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[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”Chapter Summary”]This chapter takes all the guesswork out of husbandly leadership and paints a clear picture of your responsibilities as head of your marriage. You’ll learn seven different areas of the marriage that you’re expected to take charge of as your wife’s leader.[/thrive_text_block]
The seven areas of husbandly leadership are:
- Intimacy & Affection
- Domestic Duties (aka. Chores)
By now, you know that you need to be the leader inside your marriage, but what exactly does that mean? What does it look like to be a good husbandly leader? What are your specific responsibilities?
In my opinion and through my research, I’ve found seven core areas of husbandly leadership that each and every one of us should strive to master.
In this chapter, we’re going to examine each of those seven areas and see what it looks like when you carry out your leadership in each area effectively.
Before we go any further, I want to make a couple disclaimers here…
First, marriage is like a hiking trip… The journey towards your goal (a happy marriage) is just as important as the goal itself. What I mean by this is that your goal shouldn’t be to completely master of each area of husbandly leadership… Instead, this chapter is meant to educate you about leadership responsibilities so that you can identify where your own leadership needs improvement.
Second, it’s important to recognize that if your marriage is on the rocks, you may not be able to apply your leadership in each and every one of these areas. For example, if your wife is cold and distant, you’re going to have a hard time mastering the area of intimacy and affection.
Again, the goal here isn’t to create the perfect marriage overnight… The goal is to give you clear metrics that you can use to measure your progress as you grow into your leadership role.
Leadership Area 1.
Do you have a vision for your marriage?
Do you have a clear goal, or an ideal relationship that you’re working towards?
Do you have a plan for the future of your marriage?
Vision is perhaps the most important area of husbandly leadership. If your marriage is a ship and you’re the captain, then it’s your job to plot the course. It’s your job to be able to look into the horizon and know where you’re going to end up.
After reading this, you should have a very clear vision for your marriage. You will know exactly what you want your ideal marriage to look like. As the leader, it’s your job to constantly make sure that your marriage is on course towards your vision.
And this brings us to another point, which is that vision doesn’t just mean that you have an end goal… It also means you know how to get there. Having a vision for your marriage allows you to identify weaknesses, and address potential problems before they fester and create problems. If you need help with this, refer back to Exercise 1 that we did in Chapter 4 (that’s the one where we brainstormed past and future problems in your marriage, along with potential solutions).
As the husband, your vision for your marriage must also align with what your wife wants out of life. Again, if you’re the captain of your ship, then your passengers should be able to trust you to get them where they want to go. It completely defeats the purpose if your vision is a vision that only YOU want… It needs to be one that your wife wants too.
The next chapter is all about setting goals, so we’ll be talking a lot more about developing a clear vision for your marriage there.
For now, recognize that having a vision for your marriage is YOUR responsibility. It’s your job to plot out your future. It’s your job to know what really matters to your wife so that you can make sure your marriage is headed in a direction that gets you there.
Leadership Area 2.
Well-being… What does it mean?
Vision and well-being often go hand-in-hand. Your vision for your marriage often includes positive things for your family’s well-being – you want to see them happy and content.
Also like vision, this area of husbandly leadership can be difficult to put into words. It’s not like finances or domestic duties, where there are clearly defined real-world tasks that go along with it. There’s no checklist here that you can reference to make sure that you’re leading when it comes to well-being; it’s something you have to figure out on your own.
That being said, there are three types of well-being that must all be accounted for inside your marriage:
[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”The 3 Types of Well-Being”]
- Physical Well-Being – This covers all the survival basics. Does your wife and your family have enough food to eat? Clothes to wear? Do they have a place to sleep and water to drink? Physical well-being covers everything that affects your family’s physical health and wellness.[blank_space height=’3em’]
- Mental Well-Being – It could be more accurate to call this ‘intellectual well-being’. Basically, does your wife feel challenged? Does she feel stimulated? Does she feel like her mind and talents are being used inside the marriage? Is she growing as a person and learning new things? Is she meeting her goals? Is she contributing?If you have kids, this applies to them too. After all, husbandly leadership applies to the whole family, not just you and your wife.[blank_space height=’3em’]
- Emotional Well-Being – Is your wife happy? Is she content? Does she feel at peace with her place in life? Does she feel loved, wanted and needed? Does she feel like her life has meaning? Same goes for your kids if you have them. Emotional well-being is what most people associate with the term “well-being”.
