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I had an epiphany while reading the introduction of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book, Skin in the Game.

Taleb defines three categories of risk:

No Skin in the Game – keeps the upside, transfers downside to others, owns a hidden option at someone else’s expense (e.g. bureaucrats, policy wonks)

Skin in the Game – keeps his own downside, takes his or her own risk (e.g. citizens)

Skin in the Game of Others, or Soul in the Game – takes the downside on behalf of others, or for universal values (e.g. saints, knights, warriors, soldiers)

To have “skin in the game of others” is to love someone sacrificially. You are taking a risk and absorbing the consequence on another’s behalf. Sound familiar?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her

Churchians have twisted this passage to mean that husbands are called to be a servant to his wife. After all, if you’re working hard doing things for someone else, you must be sacrificing, right?

But a servant cannot love his master like Christ loved the church. The master bears the consequences of his own risks. I think the passage can be better paraphrased as follows:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and took a risk for her, taking the downside on himself while sharing the upside with her.

Common examples of this include:

Enduring constant rejection, failure, and criticism while attempting to start a business or move into a better career. The man bears the downside. The woman shares the spoils if he is victorious.

Making the decision to make a lifestyle change that breaks from the status quo and better conforms to what the family wants. He’s seen as the irresponsible jerk dragging his poor wife into misery. She enjoys the benefits of a lifestyle she’d be too afraid to start on her own.

Being the “jerk” that sets necessary boundaries with intrusive friends or family. He risks his reputation so that she can be protected.

Standing up for truth when it is unpopular. The man bears the brunt of the attacks. The woman is still treated kindly in most cases.

Allowing his reputation to be maligned when others assume her unhappiness is his fault. In reality, he has stuck with her because he cares enough about her ultimate happiness to endure years of man-hating rhetoric just for the chance to see her smile.

Being a loving husband is NOT about doing chores or being chivalrous. Being a loving husband is about taking the necessary risks that she is too afraid or unable to take herself. And you protect her from the downside of those risks by taking it upon yourself.