4 Ways Satan Divides Us in Marriage (Linkup and Giveaway!)

Today, I’m continuing to unpack my series on spiritual warfare in marriage—focusing today on how Satan loves to divide us as couples when we pursue good and godly things. Whenever the Enemy can’t divide us from God, he goes the roundabout way by dividing us as couples, which often divides us from the Lord when all is said and done.

Satan Divides

As a pastor’s wife and former pastor’s child, I’ve seen this in my own marriage and my parent’s marriage more times than I can tell you. I think Satan takes a heightened interest in attacking and defeating ministers and their families because they stand as examples to the rest of the church.

It’s like aiming for the jugular and watching the church bleed out. #Satanattackspastors Click To Tweet

How does the Enemy divide us in pursuits that are good and godly things?

1. One spouse wants to do God’s will, while the other wants to do something that “makes more sense.”

One very clear example of this was in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. They started out wanting to do something good by conceiving the son that God had promised them.

Wouldn’t that be a fun way to participate in God’s will and work? #sexinmarriage Click To Tweet

At first, they both believed God would give them this long-awaited son. But at some point Sarah grew impatient—feeling as if what made more sense was for them to “help God out.” So she told Abraham to sleep with her servant, Hagar, in order to secure the son they both wanted.

A good question to ask here is . . . 

What am I tempted to do that makes more sense to me than trusting what God wants us to do in our marriage?

2. We want to spur one another on to good deeds—like reading our Bibles, praying, ministering, as well as where and when we go to church, etc.—but judge each other’s efforts or preferences as not enough or not as godly as our own.

The best picture of this in Scripture comes from the Pharisees who Jesus condemned for their self-righteous attitudes (see Matthew 23:4-12).

In the early days of my marriage, I also became like the Pharisees. Due to all the spiritual practices I had been doing, I came to believe that my husband just wasn’t as spiritual as I was. What an ugly picture, and one that I’m not proud of at all now!

The question here is . . . 

In what ways am I giving in to the thought that I’m more spiritual or better than my mate?

3. We pursue “rightness” rather than righteousness.

Again, I’ve been a perfect example of this, especially in times of conflict. I might be right in my opinions, but when I condescendingly try to put my husband in his place, I’m wrong in my approach.

That’s when . . .

I swallow Satan’s lie that my opinion matters more than how I’m treating my husband. Click To Tweet

God says this . . . “I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ~Jeremiah 31:3b

If God draws our hearts to His truth with kindness, shouldn’t we do the same?

The question here is . . . 

Do I try to convince my mate of how right I am, especially in times of conflict?

4. Start out doing something good together, but it becomes an all-consuming focus that distracts us from each other and God.

I notice Satan tempts couples in three common ways here . . .

  • Build our lives around our children—making sure to get them involved in every sport or activity that they desire. Then we end up running ourselves so ragged that we have little time for our marriages or important spiritual pursuits.
  • Become too heavily involved in serving at our churches or other charitable organizations.
  • Become too focused on our jobs and finding fulfillment there. 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t serve in these good ways, but when our involvement distracts us from pouring into our marriages and, foundationally making God our highest priority, then we’ve allowed Satan to divide and conquer us in marriage.

The question to ask here is . . . 

What “good pursuits” are distracting me from my marriage and/or pursuit of God?

Click on the link for more posts in this “Spiritual Warfare Series.”

Christian bloggers, come join the From Messes to Messages linkup! #GodRedeems Click To Tweet

 

As you might already know, today is Messy Marriage’s 7-year blog-aversery! Woot! Woot! Because of that, I’m offering a HUGE giveaway! I’ve got seven books to giveaway (one each) to seven randomly chosen commenters who live in the continental U.S. The deadline for entering is Sat. Oct. 14th at 4 p.m. (CST). I’ve listed the books below. You can request which one you would like in the comments and I’ll try to pair you up with your choice when I can.

I also will be offering to all of my subscribers, as well as those who subscribe today and moving forward, a private Messy Marriage Library with over 35 free resources, including my 52 chapter ebook, Forgive U! Click “Resource Library” to see what all is included. You won’t want to miss out on this treasure trove of marriage and spiritual resources! Scroll down below to enter your email at at the subscribe field/form or in my right sidebar to get your backstage pass today!

Library

 

What is another way you’ve seen Satan divide married couples in the pursuit of good? 

 

Which of the four ways I listed have you struggled with the most in your marriage or life?

 

One more thing, Sheila Gregoire at To Love, Honor and Vacuum is featuring a post I wrote, “How an Argument Revealed More About Me than My Husband” today. I hope you’ll stop by to check it out as well!


