We don’t hear too much about submission anymore. And if we do, it’s usually a command to the wife, to submit to her husband. Still, this is considered a bit archaic in today’s modern culture.
But what does the Bible say? Before the section on marriage in Ephesians 5, we read in verse 21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Should a husband submit to his wife? Yes. He submits to his wife’s need to feel loved. I take this position by combining God’s command in Ephesians 5:21 to mutually submit, with God’s command in Ephesians 5:25-31 to a husband to love his wife.
Juxtaposition, a wife submits to her husband's need to feel respected. I take this position by combining God's command in Ephesians 5:22-24 to a wife submitting to her husband, with God's command in Ephesians 5:33 to a wife to respect her husband.
Beautifully a husband and wife mutually submit during a conflict when a husband submits to his wife's need to feel loved during the argument and a wife submits to her husband's need to feel respected during the argument!
In the Bible, Hosea serves as a godly example of a man who submitted to his wife’s need for love during a major breakdown in their marriage. In Hosea 3:1 God says to Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress.” Gomer did not deserve love but Hosea deferred to her need for love.
What might that look like in today’s culture? Like Hosea, listen to this husband who put on love to win his wife back. Though he contributed to the marital difficulties, when he submitted to his wife’s need for his love, God gave him favor. He writes:
"I have been married for 10 years. About once or twice a year we'd have a big argument where she would give me the laundry list of all the things I was doing wrong and ask why I hated her. I was always surprised - I thought I loved her very much, and by biting the bullet and not letting her emasculating behaviors toward me effect me, I thought I was being the bigger, better man. In reality, I was the king of the stone wall. The only time I would show her any tenderness at all was when I wanted to have sex... which was constantly... so I thought I was showing love on a regular basis.
"She became desperate for me to love her, which I thought I did. Only now do I realize that my behavior was telling her just the opposite. I came to understand (she) had been having an affair for a couple of months. This rocked my world. It never occurred to me that she would ever cheat on me. This devastated me.
Right in the middle of this, I was visiting my in-laws and my brother-in-law had your book, Love & Respect sitting on his table. Through your book, I came to realize that I had failed in my greatest task - to love my wife as Christ loves the church. Never before in our marriage had I seen how MY behavior was affecting my wife. I never believed her - or even stopped to listen - when she said things like ‘why do you hate me’ because I had never said those words to her in my life. I thought she must be crazy. But after reading your book, I now see how my stone-walling and my hard and closed-off heart gave her exactly that message. I was selfish, hard-hearted, and closed.
"I hit my knees and begged God for the grace to change and the grace to forgive her. And boy did He ever grant that. I've never understood the idea of ‘the fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much' until that moment. I prayed, and the Lord answered my prayers. The wall of stone around my heart was crushed and broken.
Armed with the knowledge from your book, I began to love my wife the way I should have been doing for the last 10 years. My wife had decided to leave me. She just couldn't take it anymore. But, I have won her back. I have been practicing ALL of the things you talk about in C.O.U.P.L.E. I have learned to love by serving. For example, my wife and I have started cooking together, and it's one of the best parts of our day. Not only have I been open and soft-hearted with her, but she has been a COMPLETELY different person towards me. I see now how my behavior affected her."
Peter tells us that God favors such husbands. Peter instructs, “be submissive” for “when you do what is right and suffer for it” and “you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:18-20). However, does this passage really apply to a husband? Does God really call a husband to submit to his wife?
Yes. In 1 Peter 2:13–3:7, Peter makes his main point about submission and then applies submission to citizens, slaves, wives and husbands. He says to citizens in 1 Peter 2:13, “submit yourselves.” He writes to slaves in 2:18, “be submissive.” He says in 3:1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive." Then, and this is the clincher, he writes in 3:7, “You husbands in the same way.” To what does he refer when writing “you husbands in the same way?” In the same way that citizens submit, slaves submit and wives submit, you husbands submit. Specifically, in this text a husband submits to his wife’s need to be understood and honored. When a husband submits this way, God answers the man’s prayers (3:7)! Talk about favor!
Husband, do you want God’s favor? He favors you when you submit to your wife’s need for love, understanding, and honor! Don’t let this frighten you. Instead, try this and watch God show up. You do not lose power but experience power!