(Part 1 in a 3-Part Series)
Most of my leadership focus has been with paying clients who want to work on their leadership skills in the area that pays the bills, yet neglect investing in their most important relationships at home. What’s more important: spouse, family, or work?
The sad truth is that some men are succeeding at work and failing in their marriages. They pour time and energy into work—justifying to themselves they are sacrificing for their families. The more they feel like a failure at home, the more they gravitate toward work where they get acceptance, appreciation, and recognition. At home they feel like a failure when they receive criticism and negative feedback.
Why a Man’s Leadership at Home is So Important
A man’s leadership at home is a topic dear to my own heart as well as from sentiments shared with me by couples receiving relationship and marriage coaching. I am a child, sister, wife, mother, and ultimate survivor of poor leadership, and lucky for me a winning, well-led, later-in-life wife.
Although a man’s leadership is an important part of God’s design for marriage, I believe this truth transcends all faiths based on my experiences while an agnostic for the first 48 years of life and Christian for the last eight. My stories of male leadership have spanned (1) a father who disappeared from my life when I was 6 years old, (2) a stepfather and mother who divorced after he failed to work either inside or outside the home, (3) my now ex-husband who refused to work at 52 while he expected me to be the sole family provider for another 26 years, and (4) my second husband of more than 5 years who exemplifies a true leader who I willingly follow.
When husbands don’t lead themselves and their families, everyone suffers. Marriages can breakdown, divorce creeps into conversations, wives and children can feel physically and emotionally abandoned. At best an overwhelming sense of apathy takes hold within the family culture. Women become frustrated and fearful, and sons never have a role model to learn what it means to be a true leader.
What do Wives Need from Their Husbands?
You’ve probably heard that women are complex but men are simple. I would argue that women are also easy to understand, if a husband can accept his wife’s needs are very different than his. What do women in general need from their husbands? First, and foremost, Evans (2012) states women want (1) security, (2) affection, (3) open communication, and (4) leadership. What is the most common compliant expressed in marriage counseling? Lack of leadership.
Wives’ Leadership Needs
Women want to be led by a caring and righteous man throughout their lives (Evans, 2012). Leading does not imply and suggest domination or control. Women want to be led spiritually, financially, and with the discipline/training of their children. When wives do not get the leadership they crave, they become frustrated, which typically results in them nagging to get what they so desperately want. When a wife is forced to take on the leadership of the family along with her wifely and motherly duties, she becomes resentful.
Some women have difficulty allowing their husbands to lead based on their own traumas and insecurities which drive them to control everything in their lives. The best marriages are those where a man leads by treating and consulting with his wife as an equal partner. He seeks her input; they have healthy discussion and debate; her desires are seriously regarded; the full impact on the family is considered in any decision he makes. The happiest Christian couples would likely say their marriage is 50/50, with the husband getting an extra 1% when they need a tie-breaker decision.
Next Up in the Series
Leadership is a complex subject, because it involves people and the current manifestations of their personal histories and relationships. This article lays the foundation on why it’s important for men to lead in their marriage and families. Women want to be led—led in the right way. Living out good leadership is not as easy as understanding its importance, so stay tuned for the next parts in this three-part series.
- Why some men fail to lead
- How men can change and learn to lead well?
For readers who may be wondering whether there is help for destructive women—those who refuse to be led by their husbands. Yes, and that is another series.
Evans, J. (2012) Marriage on the Rock: God’s Design for Your Dream Marriage. Dallas, TX: MarriageToday
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.