Encouraging Masculinity in Marriage

Posted on May 30, 2013 | 39 comments

Last week, I received a comment from a blog I posted on masculinity in marriage (see Justifying a Diminished Masculinity).  The comment included a series of questions from a new wife about how to encourage her man’s masculine role in the marriage. Here are the questions distilled from the reader’s response, along with the essence of my answer.

In your opinion, what should we as wives [do] to support and encourage our husbands to embrace their roles as patriarchs in our homes and marriages?…What might I be missing? How can I avoid making my husband feel second-class? What kinds of things show support for his role as husband and father, without becoming burdensome, smothering or naggy?

While both spouses are responsible to God for their behavior, God will ultimately look to the husband for responsibility of the relationship. In Genesis, after Satan’s temptation, God first looked to Adam to answer the question of “what’s going on here?”

I say this because you both have to believe this and want this. Your husband was designed to live into this role and he has to see it and make it his responsibility. It is not up to you to want it for him, that is part of the passivity problem. 

If this is his desire, then you have to give him space to step into it. Give him space to make mistakes. He may not have had masculinity modeled for him at home. If you expect perfection, perfect decision-making, and you hold things against him, then he will shirk away from his masculinity.

Don’t be a gatekeeper. Many wives I talk to use the words “I want to be consulted” or “I want my input valued” to mean that they want final say in the decision. As the wife, your husband’s masculinity should be humble enough to hear and value your input, but the decision may not always go your way. Or his.

Out of his love, your husband should be considering your needs along side of his own. You need to give him your trust that this is true. There will be times when you will disagree for very good reasons on a decision, this is when your trust will be tested.

If you want him to lead, then you need to follow. Can’t tell you how many women complain about their husband’s lack of leadership in one breath, then tear down his skills and disrespect his desires with the next. Instead, try building him up, encouraging him, and allow him to relish that he gets the God-given honor to lead you.

In my opinion, husbands cannot be everything they are capable of if they don’t have a wife moving in the same direction they are. Do not buy into the media hype that husbands are lazy dolts. It is quite possible that your husband sits on the couch watching ESPN because you put him there.

Accept that he is different from you. Masculinity and femininity are different and complementary. Like puzzle pieces that belong together. That is a great thing. But often spouses try to create the other spouse in their own image. See The Accepting Marriage.

Consider his needs alongside your own. I’m sure your emotional and physical needs are different. But nothing will communicate being second class like having to beg for what is needed or desired.

You desire for your husband is communicated in a variety of ways. How you look at him, how you dress, how you pursue him, how you talk about him to others are all ways to show you value his needs.

In the physical area, I’m not saying you need to be on the beck and call 24/7, but I am saying be aware that his desire may be higher (pretty typical in my pastoral experience, but not universal) than your own, and that is important. In this area, honest open communication is crucial.

One word of warning, if you ask your man to open his heart and share what he needs, value his vulnerability. Don’t cut him short with “I’ll never do that”, “it is silly to want that”, or “how does that communicate I love you.”

Make your marriage the primary relationship in the home. Your relationships with the kids should not drive the home. Nor should you put your trust in a girlfriend, parent or sibling over and above your husband. These are significant relationships, but not the person that God has said should love you like Christ loved the church – giving his life for her.

You putting primacy on the marital relationship is what your kids need to see for their own sense of security and masculinity/femininity. It is also what both of you need to not feel left out, unwanted, or second class.

Love your self. If you do not think you are worth loving, how can you expect that your husband will. The ability to love your self (and hence to selflessly love your husband) can only come from having an identity rooted in Christ (see Loving Your Self). Not seeking your own security or validation in the marriage, but knowing the truth of who you are in Christ.

Have grace for your self in the process. A husband just wants to know he is worth the effort.

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  1. Visiting from the Desire to Inspire link-up. : ) The line that struck me the hardest was this: “nothing will communicate being second class like having to beg for what is needed or desired.” As a mama of four, I tend to get busy and I often fail to make my husband’s needs a priority. I’m good at considering my children’s feelings and needs, but since he is an adult, I find myself thinking that he’ll be okay; he understands. Lately, I’ve been more aware of how I put off listening to him, etc. This post is a good reminder to show him consideration and respect. Thanks! 🙂

  2. This is timely, as I’m thinking of husbands and healthy marriages for a post I’m writing this week for a special needs website. In families with kids with special needs (or with any challenges to the kids) divorce rates are higher because the burden of care is often heaviest on the wife, and the burden on the marriage is heavier than normal – it requires more of everyone. It becomes an incredibly difficult balance to be a wife who wants to honor her husband’s leadership/manhood, but she is, in fact, the expert on the child and often the family dynamics around it. That’s been our experience. I’ve had to learn how to ask for my husband’s input, to let go and let him take authority in ways that sometimes end up losing us ground in our children’s therapies. As I’ve done that, he’s sought and trusted my information more, because he’s seen that like in any role he has in life, he needs to learn to lead well.

