I believe I understand wives submitting to their husbands, but I am unclear on exactly how that is supposed to begin. Are women supposed to begin submitting on the day they are married, once they officially become a wife and the man officially becomes the husband and head of the household? If so, how are the decisions supposed to be made as a couple before that? If the man is really going to be the head of the household shouldn’t he have a say in the marriage and the things the couple should decide before they actually get married? So does it begin when you get engaged… start dating… women should always be submissive…?
If you scroll down, there is a thread about this very topic, and it’s pretty lengthy…lots of great information, and Biblical references. Hope that helps.
PS–And women are to submit to their husbands, not ‘all’ men. lol ;)*
I definitely suggest checking out the other current thread on this topic in the Family Life forum–that discussion has been going on for a couple of weeks and is 17 pages long!
But as for your practical question, I would say as someone who has been married for a little over a year, that the way we incorporate Ephesians 5 into our marriage is NOT to have my husband making all of the decisions. Marriage is a partnership, and involves mutual submission of husband and wife to one another for the good of their marriage and family. Men and women live this out differently, and it’s one of those things that you can’t really figure out fully until you are married (or at least that was my experience!).
I would say as soon as they become romantically involved. Dating is preparation for and laying the groundwork for marriage.
*I respectfully disagree. The passage doesn’t speak of submitting to boyfriends, or fiances. I think mutual respect is always necessary for any relationship to blossom, but the passage is designed for marriage, not dating. Dating is a time for discernment to marriage, however…and it’s important that a couple discuss such things like this before marriage, to make sure they **would be **on the same page. If a woman wants to submit to her boyfriend…that is her choice, but it’s not what is intended by that passage, it’s not a part of Catholic doctrine. *
Thank you all. I have read the previous threads and like I mentioned, my question isn’t specifically about the bible passages or about wives submitting to their husbands. I am curious about how the wives submitting to their husbands is supposed to come about. Especially in current times. Obviously throughout history it was easy to figure out as many people didn’t even meet their spouses until they day they were married… then you first were under the authority of your father and then became a wife and submitted to your husband. Today things aren’t usually done quite like that.
Personally, when I read the wives submitting to their husbands thread, I just got confused as to what I personally am supposed to be doing as I am currently in a long engagement. I’ve been dating my fiance for over six years and we have been engaged for over 4 years. We are getting ready to have our third child and in many ways are closer than many married couples that I know. IF we were already married, I would submit to him as I love having the helpmate role and supporting him. I feel that is what is good for the entire family. But, we aren’t married. We are only engaged and as of now, I am the one who has full custody of our children and am responsible for them. I am the one who is responsible for myself and for many things that would change if we were married. Why would I always submit to my fiance when the outcome only reflects on me and doesn’t affect him as it would in a marriage?
Often today women date many men before they find the man they wish to marry. Then there is at least a six month engagement before they are actually husband and wife… that can potentially be a lot of time in between being a child under the authority of your father and the time when you are a wife submitting to your husband.
In another thread you started, you were feeling angst and sadness with this man…that he seems so wishy washy on marrying you. Why would you want to submit to a man like this? He doesn’t have the decency to marry you after having children with him. I don’t mean to sound blunt, but don’t “submit” to a man who is not your husband, let alone a man who isn’t even sure he wants to be your husband. In general, I can see what you’re saying, for your specific relationship, I think your fiance needs to stop stringing you along, and either marry you or not. I will keep you in my prayers. :(*
Yes if anything I am probably too submissive. But I did wonder about all the people in between children and married. The Catholic outlook tends to focus on the children, married couples, and those with vocations. I think its harder when you don’t fit nicely in one of those niches.
The Scriptures were written with the assumption that you would have a year of marriage without any children, yet. There was certainly no concept of living with a man and having his children before there was any kind of marital commitment. (Women who got pregnant out of wedlock were typically stoned to death, back then, so there wasn’t the issue of how to raise fatherless children, either, unless for some reason the mother became widowed - in which case, she became the responsibility of her husband’s brothers.)
Your question seems to be, “Do I have to submit to the father of my children, even though he isn’t my husband.”
I would say - and this is just my personal opinion - that as long as you are a single adult woman, you are responsible for yourself. As you say, any decisions he makes have no effect on himself - he doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of any mistakes he might make.
So, use your best judgement, and do what is best for yourself and your children.
*In your particular situation, you shouldn’t treat your fiance as a husband, even though he is the father of your children. He doesn’t deserve the title of husband, he is not a husband. So, that could be why things are dragging on…that you treat him as a husband, so he doesn’t have to make the commitment to you–he gets the ‘benefits’ of being your husband, without having to commit to you in this way. I don’t know your fiance or you, but just piecing together the other thread and this, it seems that way. I don’t know if that is being submissive on your part, as much as it is fearful of losing him if you stand your ground. :o Don’t be afraid of losing this man, if you want to be married to a strong Catholic man, then you need to tell him so. Playing wife is not the same as being one. You deserve to have a decision made, and so do your children. You seem so kind hearted, I’m just concerned for you.
In general, since this passage was intended for married couples…it stands to reason that we shouldn’t be treating someone like he/she is our spouse, when he/she is not. :o When a man and woman become ‘one flesh’ through marriage, then they both get the benefits of the marriage. Men and women should treat each other with mutual respect before marriage, but if they want to behave as a married couple, they should marry each other. :p*
Sweety I think your biggest biblical concern should be having relations with a man you are not married to before you even consider the submission part. I’m curious as to why you are concerned about submitting but not about breaking a commandment? Honestly its not a judgment -I just find it odd that this biblical passage would such a concern and not the fact that you are sexually involved and producing children with a man you are not married to.
God Bless you, my Beautiful Sister in Jesus Christ, whatever girl!
Your ministry on these discussion boards is a positive inspiration to many of us struggling in the world today, thank you!!
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!
I once heard a preacher say that a women should submit to her husband… Only if he is in submission to Christ! This was one of the best messages I have ever heard regarding the marital relationship.
I think that it’s important for an unmarried woman NOT to submit to men she is in relationships with … because how is she supposed to find out if a man is a good one to marry if she’s always going along with what he wants? He needs to know what she wants so that he doesn’t assume that she always wants whatever he does.
Traditionally, before marriage was a time for the woman to make any demands that she had. I’m thinking, for instance, of the middle ages, when the wishes of a woman (and her family) were written out in the marriage contract. Once they were married, she would submit to him, but until then, the two families would haggle about who got what chunk of money and whose family the newlyweds would live near. Engagement is a good time to be clear about what the “dealbreakers” are – not to act as if the deal is already made.
I know this must be much more difficult in your specific situation. But unless you are willing to stand up for yourself as an independent woman, you aren’t going to end up happily married. Either you’ll never get married (because there’s no reason to, for the man) or you’ll end up compromising too much.
I feel for you. You are in a tough predicament. If you were to put your foot down now and ask why he’s not married to you, you may get indifference from him b/c he’s had everything his way up until now.
It’s my belief that if you give a man permission to take you for a fool, he will. If you demand respect and love, he’ll give you that. If he’s not willing to give you respect and committment, then he never really loved you.
I feel bad for you b/c you have children and this makes things very complicated.