As the husband, it’s your job to monitor and look out for your wife’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. If any one of these is out of whack, it’s your job to figure out why and fix it.
… Which actually brings us to an important point.
This area of leadership showcases the fact that being a leader means you have unique responsibilities. It is NOT your wife’s job to look out for your well-being; it is YOUR job to look out for her well-being.
Of course, it is partially her job to look out for your children’s well-being, and she has a vested interest in her own well-being. But your well-being is not her problem, whereas her well-being IS your problem.
Yes, I know it’s not fair, but I never said that husbandly leadership was fair. I said it was hard. I said it was fulfilling. But it’s not fair.
If your wife is separated or if she wants divorce, then I can guarantee you that you’ve failed in the area of well-being. This is especially true if your wife is having a midlife crisis. Because your wife is discontent, she’s taking her well-being into her own hands. That doesn’t mean your S.O.L. – we’ll talk more about separation and what you can do as a husbandly leader to get your wife back in the third part of this course.
Leadership Area 3.
Ahh, finally we have an easy-to-define area of husbandly leadership.
As the husband, finances are your responsibility. When push comes to shove, it’s your job to provide for your family.
“But Jacob, I thought that it was possible for stay-at-home dads to lead their marriage?”
Yes! It absolutely is.
Just because finances are your responsibility doesn’t mean that you have to be the sole breadwinner… Even if you’re not the one actually making the money, you can still take on the responsibility of making sure ends meet.
As a husband, it’s your job to make sure that the money coming in is more than the money going out.
That being said, if your wife is currently the breadwinner and, God forbid, she loses her job, it’s your duty to get out and find a way to bring home more bacon.
If there’s ever a time when you and your wife’s income isn’t enough to meet the needs of your family, it’s YOUR job to find a way to make more money. Whether that means mowing lawns, doing odd jobs or borrowing money from your parents, it’s your responsibility to suck it up and find a way to put food on the table.
Do you have to be the sole provider to master financial leadership?
Can you master this area of husbandly leadership if your wife is the only income earner?
If you and your wife ever go broke and run out of money, is it your job to figure out a way to make ends meet?
I hope this makes sense… It’s really not that complicated. Basically, you need to know the financial status of your family and you need to make sure that there’s enough money in the bank to live on.
I’m not saying it’s your job to go out and get rich. I’m not a wealthy businessman; I don’t make a ton of money. In fact, I probably have a lower yearly income than most of you reading this, and I’m still the sole provider for our family.
I’m also not an accountant… I don’t know any secret legal loopholes to pay minimal taxes. There’s nothing secret about it. I’ve read a few books about money management (Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is my favorite), I’m a hard worker, and I know where our money needs to go. We keep a pretty tight budget and we don’t take a ton of vacations, but the end result is that we’re financially stable. Even though I make less than most of you reading this, my wife still trusts me to provide for our family.
And that’s really what it comes down to… Your wife needs to TRUST you to take care of the family. When she trusts you to keep food on the table in both the good times and the bad, then you’ve fulfilled your duty in this area of husbandly leadership.
A Quick Word on Work, Priorities & Fulfilment
Sometimes, we need a reminder about the purpose of work in our lives and what its priority should be in relation to our family. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as putting too high a priority on your finances and career. There is such a thing as working too much.
How do you know when you’re working too much?
Basically, you know you’re working too much if…
- … Your wife is consistently overwhelmed by the amount of work she has to do at home, or if she’s consistently frustrated with the limited amount of help you can offer her with parenting, domestic duties, etc…
- … You ever get the feeling that your wife or children feel like they’re a lower priority than your job…
- … You’re staying late at the office even after your family requests you to come home…
- … You’re more concerned about saving up for a vacation or a new car than you are about courting your wife and making sure she knows she’s loved…
… Then you’re working too much.
Even though I know – and YOU know – that your family and wife is your top priority, if you don’t show it to them on a regular basis, then it may as well not be.
Remember, the only reason that we work at all is to support our families and to give them the things they need to thrive. But, the most important thing us men need to provide for our wives and families is love and assurance of value. And that’s more important than any material possession.
