Decision Making in Marriage: A Hot Button Topic? Part Two
Emerson’s Reply, Part Two
Please read the previous post which presents the question on Decision-Making, and includes Part One of my reply.
Today I’ll address the second suggestion from the wives:
“Wait for God to change her/him on the matter.”
This one is rather a moot point because we are talking about those situations when all else has failed, so we are assuming that the couple has already prayed together about the decision but remain in a stalemate. While there are many times when lesser decisions can be put on hold indefinitely, we are talking about those times when to wait indefinitely is not possible or would subject the family to adverse consequences. Having said this, prayer should always be the first recourse (not the last). Couples should be praying together regularly and if both are good willed and are communicating with love and respect, they would find themselves in this situation (where they disagree on decisions) even less than 1%. This is why my emphasis is more on teaching couples how to communicate with love and respect and ultimately to depend on Christ in their marriage. This assumes both parties have good will. We aren’t addressing here the evil willed spouse who acts out of sinful motives.
Therefore, if a wife conveys to her husband that she believes he has the final authority and she is objecting not because she is trying to wear the pants while making him responsible, most husbands will respond by listening to her concerns. I do toward Sarah because I know she does not desire to control me. However, there are situations (I remember two) when I made decisions contrary to what she thought best. Both were the right decision and she agrees. (Having said this, many times Sarah differed and her way proved correct. For example, I remember I had a guy I trusted paint our car contrary to her wishes and that turned out to be a bad paint job!)
My point? We cannot be dogmatic on the “wait until she agrees.” It is a good principle but it is anything but a divine command, and can actually operate against God’s revelation to husbands and wives. Again, the complaint today is with constant male passivity, not his constant male decision making contrary to her wishes. In thinking we are protecting the wife and family, are we breeding a passive male who gives all the domestic stuff over to his wife, and then when she needs him, he doesn’t show up with strength? Interestingly, Pew Research came out with a new study showing the decisions that wives are making in the home, contrary to the popular idea that men rule. Not so.
Why does he bow out? Here is one thought, and this is just an example based on my subjective observations. Some men need to fail in order to develop their leadership. (I believe parachutes were designed by men who jumped out of trees and got hurt!) Rarely in the early years of the marriage can the guy bring much harm with his decisions, but if she opposes from the get go, she prevents him from learning from his mistakes. Guys learn from mistakes better than from their wives counseling them, “Don’t do that.” I know her heart. She seeks to help him and prevent the mistake. She isn’t selfish. She longs for him to value her input and to learn from her and appreciate her role but she unintentionally deprives him of a way God develops some men: through failing, not through the feeling that he must always listen to her. In a sense, he values her quicker after her good counsel proves correct than if she prevents him from making a mistake. Will he ever know it was a mistake? Again, I am referring to the early days of marriage when the mistakes tend to be minor and worth allowing him to risk.
To be continued…