Posts tagged women

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #2

And you husbands

Love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.

He gave up his life for her…

In the same way,

Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies…

This is a great mystery

Ephesians 5v25,28,32


Dear Matthew,

When you were a little boy you lived for the moments when all of us were all about you: Vanquishing your older brother with a wrapping-paper-tube-turned-Star-Wars-light-saber. Taking piggy-back rides on Bekah’s back, reading stories on Elizabeth’s lap.

Those were your happiest times, the moments when you were fully yourself and wholly free to be anything you wanted to be.

And now you’re a man— and a husband.

As a husband, your are tasked by God Himself to partner with Him in setting your wife free to be fully herself and wholly free to be everything God created her to be.

Your God-given instructions are found in Ephesians 5vs 21-33, but for today there’s just one word I want you to think about:


God instructs husbands to so love their wives that they become radiant women.

That, my son, is a task for a lifetime.

Because for a woman to radiate, she must be washed and soothed and immersed in true love, in the kind of love that only God can give. And yet… He tasks you to represent Himself to your wife.

He goes so far as to tell husbands that they ought even to love their wives as their own bodies. Which leads me to suggest that He’s hinting at sexuality here too.

God is saying that your coming together in the bedroom is not so much about releasing your pent up, pulsing, driving need, but about unleashing her more hidden, yet-to-be-fully-discovered passions.

But how? Men and women are so distinctly different. A man is aroused primarily by what he sees, while a woman is aroused first by how she feels.

And so I’ve put together a list, of course. And I’m hoping the women who read this post will add their own ideas in the comments.

Six Ways To Set Your Wife Free:

  1. Be nice— all day long. A nice man, one who is kind and thoughtful and quick to give way rather than demand his own way, is incredibly appealing to a woman.
  2. Be humble— learning the art of the apology. The minute you’re short or disapproving or critical or in any way rejecting, apologize profusely. “I was wrong.” “I was a grouch.” “It’s not your fault.” Those are the words of allure to a woman.
  3. Be generous— with words. You don’t have to be poetic or prolific, but she craves your words, relishes them, blossoms under her husband’s generosity— and freezes under his silence.
  4. Be generous— with beauty. She needs beauty. She was created for beauty. She needs you to get that and to figure out a way to recreate the beauty of Eden in order to thrive. And she needs you to tell her she’s beautiful over and over again until someday she believes you.
  5. Be affectionate— the kind of touch that isn’t (initially) for sex often leads a woman to want all of you. Women respond to touch, it is part of her sensuality mechanism. Purposely showing fondness in words and touch and flowers and kindness goes a long way.
  6. Be honest— “I am entrusting my sexuality to you and to you alone. That scares me because my need is so great, but I am trusting you.” She has no idea how much you need her, how often you think about making love to her, how often you really want her but don’t approach her because you’re afraid of rejection. Tell her. More than once. Tell her honestly and vulnerably. That’s actually strangely exciting for a woman.

And one last word: go slow. Seducing your wife to her fullest freedom is a form of art. It takes time, it takes learning, it takes practice.

But hey, you’ve got the rest of your lives!

From a heart that wants the best for both of you,



(image by Hillary Kupish)


(image by abi porter)

 “One of the true hazards of writing is that you yearn to write deeply honest things that rise up from lessons learned the hard way… then you have to learn those lessons the hard way.”

~ Shauna Neiquist in Cold Tangerines

This week I have been unpacking. A little early perhaps, as Firwood Cottage is not move-in ready just yet, but life does not wait and I’ve got things to accomplish. And so I pad about in stocking feet on a floor still hardening, trying to figure what to do with Too-Much-Stuff.

Way too-much-stuff. 

Which leads me to worrying. Where will I put it all? What should I get rid of? Those dishes I’ve had since our early years that I still like but don’t need? That pine hutch that takes up so much space and sticks out so far into a room too small but would be perfect for our too-big TV.?

I ask Phil.

Eyeing my too-big stack of pie pans waiting on the kitchen counter for a place to live, he answers honestly, “You don’t need pie pans. You don’t bake pies, Di.”

And just that fast I’m ruffled and annoyed and ready for combat. Because, you see, Phil’s mom made pies, and so did mine. Delicious, memory-making, mouth-watering pies: rhubarb, French apple, Boston cream, cherry- with real, straight-from-the-tree, pitted-one-at-a-time cherries.

Real women make pies. 

And now I’m not worrying about my too-much-stuff anymore, now I’m feeling my identity crumble the way my once-upon-a-time pie crusts did. Before I stopped making pies.