In other words, our wives and children need to KNOW they’re our top priority, certainly more so than an inflated bank account or career achievements. And, for most of us, your career cannot give you true fulfilment. Your family, your children, your wife, your marriage… These are the things that you will treasure on your death bed. These are the things that matter.
Now, I’m not saying that you’re only allowed to work 40 hours per week and that if you work more than that, then you’re a bad husband and father. Not at all! But, if you’re one of those guys who typically works 60-80 hours per week (or even 100+ hours), you need to take extra special care to make every second at home count. You cannot allow yourself to be tired. You cannot allow yourself to “check out” in front of the computer or the television as soon as you get home. You have to be engaged, active and loving for your wife and children, even though you won’t want to.
Your best self can’t be the person you are at work; your best self MUST be the person you are at home.
Does that make sense?
For most men, this isn’t even an issue and you can just ignore it. But, I’ve gotten several emails over the years from men who really and truly work too much, and it causes problems. That’s who this is for.
Remember, if you normally only get 10 or 15 hours a week at home with your wife and/or kids, then getting home even an hour or two early every now and then will make a big relative difference. And again, the less time you have at home, the more important it is to make every second at home count.
Okay! Moving onto the next area of husbandly leadership…
Leadership Area 4.
When I say that you need to lead in parenting, I don’t mean that you need to be the primary caretaker of your children. I’m not saying that you need to spend more time with your children than your wife does. I’m not even saying that you need to make all of the hard parenting decisions.
[pullquote align=”right”]The difference between biological paternity and fatherhood is that paternity produces a child; fatherhood produces an adult. [/pullquote]
But, you are “the dad”. When it comes to parenting, the buck stops with you. Your kids should know not to question your authority. Not because you’re mean or stern with them, but because they respect you and they know that your word is firm.
I’m not telling you to be the stereotypical hard-ass dad that demands respect, even if it’s not deserved. No; be loving and kind-hearted and genuine with your children. But you also need to be the authority figure.
Or, perhaps this is the better way to put it…
It’s your job to show your children what good leadership looks like. You need to be the father who both talks the talk and walks the walk.
That being said, leading in parenting will look different for each individual marriage. In general, though, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
First, make sure that your wife is not overwhelmed with parenting. If it ever seems like your wife has too much on her plate, step in and give her a break from the kids. Encourage her to grab some quiet time while you hold down the fort.
Second, have clear goals and vision for your children’s upbringing. Just like it’s up to you to have a vision for your marriage and your wife, you also need to have a vision for your children and their upbringing. The reason that this is important is because when you and your wife face important parenting decisions, you need to use that vision to identify the best decision to make.
Third, you need to lead in the “hard part” of parenting. Talking about the birds and the bees, disciplining your kids, saying “no” when the answer is no… These are all things that you as the father need to be able to do confidently and with a plan.
As the father, you need to be the rock that your wife can rely on.
- If there’s something that your children need, she should trust that you can provide it.
- If your children don’t like a certain decision, she needs to be able to say “because dad said so” and have that statement carry weight.
- When your kids inevitably get in trouble, she needs to trust that you’ll be the one to discipline them firmly, but with love.
- When your children face a difficulty in life – whether that’s a bully or a failed exam – your wife needs to see you being the one to encourage them and pick them back up.
Basically, you’re responsible for making sure your children get the type of childhood that both you and your wife want them to have.
If you want your children to grow up in a loving home, it’s your job to make sure that your home is loving. If you want your children to grow up with a strong work ethic, it’s your job to give them opportunities to work hard and show them what hard work looks like. And so on and so forth. Whatever you want for your kids, it’s your job to make it happen.
Leadership Area 5.
INTIMACY & AFFECTION
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: Your job is to initiate sex, yes… Your job is to initiate affection, yes… But your job is to NOT expect sex and still be able to lead in sex with clear intention and desire.
Entire books have been written about intimacy and affection inside a marriage. Perhaps someday I’ll add a book of my own to that collection. For now though, there are a few key points that you need to know about this area of husbandly leadership…
If you’ve read through the 10 Steps to Gain Husbandly Leadership e-course, you’ll remember that the last step is to Woo Her Like a Slow Cooker. I highly suggest you go back and read that sometime if you haven’t already.
