I wonder how many newly married men were like me with a slightly skewed view of what it looks like to be the head of the household and the leader of the family unit. You see I thought leadership was a man who makes all the decisions, protects his wife and family from situations and information that he feels is above their head or that they cannot handle, and when everything goes the way he plans he is looked upon as a hero and admired by his wife, his children, and all those who are looking intravenously at his relationship and family. This picture looks real good from Hollywood’s perspective, but real life isn’t scripted like a perfectly drafted screen play with minor twist and turns but always ends happily ever after. In my 21 years of marriage I have discovered life to be extremely unpredictable, and the times where I thought I had an amazing plan of how to move our family forward, convinced that everything would work out exactly the way I planned it, and even at the pleading of my wife (the few times I actually did include her in my personal planning sessions) to not move in the direction I was determined to take us in…more often than not I found myself having to pick up the pieces of the disastrous situation. A scenario that was full of problems that I did not account for, and ultimately a situation that broke down trust between my wife and I and that shook her confidence in my ability to make sound decisions and lead our family properly. This is such a common issue in so many marriages that
Michelle and I have worked with over the years and even in our own relationship. Men, it is so important that we remember what marriage is… Marriage is all about teamwork! Now every great team has people fulfilling different roles, but no one role makes one person more valuable than the other. In sports, the quarterback is considered by many as the most important person on the team. He is the face of the franchise in many respects. However, if he doesn’t make his offensive line feel they are just as important, if not more important than he is, he will be very ineffective in his ability to lead his team because he’ll get clobbered on every single play! Great leadership is the ability to make everyone on your team feel valued and appreciated for what they bring to the team. Great marital leadership is the ability to make your wife feel valued and appreciated for what she brings to the marriage.
Using every single attribute that benefits your family should be your ultimate goal. In college, NFL recruiters would watch me practice and chart my strengths and abilities to evaluate if I would be an asset to their team. Likewise, we as husbands have the same opportunity to sit back and observe our wives’ individual skillsets that when brought to the marriage relationship those gifts enhance our marital team.
In 2006, during the Indianapolis Colts Super bowl run, Peyton Manning was in the huddle with his team against the New England Patriots trying to put them away. While discussing the most crucial play of the game, the most unassuming usually quiet wide receiver Marvin Harrison spoke up and differed saying, “I think we should run the ball!” This decision required sacrifice and humility from the future Hall of Fame quarterback. The best way to lead our wives is to make sure they have equal say in the choices and decisions that we make. This will require sacrifice and humility on our part, but I have found that when we as husbands are inclusive with are wives in these types of conversations and decisions it creates more unity, greater trust, deeper intimacy, and a more healthy marriage. Why? Because when everything goes according to plan we get to celebrate together because we were in it together. And if by chance things don’t work out as planned, you work through it together, because you made the decision to move in that direction together. If we as men are inclusive like this with our wives trust me when I say fellas, our women will love us more for it, and will follow us wherever we lead them.
The great teams win together and they lose together but the common theme of those types of teams is they stay together. One of my favorite moments as a chaplain was after the game several players gathered on the 50 yard line as one to give thanks for the opportunity to play this game we love together whether we won or lost. The same applies to marriage. If what we do is done together with an attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving the end result will always be a win.