The Puritans on Decision Making in the Home

The Puritans believed a husband and wife had equal authority in the eyes of their children, though a wife was expected to practice biblical submission to her husband (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1–6). They had an orderly protocol for making decisions. If a husband and wife disagreed on a matter, they would talk over the issue until they came to a mutually acceptable solution. In the rare case when agreement could not be reached, it was the wife’s duty to submit to her husband’s authority in the matter.

Of course, at times a Puritan husband might defer to his wife’s opinion, especially if he was persuaded by her reasoning or if she felt more strongly about a particular matter than he did. As long as her solution was biblical, a husband could, with good conscience, lead according to her desires rather than his own. In other words, the fact that the Puritans advocated strong male leadership did not mean a Puritan husband could simply have it his way. A wise husband, out of respect for his wife’s intelligence, good sense, and practical experience, frequently deferred to her. Husbands and wives worked together as a team—as they should today. . . .

The Puritans believed that a wise husband recognizes situations in which his wife’s skills exceed his own and trusts her management in those areas. He is not threatened by her talents. Some Puritans suggested that husbands might delegate management of the family finances to their wives, since many women are better at it than their husbands.
The Puritans also granted that a wife has the right and responsibility to admonish her husband privately [Husbands, this of course would go both ways]. Her submission to him does not reduce her to the rank of a base subordinate whose duty it is to “hear and obey” without question or complaint. Nicholas Byfield said, “Though her husband were never so great, wise, lordly, etc., yet she may admonish him.” Samuel Torshel wrote, “Women may and must privately and familiarly exhort others. . . . They may also privately admonish men, and reprove them.”

Joel Beeke. Parenting by God’s Promise (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2011), pp. 171-72. (paragraphing mine)