Fact: My husband stumbles about the world clueless. He doesn’t know what he wants, where he is going, and much less how to get what he needs to solve for the other two. Every time a priest mentions in a wedding homily that the wife must follow the husband my spidey senses tingle. What if the man of the house is like mine? Worse, what if the person is abusive, selfish, narcissistic, fiscally irresponsible and/or cruel? With very little insight into the relationship, is it wise to blindly instruct unsuspecting hopeful spouses to follow someone who isn’t necessarily qualified to lead?
With 39% of marriages ending in divorce (Time), Millennials walking down the aisle as a sign of achievement, and low income couples opting to cohabitate instead of tying the knot, it makes sense to consider that the traditional ways of running the household are being replaced by cooperation and equality strategies rather than by authoritarian rule.
We should be teaching our sons and daughters to be guides; to go through life finding pathways to emotional and psychological success as individuals and partners. In helping others find their way we find our own strengths, biases and weaknesses. We become greater than the sum of the parts in a marriage or relationship to ensure everyone is safe and focused on the tasks at hand. Creation is a very intimate and arduous job. When we fail to support each other through life, blindly believing the person up front is the alpha and omega, we lose sight of what can be achieved as a team.
The give and take between partners, coworkers, friends or family is what opens the lines of communication to bring forth knowledge and understanding. We must listen and read the messages objectively, not to reply but to internalize the struggles and accomplishments that others experience on a daily basis. If you leave all the decision making and responsibilities up to your counterparts you will be prone to not holding yourself accountable for the end results of the labor. Separating the actions from the actor will cause more harm their good as we begin to associate our failures with others instead of ourselves. Self-reflection is nearly impossible when you are holding the mirror away from you.
Leadership is not only for those who speak louder, are taller, or appear to be more charismatic or adept. Providing feedback, a shoulder to cry on, or a different perspective is just as important. Empathy and compassion must thrive in the hearts and minds of those truly poised to take charge and inspire others to reach their true potential. You cannot influence the passionless or the meek until you are able to put yourself in their shoes. Gender isn’t an indicator of how well the leader will perform; character and integrity are better measurement sticks.
The next time you hear the man, as head of the household, rules challenge that belief. Remind the speaker that they also need to be mentally fit and have the trust of excellent advisors. If they aren’t, anyone in the family shouldn’t be afraid to take the reigns and guide them until they are ready to step up and humbly take charge, moving forward with plans that will benefit everyone involved. No one should be dragged through life, kicking and screaming, into a detrimental and bleak future. No one should let those they love stumble in the dark aimlessly, when they have the power and wherewithal to assume the command.
Do what is best for you and the rest will follow.