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Does My Husband Have to Have a Long Range Plan to Lead Our Family?

I used to think that my husband had to lead in a certain way in order for God to lead me through him. His personality should be a lot more like mine, of course, for him to lead “properly.” I believed we needed a long list of things I thought were great ideas – lots of formal meetings, written goals, written/verbal feedback on how we were both doing (kind of like a report card), specific plans way in advance in many areas of life, etc…

Somehow, God put me with a man who thinks in a way that is totally unlike my way.  I used to think that meant Greg wouldn’t lead me or that he couldn’t lead me.

Wow, was I wrong!

God absolutely can lead me through Greg. Even without him having the leadership style I might think I would have if I were in charge. All of those things I wanted could be fine things. They may work for some couples, particularly if those things were part of the husband’s personality and leadership style. But, I think God knew that if I got to have all of those things, I might start putting more of my faith in our written plans and meetings than in Him. God has shown me that I can absolutely be content without big human plans, meetings, tons of feedback, etc…

The Lord has also shown me that as I trust Him to lead me through Greg, He knows how to prompt Greg at just the right time and how to inspire him and move his heart to accomplish His will for me. It isn’t all big and flashy. It took quite awhile for us to get to the place where we are now and I am sure we will both continue to grow in Christ and things will continue to change over time.

Most of the time, the way God leads me through Greg is softly, gently, and quietly:

  • When I have another one of my awesome new big ideas – where I want to radically change a lot of things for our family all at once. Greg quietly researches and prays about things. Then, after a few days/weeks, many times, he brings up important issues I hadn’t considered.
  • He tends to slow me down so I don’t rush into a hasty, and regrettable, decision.
  • He shares what he believes is best about various ideas and now I know that he has a lot of valuable wisdom that will benefit me if I will listen.
  • He gently offers suggestions.
  • He comes up with ideas that he believes God may desire me to do – like write a blog, write a book, teach a class, have a conference, etc… – and he shares them with me without any pressure. Then I pray about things.
  • He gives me counsel about how to handle difficult situations and people in my life – again with no pressure that I have to do things his way, but I know he has my best interests at heart and that I can trust him.
  • He lets me know when he feels I might be about to make a mistake.

God uses Greg to bring a lot of balance and wisdom to my life. I am SO thankful for his leadership now! Even though it is not what I originally thought I wanted and needed. And the truth is, human plans don’t always amount to much. We can’t see what is coming in the future. God has a way of being able to change our well-made plans.

It is not wrong to prayerfully make certain plans as we seek to do God’s will. But it is wise for us all to be very flexible and ready to change whenever God moves in our lives in ways we can’t predict.

FOLLOWING CHRIST IS A LOT LIKE FOLLOWING A TRUSTWORTHY GPS

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

I think it is easy for us to tend to want to know the WHOLE plan way ahead of time. We want God and/or our husbands – or SOMEONE – to reveal everything that will happen to us right now. It is hard to be at peace in uncertainty and in the whole not knowing thing. On our own, we can’t be at peace in times of uncertainty and trials, but in Christ, we absolutely can be!

I don’t have to know about the mountains I may face 2,000 miles from now. I don’t need to know about the detour I will need to take 5,000 miles from now. What I need to know right now is simply, “Lord, what step do I take next today?”

As I trust God to lead me, He will get the information to me when I need to know it. And He will lead me through my husband in His way and His timing to accomplish His purposes. He will orchestrate the events of my life according to His will. He will use all of the difficulties I face to help me grow and to prune and refine me so that I can grow stronger in my faith and so that He can conform me more to the image of Christ.

What does Jesus have to say about knowing the future?

Quite honestly, we couldn’t handle knowing all of the future right now.

