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Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:5
The sound of it is preposterous. Of course your spouse is not your enemy. You’d never say that about her. You’d never want him to lose so you could win. One of you would never think that the other is standing in the way of your happiness, right?
We became enemies while looking for a Christmas tree.
We piled into the car and set out on what was sure to be a magical, memory-making afternoon picking out a tree at the local Christmas tree farm. In retrospect, we should have told the kids that this was supposed to be one of the highlights of their holidays. And, now that we think about it, we probably could have planned better; Hallmark moments can’t be squeezed in between a son’s basketball game and a daughter’s volleyball game.
The tension actually began at McDonalds, where we rushed through our (un)happy meals and then hurried off to the tree farm. When we arrived, the price tags on the first trees we saw made both of us gasp— more than triple the mega-store alternative, so we bypassed the higher end imports from North Carolina. The next group were actually nicer looking than the first, but double the price. Tired and disappointed, we eventually found the cheap trees. The whole thing was a debacle, and someone had to be blamed. So, naturally, we began to blame each other.
“I thought you said this place had incredible prices!”
“What do you mean you don’t know how tall our ceilings are?”
“This tree is so ugly, how could you think this is the one?!”
Like any loving and reasonable couple who found themselves in a similar situation would do, we went our separate ways. Each of us took two kids and went to out-search the other and find the diamond-in-the-rough tree. Before we could catch ourselves, we were pointing the finger seeing each other as an enemy. Our magical afternoon turned into a meltdown.
We got over that one pretty quickly. We weren’t enemies for long. But there was a previous episode that hurt deeper and longer.
Moving back home for a new role in ministry was especially heartbreaking for me (Meg). I had thrived in learning a new culture and living in an urban setting. There was a lot of grief around this decision and this move for me, and it was easy to be angry with David and blame him. Without realizing it, I slowly began to see him as the enemy, the source of my sadness. One night when I couldn’t sleep, I came across the familiar passage, Proverbs 3:5-6. It was a blatant reminder that I needed to trust the Lord, both for how God was leading us, and how God was leading David. I needed to stop leaning on my own understanding (my sadness and disappointment), and choose to trust in the Lord and how He was directing our path through David.
In the difficult and challenging days of marriage, we have to choose to walk in ruthless trust in God’s goodness and His plans. When life gets hard and our spouse is beginning to feel like our enemy, we need to remember and believe that this husband or wife is God’s very best for me, His gift to me. Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is perfect.” God doesn’t make mistakes.
When I fix my eyes on Him and trust His purposes, I can see my husband as a gift from God, even when things are difficult. Does that mean my spouse is perfect? No. But perfect for me? Definitely.
Satan is our real enemy, and he would love to divide our marriages through suspicion, jealousy, disrespect, and resentment. We must beware of him and his spouse-splitting schemes, for as long as you are seeing each other as an enemy, the real enemy is gaining ground.
- List some things that you originally found irresistible about your spouse.
- In what ways have you recently fallen into the trap of seeing your mate as your enemy? Are there triggers that tend to lead you spiraling into this pattern (e.g. how you handle conflict, how you discipline your children, issues over in-laws, etc.)
- Are there ways that you need to surrender and choose to trust the Lord and His gift to you in your spouse?
- What specific things in your spouse can you see that are a reminder that he/she is God’s good and perfect gift for you? How can you celebrate those things in our spouse?
Lord Jesus, thank you for knowing me better than I know myself, and giving me exactly what I need when you gave me ___________ (spouse’s name). Forgive me for my tendency to blame him/her. Help we see the ways he/she is my teammate, and not my enemy.