For now, let’s start at the beginning – initiation. As the husband, it’s your job to initiate intimacy and affection with your wife.
When I say ‘intimacy and affection’, I’m not just talking about sex here. Intimacy isn’t just sex; it’s openness, and it doesn’t just have to be physical even though that’s what we typically associate with it. Similarly, affection is more than just hugs and kisses; affection includes kind words and deeds too.
But, why does this distinction matter?
The Difference Between Intimacy vs Sex (and why it matters)
There’s a really important reason that it’s important to differentiate between sex and intimacy…
Since most of the men reading this are facing a damaged marriage, you may be at a place with your wife where sex simply isn’t an option. The distance between you and your wife may be so great that she simply won’t have sex with you.
What should you do?
Or, maybe you are having sex with your wife, but not as often as you would like. What should you do?
In either case, do you think the answer is for you to try and forcefully initiate sex more often?
In both cases, trying to initiate sex alone more frequently or more aggressively will only push your wife away.
But, what if instead of focusing on having more sex, you focused on initiating intimacy? Affection? Openness?
The way to have more sex in your marriage is NOT to try and have more sex. The way to be a good husbandly leader in the bedroom is NOT to try and get your wife in the bedroom.
A good husbandly leader isn’t focused on sex at all because he recognizes that sex is the natural result of intimacy. If you foster intimacy, sex will follow. When your wife feels most open with you, most trusting, and most loved… That’s when she most wants to have sex with you.
Adjusting Expectations in a Sex-Filled World
Sex is everywhere. It’s in everything.
This may be a cliché thing to say, but it’s true. Over the next week, keep track of just how much sexuality you’re exposed to. For one week, try to keep yourself from seeing a woman in sexually suggestive clothing. Try to avoid hearing about sex or being provoked into thinking about sex. You’ll quickly see just how difficult it is to avoid…
- Sex is used in advertisements, both online and on TV
- It’s in TV shows and movies and YouTube videos
- It’s in your grocery store and your gas station
- It’s in our fashion trends
- It’s in our everyday conversations
- It’s in music, even the “safe” music on the radio
- Not to mention the easy access of porn and strip clubs
Sex is everywhere. Seriously. It’s almost mind-boggling.
Most of us don’t think about it very often, but the omnipresence of sex actually has a big impact on how we think about sex inside our own relationships. Being constantly exposed to sexual material creates outside expectations inside your own marriage. It makes you think, “Sex is a part of life, and everything around me says that I should be having lots of it. Everyone else is having tons of sex, why can’t I?”
In other words, our society has manufactured an expectation for sex that’s crept its way into the modern marriage. Most men think that if they’re not having sex two or three times a week – if not more – then they have a “bad sex life”.
Look, I’m not saying that you should be perfectly happy with a sexless marriage. I’m not even saying that sex is a privilege… By definition, marriage and sex go hand-in-hand. In the olden days, a marriage wasn’t official until it was consummated in the bedroom!
You can’t let your sexual appetite come before your wife.
Let me tell you a story about my own marriage…
The True Meaning of Sex
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in my own marriage was to stop expecting sex.
In the early days of our marriage, my wife and I actually got into several sizeable fights because I kept trying to initiate sex. I never forced her to do anything or begged or anything like that, but I did make her feel like sex was an expectation. I made her feel pressured. And it caused problems.
Because sex is a lot less appealing for your wife when it’s something she feels REQUIRED to do. When your wife feels like you expect sex from her, she’s a whole lot less likely to actually have it with you.
And here’s where we come to the core meaning of sex…
Sex is an expression of affection.
A man and a woman have sex when they feel completely comfortable with each other. Sex is the most intimate act that two people can engage in… It is literally becoming one together.
So, when SHOULD you initiate sex?
[pullquote align=”right”]What is an Ulterior Motive?
I warn against ulterior motives multiple times throughout this course. What does it mean?
An ulterior motive is like a hidden agenda. When I say you have an ulterior motive for doing something, it means that you do it partly because you think you’ll get some advantage from doing it. [/pullquote]
When the time is right.
