By April Motl, Crosswalk.com
Of all the human relationships we experience, marriage holds the unique power to do and be so much in life. It fills our aspirations before we’ve entered into them. It forms the backbone of families and communities, rendering them strong or weak. It is a monument of mundane moments that all form together to create something that can if tended rightly, reflect the very heart of God. Because marriage holds so much potential, it is also a great battleground.
All places of influence and importance in our lives have bright red targets on them for the enemy of our souls to pursue his ultimate goal. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Our marriage will come face to face with the thief Jesus warned us about. And there will be times he tempts us so fiercely to see the battle as if it were against our spouse instead of against the thief himself.
The moments you feel like your husband has become the enemy, take heart and slow down your thoughts and feelings to get a better hold of your emotional responses.
Here are five practical steps to center your perspective in truth when your husband feels like the enemy:
1. Guard your heart by removing non-Scriptural, perspective-influencing inputs.
Social media, TV, movies, music, friends, and family that speak unbiblical discontent into your heart about your marriage shouldn’t be given heart/mind space while you fight for your marriage. One could argue that they ought not to have a place in a Christ-following woman’s life at all. But especially in moments where the temptation to see your marriage in such hostile terms is on the line, cut off those negative emotional influences.
2. Remember that your spouse could be facing the exact same spiritual bait to feel that you are their enemy!
So often, the enemy of our souls turns us on each other at the very moments we need to team up to defeat the real enemy!
3. Speak truth to your heart about your husband and your marriage.
Instead of replaying the hurt, remember the blessings God has worked into your marriage and the good He has brought you through your husband.
4. Pray for yourself and your husband!
At one particularly low point in our journey, I poured out my complaints to the Lord, and I felt deep conviction over the fact that I had allowed disappointments to move my heart away from my once dedicated and fervent prayer for my role as a wife, for my husband, and our marriage in general. No wonder this challenging time was even harder! We often talk about keeping intimate passion alive, but what about the passion of our prayers for our marriage? Are they diligent? Are they passionate? Are they expectant?
Here are some Scripture prayers I regularly use to lead me into my own prayers for my husband and my marriage:
Lord, thank You that You have begun a good work in ________________________ (husband’s name) and that You will be faithful to complete it! Please allow me to see Your hand at work in _________________ area. Give me grace and faith that You are working even when I can’t see it. Help me rest in Your faithfulness to work in both of us. Accomplish all that is in Your heart according to Your good pleasure in ______________________ (husband’s name). (Based on Philippians 1:6 and 2:13.)
I pray that the eyes of ________________ (husband’s name) heart would be enlightened so that he will know what the hope of Your calling is, what the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints are, and what the surpassing greatness of Your power toward him when he believes You is. (Based on Ephesians 1:18-19)
Lord, please remind my husband that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Send your Spirit to encourage him today! And make me part of your plan of encouragement for him. (Based on Philippians 4:13)
Father, please grow my man to be the spiritual leader You want him to be. Give him a desire to lead our home, but also give him the heart to search out Your word so that he will have Your perspective, wisdom, and guidance. Grow his understanding in Your Word and Your ways so that his walk with You would bring leadership and blessing to our marriage and family. (Based on 1 Timothy 2:11, 1 Corinthians 14:35).
Lord, please surround my husband with Your favor as a shield. (Based on Psalm 5:12)
Lord, please make me a wife that is easy to rejoice in and a delight to my husband. Make our marriage and love a source of joy and fulfillment for him. (Based on Proverbs 5).
Father, please lead _______________ (husband’s name) to be on the alert, to stand firm in his faith, to act like man, and be strong in Christ. Pour a spirit of sensitivity and responsiveness on him so that he would follow Your leading with his alertness to spiritual battles, and give him ample grace and strength for those battles so that he might stand firm for Your glory. (Based on 1 Corinthians 16:13.)
5. Rightly identify the true source of the battle for your marriage.
This comes with prayer and remaining anchored to some hard-to-swallow truths about ourselves. Not only could our husband struggle with the sense that we are against him, just as much as we might struggle to feel that our husband is against us, but the enemy can use us against our spouse! We must be aware of this and guard our lives against this potential. It is interesting to note that when Satan was attacking Job, after the initial wave of loss and when God allowed Satan to touch Job’s body, Job’s wife (who was spiritually one with Job before God) spoke against him (Job 2:9). To my utter dismay I have seen moments of intense internal battle surrounding my heart toward my husband correspond to moments when God was using him in an important way or moments when the enemy was hot on his trail. How very sad it is that we can all be used by the enemy if we are not careful to guard our hearts and ensure we are fully surrendered instruments to God and His purposes.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:16-18
It is wise to check our hearts with the question, am I presenting my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions as instruments to serve Christ?
In general, if we are following hard after Christ, we won’t see other people as our enemies.
Paul says it this way:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12
If we perceive that a person, especially our other half, is the enemy, we may face a spiritual problem. The winning battle perspective won’t be to draw lines between our spouse and us; it will be to identify who the battle is really against - the enemy of our souls, not our spouse.
Over the years, I have sought hard to understand and find great marriage tools. I’ve read a ton, listened a lot, and studied God’s Word for them. And although I have not found the one-size-fits-all, satisfaction-guaranteed techniques I originally set out to discover, patience has, time and time again, been the key to unlocking victories for me. It’s not a sexy solution, but it is nonetheless Biblical and, in my experience, practical. After all, the very first describing characteristic of love in the famous “love chapter” from 1 Corinthians is “love is patient.” It won’t be patient once or twice. The expression of love will always require patience.
Some of the most hopeful marriage wisdom I’ve received was an off-the-cuff comment from my grandmother-in-love. We were enjoying an afternoon on their patio when both our hubbies stepped into the house for iced tea or something. She mused, “You know this is the happiest time in our whole marriage. It’s a total surprise to me that in our 80s, we would find so much joy in our relationship. After years of struggling with finances, struggling to raise the kids right, struggling with each other, all the struggles are done. And we are just enjoying each other.”
I pray you and your spouse will soon find an oasis where the struggles rest. And you are restored together in God’s love and care. And that in the meantime, passionate prayer, committed love, and anchored truth would carry you through the battle into victory.
If you’d like a free list of Scripture prayers for your marriage, please email info (at) motlministries.com.