Letting Your Husband Lead

I have to say it wasn’t always easy for me to let John lead. When he and I married in 1990, I was a single mom of a little boy. I was used to making all the rules, so allowing John to lead was really a struggle.

I wanted to set Cory’s bedtime. I wanted to set the rules for discipline. I thought I knew best; after all, I was the mom, and I read all the parenting magazines.

Over time, I realized Cory needed his dad to be a leader. (Otherwise how would he know how to lead his own family some day?) So I stepped back, and John led the way. He was firmer than I was but also full of grace and compassion. He made our son toe the line, and amazingly Cory started acting better and obeying better, and all of our relationships grew!

It was harder, though, letting John lead me spiritually. I was the one who listened to Christian music all day. I was the one who attended Bible study at church. I was the one who had shelves full of devotional books. I made suggestions of how we should do devotions, or pray at dinner, or have family worship time, but the louder I got with my suggestions, the more John pulled away. This frustrated me to no end!

I clearly remember one morning during my personal quiet time when I felt God’s whispers, telling me I was doing a horrible job at being John’s personal Holy Spirit. What?! I was just trying to help … wasn’t I?

I knew then I needed to pray—and to keep my mouth shut. So I did. And things got better. When I stepped back, John stepped forward. He didn’t do things my way, but he was leading and we were drawing closer to God and each other.

Even today, there is a struggle, but I’m working at it. These are things that allow me to help my husband lead on a daily basis:

1. Praying for God to give John wisdom and praying for my tender heart, so I’ll follow.

2. Instead of giving my opinion, asking John for his advice. He’s a very smart guy when I take time to listen!

3. Encouraging my husband when he’s making great choices. For example, when John suggested we read and pray together in the morning, I made sure I was ready and available to do that … even if kids were running around and dozens of other things needed to be done.

4. Providing courage. I’ve learned the men in our lives are often afraid of failing, so it’s easier for them to do nothing than step out of their comfort zone. I try to let John know I’m willing to stick by him and to cheer him on. I also ask what I can to do support him, and I try to follow through.

Letting our husbands lead is a lot of work, but it’s what God asked us to do. It’s also a great example to our kids as they see me giving preference to my husband, and they see John loving and providing as only he can.

P.S. That little boy? Well, he’s grown now, too. And he’s leading his wife and baby son, just like he saw his daddy do.

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22 thoughts on “Letting Your Husband Lead

  1. Hello Tricia!
    You sound like a woman after my own heart: loving parenting, adoption, homeschooling …ah, yes! I’ve done all the above (and am now watching many of our kids parent, adopt and homeschool.)
    I love your article about letting your husband lead. Submission is such a dirty word in our culture: feminists despise it, and the “mutual independence” attitude has even trickled down into the thinking of many sophisticated, educated young Christians I know. So thank you for explaining it so well here.
    I used to attempt to basically force my family to have devotions every day before school. All six kids (and my husband) were just thinking of what they needed to do to get out the door.One day, I finally exploded to my husband, who quietly pointed me to Deut 6. He teaches them as the opportunity presents itself, when they’re much more ready to listen and absorb.
    (I have a whole chapter on this in my book “You Don’t Have to Go It Alone; passing on wisdom about motherhood.)

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    • Thank you for sharing, Kitty! I’ve done that before–trying to force what I thought we needed to do. I’ve discovered that following my Husband’s lead is so much better!

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  2. This is such an important issue! I have heard women say, “My husband just isn’t a leader.” and making other excuses and it is so important to let them have opportunity to lead. It is not about a power struggle.
    I know this is an area in my life that I have to consiously work on a lot of the time. My husband is a good spiritual leader and I know that he is leading us in a good way and it is still hard for me to let him lead sometimes. Even though I grew up with parents that did it the right way.

    Thank-you for this post

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  3. This is an area that needs work in our marriage. I pray for him to lead our family more, but i won’t get out of the way for him to do so….thank you for this reminder.

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  4. So true, Tricia! It is tempting to think I can function as hubby’s Holy Spirit, but when I get out of the way things are so much better.

