WE’RE AT WAR…. That’s what headlines all across the United States boldly proclaimed on the morning of January 17, 1991.
The Masthead was so large, it grabbed my attention the minute I opened the curtains of our little studio apartment.
Wanting to capture this historic moment on film, I bundled my two young children up warm and ushered them across the parking lot to take their picture front of the newsstand.
Rather than the somber faces one might expect from the offspring of an Army Reservist, my little ones broke out grinning from ear to ear as soon as they spotted Mom’s camera, totally oblivious to the tumult that threatened to rock their world.
Doesn’t that typify what happens in other areas of our lives, as well?
When I look back at photographs taken on our wedding day, I can’t help but notice my husband and I were wearing those same naive smiles.
Like most couples, we had no idea that as we walked arm-in-arm down the aisle and out of the church at the close of the ceremony, we were marching into battle. We were oblivious to the fact that there was a war raging on the horizon and that, even as we smiled for the camera, our marriage was under attack.
Unfortunately, when the attack is particularly sudden or stealth, it is sometimes difficult to even identify the enemy.
Some couples act as if they’re at war with one another. They mistakenly believe they have married the enemy, but they are dead wrong.
Know this:If you are married, you have an enemy — an enemy that will do everything in his power to destroy your marriage — but that enemy is not your spouse.
Ephesians 6:12 warns us:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
And 1 Peter 5:8 tells us:
“Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. looking for someone to devour”
From the moment your marriage ship was christened, Satan has been plotting to sink it.
He is crafty. He is relentless. He is on the prowl. But we needn’t succumb to his attacks.
We can win this war. But to make that happen, we need God’s grace, we need grit, and we need a good battle plan.
Our Battle PLAN for Marriage:
- P = Pray
The best place to do battle for your marriage is on your knees. Couples who pray together regularly enjoy less than a 1% chance of divorce.
Marriage was God’s idea in the first place. It only makes sense to enlist His help in preserving yours. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, John 15:7)
- L = Learn
Maintain a teachable spirit. Study what God’s Word says about marriage and about your responsibilities to your spouse.
Seek counsel from older, happily married couples who have remained committed to one another for several decades or more — what’s their secret?
Read good books about marriage, gleaning as much wisdom as you can and applying what you learn to your own life circumstances. (Proverbs 4:7, Psalm 25:4)
- A = Anticipate
“Into each life some rain must fall.” Longfellow’s words are true of marriage, as well.
Expect an occasional gale. Prepare for it. And when storms blow in, don’t let them drive you apart. Hunker down and weather the tempest together, confident that the sun is still shining behind the clouds and the skies will eventually clear.
Anticipate also how your actions and reactions, both in good times and bad, will affect your spouse. Choices have consequences, so be careful that the decisions you make, the words that you say, and the things that you do are things that will build up and strengthen your marriage and your spouse rather than tearing them down. (Proverbs 14:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- N = Nurture
Just as a gardener must spend time cultivating his beds — weeding, watering, fertilizing and pruning the plants to keep them healthy and fruitful — you must invest time and energy into your marriage if you want it to blossom and bear fruit.
Spend time with your spouse. Work together. Play together. Dream together. Pray together.
Be patient. Be considerate. Be respectful. Love your spouse with the kind of unselfish, sacrificial, committed love Christ has for the church. Do all these things, and your marriage will not only survive, but will thrive — even in the midst of attack. (Mark 10:6-9, Malachi 2:15-16)
So my husband and I are fighting again. We’ve been doing battle for our marriage for 27 years now.
We have no intention of throwing in the towel, because we believe marriage is worth fighting for — and we know God is on our side.
Have you joined in the fray? What has helped strengthen your marriage against the attack? Please share in the comments below. We’re always on the lookout for new and effective strategies.
Drew Erika says
I loved this post! It is so encouraging to remember that Satan is the true enemy when things are rough with my husband. We have only been married 2 years but it’s been fraught with challenges. I have learned to look to Christ for my emotional stability and sustenance. Christ is my perfect husband who helps me love the imperfect husband He chose for me! This mentality keeps me from becoming resentful or feeling like I have to “fix” everything.