When your wife is clearly in the mood and you’ve already set the tone with intimacy, then yes, it’s your job to initiate sex. When you can feel that you and your wife both want it equally… When you have that feeling of closeness that desperately needs to be expressed physically… That’s when you’ll know it’s time to get things into the bedroom.
Like I said, entire books have been written on the subject of intimacy and sex in marriage. We’ll talk a lot more about affection in Chapter 12.
For now, all you need to know is that if you want to have more sex with your wife, don’t focus on getting her into the bedroom… Focus on making her feel truly loved for who she is.
This is the true difference between proper intimacy and expectation:
- Intimacy is genuinely heartfelt; it is affection that is expressed with no ulterior motive. It’s your honest pursuit of closeness with your wife. If intimacy leads to sex, awesome. If it doesn’t, awesome; you still showed your wife that you love her.
- Expectation is wholly selfish; it is affection that is expressed for the sole purpose of getting in her pants.
As the husband, it’s your job to lead in intimacy, not in expectations. Make intimacy and affection your primary goal, and a healthy sex life will naturally follow.
Going back to my example, do you know how I finally resolved my wife and I’s sex problem? How did I get her to stop feeling like I expected sex all the time?
- First, I realized that she was right – I was expecting sex. The way that I was approaching her with my intentions was more forceful and blatant than she liked, and so my wife was totally justified in feeling that way.
- Second, I made a conscious decision to stop expecting sex. Crazy, right? I decided that I would be happy with however much sex my wife wanted to have.
My wife and I consistently have sex once or twice a week. Every now and then a week or two goes by where we don’t have sex. And you know what? I don’t even notice!
If you’re the guy who wants more sex than you’re having in your marriage right now, take a moment to step back. I’m willing to bet that your “libido” is a lot less demanding than you think it is. Stop thinking about sex and just focus on making your wife feel loved.
Side note: If you’re regularly looking at porn, I can guarantee you it’s having a negative effect on your sex life. We’ll talk more about that in Chapter 15.
I’m not going to promise that if you make your wife feel more loved, you’ll start having more sex. But, what I will promise is that you and your wife will both be happier and that she’ll feel more open and connected with you. Maybe you’ll have more sex; maybe you won’t, but either way you’ll be happier.
[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”How to Initiate Sex When the Time is Right”]
Finally, let’s say you’re doing things right… You’re showing affection, you’re building intimacy, your wife is slowly warming up to you.
How do you actually initiate sex?
Honestly, it will be different for every guy reading this, but in general, you initiate sex by gently making your desire for sex known to your wife.
Sometimes, this will mean that you actually say the words, “Hey honey, want to come join me in the bedroom?”
Sometimes, it’ll be completely non-verbal. You’ll be kissing or caressing your wife, and then you’ll gently make a move on her to get things started.
When you make your intention and desire for sex known to your wife in a way that is… “Encouraging,” may be the best way to describe it… She will naturally want to reciprocate and follow your leadership. (provided you’ve done the preliminary stuff right, as we talked about above!)
Most women like to be taken. Every little girl dreams of being swept up in the arms of a strong, handsome prince, and that desire follows women into adulthood. So, be the leader in the bedroom. Be her prince, swoop her up. Love her. Want her. And in turn, she’ll want you too.
Again, sex may be out of the question for some of you reading this, but that’s okay. Tuck this knowledge away to form a long-term vision for your own mastery of this particular area of husbandly leadership.
Leadership Area 6.
Since we’ll have an entire section of this course dedicated solely to communication and understanding your wife’s needs, I’m not going to spend much time talking about it here.
All I’ll say here is that keeping communication open between you and your wife is your responsibility. As the husband, if there’s a communication problem, it’s your job to fix it.
This is one area of leadership that my father really struggled with. Not that I blame my dad for my parent’s divorce, but everything I saw from his and my mom’s interactions told me that he did not take responsibility for communication. Instead, he let communication shutdown, and the result is that neither one of them ever felt like they were heard.
Even if communication in your marriage is abysmal right now – in fact, especially if communication in your marriage is abysmal – it’s your job to figure out where the problems are and what you can do to fix them. It’s your job to make sure that your wife can communicate her thoughts and feelings to you, and that you can do the same to her. If you can’t do that, you have failed in this area of leadership.
