Archives For Marriage

Quick to Forget

January 15, 2015 — Leave a comment

It was a seemingly insignificant moment.

I noticed a dish that I thought my darling husband may have left out and asked him if it was dirty or clean.

It was dirty, he told me, but he would wash it before he went to bed.

As I had an early morning the next day, that worked for me.

Except that the next morning when I woke up the dish was still there. In the midst of watching the big game, it had been forgotten. I knew in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter, yet it did. At least to me.

As I thought about how to express my frustration so as to frame it in the best way possible, the thought crossed my mine that rarely did my husband have to plan similar discussions with me. And while the temptation was to think that this was because my track record was perfect, it didn’t take me long to realize that was probably not the case. My memory, like most people’s, is faulty. Surely there were times that I had agreed to do something and then forgotten to do it.  The reason I couldn’t recall a history of my husband initiating similar conversations was more due to his graciousness than my diligence. More often than not, he chooses to overlook my errors and knowing him, when I am forgetful, he probably does whatever thing I neglected to do without making a peep. He doesn’t require “a good reason” for my lack of mindfulness; he opts to issue me grace. While I may be inclined to wonder how he could quickly forget the dirty dish, I should instead be gratefully wondering why he is so quick to forget my mistakes.

In our sinfulness it is easy to notice the missteps and errors of others. However, we are less aware of the kindness and sacrifice that others extend to us. May we strive to reverse this tendency. And may we follow the example of my husband and become quick to forget.

 

Proverbs 19-11

Speaking Softly

January 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

President Teddy Roosevelt was famous for saying “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

The Bible leaves out the part about the big stick, but does state that “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1a). Since it seems that most people indicate that they dislike conflict, one would think that this truism would be heeded more often. Perhaps the reason that it is not is because we are unsure what a “soft answer” is. Does it mean that we need to keep our opinions to ourselves and only state niceties? After all, the Bible also states that it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11). Or perhaps it means that we are to give compliments to those we are frustrated with and by doing so “heap burning coals” on our enemy’s head (Prov. 25:22). While it is assuredly a good thing to both overlook an offense and to say kind things to those who wrong us, there are some circumstances where the continuance and growth of a relationship seem to require that we let someone else know what is bothering us. In this case, how can we ensure that our response can be classified as “soft?”

One way to answer this question is to look at the definition of the words that we use. The word soft can be defined as “having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast rather than sharp definition.” A “soft” answer then won’t draw rigid distinctions but instead will please the other by extending grace. When we respond softly it doesn’t mean that we continue unheard; it means that our response considers the other person and their perspective in shaping our communication efforts.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this is to look at an example. For instance, can you hear the difference between telling someone “I didn’t feel like my time was respected” versus stating “You were disrespectful of my time.”? Not only is the second one full of more intense accusation but by using the word “disrespect” it indicts the other’s motives. Both sentences seemingly communicate the same thing, however the first can be more easily classified as a “soft” answer because it indicates a “subtle” contrast rather than a sharp, and perhaps aggressive, distinction.

What is shown in the example above has practical implications for a variety of circumstances in our lives. Our relationships with our spouse, children, friends and other loved ones will benefit from soft answers that diffuse, rather than incite, wrath. However, doing so requires a deliberation and mindfulness to our words that we are usually not quick to employ. Our emotions tend to get the best of us and instead of being “slow to speak” we are quick to voice our opinions. Speaking softly then not only requires that we are purposeful with how we say things, it requires that we take time to think through the implications of our words before we speak. In doing so, our words are more likely to be pleasing to the other and to turn away the wrath that we otherwise might face.

People often say that “familiarity breeds contempt.” This may sometimes be the case, but perhaps even more frequently familiarity gives birth to complacency.  We may not have disdain for those things or people that we are most familiar with, but we do tend to get accustomed to them. As we acclimate to their presence, our care of them tends to wane.

This is often seen in marriages. The formalities and niceties that permeated the dating relationships can disappear as couples live their lives day-in and day-out. We make assumptions about what our husband or wife thinks because we believe we know them so well. Hurt feelings are disregarded and compliments end because we’ve simply grown used to having them around. Our attention to details tends to fade.

