Disclaimer: I do not at all think or claim that I am a perfect wife, or fully submitted to my husband, and that all the time. It is possible to understand and believe in a concept, without oneself having perfected it. I am sharing my insights here, not giving a run-down of my wifely accomplishments.
On the most recent Q & A, the question was raised how exactly, from a practical standpoint, a wife submitting to her husband would play out in everyday life:
What I'm wondering is that your husband talks a lot about how he is the boss in his own home, and how you as his wife have to submit to him. I do get that in theory, but how exactly does this work in your every day life? I'm also asking this, because you seem to be pretty "independent" when it comes to managing your household (like putting the family on a organic only diet an so on). So a few questions, to get a better idea: who decides on homeschooling things, like which book to use, you? your husband? What if you, during the day, forbid/allowed a child to do something, and your husband doesn't agree with your decision? I mean, sure with the big things, you could call him, but with the thousands of small decisions every housewife and mother has to do every day? How does it work with the finances, do you get an amount of money and can decide yourself how to use it? and with general big decisions, like chosing where to live, which house to buy, your childrens names and so on, do you get to say anything, or does your husband decides everything, without considering your opinion? Like would he give a child a name he knows you don't like?
I'm sorry for asking so many questions, but while it is commmon to hear that the husband is the head of the home, it's sometimes tricky in everyday life.
And from another reader:
I also wonder about this? Exactly how a wife should submit to her husband in everyday life but still be a strong mother and woman in charge of her household.
A clear chain of authority is nothing unique to marriage. Just about any aspect of our society is built on them. Children are supposed to obey their parents. Employees are supposed to be working for the boss according to his wishes, not their own agenda. Courts have higher courts over them. None of these examples seem to throw anyone for a loop as much as saying, in the 21st century, that wives are supposed to obey and reverence their husbands, and submit unto them as unto the Lord.
Since the other areas are not as much of a mental struggle to wrap one's mind around, let's use them for illustration purposes.
Does the Supreme Court of the United States hear every single legal battle in this country? Are they the only ones qualified to decree justice? No, of course not! There are many lower level courts that hear the everyday, common, straightforward cases. It is only if there is a dispute or disagreement that the next higher up court is called upon. If an agreement cannot be reached, it gets passed up to the next court, and so on.
Or let's imagine a big company with many employees. Is the CEO making all the decisions? Is he hiring all the workers, choosing the stationary, answering the phone, analyzing the finances, etc? That would be absurd at best, as well as impossible. Does hiring employees to fill the various positions, and taking over certain responsibilities, mean that the owner of that company no longer is the head of it? Of course not!
The husband being the head of the home does not mean that he makes every decision. The Bible makes it clear that while the husband's duty is to provide for the family and protect it (i.e. mostly dealing with the world outside the family), the wife's duties are mostly within the family (i.e. raising the children, and keeping the home). My husband knows and appreciates my competence in this area, and trusts me to make the best decisions to keep us moving forward in the course we have set for our family based upon the Bible and his preferences. So yes, in my home, I am the queen, and as such, very independent. There is no need for my husband to monitor, veto, or override my every decision. I do not call him throughout the day to run this-or-that by him.
If we come to a conflict, an area where we do not see eye-to-eye on, my opinion is carefully taken into consideration, as any wise and loving husband would do. Ultimately, however, the burden and responsibility of decision-making for these "big" areas is with the husband. These would typically be important decisions. Some examples are: where to live, how many children to have, how to educate them, where to go to church, etc.
Have I always agreed with my husband and his decisions? No, of course not! But thankfully, I have a higher power above him that I can appeal unto, one that is always wise, just, and perfect - God! If my husband and I have two very differing opinions on what we should do, both of us can't be right. Either he is right, and I am wrong, or he is wrong, and I am right. Knowing this simple fact, I can pray to God that He would either show my husband the error of his thinking, or else if my husband is indeed right, change my heart so I can easily get on board and submit. True, if God were not a factor working in our lives, marriage would be quite scary and difficult. But the same God that creates life, saves us from hell, and guides us into all truth, can make either one of us have a change of heart effortlessly. I can think of a number of vital areas right now in which we had vastly different opinions, but over time, with prayer, my husband came to see and agree with my standpoint.
Lastly, God appoints authority (in this case that of the husband) not as a tool for the one in charge to serve themselves, but rather for that leader to use his power to serve those under his care and protection. My husband is commanded to love me as Christ loved the church, which means he should be willing to lay down his life for mine. He has the say in decision making, but it is all tempered by having to consider what decision will best serve me and our family.
Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty - and within marriage, and life in general, I enjoy great liberty. There is a chain of authority that rules our day-to-day lives, but if we both do our part - me acting according to my husband's wishes and him ruling in my best interest - it is hardly ever seen.
No marriage is perfect, ours included. Friction between family members under the same roof is inevitable. Having clearly defined roles is one of the tools that helps reduce conflict, rather than add to it.
I will end with what another reader shared in this response to this question, as it was so perfectly worded:
I get this same question a lot. I explain it like this:
Think of a property owner who owns an apartment complex. The property owner has an apartment manager that lives on the property and manages the property. The property owner has given the manager full reign to run and operate the property following the guidelines and standards set up by the owner. The manger makes all daily decisions on their own while considering what would be pleasing to the owner. If something unusual or serious comes up and the manager is unsure how the owner would like that situation handled then the manager consults with the owner for guidance.
My husband is very much the leader over the home. As the leader of our home he understands that the Lord has called me to be the keeper of the home. My husband has given me full authority to “keep” our home under the principles set by the Bible and the preferences set by my husband. I make all day to day decisions in our home on my own with keeping in mind what would be pleasing to my husband. If something major comes up and I am unsure how he would want that situation handled, then I call him for guidance. This rarely happens because my husband and I are like minded and I as the keeper of the home have learned what is pleasing to God and what is pleasing to my husband that that is how I proceed.
Being submissive doesn’t mean you are a doormat, have no opinion or can’t make a decision on your own. That is a great misconception. Submissive women are very capable women. Their goal is to make daily decisions in the home that reflect the standards set by their husband, which is not hard to do if you and your husband are like minded, have the same goals and most importantly serve the same God.
On big things like where we live and which house to buy my husband prays and seeks God’s leading. He will talk to me about what I think about the decision, but he has the final word. Typically we are on the same page because his heart is to follow God and my heart is to follow my husband. There are times that we disagree such as naming children. He likes the name Uriah. I can’t stand that name it reminds me of Urine. We do not have a child named Uriah. I would prefer that each of our children’s names don’t start with the same letter, but he felt that the Lord gave him a particular name for a youngest that happened to start with the same letter as our oldest. It meant a lot to him, so our youngest got that name. So like with every couple there is compromise. But my husband is the final authority. My husband loves me like Christ loves the church and he treats me accordingly. He is not going to give our child a name that I hate because he wants to consider me and please me…. just as I do him.