Following Your Man

Karen Waddles

Karen Waddles | 06.27.12


My husband and I recently attended a meeting at a quaint country church tucked into the woods. After getting off the interstate, the winding country roads seemed to meander aimlessly for miles and miles. It struck me that we might have difficulty finding our way back.

After the meeting, the plan was that my husband would lead the caravan of cars back to the interstate. After all, he’s the man, he’s the pastor, he’s the husband, and he had GPS in his car—and knew how to use it.

We drove away from the church onto a two-lane road in the dark of night. He was in front, I was immediately behind him, and two more cars were behind me. He headed down the road, going in the wrong direction, but soon realized his error and backed up. We all backed up to allow him to head in the other direction. We were on our way again. But soon we came to a fork in the road. He went to the left, and I panicked. That was the wrong way! He should have turned right.

And of course, being the biblical woman that I am, I followed right behind him . . . not exactly. Instead of following him and going to the left, I turned to the right, and noticed that the two cars behind me had done the same. I kept looking in my rearview mirror to see if George had realized the error of his ways, turned around, and joined the caravan. (Wouldn’t that have been a perfect picture of divine order?) To my utter dismay, he did not. After about fifteen minutes on the country road with no end in sight, I called him to see where he was and he said, “I’m already on the Interstate, honey. Where are you?”

That was a good question. Exactly where was I? I was almost thirty minutes behind where I would have been if I had stayed the course and followed my man. And on top of that, I was modeling biblical womanhood very poorly for the young wife and single woman who were riding with me.

I was reminded once again of how readily I seek to control my husband (Gen. 3:16), and of the peripheral damage that is done to those who watch and learn from my example. I seem to do pretty well with the big-picture kinds of support, but these little daily life episodes trip me up a lot, and I find myself undermining my husband’s leadership.

I’m really blessed to have a husband who is patient and gracious. He still hasn’t brought up the driving incident yet—probably saving it for a sermon illustration. He really doesn’t have to bring it up. The moment I took that right turn the Holy Spirit got busy convicting me, as only He can.  

I’ve got much more growing to do. How about you? Are there subtle and not so subtle ways you undermine your husband’s leadership? Let’s set our hearts on encouraging our men by following their lead!


  1. Sometimes it takes some of us longer than others to learn how to follow our husbands! THANK THE LORD, I too have a patient husband! I thank God EVERY DAY for my husband!!!!!!! He is THE BEST GIFT from God to me, aside of Salvation!
    posted by Becky Green
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 7:21 am
  2. Thank you for your transparency! I definitely struggle in this area. Your post reminded me that my daughter and sons are watching and it is critical for me to continue to grow into the picture of respect and submission they need as a model. Thank God He has not left me alone to change myself, but has given me the Holy Spirit and a promise to complete the good work He began in me.
    posted by Michelle
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 8:40 am
  3. Great post, Karen. Thanks for sharing. :)
    posted by April
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 8:54 am
  4. I'm single for now but following male or any leadership is sometimes a problem for me. Even in the workplace, I have to be conscious of leadership and my role as their support.
    posted by Elveria
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 8:56 am
  5. Thank GOD for that timely post and your transparency. I often fail at following my husband and pastors leadership and modeling submissive in front of our chilren at times. Its not anybody's fault but mine. I 'm asking th Lord and family to forgive me. I can't use my stage of menopuse as an escuse. I'm asking the Lord to make me all over and let servanthood start in the four walls of our home.
    posted by 1st lady
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 9:21 am
  6. i am trying to trust God and submit to my husband. so far this has led to us losing our house, all of our savings and living in a 2 bedroom, one bathroom apartment with 2 men i don't know. i now have 3 part time jobs. i still cook dinner for him each night and wash his clothes. i don't feel like it, but just because he doesn't fulfill his husbandly duties, i feel God is saying to me i still need to fulfill my wifely ones. it makes it even harder because my whole family thinks i am crazy to stay married to someone who lies to me daily and makes such unwise choices and never learns from his husband is so irresponsible with money. i have prayed everyday for the last 15 yrs for God to change my husband's heart. please pray that God will answer my prayer for my husband to repent of his sins soon.
    posted by m
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 9:30 am
  7. Dear M,

