Submission in Marriage

This word usually gets folks attention. It gets my attention. Submission is something that I was both taught to do and not to do all of my life. All during the life cycle, we are expected to be able to submit in some situations and praised for those times in our lives when we courageously step out of line to bring about some positive change. So, how do we know when submission is appropriate and when it is not?

First, I guess it is fair to state that submission means many different things to people. What I am referring to here in this context is the mutual submission that is needed for a relationship to thrive. If this is to be possible, both safety and trust have to be present in the marriage. Submission must be the choice of the one who is submitting, rather than a demand from the one who is asking for it. Therefore, in my opinion, the request for one spouse to submit to another is a card to be played carefully and sparingly.

Examples of requests:

  • Please don’t take that job
  • Don’t go for a drive now when you are so angry
  • Don’t go out to lunch alone with that person who makes me uncomfortable for you to be around even though I can’t explain exactly why

If you find yourself reading this post now for the purpose of justifying making a demand for compliance from your spouse, it is a good time for you both to seek the help of a professional to make sense of how power is being used in the marriage.

A request for submission should most often come with the aim of the request being for the good of the individual for whom the request is being made and for the marriage. All too often in our work as counselors we have seen the concept of submission having been used as the tool for one partner to gain control of the relationship, to control the other partner.

And lets be honest here men, we have likely been the worst offenders in this scenario. We have used religion, cultural norms, and career achievements to justify our demands on our spouses to do what we would like them to do.

Yet, a thriving marriage requires both to be willing and able to submit to one another. Mutual submission is a process by which members of a team, both individually and corporately, make choices to advance the goals of the team above the immediate wants of the individual.

Matt Fortner has been a licensed professional counselor for over 15 years.

He specializes in couples and adults.

He joined Hurley Counseling in the fall of 2018. He previously practiced in Oxford, Mississippi.

To make an appointment with Matt Fortner, call 251-222-8880.

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