How Does Your Spouse Need You to Engage?
It's no secret that in order for a marriage to be successful there has to be leadership from both spouses. But what is a secret is that each spouse wants from the other one engaged leadership in the area of their God-given strengths.
Marriage Secret #3:
"I want my spouse to provide leadership into the marriage in an engaged way."
What does a husband want from his wife? What does a wife need from her husband? Let's find out.
What does a wife need from her husband?
For one thing, a wife desperately wants and needs her husband to be an engaged leader, who provides wisdom instead of giving into his own selfish desires. She needs him to consider his family as a team that needs to be built up. She needs him to not cast blame when things don't go right. And she needs him to provide management of the family, instead of worrying about increasing his own pleasure. In other words, she needs him to manage and act in accordance with what is best for her and the family.
Now, since many women run their families extremely well, it can cause a man to think thoughts like, "Why would I mess up what she's doing such a good job at when I can be over here accomplishing things, like slaying dragons and getting better at my golf game, and working on various other companies that have my attention?" And yet this conflicts with the number one difficulty that I see. Men, your wife married you because you suggested you were going to be engaged in leading this family.
Let me explain where it talks about this very thing in the Bible. Ephesians 5:23 says,
"...for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is also the head of the church and himself being the savior of the body."
It is true that this verse has been used to pummel throughout history, rather than to help increase understanding in the marital relationship. What this verse actually means is that our head is not the actor, but rather it is the coordinator of all that is happening. The head doesn't get to say, "This is what I want to do, so therefore that is what is happening." Instead, the head provides the coordinated engagement of all of the body parts giving appropriate or adequate adjustment to the environment or situation at hand. What God is telling husbands is this: "I want your leadership to be engaged in the coordination of your family and of your marriage, and not just an expression of a distant, 'Okay, she'll just run this now while I go do my thing' attitude." I've said before that God addresses the areas where we need instruction and direction in the Bible knowing that we need help in those areas. This is one area that men need to work on, because it does not come naturally to them.
What does a husband need from his wife?
As far as husbands are concerned, they need their wives to engage as a leader as well. The Bible talks about her significant leadership as being more relational toward the members of the family. Proverbs 31:10-31 is an excellent passage that describes the leadership of a wife and her family's adoration of her. Relational leadership means using your energy, guidance, abilities, and resources to create a great marriage, home, and family that your husband and family longs to be in and with. The goal here is to create the home to be such a place of warmth and welcome for all members of the family that it draws them back.
Now, let me just say that I have worked with a number of marriages in which ladies have done a fine job of leading a family, but it is usually one of which their husband doesn't want to be a part of. In other words, her thoughts, her ideas, and her points of view may be good, and her leadership may be exceptional even, but she's made her home and family a husband-free zone. This kind of leadership is not biblical female leadership. I know that many women believe this is exactly what they are supposed to do, but here is the danger with this belief. If you are engaged in that kind of leadership, what does your husband naturally want to do? Not be there! Men want to be disengaged leaders by nature, that's why the Bible instructs them to engage. Being engaged is something he has to work at. He would rather be out doing all of the other things men like do, but God wants him to be engaged and so should you.
A good marriage needs the leadership energies of both the husband and wife in the areas of their God-given strengths. As a husband, think about whether there are areas in your family that need your engaged leadership. Pray for God to point them out and talk to your wife about where she thinks these might be. Wives, what are some changes you could implement to make the household a more enjoyable place for your husband to be? Where has your leadership gotten out of control? Where is it lacking? Pray for God to show you those areas and also talk to your husband about where he would like to see changes. Give each other permission to speak about this in a non-threatening, open way. You both want the same thing ultimately -- to have a healthy family and marriage and this is one way to get there.
(Taken from an excerpt from Dr. Gil's new book, Marriage Secrets, coming out soon.)
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead. In His service,
Dr. Gil Stieglitz
No one ever said marriage would be easy. But there is help! Dr. Gil offers a variety of marriage resources for husbands, wives, and couples. Becoming a Godly Husband, God's Radical Plan for Wives, and Marital Intelligence are available in print and ebook formats in our online store and at Amazon.com. Order your copies today!