How we do headship and submission

February 26, 2012

in Headship/Submission, Links to good stuff

Man with wife as puppet © Igorr |

No, not like that!

I don’t usually give a lot of details about my marriage. Aside from issues of privacy, I am well aware marriages are not all the same; one-size fits all solutions to marriage issues are rarely helpful to all, and often harmful to some. What works well for me in my marriage is not the best for every couple, and in some instances a bad plan for at least a few. All of that said, when dealing with something as contentious as headship and submission, I feel an obligation to be a bit more transparent than usual.

If you spent time with my bride and I, say as friends at our church, I suspect you would have a hard time identifying our marriage – is it headship/submission or egalitarian? Perhaps the lack of what you would expect in a headship/submission relationship would leave you to assume we must be more egalitarian. This would be a wrong assumption.

From the start Lori and I leaned more towards headship and submission than egalitarian. Early in our marriage we struggled with what that should look like and how it should be lived out. We spent a good deal of time studying what the Bible has to say about how a husband and wife should live. We dug below tradition, looking at what the Bible says, working to understand the Greek and how the audience of the New Testament letters would have understood what Peter, Paul, and the rest were teaching them. As we learned more, we found ourselves moving further and further towards headship as what God has ordained. When I say we, I mean we. If anything, my bride came to understand/accept this more quickly than I did. I struggled with the wrong version of headship I had seen, and had to deal with my fear I would end up being “that husband”.

If we are solidly headship/submission, why would you not see it if you spent a bit of time with us? In part because many have a wrong idea of what headship and submission can and should look like in a marriage. Additionally, because we agree and have been living this a long time, most of it is not on the surface.

  • I have no doubt where I stand with my wife, and I know she will follow my lead if I feel it necessary to say “we’re doing it this way”. I trust her completely, and I know there will never be a “power struggle”. Because of this, I feel no need to posture, manipulate, or overstate my opinion,.
  • For her part, my bride knows I respect her and her opinion. She knows I want to hear what she thinks, and knows I will give her thoughts and feelings serious consideration regardless of how I feel about them. She knows she can protest anything with me any time, and she trusts if I don’t stop to reconsider I have a very good reason why I feel we must continue. She also knows my primary goal after being right with God is blessing her.

The reality is we have very, very, few conflicts. We both want to do what God wants, and we both accept we are imperfect and given to being wrong. The vast majority of the time we come to similar conclusions and as such, headship and submission do not play into most of what we do. On those rare occasions when we cannot agree, Lori submits. She does not submit begrudgingly, and she does nothing to “make me pay” for her submitting. For me, saying “we need to do it my way” is always a bit nerve-racking. I understand I am taking full responsibility when I do this – if it goes bad, it’s my fault, period. I temper this with the understanding God honours my desire to do what He wants, and helps to cover me when I blow it.

This is a seven part series:

Headship? Me? Maybe not … Why men shy away from being the head.
Submit to each other? Wait, how does that work? Does it work?
Submit! But only if you want to? It’s a choice?
Who submits to whom, and why? God has a plan here, really.
Being the head What it means, and how it’s to be done.
Sexual submission New we’re talking … or not.
How we do headship and submission How it works in our message.

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


Black and Married with Kids

You Won’t Be Married Long If You…: Nailed it!
7 Reasons To Attend Couples Counseling: I’d call it 7 BAD reasons.

Couple Things Blog

Get Over It: No really, you need to.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Soul Mate or Sole Mate?: My new go-to answer for the “soul mate” lie. Thanks, J.
Man vs. Woman: A partial list of how we differ.

Intimacy in Marriage

Penis Size and Painful Sex. What’s a Wife to Do?: Yes, this is a real problem!
Infidelity? Can a Marriage Survive?: Another story proving it can.

Journey to Surrender

Scott adds two great posts to the submission tide of the week with A Picture of Submission and The “S” Word and the “F” Word

Marriage Gems

Rules for Reconnecting with Your Spouse: A great guest post with rules to help make your marriage a priority.

Marriage Life

Zombies, Death & Progress: Marriages have zombie moments. How you deal with them is important.

One Flesh Marriage

The Snowball, Superman or One Man: Real men share the good and the bad with their wives.

Romantic Act of the Day

What Character are you Showing Your Wife? : “If you can’t manifest Christ-likeness to your wife, as we have been commanded to do (Eph 5:25), then you aren’t mature yet.” YES!
What’s Important to Her?: Find out, then make that important to you too.
Talking About Your Dreams: Includes some good conversation starter questions.

The Romantic Vineyard

A Presidential Love Story.: Love him or hate him, this man knows how to treat his wife.
Backwards Date Night Idea: Great idea.
What We’ve Learned About Marriage in 33 Years: I have deep respect for this couple, so I take these words as very important. I suggest you do the same.

…to Love Honor and Vacuum

Sex as a Married Couple When You Have Kids in the House: If the kids get in the way of your sex life to often, you want to read this post. Links to the other sex posts of the month at the end.


One other thing I have been thinking about - when I first realized how poorly I was doing at respecting my husband and following his leadership, I had NO IDEA what respect looked like or what do do. I really needed a lot of very practical ideas to at least be able to talk about with my husband to learn what respect looked like to him. At the time, he couldn't verbalized what he needed. I felt like I was learning a whole new language and I desperately needed concrete examples. So I am sure that there are some things that won't work I all marriages, but I think so many of us as wives start out so far from the mark with respect and submission that we need some real life examples and ideas. Then we can discuss the ideas with our husbands and tailor our respect to their needs. I really appreciate couples who are willing to share their experience and ideas - not as gospel truth, but as a starting point, a reference point for those who are groping in the dark trying to grasp these important concepts! Thank you so much for what you and your wife do! I praise God for your ministry and wisdom and all that God has done in and through you both!


Thanks for the great article and transparency! I pray others will see the blessing and joy of God's design and that it brings peace, vibrancy and intimacy to marriage! I'm grateful for your example!

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