It is a blessing in many ways that God doesn’t give us the ability to see that far ahead. For all we know, there could be a nuclear war tomorrow, or our electric grid might collapse, there might be a massive terrorist strike, the economy might finally collapse, or there may be a huge earthquake or some natural disaster. Or Jesus might return later today. Or perhaps nothing terrible might happen and things may continue on as usual. Maybe something incredibly good might happen that alters the course of our lives. We might try to make plans but our plans are pretty worthless because we don’t know the future. Only God knows.

My prayer is that we might trust the One who actually knows what is going to happen and that we might follow Him and humbly yield to His wisdom. Let’s walk by faith each moment. As we do that, and as we desire to be in the center of the Lord’s will, He knows how to direct our steps and how to lead us in His will.

 

RELATED:

How God Led Me Through Greg to Write a Book

Why Won’t My Husband Lead?

Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice

My Husband Isn’t Being a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

 

When Your Husband Won’t Answer

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Greg and April – April 2013 at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC

Ladies,

Some of you know exactly what I am going to describe here.

  • You ask your husband an important question. You want to be sure you are doing what he wants. You need his input. You don’t want to take over and steamroll and usurp his position of God-given authority. But he says nothing. He seems to ignore you. Maybe for 15 minutes, or hours, or days or much longer.

This can be extremely frustrating – especially for a recovering type A, dominant, controlling wife who wants to make decisions RIGHT NOW. If you have a husband who tends to be passive – and he tends not to answer you – and you step down and begin to try to follow his leadership, it can take some time for the whole thing to work well.

It will require MUCH PATIENCE from you as you stop leading and begin to encourage your husband to lead.

Some of you have husbands that give answers right away or who will say, “I need time to think, let me get back with you tomorrow night” and then will get back with you.  That is awesome if your husband is able to articulate his feelings and thoughts right away. I wish all husbands were able to give some verbal acknowledgement right away. But some of them do not do this – and we need to decide how we can respond in a godly way if this is our situation.

This post is for those wives whose husbands have not done much leading, or not had the opportunity to lead much, who are hesitant to lead and tend to be shut down and a bit verbally unresponsive at this time. (If you have severe issues in the marriage, infidelity, active addictions, uncontrolled mental health disorders, actual abuse, please don’t read my blog but seek godly, experienced help ASAP!)

  • I don’t know what is best in every possible situation. I trust God to be able to impart the wisdom each wife needs specifically to her unique scenario. So please listen to God’s Spirit above all!

I’m going to share some things I learned and how things worked for me and some things I have seen work with some other wives. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Maybe they won’t. That will be up to you to hear God’s voice about what He desires you to do.

My husband, Greg, tends to need a lot of time to process his thoughts about big decisions.

Sometimes, he even needs a lot of time to process ideas about smaller decisions, too. I’m actually very thankful for his slower approach now – because he carefully and meticulously researches and thinks through every possible outcome before making a decision instead of just rushing into a decision we might regret. Now, I am able to see that his careful, responsible, thoughtful way of making decisions is godly leadership.

When we were first married, I didn’t understand this. I assumed he made decisions just like I did – in a few seconds – and when he wouldn’t answer me for several minutes (or longer) I got REALLY angry and would try to force him to answer my question. I do wish he had been able to say to me, “I need some time to think about it” – that would have been super helpful! He never did that. So after 15-30 minutes of me waiting impatiently and trying to pressure him every 30 seconds – I would conclude that he was just being hateful and unloving and I would tell him I would just make the decision myself since “he obviously wouldn’t/couldn’t make a decision and wouldn’t lead” and I would storm off in a huff. Yikes. How I sabotaged myself back then! All that pressure and the things I said to him were SO DISRESPECTFUL. The more I pressured him, the more he shut down.

How I wish I had patiently given him more time! He IS able to lead. He just needs a lot more time than I used to give him. He is not me. And that is ok.