Jennifer, your posts are always an encouragement to me as I seek to have a thriving marriage, not just a marriage that survives. Thank you for pointing out the positive, God-blessed side of life. I learned a long time ago that it is in my best interest to sit at the feet of God-seeking women who recognize their responsibility to offer the wisdom they have gleaned from their own experiences of God in their lives. God introduced my husband and I to each other after almost 20 years of adult single hood. When disagreements arise, my husband often jokes, saying “This is all my fault, if I hadn’t of asked you out in the first place we wouldn’t be arguing about this”. This always makes us laugh and also reminds us of the blessing of the marriage we had so long desired and trusted that He would bring to us. Now, it is our responsibility to see that it not only thrives, but it offers hope to others that are coming up behind us. Both cannot and will not be achievable without the pure grace of God interwoven in all of our decisions, actions, reactions, and a PLAN! Thank you for your ministry and your example to those of us coming up behind you!
Carolyn Peetz says
When we were newly married. We made a choice not to be in strife. I asked my husband what can we do when one of us I’d mad to get us out of that place. We had recently been to the play fiddler on the roof. We took a song of that play when Tevea sings to Goldia “do you love me”. And she answers finally “yes I love you”. So when I would get mad my husband would sing. “Do you love me” and I would have to sing back. “Yes I love you”.
It has worked for 35 years. We didn’t always feel like singing back but we had committed to not allowing strife in. Neither one of us wanted to be the first to break the promise.
It’s hard to stay mad when you sing Yes I love you. 🙂
Is it worth fighting for even though husband is not a believer? He is narcissistic and we just do not get along.
Jennifer Flanders says
Yes, I believe that even marriage to an unbeliever is worth fighting for. Scripture supports this idea, as well: “In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” (1 Peter 3:1-2, New Living Translation)
Amy Hart says
DMR, here is some hope for you. My husband was a non believer too. I believed, but did not read the bible or go to church. Out of the blue, when we recently moved, my husband decided to start going to church. We both got baptized a couple months ago, and are now following Jesus. Don’t give up. Have faith. And remember one of the most powerful fights against the devil is to pray!
Wow! Thank you for this PLAN. I love the daily reminders this has to offer and to continue to fight the good fight. If God is for us – who could ever stand against us! My husband and I have been married for 2.5 years and I can say it is NEVER too early to start preparing yourself and your husband for battle by seeking God’s word daily and reading from biblically sound books on marriage and spiritual growth! Keep up the great work Jennifer, my mom and I love reading your posts, blog and printables! You are a true example of what it means to be a whole-hearted wife. Thanks for the encouragement!! -Maggie (DoubleKnottedApron.wordpress.com)
Amy Hart says
My husband and I are currently in counseling with some fellow members of our church. We talked about this a couple sessions ago. So, my husband and I are learning slowly through God, and guidance from this happily married older couple, how to fight evil in our marriage and lives. Thank you for this post. I look forward to these emails.
Rana HUrley says
What a great post and thanks for the transparency! I have been hear a lot lately about blessing and curses, speaking blessings over the situation instead of rehashing it over and over again. I have been leaving my husband love notes encouraging him in what I feel God had led me to pray about it has been been hard….my husband recently confessed to sexual sin but it has helped me move in my forgiveness and reestablish my love for him.
Hope this helps in any way
I love this post, nicely done. Marriage really is a bit like a war, but your spouse needs to become an ally in the war, not your enemy.
Somebody smart once said marriage is just one act of forgiveness after another. I like that. Also, the older you get, forgetfulness is a good one. There’s nothing funnier then feeling annoyed but completely forgetting why. It tends to put things back in perspective.
Such a great post! I really enjoyed the PLAN for marriage and I look forward to sharing that with my husband. One thing my husband and I do that brings us together is sharing the things God has been teaching us individually. We enjoy learning from each other about different areas that God is working on. We also love to talk about Scriptures that we have read that stood out to us or really made us think. We met at a Christian University which emphasized Scripture and the study of it so we now share that with each other. We will discuss the context of certain verses, the historical setting behind it, and the application it carries for our lives today. When we do this we are able to discover things about God’s Word and about each other which is special for us.
Thanks for the great post!