"There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage." ~Martin Luther

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Who is in Charge?

This topic is a very interesting one and could be seen as controversial but I enjoyed reading and learning from it. Remember we are using the book- Marriage as God intended as a study guide and the book is based on biblical principles. As a result this topic is being addressed from a Christian viewpoint. You can take this as a disclaimer if you wish. ;).  Please note this topic isn't only for the Married but also for the Singles. Better to know all about these things before signing the dotted line.

Some marriages today are in trouble because there are two people trying to be leaders. Billy Graham's wife Ruth said in an interview once "if there are two leaders in a marriage then one of them is unnecessary". According to SH "roles determine relationships". He said "show me a marriage in which the roles are clearly defined, clearly understood and acted upon, and I will show you a marriage where relationships blossom like a beautiful flower." Someone might say "what roles?" We are leaving in a society where these distinct roles have become blurred. The feminist movement believe that apart from the ability to bear children there are no differences between men and women. However this according to the bible is not true. Paul was able to break the roles down in the book of Ephesians 5. Verse 23, 25 say that the husband is the head of the wife and must love his wife as Christ loves the church. While verse 24 say the wife is to submit herself to her husband in the same way that the church is subject to Christ. Lets us break these two roles down a bit further.

Husband- a loving leader

It is clear from the Bible that the husband has been given the responsibility to be the leader in a marriage but this leadership has been qualified with the word LOVING. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Now that is some deep stuff right there. When a man starts to go around announcing in the house that he is the leader and barking orders about then he has missed the point. According to SH, that's not leadership- that's dictatorship.

Image from google images

So we ask ourselves- How does Christ love the Church? "He is quite firm but gentle, insistent but not strident, unwavering yet compassionate." This is the model every Christian Husband is called to follow. Every man who feels inadequate and unable to love his wife in the way God demands- as Christ loves the church- should ask God for divine help and submit to God's leadership. This would seem totally unnatural and something the male ego shrinks from but when a man submits to God, relies on the Holy spirit's resources to love his wife, he creates an atmosphere which makes it easy for his wife to submit to him. A woman has great security in a marriage knowing her husband is fully committed to God. SH says this of a husband- "Let him assume he is the head because he is in some way superior and his wife will feel greatly threatened. Let him see it as a God-given role, an assigned responsibility, and the whole atmosphere of his marriage will change." This is a side note from me- this is why it is VERY paramount for a Christian Sister to marry a child of God, someone who is submitted to the leadership of God.

Another common question people ask is- "if a husband is appointed by God to be the leader in marriage, does this mean he is to be regarded as a superior partner?" SH says no (I raise my hand in agreement). Both husband and wife are EQUAL in God's eyes. However equality does not mean that we have the same functions. We are equal spiritually but different functionally. Even the way we have been designed and created attest to this fact. This functional difference has been established by God and any attempt to change this will result in friction in marriage.

How should a man love his wife?
God made this demand of a husband to love his wife because the wife's greatest need is to be loved. That is how God made women. A woman needs constant love and attention if she is to flourish as a woman. Apparently men are not affected by the lack of love to the same degree that a woman is. A man can throw himself into his work and find fulfilment there but with a woman she is "shaken to the depths of her personality and will suffer as no man can comprehend." Hmm, such deep words. People I want to know your thoughts on this in the comments section.

