Limits of "Headship"

Trying to get a broader view of this.

Would it be a proper exercise of the authority of a father as the “head of the family” to insist that a wife approach, with him, their mutually respected pastor to resolve a long standing and very serious matter of disagreement regarding a child rearing issue?

+Free will is a precious gift of God given to each of his children . . . and something to be cherished by a husband in reference to his wife’s cooperation with him in any endeavor . . . if the wife agrees to go with the husband to perhaps gain some insight from the pastor’s input . . . then some real good and help may be gained from the prospective planned encounter . . . however . . . if the wife will not agree to meet with the pastor to discuss the problem . . . *for whatever reason *. . . then her decision should be respected . . . and in such a case the husband certainly is still free to pray:gopray2:fully meet with his pastor by himself to discuss the area of disagreement afflicting his family . . . seeking his pastor’s pray:gopray2:ers and hopefully objective counsel and help regarding the problem area of disagreement between himself and his wife . . . as he pursues a solution to the situation . . .

The rather arbitrary and limited poll’s wording above poses a problem . . . in that it could wrongly encourage a husband to attempt to mistakenly structure his relationship with his wife as a “dominant-parent-to-dependent-child” relationship rather than pursuing a “mutually-respective-adult-to-adult” relationship with his spouse and the responsible mother of his children . . . loving one’s wife as Christ loves** His **church is a sacrificial way of loving . . . and submission to one’s husband in Christ Jesus as taught in Sacred :bible1:Scripture can be very difficult unless the wife has learned through experience that she can truly “trust” that the husband is really . . . with genuine love :heart: and concern . . . trying to do the best and right thing for them as a couple and for their children . . . and is not just trying to control those about him and arbitrarily impose his will . . . right or wrong . . . in an attempt to control those within his household . . .

The difference between learning the Godly responsibilities of the gift of God to the husband of **“dominion” **over a household under the Lord’s leadership for a husband . . . and “arbitrary-domination” of others in an effort to indulge in an attempt to control others . . . which exercise is a corruption of the responsibility of authority and dominion. . . is a constant **daily **encounter and learning experience in the Lord for a husband as they mature and grow in the Faith . . . but the result is richly worthwhile . . . yielding wonderful fruits of harmony, health and peace for all relationships within a thriving family . . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+
. . . guide and direct+

Jesus_123, wouldn’t a competent pastor be able to help guide the husband if in fact his intentions were domination? Wouldn’t a Godly wife (as is the case here) welcome the opportunity for the insight and correction that her husband might receive if in fact he were acting out of a desire to control? Wouldn’t a husband so unloving as to want to exercise such control seek to avoid such a confrontation with truth if he were acting unjustly with his wife?

The issue of “insisting” that a wife follows her husbands lead to resolving issues isn’t what I want to talk about first…

I’m wondering… while your pastor may be a wonderful and educated and loving *spiritual *guide and advisor for your family…
But why on Earth would you ask a Priest about his opinions on child rearing?.. Maybe if it was clearly a matter of morality within the teachings of the faith, but still, having a “mutually respected pastor” sort of implies that you mutually respect the faith… sort of negating any serious “matters of morality” that may creep into parenting issues. Most parenting issues are matters of opinion… so I’m just not understanding why you’d go to your priest with that kind of question?

If you need marriage counseling on how to have effective and productive conversations, then seek a marriage counselor.

Proper in what context? I am guessing that your wife doesn’t believe in your “headship” over her, or else there wouldn’t be this long standing disagreement to begin with?

Maybe you should ask your wife to go to counselling with you, but commanding that she go doesn’t seem like it would be very good for the relationship, unless your wife is a submissive woman who expects you to tell her what to do.

em_in_fl, for the sake of clarity, the poll is not asking whether a priest is a reasonable place to obtain child rearing advice, but rather, assumes that there is a spiritual element to the issue over which the conflict is about.

Neither is the poll asking whether either party would be obliged to follow any given advice from the priest. It is simply asking whether the “authority” of headship is somehow being violated by insistence on such a meeting.

If it is your opinion that such a request would be unjust domination rather than an exercise of headship, can anyone give an example of a situation where a husband and wife may disagree and where the wife would be obliged to subject herself to the husbands perspective?