As I stepped down from leading in the family and marriage, I began leaving decisions for Greg to make – I didn’t snatch them from him anymore. I had been making almost all the decisions for over 14 years. Suddenly, I was “giving him” (from my perspective at the time) a lot of decisions to make.  He didn’t like it at first. He often said nothing, exactly like he had the first 14.5 years of our marriage. But, once I began to step down and leave room for him to lead – I would just share decisions with him that needed to be made and share what I wanted to do (sometimes I wouldn’t tell him my opinion at all that first year or so, just so the poor man would have a chance to think for himself without my opinion for once!). And I would leave it with him. If he didn’t make a decision, oh well! We didn’t get to do whatever it was. (You can read about his thoughts during this time here.)

Sometimes he wouldn’t make a decision. I learned to accept that. If he didn’t make a decision or didn’t say anything eventually, then the answer was, “no.” I began to trust that God could lead me through Greg and that God was sovereign enough to change Greg’s heart and mind and I was NOT going to run ahead of Greg or God anymore. I would just wait. A LOT.

It took time for him to feel confident and safe enough to begin making decisions. He was afraid that I would jump in or criticize him or pile contempt on him if I didn’t agree with him. But when he saw eventually that I was seriously trusting everything to him and supportive of his decisions, even when I didn’t agree (which took a LONG time), he began to take over little by little. I praised him whenever he did make a decision. I thanked him for his leadership multiple times before he even began to lead. I accepted that he might not do what I wanted and that some less important things might not get done and I trusted it all to God.

It was the scariest thing I ever did in my life – letting go of control like that! Not because Greg was incompetent, but because I had to learn to trust God instead of myself.

Sometimes there are decisions that have to be made – that have time limits. What is a wife to do in such a situation?

Here are a few of my suggestions for whatever they are worth:

  • If there is some significant decision that you must make about a job, adopting a child, spending a lot of money, who will care for the children or something major – I suggest laying the decision on your husband’s plate casually, with a pleasant tone of voice without pressure. Give him all the time you can to allow him to make the decision without pushing or rushing him. Preferably, share the decision with him some time when he is in a good mood and not busy with something that is important to him and when he is able to give you his attention.

– “So, Honey, I have something I want to check with you about. I would really love to see if there is some way I could be home more with the baby if possible. Or maybe we could think about a nanny or my mom taking care of the baby. I don’t like having him at daycare for the following reasons… Please let me know when a good time to talk about this might be and what you think. Thanks!”

Then, if he decides he want to keep the baby in daycare, consider saying something like, “I really don’t want to leave the baby there. I feel really nervous and upset about doing that because of X, Y and Z. But if you think that is what is best for him and for us, then I will trust you and support you with whatever you believe is the best choice.”

– “I really want to adopt a baby.” or “I would love to think about adopting a child.” Sometimes, all we really need to do is just say what we want and leave it with our husbands and let them marinate on it for a long time. God can use just that simple, calm, sincere, respectful statement of our desires to work in our husband’s heart. We don’t have to have a 30 minute speech prepared. Sometimes less is more! If I share my heart like this, my husband will think about it, and he will answer to God for his decision. When he is ready, if he believes this is of God, he will bring it up again. If he doesn’t bring it up – I can still be content in Christ.

– “I want to go to X church and here are the reasons why. But I trust you to make the best decision for our family and I will support whatever decision you believe is best for us.” But then, please allow him to choose the church and go with him unless he wants you to go to a cult.

– If your husband won’t go to church, but you want to go (and he is not angry about you going to church), you can say earlier in the week, “I’d love to go to church this Sunday. Let me know if that is NOT ok with you, please.” Then he will have to speak up if he doesn’t want you to go. If he says nothing, he is tacitly agreeing that he is fine with you going.

  • If he hasn’t said anything about an important decision and the deadline is a few days away, you can say something (in a pleasant, respectful tone of voice with a friendly expression on your face) like, “Jane needs an answer from me by Thursday about the job. My preference is that I would like to do X. But if I don’t hear from you by Thursday morning at 9:00am about what you would like for me to do, I will call to let her know I can’t take the job.”