So back to the question, how should a man love his wife-

  1. Express his love to her- Yes, women love to hear the "I love you" or "You are beautiful" yadayada but when it is not backed up with actions, whats the point? It is actually the small thoughtful acts that go a long way. I remember at the last couple's retreat held in my church, almost every woman mentioned "small thoughtful acts" when our pastor asked what would you want your husband to do better.  So things like, the unexpected calls just to ask how her day is going, helping with housework (somebody shout halleluyah!), helping with the children's baths and night routine, a leg rub or massage, running her a bath, speaking tender words to her, the inexpensive surprise gifts etc. It is usually the small unexpected acts that are more appreciated than gifts given on birthdays or anniversaries (husbands, we are not saying you should stop the birthday or anniversary gifts o)
  2. Sacrifice for her- SH says " in every instance of genuine love there is an element of sacrifice". You know going the extra mile or doing something you wouldn't ordinarily do or doing something you find inconvenient. Sacrificing means dying to self. In the book, it mentions that "when an argument flares up in a marriage it is the husband's place, first to humble himself and ask for forgiveness for whatever was wrong in his behaviour (did I hear a man in the house say "I beg your pardon?"). This is death to ego". It might be the wife who was at fault but the man's call is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Therefore the man should forgo his pleasure and act sacrificially. As the husband is drawn to Christ by reason of Christ's sacrifice for him, so will the wife be drawn to her husband by reason of his sacrifice on her behalf. (Another deep rev, here- so looking forward to the comments)
  3. Hold her in High esteem- "it is a psychological fact that if you place a high value on a person and make that person aware of your expectations for them, they tend to become like the person you see them to be. This is especially true with women". A husband has the power to bring out the best in his wife or demean her. By holding her in high esteem, putting her first in your life (after God) gives her that boost to want to be better wife/person. Most women are lured into women's liberation movement because they have not been treating properly by their husbands. A high number of these women would not go this route if their husbands honoured them in a way a woman deserves to be honoured. 
  4. Make allowance for her deficiencies and mistakes- Women, like men are humans and will sometimes make mistake. SH says- "A man who expects an angel for a wife is being decidedly unrealistic."  Some men are very critical and harsh when their wives fail or make a mistake. Even if she does 99 things right but gets 1 wrong, all hell breaks loose. One reason men find it difficult to be accommodating is due to lack of humility. "A man who knows true humility will realise that he himself is imperfect and this knowledge will temper his judgement when dealing which his wife's failures and mistakes". Another reason is due to misplaced perspective- continually focusing on the negative things in their wives whilst overlooking the positives. This is where the 80-20 rule fits in perfectly. When you focus on the 80% positive qualities in your wife instead of the 20% negative qualities, your attitude and feelings towards her will change. Phil 4:8 is a good scripture to back this up- when we focus on positive things, we come out with positive feelings and when we focus on negative things, we come out with negative feelings. When it appears that a woman is continually making mistakes then it is the husband's responsibility to teach her how to overcome them. If this is done with kindness and freedom from sarcasm, a woman will most likely respond favorably.
  5. Listen to her- Men and women view things differently. Men generally appreciate the wider perspective of an issue while women appreciate the smaller and detailed perspective (an exception to this rule definitely exists). A husband should always consider his wife's point of view before making a decision. A man should listen to his wife sensitively, "recognising that she may provide him with the other half of wisdom that God had in mind for him in his decision making." "Decisions that involve a man and wife should constitute an amalgamation of both perspectives in order to come to the wisest of decisions."
So in summary- a man should have his hands full trying to determine whether or not he is truly loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it and not busy analysing if his wife is being submissive to him. This cannot be done in your natural strength but by asking for God's help.

I was hoping to discuss the role of the wife in this post but I can see the above is already LONG so I'll do that in the next post. I can imagine a lot of women/wives nodding their heads whilst reading this post, saying "yes tell the husbands!, well next week it will be the men/husbands turn to
Please let us know your thoughts on the role of the man in a marriage, how a man can show his wife love and your thoughts on the above.

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See you next week by God's grace.

photo credits- google images


  1. Interesting topic. Will be back to read this after my exams.

  2. The man is the head of the family, not because he knows it all but because God designed him to be responsible for his family! I agree with your position based on the biblical injunctions but sadly enough, most people define their roles in the marriage based on societal expectations.

    The society prescribes that whoever is the breadwinner or whoever has more money becomes the leader. And so the man fights his wife for supremacy instead of having a synergy!

  3. No problem dear. All the best in your exams!

  4. True! IMHO men need to read this...(I will be back to read the woman part next week :) )
    The fact is if men truly loved their wives half of the problems that exist would cease to.
    Marriage is hard work but with the help of the Holy Spirit...if we truly trust and lean on him...we would be successful.
    I'm keeping this short...typed a long long one for the last post and lost it!! ;)

  5. You are right, I think men have a tougher responsbility in marriage cuz like you said if men TRULY loved their wives sacrifically, we won't have a lot of marital issues and this can only be done with God's power cuz it won't be easy I imagine.

    awww so sorry you lost your other comment. That can be so annoying!

