The Need For Courage
I find the courage needed to write this article when I think about all the hurting, lonely marriages that don’t understand submission.
There can be no happily ever after in a marriage of two people who are not mutually submitted to one another.
People don’t have marriage problems; they have submission problems.
I’m going to explain what that means, who we are submitting to, and why we’re so afraid of it.
What does it mean to submit to another?
While doing a word search on submit, interestingly, I found it associated with the category of softness.
The synonyms I found indicated the state or condition of heart rather than demands of obedience.
I found softness, pliability, flexibility, nonrigidity. The verb, to yield is used.
When we submit, we yield to another. In traffic, a yield sign means I stop and let them go. I give them “the right of way.” I don’t push my way. Not a lot of that around these days.
Unyielding hearts are the ones that struggle with submission; Softness is lacking. There is no negotiating room for mutuality and flexibility. There is also no love to grow the relationship, and the marriage can’t move forward.
Love cannot exist without sacrifice, serving, and dying to self. We need resurrection for divine love that comes through the cross. You can’t resurrect unless you die.
If you avoid sacrifice you will avoid mutual love. One cannot exist without the other. Love will always involve the risk of betrayal and being take advantage of.
Love exists when the risks of submission are taken. If I am wounded in this process, I forgive so I can love again. Love knows that it will cost you everything, and cannot be controlled or managed. It is spontaneous and unpredictable. How fun! Help us God.
Why I Submit
I submit to my wife Linda on a regular basis because I love her. I also submit because God tells me to and I want to do what honors Him, even if it’s hard. I follow Jesus into submission as He provides a clear example. He’s the perfect model for it.
“Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25
“. . . submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21
I can’t expect mutuality in my marriage, or God to bless it, if I resist or selfishly refuse the concept of submission. Mutual submission goes in both directions and is not gender specific. It’s not about power, getting my way, or being right, it’s about yielding, giving way, and honoring.
I also submit in order to be freed from my selfishness. We can be self-centered and narcissistic without the challenges another can bring to us with their desires and needs.
We need to get out of ourselves and care for others. Not only in marriage, but in society where so many are hurting.
Don’t Tell Me What to Do
“No one is going to tell me what to do, or how to live my life.”
“No one is going to control me. I don’t need that.”
“I won’t submit to any man, or woman.”
These people carry strong opinions, that you hear about, and live lonely lives since they need to be in control and dominate their relationships. Even if they can manage a relationship, it’s not mutual and will consist of someone they can suppress.
Easy to be Hard; Three Dog Night
We are living in an unsubmitted culture. The reason our society feels so hard and loveless today is that so few are submitting to one another. Each is on a campaign to convince another to polarize them, whether political or medical.
The relational message being sent, and fueled by fear driven media is,
“You will agree with me and conform to my position or you are the enemy.“
What happened to respecting another’s opinion and valuing them without feeling threatened by what they believe? Are we that fearful and insecure that we need to battle over these differences and issues?
Are we two or one?
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24
I am resisting submission if I insist on preserving my own selfish autonomous kingdom in marriage. I am not submitting when I try to control or change her into what I want.
“You do your thing, I’ll do mine. We’ll check in from time to time, make sure the bills are paid, but there will be no mutual submitting going on here.”
That is so empty and such a sham of what marriage is to be. Instead of mutually submitted oneness, you have independent twoness. This is a recipe for loneliness.
No, it doesn’t mean you “lose yourself,” and become a doormat. That’s more of a threat to me than Linda in this relationship, but I’m not afraid because I’ve learned to stand up for myself and level the playing field. Our respect is mutual, no fighting over power.
We are supposed to be “assertive” and speak the truth in love and expect respect from our partners. It’s not about power, it’s about serving and honoring each other. It may be inconvenient and involve a choice to co-operate, but Isn’t this marriage?
Linda; “Can you help me with something?” (this never happens.)
Dan; (feeling inconvenienced and put upon,) “What do you need?” or, “give me a minute and let me finish this.” Or, “can we set a time to do that later?”
Immediate demands are not always fair, sometimes she needs to wait and respect what I’m doing. She needs to submit and be patient until I can get to her. Honoring must be a mutual thing. At times I need to submit, stop what I’m doing, and help her with what she needs.
This is for all the lonely people
Mutual submission is the pathway for our loneliness to be eased in marriage.
Loneliness is awful. We all want to remove it but often don’t know how, even in marriage.
The common denominator in a lonely marriage is a lack of mutual submission. You just can’t seem to access each other’s heart the way you know intuitively that it can be.
This means two souls making repeated choices that will include sacrifice and submission to one another.
And the Lord God said,
“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18
Those who enter marriage bring this need for companionship with them, this longing for intimate connection with another soul. We ache for it, man, and woman alike.
As we know, just being physically present with another doesn’t mean you are intimate with them, or that your loneliness is being eased. Roommates are not lovers.
Fear & Submission
I wasn’t willing to yield much ground at first when Linda and I married. The first thing God did was start exposing me in my insecure defensiveness and deflating my ego. Imagine that.
There’s nothing like marriage for God to get us where He wants us. I thought I knew God before I married Linda, but I would learn how deep he was asking me to risk in love.
To be honest, submission is terrifying at first and anything but courageous. You don’t know yet how they’re going to treat you in a new marriage. You haven’t developed any safe history yet.
It seems madness to immediately turn over all control to an unpredictable spouse you have no history with, especially with the unhealed wounds the last relationship left you bleeding with.
Yes, you need healing from the past, but my experience was the real healing didn’t begin until I risked loving again and followed Jesus into “I Do” with Linda.
It was scary submission, not very courageous, but at least I was following. You can’t control the healing process anyway; God is the manager of that.
I’m going to leave you with some thoughts about creating a safe history. Invite your spouse to read this blog with you, then talk about the bullet points listed below. See if you can create a safe environment to talk about your feelings and how the two of you “do” marriage together. Talk about loneliness, connection, and emotional honesty.
Creating Safe History
- Open a dialogue. Start talking about your two steering wheels and how you’re using them.
- Yes, talk about power and control. Why not? Something as important as “who’s got the power?” shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
- Negotiate mutuality, challenge the status quo if the playing field needs levelling.
- How are decisions made? Are they mutual, submitted to one another?
- Do you have a say in the decision-making process? You should. Do they? They should.
- Mutuality is not a dominating autocrat suppressing another. (It can be man or woman.)
Submission is learning to give up trying to control your marriage or spouse.
- We all have control issues and don’t want to feel dominated or controlled by another.
- Talk about submission, how you feel about it and what it does or doesn’t look like.
- Talk about when you feel you are losing your freedom by their words, demands, attitudes, or actions.
- Discuss how the attitudes of your partner make you feel in relationship to them.
- Don’t be passive when you are dishonored. You are not a doormat, you deserve respect. Get in their face about it.
- Never co-operate with abusive attitudes or behavior.
- Marriage is to feel like a free place, not a prison.
My prayers and support go out to all who read these words. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Reference this website. XO Dan