Today’s post is a guest post by a Christian husband – answering a wife’s question. This wife has been working on respect and biblical submission for about 6 months, and doesn’t understand why sometimes her husband tells her that he doesn’t want to lead in their marriage.
(PS – just so everyone is aware – if I ever receive any email messages from men, my husband reads them and I copy my husband on all emails to any men every single time without exception. That is my personal conviction – to keep from even the appearance of evil. I don’t always mention it in every post, but that is my strict policy, for those who are interested or concerned.)
If the relationship has been going on for awhile where the wife is controlling men tend to learn early on that there are only a few ways to do things. The right way (as defined by the person in control) or the wrong way. So yes, the wife may want to stop being controlling but the husband already has learned that if he steps up to do something and it’s not done her way he will hear about it in arguements, hear about it when it fails, hear about it if it’s not perfect in the eyes of his wife (and no one wants to let his wife down). Even if the issue is resolved if it’s not done her way – it’s not correct.
As an example paying the bills. People can argue one way or another on who should be responsible for the bills and who is better with math, etc. All that aside men and women prioritize different things more and it shows when they pay bills. For a period of time when I was paying bills I always made sure that food was paid first and then bills and cars and house and then all the extra things like gas card, or jcpenny’s card for clothes, etc. When times are tight many of those cards would call because they didn’t get a payment. This got on my wife’s nerves so much that she would yell at me constantly that I was bad at paying bills or tell me that if I couldn’t get this resolved she would just take it over and make sure it was done right.
Once she took over paying the bills, because her priorities were a bit different, things go paid in a different order. She wanted security and debtors to quit calling so paid house and cars and misc bills first. So the phone calls stopped to a point but we still were behind so they didn’t completely vanish. However the thing that was last on her list was food and gas. I stopped eating breakfast because that’s another bowl of cereal the kids could have, and there were weeks were I only ate lunch 1 or 2 days out of 5 because there wasn’t enough bread to make a sandwich for myself and still have food for the kids the rest of the week until I got paid on Friday. My wife also told me recently that during that time there were times she would be at the grocery store and just cry because she knew we didn’t have bread at home she only had $45 for the grocery store so if she bought bread then something would bounce and we would get a fee charged on something else.
Neither way is right or wrong they both accomplish the same end goal but it’s hard to be the leader when your told your way is wrong and you can’t argue based on an opinion for a topic that can have many correct and valid answers.
Over time as husbands learn this some will just give up and go with the flow so they stop leading because it leads to less arguements, and less of being told how they are wrong or why they failed, etc. The trust that your wife will be okay with your solution is hard to regain. So when a wife decides to submit and let the husband lead it’s still very much a learning process. The husband may take some time (days, weeks, months, years) to start trusting again that his wife is on his side and if he steps up to lead something and fails that she will be there to support and encourage him and not give him the I Told You So look.
The best way to get it started is by supporting and encouraging in anything small that he does. I’ve not met many men in this world that don’t lead at anything. Even if they lead nothing at home they might be a leader at church or at work or something. Men are born to lead and when they find the environment that supports that they will step up to it. So as a wife find where your husband is leading and encourange and support him in that. When he see’s and feels that happening over time he will realize that leading in other areas might be worth a try.
It’s going to be small things though. Maybe he goes out and mows the lawn without it being mentioned, or goes and hangs up christmas lights, or stops on the way home from work and buys some pencils and paper because the kids are all out and need some for school. The wife that wants her husband to lead after she’s working on being less in control needs to find all the little things and encourage and support him in doing those. And some of that means not pointing out all the little things that need to be done. So don’t say, “Wow, the lawn really needs to be mowed” as that’s just another way of saying he hasn’t lived up to your expectactions yet. You as the wife have to be okay with the lawn not getting mowed and maybe your house won’t look perfect but just let it go until he does it and then praise him and thank him for stepping up and getting it done.
For many men taking responsibility for something and being the leader after hearing for a period of time how they were bad at it or not doing it right is a very hard idea to swallow.
Most men will turn down the chance to lead because they know that it will just be another instance to point out where they failed so they need to feel secure in the fact that it won’t be used against them before they try something.
I imagine it’s the same for women, if you are told over and over that you are doing something wrong and have failed at it over time you just give up any desire to do that activity and let someone else do it. If you put on makeup every day and every day the most popular girl in school says “Ugh what’s with your makeup you can’t do anything right here wipe that all off …” pretty soon you feel that you can’t do it right, so why bother. Maybe you have your mom do it or an older sister or maybe you just give up because “what’s the point?” It’s not until many years later that you realize it’s not about trying to impress other people it’s about making you feel special about yourself or maybe you put that touch of red on your lips to make that special guy you like know that you think he’s special to.
The thing is 99% of this world fail at something the first time they try it. There is also the person that just naturally find what they are great at and do awesome the first time, but for all the rest of us in this world we have to try something sometimes many times to get it right and feel like we are successful at it. We need someone in our court that says, “Yeah, you didn’t succeed this time but let’s get ourselves up and do it again and again until we can get there and get it done.” When you know someone is there for you over and over – you have no issues stepping up to lead. When you get knocked down everytime you fail, there is no reason to get up and lead. When that dynamic changes and there used to be no reason to lead and you are being asked to lead it sometimes feels like they are just trying to set you up to fail. That’s something the guy has to deal with and overcome, but if the woman is pushing you to lead that only makes it worse. She has to let it happen and try to support everything he does.