Do you ever find yourself viewing your husband as the enemy? Sadly, sometimes I do.
When things aren’t going my way. When he just doesn’t see the brilliance of my opinion. When he says No, when I want the answer to be Yes. When he doesn’t meet my unspoken expectations. When he just isn’t who I think he should be…I stop seeing him as my beloved and begin to see him as my opponent.
Ever been there? Adversarial living with our husbands will never bring unity to our marriage. In fact, living as adversaries will always cause discord, disharmony, and dysfunction.
So, how do we move from adversary to ally and opposition to oneness? Let me share some simple ideas to help you bridge the gap and transform “sleeping with the enemy,” into oneness with that one man God gave you!
Principle 1: Remind yourself of your unique relationship
I forget that Steve is my ally when I forget the foundation of our relationship. Steve is my best friend! He was my best friend long before we ever got married and that relationship has never changed.
When we’re in the midst of strife, I need to remember that friendship. Sometimes, I want to dig in and view him as the enemy simply because he doesn’t agree with me. Disagreement isn’t the basis for enmity. Disagreement just comes from a different viewpoint. Not a wrong viewpoint; just a different viewpoint.
Just because Steve doesn’t agree with me doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly become my enemy.
Remembering that Steve is my friend helps me to slow down and think before I speak. Do I really want to lob a bomb of bitterness at my best friend? Is a rocket of resentment or a strategy of battling going to make our relationship sweeter?
The answer is no.
Remembering that Steve is my friend, not my foe, builds rather than destroys our relationship.
Principle 2: Renew Your Commitment to Unity
Remembering that Steve is my best friend is so helpful, but when I find myself in that position of questioning our unity and oneness, I need to do more than just remember…I need to take action.
Renewing a commitment to unity means taking proactive steps to work through disagreement, and then purposefully strengthening your marital relationship.
Steve is much better at this process than me. When we find ourselves locked into a disagreement that has gone beyond the issue at hand and has instead, stepped into the realm of relational destruction, he quickly takes action.
Moving closer to me, Steve takes both of my hands in his and holds them as we continue our discussion. This little action always takes the fight out of me and helps us to turn the corner from foe to friendship.
I can’t say that I always surrender gracefully to his leadership in this area.
I’ve tried to pull my hands away.
I’ve tried to go “cold fish” with my hands.
I’ve fidgeted, squirmed, and generally tried to make him stop being proactive. I’ve tried to make him become more reactive…like me!
Thankfully, I have an extremely patient husband and he just waits calmly, gently holding my hands, until I calm down, look him in the eyes, and find myself ready to continue our discussion. This time with a renewed unity, rather than a faulty disconnect.
It’s almost impossible to stay adversarial when we’re holding hands.
God’s been working on me and sometimes, now, I’m the one to initiate the handholding. As I gulp, swallow my pride, and reach over to grasp Steve’s hands, I’m always blessed by how God softens my heart and reminds me that we are a team.
The simple act of putting in place a physical reminder of our marital oneness helps me to slow down, breathe, and allow that physical affirmation of tenderness to redirect my attitude and thoughts.
Renewing a commitment to unity will build walls of protection around your marriage.
Principle 3: Restore whatever is broken
Sometimes, in those times of disunity, harm has been done to my marriage. At those times, it’s important to take the necessary steps to restore and rebuild what was broken.
God has given us a reset button to restore broken relationships. That reset button is the action of seeking forgiveness.
Asking Steve’s forgiveness for my wrong attitudes and adversarial communication moves us beyond simply communicating better and into the realm of increased marital oneness.
Forgiveness is the medicine that heals wounded relationships.
Forgiveness is the balm that restores bruised hearts to health.
Forgiveness is God’s way to make what was wrong, right again.
Sometimes, restoring what’s broken means being transparent about what is really bothering me. Steve and I have often found ourselves in disagreement about something really insignificant. When we stopped and discussed what was really wrong, often the disagreement had little to do with the issue at hand, and everything to do with some offense we hadn't addressed appropriately.
For years I prided myself because I never, “let the sun go down on my anger.” If we had a “Big One” argument, we always resolved the issue before we went to sleep.
Imagine my surprised when I learned that the Greek word used for anger in Ephesians 4:26 was the word for mild irritation. Whoa! That totally changed my responsibility concerning resolution of conflict.
Sometimes, restoring what’s broken means being vulnerable and transparently sharing what’s in your heart. Often, Steve has had no idea that I was offended and because of that, he had no opportunity to seek my forgiveness and to do his part in restoring what was broken in our relationship.
Marriages left uncared for will fall into disrepair! Do what’s needed for the care and maintenance of your own special marriage.
Remember your unique relationship.
Renew your commitment to unity.
Restore what’s broken.
Take the necessary steps to build oneness and avoid living in a war zone!