Hello and welcome back to the blog!
Today I felt like sharing some advice on how you can boost confidence in your man by helping him step more into his masculinity and the role of "leader" in your relationship. I have received this question frequently, and I know that many women are looking for ways in which they can encourage this dynamic in their relationships.
A man who can take charge, who knows what he wants, and who can voice his opinions is attractive to me. And yes, of course, in the midst of that strong leadership, I would hope that there would be a tender-hearted balance: that they would be leaders yet loving and conquerers while compassionate. Ultimately, that they would be leaders strong in force and grit, but soft and tender to the needs of those they love. This is absolutely Biblical, in the sense that husbands are instructed,
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,"
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
In this verse, we have exactly what I have described above: the balance between tenderness and tenacity: men who are strong and brave enough to do difficult, even sacrificial things, yet in tune enough to love.
All this being said, I want to zero in on how we as wives can encourage your husbands to step more into their leadership. How we can encourage them in this trait, and ultimately how we can cheer them on as they journey towards leadership throughout their lives.
Remember that leadership is not a "have or have not" kind of quality. It is something that can be grown throughout your life, as well as a trait that you can lean into or out of depending on your circumstances. So if you desire for your husband to lean into his leadership, I have found that there are a certain number of things you can do as a wife that will allow him the space, the strength, and the encouragement he needs in order to step into this important and demanding role.
Let's dig in.
*** These are not blanket prescriptions for all marriages in all contexts: ultimately the only blanket prescription I could give you would be the Biblical one if you are a Christian. So take everything I say lightly.***
Start your journey by listening. This will be the single most effective method by which you can help your husband step into his leadership as a man.
Firstly, he will feel respected. This is KEY to not only a man's heart but also to his confidence. Never underestimate the fact that you are his wife and he greatly values your respect, probably more than he values the respect from any other person. Listening is an effective way to communicate this respect. Listening shows him that you value his thoughts, care about his ideas, and wish to know more about his perspective.
Try to be an active listener by thinking of questions you can ask your husband when you are away from him and by nodding and looking him in the eye when he's speaking. Avoid scrolling through IG when he's talking to you and remember to smile and be interested. When you are facing a decision or a problem, don't tune out his suggestions: really LISTEN. This is key to getting him to step into his leadership. You must learn to listen to his advice and thoughts if you want him to be a stronger leader. A leader cannot lead if no one is following !!!
Finally, listen when you are in a debate or a discussion. Too many people think they are arguing or debating, but they are actually not receiving ANYTHING the other person is saying because they've already written off their perspective. When you are in a difficult discussion, do your best to listen and not assume you already know what he's thinking or why he believes what he believes.
This has been incredibly helpful to me whenever I am tempted to interrupt with MY idea on how to solve a problem. Instead, I try to hold my tongue and listen to his ideas and thoughts as to why something might be a viable solution. Doing this shows your man that you are comfortable with him taking the lead and that you are eager to KNOW his thoughts. You might honestly be surprised by the things he says, and even find his arguments logical and good. But you'll never know unless you listen!
Try to hang back. Give your man some room. Does it mean to be passive? To be uninvolved? To be a quiet mouse?
I'm simply encouraging you to give your man SPACE. Give him space to make choices for you as a family. Give him space to get into his hobbies. Give him space to step up and make the final decision. If you are constantly taking charge, interfering with his life, or hovering over his shoulder, he has less opportunity to really step into his masculinity as a leader.
Hanging back could look like letting him make a decision about which route to take to church. It could look like allowing him to choose how he wants to spend his free time. It could mean letting him handle a crisis with the plumbing rather than offering all your opinions. It means letting him take the reigns sometimes and not going above and beyond to white knuckle every household decision.
This might be scary to you, as you might worry that the household will go to hell in a handbasket if you let him have more responsibility, but I promise you that that is how men GROW.
Men grow through trial and error, and through gaining extra responsibility, not less. If you want your man to be more of a leader, you are going to have to first give him more opportunities to BE a leader. You can't be running around making all the decisions and dictating everything and then throw a hissy fit, complaining that your man isn't a leader.
