You may want to read:
When two singles become one flesh, decision-making changes dramatically. Because the married couple is “one person” seeking to put Christ on display in every way, it is essential that they work through the process with God-glorifying goals in mind.
They are partners, equally responsible to each other and to God for what they decide and for how they work through decision-making. In this article, I will provide a few general and biblical guidelines that can serve any couple when they are working through a decision.
If you are not married, you can use these thoughts by adapting my application questions with anyone who is collaborating with you on the decision. I recommend you take the time to answer all of the questions after each section. If you are married, it will be an excellent opportunity for you to work together. It would make a great date.
Regardless of the issues discussed or the particulars involved in the decision, there is no situation where it would be appropriate for either partner to sin during or after the process. This mandate is not only common sense, but it’s biblical.
Once sin infringes on what you’re trying to do, you will have a hard time coming to the right decision until the “blurring effect” of the sin is removed. Sin clutters the mind and clouds judgment. It cannot be part of the process.
If a spouse chooses to sin, the most immediate item on the agenda at that point is to repent. Removing the sin is more critical than the decision you’re attempting to make. You should not move forward until you take care of the division that is in your one-flesh union.
Two people cannot work together on anything while divided. You must fully restore the one-flesh division so you can get back to the business of decision-making. If someone chooses not to repent, it will be even more difficult to come to an agreement. This outcome creates three problems, where only one previously existed:
Refusing to discuss what has divided you is called a complicating matter–it “piles on” or complicates the decision-making process. If it is not removed, it could be analogous to trying to swim with leg weights around your ankles.
There could be something wrong with a relationship if it takes a long time to come to a decision. Perhaps you’re not going to act on what you decided for a few months or even years, but the actual decision-making process should not take that long after you have all the data.
If someone is holding out by refusing to agree, it does not necessarily mean the hesitant spouse is wrong. Maybe the one who wants to move forward is wrong, and the one holding out is in the right.
Holding out and not moving forward sometimes can be God’s kindness to the one who wants to get on with it. Perhaps God is keeping the couple from making a dumb decision that they would regret for many years to come. Jesus’s sober warning about self-awareness is critical.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).
While there can be confusion in a multitude of counselors, there most certainly can be safeness if you choose to talk to someone outside of your marriage. Every person (or couple) should have at least one other person that they can bounce things off of for clarity’s sake.
Helping people with problems is what God has called all Christians to do for each other. Though you would not necessarily ask for advice on everything you do, it is definitely a humble thing to reach out to someone who has the wisdom and breadth of knowledge to speak into your life.
The husband and wife are a team who balances each other out for God’s glory and their mutual benefit. There have been many times when my wife has appealed to me because her conscience was not coming to terms with some of the decisions that I was thinking about making. In those situations, I listened to her appeals. Why?
Lucia is an instrumental asset to what the Lord is doing in our lives. She is my most valuable ally, and I trust her walk with God and the wisdom that He gives her. I want to know what she is hearing from the Lord.
The wife can and should make a humble appeal to her husband when she believes—in her conscience—that her husband may be making a poor decision. There is no such teaching in Scripture that a wife is to submit to her husband in everything, though some misinterpret the “everything” in Ephesians 5:24.
(E.g., if your husband asked you to kill your son, you would not submit to his request. Perhaps he asks you to lie, cheat, or steal. In any of those cases, your allegiance to the Lord would forbid you from submitting to your husband. Having a sound hermeneutic is critical when interpreting Bible words, verses, passages, meanings, and contexts.)
A wife is to submit to her husband. And she should be humble and respectful toward her husband, but as I have told my wife many times if she does not share what she thinks, she is not serving me effectively or honoring God completely.
I do not want a doormat wife. I do not want her to agree with me just because it may be the path of least resistance. I want a wife who can boldly appeal, but yet humbly submit to me. I want a wife who can think for herself.
Of course, it’s incumbent upon me to create a context of grace where she experiences the freedom to speak her mind according to how she is hearing from God. I need my wife to complement me (Genesis 2:18). We need each other.
When decisions divide, there is something wrong with the marriage. The marriage is a one-flesh union that nothing divides except death, which is why decision-making is a beautiful opportunity to assess your relationship with each other. Decisions are opportunities to put Christ on display in your marriage.
If you do not make Christ your centerpiece because of childishness, fighting, and pettiness, the decision you’re attempting to make becomes a mirror that shows the exact condition of your relationship. If your marriage cannot withstand the decision-making process or the outcome of the decisions that you make, you need to find help because there is something wrong with you.
There is nothing that should continuously disrupt the unity and harmony found in the marriage union. The husband and wife are a picture of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:21-33).
A couple who rightly understands the gospel realizes that Christ resolved their biggest decision at the cross. There is nothing they will ever face that will come close to the problem they had at the cross.
Because of this gospel reality, a couple interacts with each other as grateful friends who see all of life as a gift. This couple is not controlled by what they get or do not get because they live in the daily awareness of doing far better than they deserve.
Their pressing desires do not dictate or drive them. They live in the daily contentment that Christ offers through the gospel. Gratitude characterizes them now. It is no longer about wins or losses.
Their ambitions are for the glory of God, not for personal gain or glory-robbing. They will accept a “no” just as easily as they accept a “yes.” It’s not about either one but about accomplishing God’s will in their relationship.
There is no tug-of-war between them but two people pulling in the same direction. They are mutually cheering for each other while living in the daily amazement of the gospel. This kind of couple is seeking the interest of the other (Matthew 22:36-40).
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
I have given you more than two dozen questions to ponder. Will you permit these questions to be your marital homework assignment over the next couple of weeks? Perhaps you can go on a few dates to discuss what you’ve just read.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).