Friday night is typically date night for us. Last Friday started off well with a quiet dinner at home. Then we watched a movie. It was an older movie that would have interested us both had Bob not fallen asleep. Here we were, cuddled up on the couch, when I discovered Bob was not responding to my comments. And, there was some heavy breathing. This made me mad. After all, this was date night. We were supposed to enjoy it together. I am not supposed to do date night alone in the proximity of Bob’s sleeping body!
It is uncanny how often this type of thing happens just before we are getting ready to do something spiritual. Have you noticed how many arguments start while getting ready for church? After sniping at each other during the entire car ride, you get out of the car, paste on your smiley face, and walk into church like a little hypocrite. Come on. Say we’re not the only ones!
If Bob and I are speaking at a weekend marriage retreat or a banquet, we can count on the preparation week being filled with inexplicable feelings of carrying more than our fair share of the work, and not being appreciated, and grumpy faces. Pardon my language when I say, “Hell breaks loose,” but I think that is literally what happens. The devil doesn’t want us having family devotions—going to church—participating in God’s work—and so, he starts interfering. We start thinking our spouse is the enemy, but he or she is NOT. The unseen Enemy is the enemy.
Last Saturday after the infamous solo date night, we were scheduled to spend the entire day working together writing a book Bob is trying to finish. As we sat having devotions together, Bob asked innocently, “Are you mad at me?” “Maybe!” I replied, with a considerable dose of extra spice in my tone. It opened the conversation as to what had happened and why I was upset. And then, we both spotted it: “Does this have anything to do with the fact that we are supposed to work on the book today?”
I am not trying to excuse our human responsibility in these matters. I’m sure God was not pleased with the tone I used in responding—and that was my choice and a revelation of what was in my heart. But I think it is also fair to say that sometimes we don’t consider that the devil would like to play an active part in getting our marriage off track. The Bible is clear that the serpent took the initiative in getting Eve thinking wrong in the Garden so that she invited Adam to do what he knew was wrong. And then, after standing by and not doing anything to stop it, Adam starts blaming Eve for their trouble and Eve blames Adam right back. Is this the pattern your arguments follow?
I Peter 5:8 also warns us about the enemy’s activity:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (NASB)
I am not going to tell you that disharmony ever goes away. You just spot it quicker so you can do something about it. And that’s what we did last Saturday. “Who thinks we need to stop and pray?” Both of us raised our hands. We bowed our heads and confessed that Satan was not welcome in our relationship and that, by God’s help, this day was dedicated to God’s work. That was the point when things started improving.
The main point to remember when disagreements arise is: Your spouse is not the enemy. The Enemy is the enemy. And here’s one more piece of excellent advice:
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. . . Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. . . . Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4: 26-27, 29, 31-32 NASB)