Issue: My wife is not submissive to me. I really can't tolerate it anymore. I feel like we are getting farther and farther away from each other. I've prayed about it and still nothing has changed. If things don't change we may need to divorce.
Insight: When you married your wife you made a vow to her to be with her through good times and bad times. Clearly, this is a bad time for you. Jesus said there was only one reason to divorce and that is infidelity.
Matthew 19:3-9 says, '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?" "Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 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’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”'
Love is a choice. Every day we choose either to love or not to love. My challenge to you is to love her through all of this. 1 Corinthians 13 explains what true love is all about. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) If you love your wife with this kind of love, I am sure things will start to change.
The only person you can change is yourself. The only person we have complete control over is ourselves, therefore the only one we can change is ourselves. In life I have found that it is easier to see the faults in others than recognize my own short comings. Matthew 7:3-5 says, '“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Jesus wants us to focus on ourselves and making sure our lives are right and to stop focusing on others. Instead of focusing on how she is failing you, focus on loving her the way we are called to love. This love will draw you closer together whether she becomes submissive or not. This love will also enable you to forgive her for her past mistakes and be able to move forward from this.
Lastly, I wanted to ensure you had a clear picture of what that submission you expect from your wife is supposed to look like. Ephesians 5:22-33 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Submit equals respect according to this scripture. In that context we as the church submit to God by respecting God and his authority. Submission does not mean obedience; this is the expectation in a child - parent relationship, not a wife - husband relationship. The wife is to submit as the husband is to love. Therefore, if your love your wife the way God loves the church, then submission should come naturally. I believe there is a natural balance between the two. If a husband is not loving towards his wife, it is much harder for her to submit.
I want to make it clear that I am not judging you, I am just trying to give you some tools to enable you to save your marriage.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.