Let’s Look at the Evidence: Do Marriages Work Best if Men Make the Decisions?

by | Jan 28, 2020 | Uncategorized | 77 comments

Sharing Influence is Gottman's Key to Successful Marriages

Wait! Did that tag line say Sheila’s HUSBAND is writing this post about making decisions in marriage?!?

Yes, everyone, this is Keith writing my debut blog post for the website.

Some of you may already know me from a few of the podcasts I have been in, but aside from occasional notes in the Comments sections, I have never actually written for the blog before. However, Sheila recently floated the idea of me writing a post once in a while for a “Men’s Corner”, I thought, “Sure! Why not?”. And then she asked me to give my perspective on the series she’s writing this month about how marriage is supposed to make us better people, and iron should sharpen iron.  So here we go….

Sheila and I have been doing marriage ministry together for over a decade, but in my day job I am a pediatrician, so I hang around with a lot of doctors. Whenever they find out that I do marriage teaching, the first question they always ask me is, “What’s the evidence behind what you are saying?” Evidence of effectiveness is really important among doctors. We take very little at face value, wanting to see the proof before we change the way we do things. Obviously that’s a good thing for patients – everybody hopes their doctor recommends treatment that has proof that it is effective!

And of course I completely agree with my colleagues that anything I believe and teach to others should be based on good evidence. So one of the people I really like to read on my own and to point other people toward is Dr. John Gottman. The Gottman Institute which he and his wife (also a doctor) direct does TONS of marriage research and looks at which practices are most likely to see your marriage thrive and which are likely to see it come crashing down. Some of this great research was the basis for his book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”.

7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

One of the things Dr. Gottman talks about in his book as a key to having a successful marriage is the concept of allowing your spouse to influence you, which he also refers to as “sharing power” with your spouse.

His research indicates that marriages where both husband and wife are willing to allow the other to influence their decisions do better than those where one spouse is not willing to allow the other to influence them or to share power with them. He further goes on to say that men tend to have more of a problem with this than women. His research shows that even in unstable marriages, women (despite whatever other issues they may have) still tend to take their husband’s opinions and feelings into consideration, but in his words: “too often, men do not return the favor.” Note that Gottman is not saying (as some misrepresent him as saying) that the wife make the decisions instead of the husband, just that men need to allow their wives to influence them.

In his study, the benefits of allowing your wife to influence you and the dangers of not doing so were fairly stark. In their long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, they found that “men who allowed their wives to influence them had happier relationships and were less likely to divorce”, but that “when a man is not willing to share power with his partner there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”

To me, all of this makes perfect sense. Living with the same person day in and day out for the rest of your life clearly brings its challenges. Who in their right mind would want to spend their entire life with someone who is inflexible and doesn’t listen to or care about their perspectives? That seems pretty straight forward.

But more than that, we all know that life is full of twists and turns in the road. As we go through each challenge that life throws at us, knowing that my spouse cares about my perspective and my way of looking at the issue just makes things so much easier to deal with.

On the other hand, not having the assurance that what matters to me matters to my spouse makes everything so much more difficult and drives us further away from each other.

Let’s face reality – as life’s trials, tribulations and even just the daily grind work away at us, we become different people. None of us sees the world the same today as the day we married our spouse (except maybe you newlyweds in the crowd) and there is a tendency for us to drift from each other.

Being open to letting your spouse influence your decisions is essential to staying connected and working as a team through whatever challenges you face and allows you to stick together in every seasons of life.

Sheila and I have always had the attitude that we work things out together and that when we disagree, we give the matter the time and care it takes to come to agreement.

Anniversary Trip to Ireland

Marriage is about unity–and it’s not hard to decide things together when you prioritize serving each other.

Sometimes that takes a lot of time and a lot of care.  I specifically remember when we were looking at buying our first home.  Sheila was captivated by one property and I was not.  The idea that I would say, “I am the husband and we are not buying this property” was never in my mind.  Frankly, if it had been I think today I would still be worried about whether Sheila was secretly disappointed that she never got her dream home!  Instead, we had several long discussions about what was important to us in a home, what our priorities were and why those things mattered to us.  As a result, not only did we eventually find a home we both loved, we also learned a tremendous amount about each other and grew closer along the way.

In my mind this is entirely consistent with a Christian approach to marriage. Many verses point to this concept such as:

  • “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a),
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15).

In my mind, even the golden rule would apply here, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12) since we all want to be listened to and treated with respect.

In many parts of the Christian church, however, there is this very unhealthy philosophy that the man needs to make ALL the decisions and that the wife’s entire role is just to go along with it.

To hear them talk they make it sound like a husband making a unilateral decision which the wife instantly submits to unconditionally is a more godly approach than having a mutually respectful discussion about the issue.

(Sheila interjecting here: After all, if you talk about it and agree, then she’d have no opportunity to submit! But that just shows that they need to see submission in a different way).

And along with this teaching comes the concept that the wife has no right to question the husband’s decision or to confront him if he is taking the family in a dangerous or unhealthy direction! I have actually heard teaching that if a woman were to confront her husband about a sin issue in his life, she would be herself sinning by treating him disrespectfully, so she dare not do so.

This breaks my heart.

Are you PeaceKEEPING or PeaceMAKING?

There’s a huge difference between the two. And if you don’t get it right–you’ll never be able to feel truly intimate in your marriage.

There’s a better way!

How can we have a healthy marriage if half the married couple is not allowed to bring up issues in their relationship?

Personally, I have always valued the fact that Sheila has a different perspective than me and is comfortable talking to me about these things. I loved the fact that when our kids were small, we could discuss together the best way to handle situations. Sometimes I was too harsh. Sometimes she was too soft. She had to talk to me, when Rebecca was about 12, about how I was too harsh with her. But I had to talk to her about how she was letting Katie get away with too much around the same time. Together I think we did a much better job than either of us could have done alone.

And to teach that even for sin issues, you can’t confront your husband?!? I just don’t know what to say.

Forbid it, Lord, that in my marriage my wife would ever be afraid to talk to me about ways that I might be going astray.

Proverbs 15:31 says “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.

Why should any husband ever be opposed to hearing life-giving words of correction from someone who loves him and wants his best?

Clearly these people are espousing a radically different approach than Gottman. Unfortunately, however, I think this mindset has taken root in the church enough that many people assume that it is THE Christian viewpoint. And here’s a great example. This husband left a comment  after Sheila and I talked about the dangers with some of the teachings of Emmerson Eggerichs’s book “Love & Respect”.

“Until I started listening to your podcast episodes on “Love & Respect” I had completely forgotten I actually read it early in my marriage.

I was very young in faith having only come to Christ a year or so before and wanted to be a good, strong, Christian husband. This book had very strong reviews and I was dead center of the target demographic so I bought it.

I did not have the maturity or emotional vocabulary to fully understand what it was that he says. But I very much knew that it was NOT how my marriage was going to be. As much as it may be every newly married man’s dream to have his wife be told that she must grant him release for the marriage to be successful, I could not follow the book’s advice. It was horrifying to me as a young husband.

What may well have been worse for me though was the guilt. Here was this book that is highly recommended as a model for Christian men and I wasn’t following it. I felt guilty because I wasn’t doing everything that I needed to so that I could be a strong, Christian husband. I could toss the book into the trash and walk away from doing it, but not without feeling that I was destined for failure.

I got over it and even forgot about it until listening to your podcast. Fortunately no guilt remains and, in fact, I am thankful that even without the maturity or vocabulary to describe what was wrong, I knew it was.”

This man sounds eminently reasonable to me and from all he says I expect he is a loving, caring and Christ-like husband. Yet clearly at one point in his life he believed this unhealthy message that a 100-percent husband-controlled marriage was God’s plan. How else do you explain the fact that he felt he was “destined to failure” and wracked with guilt for not following what he clearly already realized was faulty teaching? And more importantly, how did we get to the point in the church where this kind of toxic teaching was seen as God’s best for marriage?

Part of the reason is because the proponents equate their own teaching with the teaching of God. Sheila and I discussed one particularly flagrant example of this recently in this podcast on how Eggerichs was gaslighting women. The idea they put forward is that their position is “the Biblical position” and everyone else is a compromiser following the “way of the world” or “man’s teaching rather than God’s.” This is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. What they are espousing is an interpretation of God’s word, not God’s word itself, but they phrase their arguments to suggest that if you disagree with them you are disagreeing with God.

Being open to letting your spouse influence your decisions is essential to staying connected and working as a team through whatever challenges you face and allows you to stick together in every seasons of life.

Unfortunately, the church has quite a bit of history with confusing interpretation of God’s word with God’s word itself and then using that to destroy people.

The clearest example that comes to mind is the story of the famous Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei. Most of you know his story. In 1609, he conclusively saw things in his telescope which convinced him that the idea that the sun, moon & stars moved around the earth was false and that in fact the earth was moving around the sun. What happened next is infamously reported in every history text book. To the church’s great and eternal shame, Galileo was told that the Bible clearly taught that the sun went around the earth and he was made to renounce his teachings. And he was persecuted and punished for teaching otherwise.

Today, no one would interpret verses such as “The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved” (1 Chron 16:30) and “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” (Eccles. 1:5) the way they did in 1609. In fact, we take for granted now that the 1609 interpretation was only one interpretation of those verses – – and an unnecessarily extremely literal one at that. But sometimes I think we have forgotten the wisdom that Galileo brought to the debate in the first place when he said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

God’s word is eternally true, but if our interpretation of His word is in direct contradiction with the evidence of our own eyes, it is time for us to take a sober second look at our interpretation.

The evidence that Gottman brings forward here is an example of that. The evidence is in.

Allowing your spouse to influence you and sharing power with your wife clearly leads to healthy marriages, but a marriage based around a husband making all the decisions without allowing his wife to influence him has an 81% failure rate.

For most of us, this will make obvious sense and we can go forward with trying to put it into practice – – hopefully without feeling guilty like the commenter above initially felt! But for those who think this is opposed to Biblical teaching and preach a 100-percent husband controlled marriage, I would have to ask – would God really design something with an 81% failure rate? And how does that fit with the idea of the “abundant life” we (husband AND wife) are supposed to have in Jesus? Maybe some of us need to be interpreting Scripture a bit differently than we have in the past.

God has given husband and wife to each other for mutual growth and edification. We are cutting ourselves off from God’s plan for our life when we don’t open ourselves up and allow our spouses to influence and shape us.

Just imagine how great our marriages could be if we stopped debating about who was in charge and simply started trying to act more Christ-like toward each other.

I still have hope that we in the church will get there some day.

Marriage Works Better when We Make Decisions Together

What do you think? Did you grow up hearing things like, “the husband has to make the final decision?” How does this work in your marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Blog and Podcast Contributor, Co-Author with Sheila of two upcoming marriage books

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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77 Comments

  1. Nathan

    Very good post, and I definitely agree with the idea that husband and wife should make decisions together.
    I didn’t grow up hearing “the husband is in charge, he makes all decisions”, but I didn’t grow up in a spiritual household.
    Sheila has talked before about splitting up duties, based on ability and gifts. For example, I handle the finances and Mrs. Nathan does child care. In her sister’s house, those roles are gender reversed.
    But, we still talk about all issues and sometimes help out with each others. I often help care for our little girl, and do laundry and dishes, and Mrs. Nathan and I talk about what things to spend money on.
    So while we each tend to take care of certain things on our own, it’s a group effort with lots of overlap

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome, Nathan!

      Reply
      • Nathan

        Thanks, Sheila! It’s not perfect, of course, but our situation is pretty good.

        Reply
    • libl

      We’re kind of a “both, and” couple. We believe in mutuality, but also that he has the final say. For example, I make 99.9% of the financial decisions, but sometimes, I go to him with options we can explore, and I leave the decision up to him.
      There were a few times I “usurped his authority” meaning, he made the decision and I went against it, and it ended badly, like purchasing a lemon, or causing a costly repair.
      He leaves me to manage almost everything, anyway, and he says he trusts me like Proverbs 31 says, but come the biggies or the clashes, I defer to him unless wisdom demands otherwise (such as when our child was shoved by another kid and fell, and I was sure he broke his arm, but hubby was sure he didn’t, because he wasn’t sobbing about his arm and soon after was using it in play, but I took him in, anyway, and indeed it was broken. Sometimes we mommies have spidey senses daddies don’t have.)
      It works for us. He mostly defers the decision to me, anyway, because I do manage the home full-time.
      The important thing is to discuss and be open and receptive.

      Reply
      • G

        That’s similar to us, libl. We consider ourselves complementarian, but that doesn’t mean my husband is like the jerks Keith described above. I’m home all the time, therefore I make probably 99% of the daily decisions. And he trusts me to do that.

