Chapter 1. Husbandly Leadership


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[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”Chapter Summary”]First things first, let’s talk about leadership. As a man, husbandly leadership is the most important part of building a healthy and happy marriage.[/thrive_text_block]

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Let’s get one thing straight – leadership is both the most challenging and vital part of being a good husband.

Every marriage without a husband who takes leadership seriously is doomed to fail.

Before you read any further, make sure you’ve read the Start Here page on Husband Help Haven… There’s a lot of foundational information about leadership there that I’m going to assume you already know for this chapter. That way my blog readers aren’t reading repeat info.

Some key takeaways from that page are:

  • A good leader is generous, loving, positive and brave.
  • A good leader takes responsibility for his mistakes.
  • All women would rather have a leader for a husband than a follower.
  • If you don’t take the leadership role, your wife will.
  • Most importantly, good leadership is actually a form of servanthood. More on this below.

We’ll go over some of these points again inside this course, but it’s still good preliminary reading to get you started.

Why Can’t Husband & Wife Share Leadership?

All moral and biological reasoning aside, there’s one simple reason that the husband and wife can’t share leadership:


Most marriages are between two people. Guess what? No matter how you try to add it up, there’s no such thing as a democracy of two.

Eventually there will come a point where Person A wants to do something and Person B wants to do another thing. So which thing do you do and how do you decide? Who casts the deciding vote?

That person is the leader.

[pullquote align=”normal”]But Jacob, can’t the husband and wife just take turns making the final decision on important matters? [/pullquote]

Yes, in theory. But it never works out that way for long. Inevitably there will be some decision that’s “too important” to let go. What happens then?

Name any great country, group or company that relies on TWO equal leaders to make the final decision. Can you think of any? Me neither. And that’s because authoritative leadership just isn’t something that can be shared two ways. That’s why even in the USA, the home of democracy, we still have a single president to protect and preserve our nation.

Which brings us to the next point…

What Does Husbandly Leadership Look Like?

As the leader of your family, there are certain primal duties which you are responsible for. In his book Manhood in the Making, David Gilmore identifies three core duties of a man – to protect, provide and procreate. In modern life, here are some examples of what these look like:

  • When you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night, it’s your job to be the one to go check it out, baseball bat in hand.
  • When your daughter sees a monster in the closet, it’s your job to open the doors and show her it’s not real.
  • When your son gets bullied at school, it’s your job to show him how to throw a punch.
  • When your wife or family faces pain, loss or failure, it’s your job to be the shoulder they can cry on.
  • When your bank account is overdrawn and next month’s bills are past due, it’s your job to go out and pave driveways, mow yards, or sell your old baseball cards… To do whatever it takes to make ends meet.
  • When your wife wants a baby, it’s your job to seduce her and make one together.

Think of it like this – your family is a ship and you are the captain. You’re in charge of where your ship is going, and the safety and welfare of everyone on board is your responsibility.

Why Being a Leader Means Being a Servant

A good leader puts the needs of his followers above his own.

In other words, the best leader is also the best servant.

This is where we start to see the true meaning of leadership. We can find many examples of great leaders like this throughout history… One of my personal favorites is Theodore Roosevelt Sr.

Theodore RooseveltYou may already know that Theodore Roosevelt is perhaps one of the most revered and respected leaders that America has ever seen.


His legacy started during the Spanish-American war… Roosevelt was the second-in-command, so he could have easily abstained from fighting altogether; he could have given the orders from the backlines and let lower ranked troops do the dirty work.

But he didn’t.

Even though his forces were outnumbered, he got down in the trenches with his Rough Riders and fought the enemy face-to-face. When he made orders, he followed them along with even the lowest ranked troops. He never asked any of his men to do something that he wouldn’t personally do himself, and he proved it time and time again.

This is what true leadership looks like. A true leader puts the needs of his people – or in the case of marriage, his family – above any and all needs of himself as an individual. A husbandly leader takes responsibility for the welfare of his family, and he’s willing to die for those he loves.

What If You Aren’t a Natural Leader?

There’s another reason I’m telling you the story of Theodore Roosevelt.

Despite growing up to become one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen, Roosevelt was NOT a born leader. In fact, he was just the opposite… He was a weak, pale and sickly child.

