Trying to hide my surprise from the waitress, I glanced up at her and said, “Thank you.”

But when she walked away, I looked across the table at my husband and let my astonishment seep into my expression.

There, on the white linen table cloth, was the black leather check presenter. And it was clearly pointed toward my plate.

“Guess she thought you wear the pants,” said my husband, chuckling. Oh, what a charming man he is.

Little did that waitress know, I’m the kind of girl who has never paid for dates. Even on my blind date with Ken (which I wrote about here), it never crossed my mind to reach for the check! So how had I, after hundreds of dates with this man, suddenly begun conveying the message that I would be the one to pay?

Had I somehow given the impression that I was the provider? The leader? I thought back over all of the things I’d said to the waitress, during our four minutes total of interaction.

I had requested a specific table in the dining room, when we arrived. And then, I had been first to order. I had given particular instructions about how I wanted my food prepared, and then while Ken was ordering I cut in to remind him of the item he said he’d split with me. I was the one to stop her and ask for refills. And had I asked for the check? I honestly couldn’t remember. But either way–the waitress obviously thought I deserved it.

By leaving the check presenter near my plate, she caused me to consider what an outsider, looking into my marriage, sees. And I had to admit there was a pattern.

That afternoon, I had called the shots on everything from where we should park to how long we would shop before eating. My husband passively let me choose everything. For a random onlooker, it was logical to assume that I was the leader.

Now, I understand that leadership entails more than choosing a booth vs. table. That’s obvious. But what isn’t always obvious is the way leadership patterns evolve. There’s a certain cadence of who will take charge of what. And if you take the time to notice, it’s observable–even to a waitress.

Over the years, I’ve learned that my husband won’t fight me for the reigns. He makes decisions and takes the lead all day long at work. The last thing he wants to do, on a date with me, is spar over whether we’ll sit by the window or not. He just doesn’t care that much.

And as much as he doesn’t care, I do. About everything.

If I’m not careful, by taking the initiative on the insignificant details of our marriage (like what he orders), I can create a trend that becomes an overall pattern for us. I get used to deciding. I get used to not asking his opinion. I get used to leading.

God has designed marriage to work best when the husband leads. Our family has first hand experience with this. When I’m in ‘leader mode’, I become demanding, assertive, and controlling. Everybody gets really miserable really fast.

But when I consciously, and purposefully choose to let Ken lead in our marriage and home, everything settles back into a peaceful cadence. Reversing the trend is just as simple as creating it. It involves making little decisions to say, “No, you choose the restaurant.” Or, “We can stay at the party as long or as little as you like. Just let me know when you’re ready to leave.” Or, “I’d rather let you choose whether we let the kids go or not.”

I want to do better on letting my husband lead. I want the random waitress who takes our order next to intuitively know that my husband is taking me out to dinner; not the other way around.

And here’s the test: Who will she give the check to?

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