Chapter 9 – Major Decisions

When a couple faces a major decision, there is no single formula for how to handle it. Instead, there are different biblical principles that could apply depending on the situation and how God is leading each spouse at that time. Here are several possibilities for how God may lead a husband and wife through a major decision together:


1)      There are multiple options within God’s will. There is room for discussion, personal preference, and compromise.


2)      The husband and wife are in agreement about how the Lord is leading them. Unity comes easily and they proceed together.


3)      The Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead. She knows her husband is being led by the Lord. This is a picture of Christ acting as the head of the church. Ephesians 5:22-24 applies.


4)      The Lord impresses upon the husband to listen to his wife’s counsel. He knows his wife is being led the Lord. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit acting as the Helper.


5)      The Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead, but she does not know whether her husband is being led by the Lord. She only knows the Lord is asking her to submit to him.


6)      The Lord impresses upon the husband to defer to his wife. He does not know whether his wife is being led by the Lord. He only knows the Lord is asking him to defer to her. This may have been the case with Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 21:12.


7)      The Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead even though she knows he is not being led by the Lord. He is either deceived or he is intentionally disobeying. However, the Lord asks her to entrust herself to His care and pray for her husband’s heart. 1 Peter 3:1 applies. This is a picture of how the Holy Spirit continues to love us and pursue relationship with us even when we are disobedient. 


8)      The Lord impresses upon the husband to defer to his wife even though he knows she is not being led by the Lord. She is either deceived or she is intentionally disobeying. However, the Lord asks him to lay the situation down before Him and pray for his wife’s heart. This is a picture of how Jesus treats His church when we resist His will for us.      


How to Handle Disagreement

We can only control our own response to a major disagreement, not our spouse’s. Whatever he or she does, scripture exhorts us to still represent God to them. If a husband believes his wife should submit to him about particular decision, but she is unwilling, he should accept it without becoming bitter, just as Jesus frequently does with His church. Then he should seek God for his next step. Likewise, if a wife believes her husband should listen to her counsel, but he is unwilling, she should accept it without becoming bitter, just as the Holy Spirit frequently does with us, and seek God for her next step.


With many decisions, the process is actually more important than the outcome. If one or both spouses honor God and each other in how they walk through the decision-making process, they can be victorious in His eyes regardless of what decision is made. 


A Journal Entry

Once I was feeling anxious about missing out on God’s best if Jenny and I couldn’t come to an agreement about an important decision. I shared this with the Lord. Then I decided to take out a journal and ask for help to verbalize a wise, godly response to this fear. The entry I wrote greatly encouraged me and became a basis for making decisions together ever since:


God can cover imperfect decision-making that is done with a heart to preserve marital unity. If one partner expresses his conviction but then relents or waits for the other, it lets her feel free and empowered and trusted, and it gives God time to work.


With major decisions, you should say, “This is what I’m feeling like we should do, but we won’t do it if you’re not in agreement.” And then be willing to not do it if she doesn’t agree. God can cover this, and He can even redeem it, making it better.


You should not say, “This is what we are doing because God said it.” Jenny hears from God too. Also, you can both be deceived. But together you are better off, safer, and more covered from deception than apart. God is PATIENT in bringing about His will in your lives and you must be patient too. Love is patient.


God is not anxious for you to reach any particular milestone in your journey. It is more important to Him that your marriage is on solid footing. God is never in a hurry, even if you are. It is better to take the long road and preserve martial oneness than rush to the right outcome, but damage trust and intimacy in the process.


God is not worried about the future even if you feel worried. He will always give you a clear way forward. He will not feel perplexed if Jenny is not in agreement with what you think He is speaking to you. He can always find a way to work with you both to bring about His best, but only if you give Him space and time to work.


Handling God’s Words

Sometimes God gives clear, specific guidance to a married couple about a major decision. However, we can still miss out on God’s best if we mishandle His words or if the enemy deceives us. This can be seen in scripture the very first time a married couple faced a major decision. Let’s take a look at four mistakes Adam and Eve made in handling God’s words when they faced the decision of whether to eat the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3:1-6.


Distort or Add to God’s Word

First, Satan tried to distort what God had said. He asked Eve if they could “not eat from any tree in the garden” when in reality God only identified one tree they couldn’t eat from. Eve successfully rejected Satan’s suggestion, but then made the mistake of adding to God’s word, saying they were also not permitted to “touch it”


Doubt God’s Word

Second, Satan tempted Eve to doubt God’s words, saying, “You will not surely die” if you eat from the tree.


Rush or Take a Forbidden Shortcut

Third, Satan said, “In the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan was offering Eve a shortcut to what God already planned to give them. Satan knew this temptation would be powerful because it was the very thing they were created for.


God wanted Adam and Eve’s eyes to be opened eyes (ex. Ephesian 1:18). He wanted them to be like Him (ex. Ephesians 5:1). He wanted them to discern of good and evil (ex. Hebrews 5:14). Adam and Eve were sinless in the beginning, but they were not yet mature. Each of these attributes would have increased in them the longer they walked with God.


Satan tried the same thing with Jesus when he offered Him authority over the kingdoms of the earth if He would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). Jesus was already called to rule over the earth, but Satan offered a forbidden shortcut.


Fail to Contend for God’s Word

The Bible said that Adam “was with” Eve (Genesis 3:6) when she was tempted. He knew Satan was lying. He knew Eve was being deceived. Yet he didn’t say anything. He didn’t stand up and contend for the good things God had in store for him and his wife.  


Other Passages

Here are several other places in scripture where the four aforementioned principles for handling God’s words can be seen:


·         Satan tempted Jesus to doubt God’s word to Him about His identity. In Matthew 3:17, the Father said to Jesus, “This is My beloved Son…” However, a short while later in Matthew 4:3, 6, Satan said, “If you are really the Son of God…”


·         David doubted God’s promise to make him king, saying, “Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape in the land of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 27:1)


·         Satan tempted Jesus to rush the fulfillment of God’s plan for Him to rule over the nations of the earth, saying, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” (Mathew 4:9)


·         Abraham tried to rush the fulfillment of God’s promise to give him and Sarah a son by sleeping with Sarah’s servant Hagar (Genesis 16).


·         A prophet had clear instructions from the Lord, but listened to another man who added to or distorted what God said. The prophet listened to the man and it cost him his life. (1 Kings 13)


·         Paul exhorted Timothy to use the prophecies about him like weapons with which to “fight the good fight”, because he knew Timothy would have to contend for their fulfillment (1 Timothy 1:18).


·         The saints in scripture had to exercise faith and patience to “inherit the promises” God gave to them (Hebrews 6:12).



Not all of the good plans God has for His children come to pass. Sometimes, in order to be fulfilled, they require something on our part. They require us to believe what He says, wait patiently for it, contend for it, and be careful not to distort or add to what He has spoken. Adam and Eve’s mistakes are recorded in scripture so we can avoid repeating them when we face with major decisions in our own lives.


Marriage is the primary relationship through which God confirms His guidance and safeguards us from the deception. We may struggle at times to know with certainty how God is leading us. Satan may try to distort what God is saying. Satan may try to sow doubt, impatience, or apathy in our hearts with regard to God’s promises. But two are stronger than one. Husbands and wives can listen to each other, pray for each other, wait for each other, and encourage each other to fight for God’s promises. We are far more likely to reach our destinies with each other’s help than by journeying alone.           



If the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, does that mean the husband has all the authority? The answer may surprise you. We’ll cover this topic and others in the next chapter.