  • He needed glasses from a young age.
  • He had severe asthma and suffered from near-death nighttime asthma attacks throughout his childhood; he would wake up in the middle of the night unable to breath, sometimes to the point of passing out.
  • His mother homeschooled him to keep him safe.
  • Doctors told him he would always be a weakling, and that he should avoid going outdoors for the rest of his life.

How did this weak and sickly child grow up to become one of the most revered soldiers, leaders and presidents in US history?

Turns out, Roosevelt’s father was the living definition of true, masculine family leadership. Roosevelt wrote that, “[My father] combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness and great unselfishness.” His father was also the one who encouraged him to do something about his natural weakness.

So, around the age of 10, Roosevelt started exercising A LOT. He read about history’s most courageous men and heroes to learn what made them great. He went outside at every opportunity. He would go hiking with his father’s friends and force himself to keep up. After getting beat up by a couple older boys on a camping trip, he even found a boxing coach to teach him how to fight.

Roosevelt recognized where his life was going and he decided to TAKE ACTION and make a change. He ignored what everyone else said about his future and made himself into the man he wanted to be.

Sound familiar?

It should… That’s exactly what you’re doing right now.

I love the story of Theodore Roosevelt because he is proof that anyone can become a leader. No matter where you’re at right now, no matter how far you are from true husbandly leadership, no matter what your wife, your family, your marriage counselor or anyone else says about your marriage, you can make a change.

… In fact, you’ve already started.

What You Lose Without Husbandly Leadership

Husbandly leadership isn’t just necessary, it actually makes your marriage better. There are four big benefits that husbandly leadership brings to a healthy marriage that you’ll lose without it:

  1. Attraction
  2. Fulfillment
  3. Longevity
  4. Trust & Problem Solving

Keep reading below to learn how leadership makes each of these things possible.

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I’ve already talked extensively on Husband Help Haven about the relationship between your ability to lead the marriage and your wife’s attraction for you. If you want to read more about attraction, check out these articles:

If you want to skip all that reading, here’s the key takeaway:

The only way your wife will stay in the marriage is if she WANTS to. The only way she wants to stay is if she’s ATTRACTED to you. The only way to make your wife attracted to you is through LEADERSHIP. 

That make sense?

Women find leadership attractive.

It’s built into our DNA; the man who leads is more attractive and desirable than the man who submits. No matter how sexist that might sound, it’s true. See the Man A / Man B comparison on the Start Here page for an example of why.

Let me make this clear: there are no exceptions to this rule:


Ironically, I’ve always found that the women who are most vehemently opposed to husbandly leadership are the ones who hold their husband to the highest standard.


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Does your marriage feel hollow? Do you personally feel lost, or like you’re missing something from your life? Do you feel like a shell of the man you once were?

A healthy marriage is invigorating. It’s a daily reminder of your masculinity. It gives you purpose and meaning. A healthy marriage makes you a better man.

An unhealthy marriage is the exact opposite. It drains you. It makes you forget what it’s like to be a man. It makes you avert your eyes when you look in the mirror because you know that you’re a failure and you can’t stand to look at yourself. It saps your confidence, your happiness, your generosity and your ability to love others.

An unhealthy marriage, one in which you feel completely out of control, makes you feel like you’re wasting your life. When you feel in control, when you’re confident in yourself as a husbandly leader, your marriage will feel more fulfilling and meaningful.

Side note: An unhealthy, unfulfilling marriage is a big reason that so many men and women today fall into a midlife crisis. A midlife crisis happens when you look back on your life and feel like it’s all been a waste of time, so you feel forced to make a big change. Usually that big change means traveling back in time to becoming how you were before you were married and trying to get what you wanted back when you were young, usually at the sacrifice of your marriage or family.


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Growing up, my parents didn’t have a healthy marriage. Most of my friends’ parents didn’t either. In fact, the only really good examples of a healthy marriage I had were my grandparents. Both my dad’s and my mom’s parents were happily married for 50+ years as lifelong partners.

What about you?

Growing up, did anyone in your life have a happy marriage? Did you have ANY real-life examples of what a good husband is supposed to look like?

Here’s a quiz for you… We all know that divorce rates are at the highest they’ve ever been in America. These days, between 35% and 55% of marriages end in divorce, depending who you ask.

So, the question is this:

When did the national divorce rate first start rising?