    • Thanks for sharing. My sister was a quadriplegic , so I have seen first hand the impact special needs and care has on relationships and households. The special need makes is that much harder to keep the marriage relationship as the primary one. It is so encouraging that you are aware and making efforts – although admittedly difficult – to honor your husband. It is so good that God is One of grace, teaching us as we navigate this world. I’m thankful that you participated in the conversation.

  3. My sister-in-law always reminds me of this with my older boys…to let them be men so they’re good at it later on. 😉 well she used to, they’re grown now, and good at being men now. 🙂

    It’s important to let people step into and flourish in their roles. Thank you for sharing this!

    I’m visiting today from Thursday’s Favorite Things.

  4. My sister-in-law always reminds me of this with my older boys…to let them be men so they’re good at it later on. 😉 well she used to, they’re grown now, and good at being men now. 🙂

    It’s important to let people step into and flourish in their roles. Thank you for sharing this!

    I’m visiting today from Thursday’s Favorite Things.

    • Our parents are our examples of masculinity and femininity and how they interact. Great reminder. Glad your boys learned to be men.

  5. Great Post! It’s refreshing to have a mans perspective on the topic! Thanks as always for Linking up at Thrilling Thursday! Sorry, I was later then usual getting it posted- the man is on vacation this week and blogging has taken a side seat 😉

  6. Thanks so much for this. As a young wife, I have often struggled with this. I am a very strong personality and have no problem saying my opinion about things. It has been a real learning process for me to allow my husband to lead me. But, it has been incredible to watch him develop gifts that he never even realized he had. I am really thankful for God’s plan for marriage- because my plan for it would not have worked!!

  7. This is so well put. I think the best advice I was ever given as a young wife was to trust the God that was in my husband. That thought brought me the confidence that God would direct my husband & then us 🙂 My trusting & believing in my husband caused him to grow in desire to do the right thing before God, for me & for our family. Thank you for sharing this. I visited from Fellowship Fridays 🙂

  8. Well said! Refreshing to hear–especially in the midst of a world that is so aggressively attacking this biblical principle. A similar post could be written (if not already?) encouraging understanding and honor for wives from husbands. Husbands and wives that have striven to live and reflect these truths have had a very positive, lasting impression on me; it shows up in some of the seemingly ‘smallest’ details to others.

    • Thanks for visiting. And such a post as you mentioned is being worked on! Have a great day.

  9. This is great! Thanks for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!
    Sue @thet2women.com

  10. Excellent post, Scott! Thanks for the advice!

  11. Thank you for sharing your perspective. For the most part in our marriage, I get my way, but I know when he voices an opinion on something, he means that it’s serious and therefore I should defer to his opinion on the matter, even if mine differs. We have very few arguments, speak openly, and I want to be his support for the rest of our lives. As far as I know, he is very happy Thank you for reassuring me that I am making the right moves in my marriage.

    Stopping by from the hop!

  12. I LOVE this post. I wrote about a similar topic on my blog in regards to marriage in a Christian home, and the roles of men and women in a marriage. Feel free to check it out at http://www.domesticatedcombatboots.com/2013/05/marriage-in-christian-home.html and http://www.domesticatedcombatboots.com/2013/05/marriage-in-christian-home-pt-2.html . I found you on weekend social blog hop! Consider me your newest follower!

    • I definitely will check out your posts. Thanks for dropping by Choose to Trust. Hope you come back.

  13. Great point. Being married for two years, I need a Godly advice on how to encourage masculinity in marriage. I often failed to some of the things mentioned here. Looking to strive to be the better wife God destined me to be. I totally agree on the statement: “Make your marriage the primary relationship in the home.”
    Visiting you from the Happy Wives Club Link Up.

  14. The polarity of masculinity and femininity is so beautiful. Such perfect fits for one another that should be celebrated but seem to be undervalued in our society. Love this post, especially about trusting him and making the marriage the primary relationship. So easy to become complacent and forget what’s important. Thank you for wonderful advice.

  15. Thank you for the reminders and suggestions. It is important that both husband and wife recognize their roles and responsibilities and help each other fulfill them.

    Also, I’m happy to be your newest follower! I’d love it if you could take a second to check out my blog and follow me back 🙂

    Thanks so much,
    Tyson@Uplifting Love

  16. I enjoyed reading this. I liked the line where you mentioned a couple being like two puzzle pieces connected together. That’s a wonderful image and way to see a relationship. Thank you (thanks for linking up with my blog this week too)

  17. Thanks for sharing at “Tell Me a Story.” Your insight is greatly appreciated. Some men did not have good role models to follow as far as becoming the spiritual leader in the home. I am thankful that many churches offer classes on marriage and helps in this department.