I live with an image of who I wish I were, of the woman I want to be: The woman with a perfectly ironed apron tied around her perfectly tiny waist, pulling a perfect pie out of her perfectly clean oven to feed her perfect family in her perfectly tidy-all-the-time house.

And then I look at me. Covered in dust from pulling boxes out of a disastrously dirty garage. Disheveled and discombobulated over too much stuff with a mind that can’t stop writing words when really I should be figuring this out.

And I don’t make pies.

Which I could excuse away if I could just keep my house perfect, but I can’t… or at least I don’t.

I want to, you see, but I live with two big men who live big lives.

My son, saving for his future, rushing off each morning, returning late every night, building, dreaming, doing, working… and messing up my tidy little house.

And Phil, that man I love, the one who reminds me that I don’t make pies— whose list is always too long and whose life is always too full. The one who dreams big dreams and packs life tight and invites me to join him in his journey.

How in the world am I going to live in this little house with two big men… and their piles of Too-Much-Stuff?  Too not-very-tidy men whose image of who they are is not in the least tied to how perfectly kept this house is. 

I go to sleep under the itchy wool of all my worries, waking up wound tight, uptight. It is dark, rain washing the coming day like those German hausfraus of my growing up years, who scrubbed the front step first thing every single morning, their own beauty all caught up in the cracked concrete.

Is that me?

Do I really believe this house is too small? Or is it just right? In our budget, with room to spare— for being generous, for living free. Just the right size for doing life different, the way God is calling us, the way we are longing to live in this fun, no-pie-baking chapter of our lives together.

For this former ugly-house to become home, our home— home for my two messy men and me— a woman learning to be who I am, learning to let go of who I am not— I am going to have to do more than unpack a few boxes. In fact, in order for Firwood cottage to become a place of rest and refuge, a place for refreshment and fun and good times, I am going to need to hang on to truths I know, but too soon forget.

  1. That real women aren’t perfect.
  2. That real women don’t expect perfection from themselves or those they love.
  3. That real women aren’t afraid to let go of the past because they’re so excited about future hope, they hardly notice old glories.
  4. That real women always make room for more life.

And that, my dear girls, is what living my life “hid in Christ” is looking like right now.

Messy, confusing, satisfying, exhilarating, daring, unconventional, and clinging close to the One who promises to finish this project of remaking me into a real woman.

And so, I ask you the questions that woke me up this morning:

Can we… women fitting ourselves tight in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91), learn to be who we are by simply coming in close to who He is?

Can we… women of such worth, such intrinsic value, (Matthew 6:19-34) stop trying to be perfect in order to learn to be holy? Wholly His, caught up in Him? Lost in His perfection?

Can we... women set free, (Galatians 5:13-15) give others room to become who they are? Letting go of tidy theories, those expectations that tie them tight and choke the life out of every one of us?

Can we live large and small at the same time?

From my heart,


P.S. Are you like me? Do you cling to an image of who you wish you were but in honest moments, realize you’re not? And that, indeed, you’re not meant to be? 

Please grace us with your stories, your wisdom, your struggles… we learn from each other…

P.S.S. I gave my pile of pie pans to a friend who makes pies…



What if… God were to call on women to gather together to pray for their family, their friends, the people in their lives, the people they love?

What if…

God were to call an army of women to engage in intense, purposeful prayer?

What if…

hundreds of women answered that call and came together all at once to pray in one massive all-at-the-same-time gathering?

What if…

every daughter, son, husband, friend, neighbor and work associate of every one of those hundreds of women got saturated in prayer?

What if we prayed all night?

What would happen?

Several years ago a group of ordinary women set out to find out what would happen if we had enough faith and determination to venture out of our comfortable beds and pray all night for the people in our own circles of influence.

We were excited, a little nervous, and filled with the hope that God would show Himself to us in tangible, powerful ways.

In ways that made sense to us, in ways  that we could understand.

And He did!

Since that first Night in Prayer, nine years ago, the number of women who come, pajama clad, with pillows and goodies and hearts full of faith, has snowballed.

Women want to come! They bring burdens too great to bear alone: people they love who need Jesus, messy relationships they cannot fix, co-workers who are cold to the Gospel, teenagers taking terrible risks.

We walk in the door, every one of us, with a great burden to see hearts rescued by the Redeemer.

We have seen those Impossible Prayers answered.  Really! We have seen our own minds and attitudes and thinking changed dramatically. We have seen healings of bodies and perhaps even more miraculous, healings of relationships.

