NOTE TO WEDDING MISSION EDITORS: We approach this issue differently than others on our site. We give several quotes from the book "Married But Not Engaged" (out of print) written by Paul and Sandy Coughlin. This is to give you an idea of why passive husbands operate in a non-committal way in their marriage..
This does not mean that passive wives do not exist. In this case, however, if it is your husband who is passive, we encourage you to prayerfully consider these points and seek revelation from God.
This is not a one-size-fits-all article, but you might learn a few things that you might not have otherwise considered. Here's what Paul and Sandy write on the subject:
A culture at odds with masculinity:
We could devote an entire book to examples of how our culture is (at best) confused about what a man is and (at worst) vilified what he knows. [But here's an abbreviated example] ... One study that compared gender stereotypes prevalent in the 1970s with those prevalent in the 1990s found that opinions about women improved, while beliefs about men declined. The women are characterized as "intelligent, logical, independent, adventurous, reliable and adept at relationships". Men? “Jealous, ill-tempered, demanding, witty, deceitful, narrow-minded and reckless with consequences.” The report labeled this image of men as "negative masculinity".
… What is the main premise behind the denigration of men in our society? Why do so few find it wrong and unacceptable to demoralize men? The basic idea: men are a serious problem to be solved, not a gender to be liked. Men are not fine as men. Masculinity itself is negative.
We as a culture have gone through extensive therapy through social engineers, media presentations and dedicated activists. The script that men and women followed before the social revolution of the 60s and 70s was flawed, but instead of addressing the flaws to correct them, much of society has begun to reverse or reverse the flaws. Human worth and human dignity is about all human beings having equal worth. We needed to embrace and implement positive changes in the way women are viewed and treated, not saying, “Men took advantage and abused them; Now it is women's turn to rule and humiliate."
The most shameful and heartbreaking message is that a man is expendable.
Maureen Dowds,Are men necessary?it would be funny if it weren't for its deadly serious attack on manhood. The main thesis of Peggy Drexler and Linden GrossRaising boys without menis that boys are better raised by women; Parents are not just expendable, they are detrimental to parenting. TV sitcoms have perfected the image of men as inherently incompetent husbands and fathers, buffoons who must be scolded or brushed aside.
• In contrast, the report shows how important men are to children and to society at large.
The biggest predictor of whether a child will graduate high school, attend college, avoid crime, refuse drugs, or become a single parent before age 18 is the presence of a father in the child's life. According to a recent report by Health and Human Services, "Parents play a unique role in promoting the well-being of their children, not only through nurturing, protection and guidance, but also through how they raise the next generation." . a big catch: "A father's commitment to his children . . . depends very much on the mother's attitude" toward him.
When a man doesn't feel needed, something dies in him.
Even an emotionally healthy man becomes passive and loses energy.
• John Gray, author of one of the bestselling books on relationships,Men are from Mars, women are from VenusShe explains how women speak the following unspoken language loud and clear during courtship. "We need you. Your power and strength can bring us great satisfaction and fill a deep void in our being. Together we could live in great happiness."
This unspoken message motivated her husband to look taller and more attractive during courtship. But after marriage, the usual challenges set in, compounded by the "nice guy"'s conflict-avoidance tendencies, which to his wives appear to be trying to avoid responsibility. This is true, although it is not his original motivation. He no longer feels wanted and feels like a big, fat problem. Perhaps he feels that way because he has been told.
• The psychology of passivity:
Given our cultural situation, the Nice Guy disease affects every man differently, some worse than others. Some men tend to be more passive in their thinking and behavior, and it's not rocket science to figure out why. Their lives are excessively influenced by fear and related emotions such as fear, which seals the heart and prevents the sharing of emotions and the exchange of love. Usual suspects for this psychological tendency are child abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
• When passivity haunts your husband, know that he wasn't "born this way."
It's not his natural personality type and not to be confused with reserve. A reserved man may take longer than others to share his feelings, make decisions, and engage socially. However, he ends up expressing himself, making known his will and relating to others. Although he is cautious, he still continues. A passive man frozen in fear is treated (and seen as such) instead of actively participating in life.
• Abused children have a general feeling that they are an inferior subspecies.
