Modern society doesn't raise up men; it raises little boys in men's bodies. This happens for a number of reasons. I'll briefly summarize a few:
As Jordan Peterson notes, there is a responsibility-reward dynamic. Men are taught to bear the responsibility, but they are no longer being given the reward, which has gradually been snatched away by feminism. So, what motive does a man have to keep bearing responsibility anymore? None. So, he revolts and lives in his mother's basement playing video games all day until he's in his 50s, she dies, and he doesn't know what to do with his life anymore.
Relational dynamics put an incredible amount of pressure on men to compete for female attention. Per the Pareto Principle, only 20% of men will garner the attraction of 80% of the women. That's stiff competition, so many men just bow out altogether and take the minimum that happens to come along. Unpleased with the fact that they settled rather than competed for a win, they feel no compulsion to thrive as a leader in the household, so they placate themselves with other things instead.
Through social scripting, most men are conditioned to adopt blue pill fantasies about marriage and sexuality. When they do get married, they discover that real life is nothing like what the world told them it would be. Disillusioned with their circumstances, they either throw in the towel and become submissive to the active influence of their wives or they keep aspiring to live up to the wrong standard of what they think their wife wants (i.e. unspoken, passive influence) rather than what would actually fix their marriage.
Many masculine traits have been associated with criminal conduct so strongly that it puts men at risk to express them. For example, if a man is assertive and dominant in his relationships, as he should be, if she should ever make up false rape or domestic violence charges, there would be a large history of assertiveness and dominance that courts and psychologists would take as evidence of the propensity he has for violence, greatly increasing the likelihood of conviction. So, men are forced to set aside any lifestyle that would allow her to build a case for false charges later on.
I could keep going, but you get the point. This post isn't about how men grow up to become children. It's about what a woman can do when she finds herself in this position.
Why write a post directed at women? Because this is the #1 most asked question I get among women: "My husband is beta and won't lead. How can I help him become the leader God wants him to be without being a nag or compromising my role as a submissive helper to him?"
FRAME AND INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY
The most recent person to ask this question to me noted: "this is clearly a period of growth for him and for me and for us together" (emphasis added).
The first thing of importance is to recognize that there are only two frames at work: his and hers. There is no "theirs." The "us together" bit doesn't actually exist. When couples talk in "us" and "we" language like that, it has the ability to disassociate personal responsibility from the problem. Consider the following common complaints:
"We have communication issues." No, one or both of you independently have problems with how you talk. There is no "we" solution to the problem. "We" is not a collective and unified designation, or there wouldn't be a problem in the first place. Who is "we"? In reality, you and him must each individually take responsibility for solving whatever you're each contributing to the problem, whether the issue is in communication skills, methodology, frequency, expectations, etc.
"We have a sex problem." No, you have a sex problem. You don't like sex the way he does. He doesn't like sex the way she does. It's not a "we" problem. It's individual preferences colliding. For the longest time, my wife was perfectly content with our sex life while I was frustrated, bitter, and resentful because of it. She didn't have a sex problem. I did. When I termed it as a "we" problem, I was trying to shoulder responsibility on her for my emotional dissatisfaction. When we eventually transitioned to a sex life founded on my expectations and desires, interestingly she still didn't have a problem with our sex life - I just solved my problem. It was never "our" problem in the first place, though. For some people, both people do have a problem, though. My point is that this isn't a "joint" problem - it's mutual individual problems on the same issue.
COLLIDING FRAMES AND THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE
Any time someone communicates a "we" problem it usually boils down to a frame issue. Two people are crashing their frames into each other. Both frames are breaking, but neither are broken yet. This is perceived as a problem, as both of them insists that the other get into their frame.
The "we" of it is when they try to reach a compromise. Compromise is not always bad. There's a lot of value in compromise. But the core of compromise is that he's conforming his frame to look a little more like hers in exchange for her conforming her frame to look a little more like his. It inherently assumes some degree of breaking frame - unless a person genuinely agrees that the compromise position is better than his/her original position. Then it's just improving one's own frame.
But most marital compromises are not a genuine change-of-heart; they're a partial sacrifice for the "greater good of the relationship" that doesn't actually involve anyone changing their minds on the original point.