This way, if he DOESN’T want you to do something, he will have to take positive action by a certain time. Otherwise, he is tacitly agreeing to whatever you tell him you are planning to do.

You probably only need to say this once (unless your husband has A.D.D. or has asked you for more reminders for things like this), and in a pleasant tone of voice and with a smile. Of course, you will need to be sure that he definitely heard you. We don’t want any miscommunication if possible.

This gives him the chance to speak up and veto something or stand up and make a decision, without you taking that weight on yourself and it allows you to have an answer within the time constraints you have.

If your husband DOES generally answer you in a timely fashion, you won’t need to use this method. That might feel disrespectful to him if he was planning to answer right away. If your man is good at giving answers in a reasonable time frame, you can probably just ask the question and leave it with him or wait until he responds. There is not a one size fits all here with respect on every issue.

  • If it is not an emergency kind of decision, you may just leave it with him and not bring it up again, trusting him to bring it up if he thinks it is a good idea, and trusting that if he doesn’t, it’s ok. For instance, “I’d love to send Johnny to camp this summer. Here are the brochures for the camps that look interesting to me. I’m good with whatever you think is best. If you need me to mail off the forms and a check, please let me know.” Then you can just leave it in his court. If he wants to send your son to camp, he will check out the options or maybe even some other options. If he doesn’t think that the family budget can handle camp this summer, maybe he won’t decide to send him.

You can trust God to lead you through your husband because of His amazing sovereignty. All the weight is off of you when you honor and submit to your husband’s leadership. The weight is fully on God and your husband. If you get to do what you wanted to do – great! If you don’t – maybe God is directing your husband another way for His purposes that you are not aware of. You can trust that God is able to use all things for your ultimate good and His glory because you love Him with all your heart and are fully submitted to Him, walking in obedience and seeking His will above your own. The only exception to this would be if your husband is asking you to condone or participate in blatant sin. Please check out “Spiritual Authority” for more on this issue.

Many times, as husbands grow in their leadership over the years, they will begin to give answers more quickly or tell their wives they will get back with them at a certain time. There is learning and growth that our husbands must struggle through, too. They won’t be perfect leaders the first day we step down, especially if we have been leading for years or decades. That has to be ok.

I would like to see us have plenty of grace, mercy, support, encouragement and genuine respect ready for them as we focus on their strengths and seek to build them up and bless them.

There is nothing more beautiful than the opportunity to watch God begin to mold your husband into a strong, godly man and leader. It is breathtaking to see the steps our men take and the way they stand taller and how they become less selfish and begin to desire to hear God more because they feel the weight of leadership and responsibility on their shoulders.

I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for each of you and your husbands and families!

SHARE:

I’d love to hear other wives’ stories about this issue!  And, husbands, we could use some masculine perspective here, too,  please.

RELATED:

When She Surrendered – by my husband, Greg

A Husband Answers a Wife – “Why Won’t My Husband Lead?”

A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

My Husband Won’t Lead in Our Marriage – Part 1

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Administrative Note:

I am taking an email vacation through January 6th.  You are welcome to comment on posts, but please hold emails for me until January 7th.  I appreciate your patience and understanding! 🙂

“I’M THE SPIRITUALLY MATURE ONE, I HAVE TO LEAD”

It is a VERY tough position to be in to want to be close to God, to want to obey God and to feel like you can’t follow your husband.

