Who is the Head of the Household?

The most important thing is not to usurp his authority. Be patient . . . 

Admire your other half! In any man you can find something truly unique, good, and beautiful. If a husband does hard work, the wise wife will certainly admire his strength. . . .

Take care of your appearance. When your husband comes home in the evening, there is nothing worse than him seeing you in a crumpled nightgown, shaggy, and with unclean teeth. . . .

I communicate a lot with various women, and I often hear the cry of their souls: "My husband doesn’t help me at all, doesn’t do anything around the house, disappears at the computer, doesn’t spend time with our child, doesn’t pay any attention to me," and many other well-founded claims. Is it possible to encourage a husband to improve in certain ways? Is healing possible?

Everyone knows that a disease is easier to prevent than to cure. Therefore, encouraging the man to fulfill his role as head of the household is important, from the first moment that the young married couple begins to live together.

If the family is Orthodox, then everything is much simpler: the husband clearly knows that he is the head of the home — the leader of this new little church — and he must be fully responsible for his family. A woman can always gently remind him of this. She can happily live in submission to her husband, and then what will her husband do? He will simply have to occupy the vacant place of headship.

If this process goes too slowly, perhaps you can find a gentle way to let your husband read an article that talks about the Orthodox Christian family, where the obligatory role of the husband is clearly described. In this area, the wedding itself plays an important role, especially if the couple is preparing to receive this sacrament, seeking to understand its spiritual meaning, not giving in to mere worldly fashions.

However, what if a couple is already married, and the husband isn't involved in the church? The most important thing is not to usurp his authority; do not try to take on the husband's responsibilities. Be patient, and give him time to mature.

In some cases a man might not naturally be diligent, and may not automatically fulfill his proper leadership role. Thankfully, there are appropriate ways to provide him with encouragement. It is important to show dependence on your husband, even if you have to say things outright — "Oh, I can't do it without you" — "I can't do it. I am a weak woman, and I'm not good at this kind of work." — A man's instinct to be a defender usually begins to operate. It is natural for a man to come to the aid of a woman who needs his help.

Do not wait until your husband starts offering his help. Do not be afraid to ask! Many men do not do something, simply because they do not see the need for it. Feel free to make requests. But make your requests with love, and do not be demanding. 

It doesn't matter if he forgets to do something — do not be in a hurry to get angry — your husband may be truly concerned, without showing it externally. The next time you call, simply check to see how things are going. He will be grateful for your understanding, and he will be pleased that you did not offer a reprimand.

When your beloved responds to your request and helps you, and even moreso if he volunteers to help you, you should be happy to accept the help, and you should praise him! This is a prerequisite for the fact that in the future you will also not be left without support. Tell me how great it is to do something together, how much longer you would do it alone, how pleasant it is for you to help him, and do not forget to praise him casually with other people. Do not skimp on compliments! 

Admire your other half! In any man you can find something truly unique, good, and beautiful. If a husband does hard work, the wise wife will certainly admire his strength. If he has come up with an unexpected solution to a household problem, then admire his masculine mind and unconventional thinking. Good things need to be encouraged.

Help around the house should remind him of pleasant interactions with his wife. It should not bring to mind memories of a wife's sharp tongue: “You don’t do anything, you don’t help me at all, you don’t lift a finger . . .” Such hurtful comments can take root forever in his mind. The best suggestion to a wise wife is to remember: “You are in the house of the OWNER!”

Husband Turns Into Dad

And now a child is born in the family. I have already experienced this happiness four times, so I would like to give recommendations to young mothers about the problems that most often attack a young family with a baby.

The first child is always hard, and if the child is active, not sleeping at night, and always wanting to be held, it can be tempting to forget about taking care of yourself. But no! It is not good to do this! To comb your hair, to get dressed — it only takes five minutes. A child can cry in his playpen for a few minutes without causing any harm to his health. When your husband comes home in the evening, there is nothing worse than him seeing you in a crumpled nightgown, shaggy, and with unclean teeth. And besides, when a woman has carved out time to put herself in order, her mood is always much better than that of a constantly-running mommy.

A man should look forward to coming home. For this to happen, it is necessary that you do not dump all of the day's problems on him in the hallway, the moment he arrives. No matter how difficult it may be, smile at him, because you are still happy to see your beloved come home. This comes first. Your little bundle of joy — albeit sometimes a shrill and demanding one — comes second.

Very often, after the birth of a baby, the new father and mother completely misunderstand each other. The woman has a sense of practical motherhood, and by feeding, dressing, and bathing the baby, she feels an indescribable feeling of tenderness towards him. And, of course, she is waiting for the same from her husband! The father's lack of baby talk, and sometimes the baby's fear of the father, is often perceived by a woman as a disaster: “He does not love him! He is indifferent to the child!” But this is merely a matter regarding the particular psychology of men. For most of my friends, with a few rare exceptions, the father began interacting with his child from the moment the child began showing serious signs of rationality — somewhere between the age of 8 and 12 months. Fathers and mothers are different in this way! The main thing is that we do not panic, and do not push the dad away from the baby by making endless demands.

