23 April 2012

My Wife is More Qualified to Be the Boss in Our Marriage

Husbands with strong, capable wives may feel awkward about stepping up to the plate as the leader of the marriage. After all, the wife may be wiser and more intelligent than the husband. She may think faster, be more decisive, and be oozing the kind of confidence he only dreams of. She may earn more money. She may be better at DIY tasks. She may even know how to fix his car better than he can do it himself. Surely in cases like this the wife is more qualified to be in charge, if anyone has to be in charge.

The first thing to settle is whether anyone should be in charge at all. After all, don't we live in a modern society where women and men have the same rights? Why should one person be in charge of the relationship, while the other has to follow?

The model of the husband as the leader and the wife as the follower is associated with Christianity. References to this model can be found in the Bible. Examples of these references are included below. This model in no way suggests that men are better than women. It doesn't even suggest that men are born to be more capable leaders than women. Instead, this model assigns different responsibilities to the marriage partners. The marriage roles are well defined: the husband is to be the leader with authority, and the wife is to obey and submit to the leader.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

It is clear that Christian couples have a distinct and simple model that they need to apply to their marriage. But what about non-Christian couples who don't base their lifestyle choices on the Bible? What does the secular community think about shared leadership?

Michael D. Kocolowski presents an interesting study entitled "Shared Leadership: Is it Time for a Change?". This study explores shared leadership in various contexts. While shared leadership has proved successful in a handful of corporate, health, and education environments, it is universally recognized as a far from perfect solution to leadership struggles. This study shows that one of the biggest challenges is faced when joint leaders cannot agree on priorities. Irreconcilable differences impede the decision-making process, sometimes stopping all forward progress. Now transfer this knowledge to marriage. 

In a perfect, theoretical marriage, like-minded partners would always agree on everything. Your marriage partner would think exactly like you do. But the reality is that no two, sound-minded adults who enter into marriage are ever so perfectly aligned that they don't disagree on some matters. What happens when these disagreements about priorities occur in a marriage with shared leadership? Who gets what they want and who ends up disappointed? What happens when neither partner will back down? Divorce?  

It seems that irrespective of your faith or belief-system, a marriage is more likely to succeed if one partner leads and the other submits.

21 April 2012

The Wife as Head of the Home

Why do so many wives end up as the unofficial head of their homes? I believe that the general answer is because the wives are doing what needs to be done.

The husband is the God-appointed leader of the marriage (See Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."). The husband has the authority to lead, even if he doesn't feel like he is qualified for the job. 

The wife doesn't possess the husband's authority, but that doesn't mean she cannot or will not lead. If the husband fails to step up to the challenge of leadership, the position of leader begs to be filled. In the same way that the husband is appointed the leader of the marriage, the wife is by default appointed the second-in-command. If the commander fails to report for duty, it falls on the shoulders of the second-in-command to take up the reins.

Why are the women leading their homes? Quite simply because the men do not.

My Wife Told Me to Do It

There is a story of a man who died and went to heaven to find two signs above two different lines. One sign said: "ALL THOSE MEN WHO HAVE BEEN DOMINATED BY THEIR WIVES, STAND HERE." That line of men seemed to stretch off through the clouds into infinity. The second sign read: "ALL THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN DOMINATED BY THEIR WIVES, STAND HERE." Underneath the sign stood one man. He went over to the man, grabbed his arm and said, "What's the secret, how did you do it? That other line has millions of men and you are the only one standing in this line." The man looked around with a puzzled expression and said, "Why, I am not sure I know. My wife just told me to stand here." (Borrowed from What Should Be the Husband's Role in Marriage.)

Why does this story tickle our funny bone? Perhaps because it smacks of the truth? Perhaps because many husbands and wives can identify with it?

How many wives have you heard complain of being dominated by their husbands? Yet it is not uncommon to be amongst men and hear moaning about "mothering", "being hen-pecked", "told what to do", "not allowed to do what I want" etc.. If men are so uncomfortable with being led by their wives, why don't they take the lead in their marriage? Could it be because they don't know how to lead, or is it because they really don't want to bear the responsibility of leadership?

20 April 2012

What Makes for a Peaceful Home?

Respect. At the core of every peaceful home and happy marriage you will find respect. Respect is not something you have or an entity you can hold onto, like your marriage license. It’s quite simply the act of giving particular attention or holding in high regard. It’s something you DO. And if it’s not something that comes easily to you, all is not lost. Fortunately, respect is something you can learn to do.

What if you don’t respect your wife or husband? After all, some people just don't seem to deserve respect, right? Without respect, a marriage quickly degrades into bickering. Husbands start to whine about how their wives don’t respect them and always second-guess them. Wives nag, because they convince themselves that that their husbands don’t listen to them. The bickering, whining, and nagging becomes a slippery slope to occasional heated arguments. In time, if respect is left out of the relationship, the occasional insults and angry outbursts become a daily event. In no time, you wake up to find that your once happy marriage has evolved into a constant battle you would rather avoid.

Is it too late if my marriage is already a war zone? Respect is an act of our will, so you can introduce respect into your marriage today. The first step towards respecting your marriage partner is taken when you choose to put them ahead of yourself. Sound familiar? It should - that’s the choice of an unselfish person. Selfish folk always put themselves first. For selfish people, it’s always about what they want or what is good for them. To start the process of developing respect for your partner, ask yourself what he/she might want or what would be good for them. Then make the choice and initiate the act of GIVING them what is best for them. Not only will be you blessing your partner, but you will taking a step towards having the kind of peaceful marriage you long for.
Is a peaceful marriage attainable? It certainly is if you will be the courageous partner who takes the first step.

19 April 2012

Old Fashioned Marriage Starts with a Vow

Once upon a time, marriage started with vows that went something like this:

I, [the groom] , take you, [the bride], to be my wife,
to have and to hold from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law.
I, [the bride] , take you, [the groom], to be my husband,
to have and to hold from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love, cherish, and obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy law.

Couples entered the marriage knowing how binding their promise would be. Their vows left no backdoors for divorce if the going got tough. When you married, you committed yourself wholeheartedly to staying together until your partner died. Husbands took on the responsibility to love, protect, guide and lead their wives. Wives accepted the responsibility to love and honor their husbands, and agreed to express this honor through their submission to their husbands' authority. Is marriage with this level of commitment still possible in our modern society? Can couples of all ages have old fashioned marriages that don't stifle them? How do modern wives get their husbands to take the lead in the home? How to modern husbands get their wives to submit to them? Do marriages with gender-specific roles really work? We're on a journey to find those answers. Join us as we explore the mystery of the old fashioned marriage that works.