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:
- Know your wife. This takes time and connectivity.
- Understand her preferences (i.e., likes, dislikes). This requires you to be attentively aware of her idiosyncrasies.
- 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.
- Come up with a plan to distribute the resources. Be mindful of those preferences in #3 above.
- 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.
- 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?
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