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How Fulfilling Your Role Can Change Your Marriage

What do you think of when you read the words: “husband’s role” or “wife’s role”?

If you’re anything like me, when you read the word “role” in a marital context, you cringe a bit. The thought of 1950’s stereotypes, the subsequent spark of the feminist movement, today’s “toxic masculinity” phrase, and the abuse of our God-given roles send us to quickly judge and defend what we believe to be the correct viewpoint.

Our culture has twisted, molded, shaped, and stretched the roles of husband and wife to a point where they are almost indistinguishable. Mainstream thought has thrown our roles into a “gender blender”, failing to teach how God designed them. As a result, husbands and wives are desperate, angry, and frustrated. Marriages are ending. And kids are growing up more confused than ever.

Fight the urge to flinch when you see the word “role.”

Set aside your preconceived notions, and instead let’s come with an open heart to see what God has designed for marriage.

He is a Master Creator, all-loving and perfect in all He does. Why would His design for marriage be any different?

When we know, embrace, and fulfill our role as husband or wife, our marriage will radically change.

Someone once wrote: “A good wife always knows her place.” Haha, very funny.

What it should say is: “A good wife (or husband) always knows her (or his) God-given roles.”

Do you know yours?

What does God have to say about our roles?

When our heart seeks God’s way, He not only sees our efforts, He blesses them.

Let’s see what God’s Word says about our roles as husband and wife.

Read Ephesians 5:21-33. DO NOT SKIP the reading!!

I’ll wait.

Did you read it? All of it?

I’ll wait a little longer…

All done?

Now, go back and read it again, this time writing down all the roles God asks a husband to fulfill; do the same for a wife.

If we look at the big picture, we see that God gave men and women different roles and responsibilities. He created us differently, so why wouldn’t He give us different functions to fill?

This doesn’t mean one role is more important than the other.

Read that again: THIS DOES NOT MEAN ONE ROLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE OTHER! God created us to COMPLEMENT each other; that means where one is weak, the other is strong. It truly is a beautiful picture of two people working together for one purpose: to glorify God who created them by reflecting His love to the world as two become one.

Husbands, God calls you to love and lead your girl.

How do you do that? Let’s start with LOVING:

  • Pay attention and know her

  • Nurture and cherish her

  • Realize it’s a privilege to love her as Christ loved the church

  • Love your wife as your love yourself

Seek to make your wife and kids’ lives great. How, you ask?

  • Seek to understand her role and struggles

  • Recognize the pressures that working outside or inside the home bring

  • Verbalize (especially in times of failure/discouragement) that she is not only accepted, but still desired

  • Tell her you need her (this includes sharing your failures and need for accountability)

  • Share your hopes and dreams with her

  • Notice and praise her for the billions of things she does each day for you and your family

  • Be patient; nourishing and cherishing is a lifelong commitment

Now, on to LEADING:

God calls husbands to be the head of his wife. (Wives, cue the cringe, right? No. Fight the urge to flinch, remember? Let’s look at what “headshipreally means, and you’ll want to be his helpmate all the more). Headship means:

  • Sacrifice- your needs, desires, and dreams

  • As husband, you have the burden of taking initiative to move things forward

  • The buck stops with you; you (in submission to God and in the strength of the Spirit) are responsible for the success of your family

  • Don’t shirk your duty and blame your wife (like Adam did with Eve - If it's been a while since you've read that passage, click here); that’s weak leadership

  • Make the tough decisions, but seek and hold in HIGH REGARD your wife’s opinion

  • Be eager and willing to help your wife work through hard things (disciplining the kids, relationships, fears, resentment, etc.)

  • Die to live, serve to lead, work to rest (if that seems backward to you, read this post)

When you lead well, most likely your wife will want to follow.

But we know that many women, myself included (10 years ago, and if I’m honest, still sometimes today), struggle with this teaching. We’ve witnessed men who abuse the husband’s role as head; ordering his wife around as though she were a slave.

Husbands: none of you should conclude from reading Ephesians 5 that demanding and bossing your wife is acceptable or justified.

We need to realize just because some men choose to act like jerks does NOT mean the Bible is wrong!

Men are called to spiritually lead. That is part of God’s design.

Husband, vow to change; embrace an encouraging call to action:
  • Pray with your wife daily

  • Be God’s hands and feet in her life- show her how HE feels about her

  • Plan- dates, weekend getaways to rest and reset

  • Read God’s Word- tackle problems and find answers to her questions/wonderings by searching Scriptures together, do devotions as a family

  • Court and pursue her

  • Protect your family from evil, set boundaries

  • Set spiritual goals for your children, then encourage them by leading the way

  • Ask your wife and kids for forgiveness when you fail them

  • Date your daughter(s)- show her how a Godly man should cherish her

  • Hug and kiss your wife and kids

Being a spiritual leader is a high and noble calling, husbands. Do not take your role lightly.


How many of you have thought I WANT my husband to be a spiritual leader, but he won’t!?

Consider two things:

1) What is your role as his wife?

2) What is his role as your husband?

Often what happens when a husband doesn’t lead is the wife tries to step in and fill that gap, thinking, SOMEONE has to lead; if he won’t, I will.

Wives, look at consideration #1. Wrap your hearts around understanding your role as his wife. (Do so without letting your thoughts be clouded by what your husband is or isn’t doing. Sitting in judgment on his performance will affect all your choices and interactions with him.)

