How does a wife help her husband become a spiritual leader?


#1

Last night at dinner, I asked the family what family Lenten practice we might take up (in addition to individual penances). After the kids made some suggestions–my husband is for monasterial silence, I said that Dad would make the decision. Then my 11 yr old said, “Why dad?” I said, “Because he is our spiritual leader.”

She burst out laughing.

uh oh.

Without nagging, how can a wife help her husband assume the role of spiritual leader? I’m esp. interested in hearing from couples who have made a transition where the husband has stepped up after neglecting his duties.


#2

Well, a lot of men have never been taught they are to be the spiritual head of their homes. We live in a society that has left that sort of thing up to us women. Men see spirituality as a feminine characteristic. So, the first thing men need is to be educated about their role and how they are to perform it.

What helped my dh was joining the Knights of Columbus with their emphasis on men being men of faith and leaders in their homes and communities. It may not be what your dh would be interested in, but it’s a good option. Also, there is the St. Joseph Covenant Keepers, the Catholic answer to the Protestant Covenant Keepers movement. I’m sure others will have more suggestions.

Whatever you do, don’t nag him into doing anything. Let him lead, don’t push him into leading. Learn the art of the subtle hint, and I do mean subtle. Encourage him and praise him whenever he takes the lead. And give him room to fail without comment or censure.


#3

Well I think you got a good start. Its would probably be good to talk about it alone. Talk about what it means, and maybe give him some ideas. Then later on you can que up some questions and make him decided, like you did there. Chances are he doesn’t feel confident in spiritual matters, so it’d be good to talk to him about it and to show him resources and mens groups. Praise his decisions, if you need to critique him do it in good manners and in private. Or well you should know him enough to know how he is motivated. Once he gets a bit of confidence, hopefully he’ll explore this subject a little more without you having to ask him. But what can I say, but good for you. Keep up the work, cause this will make him only love his family more. And don’t forget Chestertons line, “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”


#4

Well, I guess I’d first have to ask, “what is dad doing now” by way of “leadership”? Does he go to church every week, lead prayers at home, participate actively in the parish (lector, volunteer, etc) ? Why was it that you initiated the conversation about Lent versus Dad bringing it up at the dinner table? Does dad regularly engage in religious discussion, look at CCE books with the kids, etc? Are there Catholic magazines coming into the home and Catholic books being read?

Have you and Dad talked about how to present a united front to the kids and how to “live” your faith so that they see you each as role models in the family?


#5

Pray and sacrifice first of all. Be respectful of your dh in front of others. If you disagree about something important, do it in private.

Men can’t lead if we’re doing things for them. Step back and see what you’ve done in the past that let him off the hook. Sometimes men won’t argue when we take over. If you do less or make fewer decisions or ask his input, will he step up?

Does he have friends who are a good example in this area? Can he spend more time around them and their families? (would he want to?) —KCT


#6

Greetings JMJ,
As a husband and father of five, your story broke my heart. How did you think your husband feels when his own children laugh at the idea of his headship? And I wonder where DD got the idea that dad is an appropriate element of ridicule? In this post feminist world, I see alot of ridicule for the patriarchal role of men. The dad is always the dumb, clueless parent in modern media. Then I observe that most wives refuse to give any respect to their husbands. The kids just lap this up.

Your immediate response to your darling daughter’s hilarity should have been either a slap in the face or banishment from dinner. By just letting it go, you implicitly agreed that dad’s only headship is as just a figurehead.

Most men have drunk the koolaid and accepted that women don’t want them in charge.

If you really want your husband to lead, always treat him with the utmost respect in public and demand the same from the children. Act like he is the head. When the two of you are alone, discuss with him, as the dynamics of your relationship allow, how he should be leading. If, like me, he has suffered from feminist emasculation, it will take time for him to learn how to lead.


#7

[quote=MulusChristi]Greetings JMJ,
As a husband and father of five, your story broke my heart. How did you think your husband feels when his own children laugh at the idea of his headship? And I wonder where DD got the idea that dad is an appropriate element of ridicule? In this post feminist world, I see alot of ridicule for the patriarchal role of men. The dad is always the dumb, clueless parent in modern media. Then I observe that most wives refuse to give any respect to their husbands. The kids just lap this up. .
[/quote]

Whoa, I am very respectful of my husband. He definitely leads our home in every area except spirituality. And, that is not my choice, believe me.