Because of this proclivity, we sometimes forget to ask the same questions of our spouse that we would a close friend. These like “how are you doing?” become perfunctory rather than an ardent inquiry into their well-being. For the Christian, an even better question that is often neglected is “how can I be praying for you?” Because we assume we know what is going on in our spouse’s life, we may not think to ask.

However, regularly and intentionally asking our spouse for their prayer requests has several benefits. Namely:

You better understand their challenges and struggles. When you catch up with each other and the end of the day there is often a list of discussion points that must be covered. You need to compare calendars, make plans, and ensure you are on the same page with one another in regards to the kids. While doing this you may think that you have a good understanding of your loved one’s day, but likely you have only a cursory overview. Asking for specific prayer requests helps reveals what issues are most pressing on your spouse’s heart. It reveals what areas or issues are causing them concern, and allows you to partner together in facing them.

You are better prepared to help them. Building off the previous point, when you are aware of the issues that your spouse must contend with during a day, you know better how you may bless them. You may think that your are helping your spouse because you are preparing dinner and getting the laundry done, but perhaps what they really need in that season is someone to take the car in for an oil change which they have intended to do for the last several weeks but it just never got done. This is a simplistic example, but it illustrates the point. We tend to do the same thing that we’ve always done assuming that what has been beneficial in the past carries the same benefit into the future. People and marriages go through seasons and different needs arise. Asking your spouse for their prayer requests not only allows you to petition God for help on their behalf, it may be an opportunity that God uses to speak into your heart on how you may bless the one you love.

You can follow up and keep track. When you say a general prayer for your spouse, God is faithful to respond. The challenge is that you don’t have any idea what the response was. Because you were not specific, it is difficult to demonstrate a specific answer. This means that you can’t follow-up with your spouse to see whether their needs were met, nor can you know whether continued petitioning is needed. Additionally, you have no record of God’s faithful and generous response to your requests, because all your requests were abstract. Throughout Scripture God calls His people to remember what He has done in their lives. Knowing how He has responded to your prayers is one aspect of this. If you have only made general requests on behalf of your spouse, all of your recollections will be general too. While this may provide some comfort the next time you face an uncertain or scary future, specificity would probably provide even greater assurance as you recall the things God has done.

You show your spouse love. One of the marvelous things about prayer is that even nonbelievers tend to appreciate it when you pray for them. Lifting your loved one up to the One who loves them even more than you do and Whose purposes can not be thwarted (Job 42:2) demonstrates your affection and concern. Your spouse will likely face many situations where you can not tangibly provide them what they need. However, you can always pray. As you do so, you are asking the One who controls all to intervene on their behalf. What is a better indication of love than that?

In the busyness of the days it is easy to assume that you know how you should pray for your spouse. However, purposefully asking them for their requests has numerous benefits. As we do so we reveal that our familiarity has not caused us to grow passive. Instead, the more we are aware of their concerns, the more likely we are to bear their burden as our own (see Gal. 6:2). The more we know how we should petition, the more we see the response and the effects of those prayers. And the more purposefully we pray, the more demonstratively we show our love.

Study to Serve

June 6, 2013 — 2 Comments

iStock_000000641866XSmallMy dad used to tease me that I would be a great professional student. As with most humor the reason this was funny is because there was truth behind it. I am one of those rare people who love school. I appreciate the organization, I treasure the learning and I actually like the process of studying. Having dedicated time to learn new material works well with both my introversion and my tendency to collect things (like random facts.) Academic pursuits are invigorating for me.

Since I am no longer a student in any official capacity it would be easy to think that my days of studying are over. After all, no one is going to issue me a pop quiz. Finals week does not cause me to stay up late and attempt to cram (since now I’m the one giving the finals I stay up late to assess how successful the cramming was.)  Report cards are a thing of the past. Studying, it would seem, would join it.

