If you tend to be a controlling, contentious, “always right,” resentful, disrespectful wife – like I used to be – learning to follow your husband can be a big challenge. You may not think he is leading at all, or that he can’t lead or won’t lead. Or you may not like the way he is leading.
Here’s the deal.
Most men WILL lead if we get out of the way. REALLY. They are designed by God to be the leaders in marriage. If we can step down, stop trying to control everything, embrace humility and acknowledge that we might not be right about everything, be still, be PATIENT (and willing to wait as long as it takes) and LISTEN – our husbands will lead. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:5, I Corinthians 11:3)
(If you have a husband who has an active addiction, active infidelity or serious mental health problem that is not being controlled or he is being physically abusive- you may need outside help from a godly, experienced counsellor/pastor/mentoring couple. In those situations, it may not be safe to follow your husband until he repents and shows fruit of repentance in his life.)
SOME FOLLOWING BASICS:
- Don’t rush or push him to make decisions. Give him as much time as he needs. If there is a deadline on something, you may try handing him the paperwork and say, “I want to do X. The deadline is September 15th. Here’s the form. I trust whatever you decide on this. Thanks for handling it!” And then don’t bring it up again.
- I find it works better if I email my husband my ideas or things I want to do, or say them in passing and then leave him alone to think about it so that I am not sitting there impatiently like I used to – scowling and tapping my fingers, angry that he wasn’t answering faster. So now, I just say, “Honey, I’d like to think about giving money to X charity.” And then I leave it. If he doesn’t bring it up – then it’s not God’s will for us right now. I trust my husband and God to hash things out.
- I don’t expect him to read my mind. I tell him what I want and how I feel. Then I trust him to make the best decision for our family, and I trust God to lead my husband.
- When your husband is speaking to you – STOP what you are doing and listen carefully. Act like what he is saying matters! Whether it is about his work, or what he wants to do around the house – or something he is asking you to do or stop doing – give him ALL of your attention! Your husband’s feelings and wisdom are important. God may be trying to communicate to you through your husband – but you have to be willing to listen. When he says things like, “That friend is taking up too much of our family time,” “I feel like I am not one of your top priorities,” “I am feeling disrespected by you,” “I think we need to do X about the situation with our children” – HE IS trying to lead you spiritually. If we can listen – we will hear the leadership.
- Do not interrupt him or answer for him. We do this sometimes and don’t even realize it. But that is REALLY disrespectful. We need to slow down and listen carefully. Many times our husbands ARE TRYING TO LEAD US and we are not listening.
- Do not assume the worst and have a whole conversation with him in your head and think you know what he will say. Let him respond to you the way he wants to. Try not to peg him in a hole and have him declared guilty of something before he even has a chance to have the conversation with you himself.
- Watch your body language. Men are not as verbal as we are – in general. But they pay VERY close attention to our eyes, our facial expressions, our tone of voice, our crossed arms and the scowl on our faces. It’s good to eliminate disrespect from our speech. We must do that. But we have to eliminate disrespect from our body language and our soul, too! At first, you have to hold things in and not say what you want to say. But as God changes your heart and renews your mind, you learn not to even think disrespectful thoughts anymore! Concentrate on the good, don’t focus on the bad!
- I don’t question my husband’s decision. I don’t ask, “Why would you?” “Why did you?” “How could you…?” Those questions may seem innocent to a woman, but to a man, they imply that he is incompetent and incapable. That sounds very disrespectful to most men. I can ask for clarification or say, “I’m confused about X” and I can tell him what I want and desire. But then I allow him to make the final call. (I would need to resist him only if he is asking me to sin or he wants me to condone sin – that is sin according to God’s Word not in my opinion!)
- If he makes a mistake – that is OK! Leaders are human. They aren’t perfect. I’m sure not perfect! Especially when husbands are first learning, they may make mistakes. The most important thing is NOT the mistake, it is how YOU handle his mistake. You can crush him with your condemnation and criticisms or you can support him and show faith in him as a leader and communicate to him that you trust him to make it right, and you stand by him. THAT will teach him to be a better leader much more than negativity ever could!
- Men respond to praise, encouragement, respect and admiration. That is where your power is as a follower – that is a special kind of power called influential power. Use your words to build up your man!!!
- It is easy to criticize. But criticizing only paralyzes your husband and beats him down. The foolish wife tears her home down with her own hands (and words).
- Be full of grace, mercy and forgiveness towards him as Christ has for you! Read the verses after the Lord’s prayer – if we don’t forgive those who sin against us, God will not forgive us!
- Accept his compliments, gifts, time and efforts with GRACE and gratitude! Husbands mean what they say when they give compliments. It’s insulting and disrespectful to argue with anyone when they give you any kind of compliment. At the MINIMUM – please smile graciously, and say, “Thank you very much!” And if he takes you out to dinner – please do not criticize his gift, enjoy his thoughtfulness and generosity and THANK him. He is showing you how valuable he thinks you are. Don’t say, “You shouldn’t have.” Say, “You’re the BEST!” If he buys you a gift, THANK him and do not criticize his taste, the color, the style… show gratitude and genuinely appreciate what he did to try to bring a smile to your face. Your delight is your gift back to him!
- Be excited about his ideas. At least give him a chance. Try to love his ideas for 10-15 minutes before you think of problems. And if you do have concerns, try saying things like, “I’m confused about…” “I don’t understand…” because those phrases don’t sound disrespectful to most men.
- On the rare occasions when he decides to go against your desires – cooperate willingly, cheerfully and joyfully. Tell him, “Thank you for hearing my heart and considering my perspective. I trust you to do what is best for our family in God’s sight. I know you are accountable to God for your decisions, not me. Thank you for your leadership.” This will help him feel the whole weight of his decision and the consequences – and helps him REALLY seek God’s voice and God’s will instead of his own. Knowing all your faith and trust are in him helps him grow as a leader! Then take your concerns to God and trust that God is big enough to work things out for your best and your family’s best even though the direction may not seem right to you at the time. Thank God for His sovereignty. Thank God for your husband’s leadership. God can and does lead you through your husband (if your husband is not asking you to sin). If you fight your husband, you may be fighting God!
- Praise everything he does that you admire!
- Be friendly – act like you like your man. SMILE at him.