As for my husband’s response, he was laughing, too. In fact, I was the only one not laughing. I guess in print, it could sound like ridicule, but my dd seemed to be more surprised that I said dad was the spiritual leader. Actually, of all my kids, my daughter is the least sassy.

I’m always making excuses for my dh’s indifference to religious practice, but it is pretty obvious to the kids that Faith is not so high on his list. :frowning:


#8

[quote=KCT]Pray and sacrifice first of all. Be respectful of your dh in front of others. If you disagree about something important, do it in private.

Men can’t lead if we’re doing things for them. Step back and see what you’ve done in the past that let him off the hook. Sometimes men won’t argue when we take over. If you do less or make fewer decisions or ask his input, will he step up?

Does he have friends who are a good example in this area? Can he spend more time around them and their families? (would he want to?) —KCT
[/quote]

I’m a little nervous about stepping back–I see your point, but what if he doesn’t step up? How can I gamble when it comes to my kids’ spiritual well being? I do insist on him leading grace.

Good point about the friends. His personal friends all revolve around his hobby–archery. I’ve been praying for a devout Catholic archer to come into our lifes. However, we have friends in our homeschool community. Maybe, I need to set up some more social situations to expose him to these friends.

We are actually looking into joining a Catholic community though Presentation Ministries. Maybe that might be an answer.


#9

[quote=1ke] Why was it that you initiated the conversation about Lent versus Dad bringing it up at the dinner table? ?
[/quote]

Good point!! I should have asked dh to suggest a Lenten practice in private and had him present it at dinner!! :banghead: Why didn’t I think of that! I guess I’ve given up a little. I need to be more deliberate and prayerful. I feel like I’m racing about my life without thought. I definitely could do more things like that!

As for my husband, I have to say that he is handicapped since he isn’t Catholic. Although, I believe he has a good grasp on doctrine. I wonder if I should be holding him more accountable for things like regular Mass attendance. It is just hard to do that without slipping into nagging–or even perceived nagging.


#10

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Good point!! I should have asked dh to suggest a Lenten practice in private and had him present it at dinner!! :banghead: Why didn’t I think of that! I guess I’ve given up a little. I need to be more deliberate and prayerful. I feel like I’m racing about my life without thought. I definitely could do more things like that!

As for my husband, I have to say that he is handicapped since he isn’t Catholic. Although, I believe he has a good grasp on doctrine. I wonder if I should be holding him more accountable for things like regular Mass attendance. It is just hard to do that without slipping into nagging–or even perceived nagging.
[/quote]

I do think you need to have an offline discussion with DH about presenting a united front to the kids. They learn from deeds much more than from words. If dad is not a visible and active participant in religion-- the kids get the message that it isn’t important. Doesn’t matter how much mom is involved-- dad really is the spiritual head of the household whether he realizes it or not. Kids watch everything.


#11

I don’t know the ages of the children in your family…but at the very least, have family meals together led by dad or alternate with family members to say grace before and after meals. Easy way.

Perhaps, have a little bible reading time… we are beginning Lent…so try one of the gospel stories of the life of Christ.

Or perhaps, volunteer as a family to do something…like Habitat for Humanity, or visit a nursing home together or work in a soup kitchen for an evening as a family.

Lots of ways to do it. And with all things, pray, pray and pray some more.


#12

[quote=JMJ Theresa]I’m a little nervous about stepping back–I see your point, but what if he doesn’t step up? How can I gamble when it comes to my kids’ spiritual well being? I do insist on him leading grace.
[/quote]

You are not solely responsible for their spiritual well being.

If you “insist” on dh leading grace, is he really leading or just going along w/ what you want?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not of the opinion that women can’t disagree w/ their husbands or blow their noses w/o permission :slight_smile: But I do think we feel more responsible than we should for some things. He shares responsibility for your kids spiritual upbringing. Not stepping up does not relieve him of that duty or mean he won’t be held accountable. He will be. As wives, I believe we’ll be held accountable for how we see and treat our husbands. Pray, sacrifice, talk to your dh and see how he feels about all this.
—KCT


#13

I don’t think that you have to stop everything that you are doing for your family in order to let your husband take the lead. You can try consulting him more even if he never has an answer or wants to participate. My mother is good at starting with, “Honey, I was thinking that we could. . . what do you think?” Even if my Dad isn’t keen on participating he comes along more often than if we just announce that we are going to such and such without asking him first. This has been going on for more than 40 years, so Mom is an expert by now. :wink:

Do you have any Catholic women friends whose husbands are fun and spiritually mature? (You know, the cool crowd.) If they invite your husband to tag along to something that might set his feet on the right path to getting more active in his faith then he might take it better than if it comes from you. Even the church softball team might get him jump started.

