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Written By: Lizzy Oyebola Oyekunle
“See, the truth is that as long as she is not ready to submit to me in this house, we shall continue to have problem in Jesus’ Name. Amen.” Big Brother said with a finality as he banged the center table around which he, his wife and I sat.
I sighed for the umpeetenth time.
I had noticed the sad look on my sister-in-law’s face when I met her during a combined service on Sunday and though she refused to tell me what was wrong, I could sense that she was struggling with her marriage. I decided to pay them a visit and that was how we got talking.
“Bro!” I called out, very shocked that he was still unyielding.
“I don’t know what she has told you but the thing is that if Sarah wouldn’t submit to me, she will never be happy here. Never!” He repeated in case I was deaf to hear what he had said earlier.
“She didn’t tell me anything broda. But wait, what exactly has she done? I want to understand this submission thing.” I said and he faced me squarely, ready to explain.
I looked at Sarah and she had tears in her eyes already, her chin resting on her shoulder.
“Sarah likes to counter me. Can you imagine that? I want to bring my mama into this house so she can manage the third room. She refused blatantly saying we had discussed that out during courtship. So what? If I said no during courtship and after thinking about it well I am saying yes, what is her problem? Is she the owner of this house?” He spilled out so very loudly.
I scratched my face and tapped Sarah.
“Say something” I said and she shook her head. I pestered her and after a while, she burst into tears.
“I didn’t know getting married to Edward would cost me this much sister. He makes it look as if I don’t like mama or something and that’s not true. We have four kids and they still share the same room. I told him that next month, I would love us to separate the kids so the girls can move to another room…” She swallowed and continued.
“The girls are becoming big. I told him that one of these days I would love us to clear the third room for them, he agreed. A week later after we had cleared the room, he said mama would be coming to stay. Not on a visit o but permanently. I tried to make him reason with me but he wouldn’t just bulge. One of these days, while I was angry with him, I told him he still has a lot to work on and he got angry. All my apologies have fallen on deaf ears”
“Oh yes I can find it there sir. The Bible presents it in a chain anyways- Husbands are to love, wives are to submit, children are to obey. If the husband fails in his own love duties, don’t you think it would affect the rest of the chain?” His wife asked and I smiled.
I loved the fact that Sarah was opening up- she would never do that on a normal day.
“How can I love a wife that doesn’t want to support my dream and calling?” He asked sharply, charging at her.
“What dream again?” I asked when I was getting lost.
“I have been called to start a church. She wouldn’t just support me” He told me sharply, his eyes very red from anger.
“A man that threatens to beat his wife, that calls her names, that doesn’t spend time praying and playing with his family, how can he pastor a church successfully?”
“Can you hear her?” He asked, tightening his fists into balls
“David was anointed in his teens but he didn’t become a king till later. He had to be taught the art of shepherding in the bush! Moses wasn’t allowed to lead God’s sheep until he had led Jethro’s sheep! That has been the point I’ve been trying to explain to my husband for a long time. You might have been called o but now might be the very wrong time to answer the call” She said in her thin voice, the veins on her neck pulsating fastly as she spoke.
“Can you hear her talk to me anyhow?” He asked, throwing his arms in the air, a strange smile on his face.
“I inherited a land from my parents. He asked me to sell the land so we can get another car. I declined, explaining calmly that landed properties appreciate and we will regret it after we’ve sold it. I said that we can still be using the other car for the main time and then he started the submission talk again” She was crying bitterly.
“He said I should cut ties with all my friends, I did. He said to resign from my well paying job that he would open a shop for me, I did. He has set enough rules for me in this house…” She kept on weeping.
My eyes had started welling up too as she wept. I turned to look at my brother. He was frowning at her like he would swallow her up.
“I just realized that submission is not obedience and obedience is not submission. I just realized that saying yes to all my husband brings before me without praying or advising him is injurious to my marriage.” She continued.
It was obvious she had a lot bottled in.
“We started a master-servant relationship and I gradually started hating my husband. Everyday, I would be full of regrets for not discussing and arguing issues out with him when I would keep saying yes yes…the day I told my husband about the way I was feeling was the day he started training me on submission sister, help me” she really did break out into more wails.
My brother let out a long hiss and threw his face away as if we were some unholy offerings.
“Sweet Holy Spirit…” I called out too, heaving deep sighs now and then.
I knew I would have to depend on the Holy Spirit to discuss the differences between submission and obedience to this couple.
“The answer to all these problems are before us. I know the Lord will lead us. Let us pray” I prayed shortly before I started talking.
“I will quickly drop an illustration for you both because I have to get going very soon” I started.
