusting my husband's steady judgment, because my natural makeup of being a woman means that I am inherently more emotional than him. That's not to say one is better than the other, it's just the general way God created males and females. So, my husband's strength is to step outside of the emotion of a situation, and make a choice more based on facts. My strength is to feel emotion more keenly, and to help my husband see that side of things as well, yet not in a manipulative way. To submit is to ultimately trust the way God made my husband and how he makes choices. I know he loves me enough to consider my side, and then make a solid decision led mostly by facts and reality. Emotion plays into it, but most certainly doesn't rule.

Being a Helper

So, does that mean my husband is supposed to make all the decisions without my input? Of course not. I already mentioned that husbands should consider the wives point of view before making decisions. My husband and I often debate differing sides for quite some time before he ultimately decides what's best for our family. This is a way that wives are helpers. 

While there are other ways to be a helper, I'd like to specifically focus on a woman's influence with her husband. It differs with each husband's personality as to what degree his helper should speak up or interfere with how he does life. In my case, a way I help my husband is by speaking up about time boundaries. Like, how he'd be tempted to work in the shop all night, every night, if not for my influence in this area. My husband is wise enough to see he needs help in this area, and thanks me for it (at least when he's not in the middle of a project ;p). We know that our marriage is more important than little downfalls that could happen if I wasn't helping him in his areas of weakness. In other marriages, maybe the wife will best help her husband by encouraging him to get off the couch and get to work, make some decisions for their family, or by bluntly confronting a glaring sin in his life. Every husband is unique in the way that he needs help to do what's best for their marriage, but it doesn't help anyone for a wife to keep silent on real issues in her marriage. We must not cross the line into nagging, but we should be a loving helper. 

Each Couple Unique

With submission, wives "shut up" eventually, trusting our husbands, and, ultimately, God. With being a helper we "speak up" in ways that our husbands agree are helpful. We can't look at someone else's marriage and think they are doing it all wrong because it looks different than ours. Being a submissive helper will look different for each couple, but the main thing is that we, as wives, are following God's directive in this way. Be a loving wife that submits to, yet helps, your husband.

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