Genesis 3:14-19 contains the pronouncement of God’s curse upon the Serpent, the foretelling of the one who would defeat the Serpent, and the results of Adam’s and his wife’s sin. In verse 16, specifically addressing the woman, God says, “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” (NKJV).
Commentators are divided over the proper interpretation of the latter half of the verse. What precisely is meant by the statement that the woman’s “desire shall be for [her] husband”? Some see this as a positive encouragement immediately following the prediction of sorrow and pain. This is the view of John J. Davis, who interprets this desire as “a deep natural attraction to her husband…not so much a curse as a compensation for the sorrow of childbirth…”
Others understand this statement very differently. Derek Kidner, for example, believes this passage “portrays a marriage relation in which control has slipped from the fully personal realm to that of instinctive urges passive and active,” and briefly notes a use of similar language in 4:7b. This view is shared by John Sailhamer, who asserts that “The way that the whole of this section of the curse…foreshadows the Lord’s words to Cain in 4:7…”it desires to have you but you must master it”…suggests that the author intended the two passages to be read together.”
The present writer is inclined to agree with this latter view. The similarity of phrasing in 4:7b, where the meaning concerning sin’s desire to overpower and dominate Cain and his corresponding need for self-control in obedience to the Lord is clear, favors the interpretation that, rather than following God’s created order, the temptation for woman to supplant and resist her husband’s leadership would increase.
 John J. Davis, Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis (Salem: Sheffield Publishing Co., 1998), 94.
 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries v. 1 (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008), 76.
 John H. Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Vol. 2, ed. Frank E Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1990), 58.