One thing that has changed many 100’s of people in our parish is Christ Renews His Parish retreats. The men get invited by brother’s-in-law or one of the guys from the softball team or by someone standing around after mass, etc. The next thing they know is that they are on a deep spiritual retreat with powerful witnesses all given by other men just like themselves. It is kind of like a spiritual boot camp with bonding activities, etc. Sometimes they literally run out the door. However, most men stay and many have profound conversions.

The weekend retreat is followed by 6 months of weekly spiritual formation meetings but that is not really mentioned until after they make the retreat. They will receive an invitation to continue in formation from the team of men that presented the retreat and they “pass the torch” so that the next retreat is given by this new group in 6 months.

If this is not something that your parish has in place, then it can be brought to you by a “road team” from another parish to get you started. After the 1st time it is always hosted by previous participants who form a CHRP team. Our parish has it now for men and women in Spanish and in English and the results are amazing! I have never seen so many involved and spiritually strong men in one place. All ages too!


#14

When the family sits done for dinner, the wife can ask the husband to say grace. After dinner, the wife can ask the husband to say the after dinner prayer. This is just a small step.

There are a lot of little tricks to get someone else to be in charge of things.


#15

Greetings JMJ,
I’m sorry my first response came across as harsh; it was, but I think our society has really devalued men. I agree with others who suggested encouraging your husband to get involved with the Knights of Columbus. Also, look at Steve Wood’s website dads.org/

Maybe there are some groups near you that are associated with Steve Wood’s approaches.

I’m not sure you can motivate your husband to value his faith, but if you try, do it one on one. The rest of the family will just mix things up. Aside from that, I guess all you can do is pray. I’ll pray for your husband.


#16

[quote=MulusChristi]Greetings JMJ,
I’m sorry my first response came across as harsh; it was, but I think our society has really devalued men. I agree with others who suggested encouraging your husband to get involved with the Knights of Columbus. Also, look at Steve Wood’s website dads.org/

Maybe there are some groups near you that are associated with Steve Wood’s approaches.

I’m not sure you can motivate your husband to value his faith, but if you try, do it one on one. The rest of the family will just mix things up. Aside from that, I guess all you can do is pray. I’ll pray for your husband.
[/quote]

That’s okay. It is hard sometimes to convey sentiment in writing. I can now see how my dinner story might have seemed disrespectful. I was taken aback by your response. However, it did make me stop and think if I had unintentionally been disrespectful around the kids about my husband’s lack of initiative in our faith life. I’m sure they have picked up on the occasional sighs. However, I think it is just obvious to them that he is not assuming the role.

One thing I am realizing through this thread is that quite possibly there is nothing (aside from prayer and fasting) that I can do. :frowning:
If I was dating now, I would pick a devout Catholic man to marry. But, I think I did pretty well for the state of ignorance I was in at the time I married. I think that this man, my dh, has brought me to the Church despite his lack of commitment to the Faith. God is so good to me!

Maybe my next thread should be: how do I train my four sons to be prepared to be spiritual leaders? I realize that this will be more difficult without the example of their dad. Though, I still have hope!


#17

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Good point!! I should have asked dh to suggest a Lenten practice in private and had him present it at dinner!! :banghead: Why didn’t I think of that! I guess I’ve given up a little. I need to be more deliberate and prayerful. I feel like I’m racing about my life without thought. I definitely could do more things like that!

As for my husband, I have to say that he is handicapped since he isn’t Catholic. Although, I believe he has a good grasp on doctrine. I wonder if I should be holding him more accountable for things like regular Mass attendance. It is just hard to do that without slipping into nagging–or even perceived nagging.
[/quote]

If he is not Catholic, I am caught wondering how you are going to hold him accountable for going to Mass?

