“Marriage shakes us up and brings out the worst in us,” declared a funny, yet poignant YouTube video on marriage. “Yes!” I silently shouted in my head.
At first, I felt comforted, “Thank goodness we are not the only ones!” But the truth of the statement planted deep in my heart, and hours later, frustration grew.
I began asking myself, “Didn’t God create marriage for good? For our benefit? Shouldn’t it bring out our best selves, not our worst selves?”
“Additionally,” I thought, “ Didn’t I marry my husband because of his best self, and because he made me feel like my best self? It feels like a bait and switch…perhaps this is why marriage vows include ‘for better or worse.’”
These questions swirled around my head for days and despair started to creep in.
Eventually, I sat before God with a heavy but humble heart, “I don’t understand, please show me.”
“Go back to when sin enters the world,” God prompted.
After reading Genesis 3, one question came to mind, “Why did the serpent tempt Eve?”
As I read the story again, I realized Satan not only wanted Eve to disobey God, but he intended to destroy what God created as good; including the perfect relationships between God and man, and between Adam and Eve.
This is why marriage is so hard.
God designed us to be in relationship with him and with each other, but Satan despises God’s plan, and constantly works to keep us from relationships (or at least keep them from lasting).
Satan also knows within each of us lies the perfect tool for accomplishing his goal, our sinful nature.
Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife prays against selfishness saying, “I guess I never really realized how selfish I was until I got married.”
I am right there with you Jennifer! I didn’t realize impatience, resentfulness, and an unforgiving spirit were rooted so strongly within me until I got married.
Paul describes a similar issue, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do” ( Romans 7:15). He goes on to explain, “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:20).
Those traits belonging to our worst selves always existed within us, but when they don’t surface until after we get married, we blame the marriage (with the help of lies from our enemy).
Blaming our marriage for our sinful nature ends up looking like this, “I don’t like myself when I am around my spouse, and I don’t like my spouse when he is around me, so why should we remain together as two miserable people?”
Add on the dominating cultural message about happiness being the ultimate goal in life, and we may even start to justify ending the marriage.
I can call to mind people who fell for Satan’s trap, can’t you? It happens too often for it to be called anything besides a strategy to destroy God’s plan for marriage.
But there is good news friends. With some hard work and a strategy of our own, we can shed our worst selves and enjoy marriage the way God intended it to be.
Over the next few weeks, I will take you step-by-step through building your defenses against the enemy and restoring God’s joy to your marriage.
Spoiler alert—God promises victory!
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
If marriage shook you up and revealed your worst self, I hope you will join me for this series. Let’s claim victory in Jesus’ name and restore joy to marriage.
Ready for more? Read part 2, 7-Step War Strategy for Marriage
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Linking up at Grace & Truth, Faith ‘n Friends, Marriage and Motherhood and Susan B Mead