        Reply
  2. Chris

    Since it is not really related to the main point of this post, I will just say that the issues with Galileo and the church are no where near as simple as they are portrayed in the post.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      In what way would you say it’s portrayed wrong? The illustration was used to show an aspect of it that related to what we’re studying–the church clinging to a doctrine that is wrong, despite scientific evidence that it is wrong, rather than looking at the data. There’s more to it than that, yes, but that is also what it was about.

      Reply
    • Keith Gregoire

      Yes, Chris, I acknowledge that there were a host of sociopolitical things going on at the time beside just “Biblical” arguments. I think my point still stands that it is dangerous to say “I don’t need to listen to evidence because I already know the truth” when your truth is just one interpretation.

      Reply
      • D

        The church had a valid scientific objection to Galileo’s theory that he couldn’t refute. His theory required stellar parallax, which he didn’t have evidence for. The church took the time to do it’s research and present this argument. Galileo displayed the attitude of not needing to listen because he knew the truth on this issue and others.

        Reply
        • Lea

          Why are you defending the church when the vatican outright apologized for Galileo years ago? They were obviously wrong, no matter what evidence anybody had.

          Reply
      • Lydia purple

        And I would say that sociopolitical issues are present too when it comes to the current „biblical“ marriage interpretation. There are definitely elements of power and control involved at least in the legalistic circles where the discussion is not purely about whether this is the biblical truth and right interpretation but where men hold all the power and are not willing to let that go, even if common sense and scientific evidence are against their „truth“
        If all of this was truly motivated by a pure devotion to God they would be humble enough to consider that maybe they are wrong or maybe their interpretation is not the only one that is true and God honoring, because you have nothing to loose to consider another’s viewpoint and pray about the issue of evidence being against your ‚literal‘ reading of scripture. Because thinking through it and praying through it will not threaten your devotion to God, after all it is seeking his perfect will in a fallen world. But if you hold a view that gives you control and power and a different view will take this from you to some extend and you’re unwilling to consider that viewpoint even if evidence based then your true motive is to protect your status not to love and honor God.
        This is exactly what’s happening with love and respect. He may have started out with a true good motive and there are some good ideas in his teaching
        but the way Eggerichs is responding (or ignoring) the Feedback he has been getting throughout all these years is showing that he is unwilling to consider he might be wrong or that his teaching might be harmful (even with evidence that it is) He is not truly interested in the truth here, he is only protecting his status and ministry.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Agree completely, Lydia! I just think “power” is really what God has been shaking the church about lately. The church abuse scandals–they’re scandals because pastors covered things up and churches covered things up and didn’t listen to those who were speaking up. And then there’s abuse in marriage, and toxic politics, and so much comes down to power. We need to start operating under Kingdom of God principles, as Jesus talked about, and not those based on lording power over others.

          Reply
          • Diana

            I love that you are posting now, Keith! It is great to have your perspective. I believe my second marriage is so successful and happy is that we decide on things together as a team. We are considerate of each other’s needs, preferences and opinions. We don’t force our way on each other. We try to come up with a win-win for everyone. My previous abusive marriage was all about obeying the husband while I didn’t have any say in the matter at all. That isn’t a marriage. It’s a dictatorship.

      • Chris

        Keith. Yes I agree. The problem was that Galileo was right. But that there were aspects to it that could not be proven within the confines of what we now call the scientific method. In the middle ages there were people (alchemists) running around claiming they could turn lead into gold and all this nonsense. So the church set out to come up with away, a process by which scientific claims could be proven. They borrowed some logical deduction techniques of the ancient greeks, romans, and even persians to formulate the forerunner to the modern scientific method. Most in the church who were educated at that time were certain that the earth revolved around the sun, just as the advanced cultures of the ancient world did. (Greeks/Romans/Persians)(Possible exception of the egyptians). Galileo was sponsored in part by the Jesuit order. He did research at church owned observatories. The whole thing was a spat between personalities way back then let alone nearly four hundred years later.
        However Keith i do agree with what you are saying in context completely. Just that I think the Galileo example is not the best one to use, because that situation was a mess. Lots of ego and personality clashes to go around. Keith, i am not a doctor but i am educated in the sciences too. And i have seen many examples of brilliant people who have a theory, they turn out to be right, but no one could stand to be around them. I think pope urban whatever 2nd i think and galileo both had egos.

        Reply
  3. Nathan

    > > the man needs to make ALL the decisions and that the
    > > wife’s entire role is just to go along with it.
    > > the wife has no right to question the husband’s decision or to confront him,
    > > [even] if he is taking the family in a dangerous or unhealthy direction!
    This attitude is unhealthy and not biblical. Like Sheila once said, it’s outrageous to think that one half of the human race (women) was created with the sole intent of quietly and submissively serving the other half (men).

    Reply
    • Will

      It seems to me that God created man as the head of the house. He also created Christ as the head of the church. A proper Christ like marriage should be one where we are in service to each other, where we try and out serve one another as Christ served the church and died for it.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Actually, the term “head of the house” is not in Scripture. Head of the wife is, but head did not have a power connotation in the Greek. I did a podcast about the real meaning of headship here.

        Reply
        • Maria

          The original Greek does not clearly say if Saint Paul meant “the man is the head of the woman” or if he meant “the husband is the head of the wife.” The Greeks did not have any word that specifically meant “the particular woman that this man is married to” or “the particular man that this woman is married to.” They just said man or woman and you had to figure it out.
          Considering that for “head” he used “kephale” (meant source when used as a metaphor) and our creation story says that the first man was the source of the first woman…

