For single men and those starting out a relationship I think having the headship conversation is something you should do. In fact, in general it is a good idea to have your own ‘Bible Study’ (if you’re Protestant) and or review of teaching (if you’re Catholic and/or Orthodox (?)) on the Scriptures that pertain to the husband and wife relationships.
This is something that you will be leading, so you need to be prepared. Relevant passages to study are: Genesis 1-3, Proverbs 31, other verses pertaining to the wife in Proverbs, 1 Corinthians 7, 11, and 14, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2, 1 Timothy 2, and 1 Peter 3. Bonus points for passages such as Numbers 30.
This conversation is not so much as a ‘discussion’ as it will be you telling her your vision for the relationship (in terms of Biblical standards) and finding out if she is on board. The leader of the relationship is the one who defines the vision, sets the tone, and leads by example. That is the calling of the husband.
Obviously, you will be looking for feedback and counterpoints, but ultimately it is up to you to determine if you can live with ‘how she is following’ in your relationship or if she is incompatible with your vision.
What I was personally looking for is not necessarily if she has the correct views since popular culture is so prevalent, but if she is willing to be a follower and understanding to make changes to her views and life accordingly. I explained those things in the previous link above. Correct views right off the bat tend to signal whether her upbringing was good which is definitely very important, but if she is willing to be your helpmeet for your vision is also important as well. You need and want both.
Here’s another point to consider that a commenter wrote in about:
And of course, there is this skill that will never be taught but most husbands will need and be tested on — managing and handling his spouse’s emotional upheavals (which, more often than not, lead to irrational thoughts and behaviour). Right now, there’s a fair amount of obeying the wife-to-be and sacrificing from the husband-to-be (i.e., yours truly).
One of the things I told me girlfriend is that my leadership style is very ‘non-chalant’ shall we say. The things that are important to the relationship I will speak on and I expect (1) her input and (2) her obedience as they are necessary to function well. In regard to a lot of the other minor choices in the relationship such as ‘what to wear’ or ‘what matches’ and other things like that I don’t sweat them, but I will make the decision if she doesn’t want it.
Since women are conditioned by popular culture and even churchians to ‘be leaders’ and ‘be independent’ and ‘make those tough decisions’ they will come with that mindset in the relationship. Thus, many women, although not all, tend to get into the mindset that if they are making [any] decisions in the relationship that they are in charge. Most women don’t like that as decisions are weighty, and they don’t like the responsibility. Still others get on a power trip.
When women feel this way, they become disgruntled, dissatisfied, and unhappy with the relationship because she feels like she has to be the man. Thus, heading it off at the outset and establishing the vision is important.
Even if it ‘feels’ like I’m not leading or in charge I am.
Thus, she may need to reign herself in and come to me more because she is trying to do too much herself. Like it or not, most women, even Christians, will still attempt to try to have it all at times. That’s one of the strong temptations that women deal with. Establishing the relationship in this manner allows you to more easily have her acknowledge the temptation and admit where she is in error if she starts to go off the reservation.
I’ve personally held numerous Bible studies going over these passages as the relationship has progressed. This is for a few reasons.
- It’s a continual reminder of the standards and benefits of grounding the relationship of Scripture and thus Christ.
- Each relationship should be continually growing. Going back over these passages as you grow in your relationship yields additional insights as you are progressing in growth. These should be tangible things that both of you can pick out as you grow. It should not be one sided growth where you are the only one growing. She should be growing and changing as well.
- This also allows you to point out areas where you are not growing and/or are off track. This is probably more important than finding areas where you are growing because identifying areas of where you are failing is much like Christian repentance. You need to acknowledge where you sin and repent and turn from your ways.
#3 typically is very difficult for men to do because it means calling out women, specifically their woman, on bad behavior. However, this gives you a lot of important data such as how she reacts in conflict situations and/or if she will apologize and repent of her actions. A woman that refuses to do any of that is not good wife material period.
- Have the headship conversation with your significant other.
- Study the Scriptures on husband-wife relationships with her. Some of them are hard words, so you better be prepared for a difficult conversation.
- Define your vision for the relationship. Tell, don’t discuss. Lead by example.
- See if she is willing to follow and grow in that visions (e.g. be a helpmeet).
- Tell her your leadership style. Maybe you’re more structured or less structured. Explain how this plays into what you see for you and her.
- Tell her that you will tell her when she’s going off the reservation. Calling out women is difficult but a very needed skill.
- Revisit the Scriptures as you progress in your relationship. This will allow you to reaffirm the foundation, see the good growth, and acknowledge each where you were in error and/or had failings and change.
A lot of these things were learned the hard way, but continually coming back to what the Scriptures say about relationships is important.