Is Wifely Submission Natural?

Sunshine Mary left this comment on her blog recently:

Yes, I’m sure having a natural bent toward submission is helpful. Lucky lady. Wish it came naturally to me.

That reminded me of a discussion I had recently, wherein a friend and I agreed that women do have a natural bent toward submission, but it’s trained out of them, much as a boy’s natural bent toward dominance is trained out of him these days.  Perhaps it’s more natural for some than for others, but I think it exists in all of them at birth, as part of female human nature.

I’m reminded of times when I did get dominant with a girlfriend — maybe out of frustration, because this was before I knew it would work — and it turned her on.  Or the times that a woman would curl up against the couch at my feet, leaning against my knees, to watch TV.  In hindsight, I can see all sorts of submissive body language that women showed when they were attracted to me.  And these weren’t outwardly submissive women — they would have scoffed at the idea.  But something in them still urged them in that direction unconsciously.

It shows up more clearly in women who were raised with traditional beliefs from the start, though.  I know women who actively look for opportunities to follow a man’s leadership.  At my church, we say the rosary before every Mass.  If there are only women there early enough, one of them will lead the rosary; but if there is a man there, they’ll ask him to do it, because they think it’s best for a man to lead.  That’s a small example, but they try to maintain that attitude throughout their lives.

That’s not to say they don’t and won’t struggle with it, or that a man can assume that if he gets one of those women, he can sit back and relax and never worry that she’ll try to dominate him.  We have the assurance of God’s words to Eve on that; every woman will struggle with this and need God’s grace and her husband’s leadership to guide her away from that temptation.  But raising girls with the right beliefs, and surrounding girls and women with a society that once again appreciates the “help-meet” role, would make things much, much easier for women — and men, by extension.

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4 thoughts on “Is Wifely Submission Natural?

  1. I had the rosary scenario happen to me before. Never really thought of it in that way…because I like leading the rosary.

    Although I have found it to be true the more you lead as a man…the more women like it.

  2. I would say that people-pleasing is innate in women, but we are very much pressured to not be people-pleasers because it can get us in trouble. We are told to be shrewd and assertive.

    So in the context of marriage, it is hard to stop being shrewd and assertive even when ones instincts push one in that direction.

  3. I’ve said before that my best dates were the ones where something went wrong, like having the car break down or getting caught in the rain while walking back from a movie. I used to think that was because it added some excitement, and that’s probably true. But now I think it was even more because I responded to the “crisis” by taking charge in a way that I didn’t when I was following a carefully prepared dating script. When we got caught in a storm, I grabbed her hand and said, “This way.” When the car broke down, I said, “Okay, here’s what we need to do; you turn the key while I do something under the hood.” Because I was focused on the problem rather than pleasing them, I led and gave commands which I would have been afraid to do ordinarily, and they responded to that.

  4. It is often overlooked in the ‘spere that this behavior naturally happens. Good for you pointing it out. I was raised in a protestant group where boys were put forward in your “rosary equivalent” by the time they were fourteen or so. It was more than a little bit of a shock to grow up and find out that such behavior wasn’t normal. I grew up “giving orders” to women well into their sixties (who often knew much better what was supposed to happen in a given situation and would politely remind me of the same if I did something egregiously stupid).

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