Every marriage encounters three major threats to unity and purpose. Do you know your enemies? If you do not, you are well on your way to sabotaging your own home. Before you read any further I want to emphasize something very critical: your spouse is not your enemy and never has been. Let me say it again: your spouse is not your enemy. If you can’t agree, it’s time to change your thinking.
The invisible threat to every marriage is Satan. His first target in the Bible was the marriage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1). Satan’s desire is to distort God’s unity between husbands and wives. He wants to destroy God’s impact on future generations and he wants to disrupt the communion between God and God’s people. Paul reminds us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Satan does not want husbands and wives to experience unity or oneness with each other. To experience oneness, every couple must engage in spiritual warfare with the invisible enemy. This calls for prayer, the Spirit, the Word of God and the Church of Jesus to be deployed in every home. This is an enemy we must fight on our knees.
The internal threat is in us already: selfishness. “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way.” Wrote Isaiah (53:6) Selfishness is our sinful bent to go our own way, meet our own needs, and fulfill ourselves at the expense of anyone around us. Selfishness leads to all the things Adam and Eve experienced after the first sin: shame, guilt, blame-shifting and the battle for control and dominance with our partner. This is the pull of our fleshly desires. It is strong. It is innate within us. Selfish thinking insists that it’s my spouse’s job to make me happy. The only known antidote is life in the Holy Spirit. Keeping in step with the Spirit and not following the flesh.
The external threat is the world. The world is full of powerful and popular philosophies that compete with God’s plan for marriage as revealed in scripture. The media regularly ridicule marriage as outdated or unnecessary. Then there are the challenges and trials life throws at us: unemployment, poor health, the death of a child or out-of-control in-laws. These forces pull couples apart and divide their loyalties and responses. The antidote is boatloads of communication, negotiation, cooperation, and coordination. Your spouse is not your enemy but these external threats certainly are.
Author and counselor Tim Challies observed, “Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian.”
Here some good news: God is on your side! An enduring and unified marriage starts with a vital and flourishing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When your marriage is threatened, go to God first. Oneness with your spouse is possible-- there is no such thing as a hopeless marriage. Marriage unity grows as we live out the example of sacrificial love daily. Jesus Christ gives us the power to love imperfect people unconditionally. This is what breaks down your enemies.