Can Laid-Back Men Lead?

I got married as I was completing my doctorate in clinical psychology. I was one driven, serious woman on a mission to save the world. My husband, Mike, on the other hand, was far more laid-back. I was drawn to his fun-loving, “surfer-dude” nature—he helped me relax and enjoy life. But within the first year of marriage, this contrast started causing big problems . . . and I knew it. I was taking over everything.

About that time I read a quote that haunted me:

“The only thing worse than being married to a man you can’t control is being married to a man you can control.”

I knew something had to change quickly, but how could I as a driven, accomplished woman rely on my laid-back husband for leadership and direction? Frankly, I felt I was more qualified to set the course for our young family. But, I couldn’t square that with what I knew the Bible taught.

Was God asking me to be “less” than who I was so my husband could lead?

As I struggled through this dilemma, God began to show me the problem wasn’t my ability, personality, or competence, but my power—and how I was using it. 

I had the power to build or destroy my husband’s confidence as a leader. God never asked me to lay down my power, but to channel it wisely. He showed me that every strength I have can either be used to compete with Mike or to complete him.

How this played out in our marriage practically would take an entire book to describe (that book just happens to be Finding the Hero in Your Husband). But one example is how I began to see leadership in a new way.

I had always assumed that leadership meant being decisive, opinionated, and goal-oriented. That did not describe Mike as a young husband, so I assumed he wasn’t much of a natural leader.

Then God showed me how Mike was equipped to lead me in different ways—ways I desperately needed. I needed a man who could protect me from myself, from my drivenness and compulsion. While I used to see Mike’s laid-back personality as a lack of leadership, I began to see it as God’s provision for me. Instead of fighting against Mike’s different approach, I invited him to teach me.

Since then, I have such a heart for other women to catch a glimpse of their powerful influence in marriage! As Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.”

Your husband desperately wants to be your hero—to be a competent and confident leader—and you hold a powerful key to unlocking that hero. The question is, what are you doing with your strengths and influence? Do you criticize or dominate your husband out of fear and frustration, or do you seek God’s help to use your power wisely?

About the Author

Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and the president/co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry devoted to reclaiming God's design for sexuality. In 2020, Juli launched, a platform designed to help Christian leaders navigate sexual issues … read more …

Join the Discussion