While I may not be sharpening any number 2 pencils or purchasing any blue books, it doesn’t mean that my study sessions are over. There is a far more important report than the one that arrived in the mail every semester. At the end of my days there is an account that I will give to my Maker regarding what I did with the blessing of marriage that He gave me. Giving an account that will honor Him is one that requires even more diligence and focus than my hardest exam. It requires that I study.

This may seem like an arduous task for something that is supposed to be a delight. And let me assuaged any concerns by stating that I deeply and profoundly love my spouse and being married to him is the second greatest gift in my life after my salvation in Jesus Christ. However, serving him in a way that pleases Jesus doesn’t come naturally. Serving anyone goes against our sinful nature because our desire is to please ourselves. Serving another person in a way that will be best for that other person requires awareness, expansive knowledge and spontaneous recall. In other words, it requires that I study who my husband is so that my service is prompted by what would most benefit him. The aim of my study then is not so that I can pat myself on the back for my good performance, but that through our marriage my husband is encouraged and God is pleased.

What things should I study? There are at least four areas on which I should focus:

1) Study his habits  – Maybe your spouse always forgets where they put their keys. Or maybe you know that he likes a glass of water before dinner or the house cooled before he goes to sleep. When you studying your husband’s habits it makes it easier to know how to best serve him because you can more easily identify areas where you loving assistance would be most appreciated, and most beneficial to him. Diligently observing how he regularly organizes and operates his day while reveal specific ways that you can do good to your spouse and as a result display Jesus’ love to him.

2) Study his hobbies  – It seems to be en vogue for husbands and wives to spend their time separately. We want to allow each other to “be their own person” or so the reasoning goes. However, when you got married God joined you together (Mt. 19:5) and it makes sense then that there would be some crossover between what the other partner likes to do. Hobbies are a wonderful indication of what someone values because they demonstrate how a person chooses to spend their time. Studying your spouse’s hobbies doesn’t mean that you have to go to the golf course with them every single time or that you have to become an expert in their favorite team or movie genre, but it does mean that you should be able to converse about these things. If something is important to your loved one it should be important to you. Serving your husband means that when you spend time together it shouldn’t always be about what you mutually like to do or worse yet what you exclusively want. Sometimes simply sacrificing your time to pursue a hobby that your husband values is a wonderful way to serve him.

3) Study his heart – The Bible teaches us that where our treasure is our heart will be also (Mt. 6:21). In order to serve your husband well it is important to study what he values. For some, a home cooked meal every night is a meaningful and significant way to serve them; for others they could care less about this. It is important that we don’t always assume that we know what our husband needs, but that we are diligent about studying who he is in order to serve him in the way that will be most significant for him, and in keeping with what he treasures.

4) Study his holiness – If we are going to serve our spouse well, one of the things that we should be cognizant of is how God is currently working in him in order to make him more like Christ. As someone who cares for our husband, we should be helping and supporting their sanctification. This doesn’t mean that we should strive to do the work of conviction in our husband’s life; that is the Holy Spirit’s role and frankly He does a much better job of it. But it does mean that when we know our husband is striving to conform a certain aspect of his life to more closely mirror God’s desires, we can support, encourage and help him in doing so. We should be celebrating the work that God is doing in our husband, and doing so requires that we are careful to pay attention to how God is working to make our loved one more like Him.

There may be a temptation to read all of this and to think “well that sounds sweet and all, but what about what the husband should do?” And I get that our prideful nature wants to make sure that we aren’t extending ourselves in service if it is not going to be reciprocated. However, there are two things to keep in mind. First, our obedience to Christ shouldn’t be contingent on another person’s response. We are called to serve others (see Gal. 5:13) and our husband should be first on the list of those who receive the outpouring of our service to Christ. Secondly, Christian husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and there is no one who served more sacrificially than when Christ laid down His life to take on the sins of the world that we may be saved and spend eternity with Him. In other words, while this isn’t supposed to be a one-way street, we can’t let whether or not our spouse is going in the right direction deter us from pursuing what God has called us to do.

