A Bridge Between Here and There

Image by Keely Scott. Compassion Bloggers Tanzania, 2012

Shaun Groves wrote a post the other day that’s been rolling and spinning in my head as I’ve digested the information he shared. He gave a rather concise breakdown of how and, perhaps, why women give more generously than men and asked a simple question at the end of the post.

How do we change this?

Both Shaun’s post (which you should read) and the comments offered a lot of insight into reasons why men may be less inclined to give generously than women, particularly to charitable causes. From the actual emotional responses that women experience when viewing photos and story to the pressure men feel as the providers of their own homes, it is not necessarily surprising that men are less inclined to jump at child sponsorship after hearing a simple presentation.

Men are pragmatic and practical where women are emotional and intuitive. These two differing responses to emotion will, naturally, lead to different outcomes in giving. Men want to know the bottom line. Where is my money going and how is it going to be used practically? Women just need to see the big eyes and round cheeks of a child and we’re ready to sign the check.

But there was one piece of this puzzle that left me feeling a like perhaps there is a bridge  to be built between the pragmatism of men and the emotionalism of women. And my female friends? I really think the bridge rests on our shoulders.

Shaun writes: “According to a Pew Research study from 2008, in 43% of heterosexual couples polled the woman was the primary decision maker in four areas: what to watch on television, weekend plans, buying things for the home, managing finances. (31% of couples “evenly divide” decisions.)

…So it’s possible that a man being asked to commit $38/month to sponsor a child is unsure he has the authority to make such a commitment alone. “I need to talk to my wife first.'”

The first time I read this I had to stop and pause for a moment. And the more I thought, I wondered if perhaps this could be the very key to unlocking our men’s freedom to give more generously.

What if we let them do it? What if we as wives gave our husbands full reign and leadership over these important and necessary decisions of how, when and where to give of our time and resources?

I can hear the arguments and I see some of you cringing. “She’s gonna use the ‘S’ word, isn’t she?”

Ahem. Maaaayyyybeeee…

Submission is hard. It’s really, really hard. But, here’s the kicker, it actually produces a lot more freedom than most of us are willing to admit.

Now before you throw the typical arguments my way, let me say this – when I speak of submission, I am in no way condoning abusive or dangerous situations. If you or your children are being abused, then my advice is to get away and do it quickly. So know that the submission I am speaking of is one that applies to a healthy relationship between husband and wife that is built on mutual respect, love and communication.

Submission is often portrayed as weakness, as bowing down and being trampled on by the big, bad men. But I don’t believe that is what submission was meant to be at all.

Submission is actually powerful. It gives us the opportunity to build our men up, support them and give them the confidence to make the right decisions. I wondered when reading the above statement if, perhaps, we as wives could do a better job of building our husbands up in the area of leadership, finances and decision making within the household. What would the outcome be if we communicated to them our belief in their ability to make wise decisions? What would happen if men felt they did have the authority to make important decisions for their families?

Image by Keely Scott, Compassion Bloggers Tanzania, 2012

How might it affect a man’s desire to give generously if he believed his wife saw him as a generous giver?

 

Remember, ladies, how exciting it was for your man to pursue you when you first began dating? The outcome of the dating situation rested on his ability to properly woo you. Men thrive on that challenge. If we remove the challenge of leadership after saying “I Do,” we have full potential to leave men paralyzed in the areas of decision making.

Simply handing over the reigns of leadership in finances and decision making alone will, of course, not turn men into automatic generous givers. It doesn’t even mean that all men will automatically make wise decisions regarding finances. But perhaps it would build a bit of a bridge between desire and action when they are presented an opportunity to give.

At any rate, it will remove one more excuse for not giving.

So what are your thoughts? Ladies, do you see the potential impact you could have on your husband by giving him the reigns of decision making? And men, what do you think? What do you need from us as women to help support you in becoming men who give generously and lead confidently?

