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.

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