"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." (Colossians 3:18-21)There are several things of interest in these verses, but we will address them in order. Wives are to submit to their husbands. In the Greek this caries the idea of an orderly arrangement; of placing oneself under another for the sake of order. This in no way means that women are second to men or of less value or worth than a man. Nor does it mean that men should make all the decisions that affect the family. Rather, it is saying that, in a family, order is important to peace and harmony. Therefore, God has ordained that women should be willing to come under their husband; to place themselves second in order but not importance or value. The scriptures are replete with examples of strong women and even women who rebuffed their husbands when they were wrong. Even in my own marriage I do not make all the decisions or always get my way. However, in every marriage, there comes a time when a decision must be made and there is no consensus between the husband and the wife. In these cases, God asks the wife to yield to their husband. After all, what's the worst that can happen? He could be wrong and then it would entirely be his fault.
Husbands are to love their wives. It is interesting that God never tells wives to love their husbands. I believe this is because, on generalities, women tend to be natural lovers. It's men that have a hard time remembering to love. Men can become so task oriented that the often loose sight of those around them. All they see are tasks and problems needing to be solved. They march forward with their plans and their solutions but forget the people upon whom those plans and solutions are executed. A man can get the job done, but sometimes he can forget to get it done with kindness. Love also takes an interests in the needs and desires of others. Men can often roar through life, making all the decisions, never stopping to ask anyone else their thoughts, ideas, or wishes. Love takes the time to understand others and to incorporate in its plans the needs and hopes of others. Husbands are also told not to be embittered towards their wives. Embitterment is more than a feeling, it is acting in a way that is sharp like a knife or pungent like an acid. Men need to think about how their actions affect others. Women tend to be more sensitive and it is incumbent upon men to understand this and to modify their behavior accordingly.
Children are to obey their parents. Obedience is one of the life skills that will help anyone become successful in life. Also, learning to obey your parents will help you later when you are called to obey the Lord. Obedience is essential to order and harmony. Without obedience there will be disorder and strife without end. However, obedience does not come naturally to anyone. It is something that must be taught and it's up to the parents to teach it to their children. Fret not! No one ever died from learning obedience. Teaching them obedience will set them up to become successful and moral men and women of God.
Finally, men are to not exasperate their children. It is again interesting that the same thing is not said of the woman. I believe this is because, in generalities, most women are natural nurturers. The Greek word is a prolonged form of the word that meas to quarrel or to engage in strife. Just as men are to love their wives they are to love their children and to judge their actions and behavior by how it is affecting those in their home. If you are causing quarrels and strife with your children, then its up to you to change. You are the agent of change, not your children! The Greek word for "loose heart" means to loose you passion or to loose the life-fire inside of you. So many children give up; they give up on their families, they give up on the Lord, and they give up on life. When children face a father who can never be please and who is always angry then it is easy for them to give up and the result if never good. You can either fuel your children's love for life or you can squelch it as with a splash of cold water. The choice is yours.
Finally, the emotional makeup of men and woman are basic generalities. There are some women who are naturally driven and born leaders. There are also men who are more nurturing them some women. The point of what Paul is saying is that order, harmony, and peace in the home is precious and we should each look to ourselves as to how we can best provide and secure this for our homes. If we need to change then we need to change. Do not place that on someone else. Learn to live a life that produces and supports these important qualities in our families. If we do so then everyone in the family will be blessed.