The ‘Divorce Revolution’ as it’s been called started in the late 1960s with the introduction of the no-fault divorce. This was the first time that married couples were allowed to get divorced for no reason other than because they didn’t want to be married anymore.

Of course, this helped make divorces more amicable since you weren’t forced to attack your spouse to “prove” that divorce was the only answer, but as intended, it also made divorce much easier and much more common.

However, that’s not the only thing that happened in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that may have led to a steady increase in divorce rates…

  1. The ‘soul-mate’ marriage model became trendy around this time. This meant that couples felt entitled to an easy marriage because, after all, soul-mates have natural chemistry that never goes away. This trend put a huge priority on consistent personal happiness above all else. The soul-mate trend meant that if you were EVER unhappy, you must not be married to your soul-mate.[blank_space height=’3em’]
  2. The sexual revolution also raised expectations for a sexy, “passionate” marriage. The increased acceptance of sexual promiscuity also made it much easier to have an affair and/or find porn. Similar to the soul-mate mentality, the sexual revolution made it so that a marriage without sex was a failing marriage. This way of thinking – the negative idea of a sexless marriage – didn’t exist before the ‘70s.[blank_space height=’3em’]
  3. The introduction of feminism made it extremely taboo for men to take the leadership role in a marriage. It became sexist, chauvinistic and close-minded to say that men should be the leader in marriage. Don’t get me wrong – civil rights, especially in the workplace, was and still is a very important problem that needs to be fixed. But disallowing men to lead their marriage has created a lot more problems than it solved.

These three reasons are why most of us have to look all the way back to our grandparents to see an example of a committed, lifelong marriage. And as you’re starting to realize, the repercussions of these trends from the ‘60s and ‘70s continue to haunt us today in our modern “gimme gimme” culture.

The truth is that most of us have never learned what a healthy marriage looks like. We’ve forgotten what it means to care about someone else more than you care about yourself. Is it any surprise, then, that we’ve forgotten how to build the 50+ year marriages of a past generation?


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In order to solve marriage problems, your wife needs to trust you. She needs to believe that even if she disagrees with you about something, you still have her and her children’s best interests at heart.

If your wife doesn’t trust your leadership – if she has no proof that you’re fit to protect and provide for her and the family – then why would she trust your judgment? Why would she agree with your answer to the problems in your marriage?

The plain answer is that she wouldn’t and she won’t. As long as you’re NOT the leader, problem-solving will be an uphill battle.

On the other hand, when your wife respects you… When she’s confident in you as a husband, father and man… When she KNOWS that you’ll ultimately do whatever it takes to give her the life she wants… Then problems practically solve themselves.


Introducing The Leadership Cycle
How & Why Leadership Fits Into Your Marriage

The Leadership Cycle Diagram

For many years I’ve tried to explain why leadership is crucial, both in enjoying happy marriages and repairing damaged ones. I’ve struggled to explain how exactly it relates to the other elements that are really and truly required in a marriage, like love and trust and forgiveness.

For a long time, husbandly leadership was one of those things that I knew in my gut was important, but I didn’t understand why beyond the simple fact that it builds attraction.

Surely, there’s something more to it, right? There is.

Enter, The Leadership Cycle:

It’s not the best looking diagram in the world (I made it myself), but it does explain what happens when leadership is present in a marriage.

  1. Leadership increases levels of attraction, then…
  2. Attraction makes her want to forgive, then…
  3. Forgiveness leads to an increase of love, then…
  4. Increased love allows you to lead more confidently, then…

Leading more confidently makes you more attractive, which makes forgiveness more natural, etc.

The cycle goes on.

We’ll refer back to The Leadership Cycle a lot throughout this first part of the course, so let’s go through each section of this diagram one at a time.

Leadership Increases Levels of Attraction

Leadership Increases AttractionThis is the section of the diagram that you’ve probably heard the most about, especially if you read the 10 Steps to Gain Husbandly Leadership.

What I want to clarify here is that attraction is NOT just physical.

When we think of a woman being helplessly attracted to a guy, many of us envision a man with 8% body fat and six-pack abs. Or maybe we think of the guy from the infamous 50 Shades of Grey – a rich bad boy that women can’t resist.

