Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series on "Letting Your Husband Lead."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a wife complain that her husband won't lead. Whether he’s failing, in her eyes, to be the “spiritual head of the household” or just not appearing to want to take the lead in parenting, budgeting, or planning the family vacations, many wives believe their husbands are passive.

After 25 years of discipling and mentoring women, I’ve learned now to ask the obvious – but sometimes uncomfortable – question: Have you ever let him lead?

It's a question I've many times had to ask myself. And the answer often rubs against the grain of our pride.

“Basically, men lead best in their homes when their wives let them,” says Bob, who has been married 35 years, and teaches a married couples’ Bible class. “Wives need to know how to step back and acknowledge that their husband has an opinion that is as valid as theirs.”

Bob (and my husband who has more than 20 years experience as a pastor attests to this as well) will see a husband shut down many times because his wife has jumped in and taken the lead, whether it be in a class when they are called upon for input, or in the home, where there isn’t any room for them to be the “head.”  

Some men won’t shut down, they will, instead, go head to head with their wives. But they don’t really want that power struggle. They want to lead as a way of ministering to their wives, so their wives will not feel the burden of having to, themselves.

In his book Sacred Influence, author Gary Thomas says “The typical man remains unmoved by power plays or criticism or by a wife who disrespects him. He’s moved by a wife who lets him lead and then helps him get where he wants to go.”

This is particularly challenging if you are as much of, or more, of a leader than your husband!

Mike, who has been married 12 years to a very capable wife, says: “My wife is a take-charge woman and quite frankly that is the only type of woman that attracts me and interests me. The drawbacks are that her personality can be over-controlling in the household, which can lead to frustration for me and the kids.

“We both want the same types of character developed in our children, but our methods and communication styles are quite different. I think she can find that God would use her husband in more special ways to alleviate her burden of controlling the household by giving me more space to lead the home.”

Our desire, as women, to lead in our homes is natural. We love our husbands and children and we want the best for them. But we can forget that is truly the desire of our husbands, as well. Fathers care just as much for their children as mothers do. And we can forget that our “dark side” is showing when we, in the depths of our hearts, believe we can lead and administrate better than they can.

Why We Won't Let Them Lead

Our desire, as wives, to take over in our homes is a built-in hand-me-down curse of Eve’s that goes back to her sin in the Garden of Eden. In the Genesis 3 account, we read that Eve succumbed to the temptation by the serpent to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit, and then took it upon herself to suggest that her husband, Adam, do the same thing. When he in turn followed, God punished all three of them. The serpent had to eat dust and crawl on his belly all his life. Adam and all men after him would have to work the land, which was cursed with thorns, in order to make a living. And Eve would not only have her pain multiplied in childbirth, but her “desire” would be for her husband and he “would rule over her.”