A husband and wife each have their own role to play in marriage, and this has always been more black and white when it comes to the husband’s roles and responsibilities. For centuries, the husband has been largely viewed upon as the ‘breadwinner’ of the partnership, but a wife’s role can be quite multi-layered, and our idea of what it means to be a wife has changed dramatically in recent years.
So what is the role of a wife in marriage? The answer ultimately comes down to what you and your partner want out of a relationship. For example, some wives may enjoy taking care of the home and family, and others may be more career-focused and prefer to share these responsibilities with their husband or partner. Many wives love to be stay-at-home moms, but women now have the freedom to be more flexible with these traditional roles if they please.
For some women, their role as a wife may have been shaped by their mother. For others, their religious beliefs may have influenced what their image of a wife should be. Maternal family figures and beliefs can provide great inspiration when it comes to the role of a wife – but how you play these roles is up to you and the needs of your marriage.
The Role of a Wife in a Christian Marriage
To look at the origins of what it means to be a wife in a typical marriage, it can be a good idea to first explore the wife’s role in a Christian marriage. According to the Christian faith, when a woman becomes a wife, she also becomes a pillar of strength, and her new God-given strength as a wife provides her with the passion and courage to transform her marriage and make things happen.
The Bible provides many passages on a wife’s character and what God designed her to be, and this can be better understood by knowing more about how God designed the family overall. In Ephesians 5 of the New Testament, the Bible states that “The husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.” This lets us know that wives are second in order of the family unit after her husband and that “submitting” to her husband will result in love and respect in her marriage.
What does the Bible Say About a Wife’s Role?
The Bible expresses that a wife has many roles within her marriage, but to put this in the most simple terms, a wife’s purpose can be summarized in three important roles: as a ‘Mentor’, a ‘Witness’ and as an ‘Example’ to her husband and her family.
According to the book of Titus in the Bible, wives have a special duty as mentor to the people within their family and also their community. One particular passage taken from Titus 2:4-5 reads: “They (wives) admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet and chaste.”
As well as being entrusted with the responsibility of encouraging younger women to show commitment and respect to their husbands and family, Christian wives are also expected to be good home-makers, which in turn acts in serving their husband and thereby serving God. Failing to be “discreet, chaste and obedient” is to blaspheme the word of God.
In the book of Peter, it is asked of wives to be submissive to their husbands and show chaste morals and character, so that if their husbands do not believe the word of God, they can become convinced by observing their wives behavior, and let her be their “witness” to God’s word. A passage from 1 Peter 3:1 reads as follows: “Even if some (husbands) do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct by fear.”
The book of Peter also ask that wives be less concerned with their outward appearance of “arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel” and instead make their “adornment” apparent from what lies beneath, in their morals and character - “Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
For wives to be good examples within their community and more importantly, within their marriage, the Scripture states that wives must work hard to be temperate and trustworthy in everything they do. Earning the trust and admiration of her husband and others around her will make a wife worthy of respect, and therefore worthy of God.
In the First Epistle to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:11), it is noted that wives represent their husbands, and any actions they take will affect their husband’s standing in the community and his ability to serve the Lord with honor and respect - “A husband must be temperate, sober-minded and one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence. Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Good Qualities in a Christian Wife (According to the Bible)
A good Christian wife is expected to do much of the same things as her husband in marriage, but this has greater emphasis on family and caring in accordance with the Lord. She should serve God and her husband with equal amounts of respect and love. Here are some of the qualities a good Christian wife is expected to provide in marriage:
Love for Her Husband – Aside from serving God well in her marriage, the most important aspect of a wife’s role is that she have love and affection for her husband, and that she accepts her husband exactly as he is. All Christians are called up to love their fellow brothers and sisters despite their imperfections, and this is the least a wife is expected to do for her husband.
A Devotion to Christ – On the day a wife makes a vow to her husband, she also makes that vow before God, so it is hugely important that she express devotion to Christ in her daily life. This means living by his teachings and to reflect his nature in everything she does, from her work ethic to the way she raises her children.
Caregiver to the Family - It is noted in Proverbs 31 of the Bible that the woman’s main areas of influence and responsibility are in the home, and the most important thing she can do within this area is to ensure her family are well cared for. In times of stress, wives must look to the Bible for guidance and ask their husbands for help with this responsibility.
