The Hat He Wears (What Your Husband Wants You to Know)

Young couple  in bed, toned black and white effect, vignette.

As you may know, Jill and I lead the marriage preparation ministry at our church. We spend seven weeks diving into all kinds of topics, including money, sex, in-laws, communication, and even topics such as the role of Facebook in modern infidelity, and we spend an entire weeks’ session devoted to understanding the roles of husband and wife.

During that week, Jill does a masterful job of painting a new picture in the minds of our students of what it means to be a model Biblical wife (and of course, she is one!). She addresses the concept of submission head on, breaking historical stereotypes of “June Cleaver” and providing the class a deeper,more Biblically-informed view of the Proverbs 31 woman. In turn, I talk about servant leadership, what it means to love your wife as Christ loves the church, and address some related issues. But if I’m being totally honest, the class never goes nearly as well for my portion as it does for hers.

I am acutely aware of one reason why this class poses a challenge for me. You see, as willing and eager as women often are to understand their role in a new perspective, men (including myself) are often locked into a one-dimensional definition of the successful husband – “provider.” June Cleaver may have moved into the modern era, but that vision of perfect stability provided by Ward Cleaver’s suit and briefcase is alive and well. Whether your husband drives a truck, works on an oil rig, or toils away in an office, his job (or lack of one) likely plays a very strong role in defining who he is, and probably to an unhealthy degree.

Christian men obviously shouldn’t view our self-worth in this way. We should identify ourselves as the sons of the King – inheritors of God’s kingdom by way of God’s grace. But we DO see ourselves this way, and it leads to an unspoken, blurred image of who we really are. Furthermore, it opens ourselves up to allowing uncontrollable factors, such as a derogatory comment from a jerk boss or getting passed-over for a promotion, to redefine our worth. Of all of the hats we must wear as Christian husbands and fathers, the hat of “provider” is typically the only one we see when we look in the mirror.

As your husband’s wife, you can’t possibly fix this, but you can recognize it as reality and do a few things to help. First and foremost – tell him what YOU value in him. Jill constantly forces me to redefine my assumptions about what makes a successful man by reminding me of what really matters.

Second, you can consider the effects of your wishing for material goods. It’s natural for wives to dream of a bigger house or new kitchen cabinets or a new dress, but husbands often hear an implicit critique in those wishes and conclude “I’m not making enough for her to be happy.”

And third, pray for him. Pray that God opens his eyes to see himself as God’s son. Pray that he remembers that it is God who provides for our needs (Matthew 6) and that being a provider is better defined as a husband who provides his family with a daily reminder of God’s grace and love.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here.


  1. I needed to read this today. My husband and I have been shopping for a new mattress for our room over the last two or three months. Yesterday, we finally agreed that we just shouldn’t spend the money. Truthfully, it never occurred to me that he might feel like less of a provider because we couldn’t afford the mattress right now. Thanks for the reminder to reinforce to him that he *is* a wonderful provider, husband and father for our family!
    Damsel recently posted…Mil-Spouse Friday Fill-In 33My Profile

  2. Light bulb moment! No wonder they always ask how much. Thanks for sharing.
    Terri G. recently posted…Unsolicited Advice and Celebrating ManhoodMy Profile

  3. Bravo, Mr. Diaper Diaries! I will take your words to heart!
    Eos Mom recently posted…Organizing Challenge- Week 10My Profile

  4. Love this post! It was comforting to know my hubs in not alone in this. I spent years trying to figure out how to “fix” this perception for my husband….to no avail. Now, I celebrate his need to provide as a God-given instinct. And acknowledge him for succeeding at it often. We all have them–whatever you want to call them–Needs. Instincts. Perceptions. why not celebrate them?!?

    Mom’s nurture. Dad’s provide. Children thrive! that’s our motto :)

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