40-Day Challenge: Submission, Headship, and Complementarity (Day 5)

Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment

Opposites attract. It makes sense, really — if you each possessed the same gifts and abilities, one of you would be superfluous.

“Happy is the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days” (Sirach 26:1). This union of souls is synergetic – producing more as a result of their union than they would have individually. This principle is expressed uniquely in the headship of the husband, according to C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves: 

“The husband . . . is to love her as Christ loved the Church – read on—and give his life for her. This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is … least loveable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely.

“The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one…. As Christ sees in the proud, fanatical, or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like … never despairs” (Lewis, 105).

Do you ever find it hard to defer to your husband, to let him lead even in the small things? Are you more naturally a leader, he more naturally the easy-going one? Why would God give such gifts to wives, if he did not intend for us to use them?

Ah . . . but there is a great difference between using gifts and misusing them. Our husbands have also been given their own strengths, to correspond to our own weaknesses. On more than one occasion, for example, my husband’s diplomacy has tempered my warrior-maiden response, reining in my tendency to level the full force of my displeasure on those unlucky enough to cross me.

Day by day, living with my husband and watching him treat others with such unfailing kindness and patience, I’ve been inspired to do the same.  This submission, this headship — this looking to my spouse and taking his lead in troubling times — has been a continual source of grace for me.

Today’s challenge:  Identify and acknowledge one or two areas of your life where you would like to be more like your husband. Ask his advice on a situation (even one where you think you have everything under control!). Then take his advice and follow through. What happened?

Today’s prayer:  Father God, you created men and women to need each other — to grow in perfection by joining together our respective strengths and weaknesses. Open my eyes to all the ways I can be a better “helpmeet” to my husband today.

1 thought on “40-Day Challenge: Submission, Headship, and Complementarity (Day 5)

  1. This rings a bell …. I have misused my strengths in my marriage and this contributed to the problems I am bearing now. My leadership was too strong.
    I acknowledge that there can only be one leader in the family… and that is my husband. If he will take the reins, and not leave, I vow to follow meekly.
    Lord enlighten me.


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