They feel like children of a lesser god. When you feel inferior to others, you invite fear into the deepest parts of your heart. Men usually don't even know they did it, but somewhere along the way they did and have embraced fear ever since.
dr Laura writes, "It's horrible to have been hurt, tortured, harassed, abandoned, ignored... or subjected to other demoralizing or inhumane behavior. To downplay this truth is somewhere between ignorant and insensitive.” And when a boy undergoes such treatment, it creates a "sick parallel universe... for you, your real world with everyone else. Your options and choices seem severely limited and understandably wobbly."
Christian Nice Guys with that background are still sinners.
They are not a special case where their sin doesn't stink because they had a difficult childhood. But by now it should be clear why Christian Nice Guys carry more ballast through life. As the social philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich From once observed, "The scars left by the child's defeat in the struggle against irrational authority lie at the bottom of every neurosis."
• The passive person assumes that others (including you) have more power than they do or ever will.
He tends to rely on you and others to regulate and organize his world for him. As you've probably noticed and experienced, this makes you unreliable and irresponsible. He believes that no matter what he does, outside forces will determine his future; this is fatalism. He disregarded the biblical wisdom that when a man plans, organizes, and acts, he improves the quality of his life. He feels unable to manage his life; He is convinced that he has little leverage to get what he wants and needs, and while dependent on others, he also resents them.
Faced with life's challenges, conflicts, prospects and uncertainties, Christian Nice Guys find themselves on hold.
Hang on; in the hope that someone else will deal with the problems and solve the problems. You look for a lifeboat with your name on the side.
• Other Christian Nice Guys go to the other extreme and believe, "All I have to do is give it to the Lord."
This common and fatal assumption ignores the truth that we are cooperating with God in our spiritual and emotional growth, which are closely related. This false assumption is also a hiding place for many Christian Nice Guys who don't believe they can do the soul work necessary to face their fears and the misunderstandings they breed.
The nice guy smiles but feels hopeless and pessimistic, which he thinks explains his reluctance to ask others for help. When things are hopeless, why fight life? Just let yourself fall into the arms of fate. When something is out of your control, that's how it should be. He may well believe that he is working against God's will when he is doing his own.
• Mellow Messiah, an insidious distortion:
Christian men across denominational lines are instructed to follow an example of being and behaving that does not exist. They are instructed to be "like Jesus". But they see an incomplete portrayal of him as "kind, gentle Jesus". They carry what I call the "Nice Guy Bible," in which they are encouraged to underline and study only the "enjoyable passages," while largely or completely ignoring those that can free them from passivity.
This friendly Nazarene is fictional.
The Gospels show Jesus tender and tenacious, depending on the circumstances. Jesus ran the entire emotional spectrum without apology. Men themselves who follow a false Jesus cannot experience or witness restrictions more painfully than in marriage.
Christian men easy to spot
My friend Michael Levine, who is not a Christian, says he can spot Christians at Hollywood parties. He says, "They worship at the altar of other people's approval." patting him on the head all the time, and Christian men are expected to follow suit. ” Michael, who does public relations for stars, loves Christians. His best friend is a Christian, so he's not a fanatic. Sometimes I have to disagree: Too often we are the fade that takes the fade. We lack backbone. Following a half Jesus leaves us half alive, dull, unable to connect, lacking intimacy.
Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life could have a sicker cover. It's impossible to achieve a purposeful life when fear is the driver's seat of your life; You must decide whether you are serving courtesies or purposes.
• Three powerful forces (a culture at odds with masculinity, the psychology of passivity, and a distorted Jesus caricature) encourage many men to remain or become passive, laying down the sword of their will and thus giving up provision and protection of those in her care. You've seen how these forces make it difficult, and in extreme cases, impossible, for your good Christian guy to establish intimacy.
But now the good news:
These powers pale in comparison to the power a good woman has in the life of the common man. No one else has the potential to help you move in a better direction. When used properly and fairly, this force can create an environment like no other.
This book reveals much more about the subject than we can give you. We hope you find a way to get the book,Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Want It And What You Can Do To Create The Intimacy You Desire, written by Paul and Sandy Coughlin, published by Bethany House Publishers, to read more about what to do with a man's passivity.
To read several articles related to this topic, click on the links below to read them:
•Q&A with Paul Coughlin, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.
