It’s nice to have an enemy.
For Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, having an enemy gave his life so much purpose and focus that when he vanquished his enemy, he didn’t know what to do with himself: “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”
When you see someone as the enemy, you can absolve yourself of any responsibility for problems between you. In a black-and-white approach to relationships, if you can allow yourself to think that a problem was caused entirely by the other person, you can continue living in the illusion of your own goodness and righteousness.
It’s nice to think someone else is to blame, even in marriage. Unfortunately, this black-and-white view can both help sexual refusing and gate-keeping grow and make it harder to address once it has taken root.
As Old as the Fall
In our effort to understand what happened, we often look outside ourselves rather than within.
It is human nature to want to place our sins on the shoulders of someone else. Just look at Genesis 3. Adam says, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Adam blames both God and Eve. Classy.) Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Eve blames the Enemy.) Both tried to cast the blame off their own shoulders. They blamed the temptation for their sin rather than their own hearts and decisions.
It can be easy for spouses to both blame each other for her sexual refusal and gate-keeping. Because I saw my husband’s faults, he became the bad guy in my view of our marriage. I allowed myself to think that he was the only one who had changes to make. (He was doing the exact same thing with me.)
In seeing only my husband’s sins against me as the reason I wasn’t interested in having sex with him, I was convinced of my own righteousness—which made it even more difficult to see the need for me to make any changes at all.
My prayers even reflected this. I would unburden myself to God, detailing all the ways my husband had hurt my heart. I would end with something along the lines of “ . . . and that’s why I can’t have sex with him. Thanks for understanding, God.” God’s silence spoke volumes (not that I was listening).
The Enemy Is Your Enemy
We often allow ourselves to be distracted by focusing on who’s at fault for our marriage problems. Sexual refusal is no exception.
It doesn’t matter who started the problems that led to sexual refusal. Once refusal has taken root, both spouses should be working to dig it out—even if it means that the sinned-against is helping the sinner.
It is in our nature to choose a response that places our husbands opposite us, in the enemy position to be blamed—just as the real Enemy wants.
Marriage is too intricate of a relationship for it to be black and white. One flesh cannot stand on two opposite sides of a line.
Perhaps you disagree that sexual refusing and gate-keeping are sins. I felt the same way for a long time—but even then, I was able to see that sex was somehow a problem in our marriage.
If you are tangled up in sexual refusing or gate-keeping, the Enemy may tempt you to see your husband as the enemy.
It is easy that way. You can think you are justified. But the effects of refusal on your marriage will pull your face away from God, just as the Enemy wants.
Choose, instead, to stand on the same side as your husband, together, facing the real Enemy.
This is the second of three posts about the Enemy of Marriage.
Image courtesy of xandert/morgueFile.com