That almost sounds like a good receipe for pushing him away. It would appear that you married someone who didn’t have all the prerequisites you might want in a marriage(shock of shocks, some of the rest of us have done the same thing); but “holding him accountable” is an interesting phrase. It sounds as if you are determined to make him be what you now perceive you want, instead of what you chose.


#18

By holding accountable, I mean that maybe I shouldn’t just say, “Are you going Mass today?” Or, sometimes, I don’t even ask.

Rather, I could say, “I’m worried that you are putting God on the back burner.”

I could also say, “you know you agreed to support me in rearing the kids Catholic, so maybe you should give an hour a week to that end.”

I definitely wouldn’t push him to go to Mass. I know from experience that that backfires.

There is another good thread–how do you provide spiritual accountability to your spouse? For example, my husband knows I have a hard time forgiving, so he reminds me when I’m holding onto a grudge that I need to let it go. What a delicate balance…


#19

[quote=JMJ Theresa]One thing I am realizing through this thread is that quite possibly there is nothing (aside from prayer and fasting) that I can do. :frowning:

[/quote]

There is one other thing you can do … LOVE (verb) him, exactly where he is RIGHT NOW. Not with a "if only he would … " attitude, but right now.

[quote=JMJ Theresa]If I was dating now, I would pick a devout Catholic man to marry. But, I think I did pretty well for the state of ignorance I was in at the time I married. I think that this man, my dh, has brought me to the Church despite his lack of commitment to the Faith. God is so good to me!

[/quote]

Okay, I remember this stage, you’ll want to pass through this as quickly as you can, so listen carefully … continue praying, but your goal should be not to change your husband, but to be transformed yourself. To be able to say (whether he changes OR NOT) “If I was dating now, I would marry him all over again.” You will be able to say this because of a deeper trust in God’s providence. This is a GOOD thing.

God has a plan for you, to bring you into a more deeper trust of Him. In fact, He will use the very things you “think” will hinder your families relationship with Him, to bring you closer to Him and to eachother. Nothing can come between His love for you and your family, and this is His way of giving you the opportunity to let Him show you again and in a deeper way. This is exciting, because when you allow God to transform you, and love your husband with a more perfect (unconditional) love, than you will see the fruits you so desire. Remember, it is YOU He is teaching right now, what are you learning?

BTW, although my first instinct might have been to laugh with my daughter, or give my husband a “knowing look,” I have since learned a better way. But I am not going to tell you … this is your time to learn for yourself. I’ll give you the answer, but it will be God who shows you the way (that is unique to you and your husband) and gives you the means to travel it. It is HIS LOVE. Be that vehicle for your husband, and you will be amazed at how quickly God will reciprocate His love TO YOU … (pause) … but in a new way … through the very avenue you think to be an obstacle … YOUR HUSBAND.

Enjoy the ride, baby … you are in for more happiness than you will know what to do with.:smiley:


#20

Become a prayer warrior! Prayer seems like a passive act but it isn’t, it is a powerful weapon.

When I married my hubby he was very disgusted with his dad who was a Baptist deacon but was cheating on his mother. This was an open secret in the family. My hubby really distrusted Christianity. His mother was Jewish and he wanted to look into his Jewish roots. So, we attended a synagogue, read many books and discussed the possibility of my converting. Then through a series of events that I won’t discuss now(don’t want to hijack the thread) I decided to become a Christian. At first I assumed that we could have a joint religious house but much to my surprise my hubby seemed to deflate spiritually. He stopped attending synagogue and quit trying to learn.

My mother wanted me to beat him over the head with religion and force him to convert. But instinctively I knew this was wrong. He would only have ended up resenting me. So, I did the best thing that I could, I prayed.

Occasionally, I would ask his opinions on bible verses but I didn’t try and verbally convert him…

Easter Saturday he and I will enter the Catholic church, so prayer can work miracles.

As far as your sons are concerned, I can understand your worry that they might not be getting the best example of a spiritual leader from your hubby. Could you simply start talking to them about their responsibilities as husbands? You don’t have to mention your hubby during the conversations. Just tell them how important it is for them to be the spiritual leaders in their households. It might also help to brag on their father to them. Tell them all the aspects of his personality that they should emulate.


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