The topic of submission has been debated endlessly in the manosphere. For many years I have watched with amusement in how complicated submission is made out to be. In the end, it seems like women somehow always get it wrong. Even when making an effort, its still not good enough.
In a comment at Dalrock’s I said,
“Articles and posts on submission and how to be a good wife should be the shortest article/book in the world with one page saying “do what your husband requires” and the rest all blank pages.”
Then Elspeth responded:
Would that it were so simple, Laura. While I agree with you that it should be that simple, unfortunately for many women the issue is not one of obedience, but heart attitude. It’s one thing for a wife to obey the way a child does when you tell him to eat his vegetables or clean his room. He has done what is required, but often with his whole body offering the real feelings behind his obedience. But you expect some of that from an 8-year-old who doesn’t fully appreciate the long term reward that comes from learning obedience today.
It’s a different issue when it comes to husband and wife. If you have been friends with or related to a couple who operates on this dynamic (and my husband has a friend who could have written that), then you quickly see the difference between “just do as your husband requires” and a sincere desire to do as your husband requires. The first is a childlike, pouting obedience because you have to. The latter is borne of growth in faith in God and loving gratitude for what your husband adds to your life. Husbands know the difference, as indicated in the linked comment.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says that even God wants us to give to Him as we have purposed in our hearts, not grudgingly or of necessity, for He loves a cheerful giver. If God, who is all loving and merciful, prefers loving and cheerful obedience, how well do we expect a man to take a wife who doles her “submission” out piecemeal solely because she has to? Sometimes circumstances dictate that it’s all you can muster, but always?
Submission and obedience are actually not the same thing, which is why women like Lori Alexander and April at The Peaceful Wife are valuable. Someone needs to help wives who want it learn the tools to crucify their flesh and to respect and submit to their husbands joyfully. My ego was too quick to get in the way of my ability to do that online. I have decided to plant seeds as the opportunity presents and move on trusting that God will provide others to water and that He will give the increase. As Dragonfly described, standing down and simply living real life often provokes curious questions and comments which provide an opportunity to drop a seed and move on.
I appreciate Chris noting that my marriage advice was rarely ever more specific that “listen to your husband”, and the kind words from Julian and Mark, but it takes a certain special kind of woman to attempt Titus 2 online unless you’re going to do it privately, and I have come to grips with the fact that I ain’t her.
“Read the comment Elspeth links to. Its a man (John) whose wife is submitting, but in a robotic fashion, not an enthusiastic fashion. John says his wife is pleasant, but apparently not pleasant enough and so of course this woman gets it wrong. John said he is finally experiencing peace, but again I guess that is not enough peace. Women are told that they aren’t entitled to an alpha, well either are men entitled to a woman who submits perfectly. Why can’t men find contentment in what they have the way women are always told to? John even says his wife is content, but that he is far from it. So, here is a situation where a woman is content, what the ladies always tell women they should be, but she still gets it wrong because she has failed to also make her husband content. A woman (or man) does not have the power to make others happy or content. That has got to come from within. It seems he is far better off than most men, but still discontent with his lot and that is his wife’s fault for not being enthusiastic enough. If this story were reversed and a woman said she was not content with her man even though he made serious changes she would be raked over coals. If a woman said, “I’m still not happppppy”. Just imagine! It would make for a Dalrock “outta the park” post.
Ultimately, it may be boring submission, but its still submission, or obedience, or something good . Would we rather she divorce him? Note that John said things became peaceful when he started leading, which suggests that women can’t just submit until the man first leads. Funny–this is generally a big no-no to suggest in the manosphere. This wife did not “just submit or obey on her own with no impetus the husband did something that CAUSED her to change.
It may truly be this is all she can muster forever and always because there was no attraction from the beginning. If she just married for kids or family pressure, etc., then she is making the best of it the only way she knows how. I am not of the camp that believes attraction or desire can be manufactured if it was never there to start. His wife sounds like the passive, stoic, loner type and she may be this way with everyone and if that is the case, as women are always told, “you picked him, suck it up, be content with what you do have.”
Women are not truly submitting until they outgrow the childish, robotic phase and do so with enthusiasm, but I contend for some women this just won’t ever happen because of no attraction. Let’s at least be happy that they can do something and that they aren’t divorcing. Does God not recognize her efforts or does it only truly count if she is doing it joyfully? This can make a woman throw her hands in the air and just give up. Either submission is not joyful enough or its too easy. Maybe she is suppose to fake joy, so that then she gets credit for struggling. Yes, then her husband can tell its fake, but I have heard advice in these parts that women should “fake it till they make it” and always shook my head, because yes indeed a husband can tell if her heart isn’t in it. Faking it just doesn’t work. Joy, attraction, desires, all of that can’t be manufactured. To the women who enthusiastically, joyfully submit, those boucing off the walls as “goddesses of love and light”, can they just flip a switch and chose to be unjoyful and unenthusiastic. Most likely not. It is either their or its not.
To close, I have noticed its now the latest trend in submission theory to says its not about simply obeying, its about having a super-stellar attitude as well and if you don’t have the whole package, it just doesn’t count. If a woman is truly into her man, she will naturally have a good attitude and attempts to manufacture it won’t be needed.