In short, stop thinking in "we" terms and recognize that you each have your own frame. Rather than insisting that you try to create a new "marital frame" for you both to live in, recognize that it's his or hers and a decision must be made. Once the decision is made, then it's merely a matter of improving the frame.
Biblically, that decision should be that the woman lives in the man's frame. If the husband lives in his wife's frame, he is no longer leading and she's no longer submitting. At best, she intellectually places him as a figure-head leader above herself to make her feel like she's submitting and fulfilling her biblical role, but in actuality his leadership is dominated and controlled by her emotions, expectations, and behavior in the home, so she's only submitting to someone who has either explicitly or inadvertently been manipulated into making decisions according to her own will and desires anyway.
FAIL TO LEAD
So, if a wife has decided that she is to be in her husband's frame, what is she to do if his frame is weak and does not offer the leadership, strength, comfort, provision, fun, and security that she longs for?
The first option is obvious: she could find another man. Of course, if she's already married, this is sin, so I don't recommend that option for any woman whose faith is more important to her than her marriage. But for non-Christians it is a viable option, which is why The Journal of Sex Research found that for the age-ranges 18-29 women are more likely to cheat than men, which is also true of couples whose relationship has gone on for 10 years or less. I could speculate on why the dynamic shifts later in a relationship, but that's not the point right now.
The second option is that a woman can demonstrate to her husband that she is incapable as a leader. Now, this can be a hot-button issue for many women. For one, you might actually be quite capable. If there's a leadership hole in the marriage and you're capable of filling it, why wouldn't you? Makes sense, right? Of course, the answer is: because your husband won't ever live up to that role if it's already being filled.
And why would he? Again, I opened this post with a variety of reasons for why men are already conditioned by society not to step into the dominant, leadership role within a relationship. Why would they fight against the grain of society when there's a willing, active other person who is already taking up that responsibility and letting him skirt around the issues with passivity and laziness as long as he's willing to deal with the nagging? My wife once commented: "I admit that all women are crazy. But if all women are crazy, there's got to be something that all men are. I think it's passivity and laziness." Biblically, I can't argue. Adam's first sin was passivity while Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and he set the pattern for every man to come.
Back on point: from here it's a mere priority game. What's more important: an attractive husband who leads you or making sure things around the house get done? If it's the latter, that's why you stepped up to make sure they got done with all your honey do lists and nagging him to get off his butt. If it's the former, then you might have to accept that things around the house won't get done the way you want - at least not for a while.
Standards and Thresholds
Every person has their own standard of living. For cleanliness of my house, I have a certain expectation of what it looks like. When it drops below my threshold I will clean it up, usually to well-above my threshold so that I have more time before I have to do it again.
My wife also has her own threshold - and hers was much higher than mine for a long time. When the house was between our two thresholds (i.e. below hers, above mine), that was a recipe for disaster. She used to see that as a "we" problem - because "we" weren't "on the same page."
We don't have to be "on the same page," though. Part of the "individual responsibility" section is recognizing that if one person has a problem, they can take personal responsibility for the problem. If we put it on a scale of 1-10 and my cleanliness threshold is 5 and my wife's is 8, then when the house is a 7, if she wants it above 8 again, she can take individual responsibility for cleaning it. She used to get resentful at me for not helping her. But from my perspective, the house was fine. She thought all of her extra work keeping it above an 8 was helping me. It wasn't. I didn't notice the difference between a 7 or 8 or 9. It didn't affect my ability to use all of the house's features. I didn't care about the dust on the TV that's only visible when it's off - because I'm not watching TV when it's off.
Now I'm not saying that women should lower their standards to their man's standards. Or maybe I am saying that - but that's not the point. The point is to decide whether your standards and thresholds are more important than having the type of husband who takes ownership and responsibility for his home. He might not lead the way you want, but at least he'll be leading - and that might just affect his standards and thresholds anyway.
Consider this: when my wife was maintaining the house at her standard of an 8 (and nagging me to help), I never actually experienced life at my standard of a 5. Even if I did, it was for short periods of time, like when she was on a busy season at work (80-100hr weeks for up to 2 months at a time), but I knew that at the end of the busy season she'd be back to her own standards again. I never had a compulsion to evaluate my own standard because the individual responsibility never fell on me to decide that standard in the first place.
