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Posts tagged ‘teamwork’

Q & A: Who Gets the Final Say?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Today’s Question:  My husband and I are very different. I am much more conservative financially, he loves to spend money. We argue about parenting, where to go on vacation, even how to arrange the furniture in the living room. His trump card is always, “As head of our home, I get the final decision.” Is that true? Do I just need to always give in or submit to his way because he’s the man? What if his decision is absolutely wrong? Then what?

Answer:  I often hear this kind of thinking when working with couples in marriage counseling. I also was taught it myself in my premarital counseling. In a nutshell, the teaching goes something like this. Couples have conflict. That is inevitable. However, when there is an impasse and there is no resolution, as the head of the home or leader, the husband gets the final say. Let’s look to see if this thinking is truly what God designed marriage to be like.

If we look at the original couple, Adam and Eve, before the Fall, there was a mutuality to their relationship. In Genesis 1:26-27, God made human beings in his image (both male and female) and gave them both the responsibility to reign over the animals and take care of the earth. Eve was equal with Adam not beneath him.

After they both sinned, part of the curse was that their relationship would change. God told them, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” Genesis 3:16. The desire for power and control over another person would now characterize marriages instead of the mutuality that God originally intended.

That’s been the story ever since. However, when Christ came, he broke the curse of the law. Paul says, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law” (Galatians 3:13).

We see, throughout Paul’s writing, a breaking of this “power over people” mentality. He writes, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:38). He also applies this to restoring the mutuality of marriage. He tells husband’s to love their wives as Christ loved the church and wives to submit to their husband’s out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18,19). It’s both/and, not either/or.

When Paul talks about the sexual relationship, he also describes this mutual giving and mutual giving-up of rights and power. He says, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs and the wife should fulfill her husband’s sexual needs. The wife givesauthority over her body to her husband and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:3,4).

Notice the one spouse gives authority to the other; no one takes authority over the other. When mutuality in marriage is practiced, power struggles may be tempting, but never endorsed or validated as biblical. One does not take someone’s choice away from them. When mutuality is practiced and valued, a husband or wife often gives in, but they give in willingly, not under compulsion or fear.

I have been married over 35 years. There has never been a time in my marriage where my husband had to have a “final” say. When you practice mutual submission and mutual respect, you listen to each other’s perspective. You defer when someone is wiser than you are in a certain area, you compromise, and you work together to come up with a solution that you both can live with.

Finally, let’s look at this question from one other perspective and that is the angle of authority. Too often we have misunderstood the authority of a position, whether it be husband, pastor or elder, to be synonymous with getting one’s own way. In other words, if I am the head of my home (authority), then I get the final say, which means I get my way.

But the bible is very clear that authority does not imply entitlement to one’s own way. God’s Word gives specific instructions to those in authority on how to handle that responsibility. Throughout the Old Testament, God often rebuked the leaders of Israel for their self-centered, deceitful and abusive shepherding of God’s flock (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4).

Biblically, God put husbands as the head over their wives (Ephesians 5:23), but that does not put wives at the feet of their husbands. Women and wives are depicted in the Gospel as equal partners and persons to love, not objects to use or property to own. Biblical headship is modeled by Christ’s gentle leadership and loving self-sacrifice. Husbands are cautioned not to be harsh with their wives and not to mistreat them, or their prayers will be hindered (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). No leader is entitled to make selfish demands, order people around or hurt them when they fail.

Jesus cautions those in positions of authority–parents, husbands, pastors and elders–not to misuse those God-ordained positions for self-centered purposes. These roles are given to us by God to humbly serve the individuals or groups that have been entrusted to our care, not to have our egos stroked or to get our own way (Mark 10:42-45).

So what would these biblical principles look like in making family decisions? Let’s say you want to go to the ocean for vacation, your husband prefers the mountains. Traditionally the final say has meant that he gets to go to the mountains and you simply have to submit.

But authentic biblical headship defined by Christ is servanthood. Now we have an entirely different picture. How can your husband best serve your needs? If he is to love you as Christ loves the church and sacrifice himself for that, what would the “final decision” look like?

I think it would sound more like, “Honey, if you need sand and water for vacation this year, let’s do it.” Likewise, the wife might say, “If it’s that important to you that you get away from the crowds at the beach, I’m fine with that.”

When this kind of mutual submission, mutual love and mutual respect are practiced in a marital relationship, there is no need for a “final say”.

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10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WIFE

Source:  Family Life Today

The following are specific questions to ask your wife to learn from her, to acquire meaningful information that you can use in the marriage in your role as a husband, to develop more relational intimacy and emotional depth in the marriage, and to engage in needed conversations about important matters affecting the marriage.

1.  What could I do to make you feel more loved?

2.  What could I do to make you feel more respected?

3.  What could I do to make you feel more understood?

4.  What could I do to make you feel more secure?

5.  What can I do to make you feel more confident in our future direction?

6.  What attribute would you like me to develop?

7.  What attribute would you like me to help you develop?

8.  What achievement in my life would bring you greatest joy?

9.  What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christlike?

10.  What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HUSBAND

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry

The following are specific questions to ask your husband to learn from him, to acquire meaningful information that you can use in the marriage in your role as a wife, to develop more relational intimacy and emotional depth in the marriage, and to engage in needed conversations about important matters affecting the marriage.

1.  What one thing could I do that would make it easier for you to be the leader in our home?

2.  What is one thing I can do to make our home a more inviting place for you?

3.  What goals do you have at work or for our family, and how can I help you achieve them?

4.  What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?

5.  In what ways could I show you more that I understand, appreciate, encourage, and respect you?

6.  What are ways that I can let you know that I respect and desire you sexually?

7.  How would it be obvious to you that I am depending on the Holy Spirit to help me guard my tongue, avoid critical words or a complaining attitude?

8.  What attribute would you like me to develop?

9.  What attribute would you like me to help you develop?

10.  What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?

REFLECTING ON OUR MARRIAGE: Discussion Points

Source:  Bill Bellican

The following are some suggested, simple discussion points to have with your spouse.  The goal of the discussions would be to relate with each other at a deeper level in order to move the relationship to a higher level.  Perhaps these discussion points will lead you to add a number of other items to discuss.

1.  In what areas do we need adjustments for this stage of our marriage  (e.g., roles, functions, how we handle anger, parenting, communication)?

2.  What are our dreams (individually and as a couple)?

3.  What do we want our marriage to look like when we come to the end of the race?

4.  Who could help us do marriage better (e.g., marriage mentor, trusted friends, counselor)?

5.  What are we individually passionate about?    Do we have a “couple passion”?

6.  What are our financial goals?  Retirement plans?

7.  What are we doing individually for our health and physical fitness?

8.  What do we do for fun and leisure?  What could we start or do more of?

10. What are the best aspects of our marriage?

11. What are the areas that cause the greatest stress in our marriage?

12. What do we fear the most about our marriage in the future?

13.  What  are we looking forward to in our marriage in the future?

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