With few exceptions, you can gauge the measure of a man in the eyes of his wife.
Knowing this truth during the interview process of my career could have spared me great heartache. As a young man, I was taught it was vital to look into the eyes of the prospective leader. But after a thirty year career and working under five highly charismatic men, I now realize the successful leader’s eyes provide only one aspect of the onerous tale of ascent to lofty places.
The eyes of the wife speak more truth than a thousand wooing words a man can utter. In the interview process, always have dinner with your prospective boss and his wife. Take time to see the untold story that lies behind her eyes. Look carefully and deeply, for your future could be at stake.
I realize that I’m completely neglecting the possibility the boss could be a woman. I understand that. But the point of this story (and my life experience) is that of a male leader. I would greatly value someone’s experience of the opposite scenario.
Here are six types of wives eyes that have mostly haunted and rarely encouraged my career.
1.) Neglected Eyes — These eyes can be found in the leader’s wife who realizes the adoration and attention of fawning followers will never be directed her way. Her job is to be invisible. She does not receive acknowledgment by the followers in awe of her celebrity leader, nor is she acknowledged or included by her husband. His need for affirmation and worship is too insatiable to be shared—with anyone. She is a wallflower who knows her place. Most people have difficulty remembering her name and she is rarely, if ever, introduced as an equal by her husband.
2.) Hungry Eyes — Be very careful grasshopper. These eyes could wreck your career forever. They are a lose-lose glimpse into a gray vortex of destruction. Yes, it’s flattering. Yes, it’s titillating. Yes, its tempting. But the husband leader who has left her empty and wanting, once betrayed, will usually redirect the hatred of himself to everyone within reach. And a thousand woes be to the one who dares replace him by succoring his hungry wife.
3.) Spurned Eyes — The eyes of this wife tell the tale of a husband’s passionate, all-consuming illicit lover. His job. William Congreve in a play called The Mourning Bride writes this infamous line, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” The hatred of the spurned woman for both husband and lover seethe underneath her eyes like a smoldering inferno. She may attempt to kill her husband’s lover by slowly and subtly undermining and destroying it. Beware.
4.) Entitled Eyes — These eyes could be the most dangerous. She controls her husband and his job. The church or corporation is her fiefdom. Sure, to the public, it seems as if the charismatic male is the leader, but make no mistake, this woman has no equal. Cross her—and you are mysteriously and suddenly gone. Somehow, she has found a way to control or blackmail the man leader and lock him in a vise-grip of control. No matter how wonderful he seems, if you see the eyes of entitlement in the wife—run away as fast as you can.
5.) Puppy Eyes — These are the fawning eyes of a humble servant. A woman who knows her “biblical” place. Look deeply into these eyes and all you find is empty slavery. If you are brave enough to look deeper—you will find utter despair. No opinion. No disagreement. Her job is to do her husband’s bidding. Challenge him. God forbid. The leader/man who encourages this behavior is a weak person indeed. He is half the man he could be.
6.) Fulfilled Eyes —Ah, yes. A rare and beautiful sight. These are the eyes of an equal. A woman who is “comfortable in her own skin” and “in touch with her soul.” She is valued by her husband as a person of inestimable worth. And she handles it with aplomb. A teammate in every sense of the word. No matter if that entails motherhood, business advice, sexual intimacy, leadership or candid conversation, she thrills to the challenge. The husband/leader acknowledges her invaluable contribution to his success in a healthy manner. She comes first, then family, followed by the job. There is an obvious mutual respect. Candid discourse and challenge is meted out and encouraged by both male and female. No neglect, hunger, scorn, entitlement, or fawning in these eyes. Just confidence and freedom to be who she was created to be.
Have you ever looked into one of these eyes?
Have I missed one?
I value your candid thoughts.