Image credits

This is another article that was presented in the comments of Shaun’s post. I thought it was a great read for me as a wife and a woman who desires to see her husband reach his full potential as the head of our home.

Comments

  1. Kelli, I love this. LOVE it. There are many areas in which I struggle to submit (and by struggle, I mean flat out refuse), but at the same time, I love when my husband leads our family. It is a beautiful thing to experience and yes, makes me fall back in love with him over and over again. His support of my giving is encouraging. His leading of our giving is pure joy. Amen 🙂

    • Yes, totally! And really, I’m so glad I don’t have to live with the kind of pressure those men do. There is not enough Nutella in this world that would get me through such pressure. 🙂

  2. I manage the finances in our house and used to be quite controlling about it. I used to get angry if he brought me flowers! (Waste of money) Over the years, I’ve loosened the reigns. This means when chad feels led to give, I don’t criticize him. He is often more generous than me. He gives to the musician on the street corner, he brings me flowers, if he owes someone $7, he gives them $10. It’s taken time and prayer to reverse the damage I did, and many people are blessed by it!

    • Thanks for sharing, Amy. I think a lot of people could identify with that. For the most part I manage our finances, too. (By manage, I mean pay bills, shop, etc. Lee handles all the big important stuff like investments, insurance and college funds…oh and he brings home the bacon. 😉 ). It is easy when you’re the one watching intake and outflow every month to get a little tight with the reigns and snippy with the spending. But what does that communicate to our men? And you’re right – when we let go, blessings abound for everyone!

  3. Kelli,
    Thanks for your thoughts in this discussion. I have some thoughts on some of your points. It seems like, in your post, you’re saying that all families should have the man of the household managing the finances. But what if the man doesn’t have any gifting in financial management, and the woman is naturally inclined towards numbers? It wouldn’t make any logical sense in that situation for the man to do the financial management – to have a say, YES, to be a part of the process, YES, but to be the “leader” in that area? That wouldn’t be logical. It seems like it would put totally unneeded stress on both partners because they were both operating outside their giftings. Additionally, I understand that the research Shaun presented says that women make the majority of financial decisions in their households, and I’m not disputing that. But I’m also saying that the goal shouldn’t be for men to make the majority of the financial decisions, just because they are men, but for a couple to make decisions together, as team, as partners. Maybe the goal should be for both people to say “I need to talk to my spouse” instead of for the goal to be for men to carte blanche be the financial mangers, and for women to carte blanche go along.

    And, please, understand that I know that if you and I were having a conversation in person, we could talk about all the nuance of a issue like this and that we might end up being closer then we might seem right now. I know it’s hard to get nuanced in a blog post. But I think that saying that across the board we should be empowering men to be the financial leaders of all homes doesn’t get to the root of the issue, which is that men and women need to do a better job of working as partners.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts, sincerely.

    • I just read your reply above, so clearly I misunderstood what you were saying about turning over the day to day financial management to husbands, across the board, unless you’re planning to change that in your home. So, I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking too specifically, and you mean more broadly. See…. nuance. Stupid nuance. 🙂

      • Nope, not stupid at all. Thanks for sharing, Jen. You’re right – my point (and perhaps I didn’t communicate it clearly enough ) is not that men need to be managing household finances, but that men need to know, from their wives, that they are the financial leaders of the household.

        I’m going to give an example and it is beyond ridiculous, this example, but I’m hoping it will illustrate my point a bit without offending anyone. Imagine a husband comes home from work one day and announces to his wife that he thinks they need to buy a kangaroo. “It’ll be a wise investment for our family,” he says. Now the wife may disagree. From what I have learned in all my wife-ing these last thirteen years, when I disagree on a specific decision with my husband, it’s best to lay out my disagreement concisely and respectfully.

        The wife might explain to her husband why she feels that buying a kangaroo is, indeed, a bad investment. But then I do believe she needs to let him decide and to support whatever decision he makes (even if she knows in her heart of hearts it’s a bad one – THIS IS TOUGH!).

