Is Having the Husband Make the Final Decision a Harmful Shortcut in Your Marriage?

by | Jul 31, 2020 | Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 38 comments

Are Christian "Shortcuts" Hurting Your Intimacy? Why husbands shouldn't make the final decision
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When we give husbands veto power, do we end up damaging intimacy?

Often the best conversations on this blog don’t happen in the posts themselves, but in the comments. And today I wanted to share a comment that came in on one of Keith’s earlier “men’s corner” posts about making decisions–plus another comment that I’d never noticed before that was on that same post!

I think the post got noticed again because this week Keith chimed in again with his post on seeing sex through a female lens, and then people followed rabbit trails!  But on that earlier post about decisions, Terri wrote:

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.)

Terri 

Let’s Look at The Evidence: Do Marriages Work Better When the Husband Decides?

When we give someone the right to make the final decision, we do provide a shortcut

I think she’s absolutely right. When discussing this concept of decision-making, I often hear people telling me, “ah, but without someone to break ties, you’d always be at an impasse!” And they look proud when they say this, like it’s a trump card.

And I find that strange, because in so many other relationships we just make decisions together throughout our lives. With our siblings; with our friends; or, as Terri said, with business partners. And in marriage, Keith and I make decisions together, even 29 years later. We don’t need a tie-breaker.

If people are so sure they need a tie-breaker, chances are they’ve lived their lives taking shortcuts and have never done the real work of finding a solution.

If you’ve never done the real work, you don’t realize it’s possible. And that’s the problem with giving people a shortcut: when the first sign of difficulty hits, it’s easy to just say, “Okay, well, I’ve got to make the decision then”, and march off in whatever direction he chooses.

But what if, by wrestling it out together, they found a different solution that neither had ever thought of before? I show how this can work in detail in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (it’s thoughts 6&7!), but quite often doing that wrestling opens doors.

Do you have a hard time asking for what you want?

You can change the dynamic in your marriage and make talking about your own needs easier!

If your marriage is in a communication rut, it’s time for some change.

And while providing a shortcut is definitely a problem, there are a few other things I wanted to bring up.

Giving a husband veto power can sometimes mean communication issues are never solved.

By him having the final say, it’s all too easy, when you have conflict, to view that conflict through the lens of “who gets to be right” rather than view the conflict through the lens of “how can we build intimacy”? And that can turn communication problems into disagreements that need an arbiter.

For instance, let’s say that she’s feeling unloved because he’s spending a lot of time talking to his mother, and shares more with his mom than he does with his wife. She brings this up. But because he is the final authority, he tells her that she is wrong.

In fact, in that list of 98 ways you can sin against your husband that was given out by biblical counselors, one of the ways women can sin is by “getting my feelings hurt too much.” So feeling unloved and not liking something your husband is doing is now framed as a sin, rather than as a marriage dynamic that needs to be looked into.

If submitting means letting him decide, then disagreeing becomes more holy than finding agreement.

Then there’s one more perverse outcome to this idea, and it’s that if the way a woman submits is to let her husband decide when they disagree, then if they were to agree, she’d have no chance to submit and do what’s right. Therefore, disagreement and being in disunity is the only way to fulfill your proper role as a wife (similar to how Debi Pearl wrote about as we talked about on Tuesday–you give up your rights and what you want).

I’d suggest that what God wants for couples is us wrestling together to seek out His will, and us understanding that in marriage, we have another person to help serve as a sign that we are hearing from God–or not hearing from Him. And in marriage, we are to excel at giving to one another and serving one another, and finding unity in the Spirit, not just doing what a husband wants.

Anyway, you can read more of Keith’s original post about how the evidence doesn’t support husbands making final decisions, but it’s my prayer that we can work towards marriage which is Jesus centered and not husband centered.

(If you haven’t read it yet, jump into my submission series to see more!)

While I was pulling that new comment to highlight this week, though, I saw another comment there by Maria that I had never noticed before, that I also thought was really insightful.

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.

Maria

Let’s Look at The Evidence: Do Marriages Work Better When the Husband Decides?