Are you hoping the priest will tell your wife that you’re the head of the family and that she should listen to you?

If it is your opinion that such a request would be unjust domination rather than an exercise of headship, can anyone give an example of a situation where a husband and wife may disagree and where the wife would be obliged to subject herself to the husbands perspective?

If the wife wants to sell everything they own to go for a trip around the world and the husband wants to keep the house for the kids to live in? It would make sense for the wife to listen to the husband.

But really, your language of “obliged to subject herself” is not going to fly with most women. Only if your wife believes she should be submissive to you and put her own desires and beliefs aside every time they differ from yours. If your wife doesn’t think this way, you’re only going to hurt your relationship by insisting that she change.

If your wife wants something ridiculous and harmful for the family. you should think of ways to make her see that that don’t involve telling her you’re the boss. If you’re the one who wants something ridiculous and harmful, you should be the one “submitting” to her. If you have a disagreement about some neutral thing, where either way of doing things works, you need to find a way to resolve the conflict and come to some kind of a compromise.

+Your questions are essentially general categories . . . and don’t deal with the specifics of any problem situation which needs to be resolved . . . and as such the only answers needs must be in generalities also . . . [LIST=1]
*]Wouldn’t a competent pastor be able to help guide the husband if in fact his intentions were domination?
Perhaps . . . however . . . as with all of us . . . priests/pastors have been given various spiritual gifts from God and each has different levels of ability . . . and specialized areas of talents, education, training and experience . . . the gift of discernment in the reading of souls and the holy spiritual gifts of wisdom and prudence . . . and the ability to help and counsel others in personal matters . . . are not necessarily imparted to . . . nor an area of expertise . . . of all pastors/priests . . . by any stretch of the imagination . . . no matter how sound and Godly they may be spiritually . . .
*]Wouldn’t a Godly wife (as is the case here) welcome the opportunity for the insight and correction that her husband might receive if in fact he were acting out of a desire to control? Hopefully . . . but the “help and cure” of seeking adjustment and the ability to mature gracefully in the Lord regarding this problem is another consideration . . . quite apart . . . from the necessity of the settling of a specific dispute between husband and wife . . .
*]Wouldn’t a husband so unloving as to want to exercise such control seek to avoid such a confrontation with truth if he were acting unjustly with his wife? Not necessarily . . . many times dominantly controlling people . . . sometimes not even consciously . . . will try to “gang-up” on those they are trying to dominate by involving others outside a relationship . . . whether the outside individual is for or against their point of view . . . in an attempt to gain an . . . “upperhand” . . . through overwhelming the other party in an invasion of privacy re the disagreement by . . . changing the dynamic of the personal relationship . . . through the introduction of a . . . sheer volume of numbers . . . whether by adding . . . an unpredictable unknown personality(s) of a stranger(s) . . . or even other family members or friends into the equation . . . and bringing them into the personal and private marriage relationship as an additional outside influence to be contended with in a personal private disagreement between husband and wife . . . which some sound, gentle and perhaps quiet and quite healthy Godly souls . . . may find very intimidating, overwhelming and invasive in their private personal lives . . . *and very difficult to cope with *. . . and if the partner is not terribly strong and independent . . . but rather fragile . . . the invasion of the dynamic of other personalities can actually become intolerably heavy and destructive of emotional and psychic health . . . and create a "clear erosion of trust" towards the other marriage partner bringing all the pressure to bear by involving others in a private matter . . . thus eroding the foundation of closeness that is essential to a healthy marriage relationahip . . . [/LIST]To move away from generalities . . . and back to your specific unnamed area of dispute . . . in your post you mentioned a “serious” difference in the matter of child rearing . . . Holy Mother Church, Sacred :bible1: Scripture, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church have clear guidelines re raising up a child in the Faith re the Catholic Faith and morals . . . perhaps your pastor can guide you as to the spiritual aspects and ramifications of your specific problem . . . if it is a clearly spiritual complexity . . . but as to marriage counseling in regard to a . . . perhaps . . . inability as a couple to come to a satisfactory agreement on a difficult matter in child rearing within the family . . . your priest/pastor may rather refer you to a sound Catholic marriage counselor . . . who is professionally better qualified than he to help you get to the root of your conflict . . . and resolve same . . . *for the good of all . . .