It may sound unconventional to study our spouse in order to serve them well. We may be tempted to think that this should be a natural outpouring of our love for him, and in reality, it should be. But in order to serve him in a way that is most beneficial to and appreciated by him requires diligence, focus and intention. In other words it requires study. May our studying of our spouse lead us to serve him in a way that will bring more glory to God, through our lives and his.

The Coming Payoff

April 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

When I was younger, my mom would preach the value of retirement accounts. “Compounding interest” was the key phrase and I still remember a newspaper article she saved that illustrated how if you started saving when you were young, you would have significantly more than if you waited until you were older and tried to “make up” for your lack of earlier diligence. My mom wanted us to learn what a lot of people only discover through experience – it may seem like there are “better” things to spend your money on when you are young, but when you are older you are going to be glad you made the sacrifice to save while your obligations were few. It may seem like retirement is a long ways away, but the years go by quickly. The payoff for your diligence will be here before you know it.

Although it may be odd to state it, it is helpful to think of our relationships the same way – particularly the relationship with our spouse. The day-to-day sacrifices may seem small, but their value accumulates over time. A decision to defer to our loved one’s preferences or a choice to serve rather than be served may appear insignificant in the moment, but it reaps dividends in the end. Not only do we grow in our willingness to demonstrate love the more that we practice it, but we demonstrate a pattern of behavior to our spouse that displays their importance in our lives. It is easy to say “I love you” much like it is relatively easy to earn a single paycheck. It takes diligence to act on this love day-in and day-out even when the benefits of doing so aren’t seen in that moment.

Unfortunately, many people approach their relationship with their spouse in the same way that many people approach retirement. Sacrifices aren’t made early on, and then they try to “make up” for it when crisis hits. Equally unfortunately, often times this has as little chance for success in relationships as it does for retirement. When the small choices to love aren’t made, it is even more difficult to make the hard ones.

The decision to save for retirement when you are young is a decision that is made because you recognize that statistically you are probably going to need that money when you are no longer employed.  It considers the long-term view, anticipating the future that you desire to have and making choices now that will help prepare you for that desired stated. In the same way, choosing to demonstrate love, forgiveness, grace and appreciation for our spouse in the moments and the days that we have now is preparing us to fulfill the vow that we made on our wedding day. Namely, that we will love in sickness and health, better or worse, and that nothing but death will tear us apart. May we look to the coming pay-off of our choices, recognizing that as we do so we are diligently preparing for the days ahead.

Choosing to Remain

March 28, 2013 — 2 Comments
©iStockphoto.com/YasmineV

©iStockphoto.com/YasmineV

A lot of time when we think about the decisions that weigh on our mind, we are making a choice about what’s next. With alternatives presented before us, we have to decide what option we are going to pursue. We equate making a choice with selecting a certain course of action, and action of course means doing something different.

It is true that many times when we are making a decision we are discontinuing what we have been doing in order to do something new. However continuing to do the same thing is a choice as well. I can make a decision about where to go on vacation, but I can also go to work and not take a vacation at all. It may not seem like maintaining my normal routine involves much decision-making prowess, but making that call is just as much as a decision as selecting between Hawaii and the Bahamas. This is why people are rightly aghast when witnesses to a crime do not intervene. Continuing on with what they had been doing instead of helping someone in need is choosing their own priorities over someone that needed their assistance.

In a similar way, I’m convinced that the collapse of many marriages is caused because people do not recognize that choosing to remain in that marriage is not a matter of habit but a matter of decision. This is a choice that must not just be made in crisis moments; it is one that must be selected each and every day. People may think that staying in a marriage is simply a routine that is formed over time, however, in reality it is a proactive commitment that each partner makes and reinforces on a regular basis.

We can see that remaining in a relationship is a choice because Christ commanded His followers to remain in a relationship with Him. “Abide in Me” He stated (John 15:4). In other words, stay with Me; choose each and every day to remain My dedicated follower, committed to doing My Will and intent on demonstrating My love. If following this directive didn’t necessitate some volition on our part, than it would be a nonsensical command. If abiding in Christ simply happened as a matter of course than He wouldn’t need to provide His followers with this direction. Similarly, remaining in a marriage isn’t just second nature; it requires dedication, commitment and daily perseverance.