More than anything, we have experienced Jesus in a way we never understood possible.

This year would you join us?

We are gathering at midnight on April 4th, through 6 A.M. the next morning to pray all night together… for those we love, for ourselves, for God’s kingdom to come crashing into our messiness here and now.

We’ll be gathering both on the Westside and at Bridgetown and at Sunset this year. I’ll be leading on the Westside and Tammy and her team will guide you at Bridgetown, while Carmen and her crew oversee the women at Sunset.

Will you join us?

I love the LORD because He hears and answers

My prayers.

Because He bends down and listens,

I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalm 116:1,2


Filled with His hope,


Click Here to sign up.

P.S. If you’ve been to a Night in Prayer in the past, would you leave a comment here? I think your stories might just give some women the courage to come…

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: One More Reason Women Don't Want Sex

Dear girls, A few weeks ago I started a conversation about the reasons women no longer want sex. Then, as woman-talk so often does, we got sidetracked. Off on the bunny trail of why I am still in love with my husband after thirty-five years and that secret key for stressed out mamas and other women who work too hard.

So today we circle back to those 3 Reasons  I hear over and over again from women who finally admit that they’re really not all that enthusiastic about initiating and welcoming intimacy with their husbands.

And for those of you who are not yet married, please pay attention! These are obstacles every woman faces at some point in real life. Decide now that you’re going to overcome those glitches because you place imminent value on a healthy sexual relationship with that man who trusts you to meet his needs.

The first reason for no longer loving sex had to do with disappointment in your lover’s romantic efforts. I urged you to remember that he is not your Prince Charming.

Your husband cannot and will not fulfill that gaping hole of need every woman feels.

And gracefully loving him even when he falls short of your ideal is just the way Jesus loves us. It’s not too great a jump to conclude that…

Choosing to pour sexual love on your husband is an act of grateful, grace-filled response to your Redeemer’s tender love towards you.

The second reason we talked about has to do with circumstances.  Overwhelming fatigue, pressure, the realities of too little sleep and not enough space to breath. Pregnancies and nursing babies and teenagers right down the hall who seem to have sonic ears— not exactly how blockbuster movies portray passion.

That’s when commitment comes in. A woman’s commitment to care about her husband and care for herself even when it’s not easy. The comments and ideas that came in for this post were filled with practical wisdom and delightful dashes of humor.

Today, I want to finish this conversation by talking about the third reason women don't want sex:

“Your body isn’t beautiful like the airbrushed, half starved, breast enhanced women in the movies. You’re so intent on hiding the parts you don’t want him to see that you fail to recognize your own inherent sensuality… You don’t want him to see you unclothed because you’ve lost the freedom your beauty brings. The naked and unashamed of the Garden is long gone.”

Beauty. It all comes back to this, doesn’t it?

In order to feel sexual, we need to feel beautiful.

We know that men respond to a woman’s beauty. But do we fully realize how much a woman responds to a man’s response?

As the wife of a pastor, I’ve had a front row seat to a lot of weddings. During the engagement the bride-to-be gets more and more beautiful. She stops biting her nails in order to show off her ring. Starts an intense exercise program in order to fit into her wedding gown. Goes and gets her make-up done and her hair-style updated. Everything for the Wedding Day.

And indeed, on that day, she is absolutely beautiful. Always.

But my favorite thing to watch is when she comes home from her honeymoon.  That’s when her beauty blossoms. No amount of make-up or money can give anyone that slightly seductive swagger a newly married woman carries off.  She wears a certain sort of grin just won’t go away. Kind of a cat-got-the-mouse look, and with a swish of her tail she let’s all the world know that she’s lovely. Beautiful.

Why? Because that young bride is responding to the response of her enthralled husband. He saw her as she is and he loved what he saw and she knows it!  She feels beautiful because she sees her beauty in her husband’s eyes.

And that, my dear girls, is exactly what each of us needs to recapture if we’re going to fully respond to our husbands. We have got to see our beauty from his eyes.

Don’t judge your beauty by what you see in the mirror. The mirror is not the truth. In the mirror you see only your flaws, not your beauty.

Don’t judge your beauty by the magazines or movies. Those pictures are not the truth. They’re airbrushed and positioned and faking reality. No one looks like that in real life.

Don’t judge your beauty by others. You risk insulting the One who made you by wishing He’d done it different. Psalm 139 says He “formed you in your mother’s womb” and He likes the form He made.

