I had coffee with a newlywed friend of mine a couple of months ago, and within the conversation came up the topic of spiritual leadership in marriage.

Ultimately, he had no idea what that even meant. And rightfully so.

But as we talked, he inadvertently stumbled upon the remedy to his dilemma.

Despite his supposed short-comings, he said his wife respected him.

Game. Over.

He had won not just her love, affection, or adoration but her respect.

For all our self-assumed wisdom, we’ve missed something.

While never having to, Christ left his place of comfort next to the Father and wrapped himself in a meat-sack, joining the muddled mess here on earth. On our level.

Why oh why are we forever trying to force our wives into these contrived ceremonial practices we so arrogantly pass off as traits of good leadership?

Jesus never forced us into action. He acted first by meeting us where we were at.

The Word of God becoming flesh, living a very human life, and dying a very torturous, murderous human death (of which was completely undeserving) all illustrate that Christ never tried to turn you into something you weren’t meant to be. In fact, his life showed us exactly how to be who we are meant to be as humans.

Jesus met us where we were at and drove us forward, towards the Father.

Leading your wife does not mean completing a bunch of tasks that look good to those on the outside. It may look good, but it’s lying.

Get on her level and do those things that make her uniquely her.

This is what my friend realized: by loving his wife just as she is and encouraging her to do those things that uniquely made her her without tacking on practices that didn’t benefit her, he had completely and totally won her respect.

She was free to continue seeking after God the way God designed her to do so.

So, enjoy your relationship with your wife. Let her be herself, who Christ made her to be. Don’t try to “lead” her into being the wife you think she should be.

When you do this, maybe you’ll have gained her respect.

And isn’t that enough?