  • You may long for him to lead a family devotion time, or prayer time.
  • You may want him to be the one to tell the children why it’s important to go to church or to plan out character lessons to teach each child.
  • You may want him to work with the kids on memory verses.
  • You may wish that your husband spent more time with the family and not so much time at work.
  • You may feel like you HAVE to take over the leadership role because it doesn’t seem like he wants it.
  • You might be praying every single day for God to change your husband and cause him to be more like Christ.
  • You may feel like your husband isn’t as close to God as he should be.
  • Maybe you don’t see him praying.
  • Maybe you are in charge of the finances and working full time and keeping the house and taking care of the children and it seems like an unfair majority of the burden is on your shoulders.
  • Maybe you ask your husband to help you, but he just ignores you and keeps watching tv.
  • Maybe you tell him how unhappy you are and what you need and it feels like you are talking to a wall.
  • Maybe you try to draw near to him and tell him about your pain so he will see how much you hurt and fix it, and he gets REALLY angry and lashes out at you and begins talking about your faults.
  • Maybe you ask for your husband’s input or decision-making and he just never answers or says the dreaded, “I don’t know” phrase or he ignores you, or just tells you to do whatever you want and you feel like he doesn’t care and isn’t plugged in to the family and the marriage.

“GOD’S DESIGN WON’T WORK IN MY SITUATION”

If these things sound familiar to you – you are not alone! Many wives feel like this and struggle daily with these same issues. Yes, this situation is extremely discouraging and you may think that your husband just doesn’t love you anymore or that following your husband’s leadership just isn’t possible in your case. You might think he can’t lead the family. You might just write him off as not being able to ever “man-up” and take care of family responsibilities. You might be wondering why God isn’t answering your prayers? Why isn’t your husband changing? You are praying clearly for God’s will – a godly husband who is a strong, Christ-like leader for your family. Why on earth have your prayers gone unanswered for months or years or decades? Why doesn’t God hear?

Precious, beautiful wife, I obviously don’t know your situation. But God does! There is GREAT HOPE in Christ!!!!

There are several very central, CRITICAL truths I have learned as a Christian and as a wife that have changed my life and my marriage that I want to share (with my husband’s whole-hearted approval) with wives who might be in a similar place to where I was years ago:

  • GOD IS SOVEREIGN – EVEN OVER MY MARRIAGE, EVEN OVER MY HUSBAND, AND OVER MY LIFE.
  • I CANNOT CHANGE MY HUSBAND AND MAKE HIM MORE LIKE CHRIST. I can aggravate him, push him away from God, make him want to be far away from me and make us both miserable by trying to change him, make him dread being in the same room with me, but I cannot change him – not for the better! I am not the Holy Spirit!
  • GOD IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CHANGE MY HUSBAND – HIS WAY AND HIS TIMING IS BEST.
  • MY JOB IS TO OBEY GOD ON MY END AND NOT WORRY ABOUT MY HUSBAND’S SIDE OF THE EQUATION, BUT TRUST GOD AND DO MY PART.
  • WHEN I DO OBEY GOD AS A WIFE, I OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF THE POWERS OF HEAVEN TO WORK IN MYSELF, MY MARRIAGE, MY HUSBAND AND OUR CHILDREN.
  • MY OBEDIENCE CAN REALLY SPEED UP THE PROCESS FOR GOD TO CHANGE MY HUSBAND.
  • MY DISOBEDIENCE CAN KEEP MY HUSBAND FROM HEARING GOD’S VOICE AND CAN PUSH MY HUSBAND AWAY FROM ME AND FROM GOD.
  • I HAVE A FOREST OF TREES IN MY OWN EYE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BEFORE I COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SPECK IN MY HUSBAND’S EYE.
  • I CAN DO NOTHING GOOD APART FROM CHRIST AND HIS POWER WORKING IN ME.
  • I AM UTTERLY SINFUL AND WRETCHED ON MY OWN.
  • I NEED TO LIVE IN HUMILITY WITH A VERY REAL AWARENESS OF THE MAGNITUDE OF MY OWN FAULTS AND HOW SMALL AND IMPOTENT I AM AND HOW HUGE, POWERFUL, SOVEREIGN, ALL-KNOWING, WISE, LOVING, MERCIFUL, FORGIVING AND HOLY GOD IS!