Want to know what happened? Here's the flow of how things played out for us:
First: my wife was leading in the cleanliness of our home and expected me to adopt her standards and thresholds. I didn't. We argued a lot about it. During this phase, my frame was garbage, but I thought it was better than hers purely because of its contrast to her standards, which were the source of our arguments.
Second: my wife gave up arguing and just started taking individual responsibility for the maintenance of our home. She did not adopt my frame; she just stopped trying to make me get into her frame. This added a lot of stress onto her and resentment toward me. During this phase, my frame was still crappy, but I didn't see it as better or worse - I just didn't have to think of my own standards or thresholds at all because I never had to experience them.
Third: After repeated stressful busy seasons and not being able to maintain individual responsibility, my wife finally gave up on trying to maintain her standards and she adopted mine - not with nagging resentment or a defeatist attitude, but with joy and submission. My frame was still garbage, but now I had to live with it.
Fourth: After seeing how annoying my standards and thresholds were to live in on a long-term basis, I realized things had to change, so I improved my frame and began leading our family to live up to a higher standard than I previously thought necessary. Although my new frame was not exactly what my wife had in mind before (some standards/thresholds were higher, some were lower), of my own volition I had moved to something much closer.
There are three key things to note in this process: (1) My wife stopped trying to lead in cleaning the house, so I stepped up. (2) We never reached a compromise, which I tried many times to do in the past, only to foster bitterness and resentment. My decision to adopt a new standard was not prompted by her persuading me, but by me recognizing a need that she was no longer filling. (3) Rather than reverting to our previous status quo of my wife leading in the housework, I took individual responsibility of the house as a leader who delegates. As a result, my wife was now receiving appreciation from me for dutifully following my lead, even though she was doing essentially the same things (maybe even less) as she was doing before, when she was leading in all this.
Not to leave any confusion: there are many things about our marriage where I have not magically "improved" my frame to what she previously expected. This isn't a recipe for getting a girl what she wants from her man. It's a recipe for getting a girl to get the man she wants, if that's more important to her than all the other stuff. The fact that he may improve his frame to account for her peripheral desires is incidental. That's not the goal itself, but it's a nice bonus when it happens, as in my house-cleaning example.
The point here isn't about house-work. It's about the way that stepping down from positions of leadership and control can invite a man to step up. I've found that, more often than not, when my wife stops trying to break my frame by crashing hers into it, I am more able to focus on continual improvement of my frame. Rather than bolstering the titanium plating on the exterior to protect it from attacks, I can focus on pimping out the interior to make it a more fun and enjoyable place to live.
In light of the above, I recommend that women leave obvious holes in their leadership in the home. If you're in a new relationship/marriage, that's going to be a lot easier because you can establish new patterns from the get-go. For those already in long-standing marriages, this can be more challenging because you have preset patterns of who does what and he reasonably assumes you'll keep doing these things.
If you abdicate your leadership role and try to force it on him, that rarely goes over well. You can't say, "You need to take charge of paying the bills from now on" because he would still be doing it under your authority/command that he do so. Yes, he's "taking charge," but only because you delegated that task to him.
A preferable option is to communicate a failure of your ability to function as a leader within the home. Again, you might be perfectly capable of leading to get all this stuff done, but if that leadership is hindering your ability to respect and love your husband in the midst of his failures as a leader that caused you to step up in the first place, then you can honestly say that you are incapable of functioning as a leader in the home in the context of loving and respecting your husband. You don't tell him that last italicized part, though, which would come off as little more than a threat for him to do more things or you'll stop loving him - because for all practical purposes, rocky roads aside, he probably does think you respect and desire him just as he is, if he's still living in his blue pill fantasy world.
So, in the example of paying the bills you say: "I know I've been doing this for a while, but I'm really struggling to keep track of which bills are due and when. Do you have any clue? And I can't make heads of tails of how these bills are affecting our budget. I've just been paying things and hoping for the best. Do you know if we're in a good financial spot, or are we under water? I don't know what I'm doing or how to manage this and I've just been pretending for a long time that I've got all this under control."
