We shared the toy truck aisle in Target, they looking for a grandson gift, and I looking for a nephew gift. Wife took her time, talking about how “he” would like this one or play with that one. Husband stamped his feet, raising inadequacies about each option, insisting grandson didn’t want anything from her but a gift card. He spewed criticism at her every attempt at cooperation. She seemed embarrassed, but he demanded, “How many more hours will take you? Because I think I’ll just go find a bar and forget about waiting for you.” Awkwardness filled the aisle, making it impossible to make eye contact with the wounded wife before she dropped the last truck and rush off towards bath towels. Why do married people sometimes have ugly, awkward moments, and how do you get out when you’re there?
There are answers for our questions about awkward moments in marriage. There are reasons for our problems, explanations for our lack of peace, and a solution for our pain.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions … Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God … Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10 ESV)
Warring Passions cause Problems
Our own passions cause conflicts and tension. Selfishness drove Husband-in-Target to crush his wife. Desires and wrong motives swell up, overflowing in destructive attitudes and actions. I listened as Husband murdered his wife’s joy. Selfish passion destroys.
To be “at war” is to oppose, to work against, and to attack. We know what godly behavior is, but our desires work against loving and leave us hurting in the aisle at Target.
We fail to ask for what we really need, and we may ask without receiving; misguided motives often drive our requests. “Husband” needs prayer for conviction of his wrong, for kindness, for grace.
Worldly Friendship destroys Peace
When we embrace the world by inviting in sinful thoughts, we create friendship with the world. Being at odds with God robs us of the peace He offers. When befriending the world, I find the world’s peace. When befriending the Father, I find the Father’s peace.
Am I close enough to God to be the friend of God? Has friendship with the world gotten in the way of walking with Him? I need to be close enough to know God to know His peace.
Godly Nearness Fixes Pain
The answer to awkward moments in marriage, whether in public or private, is humility. I’m not talking about being a doormat. As we personally run from sinful ways, we yield our lives to God’s ways. Drawing near to Him requires cleansing our actions, purifying our hearts, and grieving our sin. Drawing near to God results in being lifted up by God.
Humility brings me low, and holiness brings me close. Worldly ways encourage arrogance, fueling an “expert” attitude that demands its own way. As I respond to my mate with humility, I create soft ground for healing. I need to be low enough and close enough to know God’s peace.
Every marriage experiences awkward moments caused by selfishness. We can change the frequency and intensity of these times by cultivating holiness through friendship with God. This friendship guides our relationships and gives us peace as we draw near to Him. Let’s not wait until we’re out at Target to practice these answers in our marriages.
Let’s be low enough and close enough to our Friend God, so we experience His peace in married life.