Masculine Leadership: Are We Missing Something?

On our podcast this week, G. S. Youngblood talks about masculine leadership in the home. It is his opinion that masculine leadership is missing in many homes, and especially in sexual relationships. To listen to his thoughts, check out our podcast episode {here}

What’s Missing?

The cultural norm in the United States is for a husband to be the main breadwinner and the wife to take charge of things at home. Often, this leads to an imbalance of leadership and power. A man will go to work, where he is confident, analytical, and plan-oriented, but then come home and relinquish all his power to his wife. What’s wrong in this scenario? Sometimes, nothing is wrong with it. But often, a husband who checks out when he gets home is not leading his family at all, leaving his wife to be the only leader in their family unit.

For most men, they feel they don’t want to over step and therefore defer to their wives at home as a sign of respect. Home and family life is seen as her domain. I remember once asking a family member where his scissors were. He jokingly replied, “oh I don’t know where anything is. This is my wife’s house, I just live here”.  Although this pattern may have been created with the best of intentions, this is not an equal partnership. The wife in these situations is left feeling the full burden of heading a family. She needs a partner, not a second in command. 

This imbalance in leadership can especially be felt during intimacy. A woman who already heads the family all on her own often does not feel like also planning time and space for sex. In addition, a wife who feels (even subconsciously) that her spouse is not acting like her equal partner in life will feel less intimately connected to her husband. Let’s dive deeper into how maculine leadership can help build stronger relationships and intimacy. 

What Is Masculine Leadership?

Masculinity has a bad reputation these days. In fact, most people immediately associate the word masculinity with toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is the propagation of negative, culturally masculine traits such as domination, oppression, and “toughness”. The New York Times wrote a great article on Toxic Masculinity and how it shows up in our society. However, not everything that is masculine is toxic. It is a good thing to feel confident in your identity, and there is a lot we consider “masculine” that is respectable, God given, and praise worthy.

What does masculine leadership look like? It looks like building a structure, or creating a plan for how to proceed in an argument, on a date, or during sex. For example, if a couple was planning a vacation, masculine leadership would look like a husband thinking and planning out a few options to present to his wife. He doesn’t force her to go on any of the vacations he has researched, but he also doesn’t hang back and wait around for her to do all the planning.

Masculine Leadership during Sex

Masculine leadership in intimacy looks like a man taking charge of a sexual encounter. Some men, with the best of intentions, get stuck in a “good guy” role. They are afraid or hesitant to seem pushy, and so they never initiate. Although no woman should feel pushed into sex, most wives want to feel desired and pursued. A great resource for good guys who want to up their game is the Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex a book by Keith Gregoire. Or listen to our podcast episode with the Gregories! 

 G. S. Youngblood explains this concept as light vs dark sexual energy. Light energy is the cuddling, the “no I love you mores” and the sweet moments. Dark energy is more desirous, erotic, and playful demanding. Dark energy doesn’t mean bad or dirty, rather in this context it means confidently providing a structure and inviting your wife into it. 

Think about it like dancing the tango. Typically, the male is the lead in a partnered dance. That doesn’t mean he just pushes his partner around. Rather, he holds a firm structure and invites her (with his body) into the next move. Masculine leadership in sex is about having the confidence to create a sensual space and leading your wife into it. 

Directive and Receptive Forces

People assume everything in a marriage should be split 50/50. Each person is equally involved in each decision. However, intimacy can’t necessarily be democratic. It would be a bit ridiculous to sit down and have a vote about what, where, and for how long you want to have sex before becoming intimate. Sexual encounters are about listening to your body and your partners. Therefore, someone has to initiate the process and step up as the lead as the sensations intensify. 

As G. S. Youngblood so aptly put it, every sexual encounter has a directive and receptive force. The directive force is the one who confidently moves the encounter forward and chooses the pace, intensity, and form. The receptive force is the one who idly follows and matches the energy given by the directive force.Note: each sexual encounter can and likely will be different. One person doesn’t have to always bring all of the directive force. A balanced relationship is one where both parties are satisfied with the ratio of directive and receptive forces. Each couple will have a different balance that is unique to them. 

I challenge you to have a vulnerable conversation with your spouse about your intimacy. Ask questions like “do you wish you had more directive force?” Or “would you like to have the opportunity to be the directive force once in a while?” Be willing to hear their experience without getting defensive.

How to Build it

So how do we bring more masculine leadership into our relationships? G. S. Youngblood lays out a great blueprint to help get you started.

Blueprint

1) Respond vs React
Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and pioneer in the mental health field, said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
A masculine leader learns how to respond to stimuli, and not just react. He acts out of choice and intention. He does this by making use of the space between a stimulus and his reaction to it.
When something happens that annoys you, take a breath and think about why it annoys you. When you feel like your wife is criticizing you, take a moment before you shoot back. Explore what she must be feeling in that moment. Nothing is as un-sexy as a man who continuously plays the victim or reacts solely in defense. By utilizing this space, men can learn to take control of their own actions, and can then provide leadership to their family. 

2) Provides Structure

A masculine leader provides structure. To develop this structure, he seeks to be intune with his feminine partner. Over time, he figures out what her needs are and builds a structure to help get those needs met. He offers his clarity as an invitation, but doesn’t force it on her.

For example, a husband might notice his wife is happier when she eats regularly. When he notices she’s having a rough day, he may say, “honey, it seems like you’re having a rough day. Can I make you dinner tonight?”.

Notice he didn’t say, “geez you’re being cranky today, go eat something”. Instead of placing the responsibility on her, he creates empathy and offers an invitation of help. 

Sexually, an intune husband may notice his wife hasn’t been responding to his advances like usual. Instead of trying to guilt her into having sex, he may plan a date night he knows she likes or romance her. He would proceed to seduce her with confidence, but staying intune to her emotional state. 

3) Creates Safety
A masculine leader creates physical, financial, and emotional safety.  This safe space is created by listening to her feelings and seeking to understand (remember to respond and not react!). When she feels you validating her emotional state, and feeling it with her, she knows that she is safe enough to let go of some of her control. She can now have confidence in letting you lead. 

What Masculine Leadership is Not

Before I finish, I want to be clear. Masculine leadership is NOT manipulating your spouse. It is not forcing your ideas and opinions. On the contrary, it is about being intune with your spouse’s needs. It is about taking back some responsibility and control. It is about mastering YOURSELF so you can provide leadership in your relationship.
Masculine leadership is not about resisting her ideas or routines. If she is leading, that’s fantastic. Jump into the conversation, and help her make the decisions.  Ideally, jump into the conversation early and figure out why you were behind the curve. Remember, the end goal should be more/better connection. Take command, but be governed by love and attunement.

Would you like more help in balancing your relationship? Download the Anatomy of Marriage app to get professionally built and therapist created strategies to help your marriage.

Written by Amanda Severson with Get Your Marriage On!

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<h3>Amanda Severson</h3>

Amanda Severson

Hi, I'm Amanda! I'm a grad student on her way to becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. I'm a wife and a sex enthusiast. I am a psychology nerd whose life goal is to help every couple find the absolute joy of sharing your life with someone else.

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