The goal here isn't to get the bills paid or even to get him to be the one to start paying them. It's to get him to recognize that he is individually responsible for his own household, whereas you have been taking individual responsibility for it in the past (again, no "we" issues here). If you have a late payment for a month or two, so be it. At some point he'll recognize that there's a need - and if you've made it openly obvious to him that you're not in a capacity to meet that need, then he will likely step up and start leading.
The problem that this approach can have is that some people don't communicate the "I'm not good at this" part. The husband assumes the wife will pay the bills like she always has, so if the bills stop getting paid on time, instead of stepping up he simply accuses her of failing at her implicit role. If you just stop paying bills, he gets mad because it's your responsibility. If you tell him you can't, and then you fail, that's his responsibility. You must convey yourself as weak, needy, and submissive. That can be very humbling and even humiliating - but it's also something that I have to do before my spiritual groom (God) periodically in order to re-frame myself as his bride/submissive, and it's something you should be able and willing to do before your physical groom periodically as well.
In America, most men recognize on a societal level that their wives don't actually need them - certainly not the same way women needed their men a couple hundred years ago. That gives many men the excuse not to lead their women anymore and to buy into the cultural lie that women should be able to do it all and don't need men. But if he can rediscover your need for him beyond functioning as an emotional teddy bear to coddle you, that will be a huge step in solving the problem.
I already listed two options for a woman who's man is not leading: (1) find another man, and (2) fail to lead. Although the second can be effective, there's a third, more preferable option to each of those: reverse discipleship/mentoring.
A direct discipleship/mentoring arrangement would be where you take a position of authority over him to teach him how to get from A to B. In this case, that would be getting him from being a weak, passive man to a dominant leader. The problem with this approach is that it inherently frames you as the leader over him. Not only is this unbiblical, but it also creates a perception that you're training him to lead other people/things and not you personally. But you want him to be your leader, not just a leader. Also, if he views himself as a leader in the home, however crappy he may be at it, he could confuse your attempt to mentor him with disrespect or an attempt to take over - and it may not actually be confusion at all, regardless of how well-intentioned you may be.
A reverse discipleship/mentoring arrangement works something like this. I have a pastor who has a position of spiritual authority over me (at least within the bounds of our local congregation). I wanted to get him on board with my mission and to begin leading the church accordingly. I could have taught him about my mission/vision and done so persuasively enough that he would look to me for leadership and guidance, but I didn't. I found that when I tried that with our other pastor he never internalized it fully - it was always just another "great idea" that was external to him that he tried to live up to for a short time before moving on to another "great idea." Instead, I asked this pastor to disciple me.
This can also be called a double-reversal. My normal MO is to be the discipler. I reversed it once by asking to be discipled, suggesting several ways God's Kingdom and I could both benefit from his leadership over me. But I reverse it again by using my status as his follower as a way to guide him in how to lead someone. Here are a few examples of things I did:
After the first couple meetings I threw out an idea: "When Jesus called his 12, he told them up-front at the very beginning of the relationship what the end-goal would be: 'I will make you fishers of men.' So, can you tell me what your end-goal for me is? You have a 2-year contract at our church. What do you envision me doing 2 years from now as a result of our time together?" I'm teaching him a very important point about intentional disciple-making, while remaining in the submissive role, letting him cast the vision and direct me.
- Comparable questions in a marriage context would be for a wife to ask: "What's your vision for the next x years? What is your goal for me during that time? What do you envision me doing x years from now as a result of our relationship?"
After the above, he took a couple weeks before settling with an answer. So, I asked him at that point, "Jesus had an intentional plan for how he would make his disciples into fishers of men. If you know where I am now and you know where I'm going to end up 2 years from now, what's your plan for how you're going to get me there?"
- A comparable question in a marriage context: "If you want me to be [blank] x years from now, what's your plan for getting me there between now and then?" I remember my wife asking me something similar at one point and the question blew me away. I didn't really have a plan. Why not? Because I wasn't leading.
He usually likes to talk about whatever God's teaching him at the time, which is fine. But it's not an effective way to make disciples, which should be focused more on the needs of the person you're discipling. So, I asked him at one point, "Do you see any character flaws or spiritual weak points in me that I should start working on?" He had no clue and had never even thought that to be an important part of the disciple-making process. So, I asked him to guess at some things that he perceived in me that would be worth us chatting through, then I put my ego on the line (in that I disagreed with some of the things he said) and rolled with whatever his answers were just to give him practice discipling someone through a struggle or issue.
