People bring this problem to me regularly.
Recently a mother of two small children called me. She said that her husband walked out and filed for divorce after she objected to his decision to get the COVID vaccine without telling her.
It seems that she wanted another child. She had been told that the vaccine could affect his sperm.
He got the vaccine— kept it a secret from her— but was overheard telling his mother what he had done. His wife went into a rage and he left.
I might also add here that this is a fellow with much growing up to do. He is closer to his mother than his wife and, we might guess, really didn’t want another child but couldn’t say so. The marriage was having problems for some time.
The core of the health of the marriage is the negotiation of it and it does not include making unilateral decisions without consulting with their spouse.
Being married means being a team and when one partner makes decisions which affect the other it breaks the trust in the relationship.
Typically, when people do this, they are not acting as partners but more like soloists at a concert— their voice is loud, controls the stage, but unbalances the music.
People who do this may be refusing to grow up— they want what they want, they want to run things, and/or, they think they are avoiding conflict when, in fact, they are making more of it.
Marriage, in order to be successful, means that partners must tell the truth, talk about what bothers them, fight to find out how they bothered their partner, AND hear the message that their partner is asking.
Making unilateral decisions violates all of these.
I have found over 40 years of practice that the single most important message between people is whether they do as the other asks or negotiate some form of it. This is how we demonstrate that someone matters to us— do we do as they ask. So we have to sit down to the marble trading table and work it out.
Ignoring the request and secretly doing as we please does not handle the current problem and makes bigger ones.
In my example of the couple now getting divorced, it would have worked better for the wife to understand her husbands concern over a third child— the responsibility, the expense of a third child— or his wife’s stress levels which leave her screaming. He wants to avoid her anger and HE needs to understand why a third child is important to her— maybe important enough to teach her husband that she can live in calm.
However, sneaking off to get the vaccine and telling his mother and not his wife won’t solve anything.