Women are always looking for “emotional closeness” in their marriage. And the latest ploy of women is to bash their husbands for not being spiritual leaders.

Let me give you the “spiritual leadership fantasy” of many women. Ready? The fantasy is of a husband who gathers his wife and little chickens under his wing, and with a great servant-spirit, he prays, “Oh God, may I decrease and may my family increase. May I understand how to meet my wife’s every need and be a perfect father. God, help me learn to love to help with the dishes. Oh God, help me bind up all the myriad of wounds and hurts of my family. Put their trials on me and protect them from any harm or discomfort. May I instead, be uncomfortable, not them. May I meet my wife’s need for emotional intimacy with great fervor. Help me listen to her and compliment her so that she feels safe, adored, and treasured. May I lead my children with the utmost of gentleness and be the world’s greatest dad, as well as the most fun dad in town. And now, use Your Word in my life so that I may royally bless my family.”

I nailed your “spiritual leadership fantasy”, didn’t I?

Do you know how many men that I know that do that perfectly? Zero. Right, zero. Do you know what real spiritual leadership is? Real spiritual leadership is when your husband makes time to read his Bible. Spiritual leadership is when he finds time to pray. Spiritual leadership is demonstrated in a man when he is faithful, honest, hard-working, and full of integrity. Men demonstrate spiritual leadership when they coral their sexual craziness. They demonstrate their spiritual leadership when they get hold of their anger, and surrender to the portion that God has given them today—all the while peacefully and proactively seeking to improve their situation. Men who are spiritual leaders hold their little girls in their laps and throw baseballs with their sons.

That’s a spiritual leader. If your husband gathers the family together to teach them the Word and pray, then that is a bonus. Yes, the husband is commanded to wash his wife with the Word (Ephesians 5:26), but the wife is also commanded to respond to his disobedient behavior without a word and instead, with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3). How well are you doing with that? When you get your part right, then maybe you can ask your husband to lead the family in Bible study and prayer. But not until…

We humans tend to see our own goodness and other people’s failings. Reverse that. Talk to the Lord in prayer about your sin and then look for virtue in your husband. This is a great picture of extreme maturity in a woman.

There is a nice song out now that says, “Lead me with strong hands…” That’s a good song to convict men to do better, but honestly, it makes women discontent. If your husband makes a living and is faithful, be thankful. Those are the only two expectations you can have in marriage. Yes, of course you want more. So figure out the next biggest thing you want and ask for that. But you know by now, you can’t ask for everything at once. “Spiritual leadership” is not a right that you can demand from your husband. It’s a bonus. Give your faithful, hard-working, honest husband a break. You need to quit expecting him to be Jesus.