Have you ever noticed, dear wife, the moment you’re determined to put more effort into your marriage—not complain the next time your plans get derailed, hold your tongue when your next conversation turns tense, extend grace to your mess-maker of a man the next time he spills beer on the couch or tracks mud on the carpet, again—that’s when you find yourself tested, smack-dab in the center of all these scenarios in one week and found wanting?
Why is that?
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions. Hebrews 10:32
Spiritual testing comes with increased knowledge. It’s part of being Christian. Christ warned us we’d have persecution (but did we realize our emotions would be our persecutors?)
Spiritual warfare is real. Satan loves to trip us up and derail our good intentions—and he’ll use whatever we give him: negative emotions, thoughts, or circumstances. He hopes we’ll get so fed up and disillusioned with our repeated failures and those of our husband, that we entertain thoughts of flight while we hold tightly to our bitterness.
But, as godly women, we won’t, will we? We will fight AND defeat the enemy by strapping on the armor of God a little tighter and make prayer our battle cry!
Welcome to Christian Wife 101
This series is meant for all wives, newly married and decades married, living the oft-times difficult journey of marriage who want to rediscover the blueprint for joy and peace that God made possible and laid out in His word.
I’m in no way an expert on godly marriage nor am I a perfect wife—far from it. But thanks be to God’s merciful Spirit, He has taken my past mistakes and opened my eyes to how I was sabotaging my desires for a peaceful life. When we try to rewrite God’s design, we will fail every time. But, oh, that illuminating moment when we finally get it: only God’s way works!
Christian Wife 101 is about getting back to the basics of what God says marriage is. Getting back to what God says a “help meet” is. Christian Wife 101 is a study for wives who want to thrive (not merely survive) in their role as a Christian wife.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
To stand is victory. You may be pummeled and bruised, and leaning on your sword hilt for balance, but the armor of God will prop you up every time. Nothing the world offers you will give you this victory. No amount of standing up for “yourself” will give you this victory. Because the world’s ways only strengthen the devil’s wiles against you.
But when you rely on God’s armor . . .
- You rely on the bindings of truth to swathe your nakedness and vulnerability.
- You rely on God’s righteousness to protect the heart of your marriage.
- You rely on His gospel of peace to carry you down the road to marital oneness.
- You rely on your faith in God to shield you from the enemy’s volley of hatred, resentment, and woe-is-me misery.
- You rely on God’s helmet of salvation to keep you eternally safe while saving the soul of your marriage.
- And you rely on the sword of the Spirit—the word of God—because it is your finest weapon.
Troubles in your marriage that seem impervious to change will fall to the sharp two-edged sword of truth that divides your carnal thinking from the divine knowledge of God’s ways that will bless and glorify your marriage until death do you part.
Christian Wife 101
“Warrior wives defeat the enemy by wielding their finest weapon—the word of Truth—and by making prayer their battle cry.”
What do you dwell on?
Prayer is central to a strong and resilient marriage. But what do we do when we feel defeated before we utter a word? The keyword in the preceding sentence is feel. God created our emotions. They are a beautiful enhancement to life when you view them as the icing on the cake and not the cake.
It’s quite normal to feel hurt by your husband’s careless words, thoughtless actions, or unprovoked angry mood. But when you dwell on your feelings for too long, giving them idol status, the wiles of the devil play on your mind making you feel justified to let fly past grievances against your husband that you thought you kept tightly reigned. His cunning wiles get you to stay focused on the offense and the oh, so, familiar pain, so that forgiveness and grace flee your mind—and so does prayer.
But as warrior wives, God has called us to rise above the taunting whispers of the enemy. We know Satan has no hold over us. We are Christ’s. And our call as Christians is to emulate Jesus Christ. But in our moments of marital strife, it’s easy to forget this. We don’t consider the countless times God has forgiven us the equally careless words, thoughtless actions, and unprovoked angry mood (hello, hormones!) we’ve flung toward this man who stands before us.
