Why "Submitting to Your Husband" Is Actually a Compliment

quoteThis is a guest post by Sarah Greesonbach. She writes and curates the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter for commentary and hot links, as well as pictures of her husband and cat. She releases her first eBook this month, Life After Teaching: The Hands-On Guide for Transitioning Out of Teaching and Into a New Career. 

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Have you heard the popular wedding Bible verse Ephesians 22: "Wives, submit to your husbands"?

Of course you have. In fact, Kelsey already brought it up in her post The "S" Word and submitting to your husband. And while she covered her feelings personally, for some reason I still left the Web that day with my hackles the slightest bit raised because I hadn't yet made peace with the idea. But thankfully, nine months into my own marriage, I have finally come around to it, and I think it is a special message that can save you a few years of pain and misery in your marriage.

Bear with me. Because maybe you've googled "wedding" and at some point some jerk said something offensive and used this quote as evidence. And maybe, like me, you have older brothers and a Catholic mother who read this verse with a twinkle in their eye as you tried to find some verses for your own wedding. And maybe you don't feel the need to understand or appreciate this verse -- but that might be a huge mistake.

To save us the intricacies of theology and variations on this verse, I don't want to get deep into the religious implications of this Bible verse and its amalgamations. Just a new look at the word itself will help my point.

First, I think we can all stop listening to the person that says asking one's wife to submit is like bridling and riding a horse (yes, I have heard this before). Obviously, wives are not horses. And generally you cannot force things or people into that kind of submission without extreme violence and quite a few boundary issues.

But what about the other kind of submission? Say, submitting a poem into a poetry contest. The kind of submission that you choose to make for the betterment of yourself, your position or your loved ones. Or even submitting yourself to constructive criticism - the act of removing your ego for a moment in order to improve yourself. This is closest to the Latin origin (and my favorite meaning of the word) -- a lowering, sinking, or yielding to a thing or person.

So, here is a turn of thought that changed my mind about this verse forever.

What if it was written assuming certain things about women? That women are strong. That women are often stubborn (I know I definitely am). That women, given a chance, will take over the world, do any and everything for their families, and basically drive themselves into a stressful, overworked, insane firework display of a human if you leave them to it?

Can you think of a woman you know who does it all? Who might even take on too much to be happy -- tries to control too much, do all they can do, sometimes to the point of not taking care of herself?

We all know how that story ends - the burnout. The stress. The subsequent gastrointestinal discomfort.

For me, this verse (or "tip," as I like to call it about submitting to your husband) is asking a married woman to accept that she now has a partner. This means, when delegating tasks, that maybe the bathroom won't be as clean as you'd like to to be, but you didn't have to clean it this time. And maybe the vacuuming won't be done within the half hour time slot you would like to to be done but...guess what...you aren't the one who has to do it alone anymore.

This verse is offering perfect and timely advice to help you stop being an overworked life-solopreneur, Type-A, micromanaging stress ball. To help you submit your standards -- yield your way of living -- to another kind of living that makes room for a person who will have different priorities and different needs.

There will always be people who interpret this verse differently, who think that submission means ownership -- perhaps people who like to have an inordinate amount of control. And if that is the case and you find yourself disagreeing, chances are you are in for some marital discourse or dog-housing.

But what if you married a true partner? What if, of all the reasons you chose your husband, trust was first and foremost? When that is the case, as it is for me, submission means taming my volatile nature. Submission means allowing for the space of my husband in my life when before I might have thought I didn't need a partner. Now I know I do.

How do you interpret that Bible verse? Have you had any fights about it?