    I will pray that God will work in you as a couple and individually to be in His will. I am ashamed that while my husband is everything your husband seems to lack - a good provider, a believer involved in church work, good helper at home & with children - I am no where nearly as submissive as you are. Please pray for me to more closely follow God's word and leading, as well as my husband's leadership in our home.
    posted by Y
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 9:47 am
  8. Dear m,
    God bless you for standing by your man. Far too many wives would dump their irresponsible your family members (who should be surrounding you with support). I am praying for your marriage and especially for your husband to see the light. You did not mention if he is a believer, but if he is, there is not much fruit of the Spirit evident (from him). For now, trust God to provide for your needs. He is the Giver of good and perfect gifts. Keep loving your man and pray diligently for him!
    posted by Karen K
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:00 am
  9. Dear m,
    I think one of the most profound things I heard recently is, "divorcing your husband will not make him a better man". How true! God bless you and be your strength as you continue to be the woman God has called you to be. I am humbled today by your example.
    posted by Donna
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:29 am
  10. Dear ROH Readers,

    I am struggling with "M's" post. I have grown greatly these past years listening to ROH and reading this blog regarding submitting to my husband. I do and say (or not) things I would have never even thought of, if it weren't for this ministry. I fail miserably still with submission, but I am growing in that department and at least recognize my failures.

    I am struggling with M's post for a couple of reasons. I admire her devotion and faith to her vow, as I believe that is sacred. I admire her faith towards prayer. But I struggle with submission and how it may cross the line of enabling. Don't get me wrong, I believe wives should submit to their husbands. But I also think submission can be taken to a point of enabling a husband's ill or wrong behavior or habits.

    It is such a fine, fine line. I have no idea where that line is, or if it is different in each home, or what that line looks like. But, as helpers to our husbands, don't we have the responsibility to actually HELP them?

    From all that I have read and heard from this ministry, it seems that "helping" has gotten us wives into so much trouble because we tend to use that term so we can take control. Hence that proverbial fine line.

    But on the other hand, from what I have learned from this ministry is that submission doesn't mean being a doormat, it means (among many other things) encouraging our husbands to be what God intended them to be.

    I find it hard that God intends any husband to be the kind of man who does not lead, provide and protect his family. And as wives, if we are not our husband's helper in this area, and just passively submit to irresponsible behavior, then I feel that perhaps there may be a possibility that WE are not being the helping wife that God intended US to be.

    I struggle with the balance.

    As a helping wife, I feel (in my very humble, and very imperfect marriage) that I have a responsibility to my husband. It is a fine, fine line, as I said between helping and taking control. Each marriage is different and I am still trying to find my line.

    For example, my husband is not good with finances or keeping up with bills. I have tried for two years to get him to let me help with this burden. Then I came across ROH and began to listen and learn a lot of things I just did not know before. The next time my husband said, "Let me handle it," I did. Our gas got turned off. It cost us to reconnect the lines, my time staying home to wait for the gas man and so on. I was livid but stayed home ( without a huge fight) waited for the gas man and we had to pay a huge bill.

    My husband needed help getting bills organized and paid on time, but again, would not let me help. But he was struggling and admitted he hated this part of himself. I am extremely organized, and could do this in a snap. I never yelled, just kept offering.

    Now as a wife, do I allow my husband to limp along, causing us an average $1200 a year in bank late fees? Do I just remain silent and allow him to hate himself, feel stupid, and feel down on himself month after month because his own stubbornness and refusal to change causes us great financial stress? He expresses to me this has been a lifelong issue...organization. Do I lovingly step in and offer relief and encouragement? Once again he refuses my offer and once again I let him struggle. And so the late fees and high interest rates continue.

