The marriage relationship is supposed to be a place where you feel safe with your spouse. Do you? Do you think your spouse feels safe? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness” and are to be continually shared with one another. We are to live together in such a way that the love of Christ is revealed and reflected within our lives and within our marriage relationship. Any contentiousness or marital strongholds of sinful behavior or attitudes to the contrary needs to be torn down.
Tear Down Harmful Marital Strongholds
What is a stronghold? Simply put, a stronghold is “a place having strong defenses. It’s a fortified place… a strongly defended place.” Additionally:
“The Greek word is a military word, meaning ‘fortress.’ A soldier would define it as an area in which the enemy is entrenched. And that’s what it means when we speak of Satan’s stronghold in the life of a human being. Satan becomes entrenched in an area of a person’s life where there is a character flaw or an emotional or psychological predisposition to selfish, “me first” attitude and behavior” (from the Prayer Power Ministries article, “Praying Down Strongholds”).
When you apply this to the marriage relationship, a marital stronghold is when one or both spouses hold the attitude of looking out primarily for the interest of “me” instead of “we.”
God shows us throughout the Bible, that we are to live our lives together in such a way that unselfishness and selfism is pushed aside. This is a hard one. We know; it’s something we have to battle with every day. But as followers of Jesus we are to continually communicate the gospel of the sacrificial love of Christ… both with and without words —by our actions AND our words. We have to be mindful of both. This is something that God reminds us of constantly. And this is also something we believe God wants us to remind you.
Tear Down Marital Strongholds to the Contrary
Here’s what we’re told in the Bible:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves —DO WHAT IT SAYS. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it —he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:22-26)
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Are you living your married lives with each other in this manner? Is your marriage a place where you are “bearing with one another in love?” Are you tearing down ungodly strongholds, but building up ones that honor Christ?
We hope and pray this for you within your marriage relationship. May your marriage be such where the love of God flows freely! It’s important that we tear down every stronghold that is causing any type of separation in our married lives—anything that, “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” We are to then “take captive every thought [and action] to make it obedient to Christ.” (See 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.)
Sometimes having a stronghold in our attitude towards certain actions can be a good thing. That is when we strongly defend and do that, which is right. But when we strongly hold onto an ungodly attitude or behavior we need to tear it down and destroy it. That is our goal —to work on those areas of our married lives that are sinful strongholds. We need to make pro-active choices and changes that reflect the love of Christ in all we do.
Rooting Out Sinful Marital Strongholds
To do this we need to define what sin is because, as someone once said: “until we understand what it is, we’ll never take its consequences seriously.” And unless we fully recognize sin we may not see how important it is to root it out and destroy it. Susanna Wesley gave this definition of sin:
“Sin is whatever:
• Weakens your sense of reasoning…
• Impairs the tenderness of your heart…
• Obscures your sense of God, or…
• Takes away your desire for spiritual things.
“In short, if anything increases the authority of the flesh over the Spirit, no matter how good it is in and of itself—that to you is sin.”
We want to ask you: does any of your conduct fall within one of those categories? Really think about it. If so, you need to recognize that this is a sin. There are strongholds that need to be destroyed.
And another problem, is that people try to “normalize” sin by getting others to buy into it. This is something that Dr. Charles Swindoll warns us about. He said:
“You need to recognize how the enemy of our faith encourages us to:
• “Notice another person’s sin more than our own.
• “Define sin as less heinous than it really is —perhaps regarding it as understandable, in some cases even desirable.
• “Explain sin as a legitimate reaction to life’s disappointments and therefore, worthy more of compassion than judgment.
• “Treat sin as something merely naughty, like a childish prank.
• “Evaluate sin as a merely regrettable path to legitimate relief from pressure and pain —a path made necessary by whoever designed the world.”
If you recognize any of these sinful strongholds in your thinking and your actions within your marriage we hope you will work together with us to tear them down. Make this a time where your “Choices and Changes” reflect the love of Christ in every way possible!
It’s important to note that:
“Overcoming marriage strongholds begins by understanding the purpose of marriage. God didn’t simply institute marriage because He was looking for another thing to do. God created marriage as one of the primary tools through which He fulfills His destiny for you while advancing His kingdom. Satan was the cause of the first marital conflict in history when he deceived Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s Word. This led to blame, pain, the battle between the sexes and sibling rivalry between the children. Marital conflict is indeed a spiritual issue.
“…Strongholds show up in our marriages when we no longer realize that marriage is a covenant, nor do we understand what a covenant is. In order to break those strongholds, we need to realign our thoughts underneath God’s viewpoint of a covenantal marriage.” (Dr Tony Evans, from his sermon, Victory Over Marital Strongholds”)
And to combat marital strongholds, we start with prayer.
Did you know?
“If you add prayer to your marital relationship, research shows that only one percent of couples that pray together ever divorce.” One percent is very low indeed! Families that pray together stay together. Prayer breaks down spiritual walls, removes strongholds, opens the doors of communication, blends a couple together, and invites God into the midst of your relationship.” (David and Gretchen Willard)
So, we encourage you to pray. Pray together (if your spouse will do this with you), and pray separately.
“Pray specifically over the strongholds in your spouse’s life. Be bold. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Ask the Lord to give you a scripture specifically for them and turn them into a prayer. Insert your spouse’s name and give God’s own word back to Him for your spouse. Ask God to show you how to love them beyond their faults and flaws and to show you the battles you should face head on versus the ones you should walk away from and lay totally at His feet, to be dealt with in His time.
“Know that Satan will try to distract you. He will try to frustrate you and unsettle you and discourage you. That is the time you need to press into the Father and seek Him with your all. It will be worth the sacrifice.” (Rosheeda Lee, from the Spiritually Unequal Marriage)
And if you would like some guidelines to help you in your prayer time, these are for you:
With Marital Strongholds Keep in mind:
“Your marriage is a tool and a test to deepen your love and reverence, trust and obedience for Jesus Christ. Your marriage is not about you. It’s about Christ —becoming as Christ.” (Emerson Eggerichs)
That should be our continual goal!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We talk a lot about these types of issues a lot more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself (It’s available both electronically and in print form). Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
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Filed under: Communication and Conflict