I am a rather frustrated wife. Just like my husband I have a full-time job that keeps me at work the whole day. But when we get back home at the end of the day, my husband takes off for the club to drink and chat with his friends. I must attend to the household duties alone including trying to maintain discipline amongst our four children and two dependents.
It is such a headache as often times they do not listen to me. Since I am fully-contributing to providing for the family financially, shouldn’t my husband assist me with running the house? What really are the duties of a husband in marriage?
Dear Tired Wife,
There are different types of marriages which employ varied approaches to the role of a husband. In a western type of marriage, the roles of the husband and wife are not clearly-defined and will depend on a number of factors. For example, the personalities of the two; their social standing; their economic might, etc.
Whilst in a typically-African traditional marriage, the husband is treated like a chief or headman and the wife or wives are more like workers or employees to give him children and till the land. On the other hand, the Christian marriage, which is the ideal type of marriage, because it is prescribed by God himself who in the first place created marriage, has got the roles for both the husband and the wife well spelt out.
We will, therefore, give you a brief outline of the role of a husband in a Christian marriage.
This comes out very clearly in Ephesians 5:23.
Marriage is not just a relationship between a man and a woman. It is an institution. As in every institution, there is someone in charge – a leader. In the marriage institution, the husband is the head or the leader. This places a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders. Unlike in some organisations where leadership means bossing subordinates around, Christian leadership is very different as Christ himself tells his followers in Matthew 20:25-28.
Like Christ, the Christian husband is expected to be a servant leader and not a boss. He is expected to exercise headship in the same way as Christ exercises headship over his church. What are his roles in marriage? A number of them. Let us look at some of them:
• Planning: Working hand-in-hand with his wife, the husband is supposed to come up with very good plans for his family. Many marriages fail to make progress because they do not have clear cut plans to follow and in the end they become aimless. Coming up with good plans or objectives for one’s marriage is hard work and requires time, effort and making consultations. When the plans are in place, the husband is responsible to ensure that the plans are well executed.
• Providing: The husband is tasked with the responsibility to provide for his wife and family, Ephesians 5:28-30.
It is a husband and not the wife’s primary responsibility to provide for the family. The wife can and should assist in any way possible.
• Protecting: A marriage has a lot of potential enemies. As the head, the husband needs to protect his wife and children from different enemies. For example, he needs to protect the wife from unscrupulous men with bad motives, from hostile relatives; from bad influence which can come in through bad friends or watching bad movies. Equally, the children need to be protected from the influence of bad friends, bad movies, literature, music, etc. The husband must take responsibility for maintaining discipline in the home. He must never abrogate this responsibility by passing it on to his wife. She is there only to assist him.
• Purifying: The husband has the responsibility to ensure that his wife and his children are becoming better human beings in every department of life. To ensure that they make progress spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Spiritually, he ensures that the family is in church and committed to the things of God. Many men will drop their wives and children at church while they take off for the club or remain at home to watch football. This sets a very bad example as head of the home. Career progress will involve the husband taking a keen interest in the academic progress of his children and participating in their homework. Emotional input involves being there to share in the joys and hurts of his family.
This is but a small sample of what is expected from a responsible husband! It goes without saying that it is hard work and requires that he be fully present in his home. A husband who is carrying out these responsibilities will have very little time to be out with friends at the club! It is very clear that your husband has never understood his role; the sooner you seek the assistance of a marriage counselor the better.
If you are in courtship, do not waste time just being by yourselves most of the time. Spend much of your time interacting with married people who will impart knowledge to you as to what marriage is all about.
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