          Reply
  4. Bre

    Thank you, Keith! It was really great to finally get to read the article that Shelia promised that you would be writing! And it feels…validating. I’ve never understood why God would create a system where one person was repressed and treated as if they were lacking in intelligence, faith and spiritual insight. If there are such high rates of abuse, trauma, and broken/dysfunctional relationships, then could God have actually intended it? For years, the only answer I got from Christian literature/websites and elderly Christian relatives was “your ways are not my ways, your thoughts are not my thoughts” and “there is a way that seems right to a man that only leads to death” (I’m unskilled with memorizing Bible verses so that’s my paraphrase) All I got was that it was God’s will and that “worldly ideas and power struggles” were behind questioning it, implying that I was a sinner with no faith for simply asking questions. It’s still confusing to me, because such ideology goes against all common sense. It wasn’t until I found Christian Egalitarianism websites that I realized that our English Bibles are translations and, while the word of God is infallible, the Bible has been translated and interpreted by fallible men. It still is hard for me to remember that, as I have what I consider a strong sense of right and wrong, so it can make me feel very un-Christian when I firmly believe that spouses can politely refuse each other sex, confront each other when needed, and need to make decisions together, even though I know that out English Bibles don’t say that flat-out and that I don’t have a strong, ready Biblical justification ready. I know my God and I know that that isn’t what he is like. Dear Lord, the comments sections on the egalitarian articles about mutual oneness in marriage! Apparently, any woman who believes such a thing is deceived, fleshly, slutty, and craving worldly power. I seriously grieve for these men’s (and they are 95% men!) wives and, as twisted as it sounds, hope that they fully agree, as the alternative of these very hateful, blatantly misogynist (though they can’t see it) men forcing this poison down their wives throat and all the trauma that their wives would have because of it…that’s more disturbing. The church has tried this “Biblical” marriage model based on “loving submission and subjection” for years and it hasn’t bore the good fruit it promised. Actually, for much of the Christian church after the first few generations, and up until more recently, the attitude was that women were sinful, evil, and wholly morally deficient and that God had mandated that men keep them firmly under their boots to prevent disaster. I say it’s about time that we do away with the idea that women somehow need to be “lovingly” controlled for everyone to flourish, as the idea is very unbiblical, and we’ve wasted enough time trying to make it work. My academic advisor has a poster on her office wall that says, “The definition of idiocy is doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting different results.” In this case, I’d say “The definition of stupidity is shaking the same diseased tree repeatedly and expecting to get fruit that isn’t rotten. Cut down the bad tree and move on to one that is full of life.” I really enjoyed this and hope that you write more posts in the future!

    Reply
    • Keith Gregoire

      Thanks, Bre. Your story is the kind of thing I was trying to address. As far as a Biblical justification for mutuality in marriage I would suggest Jesus himself saying that in His kingdom whoever wants to be first must be “the servant of all.” Sometimes people teach that this means different things for a husband or a wife, but I don’t see any distinction here. We have also tended to creatively reinterpret this verse as I saw once in a comic that went something like this:
      Jesus: You must be servants
      People: Yes, Jesus, we will be servant LEADERS!!
      Jesus: Um,…I said servants.

      Reply
      • Bre

        LoL! I’ve seen that comic, too! And your 100% right; the NT “marriage verses” should not be read in isolation from the rest of the NT, especially in regards to Jesus teachings. It’s actually interesting that Jesus actually spoke realativly little about marriage specifically; rules for Christ-centered living do not go out the windiw just because of one or two verses that people struggle to understand. I’m now very comfortable and certain in what Ive come to believe being the truth, but it seriously makes me want to bang my head on a wall when people continue to think that having faith means totally disconnecting from common sense and/or reality because “God says so”.

        Reply
        • Lea

          I agree Bre it’s incredibly off putting! Nothing I want in a relationship… I’m an adult with an education and a brain, i’m not ceding all decision making capacity to a partner.
          (I had a longer response but it got eaten)

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’m sorry we ate it. 🙂

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s something I’ve been quite passionate about, Bre. When it comes to marriage, we seem to think there are only 5 passages (Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3; Genesis 2-3; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 Corinthians 7, etc.). But really the whole New Testament about how to treat each other also applies.

          Reply
  5. Nathan

    > > the attitude was that women were sinful, evil, and wholly morally
    > > deficient and that God had mandated that men keep them firmly
    > > under their boots to prevent disaster.
    Likely that all goes back to Genesis and the fall from Eden. Eve at the fruit first, so the logic is that she (and all women) are forever burdened with the taint of Original Sin. Of course, Adam didn’t need much prodding to eat it, either, but let’s just ignore that.

    Reply
    • Bre

      Ain’t that the truth! That’s why I’m greatful for websites like this; it’s about time that we realize that power struggles, especially between men and women, WERE NOT what God intended! We’ve spent enough time spinning our wheels trying to hold onto and enforce an ideology that is a product of sin and the fall. And, as you pointed out, neither sex is better, as they both sinned and messed things up; I guess this ideology is just a continuation of a blame game that is as old as time?

      Reply
    • unmowngrass

      Did Eve eat it first? Or did Eve pluck it and introduce the idea of ‘let’s eat it’ (flirting with fire maybe, but not actually a sin) and they both ate it together at the same time?
      Just throwing that out there, because so many people only believe the kid’s storybook version without looking into it properly as an adult. From what I can tell/have read about it, it’s the latter.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It totally is the latter! And yet all the Bible story books for kids have her finding him and giving it to him, and have her alone with the serpent.

        Reply
        • Maria

          Let’s say that a wife and husband are going for a stroll together, when they see a casino up ahead. Neither has a gambling addiction. Both can easily say no to the casino. And they should. The budget is tight. Too tight to risk losing any money.
          Despite knowing that it’s a bad idea, she says “let’s go have some fun in there.” And he, also knowing how bad of an idea it is, says, “Yeah, let’s do that.”
          Three hours later they have left the casino minus their life’s savings. He blames her. She accepts the blame. The dynamic could have been different. He could have accepted responsibility for his actions. Or, when he blamed her, she could have said “Hey, I didn’t make you walk in there. That was on you”. But that’s not what happens. He blames her for his actions and she accepts the blame.
          And he uses that misplaced guilt as a club. “Remember what happened the last time you made a decision regarding money? Just shut up and let me control the finances.” And he rules over her.
          But she also used that guilt as club to beat herself with. “I’m a failure. I can’t be trusted with financial decisions. Better for me to ask my husband what to do.” And she “turns to him” for decision making.
          Their children see that this is how a man acts and this is how a woman acts. Now imagine that their children had no other role models because their parents were the first two people on Earth.

          Reply
  6. Brenda

    Great job! I hope to hear more from Keith! I am interested in hearing the reverse- how to encourage husband to take leadership when they would rather be submissive and “let” the wife handle all the responsibilities of parenting, household, homeschool, finances, etc. My husband works hard at his job and I am blessed that his income allows me to stay home and homeschool our seven young kids. However, when he is home he is completely checked out and unavailable playing games/FB on his phone, listening to comedy with headphones on, not parenting children. When I try to discuss issues with him it’s always “whatever you think” without any guidance or input.
    Our marriage is beginning to suffer severely. I’m totally burnt out and stressed out with the weight of everything on me. Our sex life has gone from great to non existent. Even in that area his attitude (and verbiage) is “if you want it you have to do the work”. He’ seems completely happy with our life, but I resent him and all his free time relaxing at home. I feel like I can never unwind. It feel he doesn’t really love me because he doesn’t see, understand, or care to change this dynamic. When I try talking to him he seems to think he helps a lot more than he does. I’ve made suggestions like “Could you help guide the kids to clean up the kitchen after dinner?” He will say it’s a great idea and he doesn’t mind but not do it.