I promise that if you begin to hang back, he will naturally step forward. There cannot be two leaders! There just can't! Try to give him space and you will be shocked at how he fills out his role. You might find him even more attractive than you do now!
Let him fail
This is part two to "hang back." Once you take the leap of faith to let him have some control, you're going to have to be okay with the fact that he won't always get it right. We all make mistakes! I can think of thirty mistakes I've made just in the past WEEK.
Unfortunately, there is this weird narrative around husbands that they are basically just big kids: that they can't be trusted with responsibility and that good old wifey just HAS to step in to save the day if we are going to have any semblance of order. You've seen the paper towel commercials... you know what I'm talking about.
But the paper towel wife attitude is not the attitude we want to carry if we are intent on being married to men who are comfortable being strong leaders. This means that we are going to need to give our men opportunities to lead in new ways, and then NOT HOLD IT OVER THEM IF MISTAKES ARE MADE.
Can you imagine if husbands spoke about their wives the way modern women are shown to do? Treating them like bumbling idiots who can't be trusted to organize a trip to the airport? It would be absurd! Of course, this goes back to my point about respect, but part of respect means respecting him not just when he succeeds, but also when he fails.
Be gracious and understanding. Don't take it as a sign that your method of "hanging back' is not working. The reality is that you could probably go through the catalog of your behavior and decisions in the past year and find many failures. We all fail: it's inevitable. In fact, go into this journey expecting your man to fail sometimes, and plan out what your reaction will be.
If you are gracious, encouraging, and not condescending, there is a far higher likelihood that the next time a leadership opportunity comes up, he will take it, rather than defaulting to you just because he failed last time.
Build him up! Don't make a big deal out of it if the route he chose to go to the restaurant had more traffic than the one you suggested. Don't be condescending if his idea for how to fix a problem with your house didn't work. Don't be mean if he picked up the wrong thing from the grocery store. Of course, you don't need to lie to him, but simply being gracious, encouraging, and kind will help him overcome these bumps on the road, learn from his mistakes, and continue to step into leadership.
Try letting him have the final say
Making a decision? Let him be the tiebreaker. Trying to choose between two options? Let him pick what he likes best. Trying to figure out where to eat? Have him choose, and then DON'T COMPLAIN.
That's the second part of this: let him have the final say and then happily comply with whatever that decision is. You're not truly giving him the final say if you let him make the decision but then complain about it forever after.
I know this dynamic might sound scary, but it's not. Many households already operate this way, but with the wife having the final say. In fact, that's more common. But if you truly want him to be the leader, letting him have the final say is an effective way to get there.
This is a soft approach, but it is the MOST effective thing I've done in my marriage. By giving him the final say, he feels very loved and respected and in turn desires to bless me and take me into consideration. I used to approach disagreements or decisions from a place of battle, which would cause him to war right back, rather than feel interested in my needs.
When I'm worried about a problem, I take it to him. When we are trying to decide between two things, he gets to make the final choice. And yes, I've noticed that by giving my husband the final say, I've actually gotten MORE of what I've wanted throughout the years than when I would "fight for myself." He is VERY interested in what I desire and always takes that into consideration when making choices. He feels the weighty responsibility that his choices affect both of us, not just himself.
It's made me a happier, more trusting wife, and it's absolutely brought us closer together. And as to the question of, "what if I give him the final say and he makes the wrong choice," well... that happens... sometimes. But it's no different than you having the final say and making the wrong choice. We all live, we all learn, and we can all move forward. It's really not that serious.
So in conclusion? The simple answer for how to get your husband to lead more is really just to refuse to be the leader yourself.
Leadership is ultimately a muscle. Either he's going to work it and use it with opportunities you give him, or he's going to let it get weak as you begin to take everything over. So take some time today to really listen, hang back, and see what happens. You might be surprised as to how quickly he steps into his role!
But that is all I have for you right now my loves!
Stay fresh and stay sweet!