Our enemy’s longevity
Our real enemy in marriage has nothing to do with our past or what we face presently. The present might seem to be the problem, but it isn’t. It’s true that marriages today are fraught with conflict. Whether it’s about children, church, finances, grandkids, in-laws, relationships, retirement, schedules, sex, or work, we struggle with conflict. We’re not so different from our great-grandparents even though the dynamics of their marriages were different and in a different time and era.
That’s because the core enemy of marriage is still the same. The desired outcome of this enemy is the defeat of healthy marriages. It’s purpose is to tear down what is beautiful and growing and build, instead, empty promises of success by focusing on what isn’t important. His purpose is to divide and conquer, and he uses tunnel vision to get us started.
We develop tunnel vision. We can’t see the forest for the trees. If we’d look at the forest, we’d recognize that our enemy has limited our marriage vision so covertly that we don’t even realize what is happening. The term “Can’t see the forest for the trees” actually means “An expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole.”
Real tactics of our real enemy in marriage
The whole of the problem is that we have an enemy who walks around, seeking to destroy and devour. Anyone who has struggled in marriage knows this first-hand. For every one of us, we know, if we’re honest, that this is true.
Our enemy is not our kids, our pastor, the bank, our in-laws, friends, spouse, or employer. Our real enemy in marriage is the devil. The earth is his battleground and he doesn’t plan to stop until he must. Scripture tells us this is so.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Certainly, we struggle in our marriages. We disagree about how to raise our kids, how to spend our money, where to go on vacation, which one has the best or worse mother-in-law, whether an employer is fair in demanding more overtime, and whether I have a right to be hurt over what he did or said. Years of conflict, hurt, and betrayal often lead to broken people, broken homes, and broken hearts.
When a wolf wants to claim a lamb, he doesn’t attack an entire flock. Instead, he comes into the flock and scatters the sheep. By dividing the lambs from each other, they become easy prey. His tactic is “divide and conquer.” This simply means “to make a group of people disagree and fight with one another so that they will not join together against one. ” When we allow our real enemy in marriage to scatter us, our marriage becomes easy prey. When he can divide us, he can then conquer. That’s his battle plan, and that’s how he wins.
By not fighting together against our enemy, we allow our real enemy in marriage to win. So, the simple solution is to fight together against our real enemy in marriage: the devil.
Simple, but still hard!
You don’t need to tell me how hard this is. I know. The difficulty lies in agreeing to recognize our real enemy in marriage and to fight with each other against this enemy. The problem is that our personal pain from what our spouse has done makes it almost impossible to not view him (or her) as the enemy. After all, he is the one who didn’t keep his marriage vows, who doesn’t love and cherish me, and who neglects my genuine needs. The pain comes from his choices and that pain is very real. Sometimes there are ramifications from the past – things we must face alone or face with our children.
Yet, the fact remains that the devil is more our enemy than our spouse. Our problem is that we’re not living with the devil like we’re living with our spouse. That’s also why it’s so difficult to see – because the devil is unseen in bodily form. Yet, he’s very present in our lives.
The fight is against the real enemy in marriage and not against flesh and blood
Scripture assures us that the real battle against the enemy in marriage is not in human flesh.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [a]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I can tell you honestly that, especially in the earlier years of our marriage, if I had recognized this truth as a foundation to relating in marriage, I would have “fought” differently. Had I realized that the real enemy in marriage was the devil and not my husband’s insensitivity, carelessness or bullheadedness, I’d have fought more for my marriage than against him. I knew we were on the same team, and I tried to practice being on the same team. But I hadn’t quite wrapped my mind around that principle. I failed at times to recognize the devil as the real enemy during our disagreements and conflicts. Oh yes, I would still have spoken truth. I’d have shared my thoughts and my feelings. But recognizing who the real enemy in marriage really is would have changed my battle plan.
Some battle plans might include getting help from others who have been in the trenches. Other battle plans might include nabbing prayer warriors. Recognizing that the devil is our real enemy does not give us permission to lay down and cry “uncle” because we can’t ever get rid of the enemy. Nor does it give us permission to always concede to our spouse because it’s the only way to have “peace” – for in that case, we lose and our enemy wins.
Every marriage is worth fighting for. To do that, we must recognize who the real enemy is and choose to fight together against the real enemy instead of against each other.