Dangerous Wedding Advice
The lavishly decorated wedding hall is filled with the buzz of excited guests and clinking of glasses as the newlyweds turn to kiss on command. The microphone cuts in above the applause with the voice of the misty-eyed father of the bride. His well rehearsed and thoughtful speech pours out his love and admiration of his little girl that has grown into the beautiful woman that sits before him that day. At the conclusion, he welcomes his new son-in-law into the family and gives him the best advice he can think of: “Happy Wife. Happy Life.”
Fathers have been telling sons this for years. Many young grooms readily buy in to this philosophy. When they stooped down on one knee, they promised to do everything in their power to make their beloved happy. We hear it at weddings and everyone chuckles because it sounds like a well packaged truth. The women laugh and think “preach it, brother!” Men laugh because they have learned through years of marital struggle that it’s not worth being right if you can be happy. A few nights of sleeping on the couch and getting the cold shoulder can make a guy reconsider sticking to his guns. These fathers have quietly resigned themselves to the idea that “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” They’d rather be happy idiots than have to endure the wrath of their wives. With the best of intentions, they want their sons and son-in-laws to benefit from the wisdom they have learned throughout the years.
This wedding advice was meant to be a valuable gift of wisdom. It might as well be a wedding gift of a beautiful clock with a time-bomb inside. It looks good at first, and may even work well for the short term, but it is ultimately setting that marriage up for disaster.
Just let her have her way. This simple statement teaches a lot of ideals that are counterproductive to a healthy marriage. It tells a man that he should shrink away from potential conflict rather than engaging in difficult conversations. Don’t stand up for what you believe in. Let your wife make all of the decisions and give your responsibility of leadership to her. As long as she gets what she wants, you won’t have to deal with any of her negative emotions. Your life is going to be better if you just give up now. It’s really just about self-preservation. Cowardice. Passivity. Apathy. Aren’t these the characteristics that every woman wants in her man?
Men aren’t the only ones who this advice impacts. If that beautiful bride buys into the advice, she learns that she is the most important person in the marriage. The success of her marriage and the quality of her husband is based on how happy she feels at any given moment. She is in charge and if she isn’t happy, she has the right to belittle her husband and make him suffer until she gets her way. This isn’t exactly the picture of the woman on noble character described in Proverbs 31.
A few years ago, Sanctus Real released a song called “Lead Me” where the lead singer confessed that he had not been leading his family well. The chorus of the song is a plea from his wife:
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing Dreams, but what about us?
Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
God has given men the responsibility of leading their families. There are so many broken homes and hurting marriages that are suffering because the man of the house has failed to lead. If you have been wounded because your man hasn’t stepped up, I am sorry. I pray that God would bring healing to your wounds and soften the places where your heart has been hardened. I could give a rallying cry to men and encourage them to lead their families well, but let’s be honest. This is a women’s blog. It probably wouldn’t do too much good here. What I can do is share a couple of truths about men that might help you enable your man to be a leader at home.
We Won’t Fight You For the Lead
Men are wired to struggle for dominance. Little boys play sports and games like “King of the Hill” and try to shove each other off the top. The goal of our games were learning how to defeat our opposition. We are also taught that we aren’t supposed to fight with girls. When a guy is married or even dating, he doesn’t want to have to see his woman as the opposition. We don’t want to fight you. When it comes to verbal and emotional debates, most of us wouldn’t be able to win even if we tried. Fights are a lose-lose for us. If we do win an argument, the great prize is hurting the woman that we love; and if we lose, well, then we’re losers. The thing is, most guys actually want to lead. We just don’t want to have to fight you for it.
Leaders can only lead if there are people who are willing to follow. Regardless of your husband’s leadership abilities, if you are not willing to follow him, he can’t lead you. Leadership in marriage is not something that should be struggled over. It is a gift. 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Eph 5:22-24)
Have you given your husband the gift of being your leader, or are you still holding the title? Are you doing anything that is blocking his leadership? Have you actually asked him to lead you, told him that you trust him to lead you well, and committed yourself to following his lead?
Men Need You To Be Their Cheerleader, Not Their Leader
This doesn’t mean that you should run out and buy a megaphone and some pompoms… although, it might not hurt. All joking aside, we need to know that you have confidence in us. The temptation that many women have to get their men engaged is to give them Honey-Do lists and other defined expectations of what they need to do. What this communicates to men is that you do not have confidence in them and their ability to wisely lead your family. In fact you have such a lack of confidence that you have over taken him as your family leader and are now giving him orders. The extreme version of this manifests itself in “nagging” wife and an apathetic husband. The oaf might finally turn off the game and clean out the garage, but at what cost? Resentment has grown for both of you and his sense of respect has been violated.
Ephesians 5:33 calls for men to ”love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” When a man is disrespected by another man, he wants to fight. When he is disrespected by his wife, it’s a shot to the heart. This is especially true if it is done in public. I don’t care how lazy a guy has been around the house, when his wife starts airing out his failures at a dinner party, the only one that looks bad is her.
When we have an unmet desire, there are different options that we can choose. We can complain, demand that it be addressed, or we can make a request. Complaints and demands might get our needs met, but they destroy relationships. They put the recipient on the defensive and harden hearts. I would encourage you to melt his defenses by sharing your heart on why something is so important to you and express how much you believe in him to be able to do it. You might not get what you want every time, but you have given him the opportunity to lead and the knowledge of how to show you love. Ladies, you might not know this, but when men have a good woman who believes in them, they are willing to do just about anything. We are just guys. We aren’t perfect, but women have the ability to inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. You have the opportunity to be the source of encouragement that we need.
One last thought. If you really want to motivate your man, try using flattery. I have never in my life witnessed a woman come up to a man and say, “you look strong, could you help me lift something?” and have him turn her down. Ever. We’re suckers for women that compliment our strengths, especially if you throw in a wink and a smile. 😉
Enjoy the rest of Manovember!