Fortunately, as I said, we’ll talk a lot more about communication in Part 2 of this course.
Leadership Area 7.
DOMESTIC DUTIES (aka. Chores)
Have you and your wife ever gotten into a fight over housework?
Yea, me too.
As we said in Chapter 4, domestic duties are one of the most common sources of conflict inside marriages today. Even though you’d think that divvying up housework is a simple task, most men don’t realize that it’s their responsibility to make sure it happens fairly.
Domestic duties are the most mundane area of husbandly leadership. But, just because it’s mundane doesn’t mean it’s not important… In fact, I’d actually say that because domestic duties are so mundane makes it all that much more important to get right.
Because if your wife thinks you’re lazy and that you don’t help out around the house as much as you should, how is she going to trust you as her leader? If your wife can’t even trust you to do the dishes without being asked, how can she trust you to do the truly important stuff like having a vision or making her happy?
From now on, it’s your job to make sure that your house or apartment is being taken care of. It’s your job to make sure that there’s an even spread of domestic responsibility between you and your wife. Even if you’re the one who works, you still need to contribute around the house.
- Volunteer to do the dishes after dinner
- Offer to cook a meal every now and then
- Clean the living room without being asked
- Get your kids to help out with chores
Same goes for your yard. It’s stereotypical, but you’re the one in charge of making sure your yard is mowed and that your roof and gutters are free from leaks. Basically, it’s your duty to make sure that the house is in good shape.
Leading in the area of domestic duties is how you ‘walk the walk’ of husbandly leadership. If you talk the talk – you acknowledge the importance of leadership and you recognize that it’s your responsibility in the marriage – then you need to be able to walk the walk on a day-to-day basis. Domestic duties are one of the easiest and most common ways to do that.
When you help your wife with domestic duties, you show her:
- … That her time is just as important as yours
- … That you care about her having a good day
- … That you can tell when she feels overwhelmed, and that you are willing to make sacrifices to prevent it
You’re showing her that you are NOT the sort of leader who leads from the backlines… Nope. You’re like Theodore Roosevelt – you get down and dirty in the frontlines and take charge of even the most mundane tasks in your marriage.
And, as an added bonus, I’ve found inside my own marriage that my wife is much more receptive to physical intimacy after I’ve surprised her by doing the dishes or by offering to cook dinner or clean the living room. Granted, my wife’s love language is acts of service, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a wife who doesn’t appreciate her husband helping out around the house.
And that’s it! These are the major areas of husbandly leadership that I’ve identified in my own marriage and the marriages of men Inside the Haven. That’s not to say these are the ONLY areas, but you can’t go wrong if you start by focusing on these 7.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”Key Takeaways from Chapter 6:”]
There are 7 major areas of husbandly leadership:
- Vision – Where is your marriage going? What type of life are you building for your wife and family? Is it the life that she wants, and does she trust you to get her there?
- Well-Being – Are your wife’s physical, mental and emotional needs provided for? It’s your job to make sure they are.
- Finances – You don’t have to be the sole breadwinner. But, you do have to make sure that there is more money coming in than is going out. If there is ever a time when money is scarce, it’s your job to find a way to put food on the table.
- Parenting – Put simply, you need to be a good father. It’s your job to teach your children what good leadership looks like, and to be an involved and loving parent. You need to be firm enough to lay down discipline when necessary, but tender enough to be encouraging and supportive.
- Intimacy & Affection – This is the trickiest area of husbandly leadership because it’s an area that you have little control over. You can’t (and shouldn’t) force your wife to have sex with you. But, intimacy is about more than just sex – it’s about making your wife feel loved and valued. We’ll talk more about affection in Chapter 12.
- Communication – All of Part 2 of this course is dedicated to being a better communicator. For now, all you need to know is that communication is your job. We’ll talk more about how to carry it out later.
- Domestic Duties (aka. Chores) – Even though it’s mundane, participating in housework shows your wife that you value her time and care about making her life easier. Leading in the area of chores is how you ‘walk the walk’ as a husbandly leader.
[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’https://inside.husbandhelphaven.com/chapter-7-setting-goals-measuring-progress/’ target=’_self’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Go to Chapter 7. Setting Goals & Measuring Progress[/thrive_link]