    Reply
    • Lea

      I would argue that this is less about needing your husband to ‘lead’ than needing him to be an involved partner and realize that a paycheck is not all that is needed! Especially with 7 children, you must be absolutely exhausted. I’m so sorry, this isn’t right.

      Reply
    • Lea

      Also, re sex “Even in that area his attitude (and verbiage) is “if you want it you have to do the work””
      This is so awful 🙁

      Reply
    • Arwen

      Brenda, Sheila has written tons of articles addressing your exact concerns. In fact she just wrote one yesterday! If you go to the search engine and type in particular words pertaining to your issues lots of helpful articles will pop up.

      Reply
      • Maria

        Uhm… where is the search engine found when viewing the mobile phone version?

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great question, Brenda! Let me put that in the list of topics to cover, because when one person checks out of the emotional load of the marriage, it really is too much for the other to bear.
      A good principle for marriage is that both should work (whether in or outside the home), and both should also get free time and a chance to pursue their own passions (even if it’s only a little bit of time). If those get really out of whack, where one does all the work and one has all the free time, then that really isn’t healthy. I’ve been thinking of doing a whole series on that, actually.

      Reply
    • Mrs. Braveheart

      Hi Brenda, I know your post was back in January. I hope things are going better for you now. I also have a husband who “checks out” when he is home from work. It makes me wonder if there is a husband out there who naturally “checks in” with his family on his down time!
      I want to say, don’t despair. I actually see a lot of hope in your story! What has helped me (and Sheila talks about this) is to identify my own needs and concerns. You mentioned you need time to unwind. So first of all, don’t put too much on your plate. Don’t plan on doing too much in a single day, Decide when would be the best time for you to unwind and schedule it in. I know being a mom means we’re always on call and that can be rough when you have crying babies that don’t want to sleep. But having a bedtime routine is nice where you relax with your kids (read bedtime stories, or sing, or whatever you like even if it’s in another room from your husband (he’s certainly invited, but doesn’t have to participate) and then try to put the kids to bed within a designated timeframe. If you’re the one putting them to bed, you’re the one to decide how and when. You can say something to hubby as simple as “I’m planning to try to get the kids in bed by -whatever time – and then unwind myself.” It’s also great to encourage the kids to play by themselves or with each other during the day and then you have more opportunities to snatch up some down time. You said you’re husband said helping with the kitchen cleanup was a great idea. I would say here is where it helps to specify and simplify. As you near the end of dinner you can say, “Can you and the kids unload the dishwasher and then. add in your plates?” And if hubby doesn’t want to do a lot, don’t worry. Just plan on finishing it yourself the next day as part of your own daily chores. But make downtime a priority for YOU. If you know a couple bills are coming due, it might help to simply ask your husband to fill them out for you. And don’t let yourself feel pressure about getting a certain amount of homeschooling done by a certain time. Let yourself work at your own pace with room to think and be yourself. After all, that’s why he married you 😉 And remember husband’s do like to be their wife’s hero. So you can frame a question like “Johnny is not responding to me and I don’t know what I should do do. Can you help? “ Don’t be afraid to interrupt his comedy or whatever. He has to know that you need him 😁

      Reply
  7. In Debt

    I can so relate to the guilt of not baking all decisions. I have felt so guilty that we are in debt because I felt that it was my fault for not “putting my foot down” when it was my wife’s actions. I have felt that if I was the leader everything would be better. I have always hated that type of talk. I am telling you this blog could destroy a lot of men’s ministries and I say that in a good way. There is too much emphasis on the man leading and having the last say. Sadly my wife is adopting that because she messed up with our money. Well partly, she asks me for somethings and some things she just buys but still. I don’t feel comfortable with it. I am not a leader. I hate making decisions alone.
    One thing I have noticed is that sadly this kind of thinking is part of many Christian women’s thinking. I have read many guys talk about how their wife wants to divorce them because they aren’t leading enough. Not making decisions. It’s kind of messed up.
    I have no problem that my wife is the driving force in our marriage as long as she takes my thoughts in consideration.
    Again, this message is important. I hope more men could see this and get that they don’t have to make every decision. And also that the women who have created this idea that men should have the last say should change their way they view this.
    Reading this will help me stop this because my wife wants me to have the last say but I must start discussions instead of deciding. I hate it anyways. Thank you for the post

    Reply
    • Terri

      Sympathetic to your dilemma. I mean if she wants you to lead, and your leadership is asking for her counsel and expecting to get it, then she oughta do it, right? (Being smart-aleck here.)
      Be aware that women did not create the idea that men should have the final say. Many women have been taught this from birth and have internalized “the system,” but they did not create it. And as you alluded to indirectly, we all are responsible to live by a better, more biblical system.

      Reply
  8. Anon

    In my parents’ marriage, decisions were discussed and prayed over together. My father only had the final say if they absolutely had to make a decision and they couldn’t come to an agreement on it. Their view was that one person needed to be able to cast the ‘deciding’ vote to move forward, otherwise you could be stuck in permanent stalemate.
    I can see that might be a very damaging belief in a marriage where the couple were less committed to seeking God or where the husband was uncaring toward his wife. In my parents’ marriage, there were only a couple of times when they were unable to reach a resolution. One of those was a decision about my education (which my dad got terribly wrong and later apologised for) and the other he was right about.
    My fiance firmly believes we make decisions together, although he is so concerned about my feelings/views that I think the danger will be making sure I don’t walk all over his wishes to get what I want!
    BTW, I loved this quote “Together I think we did a much better job than either of us could have done alone.” I pray this will be true for our marriage!

    Reply
    • Lea

      “In my parents’ marriage, there were only a couple of times when they were unable to reach a resolution. One of those was a decision about my education (which my dad got terribly wrong and later apologised for) and the other he was right about.”
      I was going to ask how often that came up! As an adult, I find this idea (which I was fed in childhood) to be terrible advice. I’m sorry you were the one to suffer for it.