But, you say, I’m not a beauty. I’m plain or plump or flat-chested. My skin is bad, my hair is limp, my eyes are droopy, my legs unshapely. You’re not being modest, you’re being honest. Shouldn’t you just settle for the truth as you see it and ignore beauty? After all, there’s more to being a woman than being beautiful, right?

Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: You and I need to feel beautiful in order to act sexual.

Ugliness and sensuality just don’t work for us. No amount of reasoning about how smart we are or how much we’ve accomplished is going to compel us to actively seduce our waiting husbands. That’s just not the way a woman is wired.

So what to do?

1. Decide in your mind that God made you beautiful. Elohim, the creator-God crafted you uniquely. He is not bound by time or culture. He is undeterred by what color hair or skin or shape of figure is currently in vogue.  He is able to see the way He made you as a reflection of His own creativity. His beauty.

In order to think right, we have got to come to an intelligent agreement with God about how He made us. Our minds inform our emotions. When I decide with my mind that God made me beautiful, I begin to feel beautiful.

2. Uncover the beauty God made in you. Sometimes we have got to peel off layers of ugliness we have allowed to coat our real selves. Unhealthy lifestyles disguise our beauty under the consequences of overeating and under-exercising. Time to get out the Nike’s and breathe in fresh air.

Most often uncovering our own beauty just means we need to pay attention to our good parts.  I once read an interview of make-up maven Bobbi Brown that fascinated me. She has made a fortune on women who don’t like the way they look. Her personal philosophy? Stop trying to cover the parts you don’t like and simply enhance your best features.

3. See yourself through your husband’s craving. Your husband needs to see you. He is not looking for perfection, hasn’t noticed those sunspots or saggy breasts. What he needs from you are glimpses of inviting beauty. Uncover just enough to give him what he needs, then allow yourself to respond to his response.

God made a point of the unashamed nakedness of the first married couple. He noted their ease with each other, their lack of hiding. Sin changed their perspective. Satan is the one who turned Eve’s eyes away from Adam’s response and onto her inadequacies.

It’s time we take back our beauty and own it, girls! It’s time we recapture that sensual swagger that somehow got lost by the lies we’ve come to believe.

It’s time to be beautiful.

From my heart,


PS: Can you tell us about your honeymoon? Did you see that delight in his eyes and feel more beautiful than you'd ever thought possible? Dare you show more of yourself now that your body no longer lives up to those pre-wedding-work-out expectations?

And for those of you whose husbands did not make you feel like the most alluring woman in the world , can I just say I am so sorry. There are men who inadvertently hurt their wives by what they don't say... it might be time to sit down and share your heart with him, letting him know how much you need to feel beautiful in order to respond beautifully.


 Be strong and courageous!

Joshua 1:8

Speak truth, each one of you...

Ephesians 4:25

My dear son,

I’ve been writing for a long time now my answer to your question, "Mom, what should I look for in a wife?"

I’ve talked about gentleness and joy, strength to serve, and strength in God. I’ve also written hard things about tendencies that ought to raise red flags before you decide for a lifetime.

Now I sense a need to write some instruction for you and your men-friends about how to really love a woman.

I want you to know beyond what you see, to delve a little deeper into the way God crafted His Eves. We’re so entirely different than men that it’s not only possible, but probable, that if you treat a woman just the way you want to be treated, you’ll get it all wrong.

And so, from a mom to her son, some advice...

Women long to be led. 

We really do. The number one complaint I hear over and over again from beautiful young women is how uncomfortable they are with the lack of clear relational direction they get from guys.

Did he just ask me on a date?

Or are we hanging out?

If so, why?

Does he want another buddy?

Or could he possibly be interested in me as a woman?

Am I supposed to pay when we go out for coffee? Or is he?

The guessing game just drives women crazy!!

When a woman is left to guess at what you mean when you haven’t been entirely clear she feels confused… and just a little bit resentful.

Delightfully joyful women become subdued, peaceful women turn anxious, shy women withdraw, while others assume more than you meant. Not good.


If friendship is all you’re after, say it right up front.

I enjoy your company, I’d just like to be friends with you.


You’re fun and interesting, could we hang out sometime just as friends?


I’ve enjoyed talking to you, would you go out with me so we can get to know each other better?

or, in the words of your father more than 35 years ago:

Diane, You’re a beautiful woman and I want to know you more, but I don’t date just to date. I’d like to take you out with the purpose of getting to know each other with the future in mind. Would that be okay with you?

To which I could barely croak out a yes, as I started making plans to elope.

