How Can a Husband be a Leader if His Wife Makes More Money?

BY: - 12 Sep '13 | Marriage

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In the United States, it is a presumptive reality that men should be taking on leadership roles in their relationships. From a Christian perspective, “Man is the head and the woman is the help mate”, the good book says. And socially-speaking, isn’t it awkward for a man not to be working, but dependent on his woman to support him (with an exception of stay-at-home dads).

But the reality is, in dual-income households, at least in mine, my wife makes more money than me. And I’m not alone. Media juggernauts Time and CNN collaborated on a nationwide research project entitled The State of the American Woman. When I read this paragraph, I was blown away.

…according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more…young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively…even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%).”

These findings bring me back to my question: how can a husband be a leader in his marriage when his wife has more power than him? I know this website is about black marriages and relationships and stuff…but let’s step outside the context of marriage and take a look at the concept of power for a second.

Power is dynamic. It has a lot of moving parts. But for the sake of time, a simple definition of power is the control over the access to and/or distribution of resources.

So in marriages where the wife makes more money, she has more [financial] power because she has access to more financial resources. And when priorities differ over the distribution of those resources, a struggle for control ensues. And that’s the origin of a ‘power struggle’…the fight over who will control the distribution of resources. And this power struggle has caused the number of women choosing to get divorced, remain single longer, or never marry to nearly triple (279%) over the last 40 years (National Marriage Project, 2012). Why? Because they trust their ability to control the distribution of their hard-earned resources more than they trust a man’s ability (Hymowitz, Carroll, Wilcox, & Kaye, 2012).

And therein lies the answer to the question: to lead we must develop our wives’ trust in our ability to control the distribution of resources just as good — or better than them. Not just financial resources…but all resources accessible to the family: time, information, material, etc. To build this trust, it calls for what 1Peter 3:7a says to do, “…husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge,” (KJV). Other translations say, “live with her in an understanding way”, or “be considerate”. The bottom line is you have to:

  1. Know your wife. This takes time and connectivity.
  2. Understand her preferences (i.e., likes, dislikes). This requires you to be attentively aware of her idiosyncrasies.
  3. Be considerate of those preferences. This lets her know that you’re not out for self…and that you are concerned about her wants and needs.
  4. Come up with a plan to distribute the resources. Be mindful of those preferences in #3 above.
  5. Discuss your plans with her to get buy-in. Present your plans. Then, ask for feedback. This shows leadership. DO NOT ask her what she thinks first! For, if she has to come up with the plan herself, what does she need you for? Even if your plans change after talking to her, that’s okay. It shows you took the initiative to lead.
  6. Distribute the resources. If it’s something that only she can do, follow up with her to stay abreast of the situation.

And that’s how husbands can lead when their wives have more power. Simple…right? NO! What are your thoughts of this process?

About the author

Heath Wiggins wrote 83 articles on this blog.

The Purveyor of Understanding - Heath Wiggins married Bernadette (Bernie) Wiggins in October 1997. Together they founded the Family Bootcamp, LLC., a relationship consulting business that helps people improve the communication and trust in relationships. In 2013, Heath launched the blog and book His Leadership Her Trust to combat the lack of trust women had in allowing men be leaders in their relationships. His mission is to teach Christian men how to lead in such a way that women trust, respect, and actually want to them.

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45 WordPress comments on “How Can a Husband be a Leader if His Wife Makes More Money?

  1. Kim

    Great Article. Because we live in a microwave society, we think trust happens overnight and realistically it does not. As long as you are moving in the right direction, you will get to where you want to be.

    1. Heath

      Trust is in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, it takes time to build it…and even longer to rebuild it. And it not conveyed just because someone says “I do.” It has to be earn…and earned at the pace of the one bestowing trust – not the one earning it. Great point Kim.

    2. Eric-Allen

      Men and woman aren’t equal. That isn’t how God designed it to be. Just because a wife chooses to submit to her husband didn’t mean that she has to think of her being less than, not doors it man her husband will see he as less than, but that they are inherently, current by design. When we ignore the fact of gender roles, we simply confuse what is natural; which is why we have do much gender confusion today. The Bible is where we get out directive concerning all matters in life.

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  5. Jeanette

    This is all about a man who is ego-tripping with a false sense of self-entitlement to be the “leader”. The good book tells husbands to “LOVE” their wives (quite emphatically), yet many so-called Chritian men tend to focus on leadership and authority which they do not have (unless their wives give it to them in which they didn’t have it to begin with). As someone mentioned earlier….focus on power in marriages will always be detrimental. Until men focus on their duty to love there will ALWAYS be dissension in marriage which ultimately leads to divorce. I say this because only Christian men focus on power and authority (self-pleasing).

  6. Jeanette

    Silly examples like, “let’s go to dinner” has NOTHING to do with leadership. Men like to play the leader in all types of situations even those that involve fun. This is petty and shows how simple-minded some men really are. If my husband equated leadership with choosing where to go for dinner that might not go so well in my house…and he knows it.

  7. Jeanette

    And for the record…I stay at home and my husband works. I control and distribute the money and decide how our family spends its free time. My family lacks for nothing. My husband does what he’s supposed to do for his family without any sense of self entitlement. Whoever makes the most money has nothing and should ever have nothing to do with power. We are ONE.

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8 Ways to Grow Up in Your Marriage

BY: - 12 Sep '13 | Marriage

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8 Ways to Growup

One of my absolute favorite quotes about marriage was one I heard in the film, Still Standing, by Ronnie & Lamar Tyler: “The only way to know if you have unconditional love, is if conditions come to test that”. This quote is undeniably powerful whether you’re married or not. And if you’ve been married for any length of time, then you know that tests and trials are a natural part of the union. Sometimes they are forced on you, other times you (or your spouse) may force them upon yourself. Either way, conditions and challenges will always present themselves in your marriage. The difference between those that remain “still standing” and those that don’t is how they choose to handle those conditions.  Are you always right, or are you willing to admit when you’re wrong? Are you willing to continue learning and growing in your marriage?

When I look back on the things I used to say and the things I used to do before we got married, and even early on in our marriage, I just shake my head. I can now see how I contributed to unnecessary stress and tension. I think about how I handle things now, and how I used to handle them…small changes that have lead to big strides in solidifying my commitment in my marriage.  Below, are eight areas I’ve been reflecting on, when I think about the last eight years of marriage.

Learn to let go of being defensive.

Picture 1 of 8

This was always a challenge for me but I never really understood why until I took the time to reflect and work on myself. Yes, growing up the sixth child out of seven and in between my two brothers may have something to do with it. I was always on the defense. I had to learn how to put my guard down with my husband, and realize that he was trying to fight with me and not against me. Do you find yourself quick to defend or justify something that even sounds like an accusation?

About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 153 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.

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