      Reply
    • JennD

      Can I ask who knew you better in regards to your education? Your mom or your dad? See the problem with one person having the default tie breaker is that person isn’t always the most qualified to make the decision. My husband and I have never had to do this but I’ve often heard couples say that if they are at an impasse, they let the person with the most understanding of the situation/person who will most be affected by the situation make the decision. That makes way more sense to me than basing it on anatomy!

      Reply
      • Anon

        Normally, I’d say my dad would know me 100% better than my mum, but my mum always thought that she knew me best. So I think having the rule of ‘the one who knows most about the situation makes the decision’ would have been a disaster for me, as my mother would have been adamant that she was the one who should decide for me! And 999 times out of 1,000 that wouldn’t be the right choice.
        I think on this one occasion, my father had been influenced by another Christian he looked up to who was pushing him very strongly to send me to a specific Christian school (run by the guy who was recommending it!). Sadly, I know several kids who completely abandoned their faith and went right off the rails after their experience of ‘Christianity’ at that school. I think Dad’s mistake made such a huge impact on me because it was so unusual for him to get something so wrong. (And I hugely respected him for apologizing).
        As I said, that ‘rule’ worked for my parents in their time (and for their generation and church background, they had an incredibly equal marriage) but that doesn’t make it a wise rule for all!

        Reply
    • Terri

      I’ve heard this teaching all my life too, that somebody has to make the final decision. My two cents’ worth from my own experience: There are other types of partnerships besides marriage, and in no full partnership do they give one partner the permanent, unchanging, back-pocket Decision-Making Badge. A business partnership between two people, for example. Somehow they manage to come to a decision when one must be made — because they have to.
      While a marriage is not a business partnership, the similarities do extend here. Two partners needing to come to agreement CAN do so — unless they themselves have decided on the shortcut of granting one of them the decision-making badge. Then there’s less pressure and less motivation to come to agreement. It’s a shortcut.
      Pairs of adults make decisions together all the time. Marriage partners aren’t special or unique in needing to come to agreement and make hard decisions with people they don’t agree with from time to time. I believe we need to not excuse ourselves from the sometimes hard effort of working through decisions rather than simply offloading the work and responsibility on one spouse and excusing the other from work or responsibility in making hard decisions. (And I believe it would be a lot less hard if we pursued understanding rather than compliance! Which we tend to do.)

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        So well put, Terri. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? By providing a shortcut, you often avoid doing the hard work that would actually build intimacy and help you hear God’s voice better. You give up too early. Why do so few see this?

        Reply
  9. KellyK

    Thank you Keith for writing this great article! I look forward to hearing more of your perspective on the blog!

    Reply
  10. Liz

    This is a very helpful post, Keith! I grew up in a single-parent home, as did my husband, so we have never before seen these principles in action until our marriage. A couple of years into our marriage, we were well aware of some issues we were facing in terms of intimacy and disagreements on free time/hobbies. An older, married woman offered to mentor me and recommended that we read “Love and Respect”. I walked away from that book feeling like I was the sole cause of my own struggles. I felt guilty and shameful for wanting to express to my husband my feelings and different opinions. I am much more comfortable with staying quiet to avoid a difficult conversation, even though my husband has always welcomed my opinions. He hasn’t always responded well when I share. But he has always apologized for times of responding in what he calls “immaturity” or self-defense. He consistently tells me that these conversations help him grow and mature. He believes our marriage is always stronger when we are honest with each other. When it comes to making a decision, I love that you and Sheila have decided to give matters time, rather than make it a his OR her decision. I think Scripture makes it clear that the Lord desires unity in our marriages. I think for any true unity to exist, both husband and wife must be authentic about where they are, and in humility, be willing to listen to one another and value the other person. Our biggest regrets have always come when one or both of us has failed to be honest with the other, so a decision was made without a true understanding of one another.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Liz! We really do need each other. And if we’re not in agreement, then we both need to give it time and listen to God more.

      Reply
  11. Bethany

    Great post! In our relationship, we focus on keeping connected with each other and being a family. We’re still learning how to do alot of things, because it’s very different! We’re both introverted and can easily go weeks only socializing with each other, outside of work. I kinda threw out almost everything I had read in marriage books, Because it didn’t fit my husband. I decided that as long as I could figure out sex, I could probably get all the other topics figured out. So far so good! You can’t keep up with intimacy without solving all other issues. Cause if I’m upset, or him, it just ain’t happening. Anyway great timing for the series!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad, Bethany!

      Reply
  12. Arwen

    This is great Keith! And i agree with you 100%!! What i have found is that men in the West tend to be far more willing to work together with their wives compared to none Western men or cultures where misogyny is ingrained deep into that culture. Dating Western men has taught me that they are far more willing to see eye to eye with me than men from other cultures. However, i do find it strange that people will allow culture to have such a strong influence on them even if they live/grew up in a misogynistic cultures. The Bible transcends cultural practices and believers ANYWHERE should still act Christ-like in the home regardless of their surroundings.

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      Well, I think the issue is that our culture shapes our viewpoint and understanding/interpretation of the Bible. It isn’t that people mean to act contrary to Christ, it’s simply that they are blinded to their sin – much as we all are in some ways.

      Reply
  13. Emma

    What about marriages where the husband does not expressly say that he has the final say but his actions prove that he makes the decisions unilaterally? My husband decided to buy a house and he told me he wanted us to buy the house on the morning of the viewing. I did not have any time to consider or ask around for opinions and in a way I had no choice but to go along. I am the one paying the mortgage.
    Now he wants to sell this house and buy another one far away from my family. My family has always been good to him and I am puzzled why he is looking at houses so far away. Perhaps he does not like me being near them. He has been financially irresponsible and not faithful in the marriage. He seems to make all the important financial decisions even though he does not work and I am the sole breadwinner in our home. Does God even expect me to follow his lead when I don’t trust him.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, Emma, I am so sorry you’re dealing with that. If your husband is making rash decisions that are negatively impacting your family I would address that head-on. If you’re the one paying the mortgage then I would simply say, “I’m not willing to put our family in financial jeopardy and move away from my family simply because of a rash decision. We can talk about it and then revisit it in a year or so, but this is a big decision and needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.” He can’t sell the house without your signature, so just don’t give it until you are also convinced it is the right decision for your family.
      God does not ask us to follow a husband blindly. He gave you wisdom, he gave you intellect, he gave you the ability to problem solve. I often feel like the messages we are given about how the husband makes the decisions forces women to become like that servant who buried his talent–God gave us these things, so use them! Otherwise He gets frustrated that we wasted the gifts we were given, even if we had good motives (in the parable, he was scared of losing the talent so he kept it safe; in marriage, we are scared we’re not submissive enough so we just go along with what the husband wants).
      If he has lost trust for financial decisions or even just general trust since he’s been unfaithful in the marriage, that is trust that needs to be rebuilt. He doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt simply because he’s a man. I would bring in a licensed counsellor and maybe some trusted family or friends to help you two sort out these issues of irresponsibility and infidelity because those are big issues that you do not need to settle for in your marriage.

