No matter how long you’ve been married, you and your spouse will face difficult times in your relationship. Through life’s ups and downs, your marriage is under attack, and you must be prepared to do battle for it. Here’s how to fight for your marriage so it can reach its fullest potential.
Early last year, my husband, Josiah, and I went on a mini-vacation in the mountains. We wanted time together to pray over God’s plans for our lives and ministry and to connect with one another. The second night at dinner, my spirit was troubled. I looked across the table at him and came to an unsettling realization—we’d drifted.
How had this happened? We volunteer with a marriage ministry. We have read a myriad of marriage books and articles, listened to podcasts, and led marriage studies and workshops. Nevertheless, despite being surrounded by information on connection, we drifted along on the current of life and found ourselves at opposite shores.
“Your marriage moves towards a state of isolation. Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture your marriage, you will begin to drift away from your mate.” Dennis Rainey, founder of FamilyLife®
We hadn’t purposefully ignored our marriage, and things weren’t “bad.” We went about our days, communicating superficially and cordially—putting off physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy. We’d get to it soon—eventually—when we had time. But we didn’t.
We vowed that night at dinner to commit more energy to our relationship—to take time for deeper conversations, study the Word, and get “us” back. The next day, though, the WHO officially named COVID-19 a pandemic, and the day after that, our governor declared a state of emergency.
For many couples, the pandemic meant more time together (which has its own challenges), but for others, like us, with one or more essential workers in the family, it meant more time apart. Our worlds diverged.
We’ve worked on our marriage as we could throughout the last year, but it hasn’t been easy, and truthfully, it’s still not fantastic. We’re better than we were, but nowhere near where we’d like to be. We’ve been fighting for oneness, but there have been days, or even weeks, when we felt further than we’ve ever been before, living together but still completely isolated. It’s a journey, and we’re still on it.
Because of that, I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you—even here from the trenches. Imagine we’re crouched in a shallow pit on a battlefield. We’re bloody and bruised from war, chests heaving from exertion and muscles strained to the point of exhaustion. Here, in the thick of it, we pause for a break from the battle so I can offer you words of encouragement.
KEEP YOUR ARMOR ON
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
Can you imagine a soldier forgetting his armor in the middle of a battle—swords slicing toward him, enemy raging, while he wanders aimlessly through the melee completely unprotected? It’s a ridiculous picture, but what we have a tendency to do.
How do we keep our defenses up, always ready for battle? Paul made it clear to the Ephesians. After exhorting them to keep their armor on, He tells them to pray “at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). We must stay connected to God, our Commander.
This requires far more than just a perfunctory “quiet time” or Sunday church attendance.
We must commit to time on our knees, or better yet, on our faces, resisting the urge to veg out or scroll and, instead, taking time to connect with God. If you’re angry and hurt, tell Him.
If you don’t know what to say, don’t worry; He knows. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
I cannot count the number of times, I have just cried out, “Jesus” or “Help me!” because I couldn’t find any more words. I have sobbed, screamed, and collapsed under the weight of my own brokenness, and each time, that verse has soothed my weary soul. I don’t have to have the words because He does.
PICK UP YOUR SWORD
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” there’s a scene in which Gandalf breaks an evil spell that’s plagued King Theoden and exposes the adviser who has whispered lies into his ears. As the king recovers, Gandalf says to him, “Your fingers would remember their old strength better if they grasped your sword.” Ladies, your hearts will find the strength you need for victory when you grasp hold of the sword of truth—God’s Word.
I’ve often made the mistake of saying, “I know God’s Word says…” but merely knowing it didn’t break me out of the funk. However, when I take the time to pick up my Bible and read the words, no matter how well I already know them, the effect is entirely different. Reading His Word changes our hearts.
WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Always the movie geek, when I think of soldiers sticking together, I think of Russel Crowe’s lines from “Gladiator”: “Whatever comes out of these gates, we have a better chance for survival if we work together…We stay together, we survive.”
His character, Maximus, was a commander of armies, a general of legions. Roman soldiers were fearless warriors, and their commanders were the best of the best—and they knew they were better together.
This piece of advice is two-fold. First, instead of fighting against your husband, battle with him for your marriage.
Even if you’re so mad your ears are steaming, ask him if you can hold hands and pray together.
Second, reach out to a trusted Christian friend. Ask for prayer and advice. Be brave enough to be vulnerable.
Countless times I have tried to tackle my battles alone, flailing about wildly in the darkness. However, when I’ve forced myself to reach out and ask for help, the Lord has worked powerfully through my friends.
He binds us together in those moments through the power of His Spirit, and often, breakthroughs follow.
We are ezers: the Hebrew word for “helper” in the Old Testament. The word is powerful and means so more than just a receptionist with benefits, which is what it’s often reduced to.
We fight the enemy alongside our husbands and friends.
We protect our families, wearing our God-given armor and wielding the sword of the truth with authority and skill.
There will always be battles, but in Jesus, we can look forward with hope knowing through Him we have the victory.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
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