The best defense you have from all the negative forces in the world that rally against marriage is to stay enthusiastic about being a wife. Be zealous in your pursuit of excellence and elevate the view of your husband to the highest regard.
Sometimes the best course of action is to stop over-thinking those negative reasons, and instead, choose to protectively place your marriage well out of the reach of the nay-sayers so they don’t drag you down and tarnish your view.
Have a great weekend!
Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is recognizing that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or conditions. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others. –Stephen R. Covey
What do you call it when someone turns against the team? Sometimes we say they’re a traitor, deserter, or even hypocrite. In medicine, it’s called autoimmunity: an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself.
What about in marriage, when one spouse turns on the other and begins attacking the team?
In Galatians, Paul uses some graphic imagery to make an emphatic point: Tearing at each other by biting and devouring has the same effect, relationally, as cannibalism: Consuming one of your own.
If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (5:15)
When a spouse does this, they’re cannibalizing their own marriage.
What does it look like to bite and devour — have I been cannibalizing my own marriage?
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)
Wow, wow, wow – if we can get a visual of just how dangerous it is to live out of our flesh instead of our spirit, we’ll be able to see how much real damage we can do to our husbands, to ourselves, and to The Kingdom –it can change our hearts.
Marriage Cannibal: it’s a choice
No one is a cannibal on their wedding day. In fact, we’re the opposite of a marriage cannibal on that day! This change happens after the wedding and is triggered by who we listen to.
Marriage cannibals want you to expose all your husband’s mistakes, misdemeanors, and missteps. They tell you how right you are and how you deserve better. How unfair your circumstances are. All the while inching you closer to your flesh instead of The Spirit.
Is it intentional? Sometimes it is – sometimes women are so hurt over their own failed marriage(s) they can’t get beyond their own bitterness. They end up destroying any other marriage they come in contact with –misery loves company. And then there are some unwittingly used by Satan:
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6)
… and they end up being out for themselves. They feel justified as they feed on the misery that you’re serving up from your marriage. They do this under the guise of helping and encouraging your situation, all the while sharpening your focus on the faults of your man. Their motive isn’t really solution-oriented, it just feels like it is because they’re giving you center stage of attention.
It doesn’t matter if the split for the responsibility of the conflict is 95% your fault and 5% your husband’s. A marriage cannibal will talk you away from any responsibility you have while simultaneously narrowing your focus on that 5% of his. Blame’s the name of the game.
The first marriage cannibal was Satan
He uses the same technique today that he used in the garden: Creating doubt through a perceived sense of lack. He wasn’t after Eve, he merely used a weakness of hers to reach his real target, Adam – divide then conquer.
Any advice or counsel that focuses on the faults of your man instead of the power of Christ’s grace, is underpinned by Satan’s methods. You’ll know them because they’ll appeal to your flesh – just like they did with Eve.
DIVIDED: Satan used a lie to shift Eve’s focus away from God’s truth so she’d doubt Adam, You won’t die! Then, as a liar does, he spins it bigger, God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.
AND: Eve doubts, The woman was convinced. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband.
CONQUERED: Adam yields, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened.
Satan achieved a “twofer” here:
- Division between husband and wife (Genesis 3:16)
- Division from God (Genesis 3:24)
Cannibalism of marriage: the movement
A true saying is that, it takes two to tango. It takes two to make the marriage work and two to break it down – but it only takes one to initiate divorce1. In the past, when it was just our husbands that had the freedom to initiate divorce, the divorce rates2 were low. However, when us wives got that same freedom, divorce rates skyrocketed3.
Unfortunately, it’s women that are leading the destruction of families – not men. (2 Tim 3:6-7)
When you listen to a marriage cannibal, you’ll end up distrusting God’s:
- Son (Hebrews 1:2)
- Message in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Power (Romans 4:17)
- Timing, and (2 Peter 3:8-9)
- Ability (Luke 1:37)
And you’ll believe that:
- The grace you’ve received from God through Christ is sufficient for your sin, but not for your husband’s. (Romans 3:21-26)
- The circumstances in your marriage are the exception and make your marriage harder than anyone else has ever experienced. So, therefore, you get a special dispensation of grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12)
- Your husband’s problems are not fixable, even by the Creator of the universe. (Ephesians 3:20)
- Your sins are smaller than his, and God doesn’t have as much work to do in you as He does in your husband – he’s holding you back from a good life and you want to be happy now. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)
- Your life will be better without your husband. You have to depend on your own ability to make that happen instead of waiting for God to make it happen. (Isaiah 43:19)
- We all need to talk to people about problems in our marriage from time to time. Choose wisely – choose one person. Choose as a last resort. Don’t choose a person as a replacement of the Holy Spirit, and if the advice doesn’t lead you to give the grace of Jesus Christ, choose someone else.
- God tells us to test fruit and He encourages us to test Him. Check the source – what does her own marriage look like? Examine the fruit in her marriage, she must be able to back it up with real experience. If she doesn’t have fruit yet or the fruit is suspect, choose someone else.
- After you’re done talking to her, do you hate your husband more? Or, love him more (or at the very least, hate him a little less)? Have they thrown gas on the sparks so your anger and self-pity are escalating to a consuming fire that needs to be fed? Or, have they helped you diminish the sparks by sprinkling the water of grace on them? If not, choose someone else.
- initiate divorce: “… 70-75% of divorces were initiated by women […] and is a rising trend.” –Michelle Langley (Incidentally, her research is part of why and when I started following trends and information about marriage) Her book is called, Women’s Infidelity, and was published in 2005.