Here are some lovely linkups I join – Mondays @ Soul Survival, Inspire Me MondayMoments of HopeLiterary Musing MondaysTestimony TuesdayJennifer Dukes LeeWriter WednesdayBreak Through Homeschooling LinkupCoffee for Your HeartSitting Among FriendsFaith and FriendsFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage

The books in the giveaway are: The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire (paperback), No More Perfect Marriages by Mark and Jill Savage (paperback), The Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick (Kindle ebook), Marriage God’s Way by Scott LaPierre (Kindle ebook), The 30-Day Love Language Minute Devotional by Gary Chapman (Kindle ebook). See gallery below for photos of each book.


  • What a great reminder, Beth! I’ve been guility of number two, and we both struggle with number four. We work at a mission school for Native American kids, and it’s easy to get sucked in to the neediness of our students and forget that keeping our relationship strong is actually what’s best for our students (they need to see strong marriages modeled for them).

    • Thank you, Anita! Yes, number two is a tough one, especially for anyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time. The more we know the more we tend to veer in this direction! Yikes! Though it certainly doesn’t have to be that way!

      I’m sure that working in that kind of environment would make it difficult not to get sucked into that kind of “love” that pulls you away from loving your mate enough. It can be so demanding doing what you and your hubby are doing. Thanks for being so gracious and sacrificial in that way, but I do hope you are able to strike that balance with your hubby. It is a tension my husband and I are working on alongside you and your husband!

  • pioneerpat1

    Wow, number two hit me in the face last Sunday. My mate has about million rules about church and I don’t really like going with her but I went with her this last Sunday and she was critical of everything I did because it wasn’t the way she worshiped. I told her that we worship in our own way and that just because I don’t worship like you that I am not as spiritual as you and at least I am here. She really didn’t get it and hasn’t really talked to me.
    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful week.

    • Oh wow, Patrick! So sorry to hear this. It’s really disheartening when our mates treat us this way. If only we could step into the receiving end of our mate’s shoes. It never feels loving, but only rejecting when we act that way. Thanks for sharing so openly about it here. I hope that you and your wife are able to navigate through this bumpy situation better. I’m praying so! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth. These are such easy lures into which to fall!

    Another one that has been working on me lately is pride; as my physical condition deteriorates, I push myself harder to stay physically fit, and that’s a really terrible ordeal every day. I look forward to exercise time about as much as I would look forward to juggling scorpions. It’s necessary, because strong muscles and a functioning cardiovascular system are a good defense, but the vomiting-blood-and-passing-out part afterwards is not fun…and the pride it begets is not healthy.

    Barbara cam from a family in which aging was both accepted and revered, and when she has trouble getting up from a kneeling position is likely to say, “Well, I’m getting old.”

    Aside from not accepting illness, I don’t accept aging, and this used to make me extremely impatient…and scornful, thinking, “If I can stay in shape, why can’t you?”

    Fortunately God stayed my tongue until I realized that first, we’re simply different, and second, she’s paying an homage to the family that nurtured her.

    I was about to add, “and I’m not all that, anyway”, but it’s false modesty. I can still pass – in terms of upper-body strength – any special-forces screening test in the US military. I can’t run or do situps, but in terms of pushups and my old friend the chinning bar – I’m good.

    And far too proud of it.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/10/your-dying-spouse-378-caregivers.html

    • I’m sure your tenacity and unflinching spirit in this has been one of the reasons you are still with us, Andrew. So in that sense, I’m grateful for it. I bet your wife probably sees that, though she might not acknowledge it. And yes, this is a good pursuit but can be divisive in a marriage, especially when you both look at this from such opposite perspectives. Thanks for sharing and I do hope you are feeling encouraged by the support of friends, even as your body fails you each day!

  • Susan

    There’s a couple near us – everyone was envious of. They ministered together. Owned and operated a family camp in our area – affecting thousands of people over the years. Now, they are separated. Money became a god when one inherited A LOT. I watch this man come to our church now, alone, amen’ing, praising, praying…Satan has wreaked havoc on this marriage – all for naught. It breaks my heart and HIS. xo

    • Oh wow! How terrible, Susan! I hear of stories like this often but always feel so sad when I do. The love of money, especially, can be such a divisive tool in Satan’s hands. Thanks for adding to the conversation. We certainly need to be lifting up our fellow-believers, especially when they endeavor to minister. They become targets of Satan for sure!

  • #3 is a tough one for me, and I remember hearing Elisabeth Elliot address it on her radio program years ago, because she also struggled with the need to be “right.” She realized that she had made an idol out of being right. When I put my opinion ahead of a peaceful relationship with my good husband, I guess I’m also guilty of that.

    • I think anyone who has the spiritual gift of teaching, wisdom or pastoring (depending on the spiritual gift listing you use) struggles with this one in particular, Michele. Truth is very important to these kinds of people–like Elisabeth. We are blessed by her attention to detail and the wisdom God’s given her through her many studies of His word and writings for us, but it’s something we all need to be aware of in our own lives. Thanks for sharing so vulnerably too!

