Jul 5, 2016

Getting Married: Transitioning to a Different Head of the Household

By Anonymous

Growing up, I looked to my father for everything. He is a smart man, a hard worker, and a faithful pastor. I asked for his advice before I did anything, bought anything, or went anywhere. I went to him with many questions. What vehicle should I buy? Where should I apply for a job? What color should my room be? There were deeper questions, too, especially after coming home from Bible study. I had many spiritual questions while growing up in the church and I always went to the head of our household to ask them.

My dad was also the pastor of our church and helped me through challenges like teenage relationships and my stressful work as a nursing assistant. I went and talked to him in the church office several times, as he wore his black shirt and clerical collar and I sat there awkwardly, trying to figure out how to talk to my pastor about things I didn’t want to talk to my dad about.

He was my dad, my pastor and the head of my household. In times of decision, whether small or big, there was no question about whom I should look to for counsel.  

Until I got married.

When my boyfriend moved away from his family to live closer to me, we both started going to my father for wisdom and advice about our future plans. We soon became engaged and went through premarital counseling with my father. I’m not sure if I was just too excited to remember if it was mentioned or if we didn’t really discuss it, but I had not thought about the transition we were about to make concerning my new head of the household.

Of course, we discussed our roles as husband and wife. We discussed the definitions of the helper and of the head. We discussed the differences between our places in the marriage--we were equal in value, yet different in roles. You know! The things you learn about marriage! It all seemed so simple. It’s when these actions are to be actually lived out that it becomes confusing.

While I knew the relationship between my boyfriend and me would change once we were married, I hadn’t thought about the change that would be taking place between me and my father. I hadn’t thought about how I would be transitioning to a new head of the household, not just getting another one.

I remember when we were still engaged and looking for a place to live after we were married. Because we knew nothing about the housing market or loans or credit scores, we had decided to ask my father if he would come along with us to look at a house. We got there and looked around. My dad didn’t like it. My future husband did. In the end, I sided with my dad and we didn’t get the place.

My future husband was upset and I thought I knew why. He wanted the house and I didn’t. We didn’t really talk about it after that. We just grumbled at each other and moved on to the next house.

This sort of thing happened well into our first year of marriage. Looking back, my husband and I could’ve avoided many arguments if I had learned sooner to see him, instead of my father, as the head of my household. Then one day, as I was heading out the door, my husband told me, “If you have car trouble, I want you to call me first. Not your dad. If you need anything, please call me first.”

I thought about what he said later and I felt very bad for making him feel second to anyone. I felt bad for making him feel like he had to tell me that. But he did need to tell me that. Because if he hadn’t and I did have car troubles, I know I would’ve called my dad. He was right.

I don’t know if this will change after our newlywed status fades away or if it will be a lifelong struggle, but I now try to go to my husband first about everything.

My dad should still be respected as my elder. I should still honor him as my father, as that part has not changed. But he is not the head of my household anymore and almost two years into our marriage, I still have trouble remembering that sometimes. A household cannot run with two heads. If you’ve ever lived on a farm, you know things with two heads do not live for very long.

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” - 1 Corinthians 11:3

Alleluia! The head of every man is Christ. My head is my husband and his head is Christ so even during the times when it’s hard for me to submit, I can remember that my husband’s head is Christ. Yet just as I sin by not always looking towards my husband, my husband also sins by not always looking towards Christ. Yet Christ is still always the head. Scripture doesn’t say Christ is every man’s head only when he remembers it is or only when he prays for it or only when he looks toward Him for help.

Just as my husband is my head even when I fail to recognize it, the same goes for my husband and his head, Christ. Even when my husband fails, Christ is still the head. And He never fails.

Article image: source


  1. "If you’ve ever lived on a farm, you know things with two heads do not live for very long." :)

    Thank you for this post; my high school students sometimes ask me about the secrets to a successful marriage. I cite my own experience, where my new husband and I moved 14 hours from our parents a month after the wedding. That first year we had to learn to rely on each other because there was no one else, and it helped us grow stronger than we ever would have close to home. This piece summarizes that important relationship shift perfectly. Thank you!

  2. This post reminded me of the day after my marriage when my dad sat down with us and talked to my new husband about transitioning things like insurance and phone bill payments over to him. I had kind of forgotten about those things before my dad brought it up and in that conversation, felt a real gravity to the situation. I like how you explained it: the gravity I was feeling was the changing of headship from him to my husband. Thanks for the post!

  3. Very well said! I bought this book recently and still haven't read it - but now I'm even more compelled to get to it. Thank you, Anna!


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