By my husband, Greg. From the archives. This is HIS perspective on how he felt as a passive husband. Maybe your husband has some of the same feelings? I don’t know! But it could be interesting to try to find out.
Occasionally, I take one of April’s old articles and add a husband’s thoughts to them. One of the older ones that continues to be read regularly is one entitled, “Dominant Wife, Passive Husband.” This post came out of a marriage seminar we were attending at church at the time that we both really enjoyed. Hope you enjoy.
Reverend Harold Weaver taught a class called “7 Basic Needs of a Wife, 7 Basic Needs of a Husband” in 2012. We LOVED this class! Rev. Weaver has his theology straight and explains God’s design for marriage so well. (He has given me permission to share his notes from this class and “Spiritual Authority” and “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage”
During the class, he mentioned that in all of his 45 years of ministry and counseling, with a dominant wife/passive husband situation, he NEVER saw a husband rise up and take authority from his wife and begin leading spiritually. Not once.
(I actually HAVE seen this happen with a few couples I have met here on the blog – but it is very, very rare, from my experience. And, even if the husband does attempt to rise up and begin leading, the wife must still be willing to step down and learn to follow and trust him.)
As a former dominant wife, myself, I think this is a pretty important piece of information. I love Rev. Weaver’s advice. He said that a dominant wife must use her leadership gifts to empower and encourage her husband’s leadership.
- it is very difficult for a passive husband to learn to lead.
- it is very difficult for a dominant wife to learn to give up leading.
BUT – IT CAN BE DONE! I am proof of that!!!
The inverted relationship will NOT be made right until the WIFE willingly and voluntarily yields the leadership and control.
She must make the first move. And she must foster her husband’s learning and leadership gently with plenty of praise and admiration. The more she respects him, the more confidence he will gain and the better leader he will be!
As a once-passive husband, I agree that it is very true that a passive husband will have difficulty taking the authoritative leadership role if his wife is dominant. I think it is difficult to separate the difference between being a “servant husband” as opposed to a “passive husband.”
As I was growing up in a Christian home, I was always taught to respect authority, be chivalrous, and to not get bogged down in the small stuff. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I also had many more people who scrutinized different areas of my life on a regular basis – looking at who my friends were, how I treated people, and how I reacted to different things. One learns very quickly that you need to pick your fights judiciously and work on limiting how many times you rock the boat. This unfortunately carried over into marriage.
After April and I had been married for some time, I didn’t put up too much of a fight about a lot of decisions. Part of that was the desire not to rock the boat and the other part was I thought that it would not do any good to try to convince her that there was another way. So, I would let April lead.
It was not until April made the decision that she would rely totally on my leadership that I was able to be the head of the family. It was a slow process and each of us had to make new habits that were foreign to us.
I had to take on making a lot of decisions that I had not previously made. I also took on a lot of responsibilities with different aspects of our marriage, parenting, finances, and household that I did not previously have. April had to learn to give up control of a lot of things. It was a scary time for her because for once she had to trust me fully to meet her needs.
- She had to let go.
- She had to take the weight off of her shoulders.
- It took some time, and a few hiccups, but she found that this new way of thinking was revitalizing.
- She found that she looked at me and God in a whole different way.
- She learned to trust that I would lead our family without selfishness and by looking out for the best interest of all of us.
- She found that when she respected me and submitted fully to me, I was able to give her the love she needed, the happiness she desired, and the inner peace she had longed for.
(NOTE – if a husband is physically abusive, if there is infidelity, active drug/alcohol addictions, uncontrolled mental health issues – that is going to be a much more complicated situation. Please, ladies, get experienced, godly help in such a situation! There can be times that it could be dangerous or unwise to trust your husband in such situations.)
There is a true equation that the more that she puts her faith and the more she trusts my leadership, the greater my desire is to love and serve her and our family. The strength of my leadership is a function of her faith and trust in me.