        Six months down the road, the husband may come in and show his wife all the ways that buying the kangaroo has benefitted the family and in such a case, I think her job is to praise his willingness to take a risk and make such an investment. Tell him he did a good job and that he was right (also tough 😉 ).

        OR in six months, the husband could walk in with head hanging low and admit that buying the kangaroo was a bad idea. He may tell her they need to try and get rid of it quickly and that they may not be able to recoup the costs of the investment. In this case, it’s best for the wife NOT to say I told you so, not to roll her eyes or berate him for not listening. Just pat his shoulder and tell him you understand, then get rid of the kangaroo hopping around the living room. She might even praise his willingness to admit the poor investement and do something about it.

        Either way, the husband had the freedom to make the decision and he had the freedom to back out of it. Sometimes I think we wives try so hard to control the situation because we may genuinely see the mistake. But we have to allow our husbands the freedom to make mistakes because I believe this gives them the freedom to be successful.

        In the end, yes, we both must work together to make the decision, but ultimately, if we allow our husbands to have the final say in decision making (whether it be schooling for children, moving, job, investments, chartiable giving, etc…) then we free them up to be the leader of the family, a role they were actually designed to fill. This also alleviates stress on us as wives and I think it will ultimately alleviate stress on marriages.

        I do think that a lot of women have a natural inclination toward the actual ins and outs of money management and I think managing such things is a great way to support our husbands. But we must not take away their freedom to make big decisions, especially when it comes to giving. In fact, if your husband wants to give financially to something in a way that will bless another human being, my inclincation would be to say Yes every single time.

        (And I do mean giving – not gambling or anything like that).

        You’re right, it’s difficult to communicate the nuances of this conversation online and naturally every household and family is different, but I think if women would realize more the ability they have to empower their husbands to do great things, we might see some change in how men respond to need. Hopefully I made a tiny bit of sense. 🙂 Thanks, Jen!

        • Thanks for the reply, Kelli! I hear your point and your example. I have a lot of concerns with this example though – for instance, is this a one off investment where the husband has an idea he wants to try, or is this part of a pattern of poor investments? At what point does the wife have a responsibility to the solvency of their families financial health to say “you’ve made enough bad investment, poor decisions, etc, and we aren’t going to do this again”?

          In my marriage, I am incredibly committed to giving my husband my full investment in his ideas, but not because he’s the “man of the house”… because he’s my partner, and my friend. He’s shown he makes good decisions, and he always listens to my concerns and questions and gives them consideration. He’s made several business investments in the last couple of years and after we’ve talked about it, we’ve made the decision together that this makes sense, it’s worth the risk, and we can afford to do it. In that same way, when I want to give money to (yet another) charity, I talk it over with him, and we decide together, with him having the final veto ONLY BECAUSE he’s the one who is in charge of our finances – not because he’s the man, but because he’s better at remembering to pay the bills and has more information then I do about what we can afford.

          I guess this is my point – I believe in supporting my husband and being his biggest cheerleader, and he believes the same. But I don’t believe that I have to submit to any crazy idea he has simply so he feels good about himself. If we are both working together to made decisions, and we are both putting the other above ourselves, then either of us should be able to veto an idea or plan without it being detrimental to the fabric of our marriage, or ourselves.

          This is so hard to talk about on-line – I usually just don’t even comment and then vent to my husband later. 🙂 I hear your words and your heart and your position – really. I just come about this in a whole different way of working together as a team, and not with one team mate having ultimate power to make decisions, regardless of their cost to the rest of the family. And I know I’m making some sweeping generalizations, here. Please know that I get the realities of this too – I see my friends live it, and know their marriage to be strong and good.

          I’m going to stop now, because holy long comment, Batman. Thanks again for engaging with me.