Seriously, Matt, I think I fell in love with your dad in that moment of clear, gentle leadership. And that’s the way he’s been leading me and loving me for all our lives together.

It isn’t easy, I know. I’ve agonized with you, and your brother before you, over the sheer terror of transparent leadership.

There is risk involved, great risk!

You could get laughed at (unlikely), rejected (possibly), or hurt (it happens).

You will have risked and won or risked and lost but you will have been honorable and forthright and courageous.

You will have led like a man.

Praying for courage and honesty for you and all your friends,



 Am I right girls? 

GENERATIONS... what every woman ought to know

More than three decades ago a family of six moved into a home around the corner from our tiny house on Trevor Drive in San Jose.  They were just back from the mission field with four teenagers, each of whom quickly rose to leadership in our church’s youth group simply because they were so compelling and cheerful and genuinely godly.

I was pregnant with our first son, reading books and studying methods and just generally terrified that neither of us had any idea how to do this whole parenting/raising children/ life of faith task. This family waltzed into our lives at just the right time to give me courage and hope that maybe we could someday have what they had so beautifully built in their family— an honest-to-goodness Jesus centered home filled with passionate-about-Jesus people.

Bill and Laurie Keyes showed us the way ahead. They inspired us and taught us and encouraged and trained us. They met with us and answered questions, allowed us to poke into their lives, opened up their hearts to us to show us that they were real.

And they poured wisdom into us.

Our four kids grew up on “the Keyes say…” Their words became cornerstones for the way we arranged our lives. Validation for why we did what we did and why we didn’t do things a different way.

Their wisdom made sense to us.

So you can imagine my deep-down delight when they agreed to come and share some of that wisdom with you!

On Saturday morning, September 29th, Bill and Laurie Keyes will speak at Generations… what every woman ought to know.

If you are like I was all those years ago, a woman seeking wisdom, hope, encouragement, courage. If you long to build a house on the Rock and need the keys to know howyou will not want to miss this!

The Details

When? September 29th

What time? 9-11 am

Who? Women of any and every age

Childcare? No

What? A lovely light bit of food and drink

Where? Solid Rock Westside

Why? Because there is just so much we women need to know… and Bill and Laurie Keyes have so much wisdom to bring into our questions.

Come! Bring your mom, your sister, your best friend. Bring any woman you know who needs real life wisdom. Because that is exactly what Bill and Laurie do best. They show how to do life wisely.

Really, girls, this is one you absolutely do not want to miss!

From my heart,





RED, GREEN, YELLOW: how marriage is supposed to work

I received this delightful note from one of our women who is a teacher in a school in Salem. I was struck by the wisdom of a child. I’ve added a few comments of my own to his essay… not that it needed one bit more! I think this little guy pretty much says it all.

Hi Diane

I have so enjoyed reading your blog on marriage lately.  I’ve also been listening to Mars Hill’s sermon series on marriage.  And then yesterday, I came across one of my middle schooler’s art projects while grading.  The assignment was to create a sculpture that represented a human relationship, emotion or attribute.  He chose marriage.  And he is in 6th grade.  My heart was so glad, after reading his essay on his sculpture.  I don’t work at a Christian school, so to hear this from a child was priceless!  Just wanted to pass it along to someone who appreciates what God does through marriage as much as I do!

Art and Primary Spanish Teacher

Abiqua School

The reason behind this sculpture is happiness or marriage.

This is a feeling that first time marriage people will never forget. This feeling for most people is the best feeling they will ever feel in their lifetime.

In the painting you may see that if you picture their faces together as one,

they look half and half.

That is what married people should commit to.

I chose red as a color because red represents all of the arguments and problems and miscommunication that will be a part of marriage but the two people will stay strong and carry on.

I chose green as a relaxing color because you now work as a team and everything you do is now one.

I chose yellow as a color because it represents how much you want to do this and how enthusiastic and happy you are about your decisions.

Red, green, yellow.

Red because conflict is a reality when two people choose to become one. Because becoming one takes a whole lot of dying to self and forgiving and covering over all those irritants that threaten to undo us. And because for most of us it’s an embarrassingly messy process. And life intrudes and things go wrong and we have a million opportunities to choose- grace and mercy or disapproval and rejection?

Green because a great marriage creates a space that is so restful and refreshing that a whole family- and indeed an on looking world- can find peace and hope and rest there. And because green is a symbol of growth and newness and that’s what a God centered marriage between two people creates in this whole crazy process of becoming one.