Recognizing this distinction is important because it is too easy to think that marriages remain intact based solely on some unknown quantification of whether a couple was “meant to be.” Instead, marriages remain together if, by the grace of God, the couple regularly and intentionally purposes to stay that way. It may seem like couples only makes a proactive choice when a marriage ends, but that is not the case. Husbands and wives also choose to remain, and marriages that last will make that choice, time and time again.

More Than Partners

January 24, 2013 — Leave a comment
Cute Couple

©iStockphoto.com/alephx01

When preparing to give birth or when reading blogs or books about being a new parent, writers often talk about the role of the mother’s “partner.” Throughout the literature it is clear that mommyhood isn’t something that is intended to be done alone. If the mother takes on the full weight of responsibility for the little one’s life, not only will she quickly be overwhelmed, but the father is missing out on an important part of the parenting experience. Researchers want dads and moms to know that parenting is not a solo gig.

While I agree with the sentiments expressed by these authors, I found myself often tripping up over the word “partner.” As a businessperson one learns early on that a partnership is one way of establishing an organizational structure. A partnership is where two parties share both responsibilities and decision-making authority. Liabilities and assets, profits and losses are all to be shared between the partners. There is a mutual investment and all partners have an interest in seeing the enterprise succeed.

The trouble is that while the above description may seem to clearly reflect how many people approach marriage and parenting, a partnership is not an apt characterization of the biblical model of these things. Partnerships, after all, are transactional – it is about an exchange of ideas, money or other assets that allow all parties to benefit. Marriages are relational – it is not about each person protecting their own interest and obtaining their own success – it is about sacrifice and care for the good of your spouse. Partnerships are easy to dissolve and often are when they no longer are able to obtain their desired outcome; marriages are intended to last beyond any temporal condition and are about bringing God glory not about personal self interest. While marriage may envelope some of the principles of a partnership, a Christian marriage should move beyond these elementary ideas and should be seen both as a ministry – intended to reflect Christ to both your spouse and to the watching world – and a commitment that no contract or court can can abrogate. Neither of these things are transactional – they mean something more than simply an exchange so that two parties benefit.

It is easy to slip into the language of our culture and to talk about our spouse as our partner. And hopefully it is true that both our spouse and ourselves are invested in our marriage and our committed to its success. However, let us also recognize that merely having a partnership is not what God intended when two people are brought together as one. Let us approach our marriage as more than a partnership – to see it not as a transaction but as a relationship that can bring God honor and praise.

Life as a noble wife

October 17, 2012 — Leave a comment
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©iStockphoto.com/tomazi

Here in the United States, our definitions of nobility are often made up of what we see from Disney fairytales and watching the British royals. The idea that someone’s bloodlines alone would set them apart as something special is unfamiliar to us. While we may understand the idea in concept, we reject the idea in practice. We pride ourselves in being “the land of dreams” where with enough hard work and talent anyone can achieve what they desire. Our aristocracy is fluid in nature – comprised of the latest celebrity, professional sports player or tech tycoon to hit it big.

Because of the context that we live in, it may be difficult to grasp the exhortation of Proverbs 31:10 when the writer states “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” We are unfamiliar with the concept of nobility in general, let alone what the concept of a noble wife means.

The dictionary can be somewhat useful to us here. It defines noble as “possessing outstanding qualities,” or alternatively as “very good or excellent.” It goes on to define this word as “possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals.”  So one thing we know about being a noble wife is that she is the exception rather than the rule. Our definition of a noble wife than can’t simply be based on what we see proliferated in the lives of women in media or even in our immediate circle of relationships. It is no wonder that writer of this proverb knew she was more valuable than a rare jewel – not just any woman would qualify for this distinction and finding her would be no easy task.

Another thing that we can quickly learn is that whether a woman is considered “noble” or not has much more to do with who she is than what she appears to be. In other words, the distinction of a “noble wife” is made based on the type of person that she is – her character, how she thinks and how she behaves. It is her ideals and morals that distinguish her as noble – not her perfectly manicured nails or her exquisite fashion sense. If we desire to be this type of woman this definition helps us direct where we should spend our time and invest our efforts. While taking care of our outside appearance is good, the greatest return will be found in grooming and refining our hearts. In doing so, our inner beauty will be reflected in our lives.