In our moments of pain, we keep our focus inward and wallow in the unfairness of it all, and it makes it all that much easier to withhold forgiveness. And Satan laughs.
Consistent prayer and the armor of God helps you release the stranglehold that your emotions have on you. Emotions should serve you, not you, them!
Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Who better to speak kindly to than your own husband? Who better to show tenderhearted forgiveness? Before this eye-opening verse, Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” There may be wrath in our arguments, but malice? Evil speaking? Spitefulness, hatred, and a desire for revenge? Hmm. That certainly can’t be describing us.
Yet, if we were secretly recorded and could look back on the scene a week later when we’ve forgotten the emotional state we were in, what would we see? A bitter stance that this man dares call us out from our hiding place of sin; hateful voices spewing out words like “you always, you never, and what about you?” Two people clamoring to be heard, ever resentful and disappointed in the other and never seeing what they look like in the mirror.
But with God’s Spirit dwelling in us, we have supernatural power to see this ugliness in ourselves and stop it. We have the power to be kind instead of vengeful, tenderhearted instead of cruel, forgiving instead of forever replaying their sins against us and holding them up as a shield, a barrier of excuse to repent of our own.
Shouldest not there also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? Matthew 18:33
When you’re hurting, it’s hard to remember that your husband is a “fellow servant” of Christ and not your enemy.
Your real enemy, the devil, wants you to forget this and act upon your first, angry impulse keeping your ‘how dare you’ attitude alive. This is how he destroys you and your marriage.
But when we’re generous with forgiveness and entrust ourselves to God through prayer like true warrior wives, offenses become less frequent and our marriages can flourish in peace. Forgiveness and softly-spoken words when emotions aren’t frayed are what make a marriage delightful in the sight of God.
When we’re at fault
Our sins, our faults, never seem as bad as our husband’s, do they? But sin is sin. God is no respecter of persons. Our seemingly harmless sins, the belittling tone, the disrespectful rolling of the eyes, the feigning to not have heard an admonition, still hurts, still brings the other down, still weakens the bond of unity.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13
What makes wrapping our tongue around “I’m sorry” to our spouse so hard when we’re at fault? We’ve all said something nasty in haste or disregarded our husband’s wishes (innocently or not), but apologizing envelopes us in an edgy feeling of embarrassment reminiscent of childhood, and stokes a potent desire to defend our actions before we voice those words.
We don’t like to be called out by our mates (yet don’t we do the same?) and we don’t like to admit our sins when clearly our husband has so many! When our spouse is offended or angry with us, an invisible blockade of excuse and blame springs up and we hesitate to make amends.
(In that instance, you sift through the catalog of his past sins against you and the many words that stung, and you feel justified in keeping silent about your wrongs.)
But an amazing thing happens when we warrior wives stop listening to the whispers of the Enemy and break the levee of self-protection and pride we’ve erected over time. I have found that when I’m quick to apologize, my husband softens. He’s more loving and careful how he speaks. And more apt to confess his shortfalls to me. Win-win. God’s ways always win.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
With my genuine contrition, there is no gloating “aha” with him, no shaming, no recounting my former mistakes; all is well and those fears that kept me tight-lipped and resistant in the past are drowned in the peace that floods in. There is nothing quite as sweet as a hug and a kiss that says, “I forgive you.” Yet, even the rapturous feeling of forgiveness between spouses is but a tiny fragment of the grace-soaked forgiveness that is ours right now in Christ.
When you both give back this gift of forgiveness to each other, repeatedly, as a thank-you to your Savior, marital kindness never looked so good.
Christian Wife 101
Forgiveness is godly love saying “I see you as I see myself—in need of a Savior. Come, let us walk to meet Him together.”
Battle on, warrior wives, with prayer and forgiveness. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)—don’t let your emotions tell you otherwise.
Abiding in the Vine,
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