Yellow for the sheer joy of participating in a miracle. Like my daffodils blooming in the midst of a dreary day, a marriage done right brings delight to everyone who gets to glimpse this outlandish idea of God’s.

And I think that’s enough said…

From my heart,



A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the delight I have had of sharing my husband’s mission and calling for the past 33 years. I urged young women to consider carefully a man’s vision before they consent to join their life in marriage. And I encouraged wives to fully embrace their husband’s vision and put everything they are into helping him fulfill his God given calling. And in so doing, it would seem, I opened up a discussion on the role of women in marriage. A good discussion, full of honest seeking and intelligent searching into the Word of God for answers.

Today I have asked my friend, Vicki Marshman to share with us. She is one of the smartest and kindest women I know. A woman I am honored to call my friend.

Vicki, one of the first female graduates of the Air Force Academy, combines all that academic discipline with a lifetime of loving on her husband, Steve, and her two daughters.

Settle in and learn from her Biblical research and loving wisdom— these are things we need to know.

From my heart,


*4 REASONS FOR MARRIAGE: part 4 will be back next week.

WOMEN + MARRIAGE: by vicki marshman

Recently Diane posted a fascinating discussion on marriage and mission.  I thought she did a wonderful job of laying out the concept of having a mission in your marriage.  As wives we are called to be under the headship of our husbands (I am going to spend quite a bit of time on that topicJ).  But I wanted to weigh in on the idea of wives supporting the ‘mission’ of our husbands.  When Steve and I were dating- in the dim past when bell bottoms and ‘big hair’ were the height of fashion- one of the things that drew me to him was his plans for the future.  He was a man with a vision.  He wasn’t floating through life waiting for something to drop into his lap.  He knew what he wanted and he had a plan for getting there.  He was a new Christian, but he already was seeking God’s plan for his life.  In other words, he had a mission.  Over the course of our dating I found that his vision for the future was compelling and one that I wanted to devote my life to also.  I saw that my dreams and desires closely matched with his.  THIS SHOULD BE A BIG CLUE TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE DATING!!! If what excites your man leaves you cold- you are dating the wrong man!

As we have been married, we have worked together to further define and refine Steve’s vision.  We each brought different strengths and gifts to our marriage. We have helped each other to recognize our own unique gifts- or lack thereof- we have both finally accepted that neither of us can sing, Steve has a true gift for teaching and I am the only one in our family who can remember where the car keys are.  But one thing has remained, Steve has desired to follow God and serve him with all of his heart.  He has been the leader in our family and has worked hard to guide and care for his family.  I have been able to fully use my gifts to join with and support him in that role/mission.  It has sometimes been a wild ride, but who wants to stay in the slow lane the whole time?  Do I feel like I have ignored my own dreams and goals to follow after Steve’s?  Absolutely not!  I believe that I have been able to fully explore my talents and gifts as we have worked together.  Steve has always encouraged and supported me in using my gifts and abilities.  Twenty-eight years later I believe that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do- helping my husband accomplish the mission God gave him and, in effect, me.





The Role of Women in Marriage:


I have been married to my husband for 28 years.  Steve and I were 22 and 23 when we married, (yes, I married a ‘younger man’) and to be honest I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing when I first said “I do”.  I had only been a believer for a few months and Steve was a new believer too.  So neither of us really knew what the Bible had to say about marriage.  My parents were not Christians and they did not have a good marriage. Their chosen method of conflict resolution was yelling followed by door slamming and then a nice long pout (both of them were very good at this).  Needless to say this was not a good plan for a successful marriage.

The first 5 years of our marriage definitely had problems.  I had no idea how to adjust my personal experience of marriage (which can be loosely translated as ‘What not to do!’) to what the Bible had to say about it.  I struggled with what my role in the marriage was supposed to be and I often wondered how two people who seemed so very different and self-centered were ever going to have a godly marriage.

At about the 5 year point in our marriage, Steve and I were living in Germany.  Steve was flying for the Air Force and we were living in an apartment in a small German town.  The exciting thing about this was that we were also a part of a Bible study for young married couples.  All of us had been married for less than 10 years; and most of us had very young children.  It was the best thing that ever happened to our marriage.  We met as a group every week and studied the Bible together and we bore each other’s burdens.

That time was foundational to my understanding of what the Bible has to say about marriage. Steve and I still have our ups and downs but I now know what God wants for us and for our marriage.  It is sometimes hard to accept but always true that God does know best- not my mother, not my friends and definitely not the culture we live in. So the following is what I have learned over the years about Biblical marriage and the role of women in such a marriage.

