Which Way Are You Leaning?

Lean Forward

A Men Only Monday Post

Welcome to another Men Only Monday. Listen up, guys! Today I’m challenging you to do a bit of serious self- reflection about your level of engagement in your marriage. Ladies, you can stop back by on Wednesday for your part of the “leaning” equation.

Are You Leaning Forward or Leaning Back

For a whole host of reasons, many husbands today are leaning back when it comes to their marriages, opting not to fully engage themselves in the leadership capacity they have been blessed with by God.

My challenge to you today is to consider whether you are as present and engaged as you could be in your marriage. Do you see yourself as the leader and protector of your wife and family? Do you guard and guide your household? Do you share in the day-to-day activities of managing and maintaining your home?

Having a husband lean forward and engage fully in a leadership role isn’t necessarily a popular notion today. Societal pressures put forth under the seemingly benign guise of equality and fairness, disregard the biblical mandate given to husbands to lovingly lead their wives as Jesus leads us, the church. If you are struggling with the notion of biblical headship, you might want to see “Husbands, Strong and Good” and “What Headship Is Not.”

What Leaning Back Looks Like

Although they examples below are somewhat overstated and oversimplified, look for any signs of these in your own life and marriage:

  • Absent Andy – Andy is an absentee father and husband. He’s constantly traveling on business, working late hours, and when he is home he disrupts family time with business calls and is chained to his cell phone or computer 24/7. His career is his highest priority, though he tries to convince himself that he is doing it all in order to provide for the family. Andy completely misses the fact that his wife would much rather trade her Lexus for a Chevy and have more time with her husband.
  • Paycheck Paul – Paul is a close cousin to Andy. He sees his family responsibilities ending once his paycheck is deposited in the bank. Despite being driven by the almighty dollar, he often leaves the burden of actually managing the finances to his wife (though he is quick to criticize her decisions from the back seat.) Paul and his wife are little more than roommates, married in name only.
  • Distant Dan – – Dan is leaning way back, completely disengaged from his wife and family. He has decided that he has no authority or is afraid to exercise it. He doesn’t take responsibility for much of anything and declines to make decisions. He may claim the excuse that his wife is just going to criticize him anyway, so he doesn’t even try. He has given up on leading his family, but his wife receives his indifference as a lack of love for her.
  • Sporty Steve – Steve is completely preoccupied with sports (or insert the name of your outside interests here). He pours all his mental and emotional energy into watching sports on TV or attending sporting events or playing himself. He lives and breathes sports but does little to share his passion for sports with his wife and family. He shows no interest in the things she cares about, claiming he has no time. He doesn’t see that his actions make her a practical widow.
  • Heavy-Handed Harry – Harry has the opposite problem of the other guys, but I’m including him here as a reminder that you can err on the other side. He’s a bit of a thug in his own home. Instead of leaning back and disengaging, he abuses his authority and oppressively leans on his wife in a demanding and demeaning way. He can be pushy and overbearing, treating his wife as if she is there to do his bidding. He doesn’t see that he is driving her away, possibly into the arms of another man who will treat her better.

It’s probably true that none of these guys describes you exactly, but these stereotypes are around for a reason. There may well be a few areas of neglect in your marriage where you could engage more fully and be more present.

It’s Time to Lean In

Leaning forward and into your marriage means lowering your shoulder and doing more heavy lifting in your relationship. Are you willing to make your marriage a higher priority? Are you willing to do the daily work of genuinely engaging with your wife? Here are a few areas in which to consider a deeper level of engagement:

  • Emotionally – being available and interested in your wife’s life, emotionally supportive, being a friend. Being open with her about your thoughts, emotions, and needs. Letting her see the real you. This is probably your wife’s greatest need.
  • Financially – budgeting, planning, managing money, setting goals. Doing these things together, in unity.
  • Spiritually – praying with and for your wife and family, attending church together, talking about what God is doing
  • Sexually – yes there are men that need to hear this – about one in five by most estimates.
  • Parentally – guiding and instructing the kids, discipline, spending time with them, giving your wife time off
  • Practically – helping out with the house, yard, dishes, cooking, laundry
  • Recreationally – planning vacations, fun activities with the family, movies, sports
  • Romantically – non-sexual touch – hold hands, sit close. Write sweet notes, and love letters. Plan date nights.

Maybe you think I’m asking you to be superman with this list. I’m not saying you need to do all these things all the time. I’m saying you need to lean into them. Talk the list over with your wife and find out what things are most important to her. Ask her for her input and prioritize accordingly. Be vulnerable and ask your wife how you are doing.

Look through the list of areas where and see where you might need to lean forward a bit more. Make sure you are engaging on a level that clearly communicates “I love you” to your wife. It’s time for you to be the kind of loving leader she wants and needs you to be. That’s right, she actually wants you to step up. If you don’t believe me, ask her.

Image by Jose Antonio Alba

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1 thought on “Which Way Are You Leaning?”

  1. You didn’t mention the main reason many of us “check out’; the all-too-common practice among contemporary wives of gatekeeping or restricting, limiting, or altogether abandoning sexual intimacy. A man with some honor will keep paying the bills, but won’t be motivated to invest himself emotionally.

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