We’ve been discussing the problem of dominant husbands in marriage. One cause of dominance is overcompensation for something missing in a man’s life.
When a boy grows up without a father present in the home, he lacks the appropriate knowledge of how to love a woman. Likewise, a boy who grows up with a dominant mother—or has had negative experiences with women in general—may lack confidence.
These childhood environments can cause ignorance or insecurity in adulthood, and those traits may lead to overcompensation. I saw this firsthand in one of the most dominant husbands I ever encountered.
Around his wife, this man acted with total control. He was obnoxiously arrogant. When I confronted him in counseling and finally got him to lower his super-macho barrier, he confessed that he was actually very insecure around women.
He told me three things about himself. First, his father was a traveling salesman and was never home during childhood. Second, his mother attempted to dominate him, but he rebelled. And third, as a young boy he had been rejected—memorably so—by several girls.
Those three instances produced a young man with no male role model and an intense fear of being controlled by women. To keep from being hurt again, he built a wall of dominance between himself and his wife.
This man had a good heart, but it became clear that he would never change without counseling and healing of these old wounds. I suggested three distinct steps that needed to take place before healing could occur:
- He needed to see and understand how the problems of his childhood caused the dominance of his adulthood.
- He needed to forgive his parents.
- He needed to admit and understand his dominant behavior.
Together, we discussed how, in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul described a godly husband as loving and sacrificial. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Paul wrote.
Christ’s love for people was not one marked by overbearing dominance. His leadership was not characterized by control.
It was leadership based on selfless love. It was the kind of leadership born of putting another’s needs ahead of his own. It was a leadership based on thoughtfulness, grace, and sensitivity to another’s needs and feelings.
Only after this husband admitted his dominance and began to understand that it was rooted in his own ignorance and insecurity was he able to forgive his parents and find healing.
Once he began the healing process, he began changing his behavior. He started working to love his wife like Christ loves the church.
Ignorance or insecurity are not excuses for dominance in husbands, but they can be causes of dominant attitudes and behavior. Are those traits present in your marriage? If so, consider your childhood, forgive those past hurts, and seek the healing Christ offers.