My Roadblocks to Submission in Marriage (Why I Was a Dominant Wife with a Passive Husband)

Posted on May 17, 2012 by

I was just brainstorming about some of the biggest hindrances to submitting to my husband (in a biblical way) for me in earlier years in our marriage.  Or – why I was and why I thought I had to be a dominant wife.  I am going to share some of my mistakes and sins- to show how imperfect I am and how desperately I need God just like every person does.  I am thankful every day that God has opened my eyes to His ways!  I NEVER, EVER want to go back to my old ways!  The new ways have brought me SUCH PEACE, JOY and INTIMACY with God and my husband!

I single women might want to perk up your ears and guard your hearts against things that might creep into your mindset and contaminate your understanding of Scripture and that might encourage you to disobey God’s Word and create a great deal of pain in your future marriage.

Some Factors that Encouraged Me to be “In Charge” of My Marriage Instead of Submitting to my Husband (acknowledging and empowering his God-given leadership and spiritual authority in our marriage):

– the general culture of feminism that discourages real godly femininity and masculinity and is DEEPLY ingrained in almost all of us whether we are aware of it or not.  It says that women and men are basically the same except for “plumbing” and that they should be equal in marriage and their roles are basically interchangeable.  It rebels against every source of God-given authority – the Bible, leaders, pastors, government, husbands, parents, teachers, etc…

– being a straight A honor’s student all through high school and pharmacy school left me with a huge perfectionism streak and made me feel very in charge of my own destiny.  I was probably a bit of a control freak –  OK…. I WAS a control freak.  I also believed if I worked harder, I would be successful.  But that didn’t translate in marriage.  The harder I tried, the lonelier and more frustrated I was.  I was trying VERY hard but not doing the right things, and it did NOT work!  I was trying to LOVE my husband more and change him with my love.  I was trying to lead him.  And I was “leading” in a critical, negative, bossy, condescending, lecturing, holier-than-thou kind of way.  BIG MISTAKES!

– Making more $ than my husband did for the first 15.5 years of our marriage gave me a feeling that I was in charge.  We always had our money combined in one bank account.  But I was in charge of the money from the time we got married.  I paid the bills.  I made a lot of financial decisions on my own.   My husband wanted me to handle the finances.  He didn’t want to deal with the bills even when I would ask him to handle it.  We made large decisions together, and I never spent over $200 without checking with him.  But I had a lot of freedom and earning power and I believe that was an insidious combination that undermined my husband’s authority in my mind – and probably in his mind, too.  We both knew I was the primary breadwinner.  I didn’t like being the main source of income.  In fact, I hated it.  I wanted to be loved for being myself, not because of a paycheck – and that was always a doubt in the back of my mind.  Whenever I had the “opportunity” at work to work extra – my husband was always very enthusiastic about me working more to bring in more money – even though my retail pharmacy job often left me overwhelmed, exhausted, so stressed I couldn’t sleep at night, depleted and sometimes an emotional wreck.  When we had children, I went part-time, but  I still was the primary breadwinner and I think that really affected how both of us viewed ourselves.  We both WAY underestimated how profoundly my being the main monetary provider would skew and affect the balance of masculinity/femininity and control/power in our marriage.  I believe that  God designed men to be the providers.  Something happens that is just kind of emasculating to a man’s spirit when he is not the primary breadwinner.  Women are designed to handle being indebted to a man.  Like the Church is indebted to Christ.  Christ is not indebted to the Church, and a husband is at his best when he is the one doing the giving and providing, not when he is indebted to his wife for financial support.  I’m not saying women shouldn’t work – and there are obviously times it is unavoidable for the wife to be the primary source of income.  But I do think it is a huge blessing to the marriage and children when a wife can focus on what I believe are her primary responsibilities toward her husband and children.  I believe each couple must pray intently about God’s will for them in this area – to really seek HIS best regardless of what our culture says.  Wives earning more than their husbands is an increasingly common issue.  I am not sure what the solution is.  There may be couples who can make this work and have no problems result from it – but it was a big problem for us and we didn’t know how to handle it at the time.  I am so thankful that my hours were cut dramatically a few years ago and for the first time I was home more and making less money.  That dynamic has been so much healthier for our marriage.  I am much more frugal when I know the money is “his” hard-earned money not mine.  I gave my husband the finances over a year ago- we BOTH love it that way now.  It works so much better for me to not be in the position of telling him what he can or cannot spend.  He is actually handling things much better than I did.  He is super responsible and finds wonderful deals and ways to save money.  And I love the freedom of having all that burden off my shoulders!

– I grew up being the dominant twin in a set of identical twins.  I was used to being the “leader” and “in charge” since I was little.

– Being an identical twin and constantly talking to my twin sister about every single thought and feeling I had all day long was not the best preparation for marriage!  A husband is NOT a twin sister!

