Marriages are under attack. Not only has the enemy of our souls waged war against Christian marriages, but some of us are also harboring ungodly attitudes which wage war against our marriages as well. Let's take a look at some of these attitudes.
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“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you,” (Colossians 3:12-13).
The Bible tells us to forgive one another. Yet, I’ve seen Christian spouses holding unforgiveness in their hearts toward their spouses. Unforgiveness contradicts Christ’s teachings to forgive in Matthew 6:12-15. Merriam-Webster dictionary provides two definitions for unforgiveness: unwilling or unable to forgive and having or making no allowance for error or weakness.
I want to address both of these definitions in this section. An inability or unwillingness to forgive debts and transgressions will cause stress in the marriage as the offended spouse will want to continually talk about the transgression that was committed against them. Unforgiveness is toxic as it demands a payment which can never be paid for the sins committed.
Furthermore, when a spouse doesn't allow for errors or weakness in her husband, she's forcing her spouse to be perfect which causes unnecessary stress. I call these types of wives, "high maintenance" as she places unattainable demands on both herself and her husband. And no matter what her husband does to win her forgiveness, it will never be enough. Unforgiveness is rooted in pride.
When you’re tempted to hold unforgiveness in your heart, remember all the times God in His grace and mercy forgave you. Your spouse hasn’t done anything to you that compares to the sins we’ve committed before a righteous and holy God.
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“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling,” (Proverbs 16:18, NASB).
Pride will wreck a marriage because it causes spouses to think more highly of themselves, their needs, their wants, their desires than those of their spouses.
Pride will make us hold on to unforgiveness, demanding payment from our spouse for transgressions they committed. Also, pride will prevent us from apologizing when we’re wrong.
Pride causes us to look down on our spouse because he doesn’t make as much money as us, clean the house as often or as well as us, or aren’t as talented or skilled as us. Pride opens the door to competition and jealousy in our marriage because we don’t look at our spouse as a partner but as an adversary or competitor.
Walking in humility is the answer to pride. We are called to be humble and meek just as Jesus was. If pride is a problem in your heart, ask the Lord to help you root it out and to help you walk humbly before Him.
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Everyone gets angry. However, the Bible tells us to be angry but don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). Anger is toxic and destructive. And anger manifests itself in different ways. Remember, anger isn’t always outwardly violent. Anger can manifest through rude speech, negativity, and withholding intimacy. Indeed, we can hold on to anger for many years and not know it. I’ve seen marriages destroyed by angry spirits.
Although everyone gets mad or angry at times, those with an angry spirit may need to fast and/or seek wise counsel from a trusted Christian counselor. If you’re often angry, seek the Lord’s face for healing.
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1 Corinthians 13:5 says love doesn’t seek its own. In other words, love isn’t selfish. Unfortunately, many selfish people get married and continue being selfish. Selfishness is closely related to pride.
The selfish spouse doesn’t view money as belonging to the family, but solely to themselves. The selfish spouse withholds intimacy, discounting her husbands need and desire for intimacy. Selfishness may seem satisfying to the selfish individual, but it leaves the spouse feeling alone, like something is missing in the marriage.
Repenting of the sin of selfishness may drastically improve your marriage. Challenge yourself to be selfless in your marriage. Look for ways to spoil your husband.
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5. Lack of Intimacy
1 Corinthians 7:4 teaches, “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency,” (KJV).
A lack of intimacy is a surefire way to wreck a marriage. Sex should help create intimacy in marriage. The enemy knows that a lack of sex opens the door to infidelity as either the husband or wife, or both seek the intimacy and bond that should be developed within the marriage.
If you struggle with intimacy, the help of a trusted Christian counselor may help you discover why and help you overcome your inability to share intimacy with your husband. Share your concerns with your husband. He loves you and will help you overcome any issues you may have.
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Trust is essential in a healthy marriage. When trust is destroyed, it’s difficult, not impossible, to get it back. Distrust arises in marriage through a plethora of causes: poor financial decisions, infidelity, instability, among others.
When a spouse of done something that causes distrust in the marriage, it’s important to acknowledge what was done and to take the necessary steps to correct the issue. Distrust will wreck a marriage.
Be diligent in maintaining trust in your marriage. You want to trust your husband, and he wants to trust you as well. Trust is the glue that will help keep your marriage together.
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“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,” (Colossians 3:8-9).
Lying is one of the worst things spouses can do to one another. Lying intentionally hides the truth from your spouse. When one is caught in a lie, it’s difficult to restore trust. The offended spouse won’t know when she can believe her spouse. Commit to always telling your spouse the truth, even when you’re hesitant to tell the truth.
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“And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:21-22).
The King James Version of these verses uses the word "submit" instead of "subject.” I want to be very careful here because Paul's instructions to wives to "submit" to their husbands have been taken out of context.
I am by no means telling any wife to be a doormat for her husband, letting him run all over her or abuse her. On the other hand, neither will I tell wives to live apart from their husbands, doing whatever they desire.
A strong, healthy marriage is one in which husband and wife submit to one another. When the husband is trying to live according to Ephesians 5:25-29, and the wife rebels against his leadership, that rebellion is an insult to God. Husbands and wives must, therefore, humble themselves to glorify the Lord.
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9. Division & Discord
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church,” (Ephesians 5:31, NASB).
Weddings are beautiful, aren’t they? Husband and wife stand before their family, friends, and God promising to love one another until death parts them. And yet, every day many married couples allow their parents, their children, their careers, finances, even the church separate them.
Satan will always tempt couples with division within the marriage. Whether it’s a jealous ex or nosey in-law, spouses must be diligent to stand together in unity against every adversary. Wives, we need to remember no one, except God, comes before our husbands. This includes our parents, our siblings, best friends, and even our children.
And when dealing with children, always show a unified front. Children have a way of playing parents against one another. Don’t fall for the trick. It can seem innocent and harmless, but if Satan can use your children as a foothold into your marriage, he will.
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One would think lovelessness would go without saying, but I must include it here. Thus far, we’ve discussed unforgiveness, pride, anger, selfishness, lack of intimacy, distrust, lying, and rebellion. However, none of those things matter if spouses don’t love one another.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 are some of the most beautiful Scriptures, in my opinion. The verses highlight the purest definition of love. Love is the "perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14) and will hold a marriage together when all else fails.
However, when love lacks within the marriage, God is also missing because God is love. Therefore, having love in your marriage invites the very spirit of God into your marriage. And without God, our marriage is destined to fail. 1 Corinthians 13:8 declares that love never fails. Substitute God for love in that sentence, and we'll see why love never fails.
Space doesn’t allow me to fully dive into ungodly attitudes that wreck Christian marriages. However, I believe the 10 included in this article provide insight into why marriages across the world are failing.
As Christians, I believe our marriages should be a physical representation of Christ’s marriage to the Church. Indeed, in our marriages, the world should see the love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, health, and salvation that are ours through Christ Jesus.
Share this article with your spouse and together pray that the Holy Spirit reveals any ungodly attitudes that are wrecking your marriage. And then commit to rebuilding your marriage, making it stronger and better than ever.
Aretha Grant serves her local church as a bible teacher and elder. She loves writing and is the author of Overcomer: 25 Keys to Walking Victoriously. Aretha resides in Hagerstown, MD with her husband and two youngest children. You can read Aretha’s blog at www.arethagrant.com.
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Originally published Friday, 22 February 2019.