Do Men Struggle with Female Submission?

This is not the summer I had envisioned for my family. In the spring, my husband and I were happily talking about different families that we wanted to have over for cookouts, horseshoes, and the fire pit. I envisioned family bike rides, hikes, and day trips. It’s also become my thing to have a little schedule going for the kids on our days home—nothing major, but some light chores, fitness, and reading. Our spring sports schedule is pretty packed between baseball and softball, and I look forward to the lighter schedule of the summer. The girls do play volleyball in the summer, but that is a lighter, faster-paced program.

And then my ten-year-old made the All Star team.

I shared how extreme this could be in my last article. But there were some details that I left out. Without over-sharing, let me just say that there have been plenty of times that I wanted to just tell some coaches what they can do with their All Star season. I know that wouldn’t be very lady-like, or “Christian” of me, but I want to paint an honest picture of my struggles for the last month or so. These parents and coaches involved don't deserved to be demonized, but I explained in my last article how there seems to be some identity-confusion placed on our 10-year-olds. I don’t want my daughter placing all of her meaning and value in her performance on the field.

We certainly did not expect to make it to the State Tournament when we signed the consent/commitment form. Although we surely weren’t naïve to this atmosphere, we didn’t foresee the extent of what we’ve been through in the process. During the Regional Tournament, Matt and I’s protective claws were beginning to show and we were ready for it to all be over with. In my mind, if they made States, I thought it was time to decline. Yes, we signed a commitment form, but they should have signed one as well on not overworking the kids, and on how they would be treated. Do you honor a bad commitment?

I was beginning to have a major attitude problem. This whole situation was putting a strain on our family. And I was fully expecting my husband to say “enough is enough,” and free Zaidee from her grueling work schedule. After all, we still had July and most of August left for a real summer with something other than three hours of softball every day.

Matt asked me if we could talk, and sent the kids out of the kitchen. I could tell he was struggling with what he was about to say. He had that look in his eyes, like he didn’t want to hurt me. Whatever he was about to say, it was painful for him to say it.

He sat down. I was standing.

Then he told me that he still felt the same way I did about this whole All Star experience. He was concerned for Zaidee; and he was her advocate every time she was on that field, whether it be practice or game time. Matt didn't want her to have to continue in this environment. He knew the stress it was putting on our whole family. Yet, we made a commitment, and he wanted to honor it. Matt explained that there were only two substitutes on the team, and if Zaidee stepped down now the team would suffer. Then, with even more struggle, he told me that he is very much aware of how I feel about all this, and that he wanted me to support his decision. In a very tactful way, Matt pretty much said, “Please get rid of the attitude.”

Ouch. Honestly, I did not like what I was hearing. Thoughts were whirling through my mind like:

I’m sure some other family would jump at the chance to add their kid to the roster. After all, they still had three more weeks of (grueling) practice before the almost-week-long-tournament that is 5 hours away!...You do know that we have to split up for this. I have my entire family coming up that same weekend to celebrate our other daughter’s birthday, along with my niece and nephew's…Zaidee is never going to make it through the month with this now job-like schedule. She desperately wants some free time. Let her be a kid!...Do you realize that I’ve already made a commitment to VBS during this time, we've already RSVP’d to attend a wedding, and the tournament is the week before vacation?? Do You?

Of course he did. I knew he did. We have already talked through it over and over again. And I knew that Matt made his decision with much prayer, wrestling and care. Usually we agree on these kind of decisions. This time we didn’t. I looked at him, and said, “okay.”

Double ouch.

Afterwards, I was of course discouraged about the upcoming month. I began praying about my attitude adjustment. I wish I could say that it was an easy tweaking, but it’s not.

I began to reflect on the whole submission-thing. I think it is just as hard--no, harder--for my husband than it is for me. He wants to please me. He wants to be on the same page, per se. I could tell that he especially hated to talk to me about my attitude. And now he has to bear the responsibility of his decision, hoping it was the right one. I’m sure that part of him really wanted to say, “You make the decision, Aimee.” But he knew what I would say, and he really didn’t agree.

Later that day, I thanked Matt for talking to me. I told him that I don’t necessarily like his decision, but that I knew that he made it with great care. I could even understand his position well. I've never been a quitter. But I especially thanked him for addressing my attitude. That showed me that he cared even more deeply about me. He could have been silently festering resentment toward me if my disposition did not change. But he took the hard road for the sake of us.