Let’s start with a good Biblically based definition of what a marriage is:

Marriage is the publicly pledged, permanent, exclusive, covenantal union of one man and one woman.


Wow!  What a mouthful!  Let’s take that definition apart and see what it actually means. 

Publicly pledged: We make our marriage vows to each other in front of witnesses.  These witnesses are there to hear our vows to each other and to encourage and support us as we fulfill those vows. We are NOT saying Yes, to the dress! We are saying yes to a lifelong commitment to a man we love and respect and are willing to be united with for life.

Permanent: Marriage is forever- ‘until death do you part’. This is probably one of the least accepted concepts in our culture today.  Nothing seems permanent in our society.  Everything is disposable, recyclable or replaceable.  Our culture tells us that if our marriage isn’t satisfying or enjoyable or fulfilling or frankly just too much work- we should just reboot our lives and start over.  But the Bible couldn’t disagree more with this view.  Look at the following verses:

Matt 5:32 31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matt 19:3-9 (this passage is very similar to Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18)

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”   4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

So what do we take away from these passages?  We are in it for the long haul ladies!  Marriage does not have a 30 day return policy.  If more people accepted that fact going into it, I believe that there would be a lot fewer divorces.

Exclusive: total, complete monogamous faithfulness to your partner.  This should be one of those “Well, DUH!” moments; but again our culture works against us.  Let’s cut right to the chase and see what Paul has to say about this.

1 Corinthians 6:15-17:  15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Sex is more than just a physical activity.  It unites us with our partner at a deep level.  Notice Paul’s use of the Genesis 2 language- sex within the bounds of marriage is one of God’s gifts to us and should not be taken lightly.  Look at 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.

2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Both husbands and wives are obligated to see to their partner’s needs.  Now I have to be honest here and say that I haven’t heard of too many husbands with a problem in this area.  In fact, men have a physical need for sexual release.  Studies have been done showing most men need this release approximately every 3 days.  As wives we need to aware of and responsive to this need in our men.

Covenantal: We make promises- serious promises, like a binding legal contract before God and before witnesses. We all know what a contract is.  We all know there are often real and serious consequences to breaking a contract- can anyone say “cell phone contract prepayment penalty’?  Why would we think that the consequences of breaking a contract made before God wouldn’t have damaging repercussions?

Union: an intense, intimate, joining of one man and one woman.  The Bible describes it as ‘becoming one flesh’ in Gen 2.  There is a soul-tie between a husband and wife.  This tie is life-long and unbreakable.  We may be able to rip it apart but there is truly great pain in doing so.

Well that was fun!  Here we are in this lifelong committed relationship and some of us don’t even know what the ground rules are.  Fortunately God doesn’t leave us hanging.  A couple of passages discuss the role of wives in a godly marriage.  Most notably Ephesians 5:22-25 and the passage we will be focusing on -1 Peter 3:1-6.

1Pe 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

1Pe 3:2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

1Pe 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear--

1Pe 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

1Pe 3:5 for this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

1Pe 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

These six verses cover a lot, but I want to concentrate on 3 key principles that every wife should follow:

The first principle is submission.


Yes, we are going to talk about the ‘elephant in the living room’.

Verse one says ‘be subject to your own husbands’;  Submission- this is a controversial topic in our society so let’s take a closer look at what is meant by submission.

Before we begin, let’s establish some ground rules-

  1. This issue is specifically intended to address the relationship between a Christian man and woman.  There can be real problems if you try to apply these guidelines outside of Christian marriage.  If you are dealing with a marriage between two non-believers or between a believer and a non-believer some of these principles may simply not apply.
  2. These guidelines are only intended to govern the marital relationship.  Women are not submissive to any man, even in the context of the church.  Now in all honesty, we are to be in submission to our elders and pastors, but so are all the men!  Hebrews 13:17 states that

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.


3.  Women are not required to do anything immoral or that violates any other part of God’s Word.  (Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men”).  Again remember the Bible is approaching this issue from the viewpoint of two believers.

So, what does submission mean?

The best example – as it always is- is Jesus.  Let’s look at Mark 14:32-36.  In these verses we find Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.  He will soon be arrested, tried and hung on the Cross.  His hour is at hand and He is very naturally feeling great anxiety and fear over the ordeal ahead of Him.

Mar 14:32 and they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."

Mar 14:33 and he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.

Mar 14:34 and he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch."

Mar 14:35  And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

Mar 14:36 and he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

What is happening in these verses?  Jesus is showing us what submission looks like as He submits to the Father.