*In one of the churches the Lord guided me to in past years . . . they had a large . . . wonderfully successful . . . marriage preparation/counseling ministry . . . and used the **Johnson Taylor Temperament Analysis testing for each of their couples . . . which graphically produces visible results regarding different approaches to specific life arenas of experience so that the bride and groom/husband and wife can visibly see their areas of differences in their approachs to life circumstances . . . and amazing as it may sound. . . we got absolutely marvelous feedback from the couples about this approach . . . our senior pastor gave the initial Christ centered counseling . . . and then he referred all personal counseling to carefully selected others he had on staff . . . or knew in our community . . . who were specifically trained in such matters . . . and who were in harmony with church and sound ** :bible1: Scriptural teachings . . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+
. . . guide and direct+

“insist” - you could politely ask. You could suggest. I would not “insist”.

“long standing and very serious” - we really need more details. What is “very serious” to one may not be “very serious” to another.

Finally, why would a priest give advice on how to rear children? No offense, but that is not their area of expertise. Morality and spiritualty are their areas of expertise. Not raising children.

Are your children in danger?

Does authority have to come into play? How would we answer if the question where, “can a wife insist that her husband…” Would we get answers about the wife being domineering, demeaning etc? Sometimes I get the vibe that it’s believed that in such situations, the husband’s duty is to be silent, pray and be totally affirmative regardless of the merits of a decision his wife makes. No human person should need that kind of validation, nor does it seem to me to be proper to give that kind of validation to anybody.

Well this is getting pretty far from the specific question. But, and I do not want to get into particulars, lets say as an example that husband feels very strongly that the child should be homeschooled for fear of the social environment and the wife feels strongly that the child should go to public school thinking the child will hold up just fine to the social pressures. Neither is a moral absolute. Both feel very strongly and wife feels strong enough that she will act with or without husbands approval.

Let us also assume that counseling efforts have been tried and for years, and not helped.

I am not even asking if the husband has authority to make the final decision (which is a valid question in itself, but not being asked here), just asking if it is proper, for the sake of the welfare of the children, to insist that the wife at least hear what the pastor would have to say about the matter.

If this example is going to send folks off on a tangent, perhaps someone can give an example of something that is not a clear moral absolute but where the couple has exhausted efforts to resolve and there is no chance of compromise . Yes, yes, we all know all about the husbands’ obligation to love as Christ loved the Church, and when people did not submit to his Authority he still continued to love them endlessly. But saying so avoids the question of whether the Church had an obligation to submit to Christ’s authority or not.

*A priest cannot tell you with absolute certainty though, Chris…if your children should be homeschooled. It’s morally neutral. It’s not dogma of the Church, for your kids to be homeschooled, so while yes, I think it is very reasonable for you to request your wife and you discuss this with a priest…I wouldn’t say that his answer should be the end of the discussion. He may provide advice…solid advice. But, I don’t think he is going to be able to say to you both…‘you should do this or that.’ If anything, he might provide some guidance in how you both communicate with each other to reach common ground on the subject. That is my take. If your question is …is it ‘‘right’’ for a husband to insist that his wife meets with their pastor on such a topic, I would say that insist doesn’t sit well with me, but your wife, as trying to be a good partner with you…should wish to do so. If she wants to have the last say, without taking your input into consideration, to me, that would be a wrong move, on her part. The best decisions couples make, they make together…listening and trying to take in the other’s ideas.

