“A Woman’s Defense of the Alpha Male”

Alice Atalanta writes a powerful defense of alpha males, and it’s worth reading for both husbands and wives. We get emails all the time from wives who long for their husbands to “take charge” and husbands who are afraid of their wives. Our culture — even our modern church culture — often views men as barbarians who need to be tamed by feminine virtues, which can create both emasculated men and bitter, overcompensating thugs. It’s true that God gave women an amazing array of strengths that men can learn from, but it’s also true that God created men with strengths of our own. As married couples, we need to embrace each others’ strengths and use them for the benefit of the marriage and family.

Here are a few “alpha male” traits that Atalanta identifies, and it’s no surprise that these are qualities that we see perfected in our Heavenly Father.

But there is more to it than just brute force and strength. As much as he may excel as an athlete or on the battlefield, a true Alpha Male also develops the capacities of character to temper, channel, moderate, and strategically employ this strength. Character – and what is traditionally referred to as “honor” – is central to the way that these men live their lives. Athlete Chad Howse, whose article “25 Characteristics of an Alpha Male” is Google’s top result for a search on the topic, hones in on these critical specifics: the Alpha Male, he writes, is “a man’s man, a warrior, a stand-up guy…he’s a leader, the guy others look to for motivation, inspiration…he’s the man women want, without intention the center of attention.” True statement applicable to all of those with whom I spoke. Other qualities highlighted by Howse, and consistent among my own sampling of Alpha types? Persistence, defensive capability, courage, humor, wisdom, humility, learnedness, thoughtfulness in speech, purposefulness, diligence, confidence, restraint, respectfulness, integrity, discernment, generosity, leadership, industriousness, and sincerity. In short, more the qualities of a Renaissance man than a brute. Hobbs’ scholarship supports this, as she considers the ancient Greek model of Plato’s ideal man, whose warrior spirit (Thumos) is tempered by reason – a topic she discusses at length as she is interviewed by Brett McKay on his ‘Art of Manliness’ podcast.

In addition to help from the Holy Spirit — which we should pray for — many husbands just need to feel some permission to act manly! Our culture denigrates manliness to such a degree that many men suppress their natural God-given strengths in an attempt to conform to worldly expectations — which are often feminine behavior patterns. Instead of being bold, the husband is timid, too fearful to express his needs and preferences to his own wife without coaching from strangers on the internet! (And hey, we’re happy to help, but you’ve got to add the final ingredient: courage.)

And wives, do you want your husband to take the lead? He’ll be much bolder if you don’t second-guess his decisions. How many times have you had this conversation?

Husband: Where do you want to go to dinner?

Wife: I don’t know, you pick.

Husband: Ok, let’s go to XYZ.

Wife: Eh, I don’t really want to go there.

Wives, if you want your husband to lead then you have to accept his leadership. That doesn’t mean that you make him guess over and over again until he gets lucky and picks something that pleases you! It means that you offer your opinion and then happily submit to his decision the first time unless you have some serious objection. A husband isn’t a good leader because he always picks what his wife would pick; being a good leader means making decisions that honor God and your family.

Husbands, are you bold in your marriage and family? Wives, what do you really want from your husbands?

11 comments

    1. The feeling I get from most women is fear — they are disobedient to God’s word because they don’t trust God to work through the leadership of their husbands. And they believe that their fear justifies disobedience in submission.

      Once you accept that submission is just part of God’s authority structure and you accept that God is truly who He says He is, it’s not complicated. Once I believed this about my heavenly Father, I found submission extremely thrilling.

      1. That is exactly right, Robyn! Once I realized fear was behind my need to be in charge, I was able to relinquish that control. I also had to accept that if my husband “messed up” it was between him and God to fix it—not me. And just maybe it wasn’t a mess up at all but spiritual training.
        It was in the early years of our marriage and I still work to keep a balance of being the helper God created me to be while not crossing that line.

        1. “I also had to accept that if my husband “messed up” it was between him and God to fix it—not me.”

          I don’t about you Ann, but I found these were the EXACT moments that I discovered that I needed to grow in my own ‘mess ups’ of lacking forgiveness, perseverance and grace! Isn’t it amazing how God couples our learning alongside each other? I love that about Him!

  1. Heather and I messed it up pretty good. I came from an authoritarian background with a strong alpha male. Heather came from a more relaxed home with her mom clearly wearing the pants.

    When our 5 kids would act out, she would threaten punishment but would rarely follow through. I became her enforcer, but worse, I started handing out harsher punishments to make up for her being too passive. It created me as the enemy and her as the friend.

    We figured this out after all the kids were mostly grown. Once we figured it out, we’ve been much more balanced in how we bring up hard topics. We can’t punish them anymore but there are times we have to be tough and hard. I have Heather deliver a higher percentage of the hard truths. It’s working. The kids are starting to trust that I’m not just a big ogre anymore.

    Learning this early in our marriage would have saved us both from a lot of frustration and heartache.
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  2. I did read the article and forwarded it to a few friends. The alpha-male is needed more often than we see him. I want my husband to be one and, while he is capable, I think it is sometimes a challenge for him.
    Then there’s those times he ignores the gps (that I turn on) and gets lost and I am a bit conflicted in my desires for my alpha male ; )
    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  3. 2 Ann:

    Think of it as an invitation, placed in your hands by God, to invite your man to be all that God created him to be. Of course, a husband is completely able to exercise his God-given leadership (alpha/authority) — but things go smoother when his wife is onboard instead of resistant to his headship.

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