Jesus gives His emotions- “My soul is very sorrowful”

Jesus gives His desires- “Remove this cup from me”

Jesus gives His trust- “Yet not what I will, but what you will”

In return the Father hears and cares, He understands and He is faithful and protective.

This is the model for submission that we should see in our marriages.  We share our thoughts/emotions/opinions with our husbands.  Our husbands, the godly men who love us sacrificially listen to us and care for us and are faithful and protective of us.  In this model we have the security and freedom to participate in all decisions and to trust our husbands to do what is best for us in those times when we don’t agree.

Does this always happen?  Well, I don’t know about your halo, but mine has quite a few dings in it where it has slipped off of my head.  I don’t always ‘submit’.  I get scared and lose faith or sometimes I just get selfish and manipulative. Steve has a few flaws tooJ.

Our husbands don’t want a partner who expects them to make all the decisions in a relationship.  They want an equal, active partner who helps them discuss the issues they are facing as a couple/family and come to a decision that both agree on.  However, when a decision needs to be made and there is no agreement it is the husband’s role to make the decision and the wife’s role to support that decision. Give this to your husband- be the contributing partner in the marriage, not the “I knew this wasn’t going to work out” after the fact partner.

Most husbands need and value their wives’ input and instincts- my ‘woman’s intuition’ as Steve calls it.  Over the years of our marriage I can think of only a couple of times when Steve and I could not come to an agreement on an issue.  We have worked as a team.  Steve actively seeks my opinion and input.  I believe that I play a valued and integral role in all of our decisions.  I have to give great credit to my husband here.  He is an excellent example of a godly husband who truly loves me sacrificially and wants to be the leader God has called him to be. This was a difficult thing for me to learn.  I definitely never saw it modeled in my parent’s marriage.  I had to learn to trust and sometimes I just had to be obedient to the Word of God.  But the rewards have been amazing.  I have a husband who loves me and who I trust implicitly.


The second principle deals with our behavior as wives.


Wives are to have ‘respectful and pure conduct (from vs 2).

The dictionary definition of respect: 1) to take notice of; to regard with special attention; to regard as worthy of special consideration; hence to care for; to heed. 2) To consider worthy of esteem; to regard with honor

Respect- ladies our husbands have a huge need to feel competent.  They particularly need to be told they are respected by the significant women in their lives.  And wives are one of the most significant women in any man’s life.  They need to hear us say “Well done”, “Great job”.

We have the ability to discourage our husbands with disrespect or to encourage and honor them with our respect.  Which does the Bible command of us?

In addition we are to act in a pure manner, another word for pure is chaste.  This does not mean that we are repressed or frigid. We are to be passionate, but only for God and our husbands.

The final principle deals with our outward appearance and our inward attitude.

Verse 3 says that we are not to have external adornment.  A better translation would be not MERELY external adornment.  There is nothing wrong with dressing well and grooming our hair so that we look our best.    Most husbands enjoy having their wives look attractive.  But our best should always be decent and modest.

Our adornment should also be more than ‘skin-deep’.  It should focus on the hidden person of the heart; that gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God.

This gentle and quiet spirit needs further definition.  We are not to be doormats.  How can we be a suitable helper for our husbands if we never offer them the benefit of our experience and intuition?  Our husbands need our input and our support.  But sometimes ladies our gentle and quiet spirit needs to do a little more listening and a little less talking.  Admittedly a hard thing for most of us!

Keep in mind that sharing our opinion should not become nagging.  Nagging is a sign of distrust.  When we nag we are telling our husbands- I do not trust you to do this right, or I do not trust you to do it at all.  We need to have faith in our husbands that they will do what is in the best interest of our families.  We need to help them step into the headship role God has called them to.

Be Submissive

Be respectful and chaste

Be decent and modest; with a gentle and quiet spirit.

God gave us these principles because He wants us to experience all of the joy that a good marriage can bring to us.  Marriage is not always easy.  In fact, at times it is very hard.  Two people who often come from very different backgrounds and who have very different needs often have to work very hard to be a ‘giving partner’ to their spouse, a partner who puts the best interest of their spouse ahead of their own needs.

But this is what God calls us to do.  As wives we are called to submit to our husbands.  We are called to be respectful and pure in conduct and we are called to have that quiet and gentle spirit that is precious to God.

Can we do this?  Yes, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can be the kind of wife described in Proverbs 31.

Pro 31:10 an excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

Pro 31:11 the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

Pro 31:12 she does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.