Is the Man Still the Head of the Household?

In this day and age, I’m not sure. I’ve always though that Steven and I had a pretty equal partnership. I will say I am probably the manager of the household – in terms of physical or organizational aspects – making sure groceries get bought, everybody gets out of bed in the morning, lunches get made, toilets get cleaned, etc., etc. As far as the emotional and spiritual aspects of our home, I feel that we share those responsibilities. As far as making decisions, we usually make them together. However, there have been times where either one of us has put his/her foot down and said, “No, we just can’t do that.”

We’ve never really had a financial leader, though. We both work and contribute to the family financially, but we’ve never been great at really controlling our money. For a long time I paid bills and “managed” the money, but I eventually got so stressed out about money that Steven offered to take it over, and I gladly let him. He makes sure the bills are paid and lets me know when money gets low.

To my surprise and delight, my husband has decided that we’re going to do Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover plan to help us make better financial decisions and to plan financially for the future. I will admit a small part of me wants to say, “You know, I’ve been asking you to do this Dave Ramsey stuff for several years and now all of a sudden YOU’VE decided to do it after telling me no for so long?” But the bigger part of me is really proud of my husband. It’s not easy for a laid-back person to plan ahead with such detail. It’s just not part of the way they work. But Steven has taken initiative and is determined to make us more financially healthy. Last night we sat down and did our budget for this pay period, and it felt so good to account for every dollar. I am so glad that my husband is leading us in this direction.

In addition, I was listening to the radio yesterday and a woman had called in saying that her husband, who was a committed Christian, had just stopped going to church. She wasn’t sure what to do. The DJs (who were men) sort of started talking about how it’s hard for men to sit through a church service and that the language used in church/sermons is more for women. Now, I’ve never heard that from any man before, but maybe it’s true, I don’t know. All I know is that last Sunday my husband stood beside me in church, very quietly praying as his fingers moved across his prayer rope. He will not be happy that I’m posting this because he does not want any attention on him in church. It touches my heart, though, to see my husband praying. Seeing him desire God is a blessing and an encouragement to me and to my children.

Is the man the head of the household? I don’t know that I can answer that. But I can say how thankful I am to have a husband who cares about the financial and spiritual health of our family, who loves and cherishes me and the kids, and who steps up and takes responsibility. Love ya, Steven.

8 comments

  1. I believe it’s safe to say the man is the head of the household – at least in Christian households:

    Ephesians 5:22-33:

    “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

    I’m not saying that this is easy – many things that Christ calls us to are not easy, but they are GOOD, and worth the effort. After several years of fighting against the whole “submissive wife” thing, it finally dawned on me that if I can’t submit to my husband, how can I submit to God??? Not to say I’m the perfect submissive wife – far from it, but I finally don’t buck against the IDEA of the man being the head of the household.

  2. Carlos says:

    “it’s hard for men to sit through a church service and that the language used in church/sermons is more for women.”

    Sadly this is true in many churches across America. God designed men to be dangerous, simply look at the dreams and desires written in the heart of every boy: To be a hero, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk. Sadly, most men abandon those dreams and desires—aided by a Christianity that feels like nothing more than pressure to be a “nice guy.” It’s no wonder that many men avoid church, and those who go are often passive and bored to death!

    I recommend you read the book “wild at Heart” by John Eldredge to get an insight into a man’s heart.

  3. kksorrell says:

    Carlos, thanks so much for this insight. It helps to get inside the mind of the opposite sex sometimes. Courtney, I’m still bucking it I think! Part of it is my control-freak nature, and part of it is my slight feminist leaning. But in this case, I’d say that Steven is taking charge, and I’m happy about it.

  4. justin says:

    I think the common fallacy is that headship means that the husband must do certain tasks or not do other tasks, and that it’s all about grasping power or ceding power. I think that while a husband may choose to do anything that his wife suggests/directs/commands him to do (out of selfless love for her, not simply to make peace), he nonetheless bears a unique responsibility for leadership of his family. Conversely, I think a wife has an obligation to use her talents (financial, managerial, etc.) for the good of her family but is called to do so in a context of submission to her husband, with two caveats: no one is called to submit to the point where they would violate their conscience, and it is typically not appropriate to submit until you are satisfied that your husband understands your perspective. In our culture we think we have the right to only submit to laws and authorities that are in line with our way of thinking, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

    That’s what I think. :-)

  5. kksorrell says:

    Good thoughts, Justin! I also think part of the common fallacy is that the husband controls the wife. (Which is related to power.) When a wife has to ask her husband permission for every little thing, or her husband places unrealistic restrictions on her, I think a line has been crossed. (In addition, sometimes the roles are reversed and the wife puts unrealistic restrictions on the husband.) Now, that’s not to say that spouses can’t check with each other before doing things. Steven and I routinely ask each other before making plans to go out with a friend, spending a large amount of money, etc. It’s just part of respecting each other’s time and needs.

    I think it would be good for Christians to define “leadership of the family.” In what ways is he supposed to lead? How are spouses supposed to delegate responsibilities in the home? (and I’m not just talking about housework). How can each spouse know his/her role AND feel confident and comfortable with it?

  6. Beth says:

    Great blog, Karissa!! I know what you mean about answering the question, “are men the head of the household?”. I feel I know what I am suppose to say, but I often don’t understand how that plays out. When Ted and I were filling out the paper work to be come foster/adoptive parents, we both, separately, said Ted was the head of the household, and I was the leader.

  7. kksorrell says:

    Beth, that’s really interesting because you would think “head” and “leader” were synonymous!!! I think you have to come to the place where you and your partner are happy with your roles in the marriage and home. And I am SO excited about you getting a baby!

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