          • I really don’t think we’re that far apart, Jen. I think it may come down to semantics, honestly. I do believe in working as a team and partnership, but ultimately I believe God gave my husband authority over the house and over our family so that is where my phrasing comes when I say he has the ultimate authority as the man. But I agree with your points and I think a lot of people could work in that manner in a healthy way. A man who is making constant poor financial decisions does, indeed, need a strong wife who will gently and lovingly point those out and urge him to stop. If they’ve been working as a team up to that point, most likely the husband will listen to his wife. If he refuses to listen, there are clearly other issues to resolve.

            But again, I don’t think we are too far away from one another. My main point had less to do with financial management and more to do with men believeing they have the authority to be decision makers. This doesn’t leave us as wives without a voice. In fact, I think if we give our husband the decision making reigns, ultimately he will be more willing to listen and hear our thoughts and concerns.

            Thanks for the healthy dialogue, Jen! 🙂

  4. Spring says:

    I totally agree. When we were dating, I praised my husband for being a good tipper. (I like it when the man I’m with appreciates the efforts of the wait staff, and I have sometimes felt embarrassed with my date left too little.) To this day, he’s a good tipper.

    I am the one in charge of finances in my house. I’m good at math, good at budgeting, and as a SAHM, I have more time for doing the checkbook than he does. But when little elementary kids show up at the door selling cookie dough or candy bars for their school fundraiser … it’s my husband who breaks out his wallet and buys some. And while I may cringe inside (We don’t really need two gallons of frozen cookie dough …) I still praise him for his caring heart and give him a kiss.

    And then I eat all the cookie dough. 🙂

    • Mmmm…and popcorn and girl scout cookies. Really, kids know it’s best to hit up the fellas for such fundraisers, don’t they? 🙂

  5. You. nailed. it.

  6. I think this is SOOOOOO true, and it applies in every area of our marriages. When we give our husbands the freedom to try and even fail they are more willing to take a risk. Act like you’re the only one who knows how to properly change a diaper? Guess who won’t even try to change one. Act like the house must be cleaned to an impossible standard and the dishwashing can only be done ONE way and guess who will check out and watch football instead? Act like there isn’t enough money for all your desires and guess who’ll feel pressured to pinch every penny and not give? We have to let them lead and not give them a hard time when things don’t go perfectly according to our expectations. Thanks posting this. Awesome.

  7. ANDDDDD if I had read the above comments I would have noticed you already laid that out. My bad. 🙂

    • Naw. It’s good and you’re so right. I hadn’t touched on the parenting aspect of all this. It used to drive me crazy when my kids were babies and I’d try to plan a girls night and people would tell me they couldn’t meet until 8:00 or later because they’re husbands couldn’t handle bedtime. I always wanted to respond, “Have you let him try?!” If we just let them do these things (and do them their way, not ours) they will rise to the occasion every time! 🙂

  8. As a husband of 22 years I’d just like to say how good this article is. One additional thought I have about couples trying to walk these things out is performance vs. grace, and it applies equally to husbands and wives. What you describe above is extending grace to your husband as he learns to lead a family financially. If he doesn’t have the freedom to make (and learn from) mistakes and know that he still has the full support and admiration of his wife, then he will never learn how to do it. This applies in the reverse by the way as husbands need to extend the same kind of grace to their wives as they learn to handle their responsibilities as well. It doesn’t mean we can’t offer constructive criticism, but we are much more willing to listen to such criticism from someone we know loves and supports us unconditionally. Thanks for the great article. This needs to be heard.

  9. Kelli, what a great word!!! You have talked about one of the greatest truths men and women can learn in life–Authority! God has placed husbands in authority over their wives, not to harm them but to protect them. Coming under our husband’s authority is one of the greatest freedoms we can have as wives. This is a truth that is not talked about much and I’m so thankful you had the courage to speak this truth on your blog. I’m more thankful Lee has you for his wife. Herb has said for years that one of the greatest gifts I have given him is the ‘freedom to fail.” I was glad to hear Brad speak of that.
    Thank you Kelli,
    Love you,
    Barb (Lee’s Mom)