I think that’s a great illustration of how we’re in the mess we’re in, and what Genesis 3:16–“your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”–has come to be played out. It’s not what God wants; it’s the repercussions of sin!

It’s part of the curse. And Jesus came to reverse the curse!

This week we’ve been talking about emotionally healthy marriages in a variety of ways–how authoritarian views of marriage are toxic; how we can see sex not just from a man’s point of view, but also from a woman’s.

God created male and female to be picture of unity and intimacy. Let’s spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let’s work at knowing and loving each other more deeply every day. Let’s study each other, learn about each other, excel in loving and serving each other. Let’s truly “know” each other, and let’s have that intimacy flow over into passion. That’s what God wants for us, and we need to stop messing it up!

What do you think? Have you taken unnecessary shortcuts in your marriage? What’s the real picture of intimacy we should strive for? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

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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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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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38 Comments

  1. Meg

    I am the wife, and I am very guilty of letting/asking my husband to make a decision because I don’t want to hash it out. I have intimacy issues I thought I’ve dealt with, but this brings to light a new one. I blame it on being a very tired mom of three, ages 5-13, with a career that’s very socially/emotionally demanding. At 9:00 at night I don’t want to talk things through and hash them out. I just want quiet and to not think. Plus, my husband is an over thinker and sometimes I don’t have the energy to participate in that. I will admit that together we do come up with solutions that we hadn’t thought of before.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s a really common dynamic. And it’s okay to need some sleep! It’s also okay, I think, to delegate decisions to the person who is the most involved in that area of life and knows the most. So, for instance, it’s okay for one person to decide what life insurance company to go with, or what you should buy for someone’s birthday!

      Reply
  2. Jane Eyre

    Maria’s comment is incredible. I never thought of it that way before – just had a general idea that both Adam and Eve sinned.
    As for letting the husband make the final decision: I heard this a lot in my single years and I must say, it doesn’t paint a great picture of marriage. Comments were along the lines of “you need someone to make a decision when you’re really at loggerheads.” So they seem to say that marriage is full of strife and disagreement in a way no other relationship is, and it also says that when it really, really, really matters to the wife, she has to lose.
    I don’t think people who make those comments quite understand the impression they are giving to adult Christian singles. It… does not paint marriage in a good light.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s something that I’ve written about before–what is the underlying assumption about marriage? If you assume that the main instruction that God has for marriage is that husbands make the final decision, then the underlying assumption is that there will be strife, and that strife is normal and natural. If, on the other hand, you assume that together you can hear the Holy Spirit and decide things, then it’s assumed that you’ll be able to work through issues and that marriage is a relationship of unity.
      I do wonder how much assuming that marriage will be two people in strife does contribute to people not working through issues. IF you assume you’ll disagree, then when you do disagree, that’s normal, right? I do think there’s something bigger going on there that people haven’t thought of.

      Reply
  3. Anon

    This post and the comments really hit home with me.
    I agree so much that the husband shouldn’t make the final decision. I’m the husband and freaking hate it. My wife is trying to do that. She is very strong willed and knows how she wants things. And for the most part I love it because she is so smart. She sees things from so many different angles before making a decision. Doe she always make good decisions? No as you will soon see but she is better at it than I.
    I struggle with anxiety. It’s gotten worse and worse. Yesterday was horrible for me because of some decisions I had made. I finally had to start take medication because the anxiety was physically hurting and I couldn’t even sleep . For me making decisions is difficult. I know I need to learn to make them but I hate when my wife tries to be a “good wife” and leave it up to me to decide things. I prefer that we work as a team. That we see pros and cons and pray together to make a decision. So this is something I am going to work on.
    There are so many Christian men’s group that teach men to make the decisions. Some even claim it shows you are manly and strong and that will make your wife desire you more. It’s really discouraging for men like me who want to partne with their wife. I know that it’s bad that one of the reason is my anxiety but I do think it’s better to be a team.
    The last comment hit home because that’s sadly our situation. My wife got us in debt making decisions that even if I was opposed to them I wasn’t as firm as I should have. Now we are in debt and I can’t do much. People tell me to divorce but I don’t want that. I don’t tell her how much this upsets me and how anxious I am but I do think that this idea that I should make the final decision comes from
    Her guilt that she has put us in this situation.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s such a rough road! I’m sorry about the debt and the anxiety. Those are both really, really hard to deal with.
      And partnership is wonderful. If, however, someone is endangering the partnership (like your wife wracking up debt) then sometimes you have to be firm and draw boundaries, because that is a different scenario. But I know that’s hard to do. I hope you have someone to talk to about these things, because medication alone isn’t nearly as effective in treating anxiety as medication with talking. I hope you can both find a licensed counselor to talk to, or at least a financial planner to help you consolidate debt and make a plan. Sometimes just having a plan can alleviate a lot of anxiety and stress because the future isn’t just a big unknown anymore.
      I am sorry you’re walking through this!

