Bob and I have a segment of The Marriage Dance retreat in which we talk about leading and following in marriage. To illustrate our points, we take tables and chairs and create a maze of sorts. Then each couple faces their partner. The husband places his hands in front of him, palms up. The wife places her hands on top of his, palms down. They have to walk through the maze together with one catch: The wife must close her eyes. The husband’s job is to walk his wife through the maze, using only the tilting and turning of his hands, and get her safely to the other side.
When everyone has arrived safely at their destination, we ask them to recount their experience. What problems did they encounter? The men comment that they had to look ahead so they could lead well. For most, this is a new skill set. They had to make sure they were communicating confidently and without hesitation, in a way their wife understood. For the wives, the biggest problem was trusting their husbands to guide them safely. There was a huge temptation to open their eyes in case they needed to mitigate an impending disaster.
Perhaps you have run into some of these same problems and temptations in your marriage. A husband wants to lead, but he is unsure of what he is doing. His wife senses his lack of certainty and decides to “help”—also known as “taking control.” Neither spouse fully trusts the other. The wife isn’t sure her husband can do the job and her uncertainty makes it more certain he won’t.
But wait. The exercise isn’t over. Now the wives are asked to put their hands on the bottom while the husbands put theirs on top. The men must close their eyes while the wives guide them through the maze. Now what are the reactions—the lessons learned?
The Wife’s Response
“There’s a lot to take into consideration.”
“I thought I was communicating clearly, but I guess I wasn’t.”
“It was kind of frustrating when he wouldn’t follow my lead.”
The Husband’s Response
“Following isn’t as easy as I thought it was.”
“It’s hard to let go of control and just trust.”
Here are some take-aways from this exercise:
- Husbands need to learn to lead well. They can learn by studying God’s Word and reading and listening to other godly advice. They can make friends with men who have learned to lead and love well. When they become skillful at leading, it will be easier for their wives to trust and follow.
- Husbands will be more willing to learn to lead when their wives aren’t always taking over.
- Every once in a while, it’s good to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes.