I’m Sick of Fighting with My Spouse! How Do We STOP?! (Part 3)
What Should I Want?
It’s a powerful thing.
It can pull us deeper in love, or further apart, depending on which desires we pursue- our own or the Lord’s.
In part one of this series, we answered the question: What do I want?
Let’s ask another one.
What lies beneath?
What lies beneath the desires we ask God to fulfill?
Godly motivation or selfish intent?
James 4:2-3 says you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong- you want only what will give you pleasure.
When you ask God for something, three things are revealed:
Stop and think for a moment.
Have you ever treated God like this?
Asking God for things is NOT WRONG. But if you’re asking out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda, God is TOO LOVING to give you what you want.
If you’re asking for something that would please Him, something Biblical, great! Keep asking! But if He sees it is something that will lead to your destruction, His “no” may be to teach you something.
When we ask God to grant us our desires, we must look at what’s really behind the request.
Look on in James 4 at verse 4: You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. God is calling our bluff.
An adulterer is someone who has broken their covenant, abandoned their first love.
If we are believers in Jesus Christ, it is possible for us to have a divided heart. Our sin nature makes it so (see Romans 7:15).
God sees us ask for what we want, but we ask with a divided heart- one foot on the world’s turf, one foot on eternity’s turf. We desire the ways of the Lord, but don't want to put both fee on His turf.
So, He asks us to draw near, and promises He will draw near to us (James 4:8). He tells us to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts, humbling ourselves before Him, so that He will exalt us (James 4:10).
How do we know when we’re living with a divided heart? Even an adulterous one?
We worry and get anxious about our:
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:31-33 “Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
So truly, there is no need to worry or get anxious.
HE WILL PROVIDE EVERYTHING WE NEED!
But we lack trust.
So, we start trying to serve ourselves AND God. We try to attain our dream AND God’s will. We wonder: Will God REALLY provide EVERYTHING I need?
We know the verses. (Need a refresher? Check these out: Philippians 4:19, Matthew 7:11, Luke 12:24, Psalm 34:10, Psalm 145:15-16, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
We know what God says.
We’re just not ready to believe it.
Jesus calls us to abide in Him, to obey Him, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as HE has loved us.
Know Him. Love Him. Trust Him. Step out in faith.
If our desires are Godly, the fighting will stop. The unsolvable fight in our marriage will suddenly cease to exist. United we’ll stand.
I realize sometimes this is all much easier said than done.
Let’s ask another question that might help us in the action plan for how to handle our desires.
What should I want?
Psalm 37:4 tells us- Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
There’s the answer to the question “What should I want?” The LORD.
When was the last time you asked GOD for something you wanted (rather than fight to get it yourself)? Rather than engaging in battle over your desires, PRAY.
Jesus says in Luke 11:9-13, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
In this passage, God promises to give us what we need most: HIMSELF. He wants us to desire HIM- day by day, moment by moment. He calls us to seek and desire HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness; to set our hearts and minds (desires) on Him and what He freely offers.
What does He freely offer?
Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9)
His presence through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)
His promises fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
Everything good (James 1:17)
Remember 1 Peter 5:8 from part two of this series?
Let’s back it up one verse and check out 1 Peter 5:7. It says, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. It is no coincidence that right before God warns us of our enemy (verse 8), He reminds us of His care for us, His deep affection, His watchful eye.
He is NOT going to withhold Himself from us (Hebrews 13:5). He will never leave us or forsake us. We can trust that as we seek Him, surrendering our desires to Him, He will give us what we need.
Don’t miss those keywords in how to stop the fighting in your marriage…
Belief. Trust. Surrender.
With those three words, your desires will change.
Belief. Trust. Surrender.
When I convince myself that I NEED this or that (whatever is on my list) to be happy/satisfied, I’m losing the internal battle. Belief is where the battle is won or lost.
Look at your list of desires. What do you believe about each one?
Do you believe you must have each one (ANY one) in order to live a “good” life?
Do you trust the Lord to be your Father and Provider? Expecting Him to meet your every need?
When we hang on to our desires and see them as our right or need, we sacrifice unity with our spouse to get what we want. But when our beliefs about God and what His Word says boost our trust in Him, we…
We happily hand over the list of our heart’s desires and say “God, You are good. You are Sovereign. I surrender all because I trust you.” (For more encouragement, listen to this beautiful song).
Our hearts are full in that moment; a moment of joy we can experience again and again- every time another desire arises.
When we believe, trust, and surrender- our selfish, petty desires don’t stand a chance. We stand in the presence of Almighty God, and He pours out His blessings upon us. There’s nothing left over which to fight.
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
Don’t leave hidden desires (the ones you think your spouse doesn’t know about or thinks are resolved, but in your heart are still standing strong). The hidden desires are usually the ones that cause the most trouble. We must address them with the Lord and with our spouse.
First, Take a moment to ponder the following questions, the write down your answers:
What has Satan convinced me that I MUST have?
What am I not willing to sacrifice for the life and health of my marriage?
What have I placed higher value on than this covenant relationship God has provided?
This week, what did I argue over verbally, or manipulate to get for myself?
Doing this will reveal your heart and shed light on the category (1. Biblical 2. Not Biblical but not sinful 3. Sinful) to which these desires belong. Then you’ll know the next step to take.
Second, reflect on who God is. Look back in Biblical history and YOUR history. How has God shown Himself in your life and in the lives of the others (Biblically, people you know personally)? Write down your answers.
Third, bring your desires- ALL of them- before your Heavenly Father and tell Him about them. Believe and trust what He says about your desires, then surrender even the tough ones to Him.
Fourth, bring your desires before your spouse. Ask for forgiveness where forgiveness is needed. Pray together about each other’s individual desires; that they would unite and not divide.
Fifth, in the future, when desires pop up again, repeat the first 3 steps. Do not allow hidden desires any room in your heart, or you’ll fall divided, trying to serve God and self.
If you want the fighting to stop, trust in the Lord, open your hand full of desires and surrender each one to the Lord. He loves you. He wants and knows what’s best for you. Exchange your desires for His.
Check it out
In the last post of this mini-series, we’ll answer some FAQs about fighting.
Read part four: I’m Sick of Fighting with My Spouse! Should We Just Agree to Disagree? for more.
Listening to the corresponding podcast: How to Stop Fighting (Part 2):: [Episode 28]