- Marriage translation: "Husband, are there any aspects about how I live my life that might be getting in the way of your vision for our family? What are they? Can you help me work through those things?" Yes, that's really hard to say - and it wasn't fun listening to my pastor come up with things he thought I was doing wrong or needed to improve on, especially when I was really confident in those areas of my life. But it was dreadfully important - not just for me to improve, but to give him a better framework for what it's like to lead someone. That is, your goal isn't necessarily just to drudge up dirt for him to spew at you; it's to put him in a framework of seeing you as someone whose flaws and weaknesses he is responsible for - especially as those things may affect his leadership within the home. Rather than him ignoring those things to maintain the peace, he should be willing and able to confront you about them.
Another thing is that Jesus always had a vision that was bigger than the guys he discipled. So, I asked him once, "What's the bigger picture that you're working toward? What's your whole job and Christian life about?" He was amused at the question and didn't have much of an answer, focused more on the day-to-day responsibilities of his job. He verbally processed for a while and finally came up with a make-shift mission that he said he wanted to iron out more later. Then I said, "Jesus had a bigger vision for ministry than merely his 12 - he wanted to reach the whole world. He knew how his disciples would fit into that vision and he trained them specifically for that task. How do you see me helping you carry out your vision for the church, and what would you need to train me to do in order to help you accomplish that goal?" At one point my pastor asked in the reverse what I wanted to accomplish at the church. I had a clear answer, but it would not have been helpful in training him to lead if I gave it, so I had to be evasive: "I don't really know what my goals are with the church. I don't have anything concrete in mind. I'm not in charge of leading the church, so my goals wouldn't matter anyway. You're one of our leaders, so I want to support what you have to offer."
- Marriage translation: "Husband, what are your life goals? Do you have any life goals for me? I have things that I'd like to do with my life, but as my husband I'm more interested in what you have in mind for me. What skills and concepts should I be learning about and practicing to help me fulfill your goals and expectations both in your own life and mine?" Now, a true beta husband is going to encourage you to set your own goals and expectations and say he wants to support you in those. So, even if you do have things in mind, for now you need to keep saying, "I don't know. I'm looking to you as my leader, so I want to support what you have to say rather than make up my own thing, which could potentially drive us apart if we're going two different directions" (for the record: that's one of the main things that caused my parents to divorce: two different directions in life).
You'll note that in each of these examples, I'm not giving him answers. I'm just asking questions, prompting him to lead me. Now, I know where I want him to lead me and he doesn't always come to the same conclusion - and that's okay. If he goes down a different path, I follow and entertain that path. And if it turns out that path isn't helpful, I just ask more questions about why we're going down that path and about what Jesus did and let him draw his own conclusions and decide if he wants to keep going that way or back track to try a different thing altogether. I don't try to convince him it's a bad path. I don't ask my questions rhetorically, as if I'm trying to prove a point. I'm just putting out feelers and communicating a lack of understanding.
Without compromising my role as a submissive under him, he has grown incredibly proficient at disciple-making because of the way I let myself be a test dummy - and one who knows how to ask targeted questions to most effectively lead me. I recommend wives do the same: ask your husband to lead you. Don't tell him how to lead you. Ask questions that assume basic leadership concepts:
Do you have a vision for where you're going/taking me?
Do you know how to evaluate where I am right now?
Do you have a plan to get me from where I am right now to where you want to take me?
Is the vision for where we're going something that actually matters?
That's leadership in a nut-shell. Everything else is just filling in the details.
THE SPIRITUALLY IMMATURE MAN
This is another inevitable question for many Christian women: "What if my husband is less spiritually mature than me?"
- The Husband Who Asks You to "Sin"
You're still his wife. You're still his helper. You're still his submissive. You still follow. Ultimately, it is him who will have to answer for how he led in the relationship and you who will have to answer for how you followed. If he asks you to do something that's obviously sinful, like killing a person, I'd say not to do it. But if it's merely questionably sinful and violates your personal convictions, there are a couple ways you can process this before God on Judgment Day:
I felt like it was wrong. I also know that refusing to submit to my husband is wrong. Stuck between what felt like two wrongs, I decided it was better to uphold my personal feelings and convictions rather than my biblical imperative to submit to my husband.