Lastly, it doesn’t take much to realize that the noble wife is one that is characterized by excellence. Doing what she is called to do well isn’t just a passing fancy, but it is the description of how she goes about completing her work. She is good at what she does. As we later read in Proverbs 31 that this includes everything from providing garments for her household to negotiating the purchase of a field. She is not given to half-hearted efforts – but seeks to bring glory to her Lord and honor to her husband through dispensing her tasks with great care and commitment. Her focus isn’t on “good enough to get by,” recognizing that the degree to which she does a task well is a reflection of her character and the seriousness of her commitment to the high calling she has been given.

What does a wife of noble character look like then? She looks like someone who gives as much care to maintaining her inner beauty as most princesses to do maintaining their outer allure. She is someone who is distinguished not by bloodlines but by convictions and character. Her legions of followers may be small in this life, but for the woman of God who chooses this path, she will be rewarded greatly in Heaven.  She may never have the perfect curtsey or know all the proper royal protocol, but in the end, her worth will be far greater than even the richest kingdom of this earth can hold.

Being Noah’s Wife

September 19, 2012 — 2 Comments
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©iStockphoto.com/Glacoff

Awhile ago I heard the familiar story of Noah and the Flood. For some reason as I listened this time I began thinking about what it must have been like to be Noah’s wife. Not much is known about her, the Bible doesn’t even give us her name, yet her world was radically changed because of the call that God placed on her husband’s life. Even without a lot of details about who she was, what her history was, and the specifics of how the worldwide flood effected her personally, there are a few lessons that we can extrapolate from her circumstances.

  • She married wisely – The marriage process looked a lot different during those days, there is no doubt, but one can’t deny the fact that Noah’s wife married wisely. After all, when God looked at the Earth, it was her husband alone that was said to have found favor in HIs eyes (Gen. 6:8).  Her husband “did all that God commanded him” (Gen. 7:5) demonstrating a heart of obedience and submission to the Creator of the Universe. As a result of this wise marital choice, Noah’s wife’s life, and the lives of her three sons were spared. We may not have as a dramatic story to tell of how marrying wisely impacted our lives, but we can be sure that doing so will produce benefits. If we are unsure of the character traits that we should look for, finding someone who finds favor with God and who diligently obeys Him is a wonderful place to start.


  • She got on board. – This may seem like a silly statement in retrospect, but we have to remember that Noah was building a boat, something no one may have ever heard of, in order to weather a torrential rain, which no one had ever seen. However, this didn’t stop Noah’s wife from climbing on the ark before any raindrops had fallen (Gen. 7:1-5). One can presume that she trusted that God’s plan for her husband’s life was His plan for hers as well. Both figuratively and literally, it seems she got on board with that plan. There’s no indication that she tried to circumvent this plan or come up with an alternative course of action “just in case.” She trusted that God was leading her husband and that in doing so, He was providing protection for her too. We would do well to emulate this attitude in whatever direction God leads our spouse.


  • She weathered the storm – Of course God, through Noah, provided the ark that allowed his wife and family to survive the Flood. However, the difficulties likely didn’t start when the rain fell. It is conceivable that Noah was ridiculed by his neighbors and I would imagine that his wife was equally subject to the whisperings and gossip of the neighbors’ wives. Noah’s spouse didn’t let this stop her from following in her husband’s footsteps and trusting in the plan that God had given him. Additionally, the Bible gives no indication that once the 40 days and 40 nights were over, she tried to hastened their departure, eager to get back to their former ways of doing things. It was probably easier to stay on the ark when the pounding of the rain could be heard. It was likely much more difficult when they were still floating on the waters 109 days later. It must have been even more challenging when dry land didn’t appear until more months had passed. Yet, there is no indication that Noah’s wife “jumped ship,” complained relentlessly, or questioned what they were doing. She stuck by her husband’s side, weathering the initial downpour and the (likely unpleasant) aftermath.


