20 Ways to Lead Your Wife

Today’s post comes from our friend Sara Horn. You may not agree with all of it – neither does everyone here at Thriving Marriages! – but there’s a lot of good stuff in here that you should check out. Share this with your spouse and have talk together about what you think. 

When I went through my Proverbs 31 experiment a few years ago, I remember reading the P31 passage and asking out loud one day on Facebook, tongue firmly planted in cheek, where the husband’s 21-verse list was. One of my friends, Dan, brought up Ephesians 5, where men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

At the time, in the cynical sarcastic season of life that I was, I was more than a little dubious. “That’s great,” I wrote in my book My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife. “Men, you love your wives, but wives, you get to cookin’.”

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I’ve come to know differently now.

To love someone the way Christ loved the church isn’t easy. It’s not simple. After all, Christ loved the church so much, He was willing to die on a cross for the church – for us. He took ridicule and torment and harassment…for us. He watched even His closest supporters – His disciples – let him down – and yet He still loved us so much, He went through the crucifixion because He knew what His resurrection would bring. Salvation. An eternity with Him and not apart from Him.

So husbands are called to love their wives with a love equal to the love Christ showed us… Not an easy task or calling when you look at the weight of what it means.

I suppose, though, (OK, I know, because I hear from women every week on this topic) for just as many of us women who ignore our calling to submit – there are many men who would prefer not to notice their calling either. It’s much easier to point out what the other spouse is supposed to do, and refuse to do our part, until they’re willing to do theirs.

But someone has to go first, and husbands, since you are asked to lead, please allow me to humbly encourage you to do so.

I do get it – us wives aren’t easy to lead. You may have tried to lead your wife and be a leader in your home and you’ve been told you aren’t doing it right, or you’re not leading well or how she thinks you should be leading, or maybe you’ve been told you’re leading too well (as in “back off dude, you’re all up in my territory.”)

I get it. I totally get it. We aren’t easy to lead and sometimes us wives can be downright frustrating. And I can say that because I’m uh, ahem, one of them. (You and my hubby should talk sometime – then again, maybe not.)

But here’s what I know, and what I’ve learned over the last couple of years. When my husband makes the effort to genuinely lead me and our family modeling the love that Christ shows the church, I don’t push away. I don’t turn my nose up and shake my head at God and say “what are You thinking?” When my husband leads me in love, I respond in love. 

So, please give this whole leader of your marriage and family thing another try. And if you need some ideas on how to get started (in no particular order) – please keep reading.

20 Ways to Lead Your Wife

1. Make the big decisions. This doesn’t mean you’re on your own to decide what car to buy or whether to take the job on the other side of the country. Your wife has a lot of wisdom and intuition you should take advantage of. But don’t leave the big decisions to your wife to make. If she’s stressing over a financial question or what’s best for the kids, be confident and make the decision for both of you. Let her know it will be ok whatever the outcome.

2. Make a decisionYou can be great delegators, men. But when you delegate everything to your wife to decide, you’re not leading. You’re dumping. So help decide small things too. Like an answer to the timeless question “what’s for dinner?” Or what to do with the kids while you are both out of town. She will love you for it.

3. Pray for her. Let her know you’re praying for her.

4. Look out for her health. Make sure she takes care of herself the same way she takes care of the rest of your family.

5. Ask her how her day is going. Send her a text or give her a quick call while you’re away at work. Let her know you care.

6. Listen to what she says. When you hear what she says and actually maybe even ask about it later, it tells her you care. And she’s much more willing to follow the lead of someone she knows who cares.

7. Listen to what she doesn’t say. I know. This one’s a little harder. But just as important. Though you may think we never hold anything back because we speak thousands of more words than you do each day – we do. Our deep insecuriies, our worries, our fears.

8. Notice when she’s made too many time commitments and say so. It’s hard for us to say no sometimes. Help us. (Yes, this one’s tough and we may not listen at first, but say something.)

9. Notice when she’s lonely and encourage her. Your wife, believe it or not, needs other women for friends and encouragement. While taking care of her family and you is something I’m sure she enjoys doing most of the time – she will enjoy doing it more when she has other women to talk to and bounce life off of them – (or do you really want to hear about how hard it is to get the stains out of cloth diapers yet another time?) So… if your wife is avoiding events at church or after work or with her normal group of friends and she blames it on being too busy at home – tell her those things will wait, and encourage her to get out and get some girl time. It will probably be the  recharge that she needs.

10. Don’t tell her she has to follow (or submit) to you. Good leaders don’t have to enforce their leadership. And submission towards a husband from a wife is a voluntary act on her part in submission first to God. So don’t give her any reason why she wouldn’t want to.

11. Notice the things she does for your family. Tell her how much you appreciate them.

12.  Initiate more, settle less. I think a lot of times wives jump into the leadership role in a home because they notice that their husbands refuse to, or are reluctant to. So don’t wait on her to make a suggestion on how to solve a problem, whether it’s paying a bill or disciplining one of your kids. You take charge in what needs to be done.

13. See your role as a husband as a calling from God. Just as wives blossom when they see the purpose God’s called them to as a wife or as a mom, husbands can excel when they first understand they’ve been called to lead their wives and families.

14. Pursue your own relationship with God first. If God isn’t first in your life, it will be harder for you to make the right choices and decisions for your family, and it will be even harder for your wife to follow you.

15.  Be the first to say you’re sorry. If you have an argument with your wife, don’t wait for her to be the first to apologize. You initiate the conversation. By doing so, you’re leading your marriage and your family.

16. Learn how to lead from other men. Find good spiritual mentors in your church who have solid marriages and solid walks with Christ. Observe how they lead their wives and families, and ask them how they do it.

17. Give her time to herself. Take the kids out for a Saturday morning outing, even if it’s to the grocery store, and give her some time to do whatever she wants – the only condition is it can’t have anything to do with chores.

18. Look out for her mental health by running a bubble bath for her once in a while. Remind her of the importance of finding downtime.

19. Be the one who disciplines your kids. Don’t leave all of the childrearing up to your wife. Take an active role in your children’s lives which includes teaching them right from wrong.

20. Find little ways to let her know you’re there for her. For me, when he’s home, my husband makes a point to always pack me up when I travel. It’s something he’s very good at, and it makes me feel good knowing he’s looking out for me.

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