SELF EVALUATION TIME

Whew! This stuff is ugly. I don’t really enjoy this part, but unless we open up our own souls and allow God’s Word to shine in there to the darkest corners, we can’t move on to the great stuff.  This is where we learn to “die to self” and live for Christ. I would like for you to consider some things and whether or not these may be possibilities in your heart and in your marriage as we think about the issue of your husband’s leadership in your home. We are only going to look at ourselves as wives in this exercise and how we may be contributing to the success or failure of our husband’s leadership in our marriages. Please stop and pray and ask God to give you insight and wisdom into your own heart and life, as well as conviction wherever it is needed from His perspective. Please meditate and pray about how many of the following may apply to you and your marriage – many applied in mine, but not all –  (if you are dealing with an active addict, someone chronically unfaithful, a hardened criminal, or someone with an uncontrolled mental health disorder – please get godly, experienced help ASAP! Following a husband in these cases could be very dangerous. Safety for you and your children is the priority if you are in a physically abusive situation!!):

  • If I ask my husband to make a decision, and he doesn’t give me a “real” answer within 5-30 minutes, I get angry.
  • I yell at my husband, throw things at him, and call him horrible names.
  • I attack my husband’s character when we argue.
  • If my husband asks me to do something I don’t like or don’t agree with, I refuse to go along with him. I will only follow if he leads where I want to go.
  • If my husband comes up with an idea or plan, I find fault with his thinking and his solutions and tell him that his way won’t work, only my way will.
  • I criticize my husband’s opinions, preferences, tastes, wardrobe, hair style, hobbies, thoughts, suggestions, and plans.
  • I react negatively when my husband tries to help me. He just doesn’t load the dishwasher right, or change the baby’s diaper right, or fold the laundry right.He never hears me praise him and say, “Thank you SO much for the help!” He only hears me say, “I’m going to have to redo it all the RIGHT way!” Or “Why can’t you ever get it right?” or “That is C+ work, not A material.” Or “You’re not doing it right!”
  • If my husband tries to please me, what he does is never enough, I always want more than what he delivered.
  • I frown at my husband a lot.
  • I sound angry, frustrated, impatient, and like I am reprimanding and scolding a naughty little boy many times when I speak to my husband.
  • My facial expressions, my tone of voice, my words sound condemning of my husband often.
  • I act disrespectfully towards my husband to show him that he needs to pull his weight more and love me more and to show him how unhappy I am.
  • I withhold physical intimacy with my husband to punish him.
  • My husband often rejects me physically – it feels like I am pursuing him and it seems like he has lost his attraction for me.
  • My husband tends to ignore me a lot.
  • I feel very lonely, like the whole weight of the entire marriage and family is on my shoulders alone. I feel overwhelmed by all that has to be done.
  • I have to take over leadership because my husband won’t lead.
  • I have very specific ideas about what a husband’s leadership should be and my husband is not meeting my standards.
  • I am always “right” and I make sure my husband knows that he is always wrong. My way is best. I know best what our family and marriage needs.
  • I don’t trust my husband’s ideas.
  • If I let my husband be in charge he’d destroy our lives.
  • I think my husband’s ideas are ridiculous.
  • I don’t think my husband can be an effective leader.
  • I think my husband is an overgrown boy.
  • I have to correct my husband when he is talking with other people or he gets things wrong.
  • I have to tell my husband what to do or he does nothing.
  • I’m very intelligent, strong-willed, perfectionistic, opinionated, and possibly some family members might say I could be “controlling.”
  • Thinking of yielding my control makes me have a panic attack. THE WORLD WILL FALL APART IF I AM NOT IN CHARGE!
  • I am exhausted from trying to take care of everything myself all the time. I don’t relax.
  • I resent my husband for relaxing and taking time for himself to recharge.
  • I cannot or will not forgive my husband for how he has hurt me in the past.

Tomorrow – we will continue this discussion! 🙂

My Husband Won’t Lead in Our Marriage – Part 2

My Husband Won’t Lead in Our Marriage – Part 3

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