The idea of roles in marriage is filled with land mines. Many people have misused and misinterpreted the beautiful verses in the Bible to make them say what they want to. Few people have actually seen healthy couples live out roles well and often have incorrect views of Biblical roles. We have visions of quiet wives who say nothing, men who dominate and abuse their families all based on Ephesians 5, completely missing the point of this passage.
In thinking about how a husband helps his wife flourish and become all that God has called her to be, here are 5 ways men often fail and how to work against these problems to create the picture described in Ephesians 5:
- Spiritually apathetic. This husband completely abdicates his role as the spiritual leader of his family. He often will not go to church with his wife and kids and if he does, he is very passive. Not getting involved, not praying with his wife or kids, not praying at dinner, not guiding his kids spiritually, not asking questions, not reading the Scripture to them. He lets that up to the church or his wife.
- Workaholic. This husband sees being a husband simply as providing for the needs of his family. While that is part of being a husband, there is more to it than making money so there is a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food on the table. This type of man is disconnected from the family in some very important ways.
- Dictator. This husband uses his role as a way to control and get his way, all the time. It doesn’t matter how he gets his way and it doesn’t matter what happens because he has gotten his way. He just wants his way. Often, he will use Bible verses to get it. This husband will treat his wife and kids as slaves and orders them around. Often, this will lead to physical abuse, which is nowhere near what Paul had in mind in Ephesians 5 when he called men to be the head of their house.
- Emotionally detached. This is the husband who is the head of the family in name only. He has nothing to do with his wife, kids. He does not lead them in any form. He simply sits by, dictating when he doesn’t like something, letting his wife take on his role and responsibility and basically do everything he is supposed to do. Emotionally, he does not know how to relate to his and kids. He does not know how to connect to his family, he is distant.
- Irresponsible. This is the husband who buys things without consulting his wife, makes decisions on his own and generally puts his family in financial, relational, physical and emotional danger because “He is the head of the house.” This husband sees leadership as a club to get to do what he wants.
If you are married and curious to know how your marriage is in this area, here is a simple question to ask: is the wife flourishing?
When a man fulfills the role God has called him to in marriage, his wife will flourish. She will have room to grow, there will be grace for her to deal with past hurts in her life, she will be able to use her gifts to bless her family and the world around her, she will have freedom to be who God has called her to be.
I often tell our church: Husbands should create an umbrella under which a woman is protected to become the woman God has called her to be.