I felt like it was wrong, but you gave me a clear obligation to my husband in Scripture, so I followed Scripture by submitting to my husband, even at the expense of my own feelings and convictions.
Which one do you think God is more likely to honor and respect in a wife?
- The Husband Who "Won't Pursue Me"
Some women have told me about times that they get in fights and their husband just walks away - and this infuriates them. "He's being so immature!" she cries out. "If he was a real Christian he would know he's supposed to try to pursue me at all times." Uh huh. She argues, "If I'm right, he should be humble enough to admit it and not get frustrated and walk away. If I'm wrong, he needs to show it to me and help sanctify me, not walk away." Sounds air-tight, right? He's always got to go to her, right? Wrong.
I remember when my pastor got into a fight with his wife and asked me about how to handle it.
I asked him, How does Jesus respond when his bride acts the same way she just acted?
His answer: "He withdraws himself and leaves us to our sin until we're ready to repent." We also looked at a few passages that show God/Jesus doing exactly that. He stops to think, then continues, "But that can't be what God wants in a marriage. What if she ends up leaving me and I could have done more? I want to be able to stand before God on Judgment Day and say that I tried everything I could to make things right with my wife, rather than walking away from her."
I said: Oh, so you want to tell God, 'I was willing to try everything, except the one thing that you modeled for us.' How do you think that will go over? Also, if she leaves you, is that your sin or hers for God to judge? As far as arguments on Judgment Day are concerned, which do you think God will be more sympathetic to: 'I did everything I possibly could to pander to my wife to reconcile with her' or 'I saw what Jesus does and tried to do likewise, but she still left me'?
I include this here because many women see this as a sign of spiritual immaturity. Indeed, a spiritually immature man may do this - refuse to pursue his wife or pander to her - but that is not what makes him spiritually immature and it doesn't mean that his reaction is in any way wrong. When we sin, it is not God's obligation to chase us down, but our obligation to seek after him with repentance. If your husband perceives that you have sinned against him and his leadership in the home in some way - whether he is right or wrong - the model that Jesus shows us with his bride, the church, is an expectation for us to confess and return to him. You may not always agree with everything he says and does (see the section above on the husband who asks you to "sin"), but he is your leader nonetheless. Don't get fooled into thinking that he is spiritually immature because of his failure to pursue you in the midst of conflict.
- The Worldly/Unsaved Husband
A third prototype of an immature husband is the one who isn't even saved in the first place (or perhaps he is saved on a technical level, but doesn't live it out). This is perhaps the most difficult type of husband to remain married to. In actuality, there may not be much you can do to win him over - that's God's job to save people. But God does use his people as instruments toward the fulfillment of that purpose, so you're not without your role in the process. I've seen many men who have come to Christ because of the faithfulness of their wives.
1 Peter 3:1-6 addresses this issue directly. The first thing it compels of women is to submit to their husband anyway. Obviously he's not leading you toward Christ, but that doesn't remove your obligation to submit to him. Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters," but here you're now in a position where you must. It's difficult. Refer to the first section on the husband who asks you to sin for more information on how to deal with that conflict.
The passage also suggests that "they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." Know what that means? Stop preaching to him or beating him over the head with the imperative to go to church with you. I'm not saying never to share the Gospel with him, but not to nag him about it.
Many women do this. I knew a girl whose husband wasn't saved and she tried to preach to him all the time. It drove him away until he finally divorced her. I knew another girl whose husband wasn't saved. She nagged him incessantly until he went to church and joined a Bible study. Know what happened? He's still not a Christian to this day - but he thinks he is because he's doing what his wife told him. Now she's got a husband who is still worldly, but knows how to use his husbandly authority over her because he's talked about it with his Bible study guys and knows the right verses to quote (though they didn't mean to use them in that context, that's just how he took it, as an unsaved man).