•THE BEAUTIFUL MARRIAGE: Living in fear instead of daring love
If you have other tips to share to help others, please "join the discussion" by adding your comments below.
More than wedding missions
- Why doesn't my husband address issues directly?
- How to Talk to Your Husband to Really Connect
- Men: What will be your legacy?
- Motivate your husband to be the spiritual leader
- Building an Emotionally Healthy Marriage - Jimmy Evans
- When sickness hits your home
marked: Husband will not lead,passive spouse
Filed under: communication and conflict for married women
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30 responses to "passive husbands”
(AMERICA) There is much to be said, and perhaps more should be said, about passive men in marriage. I disagree with the cause of the problem. I was never advised to be "like Jesus" and be passive. In the 1960s, certain religious passages were used to promote surrender, unilateral disarmament, or other stupid ideas. But that we had to do this because Jesus did such a thing is never mentioned. Paul Coughlin had a terrible upbringing and is sufficiently aware of the ramifications that he should know better. Few of us can point to any lessons we've grown up with that we need to be like the Breck Girl's image of Jesus. If Coughlin could find a syllabus that included one, he should show it to us. Until then, his problem is his mother, not his Christian upbringing. In addition to what has been said so far, what has not been addressed is the wife's reaction when the man stops being passive. Coughlin and others tell us it's gratitude, relief, and improved relationships. Apparently, there was never a fight when a husband stood up for himself. Coughlin and others like him need to address this problem.
What if the woman doesn't want the man to stand up for himself because things are the way they are? He has yet to defend himself, but no literature addresses the possibility that there will be resistance and how to deal with it.
(USA) Read The Brief Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Hemingway.
(USA) Thanks! Great article. I intend to share this with my husband. We've been through a lot and I recognize him in many parts of this article. I see how I can positively impact your life, but there is a fine line between leadership and resource allocation. I look forward to reading more on your site. -Christian wife
(USA) A man's role is NOT to defend himself, but to defend Christ and care for and protect his family.
(USA) My husband has been playing for eight or nine years. Things got extremely difficult, he verbally abused me and was not responsible for paying the bills. I helped him. He's been in and out of jobs, now he's got a good job and he's got another guy working with him. My husband is his boss. He disappeared before leaving.
I called my son to talk to him about the game. He got mad and told my son to leave the house. He packed his bags and moved in with the bachelor who works with him. He changed his address and changed his paycheck address to his office address. It took me 14 months to find out where he lives. Guess where I found it? He lives with a single man who has never had a girlfriend and has never been married. They shopped together, played golf together, ate together and slept in the same house. I trusted his friend but he turned out to be a crook and kept putting my husband in the position. I'm not sure what to do.
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(USA) My husband was completely emotionally neglected as a child and disrespected by his parents as an adult well into adulthood, resulting in a five year separation from them. Although it was difficult for everyone, especially our children, it was the best we could do.
Sadly, while our relationship with his parents is much healthier, my husband is not. He complains about his vocation to lead his family and live sympathetically with me, always blaming me for not creating "the right environment" for him to grow up. Leaving him alone when he's trying to "process" is never the right move as it leads him to accept more lies about reality.
I was scared to disconnect, but I'm exhausted from trying to stay connected with this manly boy who doesn't want the responsibility of growing up. He'll pretend for a while, but he always ends up attacking me. Everything about Coughlin's description of passive men rings true, but my strong personality has had enough of this guy, and while I'm happy with the truth, it seems pretty hopeless that we'll ever have a real marriage.
(AUSTRALIA) I agree with Richard Aubrey's comment. I have a passive husband and an aggressive wife. We have a reasonably healthy relationship despite the significant issues we both faced growing up. We grew up similarly, and after looking at my husband's family and mine (and considering the differences the birth sequences bring), I'm inclined to think that genetics play a bigger role in deciding whether someone appears passive or aggressive. .
The struggle in our relationship is overcoming my frustration with his passivity and his uneasiness with my aggressiveness. It will be a balancing act that we will continue (praying) to the end of our days.
But one of the most painful struggles I have is with a sense of self, as society (even so-called "enlightened" Western society) does not look kindly on the combination of a passive husband and an aggressive wife. So while I agree that Western industrial society has carried out some significant negative social manipulations, I do not agree that male and female/male and female roles have been reconfigured to the extent suggested by the quoted excerpts from Coughlins.
