Leading your wife is more than setting goals and giving instructions. It isn’t less than that, but it is so much more. The foundation of leadership in marriage is building a relationship with your wife. This creates an environment where your wife wants to follow you.
“A husband’s assignment is to lead in such a way that makes it reasonable and enjoyable for her to follow.”
Husbands are called to lead. But what does that look like? I think of 4 words using the acrostic LEAD.
Husbands LOVE their wives more than themselves. This is a husband’s first job. Every act of leadership should be measured against the attributes listed in 1 Corinthians 13. Leadership starts with love, is motivated by love, and is carried out with love. Leadership without love is control.
Husbands ENGAGE with God daily for strength, wisdom, and self-control. The leadership necessary to grow a thriving marriage and raise a Godly family is impossible without regularly engaging with the God of the universe, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Husbands ACCEPT responsibility for the condition of the marriage. They are always asking the question, “How is my leadership impacting the condition of my marriage?” Husbands are slow and careful to point fingers at their wives and will never do so before pointing them at themselves.
Husbands are DECISIVE when decisions need to be made. Husbands don’t abdicate responsibility to their wives. Husbands gather facts, perspectives, and wisdom from others, especially their wives, and make the best decision for the family’s good.
If you’re a husband, please lead.
25 Ways To Lead Your Wife
What does this leadership look like? We could come up with thousands of examples, but here are 25 ways to get you started:
- Follow Christ – Being a good leader starts with being a good follower. Know Christ. Obey Christ. Spend regular time with him. Every other act of leadership flows from this step.
- Pray with and for her – Prayer gives perspective, demonstrates dependency, cultivates intimacy, and provides power and protection for your marriage.
- Take her to church – Don’t give up the habit of meeting together with other people going in the same direction as you. Your marriage needs community and a regular reminder of truth from God’s word.
- Take care of yourself – Work out, eat healthily, and get a good night’s rest every night. You’ll look better, feel better, and you’ll be around a lot longer. Do what you can to not allow your failing health to be a burden to your wife.
- Get a life insurance policy – The last thing you want your wife to worry about if you pass unexpectedly is money. Term life insurance is cheap and worth every penny.
- Provide for her – Pursue a career that you’re passionate about and will provide for your family. Work hard every day and continually seek to improve your skills to be a more valuable asset to your current and future employers.
- Do the dishes – Help out around the house. I know it’s the last thing you feel like doing at the end of the day, but help your wife out so you can spend quality time together more quickly at the end of the night.
- Put the kids to bed – Bedtimes are for kids, but they are also for parents. Have some structure in your evenings so you and your wife can spend time together each night.
- Help her identify and develop her gifts – Find out what your wife is passionate about and gifted at and help her develop those areas. Ask her how you can help her achieve her dreams. She is a wife and a mom but also a woman. Help her preserve and develop that identity.
- Encourage her to hang out with her friends – You are not all the community your wife needs. She needs girlfriends, which requires her to spend time with just the girls. Encourage her to hang out with her friends and have a good attitude.
- Compliment how she looks – Notice her haircut, the new outfit, and when she looks nice. Look for ways to compliment her appearance regularly.
- Don’t only compliment how she looks – You and your wife aren’t getting any younger, and your physical appearance is slowly deteriorating. If you only compliment her looks, you might create insecurity as her body changes. As much as you compliment her looks, compliment her character even more. Tell her often what you love about her. Think small, not big. Send a short text, make a quick phone call, and take a 30-second pause to praise your wife’s character.
- Take her out – Your wife wears multiple hats during the day, and it’s easy for her to forget that she is also a wife. Initiate, schedule, and plan a regular date night so you and your wife can be husband and wife.
- Make decisions together – You’re probably a capable decision-maker, but you’re even more skilled with your wife’s help. You are better together. Ask for her opinion and consider her perspective.
- Tell her about your day – The events of your day may seem insignificant to you, but they aren’t to your wife. Let her into your world. Answer her questions. Proactively share what’s going on in your world.
- Share your feelings with her – You don’t have to get mushy, but go a little deeper than just sharing the facts of your day. Share how the facts made you feel.
- Say, “I was wrong” – Humility is required for a healthy marriage to survive, and there’s no more significant act of humility than admitting wrong. Say it, and say it often.
- Raise your voice – It will be tempting for you to go passive in some way, shape, or form in your marriage. Resist that temptation and speak up when needed. This isn’t a license for you to be harsh or controlling, but rather to lead strongly when necessary. Your marriage needs your leadership.
- Lower your voice – Always speak gently and lovingly with your wife. Resist the temptation to rely on the strength of your voice to lead your wife. Leadership without love is just control.
- Hang around friends that lead you in the right direction – Who are you hanging out with the most? Are your friends a source of security or insecurity for your wife? You are a product of the company you keep. Hang out with good guys who inspire, challenge, and hold you accountable.
- Be strong when she’s weak – You, your wife, and your marriage have weak spots. Know what circumstances create “slippery” places for your marriage and avoid them. When those circumstances are unavoidable, develop, communicate, and stick to a plan to protect your marriage.
- Listen to her – Chances are, your wife likes to talk. Create space in your day to listen to her. Ask about her day and listen. And when you think you’re done listening, listen some more.
- Ask her how you can love and lead her better – Your wife sees things about your leadership that you are unaware of, and that needs to change. God gave you a wife (in part) to help you see and become better in those areas.
- Tell her what God is doing in your life –Tell her what you’re reading and what stood out. This is one of the most intimate types of communication you can have.
- Love Jesus more – To lead your wife, you need to be in front of her. Not because you’re more important but because it is your role. Don’t do this to hold it over her head or to get in a competition with her, but strive to love Jesus in a way that challenges, inspires, and encourages your wife to do the same.
Focus on the process of your leadership more than the product of your leadership. The product of your leadership is ultimately up to God, but the process is up to you. If you become too focused on the product, you’ll be tempted to control it. As I said earlier, leadership without love is just control. Focus on the process of your leadership and entrust the product to God.
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.