I think that much ink has been spilled over the struggle and arguments that women have with submission.  But our men are held accountable before our mighty God on their leadership. I would never want to subvert that. I am to be his helper. In doing that, I notice the great struggle that this responsibility places on the man. I don't think Matt "loves" female submission any more than I do in practice. But it’s such a beautiful struggle that God uses for our sanctification.

15 Comments

My late husband had problems

My late husband had problems with this because he wanted to keep the peace at all times, which got all of us in big trouble. Thanks for sharing. Peace at all cost is NOT peace!!

I can see me and my wife

I can see me and my wife having the same type of conversation in our marriage, Aimee, but I view it as a function of mutual submission for us. We have each had moments when we've gone to the other - after prayer and much discussion - and said something like, "I know it's not necessarily what you would choose, but I really need you to go with me on this." And we have, I for her and she for me. With us it's not a male leadership issue but a function of the marriage relationship as a whole.

Tim

There are also a lot of women

There are also a lot of women who will simply not follow their husbands. Your husband stepped in and you responded. Not all women respond as you did, and that makes it hard for a man.

I appreciate the men

I appreciate the men commenting here. I think it is a very hard thing for a man to do sometimes, and we women need to respect that and help, not subvert.

This is a serious issue when

This is a serious issue when you look at the consequences of this on their marriage, and especially their witness of the gospel. Very sad.

Yes, we need one another's

Yes, we need one another's encouragement in Christ! I'll pray for your situation, Melissa.

Thank you, Carol. That can be

Thank you, Carol. That can be incorporated into my attitude adjustment :)

So true, Lorri! That is what

So true, Lorri! That is what inspired me to write this, it is hard for the men & I appreciate my husband stepping up when it is hard. I was hoping to stimulate some thoughts with this, there is MUCH more to be said. Do you think I should continue writing on the subject and go deeper?
Another reflection...the importance of women being sharp in their theology as good helpers to their husbands. To quote our young youth leader, Greg, "I want a thinking woman..." This is also important for our call to submit "in the Lord." As we should never submit to sin, no matter who the leader is (goes along with being disengaged as a woman).

I agree, Kim. In my

I agree, Kim. In my experience, most decent men who have wives with non-submissive attitudes just give up. It's easier to live with bad decisions than with marital conflict from their perspective. And as you say, this isn't good.

(This comment should be taken in the limited perspective of the current discussion and without adding all the variables about non-decent men, etc.)

Between this amazing post,

Between this amazing post, and Lorri's insightful comment, I appreciate the reminder to men that ducking out of leadership in the name of "egalitarianism" is not ok--regardless of what our culture pressures us to do. Obviously this doesn't mean men should be overbearing jerks, nor does it mean women should "shut up and obey." Piper has some very good sermons on the balance in these matters and how to be counter-cultural in them.

Dig deeper into the principle

Dig deeper into the principle you are exploring here, Aimee! I believe many families (and mainline denominations!) suffer downfall when the men back off of leadership and stop encouraging the wives/women to submit to that leadership. Not so much because the women make bad decisions or are less capable leaders....but because it gives the men an "easy out." They are either changing roles with the women (despite their biblical mandate to maintain leadership in spiritual and family matters), or they are becoming completely dis-engaged (not even submissive...just absent!)

Praying for the families you

Praying for the families you and Matt can touch as a result of this commitment. God always has a better plan. Some of them may come over for a cookout at your home that you wanted to have.

What Providential timing! I

What Providential timing! I was just thinking this morning how I do NOT want to submit to my husband in a decision that I feel he's about to make & that everything within me is bucking against. In all honesty, it will take MUCH prayer for my attitude to change on this. But the Lord reminded me this morning (and again, through your post) that my responsibility is to submit, while my husband is responsible to God for his decision. I think he bears the greater responsibility, and I need to respect that and pray for him.

Oh, ouch! I see myself in

Oh, ouch! I see myself in this post. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding all of us that submission isn't easy for any side. And yes, I definitely need to work on my attitude too!

If men struggle with female

If men struggle with female submission, I think it is in soliciting it, or struggling when it doesn't happen. I think men whose wives don't submit have reason to mistrust their wives. There are many men who end up just throwing up their hands when their wives don't submit, and when that happens, it isn't good.

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