TWO KINDS OF AUTHORITY
I also love something that Rev. Weaver taught us. He talked about two kinds of authority. The main type of spiritual authority we think of is “positional authority.” A husband has positional authority in marriage – given to him by God. He is the husband; therefore he has the spiritual authority in the marriage because of his position as husband (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:5). But Rev. Weaver talked tonight about another kind of authority I had never heard of before – “influential authority.” A king’s advisor has this kind of authority, and the king has positional authority. A wife has influential authority in marriage with her husband. Sometimes influential authority can be more powerful than positional authority – think of the story of Esther – she had influential authority over her husband, the king. Rev. Weaver said that many women profoundly underestimate the power of influential authority. God gave us the power to influence our husbands towards destruction or towards godliness.
In the dominant wife/passive husband scenario, the positional authority position and the influential authority position get reversed. The problem is that a passive husband is not a very good influential authority.
- The dominant wife often becomes the sole decision maker and, in essence, leads without much influence from her husband.
Almost every business management model has a structure where there is a tiered system of a head manager who has managers below him to managers below them all the way down to the “regular employees.” Each position has a positional authority, but the head manager has an influential authority role.
Just like in business, the family will work most effectively when all levels of the organization are functioning in their intended roles. The employee has the ability to influence his manager in the same way that the assistant head manager can influence the head manager. If the head manager wants his business to function best he must be willing to accept the influential authority of those below him. In our families, or the small businesses of life, it is important to balance both authorities so that they have a strong role in the direction of the family business.
RESPONDING WHEN OUR HUSBANDS MAKE UNWISE OR BAD CHOICES AS LEADERS IN OUR MARRIAGES:
According to Rev. Weaver, our response when our husbands make a poor decision can be the difference between something creating great good or great harm in our marriage. A godly wife will respond to a husband’s bad decision with loyalty, with grace, with poise, and will look for the good that can come of the situation, knowing God will use even a poor decision for good.
- We learn so much more by our mistakes than by our successes, and God will use a husband’s failures to teach him greatly if his wife doesn’t interfere. If a godly wife can be supportive of her husband, and can refrain from criticism and “I told you so” and “look what a mess you made, now!” – the husband will be in the best possible position to learn and become a better leader.
Rev. Weaver talked about the importance of a wife not condemning her husband for one failed decision. My response to my husband’s failure is much more critical than the failure itself.
- A godly wife will use these opportunities to demonstrate her fierce loyalty to her man even when things are tough, and to support his position as leader, and to pray for God’s wisdom to direct them through the mistake towards being more holy and towards sanctification.
- A godly, wise wife, will have peace, a gentle and poised spirit, and will be looking for her husband’s best interests, not selfish interests, when things go badly.
- She will give grace and not make a big deal of what he did that was wrong.
- She can offer encouragement, prayer, support and her undying faith in her husband as a man – WITHOUT taking over control. There is the critical balance a wife must achieve!
One of the big differences I have seen in our marriage is the April’s ability to accept my decisions….good and bad. She also has been much better at forgiving me……that is where the grace comes in. I, like most men, tend to be stubborn and hang on too long to issues where I have made wrong judgments and decisions.
When I know that my wife supports my decision, even if she pretty well knows that I screwed up, I am able to accept my failures and try to make atonements more easily.
If a decision is made by a man where his wife turns on him because she didn’t get her way, he is forced to live and die with his decision and will not easily reconsider it. I do want to stress that it is totally good for the wife to have an influence on the decision and it is totally fine for her to have her own opinion.
A wife’s willingness to accept her husband’s decision with grace and poise if she is in disagreement with him is the ultimate picture of respect for her husband and shows that she trusts his leadership. He will notice it and it will stay with him. He will make sure that his decision turns out best for the family or he will try to make it right. When a wife is able to strike that perfect balance the family is able to function like a well oiled machine.
Help us to be women who understand the power and authority that You have given us and how to stay close to You and be right with our husbands and offer godly influential authority. Help us to see that we have very important roles as wives – and use us to spur our husbands towards godliness, holiness and sanctification. Let us be strong, godly, Spirit-filled, Bible-loving women who obey Scripture in our marriages and see Your hand at work in mighty ways every day in our homes!