  • Mary

    Wow! You have hit the nail on the head. As much as I think I know how Satan works, I realize that there have been times in my own life that I didn’t recognize it was Him.

    When my sons were growing up, my husband and I poured all of our extra time into them. They were busy with activities so that meant we were busy too. It left us both exhausted. We were being pulled away from God and each other while trying to do what we thought was best. This is something for me to ponder and at some point share with my sons as they look to starting their own families somedays.

    Happy Blogoversary! 7 years! Amazing! I love how you are working hard to provide just what your readers need. Thank you for always making this ones of my favorite places to come and hang out.

    • Oh yes, Mary! More times than not, I don’t stop to think about how Satan might be involved and yet Scripture tells us to be alert and aware. We aren’t to fear Satan, but we certainly need to pay attention to his schemes.

      And thank you for sharing so vulnerably about your own marriage and parenting. I did the same at various times in my parenting. Thankfully, Gary and I were able to recognize this and readjust. But we failed in so many other ways as parents, so I think we made up for it in other negative ways! Lol!

      Thank you for your encouragement! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! Just the other day I had this sinking feeling that I was wrong! But then I realized, “Nope! It’s really been 7 years!” Thank you also for your kind words about the ministry here. That’s what I hope it is! A ministry to those in the messiness of marriage.

  • Hey Beth! Congratulations on 7 years of blogging to God’s glory!! Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you, Tiffiney! It’s hard to believe but I’m grateful God has provided the platform and opportunity! I hope that I do keep up the good work–but only in the Lord’s strength. Otherwise this truly will be a mess of blog about the messes in marriage! Lol!

  • Melissa Gendreau

    #4 can creep in if we’re not careful. My husband homeschools our children and directs a large ministry in our church. I am a full-time Christian mental health therapist and blog about full-time. All are good things and glorifying to God, but when we let them become a greater focus than our marriage it wreaks havoc in all aspects of our life.

    Thank you for the great reminders and congratulations on 7 years of blogging! God bless!

    • I bet that it is a constant temptation to overcommit to your precious children, especially since your husband is homeschooling and you both are “ministers” of sorts. Yes, Melissa, it’s one of those constant habits we must integrate into our lives–looking for how we are veering too far away from each other and the Lord. It’s never easy, but so very important to do! Thanks for encouraging me, my friend!

  • Beth, I’ve been caught off guard too many times by how often the enemy messes with my marriage…in our thoughts, emotions and just distorting and dividing things. I think my marriage has fallen victim to all of these at one time or another. It’s so easy to get derailed, and not as easy to get back on track. I so love your blog and the encouragement and insight you offer here!

    • Yes, Crystal. All of us who have been married for any length of time have fallen prey to Satan’s attempts to divide us in marriage. Thanks for being willing to admit that and join me in that commitment to be real with our struggles. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. They mean a lot to me! Hugs to you, sweet friend!

  • JosephPote

    “I swallow Satan’s lie that my opinion matters more than how I treat my [spouse]…”

    This is such an easy trap to fall into. And it’s not always about being “right.” Sometimes it’s just wanting to make sure I’m understood…something very worthwhile and very important in its own right. Yet, when I become so focused on making sure I’m understood that I trample on my spouse’s emotions…things have gotten topsy-turvy and self-defeating…leaving us both feeling misunderstood…

    I’ll say this about marriage in general…rather than pulling me away from God it tends to drive me to God. There is nothing quite so humbling as discovering my total inability to appropriately express my love for my spouse…and my total reliance on the Holy Spirit for even the most basic communication.

    Thank you, Beth, for another thought-provoking post! 🙂

    • Yep, Joe! That’s one that when I wrote it really stabbed me in the heart! Most of the time (gotta keep it real here! ha!), I don’t mean to do that in the moment. But when I reflect back on it, I see it in all of its ugly glory. And agreed that it often stems from a good desire to be understood. Satan certainly wants to skew even that good desire.

      Yes, great point on driving us toward God, though that can’t be said for everyone. That says something about you and your love for God, I’d say! Thanks for your encouragement, my friend! I hope you are doing well in your recovery from cancer, marriage and life in general!

  • Congratulations on seven years! What a fun giveaway! I agree that Satan tries to divide our marriages. Our relationship with our spouse is better to reflect the relationship with God, that He needs to be placed above others. Some parents that are so wrapped up in their kids now will wonder how to relate to their spouse when the kids grow up and leave the house. I try to remember that bit of wisdom I picked up somewhere and nurture my relationship with my husband. Have a great rest of the week, friend!

    • Thank you, Kelly! I do hope lots of people take advantage of the giveaway. That’s one of the things I’ve been feverishly working on lately! 😉

      Yes, so true about pouring into our marriages instead of letting anything–including our cute and sweet kiddos–draw us away from that godly foundation. I’m right there in those years when my work on my marriage now means that we are still connected and feel in love even though our sons have all flown the coop. Thanks for joining the conversation and linkup, my friend! Always a joy to have you and your amazing content shared here!