      Reply
    • Lea

      If you’re the one paying the mortgage i’m guessing you would have to sign off on any selling or buying of houses and it might be time to put your foot down. And if you do think he’s trying to get you away from your support system without good reason that might be a controlling red flag.
      And he’s been unfaithful? I…this isn’t good. I see no reason to let this man ‘lead’.

      Reply
  14. AspenP

    Great post Keith! Sheila, I wanted to let you know that the Lord has really used your post about one spouse not being the tie-breaker, but instead to continue in conversation to come to an agreement. This advice has borne so much fruit in our marriage already! We have had a very major decision hanging over us for a few years now about whether or not to have more children and we have been at a complete impasse to say the least! Polar opposite.
    Over and over again the temptation has been to let one spouse (primarily my husband) to make the final call. But…thanks to your post as well as another message I have heard that “the Holy Spirit ALWAYS agrees with itself.” We decided to continue to press on and pray and search for God’s direction. It has been hard work and would have been much easier to settle with a literal coin toss or a gender trump card.
    Had we done that though, we would have missed the great conversations that have come out of the continued struggle to understand each other and what God had for us. It is not quicker and it is not easier, but it has certainly been more bonding! I can see how the Lord has already used these continued conversations to grow me to be more assertive and not to fold up and deflect when I know something is important.

    Reply
  15. Ina

    The best marriage book we ever read was, “He Wins, She Wins.” The basic premise was never ever compromise but rather take the time to find a win-win solution so there’s no breeding ground for resentment. We read it while engaged and it’s served us well. We’ve yet to come to one of those impasses where the “husband must decide. ” We would probably be categorized as soft complementarians, but as my husband likes to say, “if I’m to love my wife and love is described in 1 Corinthians 13, then that sounds a lot like mutual submission! “

    Reply
  16. G

    SOMEONE has to make the final decision when you can’t agree and there is no acceptable compromise. What is the alternative to the husband having the final say in a case like that? Two examples we’ve run into in our marriage is disagreeing on vaccination and circumcision.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      When you can’t agree and there is no acceptable compromise, why not just pray about it until God shows you which decision to go with? Why does someone need to make the decision? Do we, or do we not, believe in the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives?
      When it comes to vaccination and circumcision, if you don’t agree, why not talk to a doctor? They’re the experts. Get more information from reputable sources and then make the decision together.
      If one of you cares less than the other, then sure! Let the person who cares more make the decision if it doesn’t really bother the other spouse. But if it’s a big issue, get more information, pray about it, and follow the Spirit’s guiding along with your intellect (which is also a gift from God) and make a decision together like two adults! There really doesn’t need to be a tie-breaker.

      Reply
      • G

        Thanks for your replies. My husband is not a jerk that delights in bossing me about (just for the record, haha!). We were and always are very prayerful in making decisions. However, in those two issues we did not end up agreeing and obviously they couldn’t wait. The Holy Spirit absolutely did guide me- to lay my opinion down and trust God for the right outcome.

        Reply
    • Lea

      If there is a right and wrong answer to those questions (which there 100% is on vaccination imo) then picking one partner at random (by sex) to make the decision doesn’t get you to a better one! If that partner is the wrong one, you’ve still made the wrong decision.
      Get a better decision making process, talk to your partner, find out why they think what they do and see where you come out. I agree with Rebecca on a medical decision it makes sense to take what your doctor has to say as a weighing factor.

      Reply
      • Lea

        And if there is no right or wrong decision, maybe the answer is to wait. Maybe the answer is to let the partner decide who has the most knowledge. Maybe the answer is to see what third parties who might be involved (kids perhaps) think. There are a ton of options that don’t involve giving one person the vote always and forever and that backup (I win if we tie) doesn’t encourage you to talk to each other as if it matters what the other person thinks.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Exactly! And “I win if we tie” pretty much means that at any point in a “tie” the man can simply say, “Well you’re not convincing me and I’m not convincing you so we’re going with my thing then” but what if they haven’t put in the time and energy that was required to come to a joint decision? Even having the option to simply go by what he wants means that there is no onus to really do the work because there’s always a shortcut way out.

          Reply
  17. Gloz

    Great work Keith with this post! I know it was mentioned in the comments earlier, regarding “The Fall” being a cause for some of the attitudes people are taught about marriage. In some ways Genesis 3:16, where Eve was told that now her husband would rule over her, as punishment for her part in taking the fruit, could be where some of this teaching comes from… But what happened as a result of the fall? The intimacy that existed between Adam and Eve, and with God, suffered, and wasn’t anything like it was when they lived in the garden of Eden (being naked, etc.) I think you all do a great job at the blog in trying to help us aim for that which existed before the fall, true intimacy with God, and each other. And as many have mentioned, discussing decisions together, and praying over them, builds on this intimacy three ways! Look forward to your next article Keith, and always love your work too Sheila…

    Reply
    • unmowngrass

      That is such an excellent point

      Reply
  18. Phil

    Keith – congratulations on your first blog post. I enjoyed it. I have a friend who’s marriage operates more or less on the man makes the decisions. He has made some changes but I gotta tell you when we talk sometimes it just seems odd to me. I really couldn’t imagine having to make all the decisions with out my wife’s input. I want to share my struggle here. I have been in a battle. Mental health issues have stymied me and I am late in the conversation here. I feel like I just woke up from a bad dream and I look at my life and go WOW – you really messed up on your decisions and you forced your concepts and ideas on your wife and now look. Truly it wasn’t all that way. She agreed to the decisions we made but I am going to go with Sheila’s one thought from her book 9 Thoughts. Be a peace maker not peace keeper. I think working together regardless if you make the right decisions or not brings you together. God will take care of you if you trust. I have a lot to be grateful for and so does our family even if there were better choices along the way. I just want to say that I have really enjoyed the iron sharpening iron series and for me my wife is my rock. She holds it together for us when I am unable. Our marriage works differently than others I suppose but at the end of the day we make decisions together and then God takes care of the rest. Thanks for writing and I look forward to seeing more from you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for your encouragement, Phil. And it sounds like you and Grace do have a good method of figuring this out!