- divorce rates: according to the National Center for Health, 50% of marriages in the United States now end in divorce with 80 percent of the initiation filed by women.
- divorce rates skyrocketed: “#25. Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66% on average.” That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.
Life’s too short to not give your marriage everything you’ve got.
What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapour (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. ~James 4:14
And then, when you’ve got no more left to give – GIVE MORE by pressing into God. In this way, you’re strong through your weakness.
But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. ~2 Cor 12:9
And now you’ve just become more than a conqueror through Christ.
Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. ~Rom 8:37
… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.
… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.
… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.
… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.
True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason. I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize. Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage. And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.
~ Let’s not be like that ~
If I can just stick to tacking and tuning myself, often God brings His peace and harmony, in His time.
Part of my tack and tune kit is to keep a copy of our Marriage Certificate on the bulletin board at my desk. I also have a copy of the promises I’ve made in my vows to Darrell on my computer. When we’re in the middle of a heated fight (and in some of our less shining moments, those fights were downright vicious), I know, at some point I’m going to see that Marriage Certificate – I’ve learned to use that document as a reset for my heart and head. Instead of emotionally running away, I tack into those vows.
It’s not natural or easy, but it is simple – a simple choice of spirit instead of flesh. God will give a simple clear way for you too — just ask Him.
Tacking and Tuning always take me to the next level in my role as a wife. We can go from bad to good and then from good to great.
You know those memes you see on Facebook, the ones that make you feel kind of old, “If you know what this is click like and share.” This one was a wringer washing machine, in the catalogue, it was advertised to make laundry easier. I showed it to my oldest daughter, saying, “I remember helping my Grandmother do laundry with this! It took about two hours to do one load.”
Two hours doesn’t sound very fast, but compared to the washboard – the wringer washer was a gigantic leap forward for domestic work. Wash day was just that, a whole day. It took a whole day’s worth of work and cut it to less than half, by removing the hardest part.
Now we complain about so much laundry. We (me) have the audacity to actually complain about a task that is 95% automated – are you kidding me?! Just the other day I let out a tsssk as I walked passed the load(S) waiting to be washed. And I know for a fact other women feel the same about ‘never-ending’ laundry.
ADVERSITY reveals the true me (and you)
No wonder we can’t handle any real problems in life and relationships with grace for others and dignity for ourselves.
- “It’s too hard, God would never want me to go through THAT.”
- “I don’t like this, it doesn’t make me happy.”
- “Why should I have to do that?”
- “God is a God of justice. It’s not fair if I have to experience THIS.”
As we resist with each statement (which sound suspiciously like complaining), we get weaker and less able to actually conquer whatever situation we are in. The more we focus on just ourselves and the difficulty of the task, the more impossible the circumstance becomes. We lose sight of the big picture and our place in it. Forgetting that it was God Who chose us, and what role He placed us in.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:28-29)
The word adversity captures a wide range of circumstances – from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophe. Whatever the size or discomfort of the difficulty, it does the same thing – it pushes us against the barrier of our comfort zones, thins our skin and forces out a response.
ADVERSITY had revealed the complainer in me
Had I really complained about the laundry as I was climbing the stairs? Yes. Something so small and benign. I hadn’t seen that in myself and it caught me off guard. I don’t think God views any complaining as small or inconsequential. Complaining used to be a big problem for me – not so much anymore. But apparently, there was still a sliver there that needed to be exposed and removed before it spread further. The virus of sin is like that.
How could I conquer evil with good and be strengthened with gratitude, if I couldn’t even see past a few puny piles of laundry to the blessing of fully automated equipment? Don’t get me wrong, I know dirty clothes aren’t evil – but the complaining part is.
Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Cor 10:9-10)
Complaining is a fruit of wrong focus – it proves to myself that I’m making it all about me when there is so much to be grateful for:
- the fact that I do have a fully automated washing machine (and dryer), instead of having to use a wringer washer or a washboard, or go to the laundromat.
- that my husband has bought the best set.
- speaking of him, he’s healthy and has a fantastic job.
- the blessing of all my kids and that they are healthy.
- that we all have an abundance of clothes!
I could go on and on, but you get what I mean. When I set my focus on the benefits, gratitude will naturally grow instead of self-pity.
ADVERSITY will help or hinder
I think we can all agree: People have no control over others and no power to change them. It’s a good thing, for a couple of reasons.
(1) When you accept how little control you have over circumstances, and the people involved in them, your faith grows—you become a different person. The more you trust God, the more you mature. Yes, there’s characteristics we don’t care for in people, behaviours and habits that create adversity in our relationships – conflict with our husbands, but, you’ve got to ask yourself:
Do I really want someone else to have the power to change me?
(2) Because that’s the deal. If I get the power to change my husband – then he gets just as much power to change me. My answer would be, no – I only want God to have that power, He’s the only one that can see my heart (and Darrell’s) from a complete perspective. (Psalm 139:16)
KNOW: I say this lots and I’ll say it again: We’re going to have trials, turmoil and hurt in our marriages, we’ve got to accept it – we’re told, plainly. We all have our fair share, God hasn’t picked out some for more hardship or troubles than anyone else. Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. (1 Peter 4:12)
ACCEPT: Be open to what God shows you about own heart when you’re in trials; not what you see in your husband’s heart. God already knows the both of you, He wants you to see your own. But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
LET GO: We hinder ourselves by focusing on the things in our husbands that we want to change. The most helpful thing we can do is to let go of this perceived power. A wife affects real change in marriage through influence, not control. In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1)