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FAMILY FORUM: Passive Men, Wild Women


Psychiatrist Pierre Mornell has written a book called “Passive Men, Wild Women” in which he describes a common complaint registered by many of his female counselees through the years. Often married to highly successful men who drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to make their mark in the financial center of San Francisco, these men are leaders in every sense of the word … except at home.

Mornell relates the frustration and sadness of women who describe men who often lead boldly at work, but return home to be only a passive presence, content to sit in a chair, watch ballgames on television, and pass off decisions about parenting, vacations, menus and most everything else to their wives. As a result of husbands who are often physically, emotionally, and relationally passive, these wives are often wild with frustration, bitterness and anger.

Regardless of where you stand on the egalitarian/complementarian debate, the simple truth is that no healthy woman wants or deserves a husband who is passive. While there are certainly unhealthy spouses who may want to dominate and subjugate their partners, these represent the unbalanced other end of the continuum from passivity.

From early on in the creation story, men were called to be active and responsible with what God created. Genesis 2:15 states, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Ephesians 5 speaks to the importance of men taking an active, humble, loving, leadership role in the marriage and family. Colossians 3:23 reminds all Christians, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men.”

As a pastor and counselor for close to 30 years, one of the greatest problems I have seen in the family is that of the passive man. The pain and suffering caused by the aggressive and abusive man is well documented. But what of the man who believes the insidious lie, “I gave at the office.” Every godly wife and every longing child desperately wants a husband and father who pursues them with fierce intentionality and whose number one investment is not in the marketplace, but the home.

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