    This goes on for two years. My husband starts to fall into a depression. Do I submit to his ways and stand back and allow this to continue, or do I step up to the plate and be the helping wife that I believe God expects of me? Do I do for him what he CAN'T do for himself and I can? Or keep encouraging him that he can really do this even though we have no history of his organizational skills. To me, it is about respect of course, but something deeper.

    I think taking control is when the husband is capable of doing something but the wife steps in and does it herself.

    Enabling the husband is when the husband is capable of doing something, but refuses to do it, or do it well, and causes hardship on himself and/or the family and the wife DOESN'T step in or speak up at least.

    And finally, submitting - meaning helping, cooperating, and encouraging all those things that enable the husband to do what he can so he may grow to be what he is supposed to be according to God's will.

    If we enable the wrong behaviors, or control the proper behaviors, then how as wives, can we call ourselves true helpers?

    My struggle, of course is the fine line. At which point do I step in more strongly when the poor behaviors continue (which we must submit to and let him learn from) and at which point do I decide that some of his choices and repeated behaviors are a cry for help and am I enabling him by simply doing nothing when perhaps I am here all along to help him become the person he is supposed to be according to God's will?

    But how are we to know God's will? I turn to my favorite verse:

    Jer 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    And from that scripture, I encourage my husband, with respect (the best I can). God plans for us to prosper. Now "prosper" may take on many forms, not just financial. It could be emotional growth, peace, on.

    I have stayed with my husband through some very horrible times in which I was even advised to leave him. I did not. I have faith we will prosper. I am very glad I am with him. He has now put all his bills online with auto pay. It was with strong encouragement from me that he did - himself. I did not type it in myself, which was a huge struggle for me not to. It took almost four years to accomplish this (and a lot of prayer). He is very grateful to have this burden off his shoulders and feels better about himself too.

    But back to "M" - and I am so sorry this is taking so long to read. But I struggle with her post because after 15 years and so many hardships (and I do ADMIRE her devotion), I can't help but wonder if she and so many other marriages in similar situations, could those husband's behaviors been enabled by passive submission instead of being challenged respectfully? I know we can't change anyone but ourselves, however, passivity isn't helping or encouraging.

    Please don't think I am judging, I am just a little confused and struggling over the whole submission/helping/encouraging thing and still learning. When I read a story like M's, it makes me wonder about submission vs enabling.

    I would feel awful if this was taken in the wrong spirit. My intent is not to hurt or judge, but to pose the question of when does submission cross over to enabling. I am not saying this is M's situation at all.

    Thank you in advance for any insight and so sorry for the long-winded text!
    posted by E
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm
  11. Wow! Thank you for putting "the little things" in perspective!
    posted by Charla
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm
  12. I really needed to read that. As I am learning to surrender to God daily, this is a major challenge for me. The Holy Spirit keeps reminding me that our daughters and sons will one day live out what they saw in our home and that's sobering. I believe that God will help me to let go of my pride in this area and let my husband lead even when I think he's messing up.
    posted by Acacia
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm
  13. @ M and E, I would say it is not an either/or situation, being submissive or letting your utilities get cut off.
    Counseling is out there. We have church leaders we can talk to. Maybe an older man can hold a husband accountable while an older woman comes alongside the wife. There are other options besides wives trying to handle these things alone. Just a thought.
    posted by Laura
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  14. Oh, I am sorry to write again, but I also meant to add a funny car story as well. (Two actually.)

    This shows how God watches out for us and teaches us...

    While driving, my husband will go through a phase of seriously not keeping his eyes on the road, and decide to "sight-see" and just keeping looking to the left and right, and not at the road! This makes me a nervous wreck.

    We had argued many times about this and after finding ROH, and began to learn about being a better wife, I decided that this would be one area I would try very hard to improve upon.

    One day, as his passenger, he went on a "sight-seeing" binge, and I was just biting my tongue and about to blow up as he had to slam on his breaks several times, for not watching the road. But I never said a word.

