How can a wife encourage (not nag) her husband to lead

This question came up on the reddit, and I don’t think I’ve actually covered a way for wives to do it without nagging. Essentially, Cane’s analogy of learning to “bow lower” is a good one for these types of situations.

You do need to learn how to encourage (not force) him to take the reigns in the relationship if you want to succeed in the long term and not just find someone else to marry.

One way to do this is to always “bow lower” (e.g. submit to his submission) if he brings out his own submissive attitude wants you to make the decision. Example:

“I like it when you take charge and make the decisions”

If he’s really beat down in his decision making, he might say “but I want to know what you think” in which case you should not offer a decision/opinion (because he will pick that one). Instead, go over some pros of one decision and pros of another.

“I like this because [insert opinion] and I like this other because [insert opinion]. They’re both good options to me.”

Then he will have to pick between them making it actually his decision. If you did prefer one over the other but they are both good choices, just bite the bullet.

Then actually follow it up with more encouragement, appreciation, and gratitude showing that you like his decision either way (even if you didn’t like it). Might be awkward at first, but practice it is good.

Notice throughout the wifely parts of the interactions, the wife is not telling her husband what to do (“I like it when you make decisions”). She’s basically putting the ball back in his court by talking about herself and encouraging him at the same time. This is different from focuses on what the husband is not doing which is similar to and often comes off as nagging (“you should make the decisions” which is similar to nagging “you should do this and that”). The “you” is more accusatory and trying to directly influence what the husband is doing and comes off as disrespectful which directly sabotages what the wife wants to do.

Once a man gets some good decisions under his belt, he’s much more likely to start to take hold of it and run with it. Men that are beat down by the society, culture, and even the Church about decision making will be very hesitant and will often think to defer to their woman/wife. They need encouragement to take the baby steps sometimes.

They’re not going to get it anywhere else except from their woman/wives in most cases.

Indeed, for wives or anyone under authority, you need to take the same attitude of what Jesus did when He was praying to the Father: state your options but “not my will but yours be done.” Cane’s analogy was of the servants of old and serving their masters in the Bible: “what can I do that would please my lord?”. Both are the correct respectful attitude.

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7 Responses to How can a wife encourage (not nag) her husband to lead

  1. Jack says:

    Were *women* asking these questions on Reddit?

  2. @ Jack

    Yes. Supposedly at least. 🙂

    Though you can usually tell if they’re transparent enough.

  3. I don’t disagree with what you are saying here. However I think that this is the usually the wrong question for a woman to ask. I’ve asked this question before. But when I think back. The problem was never that my husband wasn’t leading. He just wasnt doing what I wanted him to do. It’s like this: the woman wants her husband to take the family to church so she sits back and waits for him to do it. Then when he doesn’t do it and she says “how do I get my husband to lead?” Well probably church just isn’t important to her husband. If church was important to the man then he would take the family to a church. That is what functioning adults do. He just isn’t leading the way the wife wants him to lead. And maybe she is even right that he should be taking the family to church. But it isn’t her job to make him do it. And if she is being submisive then she will accept that he doesn’t want to take the family to church rather than trying to get him to “lead.”

    Even if there really is a problem with the husband refusing to lead I still don’t think it is the right question for a woman to ask. Because if you are trying to make your husband do anything, even trying to make him lead, then you are not submitting to your husband. You cant do both things at once. It would be much better to be asking how can I submit to my husband when he doesn’t seem to be making very many decisions. Or something like that.

    Maybe I am wrong. But if I could talk to myself back when I asked this question, I would tell myself that my focus was in the wrong place that I shouldn’t worry about getting my husband to lead. Instead my focus should be on learning to become more content with how things are, on making an effort to look for what I could do to please my husband and to doing that whenever possible even when I didn’t like it, and then to stop worrying about whether or not my husband was leading. And I think if the focus is on being content and pleasing her husband that a woman’s actions will just naturally start to line up with what you are saying in this post.

  4. @ Jane

    Maybe I am wrong. But if I could talk to myself back when I asked this question, I would tell myself that my focus was in the wrong place that I shouldn’t worry about getting my husband to lead. Instead my focus should be on learning to become more content with how things are, on making an effort to look for what I could do to please my husband and to doing that whenever possible even when I didn’t like it, and then to stop worrying about whether or not my husband was leading. And I think if the focus is on being content and pleasing her husband that a woman’s actions will just naturally start to line up with what you are saying in this post.

    Good points.

    The main point of this post is simultaneously encouraging a husband to lead and learning how to submit (“I like it when you make decisions”).

    Asking ways in which you can be submissive or asking for his overarching plan for the family and how you can fit into that is also a good idea too. There’s many ways to do it in a godly manner.

    I find most often that usually there are women who want to submit but don’t know how (mainly what this post is for), and then there are women who say they want to submit but still want to covertly lead.

  5. Maybe I am inserting my own weaknesses into this. I 100% agree with the idea that husbands might sometimes need encouragement from their wives. I however, find it very difficult to separate encouraging my husband for the sake of encouragement from trying to make my husband be “better” because I want him to change, or want something else, or am afraid of something. It isn’t so much a problem when my husband wants the same thing that I want, or when he is doing something that isn’t really connected to my desires. But once I want something different from what my husband is doing it is almost impossible to encourage me husband in that area for the right reasons. The “encouragement” ends up being me trying to make that thing happen.
    If I had read this post a few years ago it would not have taught me to do the right thing. It would have taught me to try using a different input in order to get my husband to be how I wanted. And I wouldn’t have recognized it as being that. I would have seen it as me trying really hard to be a good wife. And I can honestly say I have always tried really hard to be a good wife. But I was doing the wrong thing.
    So for me the question had to change from how can I get my husband to lead? to how can I be more submissive? and how can I be content when things don’t go my way. And I have found that as that change has happened or at least started to happen my husband has been encouraged in many ways. And I worry that a lot of other women might be like me and need the advice to be framed differently in order to hear it. And again maybe that is me inserting to much of myself into things. Because I can see what you are saying and I don’t think you are wrong in your advice.

  6. @ Jane

    But once I want something different from what my husband is doing it is almost impossible to encourage me husband in that area for the right reasons. The “encouragement” ends up being me trying to make that thing happen.

    Yup, that’s where the contentment comes in which is what you mentioned.

    So for me the question had to change from how can I get my husband to lead? to how can I be more submissive? and how can I be content when things don’t go my way. And I have found that as that change has happened or at least started to happen my husband has been encouraged in many ways. And I worry that a lot of other women might be like me and need the advice to be framed differently in order to hear it. And again maybe that is me inserting to much of myself into things. Because I can see what you are saying and I don’t think you are wrong in your advice.

    I agree with the attitude.

    It needs to be genuinely coming from a place where you want to submit and not just get your own way. Most men can tell the difference too.

  7. Jack says:

    Concerning the discussion with Jane, I think the difference is whether the wife really has a desire for her husband versus a desire for her husband to merely do as she wishes. This may seem like a small difference to women, but it makes a huge difference to men.

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