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One – When In Doubt: Because Mable does not want the car, Biff doubts whether it’s the right thing to do. Paul gave excellent advice on what to do when in doubt about any matter—do not move forward or “when in doubt, don’t.”
“But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Of course, it could be that Biff is not in doubt; he’s confident that they should buy the car. Then you have another matter when one person is firm and “right in their eyes,” and their partner is the one who doubts. The assured spouse must consider his spouse’s lack of assurance before confidently moving forward with what he wants to do.
I’m not saying Biff should consent to his unsure partner, but there should be more time given to deliberation, more due diligence, and possible outside input to settle the conflict. The goal is for both partners to move forward in faith. I’m not suggesting they will equally agree on the path ahead, but they are okay with the decision and with each other.
Two – Phone a Friend: It would be appropriate to ask a third person, like a pastor. Depending on the maturity of the family members, you could ask them. If there has been historical divisiveness in the family to where “taking sides” could divide further, I do not recommend family input. It could “hurt feelings” more by stirring up past issues and relational conflict. Hence, an impartial pastor could be more reasonable.
Three – Presenting Reason: One of Biff’s reasons for the car purchase is to assure the safety of Mable. I’m not sure what he means by being safe. It reminds me of the person who asks about putting a lightning rod on his house to protect his family and wants to know what size of rod he could purchase. The answer is, “Tell me the strength of the lightning that will hit your home, and I will tell you the size of the rod you need.” Of course, that is an unanswerable question.
Is the safety for collisions, breakdowns, or something else? Why wouldn’t their current vehicle accommodate those concerns? If the newer or current car does break down, are you in a generally unsafe area? Does Mable carry a gun? The “safety issues” is vague on its face, but there could be an argument made.
The big idea is that you explore all the reasons given for the purchase to make sure those concerns are legitimate. Sometimes it’s more information or understanding that could break the gridlock when two parties are on different sides of a decision. What are the pertinent questions to what you want to do? Of course, if either party is unwilling to explore the concerns and questions, there is a deeper marriage problem.
Four – Heart Attitude: What is the state of Biff’s heart currently? Describe his attitude as he makes a case for purchasing the vehicle. Do similarly for Mable. Is she reasonable, listening, and willing to understand Biff’s position? Is she open to buy a car? Is Biff open to not buying a car? Two friends working through a matter is much different than two folks who do not have affection for each other and are not for each other.
Five – Heat Revelations: One of the more vital things I would look at is comparing the purchase problem with the effect on the partners. For example, the problem is the “heat that reveals” something, which you will see in the impact on each of them. If you want to gauge a person’s heart or their marriage, all you need is to bring some heat. In this case, we’re talking about a vehicle as the heat.
I would want to use the potential car purchase to highlight the greater need—if there is one, which is their relationship. Perhaps they are getting along great, and there is nothing there. If there is something that needs addressing, you have more significant issues than a decision to buy a car.
Six – My Reputation: Is there a “reputation issue” where Biff wants a newer, better car? I’m speaking of the fear of man factor. Are there other reasons besides the safety concern? Is this like the teen who does not want to drive the family van?
Seven – Financial Consideration: Of course, there is debt, savings, and future retirement matters. It would be best if you explored their financial stewardship.
The purchase of an expensive item deserves careful scrutiny of their income, outgo, current savings, and future financial goals.
Eight – Other Options: What about other options?
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).