"How do I submit to my husband and still maintain a sense of self?" {Advice Fair-EE}

Welcome to The Advice Fair-EE’slove/sex/relationship advice column!

This is where the lovesick, lovelorn and loveless gather to have The Advice Fair-EE’s pixie dust sprinkled over their broken hearts.

***disclaimer: I’m not a licensed therapist, I'm just a woman who has been with the same man for 16 years.** **addendum to the disclaimer: I’m not the Pope (duh!). I'm a chick with an Internet connection. Be ye not afraid of these, my humble opinions.** *p.s. still, I do so enjoy doling out advice. And if past comment boxes are any indication? So do you! :) And all the people said AMEN, yo!*

If you have a love/sex/relationship/friendship question, please email me with the subject line: ADVICE FAIR-EE. (All identities kept anonymous and I also bequeath you with a pseudonym for extra privacy).

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Dear Advice Fair-EE, I've been married for nearly 6 years and things have been good. We are happy, have 3 small children and my husband is my best friend.  However, my husband feels that we need to have a more biblical marriage and that I need to be more submissive to him.  I've been reading Scripture to find out what that entails. But the Bible only tells me I need to submit and doesn’t give me any practical life examples.  I'm feeling very lost right now!  There are so many different interpretations out there of what submission means (from asking for permission for everything to calling my husband lord/master!!)  How do I balance submitting to my husband in every way and still maintain a sense of self?  I feel like I'm spread so thin already. Sincerely, Submissively Confused

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Dear Submissively Confused,

Your confusion is totally understandable. You have a good, happy marriage and furthermore, you're best friends with your husband. That's far more than most people ever get! In fact, I would say a good, happy marriage is a biblical marriage. Why the need to make it "more" biblical?

Confusion, indeed.

As far as submission goes, I have yet to find any consistent answer for what that should look like, practically speaking. Each Christian has a different answer and the suggestions/rules are arbitrary at best. But every healthy marriage--Christian or non-Christian--has three things in common:

  1. mutual respect
  2. honest communication
  3. mutual cooperation.

So, before you start enforcing arbitrary rules of submission on your marriage (how exhausting is that?!), perhaps you can begin by opening a conversation with your husband.

Ask him what he means by wanting a "Biblical marriage." How does he define that? How would that be different/better than the marriage you have now? Why does he view the current state of your marriage as problematic and/or lacking? Has anyone pressured him to believe his marriage is not holy enough? Ask him what changed and why?

I'm proud of you for desiring to maintain a sense of self---meaning, understanding who you are and what you need. It's important, then, for you to express your own concerns and feelings.

Tell him you're confused and that up until this point, you believed you had a good marriage. Be honest with yourself, too. Is this new pressure of needing a "biblical marriage" making you feel anxious, sad, frustrated? If your husband is truly your best friend, then he would welcome your sincere, candid expression of how this is affecting you.

With hopes for clarity, The Advice Fair-EE

Do you have any helpful advice to add? Do share!