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Why Wives Don't Want To Lead and Husbands Don't Want To Follow

Marriage - Advice
Episode Two: Wives want to be led but don't want to follow.
Why Wives Don't Want To Lead and Husbands Don't Want To Follow

In the first episode, we unpacked scriptures showing us how God designed order to the family unit.

In this episode, I want to help you understand why women don't want to be led but don't want to follow.


Before you get upset at the idea, please read it to the end with an open heart. God installed an order that brings you protection, comfort, and blessings to you and your family unit however your flesh (selfish nature) fights against that order. A wife truly wants her husband to lead but her flesh gets in the way and at times, won't let him.


I want to provide a deeper look at the curses God bestowed upon mankind due to their original sin in the garden when Adam and Eve fell to temptation and how those curses directly apply to your struggles in marriage.


After the fall of man (and women), God created consequences. Pay very close attention to those curses.


(Genesis 3:14-20) (God's curses after Adam and Eve sinned)

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel." 16 To the woman, he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor, you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

17 To Adam, he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
 and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food
until you return to the ground since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust, you will return." 20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.22 And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.


In Genesis 3:16 To the woman he (God) said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor, you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."


Because of God's curse, the man had to work by the sweat of his brow, got kicked out of the garden and the woman would suffer childbearing pain and she would have a 'desire for her husband' yet he would rule over her.


Most theologians believe 'desire' for her husband isn't reflecting something positive, such as a desire for intimacy through sexual relations or love but rather something negative, she will desire control.  


Some think it means she may have a desire for real intimacy with her husband however, begin to resent his role of leadership over her. Either way, the outcome is the same. It's negative.


I think it means either she will have a 'desire' for his position of authority or resent his authority while she has a 'desire' for him.


Notice in the second half of verse 16 it says "and he will rule over you''.


It wouldn't make sense if in this array of detriments that God would place a positive reinforcing statement of blessing, meaning the term "your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you" is a consequence of their eating the forbidden fruit. It's a negative outcome.


In simple human terms, it makes sense for women to feel angry at the idea that they should fall under the leadership of their husband. Who wants to be 'ruled over' by another person? Nobody, however your feelings should be irrelevant, God's word and his order should be your compass. Look at it through the lenses of blessings, protection and provision. When your husband leads, those are the outcomes.


If we can back up far enough, we would realize that if we follow God's order, amazing blessings occur. Here are a few blessings when a wife yields to God's design and allows her husband to lead.


  • He rises up to the occasion
  • He feels respected and is incentivized to do well
  • She respects him more (even if he isn't perfect)
  • He puts in more effort at protecting, providing and loving her
  • It stimulates real intimacy
  • She feels more secure and cared for


By no means does this mean he can run over her like a bulldozer. Not at all. Again, as a disclaimer, I do not teach wives to follow their husband's lead when they are abusive, on the contrary, they should get out from under the abuse and get help. With that in mind, let's talk about all other cases.


Other Reasons Wives Don't Want to Follow Husbands

  • He isn't leading at all or is leading poorly
  • He is too slow
  • He is too fast
  • He is a poor decision maker
  • He takes too many risks
  • He isn't a Christian
  • He is irresponsible
  • He is selfish
  • He wants control
  • He is lazy
  • He is horrible at managing money
  • He is a sinner
  • He isn't leading the way I would lead


These are all real issues that prick your heart. By no means do I think this is easy. If your husband is struggling with any of these things, I am sorry.


The root problem in your mind is 'he isn't doing his part'. Maybe that's true. If it is, it doesn't make God's order null and void. It just makes it more challenging for you.  


Sure, you can take over. Sure, you can lead. Sure, you may be a better leader than him but after weeks and months, you will grow weary and begin to disrespect him with imbittered feelings even when he becomes submissive and lets you do whatever you want. You won't like it. Something inside of you knows it's broken but you aren't sure what it is or how to fix it. If you stay on this path, nothing will change, he will never lead.


The solution isn't for wives to take charge, that only offers temporary relief.

The solution is for you to double down on following him. Nothing will inspire him more. Nothing will challenge him more. Nothing will push him more than if you say "Regarding the financial, spiritual and relational develop of our family, I am putting it in your (and God's) hands. I will try to follow you fully. I will share my thoughts carefully but it's up to you from now on".


You can pray for him. You can respectfully give him your opinions. You can still lead parts and pieces in the relationship that make sense but you must let go and put the heavy burden upon him, then give him time to adapt. Encourage him. Praise him when he does good. Carefully share with him your concerns when he does bad.


