As I encourage women to submit to their husbands, one objection I hear often from them is: “I’ve always been the decision maker in the family and my husband is perfectly comfortable with that.”
I had a discussion with a pastor’s wife a few days ago on this topic. She had been the manager of a bank for many years and was well established in her career. She had become quite accustomed to living at a certain level and because she was used to making decisions in the office, she had transferred those same practices to the home front. When she decided that it was time to retire she was overtaken with fear. Would her husband be able to provide for her adequately? Could she trust his leadership?
After learning submission, though, she said, “I never knew I could feel so protected and cared for . . . It’s like I didn’t have to make things happen anymore. It feels so freeing!”
Her eyes sparkled as she spoke and there was a sense of peace and contentment about her. It was almost as if she had been waiting to exhale all of her life and was finally able to release the pressure of striving, leading, managing, and running it all.
God never intended for us to have to run it all, ladies. His intent was for us to follow our husband’s lead in willing submission. To be sure, any wise husband will want to utilize his wife’s gifts and strengths for the good of the family, but the role of final decision maker and leader for the family rests with the husband.
Some cultures are more matriarchal; and in these cases wives must work hard to resist that natural inclination to take the ball and run with it. We need to empower our men to lead by encouraging them where we see sparks of leadership potential. And we must work hard not to criticize when their efforts at leading fall short. This can be especially difficult if your husband has never accepted the mantle of leadership before.
In Off With the Skirt, On With the Pants, R. C. Sproul says, “Failure to lead, more often than not, is born not of a failure of brains. Rather it stems from a lack of conviction that is manifest either in a fearful acquiescence to the status quo or--far worse--indifference.”
At one particularly difficult time during our marriage, my husband threw up his hands in exasperation and said, “I tell you what we’re going to do! From now on you do what you want to do, and I’ll do what I want to do. I’m not going to keep going back and forth with you about who’s going to lead this family!” I must admit that to part of me that actually sounded like a plan . . . but even at the height of my anger, I knew that it was not what God intended for us. So, I said to him, “Regardless of whether I’m having a hard time with submission or not, you don’t have the option of abdicating your responsibility to lead this family!”
And that was it—a stake that we drove into the foundation of our marriage that I return to often as a reminder that it is his part to lead and my part to follow. By God’s grace, we have modeled that before our four children and nine grandchildren, and it has been our joy and great delight to see how they have applied these truths in their own marriages.
How about you? Can you thank God for your husband’s leadership? If you are accustomed to leading, can you trust Him by standing down and encouraging your husband to lead?