I don’t think your suggestion to meet with a priest is unreasonable at all, if you are both in strong disagreement. Don’t know if I’m waaaay off the mark or not, but think that is what you’re asking? lol :o*

*On a side note…looking back at the title of your thread…I think that the strongest marriages, are when husbands don’t take the ‘‘headship’’ of the household to mean that he doesn’t have to take his wife’s ideas and suggestions into consideration. (not saying you are doing that, I’m just saying that in general) It doesn’t mean that the husband gets to have the last say always…it means that he needs to make wise decisions and if his wife doesn’t fully agree, to patiently and kindly show her why his idea is a good one. It isn’t about authority over her…it’s about loving one’s wife the way Christ loved the Church. Wives respects husbands who **lead in love **and often, then, the decisions a husband makes, the wife might naturally follow suit if she has that trust and respect already built. I hope things work out where you both feel satisfied in the end, with the result of your child’s schooling. Maybe she could just try it for a year, and then if it doesn’t work out as you planned…then, you could suggest considering homeschooling? My kids have always attended public schools, and we have been pleased…but, I wouldn’t have minded homeschooling…think that is great, if you both can swing that right now. :slight_smile: *

+Is it the husband’s expectation that the wife take on the extraordinary heavy responsibility of becoming the homeschooling teacher for the children? If she is expected to do so . . . and she doesn’t feel she is suited to the task . . . or does not want to take on such an arduous responsibility . . . then the homeshooling scenario is simply not a reasonable option for this individual household . . . and for a husband to insist on such an endeavor would be completely unreasonable and unjust . . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+[/RIGHT]

*That’s a great point. I don’t know if the OP is asking that, or if he is simply inquiring if it is reasonable to wish his wife to discuss with their pastor before making a definitive decision. But, you bring up great points! *

If you feel very strongly that your child should be homeschooled, why don’t you be the one to homeschool?

If you’re insisting that your wife be the one to homeschool, your issue is beyond a disagreement in parenting styles, you’re actually insisting how she should live her life. It’s kind of like saying that as a husband you should have the authority to tell your wife what kind of job to do.

Yes, in the homeschooling example it does matter who is the one supposed to do the “homeschooling”, say, the person who doesn’t believe in “homeschooling” and, say, especially if the person doesn’t believe himself to have the skills etc. to “homeschool”? It would be one thing wanting to “homeschool” the child oneself, another to want the unwilling/unprepared spouse to do it. And yes, a priest won’t have an authoritative answer on “homeschooling”. In fact, I suppose priests will legitimately differ in opinions as much as lay people will.

Jesus_123, now we are really getting off topic. I gave the issue of the education as an example. To get to the particulars of who the burden of educating the child would fall on is going way past the principles. Can we just say that in an issue with no clear moral absolutes, strongly held opposing beliefs by both spouses and no possibility of compromise, is there ever a case where the “headship” of the husband can be applied? Or is it really that “headship” really means that the husband will out of love succumb to “yes Mam”.

The whole issue of the “authority” of the husband as head of the family has undergone drastic evolution in the last 50 years or so. If in the past that meant that husbands felt some right to ruthlessly control and dominate their wives without love or regard for their valuable insights, I think was as sinful and wrong and damaging to a relationship then as it is now. But has the pendulum swung to far? Reading some of these comments would make it seem that there is never a conceivable situation where the headship could actually have any practical application in any decision making. Further its seems that men are being held to the unreachable goal of loving as Christ, and that should their wives fail to respond in kind, well, then the husband must not be loving enough. Is the definition of Head of the family “whatever the wife says it is”? I don’t think so. Yet somewhere between the harsh interpretation of man as King wife as slave and the modern mushy definitions with no practical applications there must be some principles that can be applied in the many complex life situations that come up in marriage and family life.

Submission to authority in religious life makes no claim that the superior has greater value or dignity or even knowledge. It is just a different role. Submitting to authority is something everyone has to do and it is a good thing.

In practical, real life situations, can anyone give examples of the proper use of “headship”?

I do not know what you mean by use authority of a father to “insist”. If you mean that she refuses and you keep demanding or keep insisting, then I think no. Either she does it or she doesn’t. If she won’t, then she won’t. I’m not commenting on if she is right or wrong to do so. I can’t think of a way to “insist” in that type of situation.

If you mean that you have a careful distinction in your household between verbally asking your wife and verbally saying that she must do something under pain of denying authority, then that is slightly different. Then you are asking if you should attach that vocal rider to your request.

What different outcome do you expect from insisting?

Leading the family in prayer, maybe choosing some religious books to read with the wife, insisting on going without to make life better for the kids and the wife.

Hasn’t headship been redefined in the 20th century to mutual submission/self sacrificing love?

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