(Remember, I ALWAYS assume that you are dating a man who wants to obey Christ and follow Him with all his heart and that you also are fully yielded to Christ as Lord and seeking to become the godly woman He desires you to be.)
Some of you know exactly what I am going to describe here.
You ask your man an important question. You want to be sure you are cooperating with his leadership. You need his input. You don’t want to take over and steamroll over him. But he says nothing. He seems to ignore you.
This can be extremely frustrating! Especially for a recovering type A, dominant, controlling woman! If you have a man who tends to be passive – and he tends not to answer you – and you step down and begin to try to follow his leadership, it can take some time for the whole thing to work well. It may require MUCH PATIENCE from you as you stop leading and begin to encourage your guy to lead. Some of you have men who give answers right away or who will say, “I need time to think about that, let’s talk about it Friday night” and then will get back with you. That is awesome if your guy is able to articulate his feelings and thoughts right away. I wish all men were able to give some verbal acknowledgement right away. But some of them do not do this – and we need to decide how we can respond in a godly way if this is our situation.
This post is for those my sisters in Christ whose men have not done much leading, or not had the opportunity to lead much, who are hesitant to lead and tend to be emotionally shut down and/or a bit verbally unresponsive at this time. (If you have severe issues – infidelity, active addictions, uncontrolled mental health disorders, actual abuse, please don’t read my blog but seek godly, experienced help ASAP!)
- I don’t know what is best in every possible situation. I trust God to be able to impart the wisdom each woman needs specifically to her unique scenario. Please listen to His Spirit above all else!
I’m going to share some things I learned and how things worked for me and some things I have seen work with some other women. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Maybe they won’t. That will be up to you to hear God’s voice about what He desires you to do.
My husband, Greg, tends to need a lot of time to process his thoughts about big decisions. Sometimes, he even needs a lot of time to process ideas about smaller decisions, too. When we were first married, I didn’t understand this. I assumed he made decisions just like I did – in a few seconds – and when he wouldn’t answer me for several minutes (or longer) I got REALLY angry and would try to force him to answer my question. I do wish he had been able to say to me, “I need some time to think about it” – that would have been super helpful! He never did that earlier in our marriage. So after 15-30 minutes of me waiting impatiently and trying to pressure him every 30 seconds for an answer – I would conclude that he was just being hateful and unloving and I would tell him I would just make the decision myself since “he obviously wouldn’t/couldn’t make a decision and wouldn’t lead.” (Yikes. How I sabotaged myself back then! All that pressure and the things I said to him were SO DISRESPECTFUL. The more I pressured him, the more he shut down. How I wish I had patiently given him more time! He IS able to lead. He just needs a lot more time than I used to give him.)
As I stepped down from leading in the family and marriage, I began giving Greg decisions to make. I had been making almost all the decisions for over 14 years. Suddenly, I was giving him a lot of decisions. He didn’t like it at first. He often said nothing. I felt he was ignoring me many times when he did this in the past. But, once I began to step down and leave room for him to lead – I would just share decisions with him that needed to be made and share what I wanted to do (sometimes I wouldn’t tell him my opinion, just so the poor man would have a chance to think for himself without my opinion for once!). And I would leave it with him. If he didn’t make a decision, oh well! We didn’t get to do whatever it was.
I learned to be content no matter what the outcome.
Sometimes he wouldn’t make a decision. I learned to accept that about a lot of things in the beginning of this journey to become a godly wife. It took time for him to feel confident and safe enough to begin making decisions. He was afraid that I would jump in or criticize him or pile contempt on him if I didn’t agree with him for quite awhile at first. But when he saw eventually that I was seriously trusting everything to him and supportive of his decisions, even when I didn’t agree, he began to take over little by little. I praised him whenever he did make a decision. I thanked him for his leadership multiple times before he even began to lead. I accepted that he might not do what I wanted and that some less important things might not get done and I trusted it all to God. It was the scariest thing I ever did in my life – letting go of control like that! Not because Greg was incompetent, but because I had to learn to trust God instead of myself.
Sometimes there are decisions that have to be made – and that have time limits. What is a woman to do in such a situation?
Some ideas to prayerfully consider (but please always listen to God’s Spirit infinitely more than to my words!):
- I have a new job offer out of state. I know the wedding is in 8 months. That may make some things more difficult. I want to be sure we live where YOU want to live and where you believe you can get the best job. Is this something you would be interested in me interviewing for?
Then, if he doesn’t answer for days or weeks or something and you need an answer by a certain time, you may want to casually say (in a pleasant tone of voice and with a smile) something like:
“I am going to assume that you don’t want me to look into that job opportunity unless I hear from you by X time, Honey. If I don’t hear from you by Thursday at 9:00am, I’ll just call the manager and let them know I am not available to take the job at this time.”
In my view, with a man who tends not to answer – ever – it can be wise to gently tell him a course of action you will be taking by the deadline and give him the opportunity to speak up and say that he does NOT agree with what you are going to do. This way, if he says nothing, he is agreeing with you. From my experience – this method works pretty well.
If you have a man who does answer in a timely way – it is not necessary to approach him this way. You can just share that you have a decision to make and respectfully ask for his input and direction and wait for his response.
Thankfully, a lot of men, once they get a little practice leading and realize you do trust them and that they actually like the role God has given them of leader – will probably begin to answer more quickly and be a bit more responsive in most cases. But if you know that your man just needs a lot of time for decisions – you can learn to adapt to his personality and style by accepting this about him and learning to work with his style and personality instead of against him.
My husband sometimes doesn’t say anything still when I approach him about a decision. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. If he says nothing, I just leave it with him and trust him with it now. Usually, within a few days he will bring it up himself after he has researched it a bit. Sometimes, I will bring it up again after a few days or weeks now gently, without pressure and respectfully. I didn’t do this in the beginning, I would just leave things and wait completely for him so that I didn’t pressure him at all. Usually now, he has done some thinking about it and is ready to talk about it.
I hope this might be a blessing to those of you in a similar situation!