When we first moved into our new home, our driveway was newly paved and pristine. One day I was playing with the kids outside and noticed a tiny hole, like the size of a pencil eraser, in the otherwise perfect driveway. Every time I played in the driveway I noticed it was getting bigger. Each time we drove over it with the car, every time the kids scuffed it with their shoe, every time the basketball hit it just right, it was getting bigger. Now it’s not huge by any means, but two years later, it is the size of a quarter. Other people have probably never noticed it, but I see it when I walk out there.
Maybe it’s strange that I’m talking about a tiny pothole in my driveway, but I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a metaphor for what is happening in marriages right now. I think the forced togetherness, the political division, the anger, the fear is poking holes in our marriages. I think the devil is literally prowling around looking for tiny holes that he can drive over, step on, pick at, and make bigger and bigger. I think he figured out that marriages are the way to break things. Marriages are the way to create problems in our world. Break the marriage, break the people in it, break the people around it, and take away their faith.
He’s figured out that any tiny hole can be made bigger. He’s figured out that we don’t have the time and the energy to fill in those tiny holes. He realized that we’ll ignore them. We’ll let them get bigger, we’ll let them get poked and prodded by him until they’re too big to repair. He knows that once they’re too big to repair we’ll walk away. We’ll smash up the good pieces because we let the tiny hole get too big. And then we’ll go looking for new concrete. We’ll go looking for a brand new driveway. We’ll go looking for something that isn’t broken yet.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Peter 5:8-9a
And how can we stop this? How can we prevent him from devouring our marriages? If our holes are already the size of quarters, how can we prevent ourselves from throwing away the whole thing?
We can be alert.
We can be of sober mind.
We can resist him.
We can stand firm in our faith: so firm he can’t get in.
We can’t let him into our marriages. We can’t let him weasel his way into tiny holes. When there is a tiny issue, we need to face it head on. When there is something bugging us, we have to put it into words and present it to our husbands, or maybe just to the Lord. We’ve got to view it from the Lord’s perspective. Let the Lord’s concrete fill it in. Let our eyes see our spouses through the eyes of the Lord.
When my husband doesn’t put his dinner dish in the sink, let’s give grace. If we let the devil in, we’ll start thinking “my husband never does the dishes, he never does anything around the house, why am I always doing everything?” If we see it from God’s perspective, maybe we just acknowledge that he had a hard day, and today I can put the dish in the sink. Or maybe he was talking to the kids and got distracted, or maybe the Laker game is on, and I can grab the dish so he can relax. When my husband makes a rude comment that I don’t appreciate, can I see that from God’s perspective? Can I stop my anger and reach out with forgiveness? Can I pray for my husband? Instead of jumping in and raising the stakes with another insult, instead of letting the devil, my own sin, lead me into argument, can I stop? Can I give grace?
Early in our marriage, my husband and I read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs with our young married small group. There is one thing that he and I still think about when we’re in the trenches of a stressful disagreement: the Crazy Cycle. The basic premise is “Without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love.” (Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)
When you’re deep in the crazy cycle, one person just needs to hop off, and it will stop. The husband needs to love his wife; the wife needs to be respectful to her husband. It sounds so simple, but when you’re into it, it’s hard to get out. When I’m mad, the last thing I want to do is show respect to my unloving husband. And the last thing my husband wants to do is love his disrespectful wife. But the thing about this concept is that the basis is that you know deep down that your spouse is good. Your spouse is in this marriage with you, and wants the same things you want, and loves you. In the midst of this cycle, you’re just reacting. You’re just letting the devil into your marriage, letting him control your actions, letting your sin drive the marriage.
We want God in the center of our marriages; we all can agree on that. And if we all can agree on that, then we need to let him be in control. We need to allow him to fill in the spaces, the tiny holes, and don’t allow the devil to weasel his way in. We are all sinners, and we will let him in sometimes. The important thing is that when you notice that tiny hole, and when you notice it getting bigger, you ask the Lord into it. You go to your spouse, acknowledge the hole, and together ask the Lord to fill it. You jump off the crazy cycle. Sometimes my husband and I literally say the words, “let’s get off this crazy cycle.”
If it’s gotten too big, if it feels like you want to throw the whole slab out, remember who you married and why. Remember that God is bigger than the field day the devil is having in your marriage. God is bigger than the sin that has been committed, and if you let his brand new concrete fill the tiny holes, even the big holes, then your marriage can be repaired. If you need outside help to have this conversation, go to counseling. Have the conversation, pray through it, ask the Lord into it. When the Lord is there, the devil will flee. He can’t hang against the power of the Lord.
You can jump off the crazy cycle; it’s never too late. Someone just has to decide how you want to deal with your tiny holes. Do you want to continue to be unloving and disrespectful, or do you want to fill the holes with the grace and love of Jesus? We all have tiny holes, and only we get to decide how to fill them.