The Problem with Passive Husbands

The Problem with Passive Husbands March 7, 2019

The last few Marriage Builders have focused on husbands whose leadership styles are too dominant. By dominating their wives and families, they fall short of the sacrificial ideal Paul describes in Ephesians 5.

But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? What about husbands who are too passive?

Israel’s King Ahab was a passive husband. He married Jezebel, an evil, conniving woman who was high priestess of the cult of Baal. Under her influence, Ahab began to worship her god and follow her spirit of evil.

Though Ahab was king, Jezebel was the boss. It wasn’t long before she was controlling Israel from behind the throne. Ahab allowed her to terrorize and destroy God’s people.

Had he stood up to her and acted as a righteous leader and husband, the nation of Israel would have known peace and prosperity. Instead they were met with curses, famine, and destruction.

As a passive king, Ahab wore the uniform and swung the sword, but relied on others—including his wife—to do his dirty work. This is a common scenario for the passive man.

For every dominant man I’ve dealt with in counseling, I’ve encountered two passive ones. Passive husbands are much easier to be around. They are usually very sweet and sensitive to their wives.

Sensitivity is a very desirable trait, of course, but only when it is combined with leadership. Passive husbands may be the most thoughtful men in the world, but eventually they will drive their wives crazy because they will not lead.

This lack of leadership occurs across the board: finances, spiritual lives, children, romance…everything. A passive husband can destroy any sense of security in his home, along with whatever respect his wife once had for him.

In counseling, I try to help a passive husband realize that leadership is one of his wife’s basic needs. When he fails to provide it, the relationship sustains damage. She will begin to resent him for his weakness and passive temperament.

In order for healing to begin in their marriage, the husband must recognize that he can’t remain passive and truly meet his wife’s needs. He needs to become the kind of man she can honor and respect.

He needs to exert his leadership.

Does this mean making a 180-degree turn and becoming dominant? Not at all. What it does mean is that he should stop letting others run his life. He needs to begin making his own decisions rather than allowing his wife, parents, or children to do it for him.

God’s model of servant leadership has two parts: servanthood and leadership. Men should lead their homes with a combination of humility and confident guidance. It’s godly, aggressive leadership.

“Be strong, show yourself a man,” King David told his son, Solomon, when David was nearing death (1 Kings 2:2).

That’s good advice for all husbands, everywhere.


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