The institution of marriage is in big trouble. About 40% of all marriages in the US end in divorce. The divorce rate would probably be even higher but for the fact that increasing numbers of people are not bothering to get married at all. There are lots of reasons that marriage is dying, but the biggest one is that we have banished the concept of masculine leadership within marriage.
What is male headship?
The headship of the husband in marriage simply means that there are complementary masculine and feminine roles within marriage. The role of the husband is to be a leader. As a leader, he is responsible for determining the family’s mission, setting the pace, and keeping up morale. He also has ultimate decision making authority.
You can think of the husband as the king of the realm where the realm is his own family.
It is important to stress that the husband’s leadership role within marriage is natural. It is not a cultural construct. The patriarchal leadership of the husband has been apparent in every civilization from the Pagan Greeks and Romans to the Christian societies of the Middle Ages and early 20th century America. It is only after 1960 that we began to see the erosion of this masculine ideal in Western countries with the rise of feminism.
Our culture rejects the idea of masculine leadership
Of course, bringing back the headship of the husband is easier said than done. Western culture underwent a complete transformation 50 years ago. We went from being a somewhat traditional culture to a radical egalitarian one.
The transformation was due in large part to the influence of feminism. Feminists used the worst abuses of patriarchy to dismantle the entire institution. They talked about women who had endured years of violent beatings or who suffered silently with a philandering husband.
No one wants to see innocent people suffer, so the public responded by making “reforms.” No fault divorce was created so that men and women could break up a marriage even if their spouse was not guilty of doing anything wrong. Women were encouraged to remain in the workforce even after they had children as a way of being independent from their husbands. And generations of boys and girls were raised to believe that men and women were equal in every way except for the surface level differences of their sex organs.
These cultural changes have all but extinguished the idea of true masculine leadership in marriage. Thus, if we want to restore the headship of the husband, we have our work cut out for us.
Wrong ideas of masculine leadership
Before we talk about how to bring back the leadership of the husband, we have to understand what it is not.
The leadership of a husband is not like that of a manager in a modern corporation. The corporate manager rules by the carrot and stick approach. If you work 80 hours per week, he can reward you with a 1% raise. If you accidentally outshine him, he can fire you. This corporate model is completely foreign to marriage.
Another mistaken model is the straw man created by feminists. According to this model, patriarchal leadership is like a tyrant bossing around a slave. While feminists have convinced young women that masculine headship is equivalent to the tyrant-slave model, the truth is that it was never really the norm in the West due to the influence of Christianity. And, as a practical matter, I doubt very many men would be happy with a wife who had no personality of her own.
How does a man exercise his leadership in a feminist world?
If you’ve ever read management theory, you know that there are two basic types of authority: positional and personal.
Leaders who have positional authority receive submission because of the position they hold. Most corporate management jobs are like this. You obey your manager not because they are great people, but because they have the power to reward or punish you.
On the other hand, personal authority comes because the individual has a track record of excellence. They have demonstrated repeatedly through their actions that they are people who are worthy of being followed. We follow these people because they deserve it, even if they don’t have any positional authority over us.
By definition, a husband has positional authority to be the leader in his marriage. In the past when husband and wife subscribed to a traditional point of view, this may have been enough for the husband to exercise his masculine leadership in the marriage.
But if you try to pull rank on your wife in the modern day, it will have the exact opposite effect of what you intended. Women today are trained to reject their husband’s positional authority by default.
The only way to make your headship operative in your marriage is to develop personal authority.
How I became a leader in my marriage
My own marriage had a rough beginning. The trouble started during the wedding planning. My wife’s family shelled out the money for the wedding, but they provided my fiancée with no help in planning the wedding. When she asked me for help, I just shrugged my shoulders. After all, I thought, that was the woman’s job.
During our first year together, I acted like a spoiled brat. My wife was finishing up school and working so she was pulling late nights studying and waking up early. Rather than supporting her, I resented and complained about her schedule.
After about a year of this, we finally had a big argument where I realized that I had burned through all the goodwill I had generated during our courtship. Unless I did something quickly, we were headed for a divorce.
Trying to assert positional authority at that point would have only made the situation worse. Instead, I set out to rebuild my personal authority.
- I stopped complaining.
- I forced myself to be cheerful in all circumstances.
- I got involved in approving my wife’s decisions. Being a leader means that you are responsible for everything. You can delegate, but you are still ultimately responsible.
- Finally, I developed a vision for where I wanted our family to go, and I gradually got my wife to buy into that mission.
In other words, the only way husbands can be leaders in their marriage, is to behave like leaders.
My marriage didn’t change over night. It took several months of consistent living on my part before my wife began to believe that I was serious in fulfilling my role as husband. But it was well worth the effort. I found that when I exercised my role as a husband, my wife settled into her feminine role—naturally.
A good marriage is one of the most satisfying things in life. Unfortunately, our culture is making traditional marriage something more and more difficult to achieve—and it is happening by design.
That’s why I wrote my first book, Staying Married in a Degenerate Age. In the book, I discuss in detail what our cultural elites are planning for the institution of marriage. I also share practical advice that every couple needs to be aware of, including:
- How to cheat proof your marriage.
- Preventing divorce.
- Avoiding common money traps.
- Inoculating your marriage from the negative influence of the culture.
- Masculine leadership.
- Making your faith operative in your marriage.
I also dedicated two chapters to men who are not married yet. The first provides what you should look for in a potential spouse. The second gives some things that you can do to maximize your chances of attracting the right person.
Finally, I am offering a contest where you can win a $100 Amazon gift card. Click here to learn more about the book and the contest.