  6. Dictatorship has never been God's style. I remember the passage that describes what happened at the 'Last Supper.' Jesus bent down to wash His disciples feet, and then He said "If any of you wants to be a leader, you must first be a servant." The strongest leaders (or husbands) out there are usually the best servers and givers. They give so much of themselves that their wives (or followers) don't even think twice about showing them 100% love and respect.

    However, I want to add that sometimes men pretend to throw themselves into their work and act like they don't need to be loved, but almost to the same degree (if not the same), most men want to be loved just the same as women. That scripture from Paul, in what he says to the husbands and the wives, can actually be applied both ways. Men need respect (statistics have shown that this is the number one thing men want in a marriage), but they also need love. Women like to be loved (#1), but they also need respect. It goes both ways.

    I agree with the differences in roles and functionalities that this post has analysed. :)

  7. I actually think all these tips go both ways. Jaycee says it quite well.

  8. Jaycee! thanks for your detailed comments and I agree with you on all counts. Love surely goes both ways!

  9. Oh yes definitely, the tips go both ways but I guess it seems pronounced to the men in this post because we are talking about husbands..
    I am looking forward to reading about the role of the wife in a marriage :)

  10. I do not support the dictatorship philosophy of the 'leader' of the home but I hold that respect and honour does a lot in how a woman shows love to her husband. Joyce Meyer was saying the other day, "it is important for women to see their husband in position of authority; more as a king than just a man". She talked about how she treats her own husband and in turn gets treated like a queen. Most women forget that the definition of love to a man is honour, praise and respect. Bimbo Odukoya said the same thing. She later argued that, it is the very reason why it is very easy for housemaids to steal men away from their wives. I hope I am making sense... I actually got and learned alot from this and I want to say thanks for sharing.

    - LDP

  11. I don't think I agree that women need more love. I think men need love as much as women do. I think the differences are more in how we like to receive that love i.e. presents, back-rubs, food etc Just my two cents :)

  12. Ah LDP you are jumping the gun a bit o! We are talking about the role of the husband in this post. We come to the wife in the next post. Lol

    So that means next post you'll comment about the role of the husband. Deal?

    Thanks for your comment :)

  13. Hey Nogo, yah I also found that bit of the book a bit weird. And Jaycee made sense in her comment about it. Thanks for your comment :)

  14. I agree with this post 100%. I'm grateful to have a husband who understands this principle as well. *Big Grin*.

    Many times we (especially Africans) 'miss road' by taking things too far. I'm glad I'm not an especially "Spiro" Chic. So when this pastor was stressing "Respect" and smoke was coming out of his ears back then in marriage counselling class, I could see where those passages were going, and thank God Husband is a thinker too. Most of all, I think God's design trumps culture. It works in my household.

    I especially like this line from Jaycee's comment below "They give so much of themselves that their wives (or followers) don't even think twice about showing them 100% love and respect. "

  15. I found this post really interesting..Imagine a husband ignoring all the big events and gifts.. and telling the wife "I thought you said its the small things that mean a lot" I'm sure there are men like that.
    I really do agree with all the points..and whats left is applying the lessons learnt, when the time comes. So help me God :D

  16. LOL! Abi I had to put that disclaimer there.

    I have this feeling your wife will be a blessed woman to have you has her husband because you seem like the man who wants to do it God's way :)

  17. I know what you mean about how we Africans like to take things too far. No wonder many women are already on the defensive and don't want to be turned into doormats. When a man loves his wife the way Christ loves the church the wife submitting shouldn't be an issue.

    Jaycee's comment was too on point :)

    Thanks for your comment.

  18. SH remains my favourite Christian writer and EDWJ for me is perfect.
    I haven't read that book. But after reading all this, I will have to look for it.
    Sacrificing for her comes easy in big things for me. But for the smaller things like letting her win arguments even when I'm right, I struggle.
    I sincerely hope she sees me as the loving leader.
    Those 5 points up there hard though.


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