“When a woman gets married, its like dropping her car key and following her husband into his own car. Whether the car is rickety or whether he has issues driving, she has to enter that car. That is marriage.” I said and paused for their reactions.
They looked so attentive.
“Now, as the drive starts, the woan watches as her husband drives. She gists with him and laughs with him as he drives yet not distracting him to avoid any accident.” I continued and Sarah nodded, wiping her face with the edge of her wrapper.
“If suddenly the husband starts dozing as he drives, broda mi, what should the wife do? Watch?” I asked. He shook his head.
“She must wake him!” He said and I smiled.
“I loved the fact that you even used ‘must’. It is under compulsion to wake him up. If she doesn’t wake him up or if she is too scare to even wake him up, there is a problem in that marriage.” I said.
Big brother pulled in his lower lip with his tongue and locked it with his upper teeth as he dug his fingers into his afro hair.
“However, the way the wife wakes him up still determines if they would safely avoid an accident or not” I added and it was my brother’s turn to nod.
“If she shouts ‘Dozing on duty? And you call yourself a man? This man will kill me ooo’ she might eventually be killed.” I paused.
“If she quietly holds the steering while she calls softly but firmly ‘Dear, wake up!’, she would save her life and her marriage!” I smiled as I looked at the mixed reactions on their faces.
“Most men want their wives to be quiet as they drive. Even if I am falling into a ditch, just shut up! That’s submission! You can’t know more than I do about driving so just shut your trap and follow me!” I gesticulated as I spoke.
“Wow!” Big Brother exclaimed. I smiled
“Submission is that ‘My husband remains the driver. I can’t lay a hold on that steering because it was God who put him there. But I can smile with him and play with him yet not distract him even as we journey. When he is weary, I can provide him strength. When he is dozing, I can wake him, yet gently and respectfully, never thinking of holding the steering or making rash decisions on behalf of my family” I said and Sarah had even more tears in her eyes.
“Wow! O deep!” Big brother exclaimed as he nodded. I knew the words made sense to him as I caught him sneaking a peep at his wife with the side of his eyes.
“Loving the wife also means being able to say ‘I am sorry’ when pierced by guilt’ I quickly dropped and we all burst out laughing as he pulled him wife close to him while the latter cried on.
“I am sorry dear” I made sure I heard it clearly before I stood up so I could be on my way.
Submission is a word that has been misused and misunderstood in this world of ours. Submission is not cooking and washing and cleaning and giving birth and all about sex.
“Why can’t she be obedient for once?”
“How can you tell me that I still have a lot to work on?”
“Who are you?”
Are all words I have heard Nigerian husbands (even Christians) use for their wives in a fit of anger! They are all wrong!
I do like to see marriage as playing your part. The husband loves, the wife submits, the children obey. I believe that if the third parts play their parts well, we will have a better environment.
Submission is voluntary. I willingly give my body, my love, my understanding to this man. He can’t force me to do so. His part is to love me and then he would see me willingly doing things which aren’t even convenient for me for him.
It is also conditional. What do I mean by that? It means she doesn’t just jump into a thing because her husband commanded her to do so. If her husband asks her to disobey God, she wouldn’t do it.The Christian woman first submits to God and then submits to her husband.
A submissive wife is not one who meekly goes along with her husband, while keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself….nay broda! If you keep living with a woman who has never said no to your suggestion but keeps saying ‘okay’, ‘yes’, ‘alright’, watch it!”
This is the part most men don’t want but if a woman properly does it, it would be to the advantage of the man. A submissive wife should properly confront her husband’s mistakes and sins.
‘Sweetheart, the way you answered the pastor today was not exactly nice’ is not too much from a wife to her husband.
And wives also have to watch it. They have to ensure that they haven’t swallowed some ‘doctrines’ that makes a woman superior to her husband.
A woman is not inferior to her husband, oh no! But she is expected to make herself lower than the man especially when they talk and the way she reacts.
“But dear, why do you always talk like this?” Is not a statement from a submissive wife.
“Dear, I like that idea but I don’t think it will work. What if we do it this way?” Is a better way of saying such.
“Every time we will be eating okro and okro because you don’t like vegetables, today, its vegetables I will be preapring o…I have sacrificed enough” Is more from a haughty wife.
“Dear, I want to you to eat vegetables today. Okro will soon grow on our heads if we don’t watch it o” Would be a better way to convey your suggestions.
You give him the due honour outside before others and inside before your children.
You allow him land when he is speaking and then present your own ideas and suggestions.
You allow him access to your body and when its not convenient, you make him see reason.
She might be more spiritual. She might be more insightful. She might be more productive. She might be more knowledgeable.
All these do not make her more than your husband!
It is the Lord’s order!