  18. Great advice! making the marriage the primary relationship seems to be so controversial but I am yet to interview a couple who has been happily married 20+ years who did not do this very thing. And you know what? Their children are stronger with healthier relationships of their own because of it.

    • Totally true. Children get security from parents whose primary relationship is the marriage. They also get a model of masculinity and femininity. Thanks for reading!

  19. There’s so much that I love about this post, Scott. Where to begin? First of all, I love that you point out the difficulty men have in leading. I think sometimes they do have to make the hard decisions (if we’ll let them!) and we forget that it’s equally hard on them to make the hard choices. I also love that you mention giving your husband “space” to lead. I think that’s hard to do, but I’ve seen it really minister to my husband and empower him in ways that I’ve cheated him on in the past. In fact, just yesterday I probably didn’t give him the “space” to lead. I’m going to take your words here to heart and improve in this area … as well as tell a group of young wives I’ve been mentoring to read this! It really strikes at the heart of many of their struggles. Thanks so much Scott!

    • Your well thought through comments always encourage. Thanks for reading!

  20. I know we let our marriage change with kids until we figured out that our marriage had to come first. That that would be best for the kids.

    • Kids seeing mom and dad work on their marriage first teaches them so much. Masculinity, femininity and how to deal with rubbing up against another’s brokenness. Thanks for reading.

  21. As a mom of 5 sons – learning to appreciate the differences between men and women – and valuing those differences – and in the process, letting my husband be the man God made him – I think it is so important to rip off the mask our culture puts on men – and rediscover the nobleness, strength, courage, protectiveness – and insight men bring to the table – I love this post – it’s a message dear to my heart!

  22. I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven’t already this week. The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday’s at midnight. http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/. Hope you will join us!
    Have a wonderful week!
    Hugs, Cathy

    • Thanks for the invite. I’ll be over this week! Thanks for reading.

  23. Great post! So contrary to what most of our culture would have us believe about men/women/marriage. I like the point about men and women being different but complimentary, and following so that he’ll lead. Thanks for sharing! I found your post at the Cozy Reading Spot. 🙂

  24. RESPECT, RESPECT, RESPECT! Happily married to a man I highly respect and love for 29 years 🙂

  25. Great post! Love the encouragement and reminder to make marriage the primary. It is too easy for the wife to get so involved in the children and their needs that hubby is just set aside as mom gives all her energy and all her emotions to her kids. We have to guard and nurture our relationship with our husbands!

    Thanks so much for linking up to “Making Your Home Sing Monday!”

  26. Thanks for sharing this excellent advice! Men today are so confused about what women want (with good reason) and with what it means to be a man and most have no idea what the Bible really teaches! If women want a masculine man, they can start by being more feminine. That should help encourage a man’s masculinity and protection. I love the tips you’ve shared as well!

    Thanks for linking up for Marriage Monday!

  27. I really enjoyed reading this post. Reading right after I wrote about a situation in our marriage where he was leading, just not like I expected was pretty interesting. 🙂
    I’m sharing this with my readers tomorrow at Matrimonial Monday. Thanks for linking up!

  28. I would love to hear more about what you think husbands should do in marriage 🙂 Sometimes it seems as if women are bombarded on all sides (from both men and other women) with what we should be doing for our men (Don’t get me wrong, I agree with them, and appreciate the opportunities to learn and grow). However, God’s word has plenty to say about what men should do in marriage as well. And sometimes I feel like the focus from the Christian community tends to be more on what women need to be doing to be better submissive wives, but not on what men should be doing to be godly leaders in the home.

    Unfortunately, I feel that this discrepancy feeds right into the misconceptions that the world already has about Biblical oppression of women. The reason it’s not oppression is because there are sooo many expectations on our men as well, but so often those are forgotten and left out of the conversation, and too often women are blamed for everything wrong in relationships, while men shoulder none of the blame.

    • Thanks. I agree with you on so much being directed toward women. Part of that is our media culture which undercuts men. Part is that we allow our men to stay boys, and it is thus women who have to fill the void left by men who have not grown up. I like the idea, and some stuff is rumbling around. Maybe tomorrow or next week I’ll write on this, and you can tell me what you think. Thanks for reading and responding Crystal.

  29. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for linking up with Scattering the Stones.


  1. Matrimonial Monday #40 - A Proverbs 31 Wife - […] Choose to Trust, I found some very interesting thoughts on masculinity. In our world (at least here in the…

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