4 things wives are called to do:

· Help (Genesis 2:18)

· Love (Titus 2:4-5)

· Respect (Ephesians 5:33)

Take time now to read the above passages. Hover over the references and see what God’s Word says about this. You may be surprised at what you read.

I’ll wait!

C’mon, don’t skip the reading…

Done? Great.

Do you see that God has not only called you to fulfill these roles, but He has also created you to fulfill them? (The same goes for husbands).

Of course, no one is perfect; we won’t hit the mark on each of these qualities every single time.

But wives, know this: when you put these things (help, love, respect, submit) into practice habitually, an amazing thing happens…

A wife’s personal adherence to walk in her God-given role invites her husband to love and lead… while building his confidence to do so.

When our husband either doesn’t understand his God-given role OR he knows full well his role, but chooses not to embrace it, we tend to get anxious. Here, I issue a gentle, yet important, warning…

Remember consideration #2 (what is his role as husband)? Do not let your husband’s neglect of his role cause you to panic and take the wheel.

Two things happen when YOU step into your husband’s calling as leader:

1) You immediately STOP doing all 4 of your God-given roles

2) You don’t even give your husband the chance to do his. If you’re doing it, he cannot.

Has it ever happened that, after begging your husband to lead- nagging, coercing, withholding, ignoring, asking God to change him (anything we can think of!)- he takes a chance, tries to lead… and immediately gets shot down? Either we think we can do it better than him, or we don’t want him to take our position.

This path leads to isolation, NOT oneness.

Which path are you walking?

Wives, when we try to lead, we are trying to play God. We need to take a step back and trust that He is sovereign, faithful, and has great plans for our marriage. Much better plans than we could ever formulate on our own!

It is time we take our eyes off what our spouse isn’t doing and focus on what God has called and created US to do.

Recall the 4 roles God has given wives: Help, love, respect, submit.

Let’s start with the last and work backward through the list.

SUBMISSION- What do we need to know about it?

  • It is often the most difficult and misunderstood of the roles

  • It is also the most powerful tool a wife has for helping her husband be the leader God has called him to be

  • All Christians are called to submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21)

  • Following Christ’s example (as Paul urges us to do in Ephesians 5:1-2) is an expression of our submission to God FIRST

  • Wives- every time you submit to your husband, you’re saying God, I recognize the order YOU created in marriage, I trust Your ways are higher than mine, so I submit to YOU. (Every time I remember that, my soul sighs in relief. A physical burden feels like it’s lifted off of my chest. I can rest in knowing that God’s got this.)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha ain’t the only one askin’ for it!

  • God asks wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Notice this is the same passage in which wives are asked to submit. Coincidence? I think not. God has intentionally tied submit and respect together. He knows that if you do not respect your husband, you’re going to have a very hard time submitting to him.

  • How can I respect my husband when his actions don’t deserve respect? Great question. The answer? GRACE. Grace at work in our home will produce respect.

  • If we base respect for our husband on his performance, we lose every time. Keeping score always yields a loss for both husband and wife. We must remember 2 Corinthians 5:17- If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Because of how God sees our spouse, we can no longer hold their sins against them (forgiveness).

  • We give respect based on who he is as God’s beloved creation. This is a gospel-centered, generous giving of respect. Grace when it’s not deserved.

HELP- (the privilege of walking beside him as his helpmate)- Genesis 2:18 the Lord says It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.

Lest you start to think your role is not as important, or that you’re “just” the helper, remember: the original Hebrew word for helper is also used to describe God Himself.

Being a helpmate means we…

  • Are our husband’s indispensable companion

  • Supply what our husband lacks

  • Protect him

  • Help meet his needs

  • Complement and balance him

  • Encourage him

  • Know where he is falling short- come alongside him with gentleness, wisdom, godliness

LOVE- Titus 2:4

  • Reflect the love God shows us from Genesis to Revelation

  • Live out the second greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself

  • Let the love of Christ control you (2 Cor. 5:14-15).It will set the trajectory of your decisions, your words, your attitude.

DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE YOUR HUSBAND! First, it puts the dependance on yourself rather than God (and that’s exhausting!). Second, it sends the wrong message by making your husband feel as though he must perform. WE DON’T BRING THE CHANGE, GOD DOES (Philippians 2:13).

Take heart. Have hope. God can take what seems impossible to us, something we have tried everything we can think of to change, and do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Wife, vow to change; embrace an encouraging call to action:
  • Pray for your husband to grow in his roles- If you keep a journal, write down your daily prayers for your husband; it will help keep you consistent. Looking back, you’ll be able to see how God has moved in your husband’s heart (and yours!).

  • Embrace your role with faith- it’s a heart attitude

  • Get specific. List several ways you will fulfill your roles this week (maybe showing love is joining him in his hobby? Show respect by refraining from undermining him in front of the kids; instead, have a private conversation later).

As you help, love, respect, and submit to your husband, you will give him confidence to love and lead.

Husbands and wives- do not let any stigma attached to marital roles keep you from pursuing your God-given tasks. You’ve been created to fulfill them, and your marriage will be blessed in doing so.

Check it out

Are you tired of feeling angry, disappointed, rejected in your marriage? Do you long for healing and unity, but don’t know how to get there? You first have to understand how God reconciles you to Himself, then take these 3 steps to reconcile and rejoice in your marriage.

Listen to the corresponding podcast:


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