My Passive Husband
"My husband is so passive that he makes Jell-O look stiff. How can I get him to take charge?"
Remember the "which came first, the chicken or the egg" question? It's worth asking, "Which came first? Do I take charge because he's so passive, or is he so passive because I take charge?" Unfortunately, we often create the exact behavior we abhor.
To visualize how this dynamic can be changed, imagine a see-saw. One side is the "assertive" side and the other is the "passive" side. The further you venture out on the assertive side, the further he'll venture out on the passive side to maintain balance. However, the more you venture toward the middle, the more he'll likely do the same.
What would "venturing toward the middle" look like?
Rather than saying, "You pick the restaurant. I'm tired of making all the choices." Try saying, "Let's go to one of your favorites. What are you hungry for?"
Instead of, "Why can't you take initiative in the house?" Try, "I have three honey-do's I could use your help with, and #3 is to let me give you a back massage to thank you for doing #1 and #2."
Rather than, "Why haven't you paid these bills yet? Can I not trust you?" Try, "I see some bills piling up. Do you need extra time this weekend to get caught up?"
You get the idea. Next time you're tempted to take charge when you really want him to, remember the great dancing pair Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She didn't require his leadership by stepping all over his toes. She inspired him to lead by simply following along gracefully.1