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In one of our Engage Live events, the question was asked, how do you help a passive husband take the leadership role in the marriage? There are many angles to this. I am going to interact with one aspect of this problem in this podcast by talking about two specific personality types in a marriage.
The husband was reared in an unstructured, non-nurturing environment. He was yelled at, let’s say. His home life as a child was dysfunctional. Ad infinitum.
It was also not a Christian environment, so he did not have Christian moorings. He was chained to fear (Proverbs 29:25), not anchored to God (Romans 8:31).
He never became comfortable in his own skin. He masked his inward fears with outward strengths, so if you knew him from a distance, you would think he was an okay dude. And, of course, he kept folks at arm’s length, so they would not get up in his business.
He was relationally functional in the public domain but not relationally close or known by anyone. People liked him and he could perform at his various jobs because he always worked within his strengths.
Nobody ever perceived how insecure he was. Nobody ever really knew him.
His wife was not reared like he was. She also has been gifted by God with a personality that is more active, socially competent, and comfortable in her own skin. To make matters even better, she was reared in a loving environment, so she never had to strive to be liked, loved, or accepted by others.
In essence, she was reared the way a person is supposed to be reared.
She meets her future husband (insecure guy) and he’s funny, charming, industrious (working within his strengths), and handsome enough to be marriage material.
She becomes the first person to get up in his bubble without an exit strategy. He realizes this, which creates social uncomfortableness. He feels exposed. Vulnerable. He compares himself to her and perceives how he cannot do what she does or be like her (2 Corinthians 10:12).
He is intimidated by her.
He wants to impress her but feels inadequate. He becomes more reclusive. More passive. As he is shutting down she is expecting him to be stepping up. He gravitates to his old self (Ephesians 4:22) and she gravitates to hers. Polar opposites.
She does not perceive the kind of person he has always been and to make matters worse, she becomes critical of his passivity. She lets him know in different ways about her disappointment in him. This exacerbates the alienation he already feels, that he has always felt.
He turns to bad habits to make himself feel better about himself, which intensifies his personal bondage while his wife fuels the inward war he has in his mind (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; James 1:5-8, 4:1-2).
This scenario is not placing blame for his actions on her. It’s a common analysis of how two people can work against each other while never realizing the deeper matters of the heart.