Her Husband’s Best Friend – As in every relationship, it is vital for a Christian wife to view herself as her husband’s best friend. In the book of Genesis 2:18, it is quoted that: “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him.” A loving Christian wife should enjoy spending as much time as possible with her partner and make time for him outside of the home.
The Power Held by Wives in a Relationship
As the Bible states - a wife gains strength when she marries, and this can be an important and empowering message for modern young women as they enter into a marriage or partnership. Though men may still hold slightly more power in the working world, women have always been in possession of a unique power all their own within their relationship.
According to a relationship study conducted by Iowa State University in 2007, a survey of 72 married couples found that, on average, wives are found to have greater power inside their marriage when it comes to problem-solving and making important decisions. In this sense, the role of a wife is one of strength and situational power over the husband. Deep down - women run the show!
How often have you observed a fellow married couple and wondered: “Who wears the pants in that relationship?” It is a question we are asking of couples more than ever before and this may be because the traditional roles within marriage our becoming blurred as society progresses. Wives can be great influencers over their family and husbands, and when this is done in a positive way, women can have a far greater power than they realize.
So how do wives use this power to its best effect? It’s quite simple – great wives lift up their partner in day to day life, and therefore lift their marriage in the process. They also take charge of things they can control (whilst realizing that they can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do everything!). Want to have your marriage running smoother and happier than ever before? Here are 3 quick tips on how to be a better wife to your partner:
1. Being more flexible
Don’t get hung up on the fact that your husband may not have done the dishes the way you do or made the bed in the precise way you like to with the scatter cushions and pillows arranged neatly. Sound familiar? You could be clinging on to a fixed role of what a wife should be, instead of viewing each other as equals when it comes to the household chores.
For any relationship to remain healthy and happy, both partners must be able to take on multiple roles, even if this sometimes means doing the ‘man’s job’ or the ‘woman’s job’. A wife’s role can be blended with that of her husband, so let him loose on some of the household duties like laundry and cleaning and show appreciation for his efforts.
2. Support his friendships
Your husband’s social life may be his own, but his friendship circle is an extension of who he is, and an amazing wife will be able to be supportive of this without question. Relationship expert and owner of The Heart Matters blog, Karen Jones says: “Men tend to give up their man friends when they get married, and that’s a shame.”
Jones recommends that one of the best things a wife can do is to encourage her man to spend time with their male friendship groups, since this is an arena where husbands “are more carefree, have less responsibility and a great self-esteem boost” - and wives can benefit from this boost too!
3. Make regular date nights
A date night doesn’t have to mean dinner and a movie (or Netflix and chill either) – it is simply about carving out time in your hectic lives for each other. Making date nights a regular thing while trying to balance kids and work may not be easy, but making the effort sends a message that your marriage is worth it and that your husband is worth your time.
Think of something fun you can both do together on a weekly basis – this could be anything from having a game night to going for romantic walks or learning a new skill together. Changing your routine will not only make your husband feel special, but it can also give your marriage the fresh spark it had when you were first dating!
What is the traditional role of a husband? The husband’s role in marriage has traditionally been as both the provider and protector of his family. Instructions on the role of a husband date back to the Bible, where it is quoted in the Book of Timothy 5:8 that: “If he does not provide for his own and his household, he has denied the faith.” Fortunately, this view of the husband has become a lot less rigid, but in many parts of the world, men are still viewed as the sole ‘breadwinner’ in their marriage.
How can I be more supportive of my wife? In both traditional Christian marriages and modern partnerships, wives have many responsibilities to juggle, and an important part of supporting your wife is in helping to lighten her load, both emotionally and physically. Everything from splitting up chores and childcare duties to encouraging her in her hobbies and accomplishments is all ways to be more supportive of your wife. Simply listening to her more frequently can make a world of difference to your marriage too.
How can I be a better Christian mother? To be a good Christian mother is to show equal amounts of kindness and discipline towards your children. It isn’t always easy to strike this balance between discipline and affection, but training your children to embody God’s moral character and teachings is the best way to nurture them before ultimately letting them go. Doing your part to equip them with the word of God and helping them use this in their adult life is the best way of fulfilling your role as a Christian and as a mother.