Constructs to Enhance Effective Marital Decision Making

Making decisions impact every facet of life and are sometimes made unilaterally.

However, when the decision that one makes impacts others, whether directly or indirectly, the approach to making decisions should be made with due consideration for how others may be affected. In the context of marriage, the decisions spouses make will impact each other. In this regard, some agreement as to how the decision-making process functions should be agreed on prior to acting on such decisions. A plethora of variables should guide how decisions are made in marriage including: (a) leadership style, (b) core competencies and skill set, (c) intuition and discernment, (d) careful analysis and agreement as to the probable pros and cons of the decision, (e) engaging in both individual and collective prayer by both spouses and (f) where possible, putting a contingency plan in place should the decision not work as planned. Several decision models have been offered by researchers with the view of helping couples to be better guided in their efforts to both understand and the execute the decision-making process. According to Beach and Tesser (1993) the Self Evaluation Maintenance (SEM) model:

Makes explicit predictions not only about which member of the dyad should be expected to exercise power in a given situation but also how easily the couple should reach agreement, and the way in which deviations from the optimal distribution of decision-making power should be related to marital satisfaction. (pp. 471-472)

From a Christian worldview, I posit that we exercise caution in our marital decisions, particularly in the context of supposedly proven clinical decision-making tools/models. We have been empowered with the Holy Spirit who lives within us and as we seek God in prayer our Sovereign God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is able to guide us in the right direction (Psalm 32:8-9; Proverbs 3:5-6; John 16:13; James 1:5-6).


Beach, S. R. H; Tesser, A. (1993). Decision-making power and marital Satisfaction: A self-evaluation maintenance perspective. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 12(4), 471-494. Retrieved from