(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Relationships are complicated, and marriages can feel like a mystery that’s difficult to solve. Both husbands and wives can behave in ways that unintentionally undermine their marriages. The first part of this series examined what wives needed from their husbands, why husbands fail to lead, and why then wives take on the primary leadership role. This second part explores why women pick submissive men and why certain men choose dominant women.
Why Some Women Pick Passive Husbands
In some cases, women have a dominant personality that is reflected in all her relationships including her marriage. Picking a submissive husband allows a wife to continue acting comfortably on her natural tendencies. Unfortunately, what at first appears as a mutually agreed upon distribution of control ends up with the women disrespecting her man, because a wife has difficulty respecting a husband whom she can control.
A women’s dominate nature within the marriage can also be modeled from childhood. A wife, whose mother wore “the pants” in the family, at least subtly internalized that the wife leads the family. As is more frequent during these times of divorce, a girl who was raised in a single working mom home is likely conditioned to be the head of household and bring those expectations into her own marriage.
Some women have a fear of being controlled. If a wife experienced trauma or abuse as a child and makes a vow to never be in that type of relationship, she is likely to pick a passive husband whom she can control. Her fear of being controlled manifests in her being the controller.
Why Men Sometimes Pick Dominant Women
In my premarital and marriage coaching practice, I encounter couples where the husband’s passivity in the relationship causes stress with his wife. Similar to the dominant wife, a passive husband may naturally have a passive personality preference or this behavior could have been mis-modeled by his parents.
However, one of the more common reasons why men fail to lead is because they don’t know how. They haven’t practiced it. Their parents over-nurtured them, and these sons are just continuing these submissive behaviors into their marriages. In some ways, these men were dominated by their parents—not allowed to grow in their responsibilities and express themselves without parental influence. Submissive men were likely not allowed to make decisions and live with the consequences. Likely they were rescued when outcomes weren’t favorable.
When boys reach adulthood without adequate leadership experiences and training, they typically gravitate toward living out childhood behaviors as opposed to taking on adult roles. These non-leadership behaviors are more comfortable.
Change Your Marriage by Meeting Your Husband’s Needs
If you’re a dominant wife married to a passive husband, you can change the dynamics of your marriage. Your marriage is under your control. Evans (2012) suggests that wives allow their husbands to fail. Failure is part of the learning process. In response, pray for him and treat him better than he deserves. Praise him for trying. A husband will rise to a women’s level of praise and honor.
As leadership is rebalanced within the marriage, husbands and wives can then focus on meeting each other’s primary marriage needs. Most men have a need for sex and recreational companionship. They want to be buddies with their wife. On the other hand, wives value affection and intimate conversation from their husband. Both spouses need to strive in meeting each other’s needs to create a purposeful and spiritually led marriage.
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.