To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16, NKJV)
With these words He spoke to Eve, God not only increased her pain and sorrow in conception and childbirth, He also permanently confirmed the relation of the wife to her husband as one of desire, dependence, and deferential submissiveness. The word “desire” means “to run, to have a vehement longing for a thing” (Pulpit Commentary). Thus, God gave distinct, definable roles to women and men. The husband has the role of leader, and the wife has the role of willing follower (Ephesians 5:22-25; 1 Peter 3:1-6). The reversal of these roles led to sin: “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’…” (Genesis 3:17). The wife’s submissiveness to her husband’s leadership brings definable stability to the family, and to society. The husband is to lead his wife with love, and the wife is to defer to his leadership with devotion. Husbands must honor their wives, not oppress them (1 Peter 3:7). And, wives are to be submissive to their own husbands (1 Peter 3:1). God challenges wives to be sure your desire is for your husband, and not for another man, or for the man’s role in your marriage.