I am just going to come out and say it. Marriage is hard. It is a heck of a lot harder than it ever seemed to be when Lew and I were smitten with each other on our honeymoon. Sure, many a wise couple had warned us of the difficulties ahead. But our love was strong, and we were both Christians. What could be so hard? Oh, how naive a twitterpated couple can be. We soon found out exactly how challenging marriage could be — and are still finding out — every. single. day. Marriage is not just hard; it is stinking hard! And do you know why? Because marriage is just the combination of two very sinful souls into one sinful relationship.
One of the many marriage books we read in those first tumultuous years together described a spouse as a giant mirror, revealing all of the ugly sin that, up to that point, each person had been able to hide or ignore completely. As it turns out, it is pretty hard to hide your sin from someone who is around every waking, and even sleeping, moment of the day! And as it also turns out, a spouse is rarely going to put up with your sin, or make excuses for it, in quite the way you have been for a long time.
Lew, like any good husband should, started calling me out on stuff, and I had to make the decision to either double down in my effort to justify my sinful behavior or humbly let God start working on me. Over our years of marriage, I can proudly say that I have chosen the humble road more than half of the time! However, there have been plenty of times when I chose the comfortability of my sin over the hard work of sanctification.
Several months ago Lew and I had a spat in which I did not perform so admirably. The night before we had ordered Red Robin takeout for our date-night-in meal of choice. As usual, I had eaten all of my French fries that evening because, duh! Red Robin fries are like gold! Lew, on the other hand, usually savors his fries and has a second glorious feast of potato heaven the following day. Okay, yes, I am very hungry right now as I am writing this, but you cannot deny the deliciousness of a good fried potato! Anyway, we got into an argument that afternoon, and I just couldn’t forgive him. I was seething as I mentally tallied all the ways that he had ever wronged me. In the legal court of my mind, Lew was pronounced “Guilty as charged!” with a heavy bang of the gavel.
It was in this moment that I decided to give him a consequence for all the sins he had committed against me. I opened up the fridge and dumped his entire stash of Red Robin fries into the air fryer. Ten minutes later, with each crunch of victory, I chuckled to myself about how mad he was going to be when he got home and discovered his precious snack had been devoured with nigh a crumb to show for it. I had won. It was almost as satisfying as the time I secretly stuck my older sister’s toothbrush in the toilet and watched triumphantly as she brushed her teeth that night. Almost.
Now, you are probably thinking, “Woah! Brianna is super manipulative!” And you would be right. I am super manipulative when I let that sinful part of me rule my spirit. If I don’t keep it in check, I can head down a steep path toward relational and spiritual destruction. That is exactly what was happening for the Jews in Malachi’s day. They were justifying relational and spiritual treachery because they had not kept their own spirits in check. That is why God continually implores them to take heed to their spirit. He knows that treachery starts in our very spirits.
What started as resentment toward Lew led to my justification of my sinful behavior toward him. I reasoned that it was okay for me to sin against him because of all the ways he had sinned against me. Deep in my spirit, deep in that part of me where God Himself dwells, I knew that what I was doing was wrong. But ignoring that truth was a lot more satisfying in the moment, so I ignored my spirit and chose to sin. Taking heed to my spirit would have meant listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and choosing to forgive Lew instead of punishing him.
Dealing treacherously with others is a temptation whether we are married or not. This whole world is full of people who God has commanded us to love till death do us part. Each time we choose to sin against them, we are choosing to ignore our spirits and also deal treacherously with the One who created them. Taking heed to our spirits is the first step in loving others and learning to forgive them the way God does over and over again. Hopefully, as we go about our week, we can begin to see the ways we have been dealing treacherously with those around us and start to heal those relationships. It is never too late to take heed to our spirits and to let God do a work in our sinful, treacherous hearts for His glory.
Oh, and about the fries, Lew was pretty mad when he found out I had eaten them all, and I was pretty ashamed of my behavior. In the end, we both forgave each other, and now he often offers to share his second-day fry spoils with me. He is way better at this marriage thing than I. I have a lot of work to do. But to my credit, I have yet to dunk his toothbrush in the toilet, so that’s something.