How I Learned the Secret Benefits of Submission
by Leah Sumner



July 31, 2019


9 Minute Read


How I Learned the Secret Benefits of Submission

Do you submit? Egypt Sherrod & DJ Fadelf, Wayne Campbell & Erica Campbell, and Dondré Whitfield sat down with Codie Elaine Oliver to answer that question.

So, do you submit?

Did that question cause a visceral reaction in you?  I know it has in me. And this topic of ‘Submission’ evokes such strong ideals in television host, Egypt Sherrod, that she admitted to changing her schedule around just to share her opinions on the topic at the 2019 Black Love Summit What is Submission panel alongside her husband DJ Fadelf, Wayne Campbell & Erica Campbell, and Dondré Whitfield.  But what is it about that word that evokes such a powerful, innate response? Panelist sat down to answer that question, and share their original issues with the idea of ‘submission’, and how, ultimately, its power enhanced their marriage and their lives.  

The Misconception

I must admit, the phrase, “Women submit to your husbands!” causes me to cringe.

Submission got off to a salacious start as panel moderator Black Love series co-creator Codie Elaine Oliver said, “Submission? You mean like Sex?” speaking of a recent conversation she’d had at brunch.  But the word sent a slew of misconceptions swirling all over the stage and through the audience. I, myself, began to ponder the ways I have submitted my own perspective to the idea in my own marriage — possibly grudgingly so.  

I must admit, the phrase, “Women submit to your husbands!” causes me to cringe every time I have heard this in church or at a wedding. Especially when I don’t hear “Men submit to your wives!”  And I wasn’t alone in my discomfort.   

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Dondré shared that men tend to think of submission as “being pinned down” and “to quit or to give up.”  But is there more to it? These couples agreed, yes, there was.  

So, I decided to take my first step into submission by submitting my mindset and exploring, with the couples, how they have come to evolve and use submission as a source of power in their marriages.


“Submission is allowing each other room to grow and become.” — Egypt Sherrod

“I don’t want to submit to anybody or anything,” Egypt explains of her thoughts in past relationships.  She would often hear “You’re too strong” to which, she reacted, “well you’re just too damn weak!” I‘ve heard this a number of times in debate circles with girlfriends. Women in today’s society wear independence as a badge of honor.  We identify with that independence so unyieldingly, that we hinder the growth of our relationships by not yielding or submitting to our partners. 

But sometimes, this pushback has to do with what we’ve witnessed. Singer Erica Campbell talked of growing up in the church. “I saw submissive wives but unhappy wives,” she said.  

Dondré shared, “I didn’t know what it was to be a husband because I didn’t have an example.”  He spoke of his father being in and out of jail, and how tough that was for him. After being married for 22 years he explained, “I am the man of my house, not because I tell everybody what to do, but because I show everybody what to do.” 

Dondré also shared the nuances of personality derived from growing up in a certain neighborhood and how that can figure into things.    

He gave his thoughts on his relationship with his wife, actress Salli Richardson. “My wife is from [the] south side of Chicago, I’m from Brooklyn. Somebody could die in our house!” he said jokingly of their strong bred personalities.  

But when it came down to it, for him, submission meant “to give over.”  He continued to say he doesn’t have to do or control everything and unveiled that when he submits to his wife “she usually gives it back.”

The Ego Convo 

“Submission is allowing each other’s strong points to shine without letting Ego get in.” — DJ Fadelf

DJ Fadelf accounts his initial experiences with his wife Egypt “All that hard exterior, I knew it was soft,” so his approach was ”I’ll let you play hard, but Ima get in there!”  But for Egypt, so much was about ego. She had to discover, and then give in to the idea that, as she put it, “I don’t have to let my ego lead.” That kind of conflict becomes a fight of wills where there is always a loser.  Egypt realized that wasn’t necessary. It didn’t have to be “I win you lose” or vice versa, it could be: “We win together!”

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DJ Fadelf spoke of that kind of thinking, “I had a mindset and she had a mindset. We had to become one mindset.” He explained.  And that’s difficult when one or more of the people involved are distrustful, the panelist explained as they cautioned about the baggage of being on-guard and suspicious.  

But, Egypt asked, “What’s the angle?”  She went on, saying, “submit means giving into the possibility of love.” 

For DJ Fadelf that meant that ‘submission’ is to “make room to let me in.”

“We put our egos in front” Erica explains of her relationship with Warren. “We did it wrong a lot.”  But she was “committed to figuring it out!”    

The Language of Submission

“Ladies, you tell a man his hair cut looks nice, he will do things for you for a fucking month!”  

The conversation moved on to “submitting to language.”  The panelists spoke on learning each other’s love language and learning to speak in that language. DJ Fadelf shared that his love language is “encouragement” or words of affirmation, and he complained that he hadn’t received a compliment from his wife in over a year about his physique.  “I don’t even know if you think I’m sexy!” He encouraged, “Ladies, you tell a man his hair cut looks nice, he will do things for you for a fucking month!”  

Related: An Invitation to the Gentleman’s Club: The Black Love Summit Husbands Panel

“Submit means to consider,” Wayne Campbell said, revealing that when it comes time to make decisions, he submits by consulting with his wife Erica.  “She’s gonna have a better angle, she’s going to see things I can’t see.” This is how their marriage of 18 years, has become and remained successful.

Submitting to Submission

So, did the panel convince me to submit to submission?  In a word, yes. As a member of a romantic partnership, by submitting to each other we empower our lives. Submission helps us to find and restore a balance that many of us are fighting to achieve. But there is another benefit to submission — the benefit of submission in one’s own personal development. For me it has come to mean adaptability in the form of making an intention to keep an ever-evolving mindset: submitting to the process, submitting to the ever-changing needs of your partner and allowing them the space to submit to your own.  Ultimately, it is submitting to growth. So, do I submit? Perhaps not yet. But I am eager to begin, and I know that having the courage to begin can make all the difference in the end.