I’ve read much on marriage over the years. Some is wonderful, some is funny, some is heart-wrenching and some is just plain stupid.
Here’s one of the worst: In a marriage the husband and wife each have a say in making family decisions, but if they don’t agree then the husband has the final say. They both get to vote; the husband’s vote just counts more.
Marriage isn’t a lopsided democracy
The Bible says that in marriage the woman and man become one, and that means they act together. There’s no tie-breaking vote because there’s no vote taken in the first place. It’s about working together at all times, mutually submitting to one another at all times, and going through life together at all times.
Why is it so hard for men-get-the-deciding-vote people to see this is what the Bible really teaches? I hate to say this but I suspect it’s because they are more interested in power structures than in Jesus. Putting one person in charge takes less effort than the work involved in acting together as one.
I’ve wondered too why the people endorsing the man-in-charge view don’t focus instead on how the couple are to cleave together. That’s the emphasis Jesus puts on marriage:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6.)
When it comes to a marriage, the couple are not a corporation with a CEO and an underling but one single being with both together.
Making the right decisions
What does this mean for decision-making when the couple does not agree?
In healthy relationships, it means they need to talk about it more. In unhealthy relationships, it means they need to work on the relationship so they can get to where they can talk about it more.*
And as a colleague of mine told me years ago, more discussion is usually better than less. So if after talking things through you still can’t agree, perhaps that’s an indication that this decision isn’t ready to be made yet. Set it aside if possible and work on something else. Or stay at it and work through the issues.
These alternatives aren’t as easy as giving one spouse the ultimate decision-making authority in a marriage, but it sure is more biblically sound.
*I realize there are some relationships where no matter how hard one person works on these issues the other person will continue to refuse to try to work on anything. This post is not meant to speak to those extremely broken marriages.