      Reply
  4. Joy

    I have never understood when people say that “you need someone to break the tie”. That barely applies to the under-fives! In fact, my children are under five and we try to teach them how to talk things through every day (with varying degrees of success haha). My husband and I have made most of a decade’s worth of decisions together (from career decisions, to houses, to moving cities and even countries!), and we are yet to be stumped.
    Here are some of the way we do this , if anyone is looking for ideas:
    1. Talk it through and work out why we disagree. Sometimes it’s a simple misunderstanding!
    2. Identify our needs and work out a compromise that meets everyone’s needs. I used to have my heart set on a certain house, only because it had tonnes of storage and I LOATHE living in a cluttered space. My husband loved a different house that was in a different location. We compromised by moving to the latter, and paying a little bit every month for a storage unit. Our new place was super convenient, and super tidy!
    3. Work out if one of you two cares more about the issue than the other. If someone is really passionate about a situation and the other person doesn’t really care, maybe the person who really cares can just get their way? I am the type of person who always opinion on everything, but that doesn’t mean I am passionate about all of them. For example, my husband doesn’t really care about curtain fabric. So I picked our curtains, just because even if it’s not his favourite he will never really notice.
    4. Leave it and come back to it. Sometimes if you revisit a decision a couple of weeks later, you’ll notice both of you have forgotten what the big deal was all about.
    5. Just talk! Even if it seems like you have unreconciliable differences, just talk in circles around the issue. You’ll surprise yourselves by him much you learn.
    6. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge your spouse, because you love them! We have both done things we didn’t super enjoy, but we both get so much happiness from making the other one happy that we don’t really mind (obviously this does not apply to major life decisions).

    Reply
  5. Angela Laverdi

    First of all, if the husband is lording ALL decisions over the wife then that puts the wife in the position of a child. Excuse me, last time I checked I am an adult. I have lived on my own multiple times, I have a child, I was a single mom for a while, I have a college education and a full time job. I am NOT a child. I am capable of critical thinking and decision making. If you want to treat me as less than an adult then you can make ALL the decisions in the house including what I make for dinner, what you buy at the grocery store for our food supplies, which clothes to put on the kids because obviously I as a woman am not capable of making decisions. Sorry to be a shrew but like this, but this kind of thinking is beyond stupid.

    Reply
    • Badger Mama

      I wish this comment section had the option to post gifs because if it did I would reply with a Z snap.

      Reply
    • E

      I’ve heard my husband tell younger couples that the husband should have the final say and it made me a bit uncomfortable. The whole thing still isn’t really clear in my mind. Where did that thought come from if not the scriptures?
      On the other hand my husband and I have always come to decisions together without any issues. And we have faced many moves, going back to school and no money. My personality is a lot more passive, though I will speak up if it’s important to me. Sometimes he has wanted my input or opinion, but I really didn’t mind one way or the other. I also trust him if he was to make a final decision we couldn’t agree on. But I have seen him be very loving and allowing me time to line up with his opinion because I needed time to process and pray about it. Like when we church planted. He waited a year to ask me what i thought about it and the answer went from “What?!!!” to “Yes!” Same with homeschooling. I don’t do well with being told what to do so I wouldn’t like it if he made quick decisions when i obviously didn’t want to.
      Interesting topic for sure!!!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Understand completely, E! It’s funny, in the survey we just did of 20,000 women, a lot of women said they believed the husband should make the final decision, but in practice they made decisions completely together. Healthy people do decide things together and talk things through. Any other way of doing things just isn’t emotionally healthy.