Well then, what should we do — wait a full year for the paternity instinct to wake up? I don't think it is necessary to wait. The transformation of a husband into a dad can begin the moment a wonderful baby is brought home. Immediately, it is necessary to agree on things that will be the direct responsibility of the father. For example, in the homes of many of my friends, they created a daily routine like this: the husband would read the morning prayers, while the wife would sit beside him and feed the child. In another case, the father always bathed the baby — the sly mommy said she was afraid to hold the child in the water, and that the child would be more comfortable on her husband’s wide palms — this brought the father and child very close to one another. I remember another case where the mother praised the father, saying that his voice was very comforting to the child, and so the husband was pleased to talk a lot with his little son while the mother was busy with household chores.

For nine months the mother carried a new little person within herself, felt him move within her, gave birth to him, and now she is breastfeeding — she clearly feels that the baby is part of her. But what about papa who did not carry this life in himself, who perhaps did not see his birth? It is extremely important to help her husband realize that he, too, is involved with this tiny creature! Be sure to look for something in common between them and show it to your husband:

  • “Look, you have exactly the same eyes, and you have the same courageous lips, and he frowns like you!”
  • “Dear, look — it’s funny how the two of you even sleep with your hands placed the same way! ”
  • “Our daughter looks just like your baby pictures!”
  • “What a fist our son has — obviously he is growing big strong hands just like you! ”

There is always something similar to compliment. Even if the child happens to be a copy of the mother, you can still find some aspect of daddy's mannerisms and character.

"A Holiday Every Day!"

I’ve been at home with children for a long time, and our last three children were born one right after the other. The monotony of everyday life sometimes seems to spoil the mood, and to cut the wings of the brightest feelings. I'll tell you how we solved this problem in our family.

Since we have a car, we often look for opportunities to take weekend outings. And no matter where we are, our family always attends church on Sunday morning. This in itself provides a surge of new strength and a joyful mood. Afterwards we head to the country, to the forest, to the park, or to the river in spring and summer, or we head home in the fall and winter. We don't wait until the child is one month old — we go on family outings even when the new baby is a week or two old. For example, when our little Yashenka was three weeks old, we went on a trip, traveling to the holy places in Zadonsk.

When at home, there should be an opportunity to rest together. We put our three younger children to bed at 9:00, and the older one an hour later. And now, finally, the evening comes to a point where a wife can relax, be alone with her husband, sit with him in the kitchen for a cup of tea, share home news, and ask how the day went at work. I really like reading books together in the evening — we take different books, but periodically we read interesting passages to each other and we discuss them. It also brings us together when we mutually read prayers in preparation for Communion, as well as being together for the daily evening prayers.

Do not sulk! If you forgive a dear person, even one who is very guilty, he will always appreciate it. In an Orthodox family, the relationship between spouses who fulfill Christ's commandments as much as possible, is much easier than relationships in unchurched families. It seems to me that a family psychologist hardly needs to give any advice to a couple who is experiencing problems — only refer them to the Bible, and there they will find recommendations for any life situation.

Once, a long time ago, I heard an interesting expression: if you do not have family traditions, you do not have a family. And this is not a Christmas tree, nor an Easter cake, but a family's own, unique traditions. For example, for each New Year we draw New Year's cards with our daughters. Then, together with last year’s cards, we hide them in a box with Christmas decorations. After a year passes, we look in the box and rejoice in the forgotten pictures, and we laugh at the clumsiness of the drawings. We also hide a collection of snowmen figurines, and annually we replenish it and organize a home exhibition. For Easter, I collect an empty whole egg shell, carefully removing the contents, and I put birch twigs in water — then the children paint them and hang light Easter eggs on the blooming green twigs. And for each child's birthday I invent and write a holiday script with contests and quizzes. All this strengthens the family, making life happier and more fun.

It is also good to make your favorite pleasant surprises — a delicious cake, a disc with beautiful music in the car, a new interesting dish, a funny key chain, a framed family photo on your husband's desk in the office — only you can know what will please your beloved. Also, pray for him and for your family. In our family, our patron saints are Adrian and Natalia. When there is discord in the family, I often ask them to pray for us, and things always get better. There is also a particular prayer to the Lord, for cases when there is trouble in the family. I often read it, because it so fully expresses everything that I want for my family.

May the Lord keep your families, and bring you joy!


Source: Patriarch's Commission for the Family in the Russian Orthodox Church

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