Wives have the power to frame husbands as either failures or as heroes. Every choice, every word, every response has the potential to build or to tear down.

I, Julianna, take you, Michael, as my beloved husband. I promise to love, honour and submit. . . .

Yes, I said the “s” word in my wedding vows, and I don’t regret it. I can still remember the comments from some who attended the ceremony. “You can’t be serious, Juli! Do you really mean that you will submit to your husband?”

God’s Word is filled with paradoxes. The weak are strong, the wise are foolish and the greatest are the servants. Here’s a paradox that no one seems to talk about: A wife’s greatest power is found in submission.

I’ve spent the last 18 years striving to live out this paradox in my marriage. As a young bride, I trusted God’s mandate to submit to my husband’s leadership, but I was also skeptical. With a doctoral degree in psychology, why would I trust my husband’s leadership in marriage and parenting? Didn’t I know more than he did?

But here’s a revolutionary truth: Every wife has power.

Proverbs 14:1 says it like this: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Whether we are building or tearing down, we have power. Submission isn’t about being weak; it’s about using our power to build our homes.

I’ve learned that submitting to my husband isn’t really about who is smarter, who has the better idea or who is right. It’s a conscious choice to use my power to equip and build up my husband as my hero. Sometimes that means expressing my opinion; other times it means biting my tongue.

Our guys are sensitive to failurethey’re scared of letting us down. Some men respond to this fear by taking a backseat in marriage. They don’t make decisions or take leadership so they don’t have to risk failure. Other husbands handle their fear with bravado. They present a controlling, perhaps arrogant facade. Regardless of how our husbands handle their fears, our submission, guided by wisdom, can be a powerful building force in marriage.

Do you get it? Wives have the power to frame husbands as either failures or as heroes. We are the mirror that reflects either their strengths or their weaknesses. Every choice, every word, every response has the potential to build or to tear down. The question we must ask ourselves is this, “How am I using my power?

How strong is your marriage? Find out today with the Focus on Marriage Assessment. This reliable assessment is based on the research and experience of Focus on the Family’s marriage experts Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Take this free assessment now!

From the Focus on the Family website at focusonthefamily.com. © 2012 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Dr. Julianna Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author and the co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry dedicated to reclaiming God’s design for sexuality. In addition to speaking, she hosts the weekly podcast Java with Juli. In 2020, Juli launched Sexual Discipleship®, an online platform to equip Christian leaders for gospel-centred conversations about sexual issues. Juli served at Focus on the Family from 2008 to 2012 as a writer, teacher and co-host of the Focus on the Family Broadcast.

She’s the author of 12 books, including God, Sex, & Your Marriage; Rethinking Sexuality; and Sex & the Single Girl. She and her husband live in Akron, Ohio, and have three grown sons.

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