I remember very clearly in my high school days that there were points in time when the guys and girls would be together having discussions about nothing. Suddenly, whether sparked by my cousin or me, the conversations would turn into heated battles of the sexes with either side unwilling to concede even the smallest of points. There’s one discussion I keenly remember and I’ve continued to have this discussion over the years. It’s the idea of female submission and male leadership in the context of a romantic relationship.Most of the time, this topic turns into an instant points of contention with perspectives such as, “Men were designed to be the head of the household” versus “Women are more than capable of leading too”. As much as I’d love to rile someone up with a sensational “hot-take”, I’ve decided to be more reasonable and honest. My intent with this post is to simply shed some light on how my wife and I have approached this topic within the context of our relationship in a practical manner.
My discussion will focus on my position in our relationship, and Kryzia will offer her side in a later post.
SET THE STRUCTURE, MAINTAIN THE STANDARD
I believe that the picture of male leadership has largely been distorted in present day. The image of male leadership is men ruling with an iron fist and telling their significant other what to do with no questions or pushbacks. I have a different picture of what male leadership looks like. I strongly believe it entails the safeguarding of the agreed upon familial values and setting the stage for expectations. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to be the pillar that upholds what we believe and what we value.
There was a point in time when Kryzia and I had to hash out what the rules of our arguments would be, meaning the way we would communicate with each other during disagreements. One of the big issues was the inclination of cursing at one another and storming away when emotions ran high. I strongly believed
that we should not inappropriately curse at each other or angrily leave a room during a disagreement. I shared with her that it was something I felt strongly about and it was something that I felt we needed to implement. Eventually, we both came up with a list of rules we both agreed we would adhere to moving forward.
Once that was established, I realized my responsibility in upholding those expectations myself, while holding her accountable to uphold those expectations herself. Throughout the course of our relationship, it has been difficult to accept the responsibility of upholding our beliefs and values in my actions and her actions. There’s been too many times where being petty or vengeful felt easier. When she decides she wants to cuss in a disagreement and violate my established boundary, it’s sometimes easier to tell her to “chill” or that she’s being “extra” and violate her established boundary. However, if I truly want to be the “leader of my household”, I recognize my responsibility to be the protector and champion of our beliefs and values. In my experience, male leadership is not about governing with an iron fist and a huge ego. It’s about regularly serving my wife and putting aside my ego for the bigger picture.
I had a vision for my life early in my relationship. In my mind, vision refers to having a goal that results in you getting closer to being the ideal version of yourself (mentally, physically, financially, socially, spiritually, etc.). I was working extremely hard towards making that vision happen. Out of love and support for me, she adapted that vision and made my goals her goals. It was so clear in my mind that nothing else made more sense. I knew where we needed to go and I was going to make sure we got there.
Eventually, Kryzia decided to push the pause button on it all because she realized what we were pursuing were my goals and my vision with little to no input from her. She made it clear that her input was important and her own goals and vision that she had for her life needed to be taken into consideration. I realized she was right. A relationship means two people coming together not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Upon that realization, we worked through the process of identify what her goals and vision were then found a way to unite them with mine to create an ever more powerful vision. Creating a vision together has been life-changing. It allowed us to be in sync with each other in direction and destination. I wasn’t working by myself anymore — I had a partner. Someone that had the same level of investment and interest in the end goal. After establishing the vision together, I’ve taken the larger role of making sure I am forecasting out into the future enough to make sure our decisions today get us where we need to be tomorrow. I believe having a vision and being the gatekeeper of that vision is an essential part of male leadership.
If I’m not creating an environment that encourages and supports my woman to be more and do more, I’ve failed. I need to accept the responsibility of encouraging and pushing my wife to pursue her ideal self, to do more than she thought she was capable. I’ve noticed that women tend to be quite risk-averse. They’re more inclined to go the safe route with most decisions. It’s the environment we’ve created for them: it doesn’t really let them explore, fail, and not have it be the end of the world.
As we got older, I saw Kryzia begin to follow the trend. She became scared of taking a risk, of putting herself out there. It also doesn’t help that she’s a little bit of a perfectionist. I’ve witnessed my wife back away from things because she couldn’t get it right on her first try. I’ve accepted the role in her life of being her biggest cheerleader. I help her see how truly special her gifts are and try to push her to step outside of her comfort zone. I recognize that my role is to create a space where she can feel comfortable exploring her competencies and pushing herself to grow. Now, I’m witnessing her outlook and confidence continuing to grow and it’s been phenomenal thing to watch.
At the end of the day, male leadership is not about ruling with an iron first, making all of the decisions on an island, and feeling invincible. It’s about accepting a responsibility: to work with your significant other in setting values for your relationship, creating a united vision for your life, and being of utmost support in their growth. It’s about letting go of the part of your ego that demands tyranny, selfishness, and pride. Male leadership is about accepting the responsibility to just be a better person, not just for yourself, but for your wife.