Dr. Tony Evans
“The Real Problem in Marriage”
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)
Not long ago, a couple came for marriage counseling with a lengthy list of all the issues they were facing. It must have had at least 30 things on it.
I felt instantly depressed as I watched them pull out that list. How am I ever going to help them solve so many issues? I thought, as they began to read every item.
On and on they read, naming what sounded like legitimate sources of conflict. I could easily see why they weren’t getting along.
Once the couple finished reading, the husband handed me the list and I faced a decision: Would I go through this list with them and provide input on each issue, or would I address the real source of their conflict?
I looked at the list. Then I looked at the couple.
Both of them had hopelessness--even anger--written all over their faces. Then I looked back at the list, carefully and thoughtfully penned.
And I tore it up.
Right there in front of them. You can imagine what their faces looked like then.
They’d taken time to prepare this list for our meeting, and I had just shredded it.
I leaned toward them and said, “We could talk about these 30 things, but nothing will ultimately change in your marriage, because this one thing is missing: the spiritual foundation of your relationship.
“Without establishing and maintaining a solid spiritual relationship, your list of 30 things, once solved, will just morph into another 30, and you’ll wind up back here the same time next year with another list of things to solve.”
I could tell they were listening intently, so I continued. “Get this one thing right, and all the other things will fall into place. Get a divine perspective on your marriage as the foundation for your home, and you’ll discover who your true enemy is--and it is not each other.”
Fights in our marriages assume that our spouses are the problem.
And that’s exactly what the devil wants.
He wants me to believe my spouse is the problem--not my own selfishness. He knows I will never fix the real problem if I believe my mate is the problem.
But ultimately, my spouse is not my enemy, nor the problem. The problem is a spiritual one brought on by my own sinful flesh, and a rebellious, clever enemy of God.
So much of what we fight about in marriage has nothing to do with the real issue. There’s almost always something deeper--an unmet need, a lack of trust, a lack of respect, etc. These are the root of our problems and fights.
However, what makes a marriage strong is loving with a biblical love grounded in patience, kindness, loyalty, grace, and in alignment with God’s covenantal purpose for marriage.
Often things we fight about have to do with our own sinful choices, as well as the demonic realm working against us. When we fail to make a spiritual connection to everything that goes on in marriage, we’ll continue to rant about whatever the current issue is.
That’s why I must commit my marriage to prayer and cultivate a real relationship in humility while seeking God’s wisdom and guidance and asking for His love, grace and mercy.
God’s Word reminds us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
I’m happy to say that when the couple I mentioned earlier sought to view each other and their relationship through God’s eyes, they made every attempt to cultivate and keep their marriage.
Over time I saw the wife’s countenance lift as if she were becoming a brand-new woman. I also saw the husband enjoy a relationship with his wife that had brought him dread. To this day, they are living the fullness of a life together, in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God supplies the strength we need to successfully do battle in our marriages. So let’s use the difficulties we face to get on our knees and seek God’s face to grow closer to Him.
Dear Lord, I know that decisions made apart from Your wisdom notoriously wind up causing more harm than good. Help me seek You first, identify the true enemy in my marriage and suit up in the full armor You’ve provided so I can stand firm in the truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 6:12-13, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (NIV)