(AMERICA) I know how you feel, but I don't want to be an aggressive wife. I want my man to lead and respect the ideal.
(AMERICA) I have a passive husband and I have to assume everything because he doesn't want to. He is a Christian now, but still dependent on everyone but himself. I try to get him to take the lead, but he never does. I feel angry all the time because I am also a Christian and this is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. I'm thinking about getting divorced because I'm always frustrated and upset. some advice?
(USA!) I recommend that you give the book to your husbandWild Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul, by John Eldritch. He forces the reader to admit the condition of his own heart and challenges him to deal with it. He helped me a lot to let go of the passivity I struggle with on a daily basis. Also, encourage your husband to do manly things... I mean it... shooting, playing rugby, lifting weights, joining a boxing club, building a shed... anything that makes him feel strong and confident . Finally, massage his ego (a lot of you might hate me for this, but...) tell him he's sexy when he comes home from his manly stuff. He needs to know that you are proud of him in his manhood, not just when he helps you around the house.
Thanks Tim, great tip! As women, we must be careful not to expect a man to give up his masculinity. He needs an outlet where he can vent his feelings of "bloat and aggression." I've found that because I "know" how to give my husband some sort of outlet (although I don't understand it), he's MUCH happier and generally better meets some of the needs I have. It often (but not always) works like this.
We have to work to think together, but that doesn't mean we have to think alike or that we'll ever really understand each other. The purpose of working together in our marriage is not to erase the person in our spouse, but to unite our talents while still giving each other grace and space when needed. It's a fine balance, but one worth working towards (recognizing that it will be a lifetime achievement - something we'll have to work towards throughout our lives together).
(USA) Cindy, that goes for women too. We must be careful that a woman does not empty herself of her femininity. The same applies to women. Why do you always pay attention to a man's feelings and not a woman's feelings? We also need space to explode. Please respect us women like you do all men.
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Jean, I agree that this also applies to women. But these quotes were written by a man explaining the masculine side of things. This does not eliminate a woman's needs; it only explains the needs of man. There are other articles explaining women's needs posted on this and other sites. This is an article from a book. Please note that we understand that not all men are passive, just as not all women are passive. The author didn't put a disclaimer on every page to say what you just said. Then the book would be twice as long. Please take these quotes simply as information provided to inform those who need them on the subject of passive men.
(USA) Yes, men need to know that you are proud of your masculinity. Today's society makes man feel ashamed of who he is. It weakens a man. He is passive and afraid of further rejection. Women, if you don't want a passive man, start working on his ego and you'll be amazed at how your man comes to life. He will be the man you've always dreamed of in more ways than one!!!
(USA) Mike, the same goes for us women. We need to know that men are also proud of our femininity. Today's world makes even a woman feel ashamed. Also, pay attention to a woman's feelings like you pay attention to a man's feelings.
Good idea Tim: I have similar issues with my passive Christian husband. However, as per your answer, what if your husband is not interested in doing "manly" things like you mentioned - i.e. lifting weights, shooting a gun, etc. washing clothes, sweeping the house, etc. than me. While I don't consider myself a "dominant" woman, I was reluctantly forced to "take the lead".
How, then, to “lead” Christian men who really don't want to lead and are used to submitting to others? It is a constant frustration for me in our marriage. Thanks for your advice.
I hear what you say My father-in-law was a washer who roasted and dusted while my mother-in-law earned money and gave orders, but she was furious that he wasn't leading. My question to you is the same as I asked her. What would you attract to a man like that? A man who acts feminine makes his wives angry if he doesn't lead, but you chose that type of man. Why? Please, I'm trying to understand. I couldn't even sleep with a weak man, they are a turn off. Please note I don't say sensitive man I mean cowardly woman... I don't understand.
(AMERICA) Most of us are somewhere between the extremes. A passive man and husband is probably not the most passive man and husband that could be found after much searching. In fact, he's more passive than most. Possibly in the 30th percentile for assertiveness, different from zero. So he has certain tendencies towards assertiveness.
My question is what happens - how does his wife react - when he tries to assert himself? It's one thing to ask him to take the lead. It's quite different when he actually does it.
