In our first two episodes, we chatted about God's design regarding the order of the family unit and why wives struggle with the idea of following their husbands and overwhelming dissatisfaction when leading them.
Now, I want to speak to men. Leading your wife and your children isn't easy. It's doubly difficult when your wife doesn't want to follow you. (or your children)
Recently, I watched a husband completely disengage from his wife and children. He was frustrated with his wife's controlling ways. His children didn't want to go to church. They didn't respect him because their mother didn't respect him. They played the system and followed the parent who gave them more of what they wanted. Out of frustration, he became passive and allowed his children to do whatever they wanted and just stayed out of his wife's way to avoid conflict. This epidemic is spreading across our nation. Men are becoming more passive each day due to the degradation of our culture. Wives are getting more frustrated as they try to lead the family and don't understand why they are dissatisfied with a submissive husband who won't lead. It's time for men to rise up and do what God called them to do°..lead.
I want to define the word 'lead'.
The bible doesn't have a detailed list of assignments and descriptors for husbands to read in one chapter so we must glean from various chapters in order to define the word.
Provide and protect
"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
Lead with love
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them" (Colossians 3:19).
Be a considerate leader
"Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers" (1 Peter 3:7).
Discipline without breaking the spirit of your child
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21 (NIV)
Teach Your Children About the Truth of God
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.20Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates,°
So, in short, provide, protect, lead with love, discipline your children gently without breaking their spirit and teach your family about the truths of God. That is the greatest summary of your role as a leader. There is no exception, under any circumstance, where God relieves you of this duty.
"But Matt, my wife doesn't let me lead. What are my choices?"
That's a great question. What are your choices? You can sit in the back of the bus and remove yourself from your role because it's hard. You can give up. You can avoid conflict. You can let other people fill the role God gave you.
You can stay engaged. You can realize your family needs your leadership more now than ever. You can lead them without asking for their permission. You can re-engage carefully and watch them fall into place. You can start over, beginning today. You can get good at it. You can watch them adapt to your new role as their leader. You can build self-esteem.
Your wife will never respect you if you don't try. It's impossible for her to follow you if you don't lead. She will never learn how to give up some control if you give her full control. She won't like it at first but give her time.
The key is to re-engage with the utmost gentleness and sensitivity.
- Tell your wife "I am sorry for not assuming the role of leading and protecting our family, I am going to begin a new journey of leading. I won't always do it right. I will fail. Please be patient and encouraging as I begin my quest."
- Pick a few areas that are precise and measurable, implement changes and stay the course.
- Tell your children the same thing.
- Start reading the bible to your children at bedtime.
- Discipline your children when necessary. (don't make your wife be the only disciplinary one)
- Ask your spouse, "What area can I step it up and lead within the home?"
- Be loving, be loving and be more loving. "It's the secret to the sauce".
- Expect resistance from your family but 'stay the course'. Don't back down. They will begin to respect you.
- Don't yell or expose your temper. It undermines everything.
- Loving remind her you are trying to lead your family, protect them and teach them. Ask her to pray for you and support your new direction.
- Put your arms around your wife occasionally and pray 'over' her.
- Do not become a dictator. (ask your wife for input, process her desires and roll out a plan)
- Compromise when possible.
- Do not be abusive, spiritually, emotionally or physically.
- Call a 'time out' when things get heated then re-engage in a few hours.
In summary, you must assume the role God assigned you as a husband and a father regardless of the compliance of your family. Their defiance may subside (in most cases it does). If it doesn't, stay the course. Get counseling. Realize that giving up your role will never produce favorable results and only exacerbates the problem.
Get into an accountability group with other men for encouragement and accountability. Always take the high road. God will bless you.
Most wives will follow their husband when he engages in this manner. Most wives are deeply impacted when their husbands step up. This path motivates them to respect you more which encourages you to lead and love them more.
If your wife remains completely defiant after months of using this approach, get counseling from a Christian counselor.
Want to go deeper? Sign up for our REFRESH Your marriage online course. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and I will take you both on a journey to help you in all these areas.