Submission in a Catholic Marriage

wedding rings

In the first part of this series we learned what the Church teaches about marriage, then we talked about some things that make a good marriage, and then we shared some ways to love your spouse. In this final installment I want to talk a little about submission in marriage.

Submission nowadays seems to be a touchy subject, especially in our ultra-feminist, proud society. What submission means, particularly in marriage, is sorely misunderstood. When many people think of submission they often think of being some sort of doormat or subservient to their husband. But that’s NOT what submission is about.

This doormat mentality of submission partially comes from a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5:21-30, particularly verse 24: “Just as the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.” That one line is encased within a whole lot of other verses that get ignored.

Look at verse 21, for example: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her…” How did Christ love the church? Completely. By suffering and dying a horrible death. (And by rising by His own power, too.) Our husbands are also called to love us like their own bodes, as it says in verse 28-30: “So husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,” That’s how our husbands are to love us, and that’s a tall order our men have to fulfill!

Yes, our husbands are called to be the heads of our households, as it says in verse 23, but that doesn’t make them “lords’ or bosses” or make men better than women. Our roles in the home and church are different, but equally important. Both roles are essential for the building up and success of our households.

On a different, yet practical note, to keep order and harmony amongst a group of people someone has to “be in charge” or be the final decision maker. Think about it, there is a hierarchy in just about every setting. At work there is a chain of command, there is a hierarchy within the Church (even Protestant churches), there is even a hierarchy within the animal kingdom.

So, too, in the family there needs to someone who makes a final decision, especially when there is disagreement and a consensus can’t be reached. That doesn’t mean input is given and opinions aren’t expressed. Of course, they should be taken into account. That doesn’t mean that the husband has a right to be some sort of dictator. Absolutely not. And that doesn’t mean that as wives we have no authority. Of course we do.

Remember verse 21 above? We are called to be submissive to each other. Our men aren’t perfect anymore than we are. They have their strengths and we have ours. We use our strengths and weaknesses to complement one another. Where our husbands have their strengths we submit to them and where we have our strengths they can submit to us. How that plays out will be different in each family.

I can write more about this, but for the sake of brevity, I better stop. 🙂 Let me just say that, ultimately, submission is about love, mutual respect, and order. It’s about give and take, communication and helping one another to grow in their relationship with each other and more importantly, with the Lord – NOT about being some k ind of domestic slave or menial laborer.

What’s your take on the whole “submission issue”? I’d love for you to share your thoughts, comments and experience about submission.

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

What Makes a Good Marriage?

wedding rings

(Photo Credit)

Last week I started this series by laying out what the Church teaches about marriage. This week I’d like to reflect on what makes a good marriage. Michael and I will be married nine years come August, so I’m no means an expert, but I am going to share some of the things that work for us.

1. Praying together. Father Patrick Peyton used to say that “the family that prays together, stays together.” He was referring specifically about the rosary – and we should pray the rosary with our families – but we certainly can and should pray in other ways too. Like going to mass together each week, praying the scriptures, or other vocal prayers. The quickest and easiest way to have a happy and lasting marriage is to put God at the center.

2. Praying for each other. During our personal prayer we should remember to pray for our husbands. We also shouldn’t be afraid to ask them to pray for us!

3. Communication. We all know that good communication is essential in any relationship, especially marriage. It is important to make time to talk to each other about the “big” stuff: finances, our children, our dreams, etc. It is also important to communicate the “little” things as well, such as a change in schedule or plans. Finding a system that allows you and your husband to stay on the same page will go along way in avoiding misunderstandings and bickering.

Let me just say here that Michael and I are both introverts and I have a definite tendency to hold things in. We have to make the extra effort to communicate and it’s not always easy. However, that effort is so worth it and it makes a huge difference in our relationship!

4. Forgiveness. Stuff happens. Our husbands can (and probably will) hurt us, either intentionally or not and either in a big way or not. And we can (and probably will) hurt them at times. And sometimes a lot of little hurts (whether real or imagined) can fester and add up to a huge thing. The best thing is to clear the air right away and not let the little things get big. We have to pray and we have to let go. We have to make the choice to forgive.

5. Time. The greatest thing we can give someone we love is the gift of time. I know finding time can be so hard. Believe me. Michael took me out on at date last Saturday and it was the first date we’ve had in about a year! While out, we decided that we are going to make a point of going on a date at least once a month, even if it just means taking a ride for 30 minutes. We find time for what is important to us, so make the time to be together alone as a couple – if only for 5 minutes!

As an aside, if you are having trouble with time management, I highly recommend Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. (That’s an affiliate link posted on my review.)

6. Acceptance. Many people, either consciously or unconsciously, go into a marriage hoping to change something (or somethings) about their other half. The truth is you can’t and if you try, it can cause bitterness in your marriage, either within yourself or your spouse. It’s not our job to change our husbands, it’s God’s. We need to accept our spouse and love him unconditionally, with God’s grace.

With me, it was money. I am a minimalist. I don’t spend money lightly and like my life and surroundings as simple as can be. Michael, well, he likes to spend. He was a bit of a big spender before we got married and it caused some problems for us when we did get married. I was handling the bills at the time and I remember I would get so angry when he spend money, especially when he would forget to tell me about it. I started getting resentful and bitter toward him. Thankfully, during prayer, God convicted me in prayer and realized that I am the one who needed to change. Michael agreed to take over the bills and we discovered Financial Peace University. It made a big difference in my attitude and I let go of trying to form Michael into my ideal. (And, ironically, he has cut his spending tremendously and able to appreciate my frugality!)

7. Enjoy your marriage! Don’t take yourself or your marriage too seriously. In the midst of all your responsibilities do try to have fun! You married your spouse for a reason, so keep those wonderful qualities your spouse possesses forefront in your mind and heart.

Your turn. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. What qualities do you think makes a good marriage?

(Linked to 7QT.)