This article gives some Biblical advice on how to make decisions together as husband and wife.
A. Seek God for direction.
The Scriptures can give us God’s direction. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105). A believer does not need to struggle about decisions that God’s Word makes clear. For example, it is easy to decide to attend church. The Bible makes this an easy decision. Likewise, the Bible helps us make the right decisions about tithing, disciplining children, and godly living. “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (Ps. 119:104). For many decisions, there is a chapter and verse in the Bible.
Our faithfulness to God helps us receive His direction. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). Faithfulness pleases the heart of God. God guides the steps of those who trust and honor Him. “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Prov. 4:18).
Prayer helps us receive God’s direction. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Jesus Himself spent the night in prayer before choosing 12 apostles (Luke 6:12-16). A husband and wife should pray separately and together when they are seeking God’s direction.
B. Seek agreement with your spouse.
God wants His Church to dwell in unity and peace, having the same mind and purpose (Phil. 2:1-4). And the local church is only as united and peaceful as the families in it. The Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the home and his wife should submit to him. But a wise husband does not make important decisions without his wife. Remember that God did not create woman from man’s foot. He made her from man’s rib; a place at his side and near his heart. God’s plan is for a husband and wife to discuss important matters together. The husband and the wife each have strengths and weaknesses but together, they are complete. What the husband does not see, the wife may see. What the wife does not consider, the husband may discern. When they agree about a decision, they are a powerful team.
If a couple cannot agree, then they should each submit to God and pray. They should delay a major decision until both hear from God and agree. Or they should delay until the wife feels good about submitting her will to her husband even if she does not agree completely. When a husband is patient, he will give his wife time to receive grace to support him. If a husband demands quick submission then, the wife will blame him later if things go wrong. A husband may be able to force his wife to follow his decisions, but only the woman can submit her will.
C. Have understanding and patience for the way your spouse makes decisions.
Paul reminds us that in relating to each other, we need “understanding, patience and kindness” (2 Cor. 6:6).
- Slow or Quick? People make decisions at different speeds. Some are very slow to decide, so slow that they rarely decide at all! Those who are slow to decide are cautious, and may find it hard to choose. At the other extreme are people who make decisions very fast—perhaps too fast. In between these two extremes we find people making decisions at various speeds. This causes us to realize that the husband and wife may not make decisions at the same speed. So each must understand and show love to the other. Remember, love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).
If a husband and wife have opposite ways of making decisions, try this. Set a deadline—a date by which the decision must be made. Then the quick person can relax, knowing the decision will be made by a certain time. The slower one can think about the decision without feeling pressured to hurry. Also, this will allow time for prayer, discussion, counsel, and gathering facts.
- Factual or Emotional? Some are very factual and want all the facts before deciding. They want to research and make sure they have all the information about a decision. Gathering facts can go on forever. In the other direction are those who base their decisions only on their feelings. These are not concerned about all of facts. It may be hard for them to say why, but they feel that a decision is right or wrong. In between these two extremes are people who use both facts and feelings to make decisions.
If a husband and wife often decide in different ways, try this. Agree to allow both facts and feelings, but put limits on each. Agree what information will be helpful and who will find it. Agree on when the research will end. Agree to pray and discuss the decision. Let each person express feelings.
- Confident or Doubtful? Those who are steadfast make a decision and stay with it. These are confident after they decide. They are like a post driven in the ground; steadfast and sure. In contrast, some people decide, and then begin to have doubts. New questions or new circumstances cause them to be like a reed blowing in the wind. In between these two extremes are people who are steadfast, but may have some doubts about a decision.
Concerning decisions, if one spouse is confident and the other is doubtful, try this. Plan for a period of time to review a new decision. Then the person who is steadfast and confident about deciding will know that the decision is not final until after the review time. Also, this time for review will give the doubtful person a few days to live with a new decision. At the end of the review time. if both agree on the decision., then it will be final. Then, they will both face the future and not discuss doubts about the past decision.
We have considered the ways in which people make decisions: slow or fast, factual or emotional; and the way they feel after decisions, confident or doubtful. All may be spiritual, yet they decide in different ways. Discern that a person who decides slowly may be the husband or the wife. And the one who decides quickly may base the decision on facts and/or feelings. Seek to understand the way you and your spouse make decisions and to value each other. Together, you can make better decisions than either could alone. God planned marriage so that two different people could help each other. When a husband and wife decide together, the strengths of both help their marriage.
D. Base decisions on godly priorities in your marriage.
Priorities are the things that a person cares about most. If people’s highest priority is how they look then, they will buy nice clothes instead of books. If a person’s highest priority is pleasure then, he will spend much time and money seeking fun. People’s priorities guide their choices. Believers should seek to match their top priorities with things that please God.
Husbands and wives may have some different priorities. If their highest priorities are not the same, this will hinder their ability to agree on decisions. Disagreeing does not always mean that one spouse is right and the other one is wrong.