        Reply
        • Andrea

          There’s a great article about it whose title sums it up: Symbolic Traditionalism and Pragmatic Egalitarianism.
          Since your daughter and son-in-law frequently cite research from psychological science (which I love), here is the link:
          http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/evangelicalroles_report.html

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, thank you! That’s awesome. I’ll make sure Rebecca sees it.

      • Dani

        My husband used to think this too and I think I did as well although it never sat right with me. Then we talked about some things from this blog and realised we actually did think this at all and it’s certainly not how we live our lives but he still hung onto this way of thinking for a while. And in the end I said to him, “what do you lose by letting go of this idea? The illusion of power that you never actually exercise anyway because you know it’s not right that you stomp on my feelings and do what you like.”
        It’s not an issue we have anymore. We are a team.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s awesome, Dani! I’m so glad. And isn’t it great how really talking it through can change things?

          Reply
    • E

      Angela I didn’t mean to reply to you. Was supposed to be an individual comment. ☺️

      Reply
    • Bre

      Y-E-S!!!! This is what gets me. Aside from my Autism Often making dealing with People awkward and draining, this is why I don’t personally think that I ever want to get married . I’m sick of churches and good, well meaning Christians saying stuff about men being meant to make decisions and lead, for the EXACT reasons you’ve given. So, I’m capable and have lived on my own and taken care of myself, but suddenly a single, specific relationship with another human makes me dumber and unable to reason and debate and make choices? No thanks; not interested in dealing with all the mental baggage of encountering all these assumptions associated with marriage ( I’ve felt with a lot of bullying and discrimination when I was younger so, yeah, nope). I’m living on my own and just moved into my first (1-room) Real apartment this summer and I’ve been loving (almost) every minute! Sure, I’m still getting the hang of the money management thing, but I’m 21 and learning. I’m really enjoying the freedom to basically decide whatever I want to do and the fact that I can actually cook and grocery shop for myself; I’m basically very happy and positive ABout it at this point and have been thinking on this topic recently because of it. I’m really glad that someone else pointed out the obvious of how the “now this guy is suddenly more qualified to make choices than you” is silly and, honnestly, pretty demeaning to women.

      Reply
  6. Badger Mama

    This reminds me of a very frustrating discussion I was once a part of in my church community group. We were studying 1 Peter and had come to the submission passage. The facilitator shared a story about how he really really wanted his sons to share a room with bunk beds because that’s what he experienced as a child and he has wonderful memories of it. Great! Passing down memories and experiences is one of the joys of parenthood! But his wife tried to dissuade him because their youngest son, who was 1 at the time, doesn’t sleep well with distractions. They discussed it for a bit and she submitted to his will. The week that followed was completely miserable for everyone as the children got no sleep at all and were super cranky, a burden that the wife disproportionately bore as the stay at home spouse. The moral of the story was that the husband should have listened to his wife AND that the wife was correct and Biblical in her submission to him. So everyone suffered needlessly because of the wife’s submission and because of the husband’s stubbornness. I think in that scenario they were both wrong!
    I replied that we should be careful not to conflate submission with letting the husband make the decisions and shared a brief story about how my husband wanted to make a decision that was very financially unwise for our family at the time. We argued quite a bit but he eventually came to see my side. They said I was in the wrong. I really think knowingly letting your husband hurt the family is not Biblical submission and is not what God intended.
    (small note that I’m changing my usual commenting name for anonymity)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree! Submission should be putting others’ needs ahead of yours, and loving them well. And that includes not enabling them in making really, really bad decisions that you know will backfire. That’s what I said in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–you look at Micah 6:8. We love mercy; we act justly; and we walk humbly with our God. So we do what’s right, but we also pursue grace. And we find the balance by walking humbly with God. That’s the point of life. That’s character development, and that’s what we all should be pursuing.

