A friend once asked me if we could get together for a girls’ night out, and I naturally replied as I always do to these invitations: “I’d love to! Let me ask Dave first, and I will let you know.”
My friend rolled her eyes and laughed under her breath as she replied, “Really? You need your husband’s permission? Gah. My husband and I never ask for permission. I just do my thing, and he does his thing.”
I couldn’t believe she said that. Why would this even be an issue?
Sure, there are times I honestly don’t want to ask Dave’s permission, but I do it anyway because he’s my husband. I love him. We are one. Our individual lives are interdependent. Therefore, every personal decision we make automatically brings joint consequences.
We don’t always seek permission about minor things like what to wear or what to eat, but we’ve always consulted each other on most everything else. And I like it. It works for us.
In spite of my own feelings about the matter, my friend’s response got me thinking: Am I the norm, or is asking your spouse’s permission before making scheduling decisions or major lifestyle changes a rare thing?
Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that my husband and I have a better marriage because of it, and here’s why:
1. Asking permission is a sign of respect.
Whenever Dave asks me if he can go somewhere and do something, I feel loved and respected. We are married, after all. Why wouldn’t we consult each other first before placing something on the calendar, applying for a new job, or moving? These things affect both of us, so we need to discuss it first out of respect for one another.
2. It ensures less conflict later.
The phrase “just do it and ask for forgiveness later” doesn’t work in marriage. We need to ask each other first, so it will be less likely for us to fight about a decision later. When we make a decision together beforehand, no matter what the outcome may be, we can stay unified and resist pointing fingers at one another later.
3. We both feel empowered.
Some may argue that asking for permission creates a marriage that’s more like a parent-child relationship, but that isn’t true when both ask for it.
Let me be clear here: it’s NOT healthy or acceptable for one partner to constantly have to ask the other for permission when the partner being asked goes off and does whatever he/she pleases. This is manipulative and unloving and can lead to abusive behavior.
Whenever we go to our spouse to consult with him/her on a decision, we both walk away empowered. It doesn’t mean that we couldn’t make that particular decision on our own; it just means that we don’t want to. We love and respect our spouse enough to seek his/her guidance and desire to make a collective decision.
4. We make better decisions.
When we ask for our partner’s permission before deciding to do things — like have a girls’ night out, go to the game with the guys, take on another job, change jobs, choose when to go to the gym, switch day cares, go back to school, serve on the PTA — we get more perspective and insight from each other and make a more informed decision.
We help each other weigh the pros and cons to decide if something is a good fit or at the right time. Sure, some of the scenarios I listed are bigger decisions than others, but all are important enough to discuss as a couple.
5. It keeps us engaged in each other’s lives.
Sadly, I hear from too many married couples who are stuck in a lonely, unengaged existence. Some are nothing more than roommates living separate lives like passing ships in the night.
They wake up, say “hello,” go to work without a call or text to one another all day, come home, run the kids to where they need to go, eat dinner without a word, maybe meet up with a friend or focus all their attention on the kids, say “goodnight” and go to bed — in two different worlds, a million miles apart.
What happened? They stopped engaging in the “everyday moments.” They stopped talking. They stopped trying. They assumed they could do it all on their own, and they did. Why be married if you want to go it alone? We need to know and be a part of everything going on in each others’ lives. This keeps the flame blazing.
It’s no mistake that we call our pre-marital season our “engagement.” When we were engaged, we planned our wedding, dreamt about our future, spent every moment we had together, and were excited about what God had in store for us.
The engagement should NEVER stop. Marriage calls for deeper engagement between husband and wife, and asking for permission and insight from one another is a big part of staying connected.