Leadership is the Top Stumbling Block In
- By Barrington H. Brennen, July 30, 2008
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The issue that causes
the most problems in marriage is leadership. That is, according to an
international research by psychologist Dr. David Olsen on roles in
marriage, which indicates that 93% of couples state that the Number One
stumbling block for married couples is “We have problems sharing
leadership equally.” The couples’ concept of leadership in marriage
affects conflict resolution, involvement in household chores, parenting,
career paths, financial planning, and much more. It is my opinion that
there is far too much emphasis on who is in charge in
marriage and not enough emphasis on “let’s work together.”
companionship, togetherness, and oneness. Whenever a male in a
relationship or a husband makes the comment “who’s wearing the pants
around here,” that is a sure sign of a misconception about marriage,
which often evokes tension that can lead to abuse. It is an insult to a
woman’s dignity and value.
I’ve discovered that
the majority of modern Christian women are not looking for men to lead
them in marriage. They are looking for men to lead with them.
They are uncomfortable when there must be a designated someone to have
the last say, or last opinion, just because that someone is a male.
This causes tension in marriage or makes it difficult for couples to
experience optimum marital health. We have not taught husbands and
wives to negotiate, so they resort to what appears to be easy--a
power-central structure: Husband leads, wife follows.
has for centuries set up women for emotional and physical
abuse. Many women themselves are maintaining and defending the
status quo, which leads them down the painful path of abuse and
sometimes death. They tell their daughters and grand daughters
to unquestioningly “respect your husbands,” “they have the last
say,” “don’t hurt their egos.” Thus, when an intelligent woman,
who knows she has the freedom to think on her own, questions or
seeks to dialogue with her husband, her opinions are squashed
simply because she is the wife.
Too many men have
been taught to use women, and too many women have been taught to depend
on men like needy, mindless females, sapping them of their true worth.
We must remind men and women that in marriage and society, God gave men
and women, husbands and wives, equal voice, vote, and power.
EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE
- One area
in marriage that really tests married couples’ concept of
oneness is the management of finances. In The Bahamas, we have
a recipe for disaster in couples’ finances. Women are taught
that their income is for themselves, and not for their family.
Husbands are taught that they are responsible for taking care of
and providing for the family and all the household needs. They
do not let their wives know their incomes, and their wives are
to take care of them like maids in a hotel. There is no
teaching about equality, sharing, combining of incomes and
assets, or working together. Some wives have a false sense of
security because they can keep all their income to do as they
please, while their husbands take care of all the household
bills. This false sense of security blows out of the window when
the wives realize that they really do not have much power in
making what they feel should be joint decisions in the home.
Their names are not on any assets,
and soon they realize that there is an imbalance of power. Then
the war brews, and oftentimes volcanic eruptions of angry words
lead to fear, depression, embarrassment, and marital breakup.
SHARING HOUSEHOLD CHORES
- In the
book “Empowering Couples,” Dr. David Olsen states: “Women
clearly have been the recipients of an unfair division of labor
in the home. In fact, in only 20% of dual-career marriages . .
. .did the men share housework equally with their wives. . .
.One study found that single mothers spend an average of 16
hours per week on chores while married mothers spend an average
of 20 hours per week.” Why is it so difficult to get men and
women to work together in the home? Why are so many men still
requiring their wives to serve them, cook for them, wash their
clothes, and clean the dishes, simply because they are their
wives? I believe that good Christian women or men would enjoy
doing these things not out of requirement but out of love and a
healthy understanding of equality in marriage. If a husband
wants his wife to serve him, he must also be willing to serve
her the same way–-wash and fold up the clothes, clean dishes,
iron, and cook, babysit, clean the floors, take the children to
the doctor, change the diapers, etc. If he does not like to do
any of these things, then it is unfair for him to expect his
spouse to do all of these things. Both should share the burden
out of love and consideration for each other.
- Dr. David
Olsen’s research goes on to indicate that marital satisfaction
is not possible when couples depend on the concepts and
practices of the “good old days.” Let us review the findings.
The research indicated that when both husband and
perceive that marriage is equalitarian (equal power, vote, and
voice), that more than 81% of the couples are happy and 19%
unhappy. When the husband is traditional (there are fixed
roles based on gender and tradition) and the wife is
equalitarian, 50% of the couples are happy and 50% unhappy.
When the wife is traditional and the husband is equalitarian,
only 37% of the couples are happy and 63% unhappy. When both
husband and wife are traditional, only 18% are happy and 82
The real issue of
leadership and roles in marriage is that of power. Power is perhaps the
“major impediment to the achievement of marital equality,” says Olsen.
Whether it is wife-dominated power or husband-dominated power, it is not
healthy in a relationship. Men have to release themselves of the
pre-occupation of power and leadership. Until that happens, we will
continue to have spouse abuse.
AND WOMEN TO LEAD TOGETHER
encourage pastors and men who train men to become whole and to
teach men that they are not to compete with women, but to
compliment them. Do not teach them that “they must take over”
from their wives. That is a reversal of the problem. Do not
teach them that male leadership is a divine right or
prerogative. That is not Biblical. God gave both men and women
dominion over the earth, not each other (Genesis 2). Teach them
that sin has skewed the balance of power and Jesus came to
restore in us His image. This includes the restoration of power
in marital relations and among all people. We are all equal at