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  5. Thanks for this Tricia! I struggle so much with this!!! I really need to put this on my daily prayer list!

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  6. Fantastic article! I was thinking, ‘Hey! I know this story! This is me!’ And I can attest to the fact that when I pray and trust God to work in my life and my husband’s life, and when I am able to submit to Him ultimately (by submitting to my husband and letting him lead), I have truly found that when all is said and done, I have peace and joy and that is contagious around the house:) I would also suggest a book called Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. She paints a beautiful portrait of what this can do (display the gospel in our home and to others) and offers AMAZING encouragement! Thanks for the post:)

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  7. Thanks for this Tricia, I just married the love of my life 4 months ago and boy it is really different when your married.. I am born as a leader and I manage to be independent for 29 years.. and now that i am married i am actually in this point of adjustment, wishing my husband to be like me that sometimes we end up arguing.. I just want him to take charge and reach for his dreams.. but what you have written on your article is very true Tricia., I hope and pray that God will change me and be the loving and supportive wife and let my husband lead..

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  8. I enjoyed the article and it is full of wisdom; however, how do you allow your husband to lead when he doesn’t know where he’s going? He once was a prayer warrior and I haven’t seen him praying lately and know that his relationship with the Lord is not where it should be. Should my children (two boys) I still follow?

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  9. I have the same issue/question as Melisa. How do you allow your husband to lead when he doesn’t know where he’s going? When he doesn’t go anywhere? I don’t think my husband prays unless he has a problem. He doesn’t read his Bible. He doesn’t sing in worship time at church, just stands there because he “doesn’t like to sing.” He complains that I am getting “too conservative.” I think, since we’ve had children, that I’ve moved in one direction, and he in another. i feel like the things that are important to him are work and family. If you asked him, he would say God is, but I just don’t see that. I’m sorry–don’t mean to sound judgmental, but it is hard. I wish he would lead spiritually. I do pray about it, but I feel like SOMEONE needs to show my kids the way–and if he won’t do it, then I have to.

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  10. What if I have tried this and now I feel spiritually unmotivated so to speak. Like my husband’s lack of leading has drained me. I used to be so full of joy, hope, love and happiness. Now I feel like I am full of bitterness, annoyance, insecurity and especially at home lose my cool too quickly and snap. I still put effort fourth I serve weekly at my church I try to read my bible or scripture at least once per day.
    In the beginning of our marriage I was on fire for God. We married unequally yoked but 3 months after marriage he became a Christian, got baptized and we even served together. 6 months into marriage I got pregnant and then after giving birth to our beautiful child everything went downhill. We dropped out of small groups he always had doubts if he really was a Christian..then I started doubting and so on so fourth.
    Do you have any advice for me based on the info I have provided?

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  11. Thank you very much Tricia , sometimes I need to be reminded that my husband is more important than my kids !!! In the beggining of Christian life I did the same as you !! But now I know , and I have learned that I have to be wise womam, a woman like in proverbs 14.1 !!! Thank you to reminded me today one more time this !!!
    God Bless you !!!

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  12. So true! Love this article! Thank you so much for opening your heart on this issue (and for your transparency.) It is true- we as women have struggled with this need to “control” our husbands since the Garden! Once we realize this, I believe we will be more aware of it… and allow the true “Holy Spirit” to speak to our husbands (and to us!)

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  13. Your comments on letting the husband lead are right on. As a guy, it feels like we sometimes play the “Alpha-wolf” role in discipline, awkwardly, I must say. That being said, bringing both the male and female personalities into unity is a wonderful thing to experience!

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  14. This is a topic I fight with myself about daily. My husband and I have been married a little over a year and finding that balance of letting him lead and still being true to who I am as well has been by far the most challenging thing in our marriage. My husband is such a wonderful, compassionate man with a huge heart but he is not where I am spiritually which is I guess the fear of letting him lead. LOVED this article about praying for him and his relationship with God and how I can be a better spiritual supporter.

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  15. I am working on stepping back and letting my husband lead, the way he was designed to. I grew up in a family where my mother lead. So it is difficult. But as I trust God, it gets easier.

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