Is it Possible to Submit To A Man Who is Not Your Husband Yet?

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Submit to my boyfriend – is it possible to submit to someone you are not married to?

Recently, I received a question from an engaged woman about submission.

She wanted to know what it means to submit when you are engaged to a guy, or when you are in serious relationship but are not married.

I emailed an answer but since I have so many single women reading this blog, I thought I would share my thoughts with you too.

Should I submit to my boyfriend? Thoughts on submission and leadership before marriage

I have written  about submission in marriage, including what submission is not. Make sure to read the posts (after you finish reading this one!) because submission in marriage does not always mean what we think it does.

What Does Submission in Marriage Really Mean?

When You Want to Submit But Your Husband Doesn’t Lead

No, Your Husband Doesn’t Have to Teach You to Read Your Bible

When Your Husband is Not a Spiritual Leader

But back to the reader question, her question reminded of an incident from when I was single.

I was hanging out with a married couple when the husband requested the wife (and by extension me,) to do something.

Problem was (at least for me), we were in the process of doing the exact opposite of what he asked us to do.

The wife mentioned to the husband that were doing something else and as they talked, I watched them.

As I did, my heart was doing somersaults because I still had big issues about being told what to do.

Eventually, the wife turned to me and said cheerily, “okay, let us submit!”

And she set about doing what her hubs requested.

I looked at her, aghast. “You are called to submit to your husband. I am not called to do that!” I wailed in my mind.

But because I wasn’t about to make a scene, I nodded my head and quietly followed her lead. Also, looking back, the husband’s request was no big deal!

Two things we can pick from the interaction between the husband and wife that day;

– The husband made a request to his wife
– The wife had her own opinion.
– They talked about it.
– The wife chose to do things His way, cheerfully.

As far as submission is concerned, I think that’s the pattern to follow.

Listen to your husband, even if you have a different opinion. Then share your opinion and seek unity. Defer to him if you cannot agree.

(Or like in our marriage, continue to talk and wrestle for unity or agree that the person with the greatest conviction takes the lead.)

Now the three steps (listening to each other, seeking unity, deferring/wrestling/being conviction-led) are a process, not a quick event. Also, “submission” does not apply where abuse or sin are present.

God has called husbands to love their wives and set the tone in the relationship.

It doesn’t mean he will be perfect at it but he will pursue godly love. God holds him responsible.

His wife is an equal partner and helpmeet. She encourages, brings her brain and heart to the relationship. They talk and discuss issues and come to mutual agreement.

More than anything, she prays.

If a decision has to be made and both husband and wife cannot come to a mutual agreement, after much time and prayer, she allows her husband to make the call. Otherwise, they take time to think and wrestle and pray and seek unity.

That’s a quick run-through of submission in marriage is concerned, in the context of “should I submit to my boyfriend ” (but please read the posts above for deeper insights!)

Now let’s look at how a girl submits when she is not yet married to a guy.

Should I submit to my boyfriend?

The Bible says “WIVES submit yourselves to your OWN HUSBANDS” (Ephesians 5:22)

It doesn’t say girlfriends submit to your boyfriends.

You can respect, honor, love and listen to one another. You can watch how you respond to his stewardship, begin to listen to God as He starts to teach you how to partner with a man.

But understand that you can only practice submission in a marriage context.

Women have not been called to submit to all men, even a fiance. They are called to submit to husbands as unto the Lord.

As a single girl, it’s not your place to start acting like a wife before you are one.

Again, I am not saying you can’t listen to him and honor him and allow him to lead the relationship. After all, you start to learn certain marriage principles in courtship.

But I am saying don’t give wife benefits without a husband commitment.

Should your boyfriend love you “as Christ loved the church?”

Eph 5:25 says HUSBANDS, love your WIVES, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The Bible doesn’t say “men love women.”

Yes your fiance should be proving himself right now, earning your respect, pursuing and wooing you, presenting himself as a man who will love you as Christ loved the church and one who will lead your home.

But he’s not your husband yet. The same way you cannot submit to him like a wife, don’t expect him to behave like a husband!

Not that he should not be working tirelessly to build and grow your love, but your expectation should be ‘this is my fiance,” no “this is my husband”.

Should I submit to my boyfriend? Thoughts on submission and leadership in courtship and dating

Don’t make demands on him, the kind reserved for a marriage commitment.

So here’s the bottom line if you are wondering “should I submit to my boyfriend ?”

Until you say “I do”, you are still very much a single woman. Don’t weave you hearts and lives in ways that would make it difficult to make tough decisions, if they have to be made. (e.g ending a relationship)

Our mentors used to tell my husband and I “you are single until you get married”. Their words would upset me because I thought they were being negative.

But now I see the wisdom in their words. Until you get married, there’s huge bits and pieces of yourself which shouldn’t be given away for the simple reason you are not a unit yet.

Submission just happens to be one of those bits and pieces that should stay separate – don’t lean too deep or have super high expectations on someone who is not yours yet.


A thriving marriage is more than roles and responsibilities! Learn how to create a marriage that goes deeper than roles when you pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years. Learn how to positively influence your marriage and create the marriage of your dreams, one intentional choice at a time. Buy the book here Amazon Paperback I Amazon Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF

Linking with Wedded Wednesday, Wedded Wednesday
Photo by Ana Francisconi from Pexels


  1. So even if we are a commitment to one another, we are still single until we are married….. My boyfriend and I are working towards a future together, not yet engaged but talking about marriage. However, all we have is a commitment to us in our relationship. So still I should only save submission for marriage. I find it hard to do now because I don’t like being told what to do as he doesn’t either.

  2. This is cool but, I feel once you commit to god and go into a convent with a man that’s submission since he’s the head. modern day has twisted and turned marriage into something that it’s completely not. Marriage is sex if you do your research and the agreement before God to be there and support each other it started off being a partnership b/c it wasn’t good for man to be alone. And the origin of the word husband is man and wife is women. Regardless I think learning to submit in general would be good for when you do get to your husband I believe that why god allows us to mingle in relationships to prepare us for marriage. If I get into relationships and say “i don’t have to submit to you since your just my boyfriend, it really what I say goes..” by the time you get to a husband you’ll have never learned how to be a wife. ❤️Unpopular opinion 💋

    1. Hey Destiny, I am not sure I understand what you mean or if its different from what I’ve said. Marriage is not sex though (though again not sure I fully understand what you mean there)

  3. This blessed my heart and gave insight as well.God bless you

  4. Bernice Karanja says:

    thank you ngina, very enlightening…. i enjoy your blog, it’s a must read; many ladies should read this, “don’t expect too much from someone who isn’t yours.”

    1. Bernice, thank you. I am glad the the post and blog is helpful to you.

      That’s true, as we understand seasons and what to expect from them, we can avoid heartaches and disappointments.

  5. I just discovered your blog recently. I’m taking lots of mental notes. You are so full of wisdom. God bless your ministry.

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