– I thought of myself as responsible for my siblings almost like a parent from the time I was about 5 years old. It was a childish and prideful mindset.  I had both parents, but for various reasons I felt like they “needed” my help.  So I had a TON of pride and had learned that I was in control of a lot more than I really should have been.  I didn’t see the sovereignty of God as much as I saw that I was in control and responsible for myself and I thought I was responsible for a lot of other people, too.  That was a lot of pressure to try to “make” things happen the way I thought they should.

– Until my little brother was big enough to be my Daddy’s son and do things with him, I was sort of a son-substitute.  I went hunting with my Daddy.  I did anything my Daddy wanted me to.  I was a Daddy’s girl- but in some ways I related more to him than to my mother.  She was very respectful of my Daddy.  But I took on a mindset of being the decision maker and being in charge.

– Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church I became very sensitive to guilt messages about me being responsible for other people going to heaven or not.  I certainly didn’t want to be the reason that someone didn’t get to go to heaven.  But that is also a lot of pressure and discounts God’s sovereignty and the power of His Spirit working through me, not my own efforts.

– I saw myself as being a respectful wife.  I didn’t yell, call my husband names, throw things or look nearly as bad as a lot of other wives I had seen.  I wasn’t a Bridezilla! Compared to the culture around me, I thought I looked pretty respectful. I didn’t know that my husband was not able to voice how disrespected he felt.  I didn’t understand the intricacies of respect from a man’s point of view and glossed over my own failures to be the wife God called me to be.  I thought that my husband needed to change. – My husband tended to be quiet and need time to process.  I took his silence as inaction and would eventually feel that “I had” to take over and make decisions.  I was extremely impatient.  If I had given him more time, and wasn’t demanding a quick answer, I believe now that he would have done a lot more leading in those early years.

– I didn’t know that I was so busy being “right” all the time that my husband didn’t feel like it was even worth it to argue with me many times.  Many times he did NOT agree with me but didn’t feel like issues were important enough to really tell me how he felt.  All that time I thought he agreed with me, but he didn’t!

– When my husband did put his foot down, I did not accept his answer graciously.  I argued… a lot.  I pouted, whined, cried, and tried to MAKE him change his mind.  I made his job as leader MUCH harder when he actually did decide to stick to his guns on an issue.  That made him dread telling me what he thought was best and did not help empower his leadership, to say the least.

– I was extremely prideful.  I thought I knew best.  I thought I knew better than he did.  I don’t know that I consciously voiced that to myself- but it is what I believed.  It was a big shock when I realized just how much pride I needed to confess to God and to my husband.  Seemed like I needed a heavy duty commercial dump truck every day just to dump it all into.

– Being a pharmacist, I was used to advising people all day about their medications and health.  I was used to telling my technicians what to do.  I didn’t turn that off at the door of my marriage.

– Being a mom, I was used to telling my children what to do.  I had done the most research about parenting and baby’s health issues and made most of the decisions about the children.  I easily slid into telling my husband what to do, too.

– I had control as an idol.  I believed deep down that I knew better than God and I knew better than my husband and I probably knew better than everyone!  I was afraid to not be in control.  I didn’t like group projects in school because I had to depend on people who wouldn’t do the quality of work that I expected of myself.  I didn’t like depending on anyone.  I didn’t ask for help.  I didn’t want to be seen as irresponsible or weak.  I couldn’t turn off my over-responsibility for anyone, much less my husband.  Things might not be “done right” if I didn’t do them myself.

– I had an inadequate understanding of godly femininity, God’s pattern for marriage, and my role as a wife despite my extensive knowledge of the Bible and wonderful upbringing.  The culture’s messages about dual income marriages being normal and necessary and that a woman has to have a career had deep roots in my heart.  I didn’t even know to question a lot of things about marriage and how much things have changed over the past few generations.  I almost felt like I had to start from scratch figuring out God’s design for women, marriage, wives, and moms.  What freedom and joy there is in His design!

– I didn’t know the power a woman has to influence her husband in her respect and submission.  I had no tools at my disposal!  I didn’t know what I didn’t know



It is possible also to overshoot too far the other way and be a slave or doormat.  God designed marriage and husbands to need the full input, feelings, thoughts, ideas, personality, strengths and feminine perspective of a wife.  Having no thoughts, feelings, opinions, desires or ability to be happy is not being a full person!  A wife who checks her heart and brain at the door of marriage does her marriage a grave disservice and robs her husband of her critical and unique perspective and he is unable to make the best decisions for his family.  In fact, a husband who has no input from his wife is likely to become a selfish tyrant, not a loving, godly leader.  Her children will have a two dimensional view of femininity and miss out on the richness of true intimacy in marriage and the glory of godly femininity.  Your voice is important!  His is, too.  Both perspectives are necessary.  One is not more important than the other.  When submission is practiced properly, BOTH husband and wife become more like Christ and the children see a complete and beautiful picture of the mystery of Christ and the church.  We have to find that healthy balance in the middle involving respect, femininity, submission, not taking over, and voicing our feelings, thoughts and desires in a helpful, encouraging way.  To do that, we need the Holy Spirit’s power in us!