Wives: How to give in & be led
by Christie Browning
I’m the type of gal who doesn’t like to be told what to do. I have fully bought into the line “you’re not the boss of me!” And while sometimes that confident independence is what fuels my ambition and success, other times it causes riffs in my relationships….especially my marriage. I have had to learn how to be okay with not always being charge, having it my way and letting my husband take the lead. In fact, I can point to one ultimate scenario where it was necessary to give in and be led.
Mat and I had just moved into our home in a small lake community when we woke up to a house fire next door. After making sure the neighbors were okay and the fire department had been called, we recognized the need to do a little preparation on our own home. Our houses were close enough that it was very plausible that our house would soon catch on fire. We knew we needed to prepare for the worst. I was emotional from the first flame I saw. Mat was cool and calm and carefully explained that we needed to go back inside and gather some belongings and clothes in case we happened to be displaced from our home. I nodded without much discussion and followed him back into the house to our bedroom. Mat carefully packed a perfect bag of clothes for several days. I walked in circles in my bedroom and couldn’t even think where to begin. Mat, urged by the lingering danger, spoke curtly and directed me to gather clothes, throw them in the nearby laundry basket, and get out of the house. I reached into the my closet and grabbed whatever my hands could touch in one swoop, threw it all in the basket, and dashed back out of the house.
Thankfully no one was hurt in the fire and yes, our house did sustain some damage but we were able to return to it later that day. When we did, unpacking our belongings became part of the day’s chores. Mat carefully placed his three pairs of socks, three shirts and three shorts back in their drawers. My basket was not so well-thought. It contained a sequin top, a cocktail dress I hadn’t worn in years, a few blouses I would wear to work or church — there were no pants, no shoes and definitely no undergarments. Let’s just say…if we had been displaced, I would have taken the award for Strangest Dressed at the Red Cross.
In those crisis moments, while I’d like to think that I am take charge kinda gal, I am not cut to handle the pressure of those scenarios. While Mat was “bossing” me around, on a normal day I would have pushed back, but then… I knew he was in control and more importantly, I could trust that he was looking out for me and trying to take care of me.
It makes me stop and think why sometimes us gals have a hard time being led by the men in our lives, and I’ve got a few ideas….
#1: We fear our man can’t handle it — Maybe you’re used to juggling some important tasks and responsibilities in your home. You’ve got a system, a routine, a way of doing things and the thought of letting your man take over scares you. He may not fold the clothes the same, pack the kids’ lunches like you or even budget the family finances they way you would do it, but what if you let him do it his way? He might just thrive in his own way if you were to back off and let him be … him!
#2: We can’t trust that his intentions are pure — If we let our men call the shots, maybe we are worried about being taken advantage of. Maybe we are concerned that our needs won’t be met. Maybe we can’t trust that he will come through for us. I bet that’s not really the case, but something has let this fear creep in. I encourage you to think about what would increase that level of trust and comfort for you and then communicate it. Maybe it’s having a regular conversation about that part of your life. Maybe you need to be included in some key discussions. Whatever might help you, will certainly help him support you more.
#3: We fear we’ll lose our identity if we let him take over — As a woman, our identity and worth can be closely linked to what we do. Therefore, when we look at the option of letting go of a few things and letting our men take the lead, we worry that somehow our worth, significance and value may be diminished. It’s like the employee who is so worried she’ll be replaced that she won’t delegate any tasks and works herself to death to keep up. Our marriages can be like that too. In this scenario, we need to be reminded about what makes us valuable in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, and also keep in mind that our greatest joy can come from supporting and building up the other people in our lives…especially our husbands.
#4: We don’t want to lose our say in the matter — This is a common sticking point when it comes to money and kids. We don’t want to turn over the family finances to the man because we don’t want to lose the chance to weigh in on the subject. We don’t want to turn over the role of discipline in the house because we don’t want to lose a say there too. This makes sense…I’ve been there. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. In all things, it’s important to have conversations about decisions in your home and about your family. Make it a point to discuss often what is going on in your marriage and your family so that you can be sure you and your man are on the same page.
#5: We literally don’t know how to let go — If you’re a middle-aged dog like me, it can be hard to learn some new tricks. Even young women who are charged to take the lead have a hard time letting go. If this is you, become more aware of when you tend to charge ahead. Knowing and recognizing those moments are part of the battle. Then you can stop yourself and deflect to your mate when it’s necessary. Start with just one thing or one aspect of your lives together. Then, you can expand once you’ve got that mastered. For me, I started with the calendar. I don’t run Mat’s schedule nor do I expect for him to morph into compliance when it comes to my schedule. I started simply telling folks that I need to talk to Mat first before committing to things. This was a huge change in my behavior, but one that has paved the way to many other “letting-go” moments.
We aren’t perfect, Mat and I. Sometimes we both want to fight for the lead. In those moments, someone has to concede and it’s much better if you aren’t keeping score. Remember, being led and doing the leading is not an all-or-nothing thing. There are definitely things Mat takes the lead on and then there are others that I call the shots. But here’s the thing…. neither of us call the shots without first remembering that we are on the same team. Conversation and consideration go a long way to making the lead trade-off happen easily.