Marital submission is something which feminists decry, as we all know, however, the other side sorts of makes a mess out of the concept, too. Some will reduce all marital problems to the lack of wifely submission: the husband won't lead? Or he is a heavy drinker/lousy provider/watches p*rn/whatever? Just submit, and all the problems will go away.
I'm afraid it's not that simple. Some people will say that the husband can't make his wife submit, it's a free gift. I wonder, if these people have ever been in leadership positions? I have, and let me tell you something, a leader needs to have certain qualities to make his subordinates submit to his will, and it's not always easy, but nobody will take you seriously if you lack character and a backbone.
I have come across a discussion of this very topic on a certain forum where someone asked whether the wife should treat her husband as the leader of the family and one answer stood up to me: "a man is either a leader or he isn't, it doesn't depend on his wife." I agree, more or less, with a caveat: the wife shouldn't try to undermine her husband's leadership, but the principle remains:
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD,
The way I view things, wifely submission is not about punishment or oppression. It actually makes a woman's life much easier. Think of it, the one who takes the decision is the one responsible when the things go wrong. Every time I enforced my will over my husband's objections, I came to regret it because I kept second-guessing myself. The burden of responsibility is just too heavy for an average woman, that's why they are probably so neurotic nowadays.
Another point, marital submission doesn't mean the husband can force his wife to go against her conscience. While I'm not a Catholic myself, I liked this quote from a Catholic blog (h/t Jesse Powell):
... the church...bids the wife obey her husband in the Lord; but asserts her moral
independence of him, leaves her conscience free, and holds her
accountable for her own deeds.
Betraying one's moral code on behalf of someone else, even your own husband, will bring nothing but grief and disappointment and can destroy you as a person.
It's also important to understand that the man's authority doesn't exist in a vacuum, as there are still such things as family connections, civil authorities and, for believers, the church. The husband can't disregard them. We live in society so that right wing Christians should, imo, stop larping as some OT patriarch:)
If you have any ideas of your own on the topic, feel free to share in comments!