      Reply
      • Badger Mama

        Your stuff was actually part of what helped shape my argument. 🙂

        Reply
  7. Boone

    This has never really been an issue in my marriage. My wife has more knowledge about some matters and I have more knowledge about other matters. She wouldn’t attempt to make a decision about putting a new clutch in the Jeep and I wouldn’t even try to make a decision concerning anything medical. If neither of us knows what we’re doing we try to find somebody to consult that does know. We’ve always talked out our decisions and come to an agreement. I’ve only ignored her advice a couple of times and I was sorry that I did before it was over. Women just know things. If a woman tells you she’s got a bad feeling about something you had best listen to her.
    I’ve know some Christian men that rule their homes with an iron fist. Their wives are little more than indentured servants. They have no say in anything. That’s no way to treat somebody you love. If you thing you’re wife is too stupid to get in out of the rain just remember that she decided to marry you.
    Boone

    Reply
      • Boone

        Back when I first started practicing law we had an older circuit judge. In divorce or child custody hearings when one party went to seriously badmouthing the other one he’d let it go on for for five or ten minutes. He’d then throw up his hands and stop them and chew them out. He’d always end his lecture with, “You married them. What does that say about you?”
        Boone

        Reply
      • Angela Laverdi

        I am clapping my hands at that one 👏👏👏

        Reply
  8. EOF

    This was a huge issue earlier in our marriage, in particular when the church was heavily teaching the husbands that they had to make their wives submit or God would hold the husband accountable for the wife’s sins.
    My husband would often go against something I felt strongly about and say, “I made the final decision.” His eyes would dare me to oppose him say more.
    Another thing was “asking opinions”. He would ask my opinion just to say that he did. His excuse was: “I took your opinion into account, but I didn’t use it.” Then he would explain why his idea was superior. I felt like a child and he accused me of having an inferiority complex that I needed to get over and that I needed to stop complaining that things were never fair.
    If you want to kill intimacy in your marriage, this is a great plan to follow.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so sad, EOF. But it’s even sadder that the church made him think this was okay.

      Reply
  9. Anon

    This teaching can also enable women to get what they want while taking zero responsiblity. My mother used to do this – she would manipulate to get my father to make the decision she wanted, but because it was ‘the husband’s role’ to make decisions, anything that went wrong was HIS fault!!!
    I think there are situations in which one person having the casting vote might be necessary. Shortly before we married, my fiance and I had to make a decision which was time-limited and we couldn’t agree on it. Eventually, we went with his choice, and with hindsight, that was totally the right thing to do – but I wouldn’t have said we ‘agreed’ on it beforehand – I just agreed that we could go with his decision! So in one way, he had the final decision – but in another, because I agreed to give him that decision (and not to blame him if it ended up being the wrong choice!) it was still OUR decision.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      Yes, I remember I was still a teenager the first time I noticed how manipulative headship relationships can get and I couldn’t believe adults were behaving this way. It’s that idea from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the mom says “yes, the husband is the head, but the wife is the neck and the neck turns the head.”

      Reply
      • Anon

        Hahaha, I never knew that line made it into a movie, but when I was growing up, I remember hearing an elder’s wife (from the very conservative church my mother was raised in) saying just that! I always thought it was so weird, as you had these women who were basically controlling their husbands while playing the ‘wifely submission’ card!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point about enabling women and allowing them to have zero responsibility. I think that happens more than we assume!

      Reply
  10. Taye

    The day this was posted is our anniversary date💕 It’s a happy wife life😁
    There are many day to day decisions that my husband and I need to make on our own.
    There are also those that we need to make together.
    But…isn’t that part of the fun of marriage?! Discussing our various viewpoints, etc. like what to name the baby, for example 😁
    As wives let us not burden our husbands with bogging them down with many questions as to when or how we should do all these things that we need to do. (I realize there are many different types of couples out there and some wives might not have the “freedom” to make decisions that I do. )Make wise and careful, even “bathed in prayer” decisions – and keep/earn your husband’s trust.
    Love, live, and learn every day💐

