We introduced the problem of a passive husband—a man who fails to meet his wife’s need for leadership. Where does this kind of passivity come from?
One cause is an over-led or over-nurtured past. Many passive men had parents who made every decision for them. Due to this constantly controlling behavior, the young boy never learned to act for himself.
Dominant, controlling parents can lead to a boy who never learns to take responsibility for his own life—and who is unprepared to meet the demands of adulthood. A boy like this is typically attracted to his opposite in a woman: a dominant, aggressive female who “replaces” his parents.
Another cause of passivity is mismodeling, and it’s also related to upbringing. A passive man may have been raised in a family of passive men. From his own father, he learned the phrase, “Yes, dear,” in a whining, submissive tone.
When men grow up in this kind of structure, they either rebel against it (becoming dominant husbands) or they seek a wife who will dominate them. Either way, it is an unhealthy pattern.
Temperament can also produce passive behavior, especially when a man has a laid-back, phlegmatic personality. Men like this make great friends, are slow to anger, and are dependable. Those are great qualities.
But phlegmatic men can also be inclined to just “go with the flow” and let the wife lead, and this results in major marriage problems. Laid-back husbands must become more assertive. Not only is this is commanded by God, but it meets an important need in women.
A final factor in producing passive men is intimidation, especially here in America, where men have been made uncomfortable by the women’s rights movement.
While it used to be clear that men should open doors for women (or other acts of chivalry), those traditions are less clear now. Men have become frozen with fear of doing the wrong thing.
Of course, many women are frustrated by the ways they have been treated by men, and rightly so. But confusion or role reversal is not the answer. The answer is to correct the problem, not for men to change places with women so they can dominate us for awhile!
Regardless of the cause, the only way to correct the problem of passive men is for husbands to assume, once again, their places as righteous and sacrificial leaders. Any other action is an accommodation to the problem, not a solution.
Passive men need to repent for their lack of leadership. Then, after asking forgiveness, they need to strive to become righteous men modeled after Jesus, as Paul instructed us to do in Ephesians 5.
Jesus is the ultimate role model for husbands. Fix your eyes on Jesus as you ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to be a righteous leader.