    He kept on with his "sight-seeing" and suddenly, the car behind us, blasted his horn at us, and my husband got mad and looked in his review mirror and there was an angry man behind us who made the gesture with his hand with two fingers pointing at his own eyes, and then at the road and then at my husband...the gesture meant, "Keep your eyes on the road, buddy!"

    Both my husband and I saw this, and my husband was so angry and started to yell, and I couldn't help it, but I started to laugh out loud...and after a bit, my husband started to laugh too. I would like to think God was rewarding me for trying so hard to be quiet.

    Story two:

    This shows I am STILL learning...

    I was following my husband's car in my car, and we were in the cell phone, at a red light. He was first in line at the light, me right behind him. The light turned green, and on the phone, I said, "Will you go?! It is green..."

    He looked up at the light, and HIS light was red (the left turn lane light was green) and he calmly and teasingly said, "Are you actually backseat driving me from a completely different car behind me??"

    I sheepishly started to laugh and he then said, "I think this beats it all..." and he started to laugh and said, "I tell you what, I will drive this car, and you drive that car, and all will be well" and we started to laugh again.

    And yes, he does bring up this story to friends...but then he knows if he does, the story about the man behinds us telling him to keep his eyes on the road is soon to follow.

    God does teach us all...

    And "M" I wanted you to know that I will pray for you and for peace in your home. I hope I have a heart like you someday. Thank you for sharing. I meant to add that before.
    posted by E
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm
  15. @M ... just wanted to say that I also agree with another commenter about counseling.

    After many years of God telling me through his word and other ways... I was told to talk to a pastor but kept putting it off for many different reasons.

    My husband and I have had a struggling marriage for about 15 years as well. Finally, I went to our pastor. What a huge difference obedience makes.

    My husband is a believer but never had any good role models at all. We'd been hurt by many churches, the leaders and false doctrine. It was hard to find a good church. Hard to sum up here but this past year we have found good loving and godly men and women to see how biblical living can look like. They are not all perfect... but I can really see a love for God and their spouses.

    I've talked to our pastor and my husband is making real and significant changes in his behavior and attitudes, as well as huge progress in my own attitudes and behavior.

    Prayer does change things... but don't forget obedience to God over all. Doesn't mean we run to the pastor anytime our husband makes a mistake, but if there is sin... and you've talked to him about it in a loving way and nothing has changed... there may come a time to seek Godly wisdom and advice to those God has put over us... pastor or elder.

    Last thing, not sure if this will be helpful... but for me... I am a worker, a server, and I tend to do all things in my own strength. The biggest revelation to me in the whole submission area is do all things through Christ. Seek Him and the Holy Spirit to do all the things He has called you to do. I can not love or respect my husband in my own strength. I need to do that by the love God has given me and through Him I can do the hard things... like respecting my husband. I still fail but thanks to God He is forgiving and merciful.

    Hope this is helpful to M or anyone else. Sorry if a bit long.

    And I do want to say I loved the article. It was timely in our ladies group as we are studying respect and being a biblical wife. Very helpful. Thank you!
    posted by Emmy
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  16. Dear E

    I enjoyed reading your post. I could sense that you are not trying to get out from your responsibility but truly trying to understand where the lines are.

    I keep coming back to the verse in Ephesians 5:24 "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
    This is the standard God sets out in His word. Is there any circumstance where the church would not submit to Christ? No.

    I got married at almost 30 and had been a very independent woman. When I got married I looked carefully in the Bible for the exception clause when it came to submission! I believe God is trying to display in human terms what the church's relationship to Jesus looks like - that is why there is no exception clause.

    My husband, like me is far from perfect. Every man has those weaknesses that have plagued them for years. In my life God has used those very things to deepen my faith in Him as I have trusted Him to work in my husband when and how He chooses. It has deepened my prayer life as I cry out to God to help my husband in a way that will not take away from his manhood, that will help my husband to become more like Jesus and bring more glory to God. Trusting God's design has made my husband more willing be open with me in the areas where he struggles.

