As a child I stood out in a crowd. Not because I was taller than the others, but because I had bright red hair like “Opie Taylor.” While girls had names like Becky, Sue, Melissa, Molly; names that could have cute nicknames, I had an uncommon name.
I was given Gretchen. There is no nickname for this eight letter word. No specialized keychains or license plates for my bike with my name on it. Just eight clunky letters that sounded like a growl when spoken.
On the playground, I would be swinging on the monkey bars, unafraid to get dirty and just enjoying the moment. I was not like the girls who wanted to be Farrah Fawcett or some other starlet. Being a red headed tomboy, with an uncommon name was like walking around with a bullseye on me.
Bullies often find one (or two) insecurities which make a person feel less than confident. The one thing a person wants to keep hidden from the world and the bullies will exploit it.
The enemy does the very same thing.
Marriage is the biggest target for the enemy. It is a place full of vulnerability, insecurities, and opportunities for misunderstanding. With the slightest whisper, a seed of doubt is planted and a tender place in one person’s heart becomes the bullseye.
If the enemy is not defeated immediately and removed from the situation, the marriage begins to erode. Tenderness is replaced by wariness. Trust is replaced by distrust. Communication changes from sharing one’s heart and thoughts to sending single sentence text messages.
Yelling, being passive aggressive, sullen, pouty, are all arrows the enemy wants husbands and wives to use at each other. It’s the whole point, distract and redirect from the real enemy.
My own marriage has had many ups and downs over the past twenty-two years. There have been times when my husband wanted to leave, times I did too. Even though we made it through those times with our marriage stronger for the season, we run the risk of further attacks.
If the root of the pain and distrust is not addressed through counseling, mentoring, and an open heart, the broken place the enemy targeted will continue to be vulnerable. If the spouse does not want to resolve the issue or continues to redirect when the issue is brought up, then no healing can begin.
Best Beloved, marriage is created by God Himself. The two shall become one (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31). God knows that two are better than one for problem solving, parenting, facing difficulties. It’s when the husband or wife decides that the difficulties are too many and cannot be faced that the enemy starts to win ground.
The enemy of God is a bully. He wants us to fall down and not get up. He wants to show God that His creation isn’t obedient. Best Beloved, as one who knows the view from the precipice of divorce, get on your knees and pray for your marriage. No matter how pretty or ugly it is right now. Pray for your kids who will look to your marriage as a template for their own.
Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray fervently. Repent and ask forgiveness for the places you’ve been hard-hearted. Give mercy to your spouse. Marriage is too sacred to walk away from when things get tough. Seek counseling, an older couple who can mentor you both.
For Christmas I made a wall hanging for my husband with the chorus to PLUMB’s Fight for You . It is how I feel and how I choose to be in my marriage every single day.
Do not give up the fight.