Relationship Issues: “Help! My Husband Won’t Lead!”


Relationship Issues: Help! My husband won't lead!Welcome to Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible and on all kinds of other subjects related to living the Christian life. My “day job” is counseling. I’m an ACBC certified counselor. I meet with couples, families and individuals to help them find God’s answers for the issues and struggles they face.

Besides meeting with people formally, I’m frequently asked questions at church or by email. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like to see answered you can submit it here.



From Sue:

I’m a new Christian and I’ve been attending a Bible study about being a godly wife. I realize I haven’t been the kind of wife I should. I know my husband is supposed to be the leader of our family. I have talked to him about it, but he doesn’t seem interested in being more involved. How can I get my husband to lead our family?


That’s a great question! I know God is honored by your desire to be the kind of wife and have the kind of marriage He has designed us to have.

You didn’t say whether or not your husband is a Christian. If not, one of the most important passages for you to understand is found is 1 Peter 3.1-4. Even if your husband is a Christian this passage contains a powerful principle. It says:

¹ In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (NASB)

As wives our tendency is to try to convince our husbands of what they should be doing. And in the case of leading their families, it’s true, they should be. But it’s more important for us to be the wives God wants us to be and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them through our “chaste and respectful behavior” (v. 2).

Oftentimes in marriage the biblical roles actually get reversed. The wife takes the lead, sometimes by default, sometimes because of the model she grew up with, and sometimes because of personality. But often there is a sinful desire to be in control. It’s part of the curse of sin that came on the human race when Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3.16).

The important thing for you is to do your part. Ask for your husband’s advice when making decisions. And when he makes a decision or even a suggestion, follow his advice. Let him know you trust God to work through him. Resist the urge to tell him how he should be leading or to criticize his opinions and ideas. Show him respect.

Respect is an elusive thing for us women to understand. We often disrespect our husbands in ways that, quite honestly, don’t seem disrespectful to us. Ask your husband how you might be showing him disrespect. And then really listen when he shares something. Have a teachable spirit in this area.

Many times our husbands quit trying to lead because we haven’t been willing to follow. Or we haven’t been willing to follow in a way that let’s them know we trust them to lead, that is without complaining or criticizing. When we trust our husbands’ leadership, we are really putting our trust in God who wants to lead through them.

Ephesians 5.24 says, “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” The only exception would be if we are asked to sin.

Above all else, be patient. Remember how patient God has been with you and that He wants to work in your husband through your “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3.4).

If you would like to read more on this subject, I would like to recommend two books: The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace is one of the most practical and helpful books on what it means to be a godly wife. And For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn can help women understand what it means to respect our husbands and be more aware of the ways we communicate disrespect, sometimes without even realizing it.

If you have a question, you can submit it here.



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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.

18 thoughts on “Relationship Issues: “Help! My Husband Won’t Lead!”

  1. I’m visiting from the Grace & Truth linkup. I think one of the hardest things as a wife (and probably as a husband too) is giving our spouse the freedom to be who he is in every area. I tend to think my way is the best way, but by giving my husband the freedom to be who he is, instead of setting us up in a tension filled relationship, it frees us up to really appreciate each other. It took me a while to learn that, but after 23 years of marriage, I’m sort of getting it! 🙂

    • Wise words, Rosanne! We waste so much time trying to make each other fit into our molds! Yet, it’s in our different strengths and weaknesses that we compliment each other. It’s great to be free! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Blessings!

  2. Thank-you for this post. I was realizing this the other day- that I was waiting for (and nagging) my husband to lead me the way that I would lead me, but we are wired differently. I’m learning to follow what God is leading me to do and entrust my husband to God. Like you were saying, I can only be accountable for myself.
    Thanks for this!

    • Amen! I’m so glad the post was an encouragement to you and thanks for your encouraging words to me! Blessings!

  3. Such wonderful, biblically sound advice! I found this area to be particularly difficult for me, but God in His mercy comes alongside me and teaches me. It all boils down to trusting God and that is a life long journey for me.

    • Yes, it is a very challenging situation, but as you said, God always gives the grace when we look to Him. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Blessings!

  4. Hey, Donna, I’m your neighbor at #SocialButterflySunday! Finding balance in marriage can be difficult, but I believe if we all submit ourselves to God first of all, many problems could be avoided. Of course, that can be easier said than done. 🙂 I also think that both husband and wife need respect from each other and a kind of mutual submission as Eph. 5:21 encourages us to “be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ.” You have good advice here. I know there have been times when I’ve been guilty of trying to tell my husband how to lead, sometimes without realizing that’s what I’m doing. But God is faithful, He forgives and helps us fulfill our roles as we yield to Him. Blessings to you!

    • I’m so glad you visited today. I actually think what God calls our husband to do is a harder calling. They are called to lead, but unselfishly and for the benefit of their wives and children (since they’re to love as Christ loved the Church). But as you pointed out, it’s still not our job to get them to do that any more than it is their job to make us submit or fulfill our roles. God calls each of us to do our part out of our love for and trust in Him. And He is definitely more forgiving and patient than we can imagine! Praise God!

  5. Donna, I love the advice that you offer. So wise and truthful. Something I’m pondering over even though I’m single! I’m still waiting on Mr. Right in my life but I know that having a Godly husband who leads is very important to me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    • Crystal, it’s so wonderful that you know the truth now, before you get married. Making a wise choice will save you years of pain and struggle. Blessings!

  6. Is it possible that some men are not capable of leading? (This is a serious question) I have often stood back and waited for my husband to lead but he doesn’t. He seems to want me to lead.

    • Suzi, that is more common than I care to think about, probably for a variety of reasons. But it is not a capability problem (barring some disability), but a willingness or habitual issue. There is a book that might be helpful. It’s called The God Empowered Wife by K.B. Haught.

  7. great advice donna. since none of us are doing what we “should” do, we are all in the same boat in that department. your advice to model submitting and showing respect is great advice…and difficult as well. the only one who can give us the strength to do it is Christ in us. it’s not something we can do in our own strength at all! that is what makes it great exercise for us.

    what a great and helpful reminder for me, even after 47 years of marriage to a wonderful man! as we move to different stages of life, we often have to learn how to live out this advice in new ways. i think i’m there now. blessings today:)

    • I agree! For me, it’s been 33 years and I know I’m still learning and growing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Martha! Blessings!

  8. Excellent advice, Donna! Prayer is so important in this also. My husband and I really struggled our third year in marriage, and that’s when my relationship with the Lord started to grow so very deeply. God changed me and my marriage, and eventually my husband. It’s hard to see other women going through this because I have been through it. I tell them to pray. Thanks for sharing your encouragement and wisdom with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

    • Kelly, it’s always nice to hear from someone who has walked through a situation and seen God use it for good. Thanks for sharing.

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