Why Leadership Matters In Marriage
How Our “Fun” Dancing Lessons Turned Into A Disaster
A number of years ago, Melis and I decided to take Tango lessons together. This had been a dream of mine for the two of us after the kids grew up left home…
However, it had been a few years since I had danced.
Okay, a LOT of years.
So, we pretty much fell over each other’s feet.
What was supposed to be fun and romantic turned into a frustrating event that we decided we would never do again.
We decided Tango simply wasn’t for us.
You see, Melis was trying to lead but I wasn’t being a good follower. And in dancing, there’s only supposed to be one person leading and that’s usually the man.
The problem was that he didn’t know how to do the dance so I wasn’t willing to follow him.
In reality, I thought I could dance better than he could.
When I was younger, I won a lot of trophies for dancing as I danced competitively for 7 years, so I really thought I knew what I was doing.
Turns out I didn’t!
Why Does Leadership Matter To Marriage?
Although Melis and I can laugh about the disastrous dancing now, this dancing scenario illustrates the importance of leadership in marriage.
Leadership is influence. Nothing more and nothing less, according to John Maxwell.
As such, good leadership happens from the inside out. In other words, the first person I need to lead is myself. When I can lead myself and influence myself for the good, then I’m actually changing from the inside out.
People around me will see those changes and they will be encouraged and challenged to grow as well. After all, it’s encouraging and inspiring to see other people grow.
Likewise, it’s encouraging when we see our partner grow.
One of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship is that each person allows the other to influence them for the good.
Some of the happiest couples allow their partner to affect them and to help them make changes… even to the point of changing their perspectives toward certain ideas.
Healthy and happy couples invite their partner to influence them for the better.
Not Allowing Influence Leads To A Dancing Disaster
Our dance class was partly such a disaster because I approached the lessons with a know-it-all attitude.
Had I gone in with an attitude of humility and a desire to connect with my hubby above everything else, the outcome might have been different.
Now, we certainly wouldn’t have burned up the dance floor! But we could have had a lot more fun together — because spending time together and having fun was supposed to be the whole point!
Sometimes in marriage, we approach our partner with a know-it-all attitude and we refuse to allow them to influence us because we think we know best.
If marriage can be like a dance, then when there’s no influence happening, both partners are stepping on each other’s toes, tripping over each other instead of dancing in sync as a unit.
How Marriage Is Different Than A Dance
It’s important to keep in mind though, how marriage is different than a dance. In many traditional dances, it’s the man who is often leading but this isn’t how a healthy marriage operates.
In a healthy marriage, the influence is mutual where each partner has different strengths and they take turns leading based on those strengths.
So you could think of leadership in a marriage like a baton that gets passed back and forth between the couple.
There isn’t one person holding the baton the whole time. Instead, they take turns handing it to each other.
The responsibility for leading is mutually shared.
Why Leadership Needs To Be Shared To Have A Healthy Marriage
We can’t possibly know it all or have it all or be it all. Leadership in a marriage is really all about power in the relationship.
So it’s critical that there’s a sense of community in the relationship.
A couple isn’t a “me”, rather, they’re a “we” so they work together at being in the relationship. It’s important that a couple chooses to recognize, accept and applaud each other’s best qualities.
As a result, they not only allow each other to influence them, but they also celebrate their differences.
Healthy couples recognize that each of them has blind spots. So they need each other to call out the good, while also recognizing the challenges they’re facing and allow their partners to influence them so they don’t continue to walk around with those blind spots.
You Can Bring Out The Best In Your Loved Ones
Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud write in their book How To Have That Difficult Conversation: “We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be.”
We need to focus on building each other up and think about how we can add value to the people in our lives.
That’s why leadership matters to marriage — because whether you’re being intentional or not about how you use your influence, you still have it.
Did you know that when you speak words of encouragement to your spouse, you’re actually changing their brain?
Dr. Henry Cloud says in Boundaries For Leaders that encouragement “literally changes their brain chemistry to be able to perform… [it] sends fuel to the brain.”
Pretty amazing, eh?
Embrace Your Responsibility To Influence Your Spouse
When we’re in a relationship or in a marriage, we need to be each other’s best cheerleaders; when you are encouraging your partner, then you’re helping to change your partner’s brain for the good and vice versa.
On the flip side, when you’re critical, condemning or contemptuous, then you’re changing your partner’s brain in a negative way.
Your influence in your marriage matters.
Being married to a person is one of the most powerful places to be in anyone’s life, with so much opportunity to influence them for the good.
We want to lead from the inside out so we’re impacting our partner in positive ways.
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