  • She planted where they landed – I don’t know if Noah’s wife literally cultivated a garden (although given the agricultural nature of the times this is a possibility), but Scripture does indicate that Noah’s household was established near where the ark landed. There is no indication of a journey made back to where they resided before or pining for the “good old days” before the Flood commenced. Instead, Noah’s family established themselves where God placed them. Although like most of these lessons it is an argument from silence, I imagine that at least some of this household management can be attributed to Noah’s wife. She not only went on the journey that God had for her husband, but once He settled them, as the matriarch she likely had a significant role in reestablishing the family’s home. She did this where God placed them, partaking of His blessing and the provision that He had made (Gen. 9:1-3).

 

While we may not know a lot of the details of Noah’s wife’s life, there is much we can learn from what we do know, and even from some of the areas of silence on what we don’t. It couldn’t have been easy to be the spouse of the man who was building the first boat in order to survive the world’s first storm. Yet I’m thankful for the example that was set and the lessons that can be learned from Noah’s wife.

iStock_000002333261XSmall“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

This familiar quotation reminds us that there is nothing like a common foe to unite two people together. When your main objective is the same, you can lay aside all sorts of other, lesser disagreements in order to focus on victory. History is replete with examples of the effectiveness of this wisdom. Joining together in order to muster resources, time and energy to wage war against a common enemy is a tried and true battle strategy. Internal squabbles are all but obliterated when the focus is on the external foe.

Despite recognizing the reality of this truism, Christians often fail to apply it to their own relationships. Perhaps there is no greater arena for doing so than in a Christian marriage. When two Christians wed, there should be a recognition that their union is not mainly about themselves. Of course, there are reasons, and hopefully good ones, that they have chosen to be united together. Those reasons, however – they make each other laugh, they share the same affection for baseball, they like spending time together, etc. – are not the critical component of their marriage. Their marriage, like all of a Christian’s life, exists for the glory of God. This means their common aim is to conduct themselves in such a way that their lives individually, and their marriage collectively, reflects the grace and beauty of our Lord. Their marriage exists for His honor and praise – not for their own acclaim and pleasure.

However, as the Bible makes clear, there is an enemy who seeks to redirect the praise and glory that rightly belongs to God. This enemy is not passive in his quest. He “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”  (I Peter 5:8). He is looking for lives, and circumstances that can be manipulated into seeking praise for themselves, instead of giving praise to the King. He knows that any honor not directed at God, is honored that is misplaced. When God doesn’t get the acclaim He so rightly deserves, Satan considers this a clear, albeit temporary, victory.

While we may affirm the reality of this situation, we are quick to forget it when dealing with circumstances in our home. Scripture tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but often we behave as it is (Eph. 6:12). And far too often, we think the battle is with the one person, our spouse, that should be our closest compatriot in fighting against our mutual foe. Instead of seeing our loved one as our brother or sister in arms, we see them as the one with whom the battle is against. When we are blinded by our own preferences or inclinations from seeing the true enemy, when we are convinced that we have to fight for our own way, instead of contending for God’s, then our marriage ceases to represent Christ. It becomes about us. And then, in that moment, the glory that rightly belongs to God, we retain for ourselves.

Imagine though how our discussions, attitudes and behaviors would change if we recognized that the one we married was engaged in the same battle as we were. If we saw them as someone who is “fighting the good fight” to claim victory for the King that we also serve. Instead of doing battle with them, we would seek to encourage them in their struggle. Instead of focusing on their failures, we would celebrate the victories. We would not view them as a foe, but instead interact with them as a friend.

We would mutually create strategies and tactics to ensure that the enemy didn’t have a foothold in either of our lives, and our satisfaction would not be contingent on getting what we want, but in how well we jointly serve our King.

It wouldn’t be easy. Few things that are worth fighting for are. But it would redirect our attention from the smaller struggles, to the large one. It would take the focus off ourselves and center it on God. And it would help ensure that the glory and praise in our marriage goes to Whom is its proper aim.