If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. I’d want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone’s love inward on themselves. I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage , your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger than anybody else – that God, underneath it all, doesn’t change anything.
My husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage this April. Ten years. That used to seem like such a long time to me. Especially in a culture nowadays where marriages come and go quickly and we see all too many couples changing spouses like they change clothes. I won’t go into the sanctity of marriage right now (that’s another post for another day), but I will say that marriage just isn’t what it used to be. Commitment isn’t what it used to be.
Let me pause here just for a moment and throw out that disclosure that if you are in an abusive and/or dangerous situation, please do not continue to dwell within the confines of your marriage. There are times where other actions need to be taken. I’m not a pastor nor am I a professional counselor so please seek help from those who are qualified to offer you Godly advice and wisdom.
2015 will always go down as the year that almost ended my own marriage. After seven years of marriage and two children, my husband and I were just at our breaking point. We had spent the four previous years in complete isolation living in Kodiak, Alaska; had traveled across the country yet again to settle in a new town and were both spiritually not where we needed to be. We spent our days arguing and fighting. We spent most of our nights giving one another the silent treatment.
We used the others flaws against them in every single argument we had. Never leaving old wounds alone and consistently ripping those bandages off time and time again; tossing below-the-belt comments around like they were nothing. Rehashing the same mistakes over and over and over again. Never really addressing the issues we were having, but rather patching them over with halfhearted, “I’m sorry’s” and fleeting affection. We had spent the last seven years of our marriage doing that and slowly, but surely, all of that bitterness and resentment and poorly handled conflict was building below the surface of our marriage.
In January of that year, my husband got on a plane and flew to San Francisco for some military training. It was the first time in the years that we had been together that I did not shed a tear when he got on the plane and left; despite knowing that he was going to be gone for months. Quite honestly, I was relieved that I was not having to spend my days bickering with my husband for those months while he was away. I was looking forward to just having my kids to worry with and not having to overexert myself for my marriage (which, in and of itself should have been my clue that there was a lot wrong with our relationship).
When my husband got to California and we talked, I’ll never forget what he said to me. I don’t know how it came about or in which of our conversations it got brought up, but he made the comment that he didn’t know if he would have a wife when he got back home.
We were that far gone. I had begun to check around and look into apartments for myself and the kids. I’d started to look into what a divorce actually meant for me in terms of rights and legalities. I sought counsel from all of the wrong places; almost all of which told me time and time again that I needed to do what made me happy. Or that I didn’t deserve to be in a marriage that wasn’t making me happy. What was supposed to have been a few months of school for him ended up being only a few weeks.
If you were to ask my husband, he would tell you that he came home to save our marriage. We began to seek counseling together. We began to seek God together. We began to slowly heal the old wounds that we had allowed to fester within our lives. We started to love one another again. Most importantly, we started to love God again.
I had been praying for my husband for many years, stopped whenever I would get angry with him, and believed the lie that it was my job to change my husband and not God’s. Then, when God didn’t “fix” him the way that I thought he should, I would become angry with God and began to believe that prayer didn’t work, God didn’t hear me and that God didn’t care enough to fix my marriage.
It takes two people to make a marriage. It takes two people to break a marriage. I had become so wrapped up in my own hurts and pointing out my husbands flaws that I couldn’t see the mistakes I was making within my own life. I was spending more time trying to tell him what he needed to fix that I was not even remotely looking at the areas in my own messed up humanity that needed to be worked on.
It’s been an uphill battle and our marriage isn’t perfect, even now. We still have plenty of bad days. We still make plenty of mistakes. We still fight with each other more than we fight the enemy (if I’m being perfectly honest). We still let old wounds get ahold of us and we still try to throw around past mistakes to hurt one another. We are not perfect and we don’t do it right all the time.
We know who our real enemy is. We know that when we fight with one another instead of for one another, we are doing exactly what he wants us to do and that he is working to dismantle our relationship. Now, we spend our time fighting our battles on our knees. That has made all of the difference.
(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)
“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.”