I lay there reading my book, trying to quiet my mind from another argument, feeling regret over my attitude and things I said, and holding on to the resolve that I was justified in how hurt, unseen, and misunderstood I felt in our marriage. No way was I going to acknowledge first the ways I had treated him with unkindness and disrespect. In my mind, he deserved it. I guess he was battling similar thoughts, because like many other nights, we did what we said years ago we would never do. We went to sleep feeling angry, and we didn’t even care to remind one another that even though we couldn’t resolve it before sleep, we were in this together. Sometimes it just feels easier to believe the enemy when he tells you it’s not worth the effort.
I will never forget when it finally clicked in my mind and heart that evil is after our marriage, even after hearing our counselor say this multiple times. So often I am deceived into believing that if my husband will just <insert expectation>, I will be able to settle down and do what I need to do. I just need to feel loved, seen, known, and understood by him, right? I’m sure he’s had plenty of unmet expectations himself in our 11-plus years together. But, I’m slowly coming to understand the root of our struggles has much more to do with how the enemy is attacking us individually and how we are responding to his lies. The problem is not how different our personalities are or that we just need to learn each other’s love languages and learn how to communicate in the way that we each hear best. I’ve read all those books and regurgitated them all back to him. Even though there are practical helps in the day-to-day struggles in marriage, the root cause is much deeper than that...and it started in each of us long before we walked down the aisle.
Evil has been telling us the same lies he told Adam and Eve...God isn’t good, He cannot be trusted, and we have to take things into our own hands. So, marriage is just one more (really huge) opportunity for evil to attempt to draw us away from the Lord and get our eyes on a false rescuer. Jeremiah 2:13 says it so clearly: “...for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Satan knows this...it was his idea, after all. Scripture exhorts us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” He’s hunted Daniel and me in very different ways through our stories, and we’ve each chosen different broken cisterns to which we run. On the surface we both just want each other to “plug up these cracks in my cistern!” But we’re so consumed with our own cracks and how the other isn’t plugging them that we can’t see the bigger story...how we were designed to help each other keep running back to living water. When I think about it this way, it’s no surprise we struggle.
When we both remember what’s true...when we remember who our real enemy is...when we look at our past wounds and disappointments, see the truth about them, and remember who our true Rescuer is...we taste heaven in marriage. This is when we see and experience the beauty of God bringing two people together who are uniquely designed to reflect His glory to one another in a way that no one else could. When we experience marriage in this way, we remember how good our Father is and why we are so thankful to be in this together. It renews a strong resolve in our hearts to fight against the enemy. We remember our love and commitment to each other, which restores the desire for nothing other than the beautiful gift we are holding.
Unfortunately, the humility to ask for help often comes only after we see the ways we wound each other and our children. God created us to live in community, and the difficulties of marriage are not excluded. One of the primary ways the enemy attacks marriage is by tempting us to compare our experience with what we see around us and to believe no one else struggles in the ways we do. If he can shame us into isolation, he will. To keep running to living water and turning from broken cisterns in marriage, we need people cheering us on. For us that means regular counseling appointments and a lot of prayer. It also looks like sharing the raw and ugly struggles in our marriage with a few close friends who will ask us hard questions and help us see our own sin, asking our pastor for specific counsel, and repenting to each other and our children openly. The goodness of God we taste through each other when we fight for our marriage is well worth the risk of being exposed in our sin. It takes a lot of faith to keep believing the Spirit is working in both of us - faith we often don’t have. Without the voices of others in our lives, we will continue to forget.
If you can relate to my words, I want to encourage you to press on! Remember, your spouse is not the one who is keeping you from experiencing what you are longing for in marriage. You have a true enemy who is a known accuser and liar. At Christ Community Church, you have a family - broken, yes, but sincere and gracious - who is willing to fight with you to see more of God’s goodness in marriage. Will you take the risk?