    Keep trusting God to work in Him. When it seems to take forever and even costs money I think about the weaknesses in my personality and how long I have struggled with them and that gives me perspective to be patient and trust that God is doing an work in Him.
    For me it is still a daily dependence on God but His ways are good and His timing is perfect.

    posted by Eliza W
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm
  17. There is a very challenging Scripture about submission in 1 Peter 3:1-6. It might be helpful for those wondering about the "fine line". Sarah was submissive even though her husband lied and put her at high risk saying she was his sister instead of his wife. Her trust MUST have been in God not to have been fearful then. May we all have this kind of hope in God to make us beautiful.
    posted by MC
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm
  18. That verse in 1 Peter 3:1-6 was referring to a very early incident in Genesis. The Bible has given us SEVERAL other examples and references since that time. It's important to study all of them.

    A husband is head of his wife and the family leader. However, far too many husbands have misused their God given authority for selfish and/or sinful reasons. Although the Bible teaches us to submit to those in authority over us, God does not want us to submit or follow sinful, destructive or foolish behavior. Several examples illustrate that for us.

    The King commanded that there would be no prayer for 30 days, yet Daniel refused to stop praying to God. As a result, he was thrown in the lionís den. How do we know God was pleased with Danielís refusal to submit to sin? God made sure that Daniel was kept from harm while in the lionís den, and God made Daniel prosperous. (Daniel chapter 6)

    Hebrew boys refused to bow to an idol - kingís golden statue. As a result, they were thrown into the fiery furnace. How do we know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin? God didnít allow the flames to burn them. THEIR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO THE KINGíS FOOLISH CAUSED THE KING HIMSELF TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND HONOR GOD, and the king gave them promotions (Daniel chapter 3).

    Midwives refused to obey the kingís command and kill baby boys. We know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin because God was kind to the midwivesÖbecause the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:15-22).

    Peter and John refused to stop teaching and preaching about Jesus. As a result of their refusal, they were jailed and beaten. Their punishment was more severe than those listed in OT because they suffered physical harm. We know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin because He allowed their lives to be spared, and they continued to preach the gospel of Christ (Acts 5:17-29).

    These are just a few examples of Godly people who refused to submit to sinful, destructive, or foolish behaviors. There are many others. WIVES ARE NO EXCEPTION!

    Abigail refused to submit to her husbandís foolishness. Her husbandís very name - Nabal - meant FOOL. Although she was not able to save her husbandís life, her wise actions and refusal to submit to his foolishness caused the lives of others in her house to be spared. King David himself recognized her wisdom. After her foolish husband died, David made her his wife( 1 Sam chapter 25).

    Sapphira foolishly submitted to her husbandís lies, and followed him right to the grave. She should have learned from Abigailís wise example. Sapphiraís poor example teaches wives what not to do. She died a foolís death (Acts 5:1-11).

    These Biblical examples teach us that God does not want us to submit or follow authority in sinful, destructive, or foolish behavior.

    Partaking in another personís sin, foolishness, or destructive behavior is counterproductive and has never caused anyone to come to Christ. If anything, it promotes hypocrisy. Godly people in the Bible never committed or followed sin, foolishness or destructive behaviors as a means of soul wining or edification.