      Reply
  19. unmowngrass

    Welcome to the blog, Keith!
    The way I look at it, isn’t there a middle ground? Not expecting to be exactly equal co-pilots who may, at times, be both trying to steer the thing in different directions, but not being entirely subordinate either? But rather more like, say, a capable deputy? Perfectly capable of flying it singlehanded when needed, but also spared the responsibility of allllll the weight of the decisions too, by having someone to refer to, to ask advice from?
    Think of the root of the word “husband” — animal husbandry. Which, for the purposes of clarification, I am turning into a verb, meaning the person who does it would be a ‘husbander’, to separate from a husband in the more usual use of the word. The husbander knows the animals very well. Knows what they need, knows when they are sick or out of sorts or unhappy or not their usual selves. Because he pays very close attention, in the good times and in the bad. And takes on the responsibility of caring for them, and, if there is a problem, of being the one to sort it.
    And then that’s the concept that we take to apply to the way a man looks after his wife. And all the synonyms (groom, shepherd, etc), apply in exactly the same way. It’s not to say that she doesn’t have a brain in her head and isn’t capable of working either with or against him… it’s just that he is the one who makes it his responsibility to tend to her.
    And there’s a trap that women are more likely fall into than men, I think. Not exclusively, but generally, in the way that men are generally taller than women. The trap of getting so caught up in the details that they go round and round in circles and become unable to make a decision. At that time, a sensible man who loves her (is acting in her best interests and not his own) is exactly what she needs, to tell her “stop that circling. do this. the end.” Her arguing with that would be the worst thing all around, hence her need to submit to his authority (which he has earned over her by his love and attention — I have encountered this at dance classes, “I don’t love him, and more importantly, he doesn’t love me, so why should I let him lead me???”)
    But when she is not doing that and is thinking clearly and decisively herself, then she doesn’t need that kind of leading. And as a capable deputy she would be able to take over and tell him that if he became one of the “shorter men” exceptions. Doesn’t Proverbs 31 say that a godly wife is decisive?
    [She assesses a field and buys it — not, she looks at a field but kind of blindly without any idea what she’s looking for, and then she looks at another field and then another and then gets into a tizz. And also not, she heard about the field and bought it on a whim without any due diligence. Same for, she plans the work for her servants. Same for, she notices when the cold weather is coming and prepares for it — which is different to overpreparing (and getting in a tizz about it). Same for, the business goals she must have set in order to be working towards them. Same for, being able to speak with wisdom. That requires knowing what is wise and what is not, and also when the time is ripe to speak and when it is not. Etc. Decisiveness.]

    Reply
    • Laura

      I appreciate this post. When we were first married we learned this lesson in a very hard way. I was raised by a divorced mom and my father had died when I was very young, so I had no model of marriage in the home. My head was filled with what I was taught submission meant. We needed a second car and went to look at a used car. The whole time my stomach was in knots and my gut was yelling at my not to buy it. My husband, on the other hand was gung ho and excited about it. I went along with the bad submission concept and agreed to get the car. Over two years we put four times the amount we paid for the car into repair costs. It was a financial nightmare. A year into it, I told my husband of my gut response when we bought it. He looked at me incredulously and asked why I hadn’t spoken up. His response boiled down to God gave me intelligence, common sense, and a mouth to express it; He also intended for us to balance each other. We came to the decision that if we disagreed on a decision, we would wait and pray, then discuss at a later time. We’ve saved ourselves a lot of grief in the 26 years of our marriage by doing this. The thousands of dollars we spent on repairing that lemon were an investment in our relationship.

      Reply
      • Laura

        I didn’t mean to post as a reply to unmowngrass, so my apologies. I actually take issue with the overgeneralization that women get caught up in the details” and become unable to make a decision. As a someone who studied human behavior, I can assure you that is not either all women, nor only women.

        Reply
        • Lea

          Laura, yes it’s 100% overgeneralization.

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        • Lance

          When we got married , we decided my wife would make all the small or little decisions and I would be responsible for any large decisions . It’s worked very well so far. In 42 yrs of marriage there has never been a major decision needing to be made ! 😉

          Reply
    • Lea

      ” At that time, a sensible man who loves her (is acting in her best interests and not his own) is exactly what she needs, to tell her “stop that circling. do this. the end.””
      I would not react well to ‘do this, the end’. Sheesh that sounds terrible.

      Reply
    • Terri

      I don’t want to be spared the responsibility of being an adult when I’m an adult. That’s not doing anyone a favor, it’s blocking their normal adult growth and life learning.

      Reply
  20. Holly

    Love this article. My hubby and I make decisions together. We share the power as well.

    Reply
  21. David Klem

    Interesting perspective on marriage. Sounds very much like what goes on in Congress. (LOL)It’s always a big mess and our reps mostly never agree.
    Incidentally, you forgot about the most unpopular scripture pertaining to marriage.
    Ephesians 5
    Be submitting yourselves to one another in reverence of Christ: wives, to their husbands as to the Lord; for the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church, He Himself Savior of the body. But even as the church is subjected to Christ, so also wives to husbands in everything.
    Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
    Paul explains here the concept of a biblical marriage. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church (body of believers) and the way that Jesus Christ loved the church is the way that the husband must love his treasured wife. When observed correctly, no other plan can guarantee the success of a marriage.
    Unfortunately, this verse is not popular in marriages today for a couple of reasons. For starters, It means exactly what it implies. On the contrary, both men and women want to wear the pants for selfish reasons. When you love your wife and family as Christ love’s the church it means that you make sacrifices for your family as Christ sacrificed for us.
    Many people today don’t understand that concept. That in itself is a large reason why most marriages fail. People expect the other person to make them happy when in fact, they should already be happy, entering into marriage to serve their spouse.
    That’s really what marriage is all about. Serving each other
    Men as leaders should take into consideration her views and feelings for sure. But at the end of the day his final decision should be as to what is not only in her best interest but in the best interest of the family.
    If one or more parties abuse their responsibility as outlined in this passage it will no doubt create a recipe for disaster ending in divorce or a very unhappy union.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      David, we completely agree that those verses are central and important and often misused.
      However, they don’t actually address the issue at hand. Those verses are not about who makes the decisions. They are about how each spouse is to serve each other.
      What we do know is that mutual decision-making works best, and that it is the model of unity and sevanthood that is found in the Bible, not unilateral decision-making by the husband.

      Reply

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