Fighting to Win in Marriage

DUSKI VAN FLEET|GUEST

I lay there reading my book, trying to quiet my mind after another argument, feeling regret over things I said, but holding onto the resolve that I was justified in how hurt, unseen, and misunderstood I felt at that moment in our marriage.

No way was I going to be the first to acknowledge the ways I treated him with unkindness and disrespect. In my mind, he deserved it. I guess he was battling similar thoughts, because 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.

Evil is After Our Marriages

I will never forget when it finally clicked in me that evil is after our marriage. So often I am deceived into believing that if my husband will just <insert expectation>, I will feel more secure and less fearful about money, our kids, and our future. It’s his job to see the fears I feel and quiet them with his actions, right? Then I can show him the respect he needs. <insert sarcasm> I’m sure he’s had plenty of unmet expectations himself in our 11+ years together. But, the problem is not simply how different our personalities are or that we need to learn each other’s love languages and how to communicate more effectively. I’ve read 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…and it started in each of us long before we walked down the aisle.

Evil tells us the same lies he told Adam and Eve: God isn’t good, he cannot be trusted, and we have to take matters into our own hands. Marriage is just one more arena of opportunity for evil to draw us away from the Lord and set our eyes on a false rescuer. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “…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 we do 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.” This roaring lion has hunted both Daniel and myself in different ways through our stories, and we’ve each crafted our own broken cisterns. On the surface we both just want each other to “plug up these cracks!” When the other fails us, we can’t see the bigger story—how we were designed to help the other remember and return to the Living Water.

Remember Who the True Rescuer Is

When we remember who our real enemy is and acknowledge who our true Rescuer is, we taste heaven in marriage. This is when we 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 can, which renews a strong resolve in our hearts to fight against the enemy and remember God’s goodness. We remember our love and commitment to each other, which restores the desire for nothing other than the beautiful gift we are holding—a far cry from falling asleep angry and asking God what he was thinking when he brought us together.

Unfortunately, the humility to ask for help often comes only after we see the ways we wound each other and our children. 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 keeping our struggles hidden, 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 safe and trusted friends who will ask us hard questions and help us see our sin, asking our pastor for specific counsel, and repenting to each other and our children openly.

The goodness of God we taste when we fight for our marriage is well worth the risk of being exposed in our sin. Our love has grown deeper as we’ve fought against despair and celebrated the growth only the Holy Spirit can bring. There are still nights when it feels impossible to resolve things before turning out the light. But remembering God’s past faithfulness to us, remembering that Jesus has won, and remembering that we are not alone gives me fresh strength to not need a resolution before I’m able to reach over, grab his hand, and say, “Hey Dan, I’m still on your team. Can we talk soon?”

Duski Van Fleet is a wife, mama and teacher of two, and part-time pediatric nurse.  She is also a novice bird-watcher, lover of the outdoors, and hoarder of children’s books.  She finds life in music, in hearing the stories of others over a cup of tea, and in hearing from others that it’s okay for her to be kind to herself.  She and her family are grateful to be a part of their community at Christ Community Church in Helena, AL.
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