The author of The Surrendered Wife discovered after a brief therapy session that she had overwhelmed her husband with the need to control everything in his life, from the most important to the most trivial. After that, she accused her husband of being passive. Somewhere in between, there were interactions where he tried to assert himself. What do you think her reaction was? My question is again: how does the wife react when a formerly or mostly passive man tries to assert himself?
Since my husband rarely if ever gets what he wants, it's a joke to me when he tries. I wish it were different; I'm working on taking him seriously, but he often comes across as an empty shell. I've always been the passive one in my relationships, so I think we got married so that I could learn to assert myself, but not dominate... But I believe that when a man is serious, he admits that kind of behavior to himself. , but would be greatly appreciated and respected, although it may take some getting used to.
It's a catch 22 for sure. If you don't take him seriously, how will he gain the confidence to lead? It's your choice, you can judge his motives by suggesting that his assertive actions are just empty actions, or you can encourage him to do more of the same by finding something good in what he does. Even if he just performs the moves at first, he at least has the presence of mind to try out the most correct moves.
He may be 100% serious about making the changes, but lack the experience or confidence to "sell" it as the real thing you've been looking for. He cannot force you to receive it. Only you can decide whether to applaud or criticize your efforts.
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(USA) These men - passive/aggressive, are totally NUT JOBS! This behavior is directly related to and emanates from a controlling, passive/aggressive MOTHER, using the alias sexual seduction. Lust of the eyes, the flesh and the pride of manipulating every man she meets. Essentially, Mama is either demonized or allowed a strong JEZEBEL spirit to motivate her actions.
These mothers are VERY ANGRY with men. Starting with God the Father, then your own father or father figure, and every other man in your life. Furthermore, many of these mothers have limited “skills” and therefore little or no self-care skills. This causes everyone around her to be manipulated/controlled, especially her children because it is easier to exert control over them than a husband, she already works in a “position” of authority over her children.
This type of mother "pitches" her children against the father and other male siblings. All in a vain attempt to SURVIVE because they don't want to submit to authority and work. The Bible calls us to submit to one another, these wives/mothers don't want to submit to anyone - including God.
You will know a tree by its fruit. Be a "fruit inspector". Galatians 5:22 says...the FRUIT (singular, not plural; KJV) is LOVE, peace, joy, gentleness, patience, goodness, longsuffering, meekness, temperance, etc. and from such ... The driving force is LOVE, these mothers cannot LOVE and never loved. You manipulate/control to SURVIVE. Let GOD deal with them, he will! Heaven help them!
My mother-in-law is a humble and pious servant. Her description couldn't be further from the truth. I suppose blaming the mothers for the problem reflects their need to blame others for their problems. We men and women come from different backgrounds, but as adults we have to take responsibility for what we are responsible for, what we can change and how we can live now.
OK. We are responsible. The question remains; What happens in a relationship when a passive man tries to assert himself? Some of the discussions suggest that the woman would like this. Really?
This is an important topic that I have been dealing with for years. But as a man, I also understand Jean's point of view. When it comes to questions like this, we need to consider both sides of the spectrum. If we look at one and not the other, we just create the same problem, but with a different face.
Very informative article. But I don't see anything about how wives should approach their husband and talk to him about a passive attitude. In other words, I see a very good definition of the problem, but no solution offered.
Me neither! Thanks for asking this question. That's all I came here to do. I'm already pretty sure a controlling mother and passive father bred this in my spouse, but all I need to do is know HOW to approach it. I'm sure he's totally oblivious to the situation, as this model of authoritarian mother and apathetic/indifferent mother has been present in his family for generations. It is difficult for me to deal with this because my father was very self-confident. He was not abusive, nor was he a Christian; but he was a "real man" if I may use that term without offending kinder/less stereotypical men.
IS THE CULTURE CONFUSED ABOUT MASCULINITY?? That's right, blame the culture. The fact is, ALL human tribes, countries, and societies struggle to define masculinity. It's universal. It's just not the modern world of today. It's not the liberals' fault. Christians don't have all the answers man or woman, but you won't hear them admit it.
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Good article. I was afraid of my mother and ended up afraid of all women including my wife. I had a really bad time because I couldn't defend myself and take the lead. I don't consider myself a very good or devout Christian, but I remember desperately praying for help, which I now know was given to me. I am no longer afraid of women and I am our head of the family. We have been married for 36 years.