Conflict in marriage is normal. We’re two human beings trying to forge a life together. We think differently, we process life differently, we see the world differently…is it any wonder that our differing ways sometimes conflict with each other?
Conflict becomes dangerous for a marriage when we begin seeing one another as an enemy. We stop seeing our spouse as different, instead viewing them as wrong. We no longer see our spouse through God’s eyes…instead we see them as damaged goods, defunct in some way. When this happens, we play right into the hands of the real enemy. And that’s what today’s Marriage Monday is all about.
Mark says…The Bible tells us that there is a battle of good and evil going on around at all times. Spiritual warfare is real and it affects us whether we realize it or not. If we don’t realize it exists, we play right into the enemy’s hands. If we do recognize it exists, we can battle it with the right weapons.
Jill says…I wasn’t familiar with the concept of spiritual warfare until several years after Mark and I were married. I first grasped the concept after reading about it in the Bible and in Frank Peretti’s books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. Peretti’s books are both fiction books but they are based upon what the Bible tells us about spiritual warfare. Once I began to understand spiritual warfare exists, I started to see how it played out in our marriage.
Mark says…The Bible tells us that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the fullest. (John 10:10) The thief is Satan and he is determined to steal, kill, and destroy our marriage. Jesus wants our marriage to have life and to have it to the fullest.
Jill says…Satan is God’s enemy. He wants to destroy everything God has created. Satan is also a liar. He’s called the “father of lies” (John 8:44). If we’re not aware of this battle between life and death and how it affects our marriage, we unknowingly play right into the enemy’s hands…believing his lies about our spouse as he seemingly whispers them right into our ears. Here’s how these lies might be played out in our mind during conflict:
My spouse doesn’t understand me. I deserve someone who understands me.
My spouse is so stupid. He/she can’t do anything right.
I’m tired of working so hard on this. Marriage should be easier than this.
Mark says…When these kinds of thoughts enter our mind, they are divisive. They do nothing to preserve our marriage, but rather they put a wedge between us. If we continue to entertain the thoughts, we grow farther and father apart often without even realizing it.
Jill says…The Bible tells us that the only way to battle spiritual warfare is with God’s truth. In fact, Jesus modeled this when he was tempted by the enemy. You can read this in Matthew 4:1-11.
Mark says…This is why reading the Bible is so important for us. The truth is God’s protective armor that allows us to recognize and resist the enemy’s lies.
Here’s some other ways to battle spiritual warfare in marriage:
1) Turn on the light. The enemy’s lies grip our heart when they continue to be entertained in the darkness of our own mind. When we turn on the light, by repenting (telling God we’re sorry), and calling the thoughts what they are…lies…it takes away their grip on us.
2) Replace the lies with truth. When I think that “my spouse is so stupid,” I can replace that with truth from Psalm 139:14 knowing that my spouse is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God.
3) Work toward “walking in the spirit” rather than “walking by the flesh.” When we walk by the flesh, we are all about doing things our way. When we “walk in the spirit,” we are trying to live life God’s way. Sometimes God asks us to do things that go against what we feel like doing. His ways may be counter-intuitive, but they are always the right thing to do.
4) When you are angry with your spouse, point your anger at Satan. Do battle where it needs to be done…against the one who wants to destroy your marriage.
5) Work to see your spouse through God’s eyes and respond to him/her like God would. Your spouse is not perfect (neither are you, by the way). He/she needs you to offer love and grace just like God offers love and grace to you.
No matter what you feel, your spouse is not your enemy. Keeping that perspective is key to battling the real enemy.