Restore Joy to Your Marriage Part 1 acknowledged an enemy who seeks to destroy marriages, and discussed how the enemy uses our sinful nature to accomplish his goal. (If you missed part 1, read it here.)
Joy in marriage cannot exist while we allow our sinful nature to reign. Nor will we experience joy while Satan continually manipulates our thoughts and feelings. Why? Because joy originates from God and thrives in His ways alone (read more about biblical joy here and here).
Therefore, restoring joy to your marriage starts by removing everything standing between you and God’s will. But remember, Satan’s strategy relies on you remaining blind to your sinful nature, and he will not let you submit to God’s ways without a fight.
Winning the war over your marriage requires a strategy of your own.
7-Step War Strategy for Marriage
1. Only fight your true enemy.
We already acknowledged Satan as our enemy, along with our sinful nature. But Satan, the deceiver, prefers you see your spouse as the enemy.
Satan fills our heads with lies such as, “if only my spouse would___ then I wouldn’t have to___(yell, belittle, get angry, etc.).” Instead of taking responsibility for our own bad behavior, we blame our spouse for causing such negative traits to surface. (Notice I am using “we” because I have been there!) Being an unfair accusation, your spouse turns the problem back on you, “Well if you had only___.”
A big fight ensues and Satan pats himself on the back for keeping us fighting each other instead of him.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Victory cannot be achieved when we fight our partner instead of our adversary. So turn your focus away from your spouse’s short-comings and only fight the real enemy.
(*disclaimer: “short-comings” do not including situations of abuse or addiction. These are serious problems, please seek help.)
2. Build your defenses.
Without strong defenses, the enemy constantly sneaks in and manipulates our thoughts and feelings. Our best defense against the Satan’s lies is the word of God.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Fill your hearts and minds with scripture about claiming victory over the enemy, surrendering to God’s will, and becoming a godly woman.
A few of my favorites include:
- “I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refuse to let my enemies triumph over me.” Psalm 30:11
- “The Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
- “therefore be of sound judgement and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:7-9
- “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
Write down verses in your prayer journal, or on notecards placed around the house. Highlight them in your Bible app for easy review, or commit to memorizing a verse every couple of weeks. Then use God’s truth to help you recognize and fight the enemy’s lies.
3. Pray for protection.
Take a note from David and call upon God to protect you from your enemies.
“Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me.” Psalm 59:1
Start by asking God to clothe you in His armor (Ephesians 6:10-17) so the enemy’s arrows bounce right off. Then read through Psalms and use all of David’s cries for help as your own.
4. Tell the enemy to flee.
James 4:7 tells us “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Once I understood James 4:7 as a promise, I started commanding Satan to leave; “Satan get out of my house! In Jesus’ name leave my marriage alone!” The power of Christ within us makes Satan powerless (remember, Jesus already defeated him!), and he must leave.
Unfortunately, this does not get rid of our enemy for good, but when you feel attacked, do not hesitate to send Satan packing before serious damage is done.
5. Pray for you and your spouse to overcome your sinful natures and become more like Jesus.
Even without attacks from the enemy, our sinful natures wreak havoc on our marriage and must be addressed.
Start by identifying the root of your marital issues. Is it selfishness? Hard-heartedness? Bitterness? Lack of a relationship with God? Then pray for change. Ask God to work within you and your spouse, changing your hearts and minds to be in line with His ways.
Do not expect instant changes. Constantly pray for progress, and accept this type of change takes time.
Unsure of the root cause(s) of your issues? Ask God to reveal what you need to work on.
6. Be prepared for a counter-attack.
Our merciful, loving God answers prayers. He will hold back the enemy, and bring moments of restoration to your marriage. But beware; just when you feel safe enough to let your defenses down, the enemy will attack even stronger. (Counter attacks are especially prominent in the early days of fighting for your marriage.)
So stay alert! If your spouse’s hardened heart starts to soften, be ready for a personal attack. If you experience a week of successfully maintaining your anger, be prepared for a bad day.
This may sound discouraging, but remember, wars are full of many battles.
7. Pray without ceasing.
Praying for your marriage must not stop. Not when months pass without any change, and not when things improve. As mentioned above, when we lower our defenses, the enemy tries to regain his foothold.
Prayer also helps us remain in line with God’s will. As we seek to leave our sinful natures behind, we would do well to follow the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The war over your marriage will not easily be won, but now you have tools to use and a strategy in place to guide you.
“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)
Need additional help with your war strategy? Sign up below to receive my Build Your Defenses Blueprint; a free printable with 20 verses to pray over your marriage. (Not sure how to pray scripture? Check out this post.)
Keep going, read Part 3 next.