Three years ago, my life was a freaking mess. My stress level was through the roof, I was yelling at my kid all the time, and my marriage was far more broken than I even realized at the time. I had started attending seminars that were billed as business teachings, but really were so much more, and had learned quite a bit about why I was struggling in life. One of the things I learned was that a husband is supposed to be the leader of the house. Maybe this is something that makes you say duh. Or maybe you believe this is an antiquated notion that has no place in this day and age. Either way, what I'm sharing in this post can still be relevant to you, pinky promise.
So I had always "worn the pants" in the relationship, for the previous 13 years. I have a spirit of leadership inside of me. And while I've tried to deny that in most arenas, in relationships I took full ownership of that quality. Now, please don't think I'm saying that a wife can't embrace her spirit of leadership, even inside of the marriage, but I believe there is a hurtful and a healthy way of doing it. I was definitely not in a healthy place.
So I came home from that first seminar, and the second, and started pushing my husband to take charge. I pushed and pushed. And then I criticized him when he struggled. I expected that when I handed over the reins, that as a man, he would automatically be ready to take them up and start leading, and in the same way I had been controlling our life for over a decade. And when he floundered, I was pissed, and condemned him. I look back at that bitter, angry girl and I'm so sad for her. I look back at that hurting gentle man and I'm so sad for him. We were both carrying around so much pain back then. We have come so far.
We struggled like this for months, circling the same giant mountain over and over again, never really resolving anything. We were both at our wits end by the beginning of 2018, just over 4 years into our marriage. I wondered if we'd make it. I was scared to death that our son would have to endure his parents' divorce, wondering if it was his fault, having to shuttle from house to house every week, never having a healthy example of what marriage should be. My heart ached all the time.
At the same time, my husband was fighting his own internal battle. Always the giver, he was contemplating whether he should just leave, because he couldn't meet my new expectations, and knowing my life values, he was afraid I was just staying out of a sense of duty and loyalty to our family.
I had just started another home business, and my husband encouraged me to return to the seminars in hopes that succeeding in this new venture would bring me the joy that he felt he was no longer bringing me. Before each seminar, my mentor would ask us to submit our questions. This was the first time I felt compelled to ask a question, and despite the fact that my husband's intention was to help me succeed in business, the question that came out of me was marriage-related.
I won't tell you the question (at least not yet, you need to know more of what is taught at these seminars first, but we will get to that in due time), but I didn't even necessarily believe my question would be chosen. There are close to 1000 people at these events, and I'm sure several hundred questions are submitted each time. Contrary to my assumption, not only was mine chosen, but it was the first question she addresses on the first day (after the typical day 1 content). And the answer shook me to my core. I can't give you the exact answer without giving you the question, but it was basically the biggest reality check I've ever gotten.
And it ignited something in me immediately. The tears started flowing, and the lightbulbs started going on. The errors of my ways were illuminated, one after the other. How in the world did I expect him to rise up and lead our family when I was constantly tearing him down? How did I expect him to just take charge overnight when I'd been in charge for thirteen freaking years? I literally never said an encouraging word to him. My poor, sweet, gentle, sensitive husband was getting literally nothing that he needed in order to feel confident in leading. And on top of that, I was expecting him to lead like me, the bold, impulsive, take-charge woman that had always made all the decisions and determined how our house and life ran. It is literally only by the grace of God that our marriage survived those troubled times.
So I called him that night and apologized. I will spare you all the tear-drenched details, but it was transformative for our marriage. When I returned, we discussed everything in greater detail, and I immediately started changing the way I treated him. My apology also opened a doorway for him to reflect on any toxic behaviors he'd been bringing into our marriage too, and start working on those.
Did I still slip up? All the time! But I would catch myself and apologize and make it right. Sometimes it would take me a little time to get over my pride, but the more I called myself out, the more I noticed it and the faster I fixed it. I would intentionally and specifically encourage him and remind him that I trusted him in the areas where he felt the weakest. And I would even tell him, I may not like or agree with your decision, but I trust you and I trust that you are making what you feel is the best decision for our family. And in time, he has become more confident in leading our family on our life journey.
We have learned which areas are best for him to take responsibility for, and which are best for me, and we have done it in agreement, not because I highjacked any area of our life, like I used to. Over time our roles have evolved too, and we know that they will continue to evolve as we go through different seasons of life, but instead of constantly being in conflict with each other, now we face life as a team. And that has made all the difference in creating peace in our home and marriage.
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