We as men are all called to lead our wives (Eph. 5:25-27), which sounds like a glorious expedition. However, no one knows how to do it practically. Many men want to lead their wives better, but have trouble knowing how to do so. Some men try to preach at their wives (which doesn’t work). Others try to make their homes a mini-seminary (which doesn’t work). Others start reading the Bible and then get frustrated and just give up (which doesn’t work). Other men are discouraged because they don’t feel as though they are godly enough to lead (which doesn’t work).
I personally wanted to write this article, not because I’m a good leader in my home, but because I’m not a great leader. I’ve had to talk to men, read, pray, and learn by trial and error on how to lead my wife and I’m still not great at it.
Therefore, I wanted to put together a practical list for leading our wives better on this glorious expedition. Now, some of these tips will work better for some couples than others so feel free to find what works for you and to mix and match. This will be a process of trial and error, but it is worth the struggle to grow spiritually.
1. Lead your wife with love. The most important thing when it comes to guiding your wife is how you act toward her and how you show your love for the Lord (1 Pt. 3:7). Actions speak louder than words. If you are loving, tender, selfless, sacrificial, joyous, and deeply love Jesus, this will have the greatest impact on your family of anything that you could do. Modeling Jesus in your own life will naturally guide your wife. Make sure you make Jesus look beautiful. If you make him look beautiful then your wife will naturally grow in her affections for him. Conversely, if you don’t have personal joy in the Lord then your wife will find it harder to grow in her own personal walk with him as well.
2. Go after your wife’s heart. Many men just do tasks or serve their wife by emptying the dryer (which is good, by the way) but you have to find out who your wife really is and find out how to make her feel loved internally. Going after your wife’s heart instead of just doing tasks is key. Asking questions about her and how she is doing spiritually can be a good way to do this. Don’t just be generic (i.e. “how are you”) but more specific (i.e. “what makes you love Jesus this week?”) in your questions. And be ready to listen.
3. Pray with your wife. This can be tough for many people because it becomes a “task.” One of the things you can do is pray in bed before you go to sleep. The prayer doesn’t have to be long or elaborate and you can both be laying down and just hold hands and pray. An ineloquent prayer is better than no prayer at all. Your relationship with your wife is so important that God mentions that your prayers may be hindered if one doesn’t gently honor their wife (1 Pt. 3:7).
4. Read scripture together (Deut. 6:7). Now, this often turns into a “preaching moment” for most men so instead of trying to be your wife’s professor, just read a chapter of scripture out loud before you go to bed. She can read the next chapter tomorrow night and you can alternate. You don’t have to “teach” the passage, you can just read it and then go to bed. Of course, you are always free to talk about it with each other if you would like.
5. Read a book together. Read a book together or read two separate books and set up a coffee date, once a week, to sit down and talk about what you are learning and what the Lord is revealing to you in your reading.
6. Listen to sermons, lessons, or studies together. Once a week it may be wise to listen to a sermon, lecture, or lesson together. Sermons online or a series (like Tommy Nelson’s “Song of Solomon”) are wonderful to listen to together in your marriage.
7. Worship with you family. Perhaps once a week, or once a month, you can plug in your iPod to some speakers and play some worship songs. Or make your car rides together a time to worship in song. Allow your family to sing, worship, and allow your kids to dance. This not only is a great way to lead your family in worship, but I have found it is one of the most helpful things you can do to grow your wife in the Lord. Worshipping gets our eyes on Christ and allows him to minister to us. We are more apt to love him only after we realize how much he loves us.
The good news is that Jesus cares more for your wife than you do. He also cares more for your marriage than you do. These steps are not a “silver bullet” or a task list to merely check off. The hope in all this is that you would look to the mercy of Christ and depend on him so that he might grow you both. Marriage is a mini picture of the gospel so be encouraged in the fact that Jesus will do all the work, our part is just to be faithful.