    God does want wives to submit to, follow and help their own husbands. However, he does not want wives or anyone to submit or follow sinful, foolish or destructive behaviors. Submitting to such behaviors is not helpful or Biblical.
    posted by KimM
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm
  19. I love your blogs! Unfortunately they usually hit a little too close to home. Seems like the car is the easiest place to steal leadership. Often I have a route in mind, and my husband makes a different turn. My first response is to tell him to go my route. God has shown me over and over to just be quiet. We will end up in the right place--even if it takes longer! =)
    posted by Tracy
    on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm
  20. i am trying to trust God and submit to my husband. so far this has led to us losing our house, all of our savings and living in a 2 bedroom, one bathroom apartment with 2 men i don't know. i now have 3 part time jobs. i still cook dinner for him each night and wash his clothes. i don't feel like it, but just because he doesn't fulfill his husbandly duties, i feel God is saying to me i still need to fulfill my wifely ones. it makes it even harder because my whole family thinks i am crazy to stay married to someone who lies to me daily and makes such unwise choices and never learns from his husband is so irresponsible with money. i have prayed everyday for the last 15 yrs for God to change my husband's heart. please pray that God will answer my prayer for my husband to repent of his sins soon.
    posted by m
    on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:03 am
  21. Hi,
    It is good to read this post today. I too fall short in this journey of submission. I sometime jump to lead - i try to use the excuse that I am the oldest of 5 children - but that is not the reason. I have a husband that is a good leader, a believer, a great provider and all the things the bible. He is great - I just run my mouth too much at the wrong times. Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. Sometimes, I feel I am the only wife not getting this submissive thing right. I too am an avid reader of ROH and TW. These writings have encouraged me, caused me to take a close look at my walk with Christ and my relationship with my husband and our marriage. Actually ROH/TW&KW have saved my marriage. I daily thank God for all of you and that you continue in your ministries. I pray that as your ministries strengthen me you are strengthen as well. Karen - last week you were as great as usual. I look forward to your post and seeing you in person a well.
    Leezah - NBCUSA
    posted by leezah
    on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 11:04 am
  22. Dear Eliza W and Kim M,

    Thank you for taking time to write such thoughtful comments and I read them both - twice. Kim M, what you wrote was exactly what I needed to hear. I am still learning the bible while respecting and loving my husband as the leader, it is good to remember that foolish behavior is something that should not be followed.

    I am happy to say that with good counseling and growth (on both parts) we have grown - and continue to do so. We find more laughter at our own faults than finger pointing at the other.

    During one of our marriage counseling sessions several years ago, we were taught that the closer we each become towards God, the closer we become to each other. If we put GOD first in our marriage, then we can't help but become closer.

    Picture a triangle. God is at the top, and each spouse at the bottom two corners. If each spouse would just work on his or her own relationship with God and quit trying to change the other person, look what happens to the triangle.... as each spouse moves closer towards God in their personal relationship up the triangle, the spouses are also getting closer to one another as they move towards the top of the triangle.

    Part of my job is to keep my relationship strong with God and part of that entails obeying Him, one of which means (among many things) submitting to my husband. It isn't complicated....I think sometimes, we (fallen humans) just make it complicated with our brokenness.

    But like Kim M says, we must be careful and remember what it is exactly that GOD is wanting us to submit to. And I guess that is where I am still learning to be honest with myself and truly trying to follow what GOD wants, and not me.

    Thanks so much for making this so much clearer for me, I so appreciate it.

    All my best
    posted by E
    on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm
  23. I, too, am concerned about M's post and E's questions are valid. I recommend M & E read "Boundaries in Marriage" by Drs. Cloud & Townsend and "Emotionally Health Spirituality" by Scazzero. I suspect the submission talked about in the comments is enabling poor behavior. Personal character boundaries need to be established and consequences need to come to bear so both spouses can grow emotionally and spiritually and become two separate, yet complete (mature) individuals who complement each other by bringing their talents, perspectives, experiences, abilities, & gifts to the relationship. This is Christ-honoring.

    May they and we all pursue Wisdom and grow into the women God intends for us to be.
    posted by Angie
    on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 11:59 am
  24. Just got round to reading this - so good. Thank you so much for your willingness to be honest about your everyday failures.

    It is a great challenge and encouragement to seek to honour and follow my husband more in the little things. But also, as a woman who struggles with perfectionism, and beats myself up like crazy when I make small mistakes in my marriage, it is a wonderful blessing to have an older, wiser woman sharing her moment of error, to remind me that I am not alone in being a sinner, that the goal is not perfection but godliness, and that the response is not to beat myself up but to look to God to challenge and change me.

    Just what I needed. Thank you!!
    posted by Hazel
    on Monday, July 30, 2012 at 8:06 am

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