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Ask the Marriage Counselor

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To say that submission within the marriage is a challenging area - is a monumental understatement. For many spouses, this issue is more like a short fused time bomb! Like a skilled explosives ordinance disposal expert, Dr. Stephens diffuses this critical area of contention with the distilled wisdom of God. You’ll be glad you stopped by!

by Dr. David Stephens

Try to Understand Why Submission May Be Difficult for Her
by Dr. David Stephens

Question: Dear Pastor Stephens,
I have been married for 3 years and my wife refuses to submit to my leadership at home. Don't get me wrong.  I'm not trying to control her life. I just believe what the Bible says about a man's responsibility to lead and protect his household. I even talked to some of my close friends about this problem and most of them say they have the same problem in their marriage. So we agreed to write to you and ask your opinion about this subject. Our question is this. Why do so many women refuse to submit to their husbands? Michael K.

Dear Michael K.,
In my opinion, this problem can be very complicated, because many women reject this biblical admonition for various reasons. Although this is not a complete list, I offer the following response based upon my personal observations and the insight I have gathered from counseling situations.

Reason #1. Low Self-Esteem - Unfortunately, some men openly compare their wives with other women.  Some of these insensitive men make frequent remarks about how attractive or intelligent other women are, while rarely complimenting their own wife. When it comes to cooking meals or keeping house, some men make unfair comparisons about how "my momma used to do it."  Remarks like these can inflict considerable emotional pain. When this happens in marriage, the wife may feel rejected and discouraged. Consequently, her self-esteem is damaged as she begins to feel like she has failed to measure up to her husband's expectations. The wife may then rebel against her husband in retaliation, because he has failed to meet her need for affirmation and approval.

Reason #2. Failure of Past Relationship - If a woman has been hurt or abused by a man in a past relationship or marriage, she may, subconsciously, express her resentment by striking out or rebelling against her husband.  Furthermore, she may feel justified in her actions by thinking she has to protect herself from the possibility of being hurt or abused again. What many of these women fail to realize, however, is if they persist with this attitude, they could unknowingly sabotage the potentially healthy marriage they are currently in.

Reason #3. Lack of Knowledge - When it comes to learning the principles for developing a healthy marriage, many women have rejected biblical instructions (read Hosea 4:6) in favor of the latest advice given on their favorite afternoon talk shows and soap operas. Many of these women fail to realize that most television producers are more concerned about airing programs that generate advertising dollars than they are about helping to improve troubled marriages. I believe a much better alternative for a troubled marriage is a Bible based marriage enrichment seminar, or at least Bible based books written by Christian marriage counselors and pastors. 

Verses to Remember:  
(Col 3:19 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
(Eph 5:22 KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
(Eph 5:23 KJV)  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
(Eph 5:25 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Loving Leadership Works Better Than Intimidation
by Dr. David Stephens

Question:  Dear Dr. Stephens,
My wife thinks I should tell her everything. I was brought up to believe that a man is supposed to run his house and his wife is supposed to submit to him. But my wife acts likes she doesn’t trust me. And when I tell her things she keeps asking questions and acting like she must have the last word.                                                              Bernard

Dear Bernard,
I believe one of the best ways a man can get his wife to follow his leadership in the home is to demonstrate LOVING LEADERSHIP. What does that mean?  I’m glad you asked.  Most women only feel secure enough in their marriage to submit to their husband after he, consistently, demonstrates what she considers to be mature, responsible behavior, over a period of time.

He must prove that he is also dependable, trustworthy, and forthcoming with explanations about things that could threaten the stability of their marriage. However, a man can only demonstrate this kind of behavior if he purposely renews his mind to what the Word of God says about marriage.

He cannot order his life based upon “street sense.” He needs to use the Word of God as the standard for making decisions about how to minister to his family and lead them in the right direction.  Just think about it. In some circles, young men are taught to keep secrets from their wives. Some men rationalize this behavior by saying, “Women don’t understand how to transact business, and they don’t understand the real world.” 

However, most mature thinking individuals realize that there are scores of women who can handle the “real world” and business affairs just as successfully as men can, and in many cases, much more proficiently than some men can. So we can throw the “dumb women” philosophy out of the window. In reality, the cavalier attitude some men has left a plethora of men drowning in the consequences of bad decisions they have made without input from their wives.

Another important principle in LOVING LEADERSHIP is prayer. I believe every man should take time to pray for his wife and children every day, not just sometimes, but every day.  If a man makes the commitment to pray for his family on a daily basis, I believe he can turn back demonic attacks that are designed to create strife and division in his home.

LOVING LEADERSHIP also requires a man to lead by example. If a man wants his wife to stay out of the malls and become a better steward of household finances, he should set the pace by becoming a wise money manager himself. If a man wants his wife to stop wasting so much time in front of the television watching soap operas, he needs to be sure he’s not spending all of his free time watching sports on television. You see, healthy marriages are filled with compromise.

And if you want your marriage to stand the test of time, you must learn how to sit down with your wife and discuss points of conflict. Don’t just automatically think she is going to follow you because you wear the pants in the house. Couples must work together if they are to survive the challenges of serving God in a sinful world while keeping their marriage strong at the same time.

Verses to Remember:
(Eph 5:22 KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
(Eph 5:25 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
(Col 3:19 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

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About Dr. David Stephens

Dr. David Stephens is the founder of David Stephens Ministries and the Marriage Success School. The focus of the MSS is building strong marriage and family relationships through books, tapes, seminars, family conferences, and marriage enrichment classes. Dr. Stephens also writes a newspaper column that focuses on family life issues. When time permits, Dr. Stephens hosts television programs seen on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Dr. David Stephens earned his B.A. while matriculating at Knoxville College.  He later earned his Master of Pastoral Counseling and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Dr. Stephens is also a Certified Christian Marriage & Family Therapist. David and his wife, Angela, are natives of Birmingham, Alabama. They currently reside in Selma, Alabama with their two children, Victoria and David Jr. You can visit Dr. Stephens website by logging on to:

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These are excerpts from the book “Ask the Marriage Counselor” by Dr. David Stephens, © 2004.  He is a relationship coach, seminar leader, and a Certified Christian Marriage Therapist. Readers who are interested in receiving a weekly installment of his column, free of charge, can contact Dr. Stephens at  To schedule a seminar or keynote speaking, please contact him by email or call 334-874-9611.

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