Disclaimer: I am no expert on leadership, marriage, or leadership in marriage. The following are just some of my own thoughts, struggles, and personal experiences that I wanted to share. Every relationship is different, so take it with a grain of salt.
I never wanted to be a leader. My introverted self, paired with social anxiety, tries to stay away from the role of a leader as much as possible. The added social interactions, the pressure of coming up with a grand vision, the risk of embarrassing myself when I make a bad decision, and the attention and scrutiny all make being a leader seem very unappealing to me. That’s not to say I don’t have ideas once in a while, but on some basic level, I’m afraid everyone will make fun of me if I make a bad decision. That being said, now that I am a husband, I know I have to step up and be a leader in our marriage.
In order to fulfill such a role, I had to first admit I could not accomplish it on my own. Like many (actually, all) other things in life, it is impossible to do it without God’s grace. I often find myself praying for strength when I feel tired and weary, and praying for wisdom when I just feel lost. Sadly, I’ve noticed how easy it is for me to become self-centered and complain about things. There are times when I get frustrated or impatient and become very grouchy and unpleasant. I’m working on catching myself before I start whining and reminding myself how joyful and rewarding it is for me to serve my family. Honestly, doing dishes has never been so enjoyable.
To me, being the leader of our marriage/family means many different things. One of these is serving my family. It means doing the dishes at night, even though I’m tired, figuring out all the deductions and filing our taxes, and doing the chores no one else wants to do, just to name a few. It means taking the initiative to lead my family in prayer, and continually point it towards Christ. Those are just a few examples, and yet it already sounds like a tall order, impossible on my own strength. Serving is easy in the beginning, when you’re still in the honeymoon phase as a newlywed. Keeping it up when it loses its novelty and becomes another obligational duty requires me to remind myself why and for whom I’m doing it. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes that’s all it takes to bring the joy back into an otherwise tedious task.
Beyond the practical things, one of the most important areas of leadership in marriage is being the spiritual head of our family. To me, that means making sure we’re both doing well spiritually. When life gets busy and we forget to do our devotions or pray, I need to initiate and make sure our focus stays on God. This has been especially challenging for me, since it’s hard enough for me to stay spiritually disciplined myself, let alone the both of us. While I’m not solely responsible for my wife’s spiritual well-being, I am responsible for keeping us both accountable. It comes down to being disciplined and intentionally setting aside time to spend time with God together as a couple and praying together. Again, this is pretty pointless if I’m not already pursuing Christ on my own.
Personally, I think being a leader in marriage is more about serving my wife and family than having authority and control over them. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt weird calling it “being a leader,” since it looks more like being a servant. It shouldn’t be a tiresome burden. The way I look at it, if I truly care about my wife and my marriage, I’d prioritize it and gladly take the initiative to make sure my family is doing well.