In a marriage, attraction is more than just physical; it’s emotional and mental too. When your wife is attracted to you, it’s not because you’re physically attractive; it’s because she sees you as a man worthy of her time and respect. This is the kind of attraction that lasts a lifetime.

This is good news for us, because it means that you don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to get your wife back. Attraction has nothing to do with your fitness or how much money you make. Instead, it’s all about your leadership. When you have the attitude of a leader, your wife can’t help but respect you; you’ll pique her interest.

Attraction Incentivizes Forgiveness

Attraction Increases ForgivenessTo see proof that attraction incentivizes forgiveness, just look at any abusive relationship…

You know those couples where the guy is a huge jerk, but the girl stays with him no matter how many times he screws her over?

That’s because she’s attracted to him, and that attraction enables forgiveness.

This is a really depressing example, and I’m NOT saying that those types of relationships are healthy. They’re not; they’re highly dysfunctional. Being a leader doesn’t mean being an inconsiderate ass. The point here is that if our imaginary girl wasn’t attracted to that guy, then she’d leave him in a heartbeat. But because she is attracted to him, she’ll continue to forgive him time and time again.

Of course, there are other factors at play in any abusive relationship, but you get the point.

That’s why I used the word “incentivize” here. When your wife is attracted to you, she has an incentive to forgive you. That incentive is getting to stay with a man she finds attractive.

This step of The Leadership Cycle is why I spend so much time talking about attraction, and it’s why attraction is the only thing that can keep your wife in the marriage when she otherwise wants out. Attraction incentivizes forgiveness.

Forgiveness Allows for Increased Love

Forgiveness Increases LoveThis is the part of the diagram that we haven’t talked as much about…

What happens after you’ve mastered husbandly leadership and rebuilt attraction with your wife?

What happens after your wife decides to forgive you?

Love grows.

When your wife makes either a conscious or subconscious decision to forgive you, she opens up her heart. She is saying, “I’ve seen you at your worst, and I accept you as you are.”

Forgiveness naturally leads to increased love.

Note that this is the part of The Leadership Cycle that’s missing in those abusive relationships we talked about earlier. The man takes his forgiveness for granted because he doesn’t actually love his woman; he only loves himself. Similarly, the woman’s forgiveness of her man doesn’t lead to increased feelings of love, but instead to increased feelings of fear.

Love Enables You to More Confidently Lead

Love Increases LeadershipLeadership is the hardest when you’re all on your own. When you don’t have your wife’s love and support, leading your marriage feels a lot like trying to push a boulder uphill.

However, once you make it all the way through The Leadership Cycle – once you’ve built attraction, incentivized forgiveness and allowed love to grow – leadership becomes self-sustaining.

This step is the goal. This is what we’re working towards. This is why husbandly leadership is the safest way to guarantee a happy and fulfilling lifelong marriage… The more times you go through The Leadership Cycle, the easier it is to maintain the cycle in your marriage.

This step is also why leadership will be harder to implement right now in your marriage than at any other time. Because you can’t complete the cycle until you have your wife’s forgiveness, you are basically forced to continue leading without any of the rewards or reassurance until your wife warms up to the marriage. But that’s okay! She’ll get there; you just keep working on improving your leadership.

This last step of The Leadership Cycle also illustrates a very important concept about love, which is that leadership is how you express love as the husband. We’ll talk more about this in the next chapter.

As I said, we’ll refer back to the Leadership Cycle a lot throughout this first section of the course, so don’t worry about memorizing every step right now.

I recommend you take a couple minutes to go back up and review the whole cycle, then it’s time to move on to the next chapter.

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  • Husbandly leadership is the foundation of every happy marriage.
  • Husbandly leadership is taboo, but it’s not what most people think. A husband leads through servanthood; he does more than his fair share, he makes sacrifices, he takes responsibility, and he cares more about his wife and children than himself.
  • When your wife accepts you as her leader (even if she doesn’t come out and say it), it’ll fix 99% of the problems in most marriages.
  • Your goal is to become the best husbandly leader you can be.

The Leadership Cycle:

  1. Leadership builds attraction…
  2. Attraction incentivizes forgiveness…
  3. Forgiveness increases love…
  4. Love allows more confident leadership (and love is expressed by leadership for you as the husband).
  5. … The cycle repeats.

[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’’ target=’_self’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Go to Chapter 2. Love[/thrive_link]


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