When you let him lead, he is on the HOOK. When you take charge, you are letting him off the HOOK. Later in scripture, especially after Jesus dies on the cross, there is much teaching on how husbands must lead with love, kindness, consideration and patience and how wives can follow their husbands with gentleness and caution. (1st Peter chapters 2 and 3)


So, there you go. Hopefully, this helps you understand why you want him to lead but don't want to follow. This explains the internal tension a woman has regarding the word submission. She has a God-given feeling of relief when she follows her man however her flesh often rages against this order that God created, reminding us of the consequences of the original sin, "she will have a desire for her husband and he will rule over her".

Encouragement to wives: Please have an open heart and understand the spirit in which I am delivering this post. It's not to be legalistic, dogmatic or lobby for selfish outcomes for me or for husbands. It's to help you see why this tension is inside of you. It's real and for many, it's fierce. Most of it has nothing to do with your husband's performance, it's mostly a reflection of the original sin and it's an internal battle between your flesh and the spirit of God that's in you.


Final Thought

Not letting your husband lead, even if he isn't a great leader is hurting you and your family. It isn't motivating him and probably never will. I would ask you to have a short conversation with him then for a few weeks, months journal his changes. Here it is.

"Hey babe, after learning more about my role as your wife, I have realized I need to follow your leadership better. Starting now, I am going to let you lead our family fully. I am asking you to take the lead, relationally, physically, sexually, spiritually and even as a parent to our children. I am excited for you and will commit to my role as being your helpmate as best I can. Lastly, I will lift you up in prayer as we make these changes."

In future episodes, I am going to give you some specific steps to take on how to follow your husband more, even if it's hard. Even if he's not a great leader and what to do if it backfires and he fails to put any effort into it. The outcome will be amazing as God will give you comfort and blessings beyond measure, even if your husband flounders.

Hang in there.



Want to refresh your marriage? 

Join Matt and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs as they will take you through a new online course called REFRESH Your Marriage. 
You will gain access to a Marriage Health Assessment, 15 teaching videos, and downloadable handouts. 


Topics for you to explore:  Communication | Problem Solving | Sex | Faith | Parenting | In-Laws | Lifestyle | Money | Friends .and many more. 


CLICK HERE to sign up.

Scriptures: Genesis 3:14-20

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Why Wives Don't Want to Lead and Husbands Don't Want To Follow!

Matt Loehr • Marriage - Advice
Episode One: God Designed It That Way
Why Wives Don't Want to Lead and Husbands Don't Want To Follow!



I know this subject may provoke some emotions but before you cast any judgment, please read the whole post. We must begin by establishing a few biblical standards in order to proceed. I believe God created the earth and everything in it. If we don't believe that, the rest of this post will not make sense. When God created the earth, he installed an order to everything. I believe there is a natural feeling in women that are created by God shouting out "I want my husband to lead our family". Equally, there is a natural feeling in men shouting out "I don't want my wife to lead (control) me".  Both of these emotions are healthy and probably inspired by God and his design. 

Before you get sideways, here are a few quick disclaimers. 

  • ???????Wives often lead because their husbands aren't. 
  • Wives can and should lead many functions within marriage even though they're operating under the overall leadership of their husbands.
  • A proper husband's leadership style does not equate to control, dictating and dominating his wife with no regard to her opinion or feelings. 
  • There are exceptions to the rule, some women may want to lead and some men may want to follow. We will discuss this later.

???????With the disclaimers in mind, let's take a peek at some scriptures. 


Genesis 1:28

God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."


He gave authority and power to humans to pro-create and rule over the animals. 


1st Peter 2: 13-14

 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.


He commands us all to fall under the leadership of human authority, including our boss, our government and its laws. 


Genesis 3:16

To the woman, he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor, you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."


Ephesians 5:21-25

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her


He established a leadership position for husbands within a marriage which provides a shield of protection over their wives. In Ephesians 5, Paul teaches us to mutually submit out of reverence for Christ. This is a general spirit of cooperation, that we would revere Christ in our actions towards each other, however, Paul elaborates even further encouraging wives to follow their husband's overall leadership and in return husbands offer an abundance of love towards their wives even unto death as Christ gave up his life for us. 





Now that we've established the origin of truth and why we feel the way we do, let's unpack it in a relevant way. Most women I meet (especially Christians) would say "YES" to the question "Do you want your husband to lead you and your family?". 


Why don't wives want to lead? 


First: God Designed It That Way. (as already stated above)


Second: Wives Are Motivated by Love and Security

Most women have a desire for security and protection within the context of marriage. When a husband has the initiative to provide (work), protect and lead his family she feels more loved and secure, especially when he initiates spiritual leadership. 