    Reply
  11. Juris Prude

    Ephesians 5:22. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
    There are numerous verses so clear on this point that no amount of other context can water it down. 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:12; Col. 3:18; and 1 Cor. 11:3 are just some of the normative ones.
    The command to wives seems clear. It really is of her obedience and his headship, not of equal partnership.
    I suppose the nuance that many husbands miss is that these are commands TO wives, not to us. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to lord our power over our wives. Rather the commands to us are to love, to cherish, to be ready to die for, etc.
    But arguments on this thread to the effect that “marriages work better when there’s a partnership,” however compelling, are in effect arguments that the Bible is not the last word on the question.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Juris, I go into detail on what headship really means in the Greek in this podcast. I’d also recommend that you read more on the subject, because the Greek word “head” is not about power or authority but instead source. Ephesians 5:21 also tells us how we are to interpret Ephesians 5:22. Instead of just looking at a few verses, I’d suggest looking at the entire Bible, and viewing those verses through the lens of all of Scripture, and Jesus’ own words, such as those in Matthew 20:25-28. Jesus did not come to set up power structures, but to set us free to live by the Spirit and rely on Him.
      Please look at websites like Marg Mowczko for more on this.

      Reply
  12. Kara Thompson

    I loved the quote from Terri that you included. I think considering the dynamic in other 2 person adult relationships is a great way to gain an alternative perspective. Sometimes, when it comes to marriage it really feels like we can have such tunnel vision, but I agree that we can glean plenty of wisdom from many sources and then apply it back to our marriages.
    The idea of headship reminds me of two things (one vintage and one modern). Even the great theologian C.S. Lewis tried to use the veto power argument that you reference. Yet, his opinion (as written in Mere Christianity) is a bit dated and can be countered with Terri’s reasoning. The second is from a great marriage book I read recently (The Upside Down Marriage by Jim Keller). He’s a Christian marriage therapist and actually claims in one chapter that couples should fight more! When we do this, we’re presenting both sides and doing the “real work” of conflict resolution Sheila talks about.
    When we continually brush things (our feelings, wants, worries, and needs) under the rug and submit entirely to our husbands, it will create long term angst or feelings pf neglect. That’s probably why Jim suggests we address these things in arguments where each person has an EQUAL amount of talk-time and each person’s thoughts and feelings are addressed and resolved. I found that as great advice for my marriage 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Kara! Studies have actually shown that a lack of conflict is more correlated with divorce than the presence of conflict (though obviously the type of conflict matters; some are very toxic). But disagreeing and talking things through and even having an argument can be very healthy in the long run, and many couples need to learn to do this rather than taking short cuts.

      Reply
  13. JSW07

    As a husband and Dad, I do believe that God’s intention is that Husband’s are the leader of the home both spiritually and in the day to day (complementarion). The mis-conception in this is that the wife becomes a “door mat” which is SO far from the truth. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church which means in humility and putting self aside and doing what is BEST for her and as a couple. This does NOT mean that discussions are one sided, it means that the final decision falls on the shoulders of the husband. This again, DOES NOT mean that the wife cannot make a decision, but it means that the outcome falls on the shoulders of the husband as HE is to lead his family in Christ. How that looks from a perspective on who makes the final call can change from situation to situation but the RESPONSIBILITY is on the husband. Husbands should lead with patience, with humility, with an open mind and ear, in submission to God’s word, in love, in respect to their wives ultimately to the glory of God.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s fine that you believe that, and I hope it works for you. I just feel compelled to point out that actually acting this out leads to worse marital outcomes. Couples who make decisions together fare far better than couples where he makes hte final decision, even if he gets her input first. We found that the divorce rate increases 7.4 times if he makes the final decision; the Gottman Institute found something similar (an 81% chance of divorce) as do many other studies.
      It should be pointed out that in our survey of 20,000 women, the vast majority of women who said they believed the husband should make the final decision do not actually act that out, and that’s good. Believing it isn’t a problem; acting it out is. One has to wonder if a doctrine is a good one if it only works if people don’t actually act it out.

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