Evoking Submissive Desires vs Justifying Demanding Them

This post is aimed mostly at readers that are religious believers and as a caveat to everyone reading I just wish to be clear that I am not religious myself and whatever your religion is… your religion frightens and confuses me.
When you reach for a higher authority to justify that you should be leading a relationship, the implication is that you don’t actually have the innate authority to lead the relationship. So when she hears “God says in the Bible that you have to submit to me”, the message she actually hears between the lines is “I’m not actually very dominant and I need to reach for the Big Guy on this one” and it’s perceived as a terribly lame attempt to control her.
It’s like you’re lobbing a softball at her to be batted out of the park as a Fitness Test. You’re actually Displaying Low Value the same way a little brother does to an older sister when he says “if you do that I’m gonna tell Mom“. She might comply for a while but the hating your guts part lasts longer.
So in general I advise avoiding focusing on those particular areas of scripture and just focus on learning to lead the relationship more. Don’t worry about forcing submission – it’s marriage not an MMA match – just start leading and trying to make things happen more frequently. If she is naturally less dominant than you she will start following along anyway. Just give it time and don’t reach for the shortcut as it tends to backfire on you.
If you want to do Bible Study together or something…. fine, go ahead, it’s a big book, just don’t ram the submission stuff down her throat. If she’s been in the church for more than a year she’ll absolutely know about those particular scriptures anyway. It’s all a red herring to try and get her to publicly agree with them to you. She doesn’t actually need to verbalize that she is submissive to be submissive and enjoy it. Plenty of wives broadly assert that they are not submissive at all, but if you give them a playful swat on the ass and tell them it’s bedtime they giggle and follow you in anyway. It’s often just a lot of talk.
And obviously if you are leading the relationship and having a more dominant / submissive interaction with each other, then there’s no need to tell her to do what she is already doing via scripture quotes.
And just for the record, I don’t think wives should submit to their husbands as a requirement. I just think for most women they want to be in a relationship with a man that evokes that desire to submit in them.  That’s what all that talk about wanting “a strong man” is about. You know… all those billions of romance novels they wolf down every year. It’s really pretty obvious isn’t it.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant stuff. A reference to scripture has always turned my wife off. It is seen as weak. My wife shows every sign of respecting me and quite enjoying being submissive, but she rarely verbalises it and doesn't like it being pointed out.

    Women, my wife at least, tend to think and act in a concrete way in concrete situations. If you say, "you should always obey me", they will object; but if you say, "bring me that plate", they will often comply without thought.

    Women like to follow because you act like a leader in a practical sense. Appeals to theory are generally less successful, in my experience.

    What really turns women on, and I see this on the Internet too, is an unconscious display of dominance.

    And I agree with this basic point too – a major rule of dealing with women, which men find particularly confusing. Don't listen to what she says, watch what she does.

    David C

  2. Athol Kay says:

    Thanks David. This was a difficult post to get written.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I've always thought that the most accurate translations of those scripture passages read as being written for their respective genders.

    In other words, it's not "Hey! Wives should submit to their husbands", And it certainly doesn't say "You husbands should dominate your wives", it's "You wives should submit to your husbands".

    As a husband, the part of the passage that pertains to me says that I should love my wife as myself. That's the part I need to concern myself with.

  4. Athol Kay says:

    I think dominance and submission are opposite sides of the same coin. If someone submits to you, you become dominant.

  5. Anonymous says:

    True. I'm just finding a different way of agreeing with you that husbands ought not to hold up that particular passage as a way to force their wife's submission.

  6. In general women want to submit to a greater man. In a LTR you can't fake status. So if your wife is walking over you take a good honest look at yourself first before reacting.

  7. Strong Man says:

    I just discovered this post–it's a gem!

    As a religious person, I have often relied heavily on scriptures like this, but mostly for my own education and understanding.

    In my blog, I use scripture quite a bit as well–but I feel it's primarily useful just as a way to help a religious man increase his own confidence or explain the natural order of things. Perhaps it's useful for a woman to study this and understand and set goals as well.

    But, your insights in this post are spot-on, even for a highly religious couple, and I shared in Don't hold this over your wife Pulling out scripture to support your position as "head" is a weak move that can backfire–even if deep down your wife actually wants to submit. She may not fully even realize her own desires.

    My wife hates the actual scripture language–it just riles her up–but in so many ways really likes me to make decisions, not put up with her tantrums, tell her what I want, etc.

    In spite of her protests that she wants to have "equal authority", in many ways she really does want me to be the leader and be the dominant one.

    But the best ways to do that, as you suggest, are to Just Do It, not to bring out the Bible.

  8. Strong Man says:

    One more quick question: Your link about why religion frightens and confuses you points to a wikipedia about a movie called the Undead Caveman Lawyer.

    What's that about? I don't get the link to religion?

  9. Anonymous says:

    "It's often just a lot of talk"

    Somtimes, Athol, it depends on what they mean by submissive. Three main types of submissive come to mind: Being bossed around. Being dominated. And being a loving servant/partner to your spouse. Your wife's kind is somewhere between the last two. Mine is the very last, and I don't mind a guy being assertive about wanting sex! Just so long as he doesn't see it as dominating me. Sometimes there's a fine line.

    Jennifer 6

  10. "Plenty of wives broadly assert that they are not submissive at all, but if you give them a playful swat on the ass and tell them it's bedtime they giggle and follow you in anyway"

    Women generally are referring to a far larger and more suffocating type of submission when they say this, not a playful agreement to have sex.

    Those submissive romance novels are crap and for women who focus on shallow urges; it's not at all what I mean by wanting a strong man (those lame dumbass jerks in romance trash? Blecch! The only thing that would give me a high would be to kick them in the crotch). To me, the higher quality books of strong heroines are heroes are a wider sale.

    Jennifer 6

  11. I have actually been thinking for quite a while that you do a better job of explaining husband-wife relationships, and how to improve them, than many churches/religious books/religious “leaders.” Men who interpret the Bible as “you should submit to me” are reading it completely backwards. But lots of churches/”leaders” like to go that route in their teaching. I never use the word submission, but I see my husband as the leader of our family and act accordingly. (And no, I am not a doormat. That thought would make him laugh.) If I could give young women one piece of advice about this, I think it would be “treat your husband like a man.”


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