Third: Wives Want Husbands to Engage

When a husband takes a leadership role, that means he engages with his wife and children verbally. Wives (mothers) are deeply impacted in a good way when they see their husband verbally speak into the life of the children. 


Fourth: Wives Can't Do It All

It's exhausting. Wives have a thousand things swirling around in their heads every hour of every day. "Did I pack the kid's lunch? What time do they need to be picked up? What groceries do we need for dinner? Did I pay the bills this week? When am I going to vacuum, clean and do the laundry?" and on and on it goes. When a husband engages and takes on some things that are important regarding the family's success, it provides relief to his wife. 


Why don't husbands want to follow?  


First: God Designed It That Way (as mentioned above)


Second: They Feel Disrespected

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs couldn't have said it better when writing his book Love and Respect. Respect for a man is like fuel for a fighter jet. If his wife is in full control and he is passive, it's unlikely she respects him and it's unlikely he has any motivation to lead. Men don't want to follow their wife's direction, not because they are wrong. Not because they aren't smart but because God made men to lead and it's unbiblical for a man to be lazy and sit in the back seat with his wife running the family. She will do it but not happily. She will do it but as one person, she can't do it well because of the kaleidoscope of other emotions pulling at her every second of every day. She will lead if she has to, but she will become imbittered and start to resent her husband. Husbands don't want to follow because God made them that way and they are motivated by respect, however, if they aren't leading it creates a crazy cycle where she disrespects him and he becomes even more unmotivated to lead. We will unpack this cycle later. 


Third: Because It's Embarrassing

One time I saw my friend in the coffee shop of our church. Sam was a young executive for a world-wide company recently wed to his wife Jenny. They were halfway up a staircase going to a bible class when she loudly shouted at him, "SAM, go get me a cup of coffee, NOW!" He bolted down the stairs and ran to the coffee machine, poured her a cup and hustled back up the stairs. She stood still with a scowl on her face the whole time. After snapping the cup out of his hand, she rolled her eyes and stomped up the remaining steps. Sam followed sheepishly with his head down. Everybody looked on with amazement. 


I have yet to see a husband enjoy the feeling of being bossed around by his wife, especially when his friends are watching. It is embarrassing for him, even if it's warranted that she takes charge due to his lazy ways. It's also embarrassing for him when his children watch mommy tell him what to do all the time, coupled with complaints and criticism. It chips away at the core of his soul. Men thrive on accomplishments, seizing the hills of life, conquering the next challenge, building the next solution to life's problems. It doesn't matter if a man works at McDonald's or owns McDonald's, both men want their wives to feel proud of their work and their attempt to provide and protect. It's embarrassing for a man to submit to a strong wife of control sprinkled with her array of demands and criticisms. 


Fourth: It Deteriorates Self-esteem 

Outside of childhood experiences and the impact parents have on them, a husband's wife becomes the most significant person in his life regarding his personal self-esteem. He doesn't want to hand over the reins to her because he has a God-given sense exposing the detriment of not leading his own family knowing it will crush his own self-esteem. Even if he is a poor leader, he doesn't want her to run the show. Even if he is not leading at all, he doesn't want her to lead. Many husbands would rather pay the consequences of no leadership at all in his family rather than let his wife lead. I am not encouraging this, just disclosing my observation. Why? Some would call it ego, others would call it insecurity. Either way, his self-esteem is lessened every day he chooses not to lead or his wife doesn't let him because he isn't good enough. 




So, there it is. These principles aren't new. God designed them in the beginning. We must adapt to them and let them become a part of our life so we can receive the benefits. We will be unpacking this even more in the upcoming episodes. I want to inspire men to lead and wives to follow so God's promises and blessings will be poured out. 


Guard against liberal teaching, worldly concepts and all that deteriorates God's design. The equal rights movement is harming women more than they will ever know as it deludes the importance of husbands and their role in the family unit. Women lose out on the benefits of having a spiritually loving leader in their home and all the blessings that come with him protecting, providing and leading her family. 


Please pray that your heart is open to the following topics in the upcoming episodes.


How to lead a wife who doesn't want to follow. 

How to follow a husband who doesn't want to lead. 

Motivating your husband to lead.

Motivating your wife to follow.




Want to refresh your marriage? 

Join Matt and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs as they will take you through a new online course

Called REFRESH Your Marriage. 

You will gain access to a Marriage Health Assessment, 15 teaching videos, and downloadable handouts. 


Topics for you to explore:  Communication | Problem Solving | Sex | Faith | Parenting | In-Laws | Lifestyle | Money | Friends .and many more. 


CLICK HERE to sign up. 




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