The better alternative is to let him know that you're a Christian, to love him as you would Christ, and let him build the relationship between your love for him and your love for Christ - a bridge that Paul makes more clear in Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." When he sees the character within you and the way that it blesses his life, this is what the Bible says is most likely to win him over to Christ - not nagging and preaching. I know, it's counter-intuitive, but isn't the Bible often that way.
- The Spiritually Weak Husband
Some men are genuinely saved, but still so immature that they are ineffective as leaders in a home and relationship. They want to follow God and excel in their spiritual life, but they don't know how and keep failing.
The principles above still apply in this situation. But there is something more you can do to help your husband want to excel in his spiritual walk. You can ask him questions.
Most men don't realize this, but I have found it a consistent principle throughout countless marriages that what a man experiences with his wife is what God experiences with him. If I notice my wife failing me a certain way, it's often that I'm failing God the same way and my wife is a projection of my leadership - how I'm modeling myself as a follower of God for her to follow me the same way. Likewise, when things are well in my marriage, I notice that my wife is living up to the same positive virtues that I am experiencing with God. And the same goes with my leadership: as God teaches me things, I practice the same thing in my role as leader over my wife.
To help your husband realize this connection and spark his spiritual growth through your marriage and submissiveness to him, try asking him: "Does God do for you what you do for me?" That question can go a long way. "You have given our family a purpose. Did God give you a purpose or did you come up with that concept on your own?"
In essence, the way you encourage his relationship with God is by being the type of wife/submissive to him that models the type of bride/submissive to God he was designed to be - and then ask pointed questions about his role as your husband/leader to connect that to his relationship with God as his spiritual husband/leader.
- The Emotionally Weak Husband
Some men are riddled with anxiety, depression, loneliness, hopelessness, fear, and the like. Virtually every time, when the husband expresses these traits, the wife experiences them as well. However, most women in this situation have the misperception that they shouldn't burden their husband with their emotions because it might make things even worse. This is wrong.
By not expressing your own fears or anxieties with him, you're taking the position of leadership in the relationship. You both have struggles; he isn't managing his well, so you've decided you're going to be the one to manage yours well in order to protect him. You're making that judgment call, not him. You're taking the position of strength, not him. This is backwards.
You're also missing an opportunity to experience a true empathy that few women get to know in their marriages: feeling the same thing at the same time. My wife often wants emotional empathy from me more than anything. When I get stressed out from time with my kids (which is incredibly rare) she becomes overjoyed - not at my stress, but at the fact that I have just experienced something she experiences everyday. She loves that I, in that moment, can empathize with her as she expresses her stresses alongside me.
So, if you share your feelings with him, one of two things will result: (1) you'll both be mopey or anxious together and get to share in each other's sufferings, or (2) he'll recognize his need to lead you through your emotional storm, then step up to solve his own issues so that he can lead you through yours.
Some women have asked how they can respect their husband if he's a stay at home and she's the one working to provide for the family. In the reverse, how can he feel like a leader if he's the house-husband?
I'm not as married to the economic roles that some people here are. Those people believe that men should always be the primary financial earners in the family and that a failure to do so is a failure of leadership in the home. It is true that economics can often translate to power and leadership, but it doesn't have to.
A man once brought up his role as stay-at-home dad and complained that he didn't know how to maintain leadership when his wife held all the financial power. He admitted to seeing himself as a nanny to her kids (who were also biologically his), a housekeeper to her house, a repairman to her car, a handyman to her deck, etc.
I suggested a different frame for him: "This is my house, my kids, my car to fix, my deck to build, my household to manage, and my family to lead. She's the girl who gets me my money so I can get stuff done."
Now, that sounds crude to most women. Most women don't like feeling like they're just a piggy bank - and they'd be right to feel that way if their husband was a weak leader with a weak frame. But I think this is the attitude most women really long for their husbands to have - not because you want him to view you in a degrading, one-dimensional manner, but because that's the frame that will guide him as the leader you want him to be.
And with that I've mostly filled up the character limit for posts. Lots more to say, but it'll probably be a while before I direct another post toward women, so this will have to suffice for now. I'm happy to address more in the comments - including any discussion on the appropriateness of what I've said. I know this isn't likely to go over well with some people, but the issue has come up enough in private that I figured it's worth finally saying something more public about it.