  • Satan does attack in so many ways to destroy marriages. We’ve been married 43 years, but it’s been a lot of work at times. I think one problem is when our interests differ. Instead of showing interest and supporting each other, there have been times where we are at odds. It’s always better when we are putting God first and He enables us to show each other support working together to spur each other on to use our talents for Him.

    Blessings to you!

    • Wow, Gayl! That’s a true and glorious accomplishment! Congrats! Yes, interests are another good pursuit that sometimes Satan uses to divide us. So true! Thanks for adding that additional insight, my friend!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    Oh how the enemy loves to divide and conquer!! I have been guilty like Sarah of wanting to “help God along.” How prideful to think that God needs my guidance in bringing about His will. Also, a good question – am I pursuing “rightness” or righteousness. We all love to be “right”, but at what cost? I’ve “won” many battles only to have lost the war. My husband is more practical so I have also fallen into the trap of feeling like I am more spiritual. Again, all ploys of the enemy to divide. Great red flags to look for that you’ve pointed out here. Sorry to say, I’m convicted on many. Thanks for your wisdom and sharing from experience.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Yes, he does, Bev! I relate to that one as well, Bev. I think we would get along very well with Sarah, don’t ya think? Lol! Interesting observation about the difference between you and your hubby. I’d say that makes it harder to see the value in what you each do spiritually, so I’m glad you’ve recognized that and are viewing it differently now. Thank you for your kind words, my friend! Always so great to have you here in the comments and in the linkup!

  • bluecottonmemory

    Happy 7 Year Blogaversary, Beth!!!!! That is a worthy success! When I look at your list of things that distract – I see that what distracts me is different than what distracts my husband. Marriage requires vigilant balancing, evaluation and re-balancing doesn’t it – being intentional to recognize each of our distractions and keep them at a healthy level! I think at some point, I’ve done all of those – but God’s grace keeps coaching me out of them:)

    • Thank you, Maryleigh! It truly is hard for me to believe that it has been that long. I’d say you’ve been around for that long or longer, right? I’ve been blogging since Feb. of 2009, but before MM, it was at another blog which I abandoned fairly soon after I started MM.

      Yes, that’s a great observation–about how our gender makes this different for each of us. And agreed on the balance and vigilance needed in these kinds of situations. That’s why intentionality and alertness are what we all need to strive for in marriage. Thanks for adding some interesting thoughts to the conversation and for your presence and support throughout the years of MM! Love ya!

  • I remember when I had the distinct realization that all the nit picking we were doing was a trick of the enemy – he wanted to get us off track. I think that made me smile (because we’re doing something right) but also made me more aware. It increased my relationship with God which provided wisdom on how to deal with things as they came up.

    • Yes, Nylse. Nit-picking truly can be a scheme of the devil but we so often attribute it to our spouses, which creates not only a problem in the moment but a spiritual stronghold of bitterness. I’m so glad you recognized this and are guarding against it happening again. And I also agree that these are times when our relationship with God can be forged and deepened. That’s what I feel like has helped me in the spiritual battle–turning to the Lord. He’s so much stronger than the devil on any given day! 😉 Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • I am guilty at times of thinking I am “right” and wanting to prove it that I hang onto an argument until I feel like I have been vindicated. I know this is hurtful and I am praying God will work a change in me.

    • Yes, it’s that sweet (though really bitter) vindication we all run after, Mary! But any time we make our spouses the loser, we lose in our marriages and Satan wins a very key battle all at the same time! I’m praying right there with you–seeking to soften my heart to the Lord and harden my resistance to the devil when he prowls my way! Thanks for coming by and joining the conversation, my friend!

  • Yes, Satan wants to divide us and I think he does use good behavior as well as bad. The bad is just easier to see!

  • Erica

    Happy anniversary Beth! I so enjoy your insight and struggles in marriage. I am sure we are struggling with all of the above in our marriage. I know I am often focused on being right and lose sight of following God (selfishness).

  • rboerner

    I love Abraham and Sarah’s story not only because I relate to her desperate cry for a child but I have a tendency to want to make things work (IN MY TIMING), especially in my marriage. I have been guilty with pushing too hard and manipulating to attempt to get my husband to do what I think is the best thing for him. I am learning that this is absolutely NOT the best practice and it actually just pushes him away from God and me.
    And being “right” is always a trap I get caught up in too.
    Congratulations on 7 years of MM!

  • Congratulations on your blog-aversary!

    Great post. I’m with Joe in believing that’s a big one, how I treat my spouse versus maintaining my opinion. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of all of them to one degree or another. But in God’s grace, I believe I’ve grown though I certainly haven’t arrived!