A wise friend asked me, “What does your wife say about this?” I told him that she actually was not in favor of it. He said, “This is a problem.” ◊
My wife and I were recently facing a big decision that would greatly impact my limited spare time and attention. We went through a decision-making process that was very different than what we had ever done before. And we’ve been married 41 years.
The process was simple but profound. This is definitely the way that we’ll be making major decisions the rest of our lives.
I wish we learned this process a long time ago.
Making decisions, big and small ones, are often the cause of angst, frustration, even anger between many married couples. Decisions about work, career, money, family, children and friends are just a few of a long list of every day life problems and challenges that warrant mutual discussion and agreement between a husband and his wife.
So how are those decisions best made? How should they not be made?
Does the Bible give us any guidance on how couples should make big decisions?
Unfortunately, the Bible is not specifically didactic on this topic. Of course, when it comes to men and woman and marriage, many Christians and non-Christians will reference the famous passage in Ephesians 5, as if men have all the authority and final say:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church… (Ephesians 5:22-23)
This is a passage of the Bible that is often misunderstood. This is not saying that husbands are to lord over their wives and make all the decisions. Nor is it saying that women are inferior or lessor in any way to men. Rather, this is replaying a Biblical theme of a hierarchy that God has ordained since the time of creation.
So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female. God blessed them and said to them, “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:27-28)
God created mankind, both male and female, both in the image of God with co-equal blessing and authority over all creatures in the sea, land, and sky.
And as there is a hierarchy in all created things, there is a stated hierarchy in the God-ordained institution of marriage.
Woman as Helper?
Let’s return to Genesis. While chapter 1 of Genesis cites everything as “good”… “good”… “good”… and even “very good,” Genesis 2:18 brings up a problem:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
God creates the Woman, out of the man, (Genesis 2:21-23) and declares their union and fruitful bond:
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
God’s divine solution to man’s human need of being alone was to provide a suitable helper, a corresponding helpmate, a complement to the man, perfectly matched.
But isn’t “helper” a bit demeaning?
Just as the word helper (Hebrew “ezer”) is a word denoting strength and is often used in the Old Testament to describe God, as in “The Lord is with me; He is my helper.” Psalm 118:7, the helper given to Adam is an extension of God’s own help to him. In her fascinating book, Women & God: Hard Questions. Beautiful Truth, author Kathleen Nielson highlights that the helper is God’s means of turning “not good” into “very good.”
The helper is the high point, the climactic completion of God’s creation story. The helper role of woman is a high calling: one through which she reflects the image of God her Creator – and through which she serves God as she walks according to his Word.1
Exactly. When women and men reflect the image of God their Creator and serve God through their obedience to His Word, then their decision making can’t help but be in accordance to the will of God who is at the Head of their Marriage.
In other words, better decisions get made when the husband and wife work in sync with God.
My Case Study
I was wrestling with a big decision that was business/ministry related. I certainly sought input from my wife but considered it my decision to make. My wife was not in favor of the new opportunity presented to me. I assumed that we would work out our differences and that she would eventually come around to my perspective.
Of course we were also both praying about the issue.
One afternoon I was speaking on the phone to a wise Christian friend about my big decision and asked him to pray for me. He asked me one question. “Mike, what does your wife say about this?” I was taken aback by his question. I told him that she actually was not in favor of it. He said, “This is a problem.”
He reminded me of the Word of God and that the husband and wife in marriage are a holy and God-ordained construct meant for unity and obedience to the will and purposes of God.
I almost dropped my phone.
He said that “Your Godly wife is your Helper. God uses women, our wives, also made in the image of God, as our complement who bring a perspective that often overcomes our own male blind spots.”
My wife and I reset on our decision-making process. We each prayed on our own for one week and then came together at the end of that week and discussed and prayed together. She never wavered her stance. She did tell me at the end of the week with great conviction, “Mike, this does not have your name on it.”
I came to the same conclusion. In prayer, God gave me a very strong sense of conviction in our final decision. I was amazed how close I’d come to making a decision that was out of sync with what God wanted to accomplish in my life and through the lives of other people.
Great is the respect I have for the wisdom and discernment of my wife. And a new sense of the word helper, and how we help and complement each other in accordance with the Word of God.
Are you making wise and unified decisions in your marriage?
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. – 1 John 5:14
1 Women & God: Hard Questions. Beautiful Truth, by Kathleen Nielson, The Good Book Company, p38.