Gentlemen, Please Remove Your Hats
The Five Kinds of Husbands
Updated May 31, 2006
read "The Five
Kinds of Wives"
Barrington H. Brennen
Question: Dear Sir: You always talk about husbands being in
partnership with their wives. Can you be the head of your wife and still be her
Answer: Dear Friend, to speak
frankly, this is a tough question. Why? Itís not because it is difficult to
answer, but it is because men have internalized the belief that they are the
divinely appointed heads of their wives and homes. Some husbands are
"nice" heads and never bully their wives. However, many of these
"nice" heads, when pushed against the wall, exercise male
supremacy and lord it over their wives. You cannot be head over your wife and
still be her partner.
- PARTNERS EVERYWHERE BUT NOT IN THE HOME
- To illustrate the point, when two individuals mutually conceive an idea to
begin a new business and equally provide the capital and skills to make this
business function, they are truly partners. They have equal voice and
decision-making power. One will not make any major decision without consulting
the other. There is no obvious person who will automatically make difficult
decisions when there is a crisis. For smooth running of the business, these
partners come to mutual agreement on how to deal with potential crisis. They
recognize that each one contributes special talents to the success of the
business. Therefore, when there is a crisis the one with the talent to deal with
that crisis will make the decision. There are many examples of equal partnership
in business. Why then, is it so difficult to grasp the concept of total
partnership in marital relationships?
I was so happy a few weeks ago when the Right Honorable Prime Minister Hubert
Ingraham, and the Leader of the Opposition, the Honorable Perry Christie spoke
very encouragingly of the potential of a female prime minister in The Bahamas.
These stalwart male leaders of our country had no problem with a woman being a
prime minister of The Bahamas. I clearly understood these men to mean that women
and men in The Bahamas are equal partners in politics and have equal power,
voice, vote, and the ability to make decisions in this developing country. What
if Prime Minister Ingraham never intends for a female prime minister to have
equal power as males do. Then, the constitution of the Bahamas and the laws that
govern the authority of the prime minister should be changed. Imagine a female
prime minister of The Bahamas who cannot make certain decisions simply because
she is not a man. Would it be fair? Certainly not! Would Prime Minister Ingraham
or the House of Assembly do this? Would the people of The Bahamas allow this to
happen? Certainly not! Isnít that what many men do in the marriage
relationship? How ironical! If a female prime minister can lead thousands and
make decisions in times of crisis, why canít she lead in her home with her
husband and make independent decisions in times of crisis?
- TYPES OF HEADS/HUSBANDS
- Once again, I must emphasize that once there is a "head," no matter
how nice he is, the idea of partnership is corrupted. In my counseling practice,
I have discovered that there are at least four types of heads in marriage. All
of these types of heads illustrate that you cannot have partnership and headship
in a romantic relationship.
First there is the "lion king," authoritarian husband/head. This is the
husband who makes it known who is the boss. He sits, as all lions do, waiting to
be served. When he roars, everyone must move. His children respect him as head,
but they are really afraid of him. His wife nervously honors his wishes so as
not to cause him to become angry. Other words that can aptly describe this type
of head are "domineering" and "military commander" head.
Second, there is the "passive-aggressive" husband/head. This is the
husband who insists he is the head, but is seldom seen or heard, and he is not
visibly involved in the life of the family. Sometimes these husbands are
alcoholics or religious addicts. They often use put-downs and manipulation to
force their wives and children to accomplish tasks or fulfill their requests.
When they become angry, everyone trembles.
Third, there is the "gentleman" husband/head. This is the husband who
is respectful and does all in his power to enrich the marriage, although he will
never change his views about it. He is usually willing to attend married couplesí
club meetings and marriage seminars. He will never talk down to his wife. If he
washes the dishes or helps with the laundry, he makes it clear that he is just
helping his wife do some of her chores. Nevertheless, he insists
that he is the head of his wife. He argues that the husband must have the last
say in important decisions, although he tries not to disregard his wifeís
opinion. Many Christian husbands fall into this category.
Fourth, there is the "ceremonial" husband/head. This is the husband who
deep down inside really believes in equality, mutuality, and partnership in
marriage; but he is afraid to let his friends see how often he washes the
dishes, cooks the food, and takes care of the children. He avoids getting
involved in the discussion about headship because his true feelings conflict
with the traditional lifestyle of his friends and associates. Only when he is
pressured, does he stand on the side of tradition and states shyly that he is
the head of his home.
FIFTH: The ideal husband is not a head but a partner with his wife. He is the
vitalized-harmonious husband. Theologians refer to him as the "Christ-centered"
partner. He is a part of the companionship model from creation.
He is not the head of his wife but a head with his
wife--co-leaders as God intended from the beginning
Marriage is a trinity including God man and woman. God is at the head,
and husband and wife are on the same level. It can be illustrated with
a triangle. God is at the apex, and the husband and wife are at the
base on each angle.
In this kind
of marriage, the husband and wife are servants.
- THE IDEAL HUSBAND
The vitalized-harmonious husband believes in
total equality and mutuality in the marriage relationship, and his wife is equal
partner in home government. This husband views the difference between husband
and wife as just that--differences intended to blend together two persons in a
unique partnership and companionship. His emphasis is: "We are equal
partners." The wife is free to explore her chosen calling and career while
still feeling feminine and motherly. The husband, on the other hand, is free to
be compassionate and affectionate, but he is still masculine and fatherly.
I challenge all ministers of the gospel of all faiths to reexamine our
concept of roles in marriage and to review the concept of headship versus
partnership. I challenge pastors to preach about being "servant
husbands" instead of "heads;" to preach mutual submission, not
wifely submission. If we do, these concepts will create a new dimension in the
life of our Bahamian families. Letís be partners.
read "The Five
Kinds of Wives"
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and
board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your
questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or
write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or
call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.