CHANGING THE DOMINANT WIFE/PASSIVE HUSBAND DYNAMIC
When a wife has been trying to control the marriage and making most of the decisions and the husband has been unplugged for many months, years or decades – it takes TIME and practice for her to step down and learn to be a great follower and it takes TIME and practice for him to learn to become a great leader. Men do not generally enter marriage as the most godly, wise, perfect leaders. It takes trial and error. (Guess what, women often do not enter marriage as the best of followers, either! I sure didn’t!) It takes failing sometimes and learning from failure. Honestly, our response to their failure is way more important, usually, than the fact that they failed!
This is going to require that wives demonstrate more patience, humility, trust in another person and trust and faith in God than we have EVER had in our lives! We will need God’s Spirit to empower us. And we will need to be sure we are putting Christ first in our hearts, not our husbands, our being in control, our feelings, our desires, our “rights,” our needs, etc. It requires that we die to ourselves and live for Christ. But, if we can show that we will support our husbands and trust them to fix things and make things right, if we don’t make a huge deal out of their mistakes - we will help our men climb to a kind of greatness in their leadership that we can hardly begin to fathom at first.
HUSBANDS ARE GOING TO MESS UP. THAT HAS TO BE OK.
Of course some times our husbands’ decisions are purely selfish and not from God. Yep. Actually, some of my decisions are that way, too. We are all wretched sinners in desperate need of Christ every moment! That is how it works when there is a human in a position of God-given authority – they will make mistakes and sin sometimes. That is where I learn to trust that my God is “sovereign enough” to lead me through my sinful husband – even if he is not Spirit-filled, even if he has idols/sin in his life, even if he is not seeking Him above everything else, even if he is not praying with me.
Yes. My God is THAT big.
And yes, I can have total peace when my husband leads me even when I believe what he is doing is selfish, materialistic, etc. God’s promise to me will not fail. He WILL use all things for my ultimate good and His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28-29
My husband cannot keep me from God’s will. When I trust and obey God and live in His Spirit’s power – I AM in the center of God’s will! A huge part of that is that I respect and cooperate with my husband’s leadership – unless he is asking me to sin.
NEW LEADERS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
Your husband may have almost no experience making decisions for himself and leading on his own at this point – in the marriage and family, at least. He may be a baby leader. And maybe he is not as close to God as he could or should be right now.
Actually, if a wife has usurped the husband’s authority in the marriage – a husband is almost guaranteed to be in an ungodly state – unless he is extremely Spirit-filled. But a Spirit-filled man rarely has trouble getting his wife to submit to him and respect him. A man whose wife doesn’t respect him and won’t follow him will tend to wander from God. He will be full of anger, resentment, bitterness and woundedness. He feels disrespected and castrated as a man. He often either reacts in anger (which does not bring honor to God), or he withdraws from his God-given responsibilities and unplugs from the family. When anyone lives in disobedience to God’s Word and His commands – ungodliness results.
I can tell you this – the more you lecture or preach or nag or feel compelled to try to make him do things – the less he will hear God’s voice. Your voice will drown out God’s voice in his soul. That is what my husband was able to articulate to me long after I learned about respect and submission. And the more you find good things in him to build him up about and praise him about (actual good things that you genuinely admire) – that will amplify God’s voice. So does your silence about the things of God – it amplifies God’s voice for your husband when he is not close to God.
As you take off the weight of responsibility and authority in the marriage and respectfully lay it on your husband’s shoulders, or at his feet, he may balk at first. But he was designed to carry this weight – not you! He will actually thrive when he learns to lead. And if you can channel your leadership abilities to support, affirm, cheer on and encourage his efforts to lead – I believe you will see God do miracles in your marriage!
What he can “hear” from you early on in this journey is your respect for him as your husband and your respect for him handling things as he thinks is best and your support of him as the God-given leader of your family.
I think your willingness to support your husband even when you disagree with him is going to bond him to you in ways you can’t imagine. And I think it will force him to begin to feel the weight of his leadership like never before and will make him want to start making the best possible and most selfless and godly decisions. It might take seeing you suffer because of his poor choices. But if you suffer for doing what is right – you are blessed! Your goal must be to cling to Christ and not respond with evil or out of sinful motives. If you are firm in Christ through all of this, he will clearly see the consequences of his decisions and your faith and trust in him – and he will want to do better.
A GODLY MARRIAGE IS A JOURNEY, A LONG PROCESS OF LEARNING
No one starts out being able to perfectly love and respect in a way that honors Christ – it is a process of learning and a process of discovering. Marriage is a tool God uses to make us more holy and to see things about our relationship with Him we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Sanctification takes a life time! There will be varying degrees of hypocrisy as people are learning and growing and maturing. That is inevitable. We are never going to do this stuff perfectly. But with God’s Spirit in us, we can have victory more and more.