What are some of the characteristics of loving leadership in marriage?
Last week, we looked at submission in marriage, specifically what it’s not. In case you missed the post, please read it here.
Today I want look at the husband’s responsibility because the question that comes up after talking about submission is “so who is teaching the husband how to lead?“
The thing about love and submission as written in Ephesians is that they are meant to go together. Husband and wife “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and then wife submits to her husband and husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church.
The wife will find it easier to submit when she feels loved and cherished and the husband will find it easier to shower love when he’s feeling respected and supported.
Now, caveat; the Bible doesn’t tell us to only love when we feel loved or submit when we feel like our husbands deserve it. Like we said last week, these roles are not earned.
Obviously, we must exercise good judgement (Read this post When Your Husband Behaves Like a Child). But a lot of times, have to choose the right thing even when we feel like we are getting a good deal or not.
Understanding Leadership in Marriage
In understanding submission, I’ve found it important to understand how loving leadership in marriage looks like, as well as the kind of challenges a man has to overcome in order to lead his home.
Here they are, 8 characteristics of loving leadership in marriage.
1. A husband has to value responsibility, not power
Someone aptly said that God did not remove a woman from a man’s feet so that he could walk all over her but from his side so that he can protect her.
Headship in marriage has got everything to do with responsibility, not power. A man who understands this responsibility nurtures, protects and seeks the good of those under his wing.
Husbands who belittle, demean, and ‘lord it over” their wives in the name of “headship” have mistaken responsibility for power and are not walking in truth.
2. He loves his wife – sacrificially and tenderly
While a loving husband values his wife as an equal, he also recognizes that his bride is more than a partner.
She is a treasure; different and feminine. Christ loved the church that He died for her and husbands are instructed to love their brides in the same manner.
Someone might look at the church today and think “it’s a mess; it’s not worth dying for.”
From the outside it might look like a mess but the mess was worth dying for, in God’s books. So He sent His Son to die and now according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
This is the type of love a husband has been charged to show his wife; to see beyond the “mess” and do the loving thing. This love will mean fighting to overcome barriers to love; like ego, preferences, hobbies, opinions etc.
3. He stays intentionally invested in his marriage
When my husband and I were courting, he was on top of his wooing game. Most men usually are. And then we got married and he’s had to learn how to pursue a woman he already has.
The man that seeks to lovingly lead his marriage and home has to make intentional effort to stay in “pursuit and woo mode” in marriage.
Because it is a difficult thing, to pursue what he already has. Yet as he applies himself, he learns of the reward of pursuing the woman of his dreams. Because seasons change and the shifts reveal a different aspect of the woman he married.
He also learns that it’s the small, seemingly-unimportant things that matter to his wife.
Like asking about her day (and listening as she talks about it), preferring her above something he likes, helping her, arranging for a date, generally finding out what makes her tick. And then giving it to her.
4. He’s willing to learn leadership
Leadership and steering a home is something most men learn. Crazy as it might sound, it’s not all hardwired.
We wives tend to forget that the same way we learn to die to self and graciously submit to our husbands is the same way our husbands have to learn to die to fears, anxieties and lovingly pick up the leadership mantle.
It’s a skill, habit and grace that’s learned and refined over time; God has given men the capacity to lead and live out their roles but they have to dig in, step out in faith and embrace it.
5. He sacrifices
As the head of the marriage and home, husbands carry a huge bulls eye on their back.
Through a culture and society gone awry to worldly wisdom to our fallen nature, the enemy of our soul is ferocious and relentless in his attacks on men.
Men who desire to lovingly lead the home accept the responsibility to fight these outside influences in order to win the battle for their marriage and home.
They fight to stay biblical, committed, involved.
Wives who understand this warfare will stay longer on their knees praying, than they will on their feet trying to argue their case and change their men.
6. He desires to win the battle of his soul
Husbands who desire to offer loving leadership in marriage understand that they cannot take their relationship where they’ve never been.
To lead and love well, they must be well first. So they dig deep into their relationship with God.
They wrestle, seek answers and peace for the soul questions – who am I, am I enough, do I have what it takes, what’s next.
They learn to recognize these battles and go to the Source that can supply the answers: their heavenly Father.
7. He knows loving leadership doesn’t have to be perfect
No one leads perfectly. No one follows perfectly.
Learning the way of marriage – the loving and submission dynamic – is a process, not an event.
A man invested in the success of his marriage will not give up, even when his efforts appear unrewarded. Even when he falls, he picks himself up and plods on, acknowledging that his wife did not call him to leadership, God did.
He presses through even when the journey is painstakingly slow, difficult and imperfect.
8. He tries to understand he’s not the answer
Many wives come into marriage with scars, bumps, wounds, nicks – the result of living life in a fallen world.
A loving husband supports and encourages healing and growth but also acknowledges that he’s not her answer.
Not every wife will have obvious scars of course but wherever he finds himself, a loving husband knows he cannot fix his bride.
Especially because many times all she might be wanting is a listening ear, not a solution.
Questions – What does loving leadership look like to you? What challenges does your husband have to overcome to be the leader God called him to be?
Also check out the follow up posts Submission and Leadership: when one spouse won’t do their part and 21 Best Pieces of Advice For The Newlywed Husband
If your husband struggles to lead or you struggle to submit, make sure to pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After In The Early Years. In the book, we learn how to thrive in our roles. Plus more! If you are tired of fussing and distance in marriage, if you want to restore joy, healing and happiness to your marriage or perhaps you just want to break out of an average and mediocre marriage, my book can set you on that road. Buy it here Amazon Paperback I Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF