Monday, June 22, 2009

Marriage: Motivating Passive Men

How to Correct Gender Role Reversal

Another Father's Day has come and gone. Many families revel in the event, planning barbeques and giving special gifts to bring honor to the dads in their lives. For other families though, Father's Day is a painful reminder of the poor parenting job that their fathers are doing. Wives suffer too, as they watch their imperfect husbands wimp out, pass out, or worse. Let's listen to the wisdom of Nancy Leigh DeMoss. This excerpt is quoted from her book, Lies Women Believe.

"If my husband is passive, I've got to take the initiative or nothing will get done."

When we asked women which of the lies in this book they had believed, this lie ranked number three. I know of few subjects that are a greater source of frustration to women than "passive men." Once again, this is not a new struggle. As is true of many issues, it all goes back to the Garden of Eden:

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food..., she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it." Gen 3:6 (italics added)

This passage evokes a troubling picture in my mind. The couple is together in the Garden. The Serpent approaches them, ignores the man, and strikes up a conversation with the woman, fully aware that God has placed her under the authority of her husband and that both of them are under God's authority...
God created the man first and gave him the responsibility to lead and feed those under his care.

At this point, notice what the woman does not do. She does not acknowledge her husband, who is standing by her side. She does not say to the Serpent, "I'd like for you to meet my husband." She does not turn to her husband and ask, "Honey, how do you think we should respond?" or "Adam, why don't you tell him what God said to you." She carries on the entire conversation with the Serpent as if her husband were not there.

Further, when it comes time to make a choice, she takes matters into her own hands. She does not consult with her husband on the matter; she does not ask his input or direction; she simply acts: "She took some and ate it." (v.6)

What is Adam doing this whole time? He is doing what a lot of women tell me their husbands do much of the time: Nothing. He doesn't interfere; he doesn't get involved—except to eat some fruit himself when his wife gives it to him. All of a sudden, we have the first role reversal.

God created the man first and gave him the responsibility to lead and feed those under his care. The woman, created from the man, was made to be a receiver, to respond to the initiative of her husband. Even the physiological differences between men and women express this fundamental difference.

But who is leading and feeding in this account? Not the man, but the woman. Who is responding? Not the woman, but the man. Something is wrong with this picture. And ever since, the same thing has been wrong with the sons and daughters of this first couple. That role reversal became the pattern for the way fallen men and women relate to each other.

Ever since that fateful day in Eden, the natural drive of the woman has been to control her husband, to rule over him, and to act independently of him. Our natural tendency is to take the reins to take the initiative ourselves; ironically, however, because of the way God created us, we also long to be responders; we long for our men to take action.
We can't insist on running the show and then expect
men to be proactive, take the initiative, and be "spiritual leaders."

As was true with Adam and Eve in the Garden, our instinct is to blame the other party for this problem. As women, we are quick to fault men for being passive and to insist that if they weren't so inactive—if they would just do something—we would not take matters into our own hands...

But as I have watched men and women interact and have evaluated the effect of my own reactions... I can't help but wonder to what extent we women have demotivated and emasculated the men around us by our quickness to take the reins rather than waiting on the Lord to move men to action. We can so easily trip men of the motivation to rise to the challenge and provide the necessary leadership. To make matters worse, when they do take action, the women they look to for encouragement and affirmation correct them or tell them how they could have done it better...

We simply can't have our cake and eat it, too. We can't insist on running the show and then expect men to be proactive, take the initiative, and be "spiritual leaders."

At times, I have asked women who are frustrated by the inactivity of their husbands, "What would happen if you didn't jump in to handle the situation?" You think you have to go to work because he won't get a job? If he gets hungry, he will probably work! You feel you have to take charge of the finances because he is irresponsible with money? He may go bankrupt. But that may be exactly what it takes for God to get his attention and change his character. You must be willing to let him fail—believing that ultimately, your security is not in your husband but in a sovereign God who is not going to fail you...

What can free us from the drive to control the men in our lives? We must learn to wait on the Lord; in His time, and His way. He will act on behalf of those who wait for Him.

"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." (Psalm 27:14 KJV)

This excerpt is quoted from Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Photo: Lawrence OP (Flickr)


tjhirst said...

Interesting thoughts to ponder today. Do you think it women respond in the way described out of competitiveness or a lack of faith that our needs will be met?

Alicia, The Snowflake said...

"You must be willing to let him fail—believing that ultimately, your security is not in your husband but in a sovereign God who is not going to fail you..."

I love this quote. We have to put our trust in God...not our husbands. This is a lesson I have had to learn the hard way. But God is faithful. May we never forget that truth.

Thanks for such a great post! I hope you are doing well today!

6p00d83451ee9f69e2 said...


Excellent words today. I am certainly in the waiting place. When you are living it, truly makes you lean wholly on the Lord.

I am wired up to take control here but I must wait. God is working out many things in this time....

Thanks for the great post. Hugs.

Lynn said...

BTW, that weird name in the last post... It was me...

Jennifer in OR said...

Nancy Leigh DeMoss always has such amazing insight into women/men/marriage... Great thoughts. Hard as it can be at times, I agree that women need to sit back and suppress the urge to control.

bluecottonmemory said...

My son married this weekend. He is all about Christian men being MEN of God. I love that my husband of a MAN of God. It's taken me quite a few years to trust, but I trust that he leads our house hold!

More women need to read your message! What a blessing!

Buffy said...

"We can't insist on running the show and then expect men to be proactive, take the initiative, and be "spiritual leaders.""

Wise words indeed. We want men to lead, as long as they lead us in the direction we were hoping to go in LOL.

When a man falters it is a crucial time for his marriage. Will his wife take over in exasperation or encourage him on to take a decision, even if she doesn't agree with it?

BTW thank you for your book recommendation. I've never heard of it but will be adding it to my Amazon list!

Susan said...

Hey E-mom,

I keep forgetting about Marriage Monday! Please remind me next week!

This was great.

We did a bible study on tis awesome book!

This was a hard chapter to swollow, but packed with so much TRUTH.

I'm learning...

Amydeanne said...

wow. what an interesting post! you got me with this one!! thanks i'll have to check into that book!

e-Mom said...

Welcome friends! Thanks for your comments today.

TjHirst: Great question. It could be both. I know for me, it's more of a lack of faith than competitiveness. Do you think Eve was competing with Adam in the Garden?

Thou Art Jules said...

I love this post and will have to find the book (unless someone has a used copy they'd like to get rid of!)

I found all of this out the hard way as well. I realized that my taking charge was actually hurting my husband and my family and of course making me bitter. It's not easy to turn around but it can happen. I am letting him fall but supporting him without trying to lead. It's been a beautiful although tough road but it is SO worth it!

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